A few weeks ago when I was in Washington, D.C., I went to the recently renovated and revitalized Renwick Gallery. I love art and alliteration (apparently).
I went to see “Shindig” by Patrick Dougherty. He’s a stick sculptor. For real, though. He works with twigs. He builds giant people-sized bird’s nest-like structures. I know it sounds ridiculous, but it’s a really impressive pile of twigs.
Look him up. I’ll wait.
When you say to people you stood in line for 30 minutes to see twigs arranged in a pattern in an art gallery, they think you’re a little crazy. I take comfort in the fact that I was not the only one.
If starting out with giant bird’s nests isn’t weird enough, artist Jennifer Angus took an entire room and decorated it with dead bugs in elaborate patterns. Dead bugs. Five thousand insects carefully arranged and pinned to the walls. It was actually pretty until you got up close. If something can be pretty and disgusting at the same time, it was her work “In the Midnight Garden.” I learned later in a short film about the project that the hot pink walls were painted with a natural dye derived from a tiny cochineal insect. Let me be clear: The walls were painted in bug secretions.
There’s that awkward moment when you place your hand on the wall to steady yourself as you tie your shoe and realize you’re touching bug “secretions.”
I’m not an idiot. I know what secretions are. I am the idiot who would accidentally touch it.
The show was called “Wonder,” and it did instill a lot of wonder. I sat down at the gallery to watch a short video about every piece in the collection.
One piece was a rubber and metal labyrinth, made from recycled flip-flops. I didn’t love it, but after the film I liked it even less. The film was so pretentious that my eyes rolled so far back in my head I thought I would be staring at my brain.
Picture it: Discordant notes clang on a black background. Words appear and disappear on the screen, one after another, words such as “sustainable,” “organic” and “earthy.” The buzziest of buzzwords. I was waiting for “paradigm shift” to show up. Then, words such as “faithful” and “rebellious” popped onto the screen.
No. Your art can’t be both faithful and rebellious. You’re not casting out money changers from the Temple of Jerusalem.
You are talking about some old shoes that are welded together to create a maze! My sarcasm gun went from the stun to kill setting.
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Mike Buzzelli is a stand up comedian and a sit down author. His book, "Below Average Genius," a collection of humor columns culled from the Observer-Reporter, can be purchased here!