Art in Embassies: Something to Uplift Your Boring Living Room But, What Do We Tell The Martians?

Posted: 3:40 pm EDT
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I’m not going to pretend to understand this type of contemporary American art; no more than I understand the one million granite sculpture reportedly intended for the new U.S. Embassy in London. I also looked up the artist’s collection of dogs sitting on furniture within elaborate grottos. I’m sorry, my soul has not been lifted. I just don’t get it, okay? But the ambassador’s wife appears to be really taken by this and she’s the one who gets to live with this “breathtaking” creation in her house. At least it’s in her house and not mine.  But — just so you know, some people really, really like this.  The artist has been in many public collections including the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Smithsonian Institution, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among others. The big question is, what do we tell the Martians?

 Martians Visiting Earth: What Is This Creature?

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Via US Embassy Ottawa:

U.S. Embassy Ottawa and the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Art in Embassies, in partnership with the National Gallery of Canada (NGC), will welcome renowned American artist Nick Cave to Ottawa on May 28 for the second lecture in the Contemporary Conversations series.

Contemporary Conversations (#artconvoAIE) features four internationally recognized American artists who will visit Canada over the course of 2015 to speak about their work. Each artist in the series will participate in a public lecture at NGC, stimulating conversation around issues that transcend borders, and topics that inspire, teach, and create connections. As a foundation for the lecture series at the NGC, the participating artist’s work is displayed in a curated exhibition at Lornado, the official residence of U.S. Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman and Vicki Heyman, who helped to spearhead the series. Nick Cave’s work Soundsuit (2008) is part of that exhibit.

“For the program, I chose a series of living, contemporary American artists whose art was both visually exciting and also provided a platform for conversation,” said Vicki Heyman. “I think Nick Cave exemplifies those qualities. His exploration of identity, through the lens of race and sexual identity, compounded by the ethereal, whimsical quality of his incredible Soundsuits, just fit perfectly into the overall collection.”

This is part of the Art In Embassies program (AIE) and unlike the $1M piece for US Embassy London, the compensation to the artists and/or lenders come in kind like:   “Artists and lenders receive international exposure through events hosted by the embassy that are attended by prominent political, business, and academic leaders as well as members of the local arts community. AIE acknowledges its partners through bi and tri-lingual exhibition labels, web publications produced by our office, and inclusion on our web site. Many U.S. embassies feature exhibitions on their official websites, extending accessibility to thousands of host country, international, and U.S. citizens annually.”

The Lornado is the official residence of the United States Ambassador to Canada. It sits in a commanding location high above the confluence of the Ottawa and Gatineau Rivers in Rockcliffe Village in Ottawa, Ontario. According to Embassy Ottawa, the U.S. government purchased the property from the Soper family in 1935. From 1935-38, the mansion was slightly modified by the Department of State, but it still maintains many of its Edwardian influences. The official residence has 32 rooms, and is a two-and-a-half story limestone manor sitting on a property that encompasses ten acres of grounds, a greenhouse, maintenance buildings, and a gatehouse.

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3 responses

  1. What do we tell the Martians? We tell them that the Art-in-Embassies program is exhibiting these monstrosities because the original owners wouldn’t be caught dead with them in their own homes.

  2. 1. Who’s going to dust that thing?
    2. It puts me in mind of the abstract painting that AIE hung in the new ACS waiting room in Seoul. The officers and FSNs had many spirited and hilarious discussions about which edge was up.