Lawrence Argent Lecture Review

Romney Smith

Artist Lecture: Lawrence Argent

Lawrence Argent is an artist who uses a variety of mediums to create pieces that interact with the world and how we see it. In his lecture at the Denver Art Museum, he focused on his public art installation pieces. The first thing I noticed about him was his English accent and the sense of humor that came with it when he stated he had a tattoo of a big blue bear on his chest. That statement turned out to be false, but he did indeed create a huge sculpture of a blue bear that can be seen in Denver, Colorado peeping into the convention center. He stated that he is “interested in symbols and how we see those things,” and from there he went onto discuss his fascinating pieces.

The first piece he showed titled “Reflections” featured found objects, a vat of used motor oil with boxing mitts hanging above it and a tray of soap with a soap carving of a cowboy hat adjacent to it. He stated he liked the reflection of the oil and the strong contrast of the objects and how they were now viewed in a new way. As random as I thought this was I liked the idea because it was something odd and unlike anything I have seen before. This was not the only piece he used found objects for, another was “Cojones,” which featured two huge red street sweeper brushes hanging from the ceiling by a steel rope. He made this piece when his son was being born which is where he got the erotic name (if you didn’t know, cojones means testicles in Spanish). Another piece using random objects from his garage splashed with humor is “Waiting.” It is simple from afar, just a chair with a bucket hanging over it attached to a ladder, but once you get close to it you’ll laugh at the many buttocks clothed and unclothed included in a video on the seat of the chair. The video lasts for an hour rotating various images of butts of all kinds of people; I thought this was creative and hilarious, as did he.

Argent has a mind that works with his surroundings and what is occurring in his life. He is currently a teacher at the University of Denver, so when he was asked to create a piece for the campus, he wanted the public piece to be related to knowledge and to be representative of the student body. To represent this he created multiple benches out of limestone that had imprints of Denver students’ lips. He took the lips of his students and cast them into rubber molds, which were then transformed into giant blocks of limestone. The benches are equipped with a sound system that is engaged when someone sits on a bench, and the sitter is then surrounded by the sound of a professor’s recorded lecture or of some sort of poetry. Aside from the benches were huge cylinders that rise to the sky where more blocks of lips sit atop them. “Whispers” is so awesome because of the thought that went into it and how personal it was to the Denver campus. Argent truly thinks every one of his pieces through and pushes them farther and farther until he has his finished product. When I first saw the elevated lips I thought it was sort of strange, but the incorporated knowledge and sounds that are equipped with it makes it so much more interesting and special.

In Colorado, Argent’s most famous piece “I see what you mean,” is  his “big blue bear” that stands 40 feet tall outside of the Convention Center with its face and paws up against the window peering inside. Close up it is obvious that the bear is composed of geometric shapes rather than an all over smooth form, in fact it has 4,000 plastic triangles that make it up! He wanted the piece to create a balance with the architecture of the building rather than take away from it, and choosing geometry for the make up of the bear fit perfectly as the building is composed of many square windows. As with all his pieces he put thought about surroundings and into it, and for this piece thought about what viewers walking by or into the center may be thinking. He made the bear peeping in because passersby may be wondering what is occurring inside the center, just like the curious oversized bear. Of course the other question is, why a bear? That was quite simple, the piece is in Colorado, and in Colorado we have mountains and wilderness, so a black bear was a perfect choice. He made the bear blue because when he created a small model of it before creating the final piece, it came out of the machine blue and chose to keep that color. I personally like the bear a lot, I think it is charming and funny and stands out immediately when I have been in that area in Denver and makes the city seem fun and inviting. The scale of the piece is what makes it so dramatic and wonderful and if it were smaller it would not be as outstanding. The size sort of reflects the feeling I have when I am in Denver; I feel small and curious about the city because it is so big and there are so many parts I have yet to explore. I think this piece brings a different reaction to everyone who sees it, which is pretty neat.

Lawrence Argent was a wonderful and animated speaker and is obviously quite passionate about his art whether it is a huge project he worked on over time or a small piece he put together from household items. Each piece has a different story and is not only personal to him but also to the surroundings the piece is placed in and the people that see it and interact with it. I think art is special and unique when the artist takes so much time and effort to make something and thinks about other aspects of the project rather than just what he wants it to be, which is exactly what Argent does. He has an interesting take on the spaces he works within and a creative mind and I am sure will continue to create wonderful pieces in the future.

4 Responses

  1. I really enjoyed reading your paper, it felt personal and I could tell you put the time into writing a well written paper. I really enjoyed the pictures that you uploaded as well, it was helpful to refer back to them. You did a good job on with beginning the paper with back round information which I admired because a lot of papers do not always include the back round info needed.

  2. In reading as wella s viewing the picture sin you’re paper i really wish i had a chance to get to visit the Denver Art Museum. I enjoyed the variety of mediums he seems to use in his artwork. You seemed you really enjoyed his personality in his lecture. The Big Blue Bear is a interesting piece in which i can se could attract many different crowds including children.

  3. I went to see Lawrence Argent at the Denver Art Museum as well.. oh yeahh.. hey adventure buddy! haha! anyways, I also found him to be an awesome artist. Although i thought Cojones was funny and erotically clever, my favorite work from him was the red rabbit that he spoke of last. I say next time we go on an adventure, lets go see the blue bear and then to the Denver Zoo!

  4. You know those papers that carry you through fluidly, not being muddled by forced academic rhetoric and that contain an immediacy of language that conveys genuine love of the subject? That’s what we have here. Well written, Romney. I have a question for you. Do you ever wonder how it came to be that artists like Lawrence Argent have so much man power and materials at their disposal? Is it really only from very well articulated grant proposals or what?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: