Lawrence Argent, Megan Keith

Lawrence Argent

I chose to attend Lawrence Argent’s lecture based solely the date on which it occurred: it simply worked for my schedule. I had no idea that he was the creator of my favorite public piece: the big blue bear looking into the Convention Center in Denver. I have always looked forward to seeing this work, ever since I saw it on a field trip when I was younger. I had never known the name of the artist, nor had I bothered to find out. I just wanted to see the bear for the sake of seeing the bear. I had never really considered it to be art.

Luckily enough, however, the artist who created my favorite piece gave a lecture at the Denver Art Museum. I did not realize he was the artist of my bear until he began his presentation. What luck! I had finally stumbled onto the artist of the bear.

He began his presentation discussing some of his smaller previous works. I have to admit, I had trouble paying attention to his roots and his original inspirations and pieces. I had linked him to the giant blue bear, which I learned was titled “I See What You Mean”, and that thought was so exciting!

I thought about what a difference it made to have seen his works before hearing him talk. For instance, I defined him by his work while I defined Aki Sasamoto by her character (because I met her before seeing any of her works in person.) I was thrilled to find he had a charming personality, answered questions easily and made jokes, even at his own expense. I find that knowing the artist’s personality really adds to my respect for them and their work.

What I found most interesting about Argent’s work is that the majority of it is in the form of public art. The Bear, first and foremost, is my favorite example of public art: one does not have to pay a fee to enjoy it. It was created for everyone to see. Another example is Sacramento’s “Leap” sculpture. The rabbit is huge, but whimsical and exists for everyone to enjoy. I am fascinated by public art, and have come to appreciate how accesible it is.

I have the most respect for artists like Argent because there is no ticket required to enjoy their work. Perhaps years of paying $15 for a ticket to a museum has made me bitter, but I see much more value in works that are made for everyone to experience. To me, Argent’s use of public art puts him at a level above his peers. I realize that he has created numerous smaller pieces that remain inside museums, however, these are the pieces that I had trouble appreciating. They were, needless to say, incredible, and I really enjoyed the majority of them, but they could not compare to his larger, public pieces. Perhaps it was because I already knew of some of his public works, like “I See What You Mean” and “Pillow Talk” and had not heard of his smaller pieces that I found myself drawn to some and not others.

Additionally, his paintings and sketches seemed very rough and abstract. I found many of them interesting, but I have always been more interested in realistic pieces. And even though one may claim that some of his sketches, especially of faces, appear more realistic than a giant blue bear, I still love his larger-scale works.

As the presentation progressed and I began to recognize more and more of his works that I had seen, such as “Pillow Talk”, I started to feel more and more attached to Argent. He had created a number of pieces that I have loved for a long time, but had not known who had created them. I felt incredibly blessed to have chosen his lecture to attend, all the while not realizing he was responsible for these beloved works.

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