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Behold: the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston all pimped out with exciting bling! (Note the “gold” chain supporting the colorful whaddayacallit — five-armed ju-ju talisman? Hypnotic ass pillow?)  Here’s what the Gardner Museum Bulletin says about it:


Fenway Deity is part of the Garden Deities series created by Ken Smith. The large inflatable installation, with a psychedelic spiral pattern and gold chain, will hang from the historic façade of the Museum facing the Boston Fens. Deity riffs on the Gardner’s large wheel window on the building’s rear façade, forming a transect line through the Museum, between the window and the installation. Spiritually speaking, Fenway Deity responds to the Museum’s 2012 relocation of its entrance to Evans Way—it will serve as a new conduit for the Museum’s creative energy to protect the Fens from bad spirits and promote environmental renewal, health, and happiness along the Fenway and beyond.

The 2015 Landscape installation by Ken Smith is sponsored by the Friends of John Magee, in memory and celebration of his life in gratitude for his service to the Gardner Museum.

Those are some pretty big claims for the Deity. If it’s all meant to be ironic — you know, tongue-in-cheek, — then the sponsors obviously don’t mean it. You just say shit because it’s fun. Any kind of shit, as long as you employ the metaphysical jargon of art graduate school, of course. The “installation…” “riffs…” it “responds to….” And who is against “creative energy?”

Makes you wonder, though. What would it be like to live in a culture where artists really mean it when they make something? Instead of just putting on a stunt to satisfy the terms of a grant.

About James Howard Kunstler

View all posts by James Howard Kunstler
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency and the four-book series of World Made By Hand novels, set in a post economic crash American future. His most recent book is Living in the Long Emergency; Global Crisis, the Failure of the Futurists, and the Early Adapters Who Are Showing Us the Way Forward. Jim lives on a homestead in Washington County, New. York, where he tends his garden and communes with his chickens.

9 Responses to “September 2015”

  1. peakfuture September 3, 2015 at 9:36 am #

    Again, good grief. If this gives you pause – what about Burning Man? I’ve got a pretty good idea what you might think of those folks, and that all that art in the desert, supported by a massive amount of fossil fuels.

    A good subject for a podcast/blog/sermon.

    Some of the ideas behind Burning Man may be good, but the desert part gives me real pause. The more local versions of the festival seem more in tune with the coming future.

    How long will Burning Man survive, one wonders.

  2. swhite September 3, 2015 at 10:44 am #

    Well, as we say here in Minnesota, it could be worse. Yes, it doesn’t look so good and the text from the bulletin is, well, a little strange to someone as non-artistic as I am, BUT, at least it’s temporary. It’s not like they built some ugly permanent building for millions of dollars, and then, when the ugliness and/or non-functionality sank in, tore it down and replaced for more millions. That actually happened right in the middle of downtown Minneapolis, the land of disposable sports stadiums.

  3. psteckler September 3, 2015 at 2:47 pm #

    A couple of blocks away, the Red Sox fared not so well this summer. Maybe the museum personnel could re-vector the creative energy towards Lansdowne Street.

  4. johnrose@zeropoly.com September 4, 2015 at 6:29 am #

    It’s so creative. Always after me lucky charms!

  5. Walter B September 4, 2015 at 9:50 pm #

    WTF ever happened to artists that had to first live a muddled life of suffering and expression and then die impoverished before they became profitable?

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  6. Being There September 5, 2015 at 8:57 am #

    Indeed, Jim

    Art reflects the culture and if this isn’t a statement of where art and commerce has gone, then well…..you know.

    They took a lovely building and junked it what more can one say, but this is oh…..just like Koons.

  7. jayrome September 6, 2015 at 3:02 pm #

    Now they could allow vines to grow over this chunk of kitsch.
    Perhaps some inflated characters from past Macy’s Parades as in Pillsbury Dough-boy, or Frisch’s Big Boy, Michelin Tire-boy on the front lawn? Maybe knitted sweaters surrounding the tree trunks too?
    Nothing like appealing to the lowest common denominator.
    Oh Well. . . . Never mind!

  8. Poet September 7, 2015 at 5:38 pm #

    I say, let’s affix one of those whoopie cushion thingees to the inflation orifice, lay it on the ground, and invite everyone to use it as a bouncing amusement. It should then called “Bronx Cheer”, and explained as “a cathartic conduit for the transfer of all the stresses of modern life”.

  9. pmarproject September 9, 2015 at 11:12 am #

    What a great way to shift the paradigm and think outside the box and, I dunno, break the fourth wall and positate the negatude and other buzz words that people say?

    I am absolutely happy that money and time was spent to erect this positive affirmation that society and culture is progressing towards ever greater things.

    Now people can walk past that every day and know that they sure do exist…

    Can we say it’s sustainable as well?