Don’t Take Limestone for Granite

Today’s post comes to us from Clyde.

And I wave my magic crane . . . and, poof, it is gone.

A few years ago I wrote a blog about this sculpture which sat on the MSU-M campus, including my ambivalence to it. It is carved in the same Kasota limestone from just north of Mankato which is used at Target Field. Someone, I think maybe Jacque, did some digging and told me it is called the Pillars. And objected to my critique. All is fair in art criticism. My picture then did not show it settled in as does the header photo. It looks better in that photo surrounded by the vegetation. I even like it in that photo.

I had not driven past it in years, out of my way for everywhere I was going. Then Sandy went into memory care. As a result, I drive by it twice a day. After a few trips with my brain overloaded with the transition in my life, I looked that way, hard not to really when waiting at the stop light at a major pedestrian crossing on campus, and saw it is all gone.

My son got taken up by the question and did some digging. The MSU-M website says it is still there and makes no other comment. I drove around campus, which has quite a few sculptures strewn around, but did not see it anywhere else.

So it is a mystery. I can imagine a few reasons it is gone, such as various departments upset about being upside down or absent. One statue inside the student union is a hot topic right now with students and others. (See below.)

Mankato itself has many sculptures in it these days. It has a sculpture walk through downtown with some of them permanent and some changed out periodically. My own favorite is near the sculpture walk but has a different purpose.

This is the memorial to those Sioux/Lacota people who were hanged here after the Lacota Uprising. (It used to be called the Sioux Uprising but its name has been changed. But one tribal group near here still call themselves Sioux.) Behind the buffalo is a scroll, not shown in my photo, listing the names of those executed. It is a touchy issue how to memorialize that event, an event once portrayed on such things as a beer platter. The site is now part industrial and part library. It is a tiny little park almost under an overpass and next to a busy railroad track. It was carved by a native artist. It was once vandalized with paint but was easily cleaned and remains untouched, surprisingly. I find it perfect for the space and the purpose.

In the student union is a very nice sculpture of Abraham Lincoln, a little larger than life-size in a busy student traffic area, which is the hot topic issue. I am sure I do not need to explain. Without making any comment on that topic, I suggest maybe all sculptures of real people should be shown with feet of clay.

History is about changing points of view, changing taste, changing truth. How have your truths changed and your taste in art changed?

49 thoughts on “Don’t Take Limestone for Granite”

  1. i love sculpture and how differently our brains work in putting art out there
    i will ask you to explain what you say you are sure you don’t need to explain
    abraham lincoln in a busy area
    feet of clay
    i’m not getting it

    my taste in art is always evolving
    i used to enjoy almost exclusively abstract stuff but picasso becomes less abstract as you get used to it and the icons become less about realistic portrayal and more about putting out the vibe they’re shooting for

    i am impressed by the idea that artists are inspired to create art by an event or retelling a story as they see it

    i like the buffalo a lot

    i’m impressed by how much art changes an area from an area to walk by unnoticed to an area to sit and ponder the wonder of life

    i ponder lots these days

    no answers

    just ponders

    sounds like an art project

    henri moore is maybe my favorite

    but there are so many wonderful offerings to be enjoying

    if you can’t be with the art you love
    live the one you’re with

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Lincoln saw slaves as a political expedient more than a humanitarian issue. Emancipation proclamation was north very far reaching. Anything else I say would be a judgment I am not willing to make

      Liked by 2 people

  2. It took me a while to realize what was the sculpture you were referring to in the header photo. More like signage, if you ask me.

    The question today hits home for me with regard to my truths and art, but not in the way you might imagine. You might say that art has been central to both my work life and my personal life. Most of my employment has entailed design and some of that has included illustration, sculpture of sorts, and composition. I’ve always thought of myself as an artist—until recently.

    While I have an adequate and appropriate skill set and have used it to make a living for myself and my family, I’ve come to the uncomfortable realization that to call myself an artist is a disservice to real artists. Here’s the difference: a real artist has an artistic voice, a consistent point of view that gets expressed in the art he or she creates. I struggle with that. There is no ongoing narrative, no real exploration, no continuity in the pieces I have created, however facile.

    I enjoy making art in its various forms and I guess you could argue that I possess an artist’s critical eye, but I don’t know that’s enough to make me an artist. That’s an uncomfortable realization for me.

    I am wary of hagiographies and I can’t think of a more frequently hagiographic subject than Abraham Lincoln. It was refreshing therefore to read, by travel writer Jan Morris, Lincoln: A Foreigner’s Quest. It’s a fairly slim book and not harshly critical but clear-eyed.

    Liked by 5 people

      1. I’ve come to realize that I respond emotionally to fine craft, whether in fiber, clay, wood or metal, but with a utility beyond its form, more than I do to fine art whose only real utility is to fill a gallery or decorate a wall. When I do respond to a painting or sculpture, often as not I am responding to the craftsmanship, which often does not apply to abstract work.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Whoa! This: “fine art whose only real utility is to fill a gallery or decorate a wall” struck a nerve with me. That seems awfully dismissive of “fine art.” I appreciate your use of the word “utility” instead of “purpose,” but it still strikes me as wrong. When I encounter a piece of “art” that moves me, I’m often at a loss for words as to what the appeal is; it touches some visceral part of my soul that is beyond intellect or reason. I think of music as included in “fine art,” by the way.

          Liked by 2 people

        2. As often happens, perhaps I didn’t express myself as well as I intended. I wasn’t including music in my comment on the visual arts. If you are moved by a piece of fine visual art, lucky you. I was speaking for myself and trying to comment that, for whatever reason, I am drawn and moved more by something like the Gee’s Bend quilts than I can remember being moved by a painting. But that’s just me.

          Liked by 3 people

        3. I expected you would object to my assertion that craftsmanship often doesn’t apply to abstract fine art. There are a lot of kinds of craftsmanship and abstract art entails intention, application and discernment but to some extent that resides with the artist and may not be apparent to the viewer. The viewer’s experience may be worlds apart from the artist’s intention and that’s OK but it’s something other than craftsmanship.

          Liked by 2 people

        4. Way back in my youth, I went to the Walker Art center. (Because I figured I should). I remember a piece of artwork titled, I think, “pseudo Surrealistic Crap”. (I could be wrong, but that name stuck. I was trying to pretend I liked surrealism, so it struck a chord). No idea what it looked like, just the title. Any idea if I have the right name or if the piece is still there?

          Here’s my favorite joke ever:
          I went fishing with Salvador Dali.

          He used a dotted line.

          He caught every other fish

          And:
          How many surrealists does it take to change a lightbulb?

          A FISH!

          Liked by 4 people

    1. I was dismissive of this as art when I posted this a few years ago for your reason Bill.
      I am reluctant to call most of my work as art. I have some technical skill, but except for a very few things it is draftsmanship.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Rise and Shine, Baboons,

    Clyde, it took me a long time to figure where the art in the picture was. I was, at first glance, interested more in how much the trees in the picture had grown between pictures rather than the limestone installations. So my comment about the piece is this: it is not a piece that would have caught my eye, or something I ever would have thought of as art. I don’t think it was me that did the research on the stone. But I will bet that I criticized the piece as not interesting or artistic. Bill is right—I would have viewed this as signage, also.

    I experience art as a chakra response. Art hits me as a bodily, somatic experience in various parts of my energy system. Going to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam was amazing (and exhausting) to me because each piece produced an emotional and physical response. His self-portraits, of which there were several dozen, had minute differences in color or brush strokes that would elicit slightly different responses. In the Musee d”Orsay “Starry Nights” is displayed along with another large piece. The swirls in the sky hit me right in the solar plexus. I could look at those for a very long time.

    What has changed is that when I was young I did not know how to describe this. Now as an old lady, I can at least describe what hits me with such force. Native American art often hits me with the same punch.

    Liked by 6 people

  4. My tastes in art haven’t changed much if at all. I like traditional art–ancient, medieval, Renaissance, Asian, folk art of all kinds. I like later movements like the Pre-Raphaelites, Art Nouveau, the Regionalists, Art Deco, Arts and Crafts, that sort of thing. I like some Cubism, but that’s pretty much where I get off the Modernism train, and I loathe most abstract and contemporary art. It’s too bad in a way, because one of my friends is the daughter of one of the directors of the Walker and I could probably learn a lot from her if I was interested.

    I think one of the things that bothers me about modern art is that it’s overly (and deliberately) individualistic and interior. A Renaissance Madonna or a Victorian landscape depicts something more or less universal: when they were painted it was a safe bet that anyone looking at that Madonna would know the story of the Nativity, and it was possible to go to the place that landscape was painted and compare the image to the reality. Contemporary art seems mostly to be about the artist’s psychology and how s/he interprets or reacts to the world (which means, of course, that you have to find the artist interesting, which is far from guaranteed).

    While thinking about this, I’m remembering a poem written by a fellow student at St. Kate’s; there was a line something like “smooth white porcelain/the taste of flesh on my tongue.” None of us had a single clue what it was about, and she was surprised we didn’t understand it was about her bulimia (our prof suggested she “open up the poem” a bit, but she seemed offended by the idea of rewriting). Art, like literature, is–or should be, in my mind–a form of communication, and abstraction generally fails at communicating, at least with me.

    Perhaps all this shows is that I’m not a sophisticated consumer of art. Fortunately, I don’t care all that much about being sophisticated anymore.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. You may well be quite sophisticated. Your class mate was overly involved in her bulge is and her expectation that everyone else understood this about her. And why would you have known that? Not to mention that her poetry line is disgusting and aversive.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Auto correct changed bulemia to bulge. Argh. ( and it happened again while I am correcting auto correct.). I hope this posts what I want it to say.

        Like

        1. You’re okay, I understood! Autocorrect is such a pain.

          Yeah, I react to an awful lot of contemporary art like I reacted to that student. A great many artists, regardless of their actual ages, seem very adolescent in their desire to shock, repulse, and alienate. As my bestie says, I already know from experience that life is sh*t and everyone dies, I don’t need some art student yelling in my face about it.

          Liked by 4 people

  5. Morning!
    There is an art gallery at the college right across from our theater box office, so we get to see the art being installed and then we have lots of time to look at it. Whether I like the display, I’m pretty fascinated by the technical aspects of creating it and displaying it. The guy here who works with the artist to create the displays is really cool. I don’t know HOW he comes up with some of the things he does to display the artists creations. TV’s through walls, a framework to hold 50 iPads, or whatever they need! Then he spackles the walls and patches the holes and starts over for the next one.

    I look at outdoor iron sculptures twisted into some shape and I think “how did you physically bend that into that shape??” Thinking of the heat and forces involved just to get it into that shape? I barely even think about what it means, just how did they DO that!

    Liked by 4 people

  6. I, too, was looking for the sculpture among that admittedly very nice signage. I do like the Astronomy juxtaposed on top of the upside down and backward Geology.

    I have never had the courage to think of myself as an artist, perhaps because I hold true artists in such high esteem. I’m a dabbler in various creative pursuits but have never had the talent, skill, or inspiration to consider making a living at it.

    While I greatly admire the “old” masters, and love visiting their works in various museums, for the most part, it’s not work I’d choose to hang in my home for any length of time. Just as well as I can’t afford it, but you get the idea.

    My truth at the moment is that the older I get, the less sure I am of what I know. I’m finding that some of the beliefs that I’ve held for a long time were based on incomplete or even false information.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. speaking of limestone, we always say the farm has lots of limestone and I thought limestone was limestone. Geology class last semester taught me there are multiple types of limestone. Mostly we have dolomite limestone.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Could be sandstone, that’s more crumbly.
        Different kinds of limestone flake or crumble different. Our stuff comes off in layers, rather than crumbling on the edges.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Lots of buildings in lots of cities in Minnesota and all the way out to Washington DC have facades or trim or stairs made of the Kasota stone limestone that Clyde has described. I have a largish piece of it. It’s peachy pink tangerine color is distinctive. I think St Mary’s Hospital in Rochester is trimmed with it. It’s literally everywhere. The limestone in Faribault and Northfield used to be quarried southeast of Faribault. Shattuck School buildings and St Olaf College buildings are built from that. It’s more of a grayish-white. I thought the dolomite layer was bluish in color but I’m not a geologist. I just love rocks and stone.

      Liked by 4 people

  8. I am not educated enough to talk intelligently about art. I love it. I think it makes living more meaningful and beautiful, but I don’t understand it. Jacque described the way art affects me very well. I haven’t been exposed to enough fine art to know what affects me the most. I love the Granlund sculptures that can be found throughout Minnesota. I’ve also seen some that seem to replicate the Granlund sculptures but are not. They don’t move me the way the Granlund sculptures do. The cherry spoon does nothing for me. It’s just cute – move on. I respond strongly to Art Nouveau sculpture. I just love it and could stare at it endlessly. There are a couple of pieces in particular that I’m thinking of but I can’t remember the name. I’m really too uneducated about this to discuss it intelligently.

    I pay more attention, these days, to things created by local artisans, the things that you find at art fairs. I like the things that are utilitarian and still artful and beautiful. I love handwoven things and have a beautiful ruana that was hand-dyed and handwoven. I love knitted sweaters. I love pottery and will buy it even though I have no room for more coffee mugs or tea sets. I buy prints from local artists of natural scenes or scenes from our Big Lake. I don’t go in for photography, even though a lot of it is stunning. I just don’t want to hang it on my walls. I have a large painting done by my former partner (RIP, Morgan) that is titled “Old Stained Glass Window” and is meant to look like a vase of roses on an ornate stand inside a stained glass window. It’s painted a a 4’ x 8’ piece of plywood, framed in black walnut, and has a cabuchon of lapis lazuli on it’s rounded top. The stand and vase appear to float upward because of the way he painted it. I love it because he did it and because it hung in the house above the wood burner when I lived with him there and it means so much to me. So I guess I respond emotionally to art, not intellectually. I appreciate many things I see but I really don’t know anything about them.

    I know more about music but again, I respond to music emotionally and with my physical being, not intellectually. The folk music I love is pretty simple stuff, musically speaking. There isn’t a lot about it that can be discussed in intellectual terms but it packs an emotional wallop. That is what I’m able to do, but even then, I can only reproduce what someone else has written. I’ve only written a few songs and they aren’t known by many people. I’ve known for a long time that I’m no artist. I do love art and music, but I’m not an artist.

    Nursing can be an art and I’m not too bad at that.

    Liked by 5 people

  9. I am impress by how articulate so many of you are about your relationship to art.I am not articulate about this, but “I know what I like.” It is usually very unsophisticated art, but I do love Van Gogh. I am awed when I walk through a museum of any kind that anyone can do that. A lot of what Krista said applies to my experience of art.

    Still thinking – thanks for asking about this, Clyde.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Took biopsy, liquid, and takes two weeks to get results. My Mankato says from his 2 years experience it is benign. But benign cysts can kill you. And they only in desperation remove anything from pancreas.

        Liked by 5 people

  10. I’m using the header photo to comment. I’m sure that the monument/landscapers at cemeteries consider their work as art. I’ve felt artistically proud of some of my flooring installations. What I see in the photo is landscape art.
    The only change in art “truth” I’ve experienced is expanding my appreciation for the many forms human talent can express of their experience.
    I have some refrigerator art drawn by my kids that are extremely valuable to me.

    Liked by 4 people

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