Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Beholders are we

Talking about The Gates today, an acquaintance of mine offered this hypothesis/question: Are more men than women raving about the art? She said several of the women she'd spoken to were either less than thrilled by the whole thing or otherwise unmoved. Whereas her boyfriend and me and other guys were really excited by it and found a lot of good things to say about the experience. Yes, it's a rather broad generalization, but it got me thinking for a moment. What factors help to shape how you feel about the work?

Hate excess? Love big events? Don't like the color orange/saffron? Enjoy public art that really draws the crowds? Like Christo since way-back? Are turned off by abstract art in general? Think it looks like swing sets, laundry hanging out to dry, or "schmatas" as more than a few critics have called them? Captivated by how it renews your view on the park?

I love it, in part, for these reasons:

It took a long time to realize. It took a lot of money to make, but it's free to all who come here or live here. It raises in our collective minds the importance of art and aesthetics as forces not to be forgotten, even if the work is not -- at its heart -- utilitarian, practical, of much use for anything other than the bringing-forth of our emotions and the creation of memories.

The color is vivid, eye-catching, warm and welcoming in a time of barren branches and too many cold clouds. The lines and fluttering curves carve out the landscape and contrast with the natural setting in wonderful and slightly changing ways.

It takes a good hearty walk to appreciate it, and there are countless angles/ways of looking at it. It's ephemeral and forces us to look at it now, not to ignore it, to reach for the joy and beauty we might attain now, while it's here.

I also came into these two weeks very excited and hopeful about it, so perhaps it's natural that I'm seeking out the positive in it all.

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In Google news, you can see from the link at the top of this post that "The Gates" -- as in the art I'm lately gushing about -- have moved their way up the charts since this weekend. It used to be (like last week) that the internet community, when feeling lucky, would receive Bill G.'s home page as a gift. Now searchers are getting Christo and Jeanne-Claude instead.

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