Lawrence Argent- Lecture Review 2

Lawrence Argent began his lecture by saying “You know me because I have a blue bear tattooed to my chest” which caused laughter and set the general tone of the lecture. Argent has studied semiotics and symbols, which has played a major role in his work. He has work which is well known in Colorado, and also can be considered a symbol of Colorado. His lecture at the Denver Art Museum focuses on his public art which unchartered land for many artists. Argent uses a variety of materials which all interact with their surroundings, and how we see it.

His first piece he discussed was titled “Reflections” which featured found items, the use of motor oil and soap. The soap and motor oil contradicted each other, and stimulated the senses. The soap smelling sweet, and the motor oil having a strong and unpleasant scent. Argent wanted to play around with the idea of setting up a contrast between the items he had used. The piece is titled “Reflections” because of the reflective quality of the motor oil. The next piece he discussed was one titled “Cojones” which was two large sweet sweeping brushes which were hanging. They had a vivid red color, and a unique texture. He found the inspiration for the title from his Latin neighbors who had asked him if he was opening a car wash. Argent also had his son when he was making the piece, which could have also inspired the name (cojones is slang for testicles in Spanish.) Argent had mentioned he was intrigued by the idea of items losing their history if they take them out of their original setting. When he took the street sweeper brushes and hung them up, they did not resemble brushes anymore. They had a completely changed purpose and meaning. His next piece he discussed was titled “Waiting” which featured an installation of a chair and a video screen showing the many different butts that can sit on the chair both clothed and unclothed. This piece also has a bucket hanging above the chair, which is hanging from a ladder.  This piece provokes laughter and plays for an hour. This piece was entertaining and unique, and also shows the creativity of Argent.

Argent is a teacher at the University of Colorado Denver, and he was asked to create a piece for the campus. His desire for this piece was to represent knowledge and the student body. He had mentioned he wants his public pieces to interact with the surroundings, and what is currently going on within his own life. Argent took casts of his students’ lips, and then enlarged them to make limestone benches. This piece is titled “Whispers”.  The benches were equipped with a sound system which would be engaged when anyone sat on the benches. The sound system would play a recording of a professor’s lecture or some kind of poetry. Along with the limestone benches there were tall cylinders, which also had enlarged casts of his students’ lips at the top.  This piece is truly unique because of the personal touch Argent includes with the piece. This piece is directly related to the campus and the school. It forces whoever is sitting on the benches to become part of the school. Argent asked the question “What is education?” He believes he has answered that question with his piece “Whispers.”

In Vail, Colorado Argent created a piece which resembled a tree. The best part of this piece is the large amounts of bulb like objects which light up at night. The bulbs slowly change colors, with a smooth transition. This piece makes people question whether or not they actually have seen the tree change colors because of how slow it transitions from one color to the other. Argent mentioned he enjoys making art which makes people react to it. With every piece Argent creates an intense amount of engineering and computer programming goes into the construction. A lot of the sculptures he creates are actually computer scanned to ensure precision. The piece that goes along with the tree is a fire bulb, which has a small fire within the structure. The fire bulb is also located in Vail as well, an both of the pieces are located in a plaza with an ice skating rink. This plaza is always filled with people, which is what Argent wanted to promote reactions to his work.

The most famous piece in Colorado is “I see what you mean” which is his “Big Blue Bear.” This piece is located by the convention center in downtown Denver. It is actually leaning on the convention peering into the building. Argent wanted to avoid kitschy Colorado themes, which then led to a large blue bear. The size of this piece is the most powerful aspect of it, and the inspiration came from playing with his children. Argent had mentioned he was happy with the city of Denver taking the risk in investing there time and money on placing a large blue bear in their city. Argent also wanted the blue bear to be cohesive the surrounding architecture, which he was successful in doing because he had the bear leaning on the building, it appears to be one with the building. Computer imaging went into the process of making the bear, the bear is made up of thousands of small triangles. The blue bear got its color because when it came out of the scanner, it was blue, and Argent decided to stick with that color.

Lawrence Argent showed his passion for his work when he was talking about it. He told us about the process he goes through in making his art, and also the extreme measures he takes in the scale and material he uses. He has taken risks and succeeded in creating amazing artwork. His public art has caused reactions from people all over Colorado, and is very memorable.

-Andrew Garcia

One Response

  1. Andrew,
    I am surprised you took this direction with your paper after speaking with you about Argent’s work. I think you did a good job assessing his work though, and showing how it is very modern in construction technique. I think your essay might be improved though by splitting paragraphs up a bit more, and proofreading for tenses.

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