She came by when I was watering, asking me in a whisper if she could have a word with me, her eyes darting stealthily from side to side so as not to let anyone who might come by listen to the dirty thing she was about to say.
“Um,” this stranger began. And then in the voice of a school marm, “you know, the schoolchildren come by here….” She cleared her throat and began again. “Your statues make them giggle. Could you cover them up, please?”
Like a fool, I uttered a simple “ok.” I should have said what I’m about to say in this post.
Then I walked up the stairs aside my garage to the deck above to get away from the reincarnation of Mrs. Mao–the mother of China’s Cutural Revolution. But she kept talking. Even though I was out of sight. And I refused to listen.
I decided to cover one up modestly so as not to be the symbol of moral turpitude in the South Loop. I tried the system shown above, with the side of a plastic garbage bag that holds a supply of mulch. And then I tried this one below with the plastic pots–and stuck with it.
And I suddenly understood the power of social pressure and the demise of art in this day and age. And then I prayed to whatever God would listen for an end to the erasing of historic art that is so prevalent these days–geared to preserve the nerves of the snowflakes and the idiots among us.
The three statues in my yard–two of which are bending over in a sort of child’s pose–don’t need any covering up. They’re nude but without any definition where their private parts are. The basic shape of the human form is there, but nothing more, so that the statue, man or woman, may as well be wearing a body suit. Like the performers in a production of Cats I saw recently.
The statues were made by a friend’s late father decades ago. When she moved out of town a while back, she wanted me to have these sculptures. They were too heavy to move–and I said I’d keep them safe for her if she ever returned and wanted them back.
Her father studied with one of the most famous sculpture teachers in the world: Nelli Bar. She was a German Jew, a sculptor who escaped from the Nazis, and ultimately settled in the Chicago area, teaching at both the Art Institute and the Evanston Art Center (where their sculpture classroom is named in her honor), teaching some of the most famous sculptors in our area, such as the very renowned Chicago sculptor Richard Hunt.
I can spot a sculpture done by an artist who studied with Bar a mile away. That’s how powerful and unique her teaching style was. And how much she affected her students.
Which compels me to comment on one of the most sickening art stories of the day: the fight to whitewash a WPA mural off the wall at the George Washington High School in San Francisco. Some of the students say they are upset because the mural depicts the school’s namesake–and things like slavery and dead Native Americans.
In other words, it depicts our history, which was the intention of the WPA artist who painted these scenes to begin with. To remind us of our history–and of where we’re going with it, for rightly or wrongly. Like art often does. And should. What a perfect teaching moment for all!
Unless you are in favor of cultural revolutions that destroy art, erase history and blind us to reality.
Like the little woman who tried to do just that recently. In the South Loop; in my own backyard.
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