Untitled (For Jeff)

HandThe Indianapolis Star announced this past Tuesday the installation of a new work of public art — an image of an open hand to be displayed at various locations around the city. The Indianapolis Museum of Art, in conjuction with the Arts Council of Indianapolis, is spear-heading the effort to display the image of universal welcome and openness. The meaning of the image is intended to be subjective, depending upon the location of the image and the experiences and interpretations of the viewers. The IMA(Indianapolis Museum of Art) is also hosting a “weblog”:http://fgtblog.ima-digital.org/ for local art viewers to discuss their impressions and thoughts on the display.

At first glance I found that I was rather irritated with the exhibit and with the artist. Here was just another artist who had found a way to carve a living from what was, to me, an overly simplistic work of art. For art to be of any real value, it should require great sacrifice to create. Time should be spent on the project, effort and toil and sweat should be expended to craft it into something beautiful, resources should be used up to produce something that will be a genuine contribution to the field. Also, art should be fairly self-explanatory. What good is art if no one understands it?

However, I forced myself to step back and re-examine. The artist created this work in honor of his friend, who died of AIDS. He did not create art that could not be understood. If anything he created something with the specific focus of stimulating thought, of sparking the imagination, of spurring people out of their casual reverie and into something more productive. His intent was to get people up off their mental derrieres and to make them do something with their grey matter besides stir it into mental porridge. That, in my opinion, is something laudable and something for which I, as a fellow artist, can salute Felix Gonzalez-Torres. Here is someone who is not content to just let the world pass him by, but instead he steps up to shape the world by his craft. I, for one, will be very interested to see what sort of response he gets.

Have anything to add to the conversation?