AWESOME = Franz West Opening Reception at the BMA!

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I want to encourage EVERYONE, even the art haters, to go to the Baltimore Museum of Art to see the new Franz West mega-exhibition. This exhibit was SO GOOD it made Costas Grimaldis smile! It was SO GOOD it made my toes curl!

This is a photo of my friends Alex Ebstein and Seth Adelsberger outside the exhibit, “To Build A House You Start With The Roof,” which covered roughly thirty years of the Austrian super-star artist’s career.

Sadly, West was not in attendance at the reception, so there was a glass vitrine with a paper cut out of the artist standing next to a model of “The Ego and The Id.” It wasn’t as good as meeting the actual artist, but was really goofy and set a tone for the show that was both humorous and ironic. (Photo by Alex Ebstein).

These are real people standing near the actual sculpture. It is totally interactive – you can sit on it, hang out, relax – participation is encouraged. Just NO pictures! We had to be sneaky and James Bond-like.

This is one of the opening reception volunteers posing on the sculpture. How can we tell she is at work? The snazzy vest. Get it? Vest? The artist’s name is pronounced Franz Vest. I think the BMA is punning.

Visitors were encouraged to pick up, touch, and play with many of the works in this show.

My partner in crime, Alex Ebstein of the Ten Tigers Blog, models with a lumpy plaster Franz West sculpture. You were supposed to choose one of several ‘bats’ and then view yourself with it in this newspaper-covered room. What does it mean? I think the this piece is meant to be taken literally – for what it is and nothing more. What does it mean? Exactly.

Besides interactive sculpture, there were lots of walls hung salon-style with collages, paintings, and other mixed media works. On the whole, these were messy, silly, and often, downright hilarious. I loved the informality of this show. I think this committment to imperfection is inspiring for all types of people.

This is me, posing on a Franz West metal ‘couch’ strewn with newspapers. It was mostly the Baltimore Sun. I tried to read the Sun’s review of the West show, but I couldn’t find the front page. Oh well. (Photo by Alex Ebstein).

Lumpy sculptures on pedestals. I can hear my students groaning, “Why is this art? It looks like a poop. I could do that.” Well, why DON’T you? Franz West’s work is all about doing and exploring, about play and discovery, and places little importance on perfection or even a ‘finished’ quality. We can all learn a bit from this. Experiencing this show is like remembering how much fun it once was to make mud pies. (Photo by Alex Ebstein).

Franz West’s “Ambulant Walk”

Throughout the exhibit, texts were woven in – on walls and in works – to add a deeper level of meaning, and also, I think, to confuse people. All in good fun.

One of the official ‘Vest’ people answers Alex’s question. Notice – in the background – the floating boat-shaped craft with the purple light emanating. What is it? A lamp? A space craft? It looked like a radioactive first grader’s paper mache life raft gone awry.

Joe Giordano, photographer and publisher of Gutter Magazine, and Kathering Fronk-Giordano take in the sights and enjoy the exhibit.

Seth and Alex are becoming part of the art in this piece. There were two couches. Both were super comfy and encouraged lingering. Over the first couch it read, “each time you think of us” and over the second “we die, a little.” This was a collaboration with Douglas Gordon. It was a great spot to relax and view the work in the room, and also a spot from which to be seen.

Furniture played a large part in this exhibit and most of it was welcoming. Above, Laure Drogoul reclines in a pink homemade lawn chair, next to huge, clear plastic lamps.

This exhibit included an outdoor component. The BMA is happy for people to interact with these sculptures and contribute photos to their Youtube and Flickr Accounts. The Youtube includes a video by yours truly under the ‘favorites’ section! I know. Y’all are tired of looking at my dogs.

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