once in a while i come across a piece of art that, to me, shows what art can do. like Philipe Petit who in 1974 walked a tightrope between the twin towers in NYC (chronicled in the amazing movie "Man On Wire"), like the movie "Lives Of Others", and the sweet book of essays, "Small Wonder" by Barbara Kingsolver. these truly feel like a victory. a victory over all expectations of failure or sameness - over the awful notion that art is somehow "enrichment" rather than a necessity - over all the cruel voices that tell us not to express.
recently i saw such a thing.
it is called the City Museum, and it is in saint louis.
what is it?
it began 12 years ago with a sculptor who owned an old abandoned building in downtown STL. over the last 12 years he, and lots of others, have filled it with amazing, AMAZING art made entirely of recycled materials, found objects, cast-off industrial materials.
i was near tears for a good portion of my visit to the museum. the art is beautiful, entirely indulgent of creativity, joy, play, and function. there are slides to go down (including one spiral slide that is 6 stories tall), dinosaur mouths to crawl into, a 1920's theater organ, mosaics everywhere, a huge bug collection, arcade games from the 1930's, corndog art, and a maze of wire pathways 100 feet up in the sky.
i can list the things that are there. i can swear to you that it is wonderful. but nothing will do it justice.
apart from being beautiful and well made - it attracts hundreds, thousands of people (and i think they were all there today) and opens countless minds to the availability, wonder, and all around awesomeness of creativity, play, and vision.
if you are ever in saint louis. please, go there.