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Visions of pink elephants and McElhenys dancing in my head


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Originally uploaded by chuckp.

When I saw this photo by my friend Chuck Patch the first thing I thought was…this must be the inspiration for Josiah McElheny‘s infinity and modernity pieces. (This or something like it in some other bar somewhere. Shiny glass, amber lights, and the hint of stupifaction in all that liquor.)

Anyway, it got me thinking about McElheney whose work Shelley Spector encountered recently at the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco. See post. I’ve seen two McElheny’s live (one in MoMa) and one at Milwaukee’s Art Museum. Now we hear there’s a third (similar) piece at the DeYoung and I’m beginning to think there’s a McElheny factory out there somewhere. Not that that’s a bad thing but how many museums are signing up for McElheny’s glass wonderland. All right so maybe it’s a good thing. After all how many Dale Chihuly‘s are there dangling from ceilings in museums and other spaces. Glass is cool. If I have to buy one myself I’ll take an McE. (image is the McElheny piece at MAM)

Here’s what I said when I saw the piece in Milwaukee (from this post which, by the way, talks about the MAM contemporary art collection in light of the PMA’s collection).

…this Josiah McElheny glass and mirror infinity box, “Modernity circa 1952” (2004), is a wonderful combination of craft, design and high art. Like a warped descendant of Roman glass (all beauty, form and function), its machine perfection and promise of infinity is all about image. Use and functionality be damned.

I do think Chuck’s picture does what McElheny’s pieces do — and vice versa. They suggest a swank atmosphere of glistening razzle dazzle and buzz.