Saturday, September 28, 2013

Apology Line

This is art... and intended to be. As you can see, this sticker is posted on a stoplight. It might appear to be a social service agency but at closer inspection it is not. I tried calling and in fact you do get an answering machine that prompts you to leave your apology at the tone. Apologies are all recorded and anonymously replayed or transcribed.
This project was started in 1980 by artist Allan Bridge. Their have been books, magazines, a play and even a couple of films based on this. The project ended in 1996 when Bridge died in an accident. However, obviously this is operating again.

Here are some links with more info and gut wrenching audio samples:
Apology Line


NY Times Article

...and of course this is art. Genius art...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Primitive 70's Lips

Here is a smile coming to us from the past. Everyone likes a pair of disembodied lips, right? Maybe drawn quickly by a gutsy 6th grader on her way home from school. Definitely a girl. Agreed? ...Or maybe by a stunted Rolling Stones fan...? Really impossible to tell.

From the wear of the pavement I'm guessing that it was drawn sometime in the 1970's, a classic time for making graffiti in wet cement. Truly the Renaissance of sidewalk vandalism, beautiful work came from this time period which is just now being torn up and replaced. These were the days when the guys laying the cement didn't seem so committed to a good sidewalk. I remember scratching my name and making funny footprints in the pavement over North when I was a kid and the workers didn't react. Too stoned? They would just watch you on there breaks as they giggled over an enormous a bag of Cheetos. Floppy haired with cigarettes. In those days the pavement was also never laid completely straight so it gave us natural jumps for our skinny K Mart skateboards. Those were the days...

So back to the question. Is this art? No.. really, no. But, it is the kind of juvenile street scrawlings that inspired primitive artists who brought elements of street work into galleries in the 1970's and 1980's. And their is an innocence here that I find slightly touching. But only slightly. I bet this was made to impress someone by having the guts to do something slightly defiant. (In that way not unlike most art).
But my answer is still "no". However, it makes me happy to see this and I am glad it exists. So yes... it probably is art!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Dada ... Unfortunately Less Common than Child Neglect

I just found this picture on my phone from last summer. It was taken in a parking lot in NE Minneapolis. I had just dropped my son off at a class and went to a Diamonds Coffee Shoppe to work on some writing. I remember it was a hot day and I was irritated that I couldn't find a parking spot in the shade. (My air conditioning is sketchy). I got out of my hot car I was startled and a little sick when I looked at the truck parked next to me and saw what I at first thought was an abandoned child. At a closer look it was something less common than child neglect.
Northeast is an area that is lousy with warehouses turned into artist studios. So, I'm almost sure that this was intended to be some kind of art. Maybe some new dadaist. Or maybe an artist was driving this mannequin around for a project and thought this was funny. Which it is. And Creepy. Very unsettling.
Because it is eerie, maybe I should have saved this picture for a Halloween post but something tells me that there will be more than enough unusual decorations that are questionably art. If you think about it, a haunted house is just an installation piece with very specific content. "Spooky" content.

Is this art? I think it was intended to be. I had a quick strong response to it and am now speculating on it 3 months later. So I'll say "yes". Good art.

... or maybe just someone goofing around. Sometimes there is a fine line...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

International City Worker Silver!

Here is the third in our trilogy of city worker accidental art. This is the leg of a recently "repaired" bus shelter Uptown on Hennepin and Lake. The attention to detail here is amazing. I suspect that the metal was rusty before being spray painted silver. Who could guess? Seamless right?
However, the effect here, while maybe not the most convincing, is stunning. A completely monochromatic textured glowing silver. Let's imagine that this is the work of a humble worker who has chosen silver as his (or her) signature color. Their version of International Klein Blue (maybe even mix the paint themselves for appropriate color). Their mission is to beautify Minneapolis.
It works for me here.
Maybe the best part of this scene if the silver dirt around the foot. Obviously no one bothered to sweep before spray painting. Or silver dirt was purposeful to make bus riders feel like futuristic space explorers? Metro transit had a great plan.
Is this Art? No. But I do find it beautiful and slightly unsettling... so it probably is art... 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

City Worker Faux Naif

Walking home from the dentist again today and I saw this on the sidewalk. Maybe it's just the Novocaine talking but I find this image deeply interesting. It seems that a city worker just reported this piece of vandalism which appears to have been committed in 1972. So instead of trying to cover it, the worker added a red arrow so it can't be missed. ...for repair 40 years later...? 
I wonder who Jeff is and what he is doing now. Does he still walk by daily and smirk or is he living in another city far away? Is he a CEO of a major corporation or the all night dishwasher at a Perkins. Does he even remember this small defiant act at all?
And this now needs to be repaired? At this point I feel that this sad piece of graffiti has historical significance. Maybe I'll lobby to save it.

Is this art? Probably not. BUT it makes me think and wonder a lot more than most conventional art. So maybe it is or should be...
By the way, I'm thinking of renaming this blog "walking home from the dentist and seeing what kind of mess city workers leave". It seems that this is the direction it is going in...

Saturday, September 14, 2013

City Worker Minimalism

This is on the sidewalk down the block from us on Nicollet Ave. Obviously it was left by a city worker who was marking water utility caps that are slightly raised on the sidewalk (though hard to see in this photo) the paint is exactly the same.

I'm imagining that this worker was bored and just opened up as he walked down the street. We live in a largely Hispanic neighborhood of mostly immigrants and it has been suggested that the neighborhood doesn't always get the same respect from the city as wealthier, whiter areas.

However this line doesn't look mean spirited at all to me. As a matter of fact it is loose and playful, with only a small hint of irritation on some of it's curves. Say what you like, I'll tell you this worker does have a way with line. It does not look contrived and suggests many narratives. The blue is a great pick.

This city worker may be a minimalist genius and not even know it. Or maybe he does and is flaunting it here. Maybe this is his gift to the neighborhood.

I'm definitely going to go with "art" on this one... 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Worst Criminal Ever.

I ran into this scene when I was walking home from the dentist yesterday.
Is someone pulling a weird prank on a friend ... or hiding from the law in way that is completely not thought out... or is this art?
 The intention here could be to explore the use of number in identity. Cover the number and we have an anonymous vehicle and an anonymous driver.
 The use of the post it notes suggest the temporary nature of any attempt to be anonymous and at the same time the oppression of corporate office culture.

Your call...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Comfy Chair? An Introduction...

I took this picture on my way home from my day job at the Guthrie Theater last week. It was probably 8:00pm and obviously this is the corner of 2nd St and Chicago. As you can see a comfy chair was placed in the middle of the sidewalk. I couldn't help but think through possible scenarios. Is someone trying to make a statement or just trying to ditch a nasty old chair that the Salvation Army probably wouldn't even take? (I didn't smell it but if I had I image old urine).
Usually I'd assume that this was laziness, someone who didn't want to haul their chair to the dump, but the only housing in this neighborhood is new construction. Upscale condos. I can't imagine that a home owner in this area threw this 30+ year old chair off the balcony of one of these buildings. Who on Earth would move it into one of these buildings in the first place.
This was probably driven here specifically for this spot, but why?
Is their some deep art student who thinks they are the next Joseph Beuys behind this? Is this a social statement about isolation as opposed to community? Are we supposed to stop and think about the relationship between attending formal theater and the isolation of the lone television recliner?
Or maybe this is an act of rebellion from a Guthrie patron to express their anger at the width of the seats in the theater. And no cup holders!
Regardless, if you keep your eyes open you'll run into this kind of questionable scene all the time in most cities. I have to admit that sometimes art, littering, and vandalism look a lot alike.

That's what this blog is about. ... and it all takes place in Minneapolis. That's where I live.