Lecture Review 2, Rachel Olguin

Rachel Olguin

ARTH 3539

Kira van Lil

30 April 2012

Logan Lecture Series: Lawrence Argent

            Lawrence Argent is an artist of many mediums, accomplishments and audiences. From paintings and drawings to installations and public art, the man has made many an artwork and has received much publicity and commission work. Argent’s talk at the Denver Art Museum gave much insight into the thoughts behind some of his more recognized works and allowed the audience to get a glimpse of what goes on in this artist’s head.

Three works Argent discussed that intrigued me the most were “I See What You Mean”, “Whispers” and “Leap”. “I See What You Mean”, or as most people know it, the big blue bear, is a giant sculpture of a bear, peeking in the windows of the Denver Convention Center. As Argent discussed, the bear is meant to play with the architecture of the building as well as remind viewers of the natural characteristic that is so incumbent with the state of Colorado. Like the blue mustang at the Denver International Airport, this piece is a tongue-in-cheek comment on man’s strive to conquer nature yet somehow maintain its best and advantageous qualities. Another interesting comment that Argent made about this piece was about its ability to inherit multiple interpretations. The bear’s own curiosity can is valued differently through each individual’s own curious engagement with the sculpture.

The second appealing piece, “Whispers”, is a public installation on the University of Denver campus. It involves four large benches and five pillars carved out of limestone and made to resemble lips of the university’s community. When someone sits on the benches, “they make the sound of education” and play different educational lectures. This piece is interesting because it is so directly related to the space in which it is installed. Being at a school only furthers the question and investigation of where we get information.

“Leap” is the third artwork that I enjoyed hearing about. This piece is installed at the Sacramento Airport and is basically a giant red rabbit ‘leaping’ from one level of the airport down to the baggage claim level. Below the rabbit is a suitcase with a sort of vortex that the rabbit is leaping into. Argent is commenting on both our addiction to stuff (luggage) and its ability to define who we are and how we function. Because the rabbit is jumping through a void of stuff, Argent is giving the rabbit an escape from the definitive culture of our luggage.

I enjoyed this lecture because of the fact that as viewers we don’t always get to hear the artists’ side of the story. In some ways, that can be incredibly beneficial to a piece of art in determining its value and what it means. I often find it refreshing though to really see what the artist was meaning to portray and what the artwork really meant to them as they were making it and if that meaning changed after it had been completed. Leave it to the psychology major to get in someone’s head I guess, but I never feel like I fully know a piece of art until I understand its original intentions and can compare them to my initial reaction and understanding.

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