Posted by on November 10, 2008

Viewed from a distance, the pile of big read beans, or bags, on the east end of the 16th street pedestrian bridge, looks sort of like a pile of frosting or a Dr. Suess Christmas tree. Once you get closer, the color is a deep red that makes you think of blood and the limp elements look like sand bags, or melted candy. It's an image both disturbing and funny.

Lacking any other context, at the moment, than police tape, it's not clear whether the piece is a temporary exhibit, still unfinished, or some well-intentioned comment about the war. As I looked at the sculpture a man walking by muttered, "Body bags?".
Public art can serve a number of functions from creating beauty and repose in a busy place to asking questions and engaging citizens. And at this point, while I don't care for the piece much on its own, nestled in the looping concrete and steel ramp of the pedestrian bridge, it provides a jarring moment in the otherwise cleanly modern city stroll. It just gives you something to look at (in fact the color and shape demands that you look at it) pulling your eye way from the shops, apartments and city traffic all around you. This is active public art that demands a dialog. Not surprisingly, then, graffiti has already appeared, a sort of aesthetic comment left on the base of the piece like some urban blogger answering the boisterous argument of the original work.
I don't know if the bloody beans sculpture is any good. But it is fun!

See and download the full gallery on posterous

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  1. David
    November 11, 2008

    So, it turns out the thing does light up. It looks like a lump Christmas tree.

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