Writer. Warning: opinions. My lawyer advised a disclaimer, but didn't include any jokes to go with. Damned if I can think of any either.

The Obeliskian Wangness of Public Art

I have a terrible disease. I’m not sure what it’s called, but the chief symptom is that whenever I see an artist doing something cool, I desperately want to take up their art rather than sticking to the ones I’m already good at. I already get to do a lot of design work for work, I already play musical instruments, formerly professionally, and I already haphazardly scrape a random selection of drivel off the kitchen table of my brain onto the linoleum tile of the internet every morning for this here blogjam. Shouldn’t that be enough?

Speaking of which, if you’d like to see my face in person, I will be at Smith’s Olde Bar on Friday night in the Atlanta Room, singing songs and playing guitars and probably telling a few embarrassing stories.

I occasionally find myself browsing camera equipment or painting watercolors. It requires great restraint to halt, take stock of myself, and then remember in a calm internal dialog that this time would be much better spent honing the crafts in which I’m already paid to endeavor, lest I never reach my full potential and am always remembered as a true dill hole.

Photo credit: Ilana Spector
These are my thoughts as I check out this Wired article about a 65 foot tall obelisk made out of bicycles. Just look how awesome it is, all tall and bicycley, poking into the sky like a big weird metal wang.

The artists, Mark Grieve and Ilana Spector, call it “Cyclisk”, and it is without a doubt the safest and least offensive use of cheap aluminum mountain bikes in history. Of course many of these bikes serve as an excellent place for garage spiders to construct their webs as well, but the important thing is to make sure that no one is seriously considering riding them for any length of time. Much better to employ them as a building material.

In reflecting upon the impressive obeliskian wangness of “Cyclisk”, I am reminded of the art installation near my house called 54 Columns. Situated on the corner of Glen Iris and N. Highland, 54 Columns is a piece of artwork whose physical description is an austere mirror of its name. It is 54 cinderblock columns ranging in height from 10 to 20 feet. There’s not much more to say about it than that, but perhaps I’ve never appreciated it fully.

I made Cheryl stop the car and let me out once to read the plaque next to it, but I have not walked among its columns. I was content to just read the plaque, stand momentarily looking at it, and then go “Huh,” especially since a certain someone was making a lot of impatient and not-very-artistically-minded noise in the car behind me.

54 Columns has come under fire from local residents, though, who mistake its austere importance for just a bunch of gray columns sticking out of the ground for no reason. In an effort to beautify the columns, a city planner and a band of residents stormed the installation and planted dogwood saplings in it. County officials got wind of the attack, however, and ordered the saplings removed. They beat a hasty re-treed (boom!).

Far be it from me to make any judgements about what is or is not art. Whether you like any given installation, I think we can all agree that art in our city is a good thing. Now all we need is a good spot to build our own obelisk/wang out of department store bikes. A bigger one!

2 thoughts on “The Obeliskian Wangness of Public Art”

  1. jim

    Wow you’re right that is pretty wangy. Holy balls.