I know the animals are laughing at us

En route to visiting Rose’s uncle who lives in Sturgeon Bay, we made some time to stop at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan. We didn’t have time to check out the whole museum, but the two exhibitions we did look at were both fabulous and enjoyable. First is a series of animal-themed work, whose most striking work was probably the monkey portraiture of Jill Greenberg. Rather than go for the broad, humorous possibilities such a subject might obviously suggest, Greenberg, working with animal actors, instead photographs incisive, highly detailed, close-up images of her subjects – who reveal an astonishingly broad range of expression, making their close kinship to humans readily apparent. (Paula Carino, I’m thinking of you. I mean, because you like monkeys, not because I think of you as close kin to monkeys.) Billie Grace Lynn takes a figure of speech – “white elephant” – and literalizes it, creating inflatable, life-size elephants made of white parachute material…which prove to be quite haunting and evocative.

The other exhibition we went to focused on art exhibiting a sense of humor – and while some of this was perhaps more effective in concept than execution (a “retired” auto-building robot repurposed as a twenty-foot-tall sock monkey…speaking drolly about its retirement…), Jean Lowe‘s paintings of discount-store merchandise arrayed in famous art museums was about three-quarters of the way toward brilliant. I only wish she’d been able to display actual merchandise in actual art museums: the mindfuck of aisles of Bud Light, toothpaste, and NASCAR-logo jackets in the middle of the Louvre would have been quite something to see. Better if the stuff were actually for sale – at ten times retail, being “art” and all…

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1 Comment

Filed under art

One response to “I know the animals are laughing at us

  1. Sue T.

    Re: monkeys’ “close kinship to humans,” wondering if you saw the latest Christine O’Donnell clip (from an old episode of “Politically Incorrect”):

    O’DONNELL: You know what, evolution is a myth. And even Darwin himself –

    MAHER: Evolution is a myth?!? Have you ever looked at a monkey!

    O’DONNELL: Well then, why they — why aren’t monkeys still evolving into humans?

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