Friday, March 5, 2010

Crime of the Century (There's No Art Like Snow Art Division)

   Snow art, it is plain, simply is not appreciated by the keepers of society's mores, be they bluenoses or bluecoats. 
   First there was the snow-penis kerfuffle. Now comes a high-art contretemps. 
   Elisa Gonzalez, obviously a creative, well-rounded individual, recently took it upon herself to carve, on the front lawn of her Rahway, New Jersey home, a snow replica of the Venus de Milo, according to a March 4 Associated Press story. 
   This, really, is so much more inspired than is making, for example, a snowman (although these, at this point in history, can be considered "classics"), or a snow statue that resembles, say, Rush Limbaugh. 
   Quite frankly, you're better off making a scarecrow that resembles Rush Limbaugh. The similarities are eerie: a scarecrow is a straw man; Rush Limbaugh sets up straw-man arguments. A scarecrow scares birds; Rush Limbaugh scares all sentient beings, as well as some of your more concentrated collections of star dust. A scarecrow is brainless; Rush Limbaugh... well, point made. 
   The Venus de Milo (photo, left), an ancient Greek sculpture, is credited to an artist named Alexandros of Antioch. At least so says Wikipedia, the resource of dubiously-sourced information for researchers too lazy to visit all links but the first in any Google search.
   The statue's subject is Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty. (The Romans called her Venus; contrary folk that they were, they simply felt compelled to invent their own name for her. This was sort of a goddess-appellation version of how dogs make fire hydrants their very own.) 
   Beauty, sadly, has its comeuppances; time is not always kind to it. Somewhere along the way, the Venus de Milo's arms were severed at the biceps (right) and shoulder (left). Her statuesque (sorry) breasts, however, all the more wondrous for not having been surgically enhanced in her lifetime or any other, have remained on dazzling display all throughout history. 
   And so they did on Ms. Gonzalez's snow statue. In other ways, however, the appropriately armless snow version veered slightly from the original. For example, it had no head. Comparing the two, the AP helpfully noted, "The original Venus de Milo, which is housed in Paris' Louvre museum... is also without arms, although her head is intact."  
   Disparities aside, Ms. Gonzalez, who is forty-four, was rightly pleased with her artwork. 
   "It looked very beautiful," she told the AP. "We got a lot of attention from people in the neighborhood. Some of them got out and took pictures and spoke to us."
   You see? Art not only soothes the savage, ugly, heinous, destructive, wanton, debauched, decadent, lying, manipulative, Machiavellian and porcine inner beast (the, as it were, inner Rush Limbaugh), but it also creates instant community. Just ask anyone trying to hook up with an art-lover at a museum. It's like harpooning whales in a barrel. 
   Alas, not everyone agrees. The idea of "art," especially when it includes a naked snow rack, is in the sometimes bedeviled eye of the beholder. A Gonzalez neighbor, shocked, absolutely shocked by the statue, alerted the local gendarmerie. They, in turn, gave Ms. Gonzalez the choice of knocking it down or concealing the lovely parts. 
   "We didn't want to have any problem with the police, so we covered it up," Ms. G. quite sensibly said. The photo below shows that Ms. G. ingeniously covered the Venus de Milo's historic breasts with a bikini top, cleverly turning her into an ancient Greek, and headless, beach bunny. 
   Well, concessions must be made. Perhaps Ms. G. was aware that, just a few years earlier, police in nearby New York had used shovels to pummel a snow-penis into powder. Would any true artist wish to inflict such a heartbreaking fate upon the Venus de Milo? Of course not.
   This, however, must be said: it is a dark day in America when boors incapable even of rudimentary art appreciation take it upon themselves to set community-wide artistic standards. They're better off doing what they do best: finding fault with the joy and creative expression of others, gossiping about those of whom they're paralyzingly envious, and spending their afternoons immersed in the risible chatter of Rush Limbaugh, right wing scarecrow. 

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