As luck (or something) would have it, the first stop on our road trip was Boise, and as we often do in Boise, we made time for a visit to the Boise Art Museum. It is a small art museum in a smallish city, but I am often impressed with the high quality of the exhibits. Really great museum. I recommend it if you find yourself in Boise. The current show is "Nick Cave: Meet Me at the Center of the Earth." I think it might qualify as cutting edge.
I was confused about Nick Cave. I thought he was a musician. Well turns out there are two. This one. And this one. The artist is a former dancer with the Alvin Ailey company and now teaches at the Art School of the Chicago Art Institute. His visual works are mostly large "suits" that can be worn or exhibited as sculpture. The first piece we saw as we entered the exhibit was this huge bear, constructed from striped wool sweaters.
All of his work is big—taller than human size—and has a sense of iconic tribal figures and costumes. I was immediately reminded of African dancers, and yet the materials used are mundane, often "tacky" artifacts of American life. Old sweaters, cheap toys, hotpads, doilies, knickknacks, synthetic fur and glittery souvenirs. And yet there is a kind of dignity and mystery, and I found myself circling and circling and discovering all I could about each piece.
How clever is this? The repeating circular images on old tops and those
same patterns crocheted into hot pads?
These suits he calls "soundsuits" and the sound that is made by a human moving inside the piece becomes a part of the work, taking the work from static artwork to performance.
Lots of ceramic bird figurines!
Would you take it home for the family room? Of course not. This seems to be the common objection to unconventional art. It isn't conventionally "pretty" or "tasteful". Some of it is hard to understand. Some of it is downright disturbing! But if it makes you react, or laugh, or cry, or feel somehow a little bit off-center, then it is communicating something that the artist feels. It is more than decor. It could be a message or a question or just a feeling of joyful abandon. It makes you feel something new. This is what I love about art.
Photography was not allowed in the museum. All images here were gleaned from the internet, but these were all pieces that were in the exhibit.