In February, I received an email from the Public Art Fund announcing that a new outdoor art exhibit was opening on March 5th called United Enemies. It’s comprised of two monumental bronze sculptures by Thomas Schütte. Both sculptures feature a pair of angry men tied together but struggling to pull apart. They are so consumed with contempt for each other their faces are distorted. Naturally I thought:
Me: The Democrats and the Republicans!
Apparently, I was onto something for I learned some specifics about its origin:
“Conceived during a residency in Italy at a time when several politicians had been arrested for corruption, this series of works refers obliquely to these individuals, though the figures represented in the work are mythical characters rather than specific people.”
Last week, the Public Art Fund sent me an email reminding me that the exhibit has officially opened, or at least that’s what I thought the email was about. I didn’t read the email’s text. I looked at the image and instantly thought these pairs of freaky gents would be welcome on my site.
On Sunday afternoon, I hopped on the downtown 1 local subway train, exited at 59th Street and walked east down Central Park West, prepared to take my usual mediocre photographs. As I passed each entrance and exit to the park, I was confounded for I could not find these sculptures. I knew they weren’t lawn jockey size. Since they were bronze behemoths I thought it was highly unlikely that they were stolen or damaged. When I reached Fifth Avenue, I considered asking a carriage horse driver if he knew where they were, but that struck me as absurd since they were obviously nowhere to be found.
I then proceeded to retrace my steps going west. I looked closer at each entrance and exit to the park, but still, there was no sign of these sculptures and my bafflement escalated. Why didn’t I read the text in that email? Was this exhibit postponed or opening at a later date? I walked up Central Park West and looked over the lower end of the park. All I saw was a woman walking two poodles clad in coats that surely cost more than my crappy down jacket.
Then, I had a light bulb: I’d look at the email! Last Xmas The Boss gave me a refurbished iPod Touch. I turned it on, but could not access the internet. I felt foiled and regretted only being able to afford a dumb phone. I really did not want to return home to read that email on my home computer, but then I had another light bulb: I may have a dumb phone but I have friends with smart phones. First, I called Milton, but he wasn’t around. Next, I texted Coco, but she wasn’t around. Last, I tried my pal, Lola. She wasn’t around, either. I gave up and proceeded to walk home. As I neared 66th Street Milton called:
Milton: You rang.
Me: Yeah. I’m trying to photograph a Public Art Fund exhibit near the entrance of Central Park, but I don’t know what entrance it’s at. Can you research it for me?
Milton: What’s the name of the exhibit?
Me: The artist is Thomas something, a German-sounding name. Just Google Public Art Fund.
Milton: What’s the first word I’m Googling?
Milton: Say again.
Me: Public. Like the Public Theater, but don’t Google the Public Theater
Milton: Oh. Public. The Public what?
Me: Art Fund.
Milton: The Public Art Fund.
[Channeling Rex Harrison as Henry Higgins: By Jove, I think he’s got it!]
Milton: It’s in the Doris C. Freedman Plaza at 60th Street and Fifth Avenue. Who’s Doris C. Freedman? Where the hell is that?
Me: I have no idea. I’ve just spent the last hour walking up and down Central Park West like an idiot.
Milton: Figure it’s by the Plaza Hotel.
Me: I was just by the Plaza Hotel.
Milton: You were probably on the 59th Street side. Go to 60th.
Just then a 66th Street cross-town bus arrived. I stood behind two senior citizens that paid their fares in loose change. This took an eternity to accomplish. I counted the traffic light change three times and began regretting not carrying a sleeping bag. The bus crossed the park. I exited at Fifth Avenue to continue my crusade. Metal stands left over from the St. Patrick’s Day parade were still crowding the sidewalk.
I noticed several well-heeled pedestrians carrying shopping bags from the tony department stores in the area walking in the street. Clearly they have better health insurance than me. Finally, as I approached 60th Street I saw the sculptures in the distance.