Wednesday October 17, 2007
OK, so this design was pretty seriously proposed for all employees of Miami International Airport. The article doesn’t exactly say what the status is, but some of the Miami-Dade Commissioners didn’t like it much. Natacha Seijas actually said, “my maid wears better clothes than this t-shirt,” which really deserves it’s own article, but whatever. My impression is that they want the design changed, but are not averse to having Britto uniforms for the airport. Yes, the shirts are fugly. But there is a larger issue underlying, and we’re way overdue for a serious conversation about this, people.
Now look, I don’t have anything against Britto. A couple of months ago I was working on an overview of everything he’s got going in Miami, and it was going to have a pretty positive spin. He’s a great guy, he makes colorful decorative stuff that makes people smile, and he’s been very generous to lots of positive causes. But in terms of actual art, his stuff is bullshit. Even the people who like it admit that. They’ll say things like, “I know it’s not really good art, but I just like it.” And that’s great — there’s certainly room in the world for a little inane eye candy ((of which talking, you may to enjoy theze superdope screen savers)).
I’m just concerned that it’s getting a little out of hand here. I now pass at least three different Britto sculptures on my commute to work, at least two of which are on public property. Now look here: public art is serious business. It’s based on tax money (which, as P.J. O’Rourke jokes, we’ll kill your grandmother if she doesn’t pay it), and it’s meant to enrich our lives. And trust me, Britto’s stuff may make you smile, but it is not enriching jack shit. We have an Art in Public Places program, and we should not be circumventing that process for public art selection. (The catastrophe of maintaining that art is a somewhat separate issue, btw.)
Fine, public money to my knowledge hasn’t directly funded any of the pieces in question, they’re either on private land or were donated. Private citizens can buy whatever they want. But private citizens should put the breaks on. We don’t let pop stars rewrite the national anthem,* and we shouldn’t let Britto’s formulaic pop-art rehashing become a de-facto flag for the city of Miami just because it’s loud, colorful, and mindless vocabulary ties in with the most easily marketable aspects of our city. Sooner or later, everyone’s going to wake up and recognize this stuff for the bubblegum twaddle it is, and it’ll be too late — the whole city’s going to be covered in it.
* This point is somewhat undermined by this, but still.
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