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Art for art's sake

Worst Case Scenario

Ryan Shoup

Issue date: 9/24/10 Section: Focus
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It's about time this column delves into yet another deep Case Western Reserve University mystery, even more obvious and crazy than previous topics: public artwork.

First, I want to point out that I'm not bitter about public works of art. In fact, I am a devoted fan of the 'Free' stamp in downtown Cleveland, oddly obsessed with the Bean in Chicago, and a fan of the Guggenheim solely because it's fun to say.

However, Case Western should really be commended for the amount of artwork it provides per square foot of campus. There's not a day I walk around when I feel slightly enlightened - and confused - during my stroll to class.

The good: I tend to believe any building that can make accounting fun should be considered a satisfactory piece of art, but usually the fun is arriving 15 minutes late to your class because they hid the classroom from you. Thank you, Peter B. Lewis!

The administration, however, should really consider making a task force for this building: the sidewalk used to be closed in the winters due to dangerous falling ice, there is a contingent of Cleveland tourists (oxymoron, I know) who take photos, and a number of people are still lost inside after so many years.

I'm also a huge fan of the Doc Oc bench near Adelbert. I applaud the person who provides a scarf to him every winter.

The bad: Well, where do we start?

First, there are two outdoor classrooms representing the morbid topic of the Titanic seconds before it crashes into an iceberg. The less said, the better.

There is also the Wet-Dry Fountain which most of the year should just be renamed the Wet-Wet fountain because of all the snow that accumulates there. This functional piece of art actually becomes a fountain for only three events to show off the campus to unsuspecting guests: Homecoming Weekend, Parents Weekend, and Graduation.

The ugly: Have you noticed the statue outside the Glennan building? In case you haven't, imagine an inverted human centipede where one person is blue and the other is orange. Weird.

There is also a large, metallic rod living on the quad. I'm still not sure how a rod can accurately celebrate the Michelson-Morley experiment, but I would love to hear the rationale.

The questionable: The art garden on the far side of the Village parking structure. Without a doubt, this has to be one of the most outrageous decisions CWRU has approved. Who walks around a large parking garage expecting art? When was the last time you felt like taking time to relax on scenic E. 118th Street?

In the end, I want to sarcastically thank the alumni base that, instead of gifting money toward the betterment of CWRU's academic or creative endeavors, believed they should gift thousands or millions for artwork outside of parking structures.

In my continual effort to keep rising tuition costs under control via a miniscule column, I urge our savior Babs to solicit more cash and less art or at least consult students concerning appropriate placement of abstract art.
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