Lame Adventure 365: I, Numbskull

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.

Take fifteen seconds to read this.

Too busy to take fifteen seconds to read this.

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?

Me:  Public.

Milton: What?

Me: Public.

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.

The Plaza Hotel.

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.

Metal stands hogging sidewalk.

Metal stands hogging 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.

Hallelujah moment.

Hallelujah moment.

Putting their best peg leg forward.

Putting their best peg leg forward.

From this angle these guys brought to mind former governor of Alabama George Wallace.

From this angle these guys brought to mind former governor of Alabama George Wallace.

Two more miserable bronze dudes.

Two more miserable bronze dudes.

Pastoral shot of park doubling as eyeball cleanse.

Picturesque shot of park doubling as eyeball cleanse.

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64 responses to “Lame Adventure 365: I, Numbskull

  1. Thank you for traipsing me all over the park – I enjoyed it!

    Ever,

    R.

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  2. Cool sculptures. I don’t read the fine

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  3. Cool sculptures. I seldom read the fine print, conditioned as I am to all the legalese designed to lessen if not totally abrogate responsibility for everything. So I feel your confusion. Now that D1 is a full fledged card carrying Vegan I find myself reading the fine print (on food packaging) with more gusto.

    When you were wandering, why didn’t you email me? I would’ve been responsive.

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  4. Well now … quite the trek to find the peg-legged union of Star Trek’s Worf and Count Bassie. Now if I can just determine their conflict.

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  5. Snoring Dog Studio

    Love the sculptures; adore the backstory. At least in NYC, you’ve got a lot of other interesting stuff to look at when you’re trying to find the one thing you want to look at. And it’s free stuff.

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  6. Now that is commitment to the arts! Wow!
    Glad Milton was around to help. I wonder what anyone does these days without a cell phone. Good thing yours was charged! I wonder if you could have stopped at the Apple store across from the Plaza and looked it up on one of theirs. Probably not…

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    • Gee, it never occurred to me to step into the Apple store, Susie, but my dumb phone is a Samsung (not their favorite competitor these days) and that iPod Touch is pretty ancient, so they’d probably not find my visit welcome at all.

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  7. Good god, woman, what is wrong with you? Those are almost as bad as that horrid Marilyn statue we had haunting Chicago for a year or so.
    But I get the free stuff. I do it all the time. Bravo!

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    • I recall your pervert’s dream Marilyn statue, Jules! At least these giant trolls will be moving on in August. Yeah, free is a great price — and I also found a dollar on the sidewalk, but that didn’t make it into the tale for I found it during my trek home.

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  8. V, so glad you finally found the exhibition and how astute of you to understand the artist’s intention of the piece. (do I sound as if I know what I’m talking about and artsy?). Are they giant pirates? What’s with the peg leg thing?

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    • I don’t know what the artist was thinking by not giving them legs, unless he wanted to enhance the feeling of these guys not even being able to run away from each other? It’s a rather disturbing work of art and that, I am sure, was the artist’s intention. What I didn’t anticipate was how perturbing it would be to find.

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  9. it is amazing how easily we “scan” our emails, isn’t it? I do it all the time. thanks for the eyeball cleanse at the end!

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  10. After studying the photos from different angles, I have come to the conclusion that those guys needed to go to the bathroom really bad. What they are looking for is a two-seated toliet. I don’t know how many of those are available in NYC, but they are becoming increasingly rare in my neck of the woods. But hey, they are in a park. Squat behind a tree if you have to.

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  11. What is it that’s said about something being a walk in the park? I have been given a pre-owned iPod Touch and have yet been able to get it to access the Internet. It keeps telling me to enter my password; I have no idea what that could be and, based on zigzagging research walks across the Internet, no hope of finding it. Mystifying. Anyway, I spent my Sunday being quite pleased with myself for finally learning how to work “call waiting” on my home phone.

    I was basking in this grand achievement only to have my daughter tell me that she is sending me their webcam so I can Skype. This is because Skyping is passe — my two granddaughters, 8 and 12, use FaceTime on their iPads or iPhones while simultaneously talking on their iPhones and running around the house doing other things.

    (This comment, I perceive, will grow into my next blog post.)

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  12. I should note that I accessed the Internet from my outdated Mac.

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  13. Nice artwork once again, LA, and another nice walk as well. This is the good thing about technology… there’s always an alternative way!

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  14. This should be put outside John Boehner’s office.

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  15. In the George Wallace picture, the sculpture on the left looks like the Elephant Man. My two cents.

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  16. Good for you in going out to look for the sculptures in the first place. I would have immediately made the “R vs. D” leap as well. One thing about good art is that it can speak to a number of people in a number of ways. It seems as if this sculpture speaks pretty easily.

    I admire your indefatigable nature. I would have given up much earlier. Having said that, I have a smart phone, so I could have cheated.

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  17. You’re a brave woman, V. Those sculptures are…interesting…And I’ve done the same thing. I know it’s around here somewhere. And I hate reading the fine print. But these days, I do carry a smart phone – has bailed my rear-end out on numerous occasions when I didn’t read the fine print. I’m glad Milton called you back. Oh yes! The first time I visited NYC with my ex and ex-inlaws, we stayed at the Plaza Hotel. Thanks for the memories.

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    • That was definitely a time when it would have behooved me to have read the fine print, Cathy — or at least printed out the fine print. How cool you stayed at the Plaza! Whenever I look at it I think of the Beatles staying there when they first came to the US.

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      • I didn’t realize the Beatles stayed there. I’m sure we were in more humble accommodations than J, P, G & R. But it was fun being on Central Park South, even if I didn’t know what that meant at the time. My Ex-Mother-in-Law was big-time into luxury places and I had no clue. But we really did have a wonderful time – the U.N., the (then) new World Trade Towers, Greenwich Village, Time Square, A Chorus Line (I was very young at the time – 🙂 ) and lovely walks in Central Park. It was a very nice introduction to your part of the world.

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  18. Glad you finally found them, Lame. Milton did some good work. The figures are amazing – I had never heard of them before.

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  19. How many children have been eaten by those sculptures when they come to life during the full moon? Dozens? Hundreds?!

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  20. Duuuuuuuuuuude. I had no idea what a serious art lover you were to go all through this Mission Impossible scenario. That conversation with Milton cracked me up. I know it must have been frustrating at the time, but it was too funny. Glad you finally reached the statues.

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    • Guat, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to write about for LA when I saw those sculptures, but it was such a hassle locating them that I realized that was the lame adventure aspect of this tale. I was not anticipating that this search would be equal to Indiana Jones’ hunt for the lost Ark of the Covenant.

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  21. Definitely needed the eyeball cleanse, those guys are scary! This is a damn fine lame adventure. Calahan has a point about them coming to life. I can totally see that happening on The Night Stalker. Remember that show? That show scared the shit out of me in the 70s.

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  22. Way to tough it out! Good thing the weather looked decent for your adventure. Have you thought about offering guided tours of the park?

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