Wednesday, September 28, 2011
"Niki de Saint Phalle: Creation of a New Mythology" ends Monday, Oct. 3, at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. Since I'm not a visual-art critic, I won't try to expound on the show itself. Instead, I'll just offer my perspective as someone whose desk is only a block from where Saint Phalle's sculptures are glistening on the Green.
I pass there several days a week, headed to lunch or to concerts at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center further up the street. Saint Phalle's mirrored "Firebird," with its permanent perch in front of the museum, has lit up the neighborhood since before the museum even opened -- well before the supersized death's head (photo by T. Ortega Gaines) and the trumpeter with his coat of many colors joined it across Tryon.
Here's what I see most every day. People stop. They look. They have their pictures taken with the "Firebird." They step inside "La Cabeza" and peer out through its teeth. They linger in front of the trumpeter as if they're listening to his solo.
Check out reader photos of 'La Cabeza'
Compare that to what happens nearby. There are a pair of newish sculptures on the bridge across I-277, flanking the Observer's front lawn. They're right by the path of uptown workers heading to and from home, and I've never seen anyone stop and look at them. On North Tryon, there are four brawny sculptures at the Square. For all the attention they get, they might as well not be there. And in a way, they aren't -- since their pedestals lift them above the level where actual humans are.
But the "Firebird" and its companions draw people to them. If you believe the old saying that everybody's a critic, there's a review for you. The sculptures on the Green will outlast the indoor part of the show by a few days: They'll stand their ground through Oct. 12.
Posted by Steven Brown at 11:39 AM