Lecture Review 2 @DAM-Natalie Prescott

Natalie Prescott

Visiting Artist Lecture @ DAM

Lawrence Argent

            I went to the Denver Art Museum to hear the artist lecture by Lawrence Argent on April 18, 2012. He likes working with materials and materiality and is known for his public sculptures and installations.  Argent aims to ignite the confidence in the spectator to ignite something else from what he presents. I’m not sure if he should be the sole artist in some of his works because very few of his works he presented did he actually craft himself. He is one of those artists that have a whole team of very intelligent people working behind him, or for him you could say that construct the works. Not only does someone else physically construct the work but often time they also put in their intelligent ideas into the idea and creation.

            Many of us from Denver know the large standing blue bear peering into the Colorado Convention Center downtown. The Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs commissioned the space to Lawrence Argent for Denver’s Public Art Program in 2005. He was told that they wanted him to do something that would give the public the idea of what we think Colorado is. Argent on the other hand, wanted to derail this idea of what we thing Colorado is and the mindset of it.  He wanted it to be apart of the building and not just a decorative component. It needed to have a symbiotic relationship with the building that is such a dominant architecture structure. Argent wanted to bring the mountains down to Denver and peak the visitor’s awareness of the uniqueness of their location. He came up with I See What You Mean, a forty-foot tall blue bear with a triangular textured surface. The bear peers inside of the much larger convention center with a sense of interest as to what events are taking place inside the facility. I like this work because I think it adds to the uniqueness of the building and it tells a story and makes people who are passing by want to know or be inside. This is a great work to help with advertisement and the curiosity of visitors as to what is held within the convention center.

Argent was commissioned in 2007 to design a public work for the town plaza entrance in Vail, Colorado. He was brought on as the artist selected to be the creative director for the project.  The Plaza needed an entryway that would accommodate the changes in season and is appropriate for a common meeting place for the townies. For this area Argent created two large sculptures that are unique to one another. One is a large bronze sculpture with swirling pieces leading up into a tall point on the top. The other, my favorite of the two, is a majestic piece that contains LEDs that illuminate different colors according to the different times of day. It is a large up side down metal cone, if you will, that has these bubbles all around it that contain the LEDs inside. At the bottom side of the sculpture is a bench that goes all the way around the base. I like this piece because of its location and materiality. It gives Vail’s Town Plaza an even more majestic and modern feel along with incorporating the arts into the area.

My favorite piece creatively directed by Argent would be the piece he was commissioned to do in 2009 for the Public Art Project and Plaza Design at the University of Houston called Your Move. The piece has three large sculptures made out of bronze, grey granite, and Red Indian granite in the courtyard of the Graduate housing at the University. Each sculpture is an oversized gourd like object, two in stone and one cast in bronze all placed upon and surrounded by grey granite pavers. Gourds are one of the first plants to be cultivated throughout the world and are thought to have spanned the globe on prehistoric times. Argent thought this would be a good object to put in a place where people from all over the world come together intellectually, mentally, and physically. This is my favorite piece he presented because of the weight of the materials used, the sheer size, and the colors and patterns. The patterns where carved in by a machine with a computer motherboard that does all the work. Then people go in a refine areas that couldn’t be reached by machine.  I think this is a beautiful piece of art and it goes to show how much money is being put into public art works today.

I’m not sure what to think of Lawrence Argent as an artist. I mean, he makes me wonder what kinds of works he would come up with without the financial backing and intelligent people who help him with his ideas. I know he is the creative director behind these works but I feel like to be an artist you must be more than just the director of the process of the art making. I also think that the countless numbers of other people who actually had a HAND or intelligent idea in making the works should each be credited, not just the company that Argent collaborated with.

2 Responses

  1. I had the same reaction to his work. Part of me feels that it is better to create your own work and present it than have an idea and have someone else execute it. His ideas are great and thought out but i want him to be more active then just standing by and watching to see how it will turn out especially with the gourds at the University.

    • I totally agree!! I feel like unless you literally have a hand in the making of the work it is hard for me to feel like it is “your” work.. I’m sure people disagree with this but I felt the same way about other artists we’ve learned about that have huge teams of people that produce their ideas for them.. I can’t remember exactly who and I want to say Jeff Koons but I’m not sure if he was involved in the actual making process of his works.. I feel like it was him that I felt this way about, not just because he remade things that we didn’t originally look at as art.

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