The Fussy Eye: Site Unspecific

What's that stuff scattered around Cal Anderson Park?

Since the old reservoir was covered five years ago and acclaimed new Cal Anderson Park built atop it, the oasis has become central to Capitol Hill—a great place to stroll, lots of benches, a nice fountain by Douglas Hollis, and open sight lines (read: safety), unlike the Olmsted greenery of Volunteer Park. (Which is a bit of a hike, really, from Broadway.) So the MadArt in the Park installation, comprising six temporary works installed August 1, sounds like a great idea: Give people something to look at while wandering the western gravelly path; bring art out of the gallery and directly to the people. So why are the results so random and underwhelming? Stephen Rock's Brush Pile literalizes its metaphor with a stack of giant paintbrushes the size of logs. Justin Lytle's Albatross harbors a bunch of colorful plastic balls beneath the skeletal form of what resembles an overturned boat hull—as if dumped by the tide. Slant, by Casey Curran, places living green turf on a tilted wooden disc; it's like a giant golf divot, already with browned-out dog-pee spots. A crashed Rocket, by Jason Puccinelli, registers like other litter unfortunately scattered around the park. Then there's a bramble boudoir, Amy Johnson's Wake, which seems almost an accidental, windblown arrangement. (Inspecting it, I tried not to wake a slumbering pair of street kids nearby.) Only Alex Hayden's scalloped wooden Park Bench might merit a permanent site, though it'd have to be recast in stone or steel to withstand the elements—and the scuffing of a thousand asses. 

 
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