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Wednesday, October 5, 2011


new outdoor art in sparta

A few days ago I came around the curve from the Little River bridge toward town and saw the red pyramid that had sat atop the Kentucky Fried fastfood joint was on the ground. Workers walking around with ladders, looking like they're dismantling the place. Then I hear the KFC/TacoBell is defunct, gone. I won't miss it. Been in there about 3 times and never liked it any of the times. First time, to see what it was like; second time, to see if it was really as bad as I'd assessed it; third time, I was with somebody who wanted to go there. The KFC sign was a horrid sight to see crossing the river and going around the curve toward town. Col. Sanders. That red pyramid was not Sparta. It did not fit. Of course, those places are all gaudy, and, on top of that, they're designed for urban spaces with other such places around them. That's the environment they're designed for, the busiest roads possible. This place is on a nice spot of ground with some trees around, sky, landscape. The red KFC pyramid stood out somewhat.

I never objected to it, because the encroachment of corporate stores and fastfood places brings ugly with every new one that comes in. It's just one more ugly corporate box in town, in a time when the only work an art major can get is to design such travesties of aesthetic emptiness and make ads for them. It's no wonder the artists in New York, the serious artists in the land, scribble on canvases. It's an artist's vision that mirrors the culture of emptiness, absence of substance, we live in. The only answer I know when somebody asks me why something that's just scribbles can be called art, Look around you at what we call reality; scribbles, trash, junk, graffiti, ugly corporate box businesses, miles and miles of endless signs on both sides of 4 and 6 lane highways in American cities, a chaos of ugly forms. Nobody complains about that. But when an artist like Cy Twombly makes scribble marks all over a canvas, "You call that art?!" I figure if, in the time they had trees and fields, painting trees and fields was not questioned as legitimate art, in a time when our cities are a mayhem of the hideous, to splatter paint, smear it, sling it, dab it, let it run, makes an artistic representation of what I see every time I go into a city, and what I see Sparta becoming. Living abstract expressionism.

A few days later I drove around the curve from the bridge and the KFC building was stripped down to its skeletal architecture, actually a nice looking building on its location, under the cosmetics of signs and red panels, like a woman who looks better without makeup than with it. I saw the KFC/TacoBell corporation left their sign frames and the fluorescent tubes. I pulled in and parked. The camera was with me. I got out of the car and walked all around the place. It was an outdoor sculpture park in Sparta. Admission: eyes to see it. I loved the big upside-down black L over the drive-thru area. The lines in the parking lot were fresh white, hadn't been run over a lot. They even left the planted foliage, little shrubs, and a spot of lawn. I took a mess of pictures. This is what I do in a place where I have no access to places like the outdoor sculpture park in Minneapolis, or a contemporary art museum, or really anything to do with art, except for books I order from amazon. Something like this nice flat parking lot of white lines on black, the rectangle frames with vertical or horizontal rows of fluorescent tubes inspires me. I felt like I was in a museum of art while I walked, looking at the leavings around the building. 

When I'd taken all the pictures I wanted and then some more in case I might have missed something, I was sitting in the car to start it when a car exactly like mine pulled into the parking lot, drove around the building and drove back toward Sparta, the direction it came from. There are about a half dozen cars like mine, a 94 Buick century with the taillights that run all the way across the back. At least a half dozen of them, gray ones, in the county. It's my old man car. Only old people have them now. Good running, excellent car. I felt like that was something of an oddity, like a fox running in the beams of my headlights, just-a-gittin-it down the gravel road in front of my truck in the night, dog beside me on the seat about to lose her mind wanting to get out and chase the fox. And the times a red-tailed hawk flew down my road with me about 3 feet above where a hood ornament would be, flying with me like a dolphin with a boat. Sitting in the parking lot, the engine idling, still in P, I looked out over the parking lot with the white lines and thought about all I'd seen, that this is the most beautiful the place will ever be. Another corporate monstrosity will come in and cover its architectural beauty with signs and posters. I'm not finished taking pictures in there. I aim to enjoy it in its perhaps short period of time as a sculpture garden. I'd like to turn on all the fluorescent lights at night. That would be dynamic.  


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