Marolt: Thunderstruck by roundabout art
May 3, 2017
It is said that lightening doesn't strike the same place twice; and don't start in about Lee Trevino. Yes, it is true the golfing legend was hit by lightening three times, but he is not a place. He is a person, and he was in a different place each time he was struck. It may have been payback for him teasing God by saying that even he, The Almighty, couldn't hit a one iron. Thou shall not put thy Lord to the test.
We are not lords, and so we get tested all the time. The latest test is of the simple "yes" or "no" variety. One simple question: "Do you like the proposed new sculpture for the incredible new roundabout?"
It is important to know because, well, the roundabout — by virtue of its cost plus the length of time it has taken to construct it in proportion to the seeming lack of complexity of constructing a flat, round piece of road less than a sixteenth of a mile around at the perimeter — has, by default, become the center of our town.
And speaking of lightening, in case you haven't seen the depictions of the proposed piece of art, it's a gigantic bolt of multi-tipped, chrome-colored lightening that has just struck the ground above a huge granite boulder buried just below the surface. Directly beneath it is the perfectly preserved and intact petrified skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex that will never be known to us since the subsurface boulder is too huge for us to even think about moving, not knowing that the paleontological treasure is hiding beneath it. The lightening is only powerful enough to shatter the top part of the sub-surface boulder and blast a few big chunks of it into the air where it gets wedged into the elbow joints of the lightening bolt. This is the moment captured by the artist to preserve in our town circle until futuristic engineers come up with foolproof nuclear-powered driverless hovercrafts that render roundabouts obsolete forevermore.
Go ahead and argue with me, but art is in the eye of the beholder, and I am the beholder here, thus, my interpretation is truth. If you disagree with my vision, write your own column about the new artwork and maybe they'll run it as a guest editorial … next Thursday.
If you would like me to dumb my interpretation of the roundabout sculpture down, I will only go so far as to say it looks like the angular rock-work sculpture at the south end of Town Park on steroids.
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But, there is a bigger question that needs to be addressed, too. It is said that the artist is "giving" us this sculpture for nothing. What we really need to ask is, "Really?"
Keep in mind that "free" and "gift" are artistically used by hucksters on late-night television, and so I am entitled to interpret this, too. I think the "gift" of this art looks like a ploy by an artist to get his art displayed on a valuable piece of public land forever, for free.
"Oh, for pete's sake," you say. "How valuable could that land in the middle of a traffic circle be?"
You might have a point, except not a very good one. If I may answer this question by asking another, you will see why. How much would a company like, say, McDonald's Corp., pay us to put a sculpture of the golden arches on that piece of worthless dirt? I bet it would be enough to build a penthouse on top of the recreation center, which we could rent out short-term and never again have an annual town budget.
For an artist, I think placing a piece of work on that spot is a one in a million strike of good fortune worth a lucrative career — the adjective and noun combo artists rarely use. Millions of people over the ensuing decades will see it and want to know the who, what, where and why. All stories will lead right back to the artist and eventually his bank account.
That said, I don't want to turn our roundabout into a commercial venture that goes to the highest bidder or craftiest gifter. What I'd like to find out is what the people at Anderson Ranch think about that spot. They are part of our history. A piece of their work there would feel good to locals and tell visitors a little about who we are. At the very least, we should make a local artist famous.
The idea came to Roger Marolt like a lightening bolt. Email at email@example.com.
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