I went over to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art ( LACMA ) when our artist niece , who’d come from France by way of New York City , flew out west for a short visit . She had been working for a few months for some famous artist , whose name I don’t know because I didn’t pay attention . Ada could tell you his name , I think . He gained fame , apparently , by creating art pieces using chewing gum . Maybe he’d originally got his inspiration when he looked under the tops of school desks . I don’t know.
Well , before I get into trouble with Ada , I’ll say that the three of us went over to LACMA together . I went , but so did the two of them . Our niece said , ” I need to see all the museums while I’m here . It’s my job “. I think that’s what she said . She’s an artist , and I try to pay attention , but listening too carefully to an artist can drive a person crazy . I think that’s a general rule . My general rule . Artists and others may or may not agree .
While Ada and Api were looking at the load of Picassos they have on display in the museum, and the medieval religious art , and the contemporary pieces , etc. , I snuck out to look at the big rock the artist calls “Levitated Mass” . It’s a big rock now on its own pedestal . The pedestal is a long concrete section of storm drain and the rock spans the storm drain . Those in awe of such fine art can walk along the concrete and pass under the big rock .
I did notice from the street , later , that from that angle the rock looks like what it is , a big rock . The storm drain is not visible from that angle and distance . That’s something , I guess . What , I’m not exactly sure , because I’m not an artist and I’ve taken no art appreciation courses anywhere along the way , at least none that I remember . It also might be great poetry , this big rock , for all I know about poetry .
See, the thing is , Ada and I travel past piles of rocks on our way up to the mountains . Granted , most of them are not as massive as the LACMA specimen , unless you consider the hillsides themselves , from which the rocks come . Oh , I’m a great appreciator of nature , and I love a good rock as much as the next guy …………………
The Levitated Mass rock cost $10,000,000 to move from Riverside , CA , to LACMA . It was moved one night . The several cities along the way had to temporarily take down traffic lights and power poles . Police worked overtime on rock moving duty . Special vehicles were built to move the thing . Crowds of people all along the way stood out in the dark to watch the slow progress of the rock moving operation . It was like the building of the Panama Canal . Almost , anyway , I guess , except that instead of taking several years as the digging of the Canal did , this took one night , and no one died of yellow fever or contracted malaria , as far as I know .
The ten million bucks to move it was donated by rich folks who may or may not have cared much about or appreciated the artist’s concept . The donations may , instead , have been their tax accountant’s idea . You want to believe , however , in rich people’s finely developed sense of art , then please be my guest . That’s a nicer take on the whole thing than mine .
I watched a documentary about the artist who created Levitated Mass . He waited years to find just the right rock for his concept . Actually , as it happened , it was a man at a quarry out in Riverside, CA , who called him up one day to say , ” I found it !” So the quarry man had to have had some art training , too , I think . No ? Does the quarryman’s name appear on the brass plaque near Levitated Mass at LACMA ? I didn’t see it .
The director of LACMA spoke in the documentary I watched with effusive overflowing enthusiasm and excitement .( No , I didn’t watch it with effusive overflowing enthusiasm and excitement . He spoke with effusive overflowing enthusiasm and excitement .) He was patting himself on the back , saying how lucky he was to have landed this piece of art at his museum . I would have liked to have been happy for him too , but I’m way too cynical . I kept thinking of the Jim Jones expedition to Guyana and the cool aid . I was in a pub in Galway when that tragedy came out in the papers . The Irish asked me what was going on in America to allow such an inexplicable event to occur and I said I didn’t know what goes through people’s minds in America .
But , we’ve come a long way since the Jonestown tragedy . We’ve moved along from small groups of people with inexplicable beliefs to a whole country full of them . We’ve moved along from Pet Rocks to a big rock called Levitated Mass . I’m so excited !
I tried to pin my artist niece down to answer my question why is Levitated Mass such great art .
” It intrigues you , doesn’t it ? ” she said . Well , she got me there .