Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Art Lobster: Mormon Edition.

Regular readers of the Art Lobster know that the blog takes its name from my fascination with the art world's fascination with lobsters.  From the dutch masters, right up to today with artists like Jeff Koons, lobsters seem to have a special place in the hearts of many a fine artist.  That's why I make every effort to seek out lobster art and feature it here on the screens of this blog.  So imagine my delight when on a recent visit to the Salt Lake Art center I ran into this:

Yes, that's a seagull eating a lobster. The painting (Pride, 2008, combined mediums on hand-woven, toned paper mounted on archival board) is part of a series titled Seven Deadly Sins painted by Jamie Wyeth, who just happens to be the son of famed painter Andrew Wyeth.  Why would this painting be so exciting?  It's not just because Wyeth's painting style is really interesting. Or even that it's a painting of a lobster.  It's because it's a painting of A SEAGULL EATING A LOBSTER.  And why would that matter.  Well there's at least a little humor in the fact that this (and a bunch of other seagull paintings) are hanging just a half a block from this:

Yes, that's the seagull monument on Temple Square, ground zero for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  The monument commemorates the flocks of seagulls that descended on the Salt Lake Valley, devouring hordes of Mormon crickets and saving the crops and the lives of the saints.  Which means this painting could be a metaphor for my relationship with the church; the divine, angelic gull sent from on high to devour the liberal, art-loving, bottom-feeding ex-member.

OK, that's probably not what this painting is about. (Although it makes for a great story and I will happily post any works of art based on the idea.)  At least we can be pretty sure that the church and Wyeth don't share the exact same sentiments when it comes to gulls. While the Mormons celebrate the seagull as a divine miracle sent in a time of extreme need, Wyeth pretty much just sees them as evil.  Here's what he has to say about the birds. "It always bothered me the way gulls have been depicted through the years. Particularly in Maine art, they're made to look like white doves, when in fact gulls are scavenger's. They're evil."

I'm refusing to take sides on the matter.

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