After checking out some of the Cheekwood gardens, I stepped inside the Frist Learning Center for an air conditioning break and began what became an hour of looking at…shall we say interesting (?) sculptures.
First up was “Silver Linings” by Artist-In-Residence Soo Sunny Park. I love the concept – behind every cloud is a silver lining – but the instillation hangs pretty low, so walking through it (which is what the intention appears to be) is pretty difficult, even for someone as short as I am. I also wish the instillation were bigger – it takes up a whole room, but somehow still feels small for it’s size.
After leaving “Silver Linings”, I walked outside the Frist Learning Center and set out on the Sculpture Trail, located right behind the building. I’m not entirely sure what I thought it would be, but I was left confused and perplexed by the time I was to the end. The trail was not well marked, causing me to get turned around a few times and miss a few of the sculptures, which is kind of impressive in a sad way considering how often I hike, but also quite frankly, I didn’t “get” a lot of the art. It’s like when I was in Spain, I visited a small gallery in Segovia that had exhibits such as cutlery affixed to a canvas and also a leaning tower of microwaves. For me, it doesn’t have anything to do with how “pretty” a piece is – I’m equally intrigued by aesthetically pleasing pieces, such as Van Gogh’s Starry Night as I am to more disturbing pieces, such as Picasso’s Guernica (depicting the German and Italian bombings of the Basque region) or Frida Kahlo’s Henry Ford Hospital (which she painted about her 2nd miscarriage) – it has to do with whether the piece seems contrived to me. I prefer to see something that provokes an emotion, any emotion. I want to be inspired, not bored. That’s the problem I had with the Nature Sculpture Trail at Cheekwood. Sure, some of the pieces were nice, but the grand majority were just confusing, and not in a good way.
First for the good news. Here are some of the pieces I did like:
- Glass Bridge by Siah Armajani. Seems kind of out of place on a nature trail, and I was slightly terrified I’d go crashing through the floor on my first step, but it’s definitely pretty and well constructed.
- Turtles, Two Hares, Frog and Hawk by Frank Fleming. Super cute and cheeky, appropriate for the setting, and searching for the hawk amongst the trees was a lot of fun.
- Tree Poem by John Scott. My favorite by far.
Now here are the ones I was thoroughly underwhelmed by:
- Blue Pesher by James Turrell
- “The Order Of The Present Is The Disorder Of The Future” – SAINT-JUST, by Ian Hamilton Finlay
- A Memorial To The Aboriginal People Of This Land Who Lived In With These Forests, by Yoné Sinor
If anyone reading this post disagrees with my assessment of these installations, I understand, but art is subjective.