Archive for Thursday, May 7, 1998


May 7, 1998


If art is in the eye of the beholder, then I think a lot of people need glasses.

I have decided to become a genius in the art world. Here's how I'm going to do it: I'll take several totally unrelated items and weld them together. Actually, I'll have a friend who repaired submarines in the Navy do the welding, but I will supervise, so the clarity of my vision shines through.

I'll choose from the following list:

  • A washing machine.
  • The rear bumper of a `64 Plymouth.
  • A bicycle chain.
  • A syringe.
  • A broken baby stroller.
  • Rusted rebar twisted into unrecognizable shapes.
  • A mailbox.
  • 6 pounds of discarded plumbing parts.
  • A ball peen hammer.
  • All of the above.

I will then stick ceramic kitchen magnets of cows all over it.

This welded sculpture doesn't have to look like anything. It's probably better that it doesn't. That way art patrons can spend far too much time trying to figure out the deeper meaning of it all. (Here's a hint: There is no meaning. I'm just looking to turn a quick buck.)

I will give my new piece a provocative name, like ``Untitled #17'' or ``River of No Return'' or ``Runs with Scissors.'' How about ``Still Life with Iron Oxide'' or ``Several Small Furry Animals Sitting Around in a Cave Grooving to the Sounds of Miles Davis.''

Then I will throw a gallery opening. People will stand around drinking white wine. I will dress in black.

They will say things like ``The immediacy of this work is stunning'' or ``the depth of knowledge the artist conveys is remarkably picaresque'' or ``its piquant, yet insouciant.'' This last phrase comes in handy because it also describes white wine.

After I have taken the Lawrence art scene by storm, I'll set out for the Big Time: New York City. While I'm there I'll also take in a few Mets games.

The advance buzz on my artwork will have set the Big Apple glitterati aflame with desire for this brilliant newcomer.

Playing into their hands, I'll show up for my gallery debut wearing clown makeup. They will think that it's a dramatic political statement about the dichotomy between political art and the poor treatment of Latino strawberry pickers in California.

My next triumph will be performance art.

I'll rent a church basement for the evening. The audience will sit at desks normally used by second-graders. They will be required to wear ``Groucho glasses.''

I will stride on the stage wearing nothing but strategically placed mirrors, the better to show that art is reflected in the soul of man. I will pour Hershey's chocolate syrup over a golden retriever while humpback whale sounds play over loudspeakers. The audience will be enrapt.

For the crescendo, I will play the trumpet with my nose while throwing darts at a map of famous Revolutionary War battlesites.

After basking in the glowing reviews -- ``The evening was a combination of thoughtfulness and travesty strained through a raconteur's colander'' -- I will announce my retirement by completing one last public spectacle: I will wrap something.

But what? The Chrysler Building? Newt Gingrich? Fresno, Calif.? I've got it!

Christo! I'll drape him in lavender taffeta and suspend him from a gold lame bungee cord off the Throgsneck Bridge.

The art world will be stunned by the dramatic irony of a fellow genius wrapping the master of wrapping. I'll put it on pay-per-view TV.

After that masterpiece, I will retire to an ashram in Oregon and live out my final days making documentaries for the ``I Don't Understand It Either'' artwork cable channel.

Anyway, that's the plan. Anyone know where I can pick up a `64 Plymouth cheap?

-- Phil Wilke is wire editor for the Journal-World. His favorite paintings are hanging on his refrigerator with magnets. His e-mail address is

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