How are these four things connected?
First, an article in The Wall Street Journal appeared Thursday morning (click to read) about plans for the Taubman Museum of Art to commission a piece by Natural Bridge artist and master of kitsch Mark Cline for its atrium as a follow up to Charlie Brouwer’s temporary sculpture made of ladders, “Rise Up Roanoke,” that was installed in March.
The article has stirred some interesting comments, including a debate on Gamut Theatre’s Facebook page. Gamut’s artistic director, Miriam Frazier, objected to Roanoke artist Bill Rutherfoord’s quote in the WSJ story:
”Shakespeare sometimes played to the groundlings. I guess we have to do some of that too.”
I think a Mark Cline exhibit at the Taubman (masterminded by Brian Sieveking by the way, who has been a big supporter of Gamut) is GENIUS. Mark Cline is a regional artist (folk artist, outsider artist…whatever title the art crowd would like to tag him with) and his work is absolutely worthy of an exhibit locally.
Big Lick Conspiracy member Patrick Kelly weighed in:
The naturalist in me is not a fan of what has happened at Natural Bridge, but I love the principal that animates Cline’s work. I am a huge fan of folk/outsider art and think the Taubman should look there for a possible exhibit
And Rutherfoord responded, addressing art with “elitist” agendas vs. the “Philistine” tastes of the common man:
I have always felt that it’s possible to split the difference, and so did the Bard, who used “bed tricks” to draw people into intellectually demanding narratives about life and death issues.
What’s followed has not been a name-calling slapflight, but a fascinatingly complex debate about the nature of art.