Friday, May 1, 2015
I don't know how many American Cities have so brilliant a casual display of public art as does the very route I walked this morning in my own city, Minneapolis. All of them, perhaps? Most of them? None of them? If they are as good as my city there is probably the same trick to it. You have to go to just the right places. This is not Rome where there are few wrong routes. There is no Rome in America. We have to get by on something less than Bernini fountains everywhere, corkscrew towers by Borromini, and 600 year old churches full of Caravaggios to wander into. But if you thread your way correctly here you can stumble on a satisfactory enough magic.
You can head down from Franklin Avenue through bits of Gothic river wilderness festooned with bizarre and seriously accomplished graffiti art. I saw one piece featuring the unlikely colors of army greens and sick-candy pink, all popping with sparkling special effects of lighting. A striking piece that says "Obertparf" is not quite as visually accomplished as "pink and green", but I am pretty sure the creator of it can fly like a hummingbird. They'd have to have flown to have gotten their paint onto the hair raising ramparts of the Highway 94 understructure. Not much further along one can climb an epic series of staircases out from the river until it terminates in a curving and luscious 17th Century Florentine fountain by Pietro Tacca. I'm not kidding. Some kind of dual bronze Merman spouts streams of water into a pool from atop a stained marble column. Bronze fish of twisting late baroque detail hang from the side. It was donated in the sixties before rich people became completely useless. From the fountain you can step through the Coffman Union, full of an astonishing number of nearly dead students jacked into their laptops' portable realities, and turn left at the light rail for Frank Gehry's Weisman Museum building, our shimmering, aluminum, best piece of architecture, gleaming out above the river in a jumble of undefinable shapes.
And then of course, there's the turkeys. Not a bad city in the right light.