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This week we have a little bit of little seen public art. It is stashed away behind my local grocery store and in front of the Green Valley Ranch Recreation Center. It is called Prairie Dogs and One-Room School House, by sculptor Judith Stewart.

I go back and forth on this piece. Prairie Dogs are ubiquitous out here in Colorado. While they are an important part of the prairie ecosystem they are also rodents and will take over any field that is not in use, including in the cities. One of the things that keeps them in check is that they carry fleas that also carry the Black Plague.  From time to time they will be devastated by the plague, which keeps their numbers down, but it also makes them a minor hazard to humans (minor because the plague is easily controlled by antibiotics).

Still there is something slightly charming about seeing them standing up at the entrances of their burrows, surveying the world for danger. In that way they are like the Western version of the Meer cat.

Personally I think this piece would have been better without the schoolhouse. It is much smaller than all of the Prairie Dogs and while it let the artist outfit one of the animals with a backpack, it just doesn’t add much to the piece for me.

The Dogs themselves are pretty good. The largest one in the back is in the standard pose you see most of the prairie dogs standing in. They two that are touching noses are another common sight with these animals and give a nice Mother and Child feel.


Like I said, I go back and forth on this piece. I think it is nice to have real art at a local Rec Center, but while this piece has some whimsy it falls short to me. The idea that the prairie dogs are going to school just doesn’t work and clutters the piece to me.

The floor is yours.

Originally posted to Something the Dog Said on Sat Apr 17, 2010 at 12:23 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips? Flames? (10+ / 0-)

    Your thoughts on this piece?

    Getting Democrats together and keeping them that way is like herding cats that are high on meth, through L.A., during an earthquake, in the rain -6.25, -6.10

    by Something the Dog Said on Sat Apr 17, 2010 at 12:23:36 PM PDT

    •  i like your diary (4+ / 0-)

      and i like the prairie dogs, at least the statues of them, but agree the whole piece suffers from the insertion of a miniature schoolhouse;

      i think the subject of public art is apt in a diary on kos;

      i was in santa fe just once, but will never forget the sight of those bulls in bronze (i think) in a public space downtown there; they were so large as to be monumental, although they may even have been life-size; they are absolutely magnificient and a gift to the people of that city

  •  I like the piece (3+ / 0-)

    not sure why exactly... I think prairie dogs are cute (although the whole black plague thing...) and one room school houses are quaint (one of the few existing near us has been converted into a winery so that's a plus :-) )... together it just works for me...

    Adopt a homeless cat and have a friend for life

    by dave1042 on Sat Apr 17, 2010 at 12:37:13 PM PDT

  •  Oh, God! (5+ / 0-)

    The people in that tiny shcoolhouse must be terrified of the giant prairie dogs besieging them.

    This is all in the minds of the participants. - Gen. McChrystal (powerful Afghan warlord)

    by Marcion on Sat Apr 17, 2010 at 12:52:59 PM PDT

  •  Dog, I'm in the category that this is (4+ / 0-)

    bad art.  And I say that as an artist who has made many a piece of bad art.

    There's a thing in art called "economy."  It means knowing when you've done enough, when you should just step back and walk away because you're done.  Many "artists" have trouble with the whole "economy" thing.  The artist here should have either stopped with the prairie dogs or chosen the little schoolhouse.  In the latter case, the schoolhouse would have been better served as a larger piece.

    As it is, this looks remarkably like my very talented and artistic 4-year-old granddaughter's interpretation of what prairie dogs and and an old schoolhouse would look like.  Maybe that's what they were going for.

    Sorry, I just think it's bad.  But that doesn't mean that some won't enjoy it.  It's like beauty, which is in the eye of the beholder.... ;-)

    "The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places." Ernest Hemingway

    by Got a Grip on Sat Apr 17, 2010 at 12:59:16 PM PDT

    •  Thanks for the point of view! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      millwood, Got a Grip, allep10

      I am of the opinion that everyone is entitled to their opinion on art.

      To me part of the job of the artist is to communicate something with the viewer. It can be anything, but it has to be communication before it is successful art. This piece doesn't say anything to me, so it kind of fails.

      That said, it does at least expose people to art, and that has to be a good thing, even if it is not good art.

      Getting Democrats together and keeping them that way is like herding cats that are high on meth, through L.A., during an earthquake, in the rain -6.25, -6.10

      by Something the Dog Said on Sat Apr 17, 2010 at 01:02:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Indeed, some of my "bad art" pieces (3+ / 0-)

        are much beloved by those that have them.  People should enjoy what they enjoy, and not worry about what someone else thinks.

        I can see little kids getting a kick out of this, which may be what made me think of my granddaughter.  Bad art can be just as intriguing as good art, and that's what it's all about.

        "The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places." Ernest Hemingway

        by Got a Grip on Sat Apr 17, 2010 at 01:47:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Just read your diary to GF, (3+ / 0-)

    who is spinning word pictures of prairie dogs wheeling carts through prairie dog towns cheeping, "Bring out your dead!"

  •  CO art is just plain confused. That three story (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Something the Dog Said

    blue bear we have peering into the convention center downtown?  To me that isn't art, it is an adorably gigantic bear.  Yet every year it wins best art piece as voted by the people in the Westword.  It bugs me, and these pieces bug me less but for the same reason.  Cute doesn't make it art, darnit!

    But thanks for posting!  I have moved away and can now look affectionately on this kind of art appreciation in my home state.  

  •  prairie dogs (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Something the Dog Said, millwood

    check spell, dog sir. (title)
    terry tempest williams recently spoke on prairie dogs and also the genocide in rwanda on npr, but i can't pull up the podcast properly.

    she said there were only 9 viable prairie dog colonies in utah.  she actually spent some time, unplugged, observing a colony for a few days.  

    i never thought prairie dogs and wolves were truly at fault for half of what ranchers said they were.

    oh, and public art rocks.  

    "Gloom we always have with us . . . but joy requires tending." Barbara Holland

    by jlms qkw on Sat Apr 17, 2010 at 01:40:05 PM PDT

  •  MoMA has an exhibit of live nudes. Just (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    don't touch or you'll get thrown out.  I'm not kidding.

    If we all just stopped voting would they all just go away?

    by longislandny on Sat Apr 17, 2010 at 01:50:53 PM PDT

  •  I'll take the prairie dogd over (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Something the Dog Said, millwood

    the omnipresent monument to Confederate generals or soldiers we get down here.

    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

    by irishwitch on Sat Apr 17, 2010 at 06:06:06 PM PDT

  •  I like the "Attack of the 50 Foot Prarie Dogs" (0+ / 0-)

    feel the small schoolhouse gives the scene.

    What we learn from History: History repeats itself. History never repeats itself. Histories lessons are always ignored.

    by Hector Gonzalez on Mon Apr 19, 2010 at 03:54:08 AM PDT

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