Monday, January 14, 2008

urban cowboy

Maybe I would been more deeply moved by the exhibits at the New Museum if they hadn’t been mere punctuation marks in the larger conversation that Rahul and I had over the weekend -- catching up, tossing ideas around, pondering whether some of the “under construction” installations were actually constructed installations -- whether they were messing with us or, really, just working it out.

Either way I have no regrets -- the catching up was the best part. Of the experience the “Hell, Yes” rainbow on the exterior of the building (just me? or so delightfully Japanese?) moved me more than the whole of it, even more than the lovely stacked boxes that made up the structure -- chiefly because the traffic flow through those boxes, which relied heavily on large elevators to transport people between floors and seemed better able to accommodate the ingress over the egress, left me, well, to state the obvious: Unmoved. (And when I’m trying to get from floor to floor I like to be, at the very least, *capable* of motion.)

But I did come away with a treasure: A small chapbook of Minneapolis artist David Rathman’s cowboy sepias. A chapbook that I thought I might hoard for myself but which Rahul, in keeping me honest, has reminded me that I said something like “my dad would love these...” as I was oohing and aahing over the laconic compositions which Rathman creates, according to the book’s preface, by first snapping polaroids of old Westerns which he renders in inky sepia and then, on many, overlays found snippets of dialog.

And you know how much we like the found here at detritus. (With apologies to my brother, AMB, who once stated declaratively during a visit to the AIC, “I don’t like words with my art.”)

The Clementine Gallery has posted a few of Rathman’s pieces online -- but unfortunately their selection doesn’t speak to what this whole little chapbook reveals. The pieces they’ve chosen to post are largely without the dialog, which I suspects makes them more commercially safe.

But I prefer the ones that speak aloud to no one in particular, saying things like: “My vices were magnificent.” “Every day above ground is a good day.”

And: “This used to be a proud town.”

This one’s coming your way, Dad. Just give me a few more days with it.

the new museum


anniemcq said...

ooooh, I love the cowboy, and admit I'd have trouble parting with it too. The rainbow made me laugh, because a girl in my class demands that I draw a rainbow with her every day.

Anonymous said...

except for when it is done well...

suttonhoo said...

fair 'nough. ;)

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