Guest post by Josh Kaplan
One of the best things about art, in fact maybe my favorite thing, is that it’s the one place where you can make a statement, and never have to explain, justify, or back it up.
Here’s an example: an installation at our house, above our garage – where you find an arched niche. This is an architectural accent found in Spanish-style homes and in Catholic Churches dating back to the 12th Century. They are recessed portals designed to give emphasis and protection to the saints or statues on display inside. As you can see, that place of honor at our house is now occupied by a Gumby figurine.
What does it mean?
Well, Lonnie was raised Catholic, and went to Catholic school, but as she grew older she had many unanswered questions about organized religion. It also began to bother her how quickly and thoughtlessly we bestow our worship on things and people who don’t really deserve it. So this is a piece questioning the dogma of religion, and the superficial entities we raise to the level of deity. Except. — I’m lying. I just made that up. Lonnie’s art doesn’t tend to be that philosophical.
When we bought the house, it felt to Lonnie like the last stage of becoming a grownup. The responsibility seemed overwhelming. So the Gumby represented her inner child’s last desperate grab for a piece of her consciousness.
OK – that’s B.S. too.
What’s the point? If either of those stories had been true, and Lonnie had shared them, they would have fundamentally changed your perception of the art. To me, the really transformative thing about art is that it can touch something deep inside you, but that something is different in everyone. It shouldn’t be dictated by the artist.
OK – you have been patient, so here is the real story. When Lonnie turned 7, her mother bought her a Gumby doll, and she loved it the way only an 7-year-old can. Well that summer, she was tossing Gumby in the air, and he landed on the window ledge on the third floor of her junior high school. Gone forever. She was wrecked.
She told me that story a few years ago, and so I bought her a new Gumby, just to make her smile. Then I velcroed his feet onto the bottom of that empty alcove so she would see it when she pulled in the driveway every day. See, it wasn’t artwork at all, just a private gesture from me, to her.
That is, until last weekend – when a stopped-up drain prompted a call to a plumber. Johnnie arrived a couple hours later, knocked on the door, and before even introducing himself, he said, “Hey, before we get started — I gotta tell you — I am really digging the Gumby.”
Now that’s art.