Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
I grew up in Santa Fe but moved away in 1980, only occasionally returning for visits. These visits became a lot more occasional when I moved to Texas. I recently went back to visit my mom. I love Texas, but Santa Fe is really breathtakingly gorgeous:
The beauty of the town amazes me every time I return. And it’s not just the scenery. The architecture is sublime and perfectly blends with the environment. And the art! Santa Fe has been an art center for three cultures for more than a century; there is magnificent, beautiful, and whimsical public art everywhere.
Such as a granite bust of a native American in the middle of a roundabout.
A shy bronze deer peeking from behind a bush.
Fanciful stick creatures playing on a roof.
A school of fish circling around chile ristras between municipal buildings.
And ridiculous stuff as well. Like a giant horse head:
And I do mean giant:
This item has been taking up space in the front yard of a gallery on Canyon Road for years, collecting comments from art enthusiasts. If any of you are in need of a massive horse head to complete your collection, I’ll bet you can make a deal.
Unfortunately, with so much art around, you also run into a lot of bad art. An iteration of this piece of public art seems to be replicated ad nauseam:
It will usually have a silly name, like Crossroads [IV].
A Question of Balance [VII], in the foreground, with Aspirations [XV] behind. Or maybe it’s the other way around.
Agony of the Dispossessed [VII].
The Mother of Us All [XXVIII].
The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even [L].
Fecalith [II]. (Actually, that’s an appropriate name for this piece of . . . art.)
The real name for all of these is Oddly Shaped Hunks of Metal Painted in Varying Colors and Welded Together in Random Patterns [Insert pretentious Roman numeral here]. Or, referencing another French Surrealist, This is not an art [n.].
I know that artists working with metal need to practice their craft and develop skills. The result of that does not need to be on display. Once you can produce a piece that actually looks like something, throw the rest of that stuff in the recycle bin. Unfortunately, some creative welders seem to spend their entire careers producing random conglomerations of metal, giving them grandiloquent titles and dumping them on street corners.
It is also insulting to the native artists in the area. There are dozens of nearby native American pueblos and tribes, each with its own unique art history. Not to mention Mexican and Spanish colonial traditions. And the many US artists who were drawn here by the scenery, the architecture, and the culture. Random hunks of metal thrown together and plopped beside a street, usually at public expense, have nothing to do with the artistic traditions of New Mexico.
There’s also stuff like this:
It’s OK, I guess, but it has nothing to do with New Mexico.
Then there’s this ghastly thing:
Soon after it was installed, an art critic set fire to it, melting the hands:
Fortunately, the damage did not make the thing any more repulsive than it already was, as that is not possible.
Finally, what is the most appropriate art, to create at public expense, on the grounds of the community college? An examplar of the high desert, thousands of miles from the nearest ocean? Why, a life-sized statue of a blue whale, of course: