Saturday, April 13, 2013

Molly Crabapple Part Two



I  mean, Molly Crabapple's The Shell Game installation is a lovely confection of....


Look, if you want a review of her show (bubbles! fat cats! whimsy and devilish details!) I'm sure there will be a dozen artful reviews of them... soon. Probably already, and the opening night won't be over for another 20 minutes as I'm typing this sentence.

But I don't know the craft well enough to judge hers, and I'm a terrible judge of characters anyway, so I'm just going to tell you what I saw: Large winking women, representing everything from the American Dream (painted like a delicate clown, fat cats tempted mice to climb her ladder and step off her hand... and drop to their deaths to make more gold for the machine) to Liberty Square (wooo!)... I saw the People's Library and the food tent in her skirts...

From a distance, it's easy to see the rhythms as repetitive... but standing there it reminded me of tarot cards, actually, because sure there's the big obvious image but there were enough references and in-jokes to make you stare for a while, trying to suss out the symbols and their meanings... if not for your own life, then for the past two years which became history much faster than I can articulate, or one of her images can express.

So anyway, what I came away with was a glass of lemon ginger gin and tonic (yum!) and glee because not only did I see a fellow Occupier there (I raise my plastic glass to you, A!) but it felt like I made a new friend--

See, mostly it was images of arch ladies, but there was also a wheel of (mis?)fortune (I so wanted to see if it could turn, but I clasped my hands behind my back and was a good little consumer of art) and also a mostly-naked woman in a bathtub.

It turns out the mostly naked lady's name was/is Stoya, and we shook hands because I can't very carefully not stare at a mostly naked lady in a bathtub, after staring at a bunch of images, without feeling uncomfortably hypocritical. If she was art, I should experience it, but I also don't feel right consuming a person as objectively as a brush stroke.

So I sat down next to her bathtub and made sure she wasn't cold (she wasn't) and we asked about her wig-- I knew going in that she was styled as Marie Antoinette, and my covert glances indicated that she was lounging in a bathtub filled with fake money--but the wig was fantastic and slightly pink, with tiny protest signs in it.

What caught my attention was the red, chopstick-like things stabbed into it, but as soon as I asked I realized that it was The Big Red Thing at Liberty Square/Zuccotti Park, and that made me so happy that I suddenly felt quite comfortable chatting with a beautiful mostly naked lady in a bathtub, and I told her about taking food to the protestors and she laughed with me as I told her stories about ProtestKid.

Maybe she was a consummate actress, and she didn't find him totally enchanting (though, all motherly modesty aside, how could a person *not* find stories about ProtestKid delightful?), but I'd like to think I didn't totally bore her and that we *did* make a connection of sorts. (I didn't do quite all of the talking, but I also don't feel right revealing what she said-- it was a conversation and it was nice and that's all.)

See, not only did she sign a copy of Molly Crabapple's book for us (woot), but as I got up to leave her to her soak, she grinned and gave me one of the crumpled bills she was surrounded by.

Later, !ProtestDaddy and I giggled as we read it-- as you may have guessed, it too had lots of details (it had printed very clearly on it "not for legal tender, you dope" and it was signed by "Rob Anybody" not the current head of the US Dept of Treasury)-- but mostly we were delighted then and now because on this special night, a professional naked lady gave *me* a tip.

I shall be dining out on this story for weeks. The other professional moms are going to be sick of it... tee hee hee...

Dear Stoya, may you never be cold and may you always have something to smile about. You certainly made me happy tonight.

Molly Crabapple Part One

So !ProtestDaddy and I are going to the opening night of Molly Crabapple's show tonight, and I'm really nervous. In my head, she's one of the cool kids (I'm pretty sure her 6 degrees of separation are higher quality than mine...), and I've become middle aged and tired... so while I want to be part of the art and the glitter, it's not for the likes of me, etc etc...

But then the fantasy of art and glitter is just a fantasy. Glitter and paint create an illusion, and I think that the whole point of Shell Game is that it is an illustration of the Wall Street illusion.

Like the quote I just read attributed to George Box, “all models are wrong, but some are useful.”

Maybe if I go in with the understanding that all art is wrong, but some is useful, I will be ok.

Because here's the other thing: for all that my art is inferior to hers (and certainly my artistic connections are), the thing about Liberty Square was that the experience was intensely personal. I will not say that any other person's lived experience was wrong, and their portrayal might be useful...

But I was there. I fed and was filled and I listened and was heard and I fear that attending an art show will somehow change my own experience, privilege the artful muse over the angry voice. And yet I think that she loved/loves Occupy and its manifestation(s) as much as I do.

I fear that, surrounded by beautiful images, I will not be seen. And I suppose we are going to look, not to be seen... but that wasn't what Occupy was to me, so I'm not sure if I will find Occupy there.

I guess I just need to see, and then we'll see what it is that I saw?

Yeah. That.

...Did I mention I want to be a writer when I grow up? Doo dee doo dee doo.

More later, after I have seen the show.