According to Gasch’s Guide to Gargoyles and Other Grotesques, the cathedral’s beret-wearing, paintbrush-toting deer is a verbal and visual pun: “This ‘endearing’ artist is undoubtedly ‘fawning’ on art.” Forever facing south toward the city’s museums, this creature is finding that a life in the arts, or in Washington, is about acquiring far more than the proper costume or kit.
ARS GRAVIS, VITA LEVIS
“Oldenburg, Rauschenberg, Klimt, or Klee:
When will I know what my passion should be?
Bierstadt, Bearden, de Kooning, Kinkaid:
How will their worth and my wisdom be weighed?
Is Calder too cutesy? Is folk art still fab?
Must Modern mean morbid? Devotional drab?
Are Memmi’s Madonnas deserving of fame?
Is liking them rightly ironic, or lame?
Is Flagg too American? Catlin taboo?
Is Russell too western? Is Parrish too blue?
Is Fauve far too Fauvist? Is Nevelson fluff?
Noguchi not nearly noetic enough?
What if I’m cornered, but plead my release
By deftly decrypting a daring new piece?
‘Problematizing. Pedantic. Profane.
Derivative. Kitschy. Impassioned but vain.’
Stone-faced, I’ll suffer no pleasure to show.
What if they squint through my brilliance, and know?”
(Say God replies. His pronouncement drifts down:
“Art’s not an adjective, only a noun.”)
(For all the entries in this series, hit the “looking up” tag.)