Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, June 2, 2008
So Ellie and I were at the Grand Rapids Art Museum on Friday. It’s the new one smack dab in the center of downtown. Very impressive facility. We happened to catch an Andy Warhol exhibit. I’m not a Warhol fan. It’s not so much his art as his packaging. As I explained to El, looking at Warhol’s work, I can’t help but to smell the smell of hundreds of cocaine-addled hangers on, talentless themselves but ever effusive in their praise of Warhol and Liza and Bianca and the latest goings on at Studio 54. Kinda gives me a headache. And while that might not seem entirely fair, consider that there was no Warhol art without the Warhol packaging. That’s what he intended.
But in looking at Warhol’s pop art and the other pieces of modern art, one of the things that struck me was their simplicity. I’ve got to think that part of the basic appeal is that the artists haven’t bothered to complicate their pieces. In a world where banning public smoking can quickly spiral into a massive piece of legislation and tax structures are so confusing they are like trying to understand your (gulp!) cell phone billing statement, simple is a relief, a refuge, a refreshment. And just because you can say “well I could have done that!” the appeal is the same.
I could write law that is no longer than a sentence: “There shall be no smoking in public places in Michigan.” But getting something that simple through the legistative process would be a work of art….