1998 Bumbershoot Picks: Visual Arts

Great art endures through generations—so if you want a masterpiece, go to a museum. This year, Bumbershoot showcases art that is specifically designed not to withstand the test of time. Four unconventional art exhibits show what many artists will do when concerned only with the moment of creation. There's unprotected graffiti, a full-scale house razed for the weekend, and art objects made to be digested, dissolved, or burned to dust. Expect lots of spontaneity and experimentation. The results, if a bit unrefined and grab-bag, make up for any lack of polish with loads of surprises.

Art House—Think of this as a three-dimensional immersion into modern European art history. Art House presents six rooms, each designed to emulate the styles of a major movement. Walk from the baroque living room to the Daliesque kitchen (can we expect melting clocks?), Monet's Giverny-inspired bedroom, and Picasso's bathroom (don't be surprised if your reflection in the mirror is cut up into little squares). Finally, repose, if you can, in the Andy Warhol dining room, and then get abstract in the private study. Lopez Room, East, daily noon-8. —Soyon Im

GOODS, the Store—A tongue-in-cheek installation that plays off the idea of art as consumer goods. Organized by the SOIL artists' collective along with several co-op members from Project 416, GOODS first set up shop at June's ArtsEdge festival. It returns to Bumbershoot with merchandise such as soap, ramen noodles, and T-shirts, all conspicuously stamped with the Soil "brand" logo. Additional "must-haves" are Sean Miller's "Liverbrau," beer with labels of celebrity alcoholics, Jesse Paul Miller's "misfortune cookies," and Bethany Taylor's customized pet food. Don't leave home without your AmEx. Lopez Room, West, daily noon-8. —Soyon Im

Chicano Art: A Slice of East LA—An exhibit of dynamic street graffiti by Chicano and Mexican artists living in Los Angeles. Curated by the 25-year-old arts organization Self Help Graphics, the works often focus on political themes dealing with cultural assimilation and rifts between the different generations of immigrants. Olympic Room and Orcas Room, daily noon-8. —Soyon Im

Bumbernationals—A resurrected soap box derby race from the late '70s, Bumbernationals is much more of a wacky art/performance exhibit than a race. Top prizes are awarded not for speed, but for aesthetics and humor. Some memorable vehicles from the past have been shaped like a giant skull, a bird, and a tiki god. Event co-founder Clair Colquitt recalls that one of his first box cars had a blower and broom to kick up clouds of dust in honor of Mount St. Helens' eruption. He said that he won a prize—"for being an asshole." Other prizes, ranging from $100 to $2,000 include Best Race Day Costume, Artful Dodger Award (for best aggressive interpretation of the race rules), and Highway Hypnosis (for most comfortable cockpit). KeyArena, Sat-Sun noon-8. —Soyon Im

Big Fish—Couldn't make it to Burning Man in Nevada this year? Well, here's another, albeit smaller, effigy burning. The consumed object will be a 20-foot Japanese-style bamboo-and-rice-paper salmon sculpture made by artist Beliz Brother. Tell the Big Fish all your troubles and hopes by writing them down on paper. Then unload them forever on Monday night as you dance, chant, and torch the Fish in a ceremonial cleansing fire. The bonfire begins after dark, at 9, with drumming, spirit-raising music, and a carnivalesque parade led by the UMO Ensemble. If you think this sounds corny, it very well might be. New-age? That too. With that said, watching a large bonfire while drums bang to a long, drawn-out crescendo can be an intense, spooky experience—depending on your herb of choice, you just might visualize a part of yourself rising with the smoke. North International Fountain Lawn, daily viewing 11-8; bonfire begins Mon at 9. —Soyon Im

 
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