You say: I don’t care that they don’t consider it art.
But I do: I see the children running, arms open
Embracing this glittering lizard, seeing themselves
in her mirrored scales.
– Marcy Erb
Last week I started attending a sketchbook class. We meet in various places in San Diego and draw outside: so it is the perfect combination of things I enjoy! Our first meeting was in Balboa Park and after a brief official “class” session, we were set loose in the park to draw pretty much whatever we wanted. I wound up doing multiple studies of the large outdoor mosaic sculpture called Nikigator by Niki de Saint Phalle (1930 – 2002). It is one of the few sculptures in the park you are allowed to touch and it is literally a child magnet, with kids running, squealing, towards it, arms out to climb and scramble and play. I know of no official study, but just by the level of interaction I observed and the number family photos taken with Nikigator, I would guess it is one of the most visited pieces of art in the park (here’s a color picture!). Niki de Saint Phalle lived an exceedingly colorful and interesting life (The New Yorker published an interesting article about her life last year, I recommend it if you have a few minutes – found here). She is quoted as saying “Whether or not people think it’s art – whether or not it is art – doesn’t matter to me,” in response to critics who were scandalized she merchandized her art in the 1960s to fund her outdoor sculptures. It is interesting to see how much attitudes have changed about that and about how artists are paid and artwork funded. I hope everyone has an enjoyable weekend!