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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Currently Hanging

posted by on August 19 at 10:59 AM


While I wait my turn for the library to lend me the new book, “Spiral Jetta”—a travelogue of the earth art of the American West—I ask you: why don’t any art pilgrims go to Mount Rushmore? Where’s the love?

Not just that, but Rushmore is the very prototype of a contemporary art project, conceived and designed by a big personality, then executed by a horde of assistants while the artist is off doing other things. I’ve never seen it, but would love to.

At Rushmore, Gutzon Borglum was the big artist personality.

To give some more thought to the unloved Rushmore, go to Matthew Buckingham’s current show at the Henry Art Gallery, where you’ll find this 1923 declaration by South Dakota state historian Doane Robinson, who conceived the Rushmore project:

“God only makes a Michelangelo or a Gutzon Borglum once in a thousand years.”

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i went to see it with a group of people back in 1975 and we all thought it the silliest goddamn thing we had ever seen. the pictures are waaaay better than the actual thing.

Posted by reverend dr dj riz | August 19, 2008 11:20 AM

Mount Rushmore reminds me of all the gnome-y rocks with eyes in Return to Oz.

Posted by jackie treehorn | August 19, 2008 11:31 AM

My view of Mt. Rushmore is forever linked with the memory of driving first through Custer, SD and seeing, at the town line, the gigantic pro-life billboard featuring a destroyed fetus.

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | August 19, 2008 11:37 AM

maybe it's the whole Borglum was a racist asshole thing and Mt Rushmore is a work of art to be sure, but it's also a rather unpleasant piece of white, male, American political imperialism.

and the whole, sucking up to Teddy Roosevelt thing is really irritating...

Posted by michael strangeways | August 19, 2008 11:57 AM

Go see Crazy Horse instead and educate yourself on the history of the area. Mt Rushmore might not seem so impressive then.

Posted by chkn | August 19, 2008 12:06 PM

Both Mt Rushmore and Crazy Horse are on my Bucket List.

Posted by elswinger | August 19, 2008 12:12 PM

crazy horse memorial made me cry. the story behind and his refusal to take any government money really moves me.

i went there as a child and thought that this will never get done. i went back as adult and the face had been completed and i was just blown away.

Posted by joey | August 19, 2008 12:19 PM

Mount Rushmore definitely makes my Top Ten Famous Things That Utterly Disappoint and Depress list.

It's so ugly and preposterous, it's *fascinating*. Also, it's a lot smaller than all the pictures I'd seen since before I was born led me to believe.

Driving through the otherwise-beautiful Black Hills, passing busload after busload of senile oldies and retarded suburbanites, I couldn't wait to get the fuck out of there.

(ps: the Crazy Horse statue is equally hideous and unforgivable)

Posted by natopotato | August 19, 2008 12:21 PM

Re: the New Yorker's review. I thought the rods were copper, not Stainless steel, in "Lightning Field".

Posted by fARTing | August 19, 2008 12:21 PM

You fuckers are crazy--Mt. Rushmore was BADASS! My favorite sculpture in the world...Next is Duchamps wheel...

Posted by MadDog | August 19, 2008 12:23 PM

My spouse just crossed the country and saw the thing.

I got a t-shirt.

Posted by it'smarkmitchell | August 19, 2008 12:51 PM

Mark, we looked really hard to find you the perfect t-shirt!

Posted by Davida | August 19, 2008 1:48 PM

It's a good one. I'm going to wear it tomorrow and feel very patrio9tic.

Posted by it'smarkmitchell | August 19, 2008 1:58 PM

I went to Rushmore a couple years ago. It seemed a lot smaller in real life. And driving up towards it you encounter some of the most freakishly touristy stuff ever. The promenade toward the view of the mountain seemed fascistic.

Posted by poltroon | August 19, 2008 2:42 PM

Lucky for you complainers it's in South Dakota and not carved into the Cascades.

Posted by elswinger | August 19, 2008 4:33 PM

It is an interesting little abstract exercise to rethink Mt. Rushmore in the context of Jeff Coons or Claus Oldenburg or somesuch.

Rushmore was a lot more fun when I got to see it as a kid in 1988. The Park Service totally rebuilt the visitor's facilities in the late 90's, but in 1988 the place hadn't been touched in decades.

There's more than just the mountain--there's the visitor's center, artist's studio-cum-museum, footpaths through the mountain forest...all kinds of stuff to explore.

When I was a kid, every detail of the place was perfectly preserved from decades past. Even the cafeteria menu and the trinkets for sale in the souvenir shop were exactly as they would have been in the 1950's. It was like a rare and completely charming opportunity to actually step into the past.

Of course, this reliving of a Brady Bunch vacation was heightened considerably by the fact that we traveled in a 1968 Plymouth Satellite station wagon. The kind with the way-back seat that unfolded to face the rear window.

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