it’s just a big rock

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 .
Api and LACMA Oct. 2015 014

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 …………………storm drain

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 .rock

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 .


Filed under humor

16 responses to “it’s just a big rock

  1. Well, in your opinion, was this massive rock worth 10 million or was it as big a waste of money as the NY Yankees buying ARod? 🙄

    • I think the big shots donated $10,000,000 , collectively , to have a nice easy tax deduction . I think the design of vehicles to haul the thing is kind of cool. I think the LACMA director drank a little too much of the cool aid . I think this “artist” might be laughing laughing laughing about the whole thing . If not , then he’s drunk too much of the cool aid too . I think $10,000,000 could have gone a long way in other directions , eh ?

  2. DanH, This rock had me rolling.

  3. We have a installation piece in Hartford called stone field or something. It’s a bunch of rocks in a field. None are levitated. They just sit there.

  4. You are so funny describing your bafflement. I’m afraid I’m with you. The inexplicable beliefs continue…

  5. Dan, I was thinking the whole time of the “Emperor’s New Clothes” fairy tale. When it comes to art, my brother is an excellent artist in diverse media but has created mosaics with rocks. We hatched an idea years ago when we were trolling for more money in our lives ( in our 40’s). We saw my neighbors, in a new neighborhood, buying nice, large rocks to put in the middle of circles with mulch, gardens or by bushes. When we were next time up at my parents house, we started gathering lots of rocks with both of us getting out of Lake Erie off their cliff. We used a pulley system and would get them together one at a time into a wheel barrel at the top. Lovely rose quartz, granite with quartz crystals and other rocks with beauty. We drove them back 2 and half hours to my house, 2 cars. Probably wasting gas, too. We made a sign, I called placing an SD in the garage sale ads and put them out on my driveway the following weekend. My ex-husband thought we were nuts. Labeled and oiled them, too. So, they looked “wet.” We sold only a partial amount and made $100. We gave some away and I decorated a low area of my back yard with these beautiful rocks. Not sure why the business didn’t bring more buyers. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” I guess. This huge expense for the immense rock was not “worth it,” in my mind.

  6. A big rock, Campbell soup labels, it’s all art if someone says so. I’ve got a French fry that looks like James Dean. Interested?

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