Saturday, November 20, 2010

Chicago Vacation: Day 2 (part one)

Missed a day blogging, but I am so beat from this vacation that I'm glad I have the next week off.

Started Thursday off slow with some Zen journaling, but then I got out and went to the Art Institute. I wanted to have a good long time to spend there before my hot rock massage, and it turned out that I needed the time. I spent about 4-5 hours at the Art Institute and the best was that I went mostly to galleries that I traditionally do not go to. I avoided all the modern art, Impressionism, Expressionism, and Surrealism galleries. Instead, I went to the Thorne Miniature Rooms (intricate models of room interiors throughout the last several hundred years), the new location for the armor collection (a great visit though it didn't look like they had even half of the collection out), the restored Chagall wall (have to admit it seemed a lot more impressive when I was a kid), Far East art (including the new Ando Gallery), and the contemporary art wing (always a hoot). However, the best was the seated Buddhas.

I also stopped into the Richard Hawkins exhibition (Third Mind). I always enter contemporary art exhibitions with some trepidation because if you don't like the artist then it's a downer. If you do, however, it's wonderful fodder for the imagination and really enjoyable. This was definitely the latter. I haven't read the brochure that was provided at the entrance, so I'm only assuming he's gay (pretty safe bet based on the art). I mention this fact because, knowing he was colored my initial reaction to his art. The exhibition was broken up into many rooms, each with varying styles. He does everything from collage to installations to sculpture so it was a wonderfully varied set of pieces.

One of the initial rooms had pictures along the lines of this one, collages incorporated pieces of Classical art with words scripted onto them. The text on them (unfortunately I could only find a tame example to snag off the web) commented on the 'delectable posterior', the genitalia, and the amount of come one of the youth sculptures might produce were he real, and insinuations of Roman men rubbing against the statues for sexual gratification. My first reaction was: "Oh here's another tired queen making everything into a sex joke."

But as I read more of the pieces, I realized he was visually declaring something that I had always sort of felt about this art. Some of this stuff is clearly sexual in content and was intended to celebrate the male form for largely male viewers and we all know homosexuality was a much less taboo topic then than it is today in our allegedly post-Victorian world. All I can say is that Hawkins is 'outing' art. None of the tip-toeing around the homoerotic content that you usually see in write-ups of the material. He confronts it head on in graphic language. Brilliant! He uses a similar approach with heavy metal artists and Asian male models, exposing the rampant homoeroticism that threads through the history of all societies.

All in all, it was a long, literally back-breaking morning and afternoon in the Art Institute. Okay, this is getting to be a very long entry. I'll hold off on writing about the rest of this day until later. Gotta get out there to enjoy the last morning of my Chicago vacation.

No comments: