Tonight is the kickoff event for MadArt in the Park at Cal Anderson on Capitol Hill, which I posted pictures of here: "The Art Has Landed."

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But a new work has gone up since then that interests me as much as if not more than the others. I haven't seen it in its final form yet, but I walked by it yesterday as it was being built, and today I got an image of it in my inbox from the artist, Justin Lytle. (Full disclosure: Lytle was a student of mine at Cornish, which does not mean I am either for or against him; he's just like anybody else.) Lytle's work has always had a kind of poetry and repetition to it, and it often is somewhat literal in its references.

This piece—you can walk inside it, and both ends are open—takes after the skeletal belly of a seabird full of colorful plastic bits whose festive appearance belies that they are the cause of death.

The belly here becomes a makeshift shelter, too, in a park that's near a food kitchen, where people often camp out for the night. Maybe they'll take up residence in Lytle's structure sometimes. It's also in the shape of a wrecked, tipped ship, and with that, Lytle was thinking of Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner. The Mariner kills the albatross, and at first the sailors think maybe that was a good idea.

'Twas right, said they, such birds to slay
that bring the fog and mist

But that attitude doesn't last long, and the killing of the albatross becomes a superstitious event—and an idiom.

Ah! Well a-day! What evil looks
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the cross, the albatross
About my neck was hung

albatross3.jpg

Tonight's opening will include the milling-about of the artists, who are available for questioning and congratulating, and an outdoor screening of four short films. Events run from 6 to 10 pm, and details are here.