Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Upper State Street condo magnet gives itself a “Standing O” and continues to cloud men’s minds

Madison’s Overture Center for the Arts celebrates its completion with a 3-day mini-celebration starting tomorrow. The event is called the “Standing O,” a name about as smug and self-congratulatory as most of the hype surrounding the center. From the start, the Overture Center has demonstrated an almost supernatural power to cloud the minds of men and women who should have known better -- unwilling to look local businessman Jerry Frautschi’s gift horse in the mouth and awed into submission by the crowd-pleasing theatrics of “world famous architect” Cesar Pelli. Important questions went unasked by most local leaders, such as what effect would this supersized vanity project have on downtown development, and what would be the long-term impact of its overhead structure on local arts groups? Only time will tell.

Meanwhile there is art to be reviewed at the center’s museum with the silly, stuttering acronym, MMoCA, or Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, and Kevin Lynch of the Capital Times fearlessly leaps into the breach, beginning with the building’s glassy prow that serves as the museum’s entrance at State and Johnson.
Regardless, the museum's iconic entrance is now an unforgettable experience of downtown Madison. One can imagine an Ahab-like incantation shouted from the stair top.

Last I saw, there was no white whale within thousands of miles of MMoCA, but you never know… Next, Lynch turns his hyperactive imagination to the Oldenburg on the rooftop sculpture garden (photo by Mike DeVries), imbuing it with qualities it was not previously known to have.
Easily the strongest of the three permanent sculptures is "Architect's Handkerchief." The painted polyester by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen is all fluttery wit and flip-flop beauty. In effect, Oldenburg bunches a fistful of his famous "Running Fence" and lets it fly in the windy crosscurrents between the lakes.
Um, would that be “Running Fence,” by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, that so famously shimmered across 24 miles of Sonoma and Marin counties in California in 1976? A curious misattribution, but there you have it -- the Overture Center obviously has lost none of its mysterious power to cloud men’s minds. Must be "the windy crosscurrents between the lakes."

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