The city of Minneapolis will have more Art: The City Council approved an ordinance that will set aside 1.5 percent of the annual amount of new debt for public art-things. But what kind of art?
The new Dylan mural is popular because it flatters the tastes of graying boomers, most of whom would have shrugged if the picture were Prince. You know, the guy who stayed here, and made a movie about a nightclub a few blocks away. Dylan isn’t even from here. It’s like putting up a 50-foot mural of Keillor in Hibbing, glaring out over an ore pit.
People also like it because they can tell what it is. If an artist who works solely in abstract styles says, “This mural was inspired by Bob Dylan,” and it looks like the aftermath of a paintball tournament, it falls into the category of “modern things you’re supposed to like but no, you probably have paintings of ducks in the rumpus room.” If they’d made a giant mural of ducks on the wing it would be unacceptable, unless it was understood that it was an ironic commentary on middle-class culture. See, there in the corner? Sarah Palin with a gun! It’s OK to like it now.
There’s some Art by the Government Center light-rail station. Pillars of heaped hexagons engraved with sententious statements no one thinks about, like “The Barest is Chosen.” Oh. Nearby there’s a hideous sculpture made from melted guns, the point of which is, “We melted some guns.”
There’s a reason people like the Spoonbridge more than the nearby heap of rusty girders, and it’s not just fear of tetanus. There’s joy and whimsy in the Spoonbridge, and you get it. Not to say all art has to be simple and comforting, but it has to engage, and no one cares about an enigmatic stalagmite. Take a cue from the kitschy-cute Peanuts statues, and plant fun statues all over town.
Bob Dylan doing a handstand in the Rose Garden! Pretending to spit off the Cretin overpass!