Saturday, December 4, 2010

Logger Mistakenly Hauls Away Modern Art Piece

BY Doug Spiers
Winnipeg Free Press

what almost happened, the more my heart goes out to Ron Fahey.

I'm guessing you have never heard of Ron before. Well neither had I, at least not until Tuesday morning when I came across a shocking story from The Canadian Press on our news wire.

According to this story, Ron is a hard-working, 59-year-old logger in Sackville, N.B., who was wandering around in the woods in the middle of a waterfowl park the other day when he came across -- get ready for a surprise -- a great big pile of wood.

If I'm going too fast for anyone, let's take a moment here to recap. Ron Fahey is a logger. In New Brunswick. He went for a walk. In the woods. He stumbled on a pile of wood. A big pile. In the woods.

OK, if we're all up to speed, I'll tell you what happened next. What happened, the story states, is that, being a logger, Ron decided to haul some of the logs away and use them for firewood.

What a moron, eh? Seriously? I know what you are thinking. You are thinking: "Doug, I strongly suspect this was no mere wood pile. I suspect this was a work of modern art."

Correct! This wood pile in the middle of the woods was in fact a work of art by noted local sculptor Paul Griffin, who was paid $5,000 to create his masterpiece, which consists of two dead maple trees entwined on top of a two-metre-high stack of deadwood gathered from the forest.

I mean, what was Ron thinking? As hard as it is for sophisticated persons such as you and I to imagine, Ron did not realize he was looking at a significant piece of modern art.

Where you and I might look at this pile of wood and see man's inhumanity to man or man's search for his own identity in a world gone mad, Ron looked at this artwork and thought to himself: "Hmmm, I'll bet that will burn real good."

Here's what he told The Canadian Press: "To me, it was just a pile of wood. If that's art, then I'm in the wrong racket. I guess I'm not cultured."

In fairness, before I am inundated with outraged emails from professional art snots, let me confess: I know even less about modern art than Ron. I'll bet a lot of you are in the same, poorly decorated boat.

As hard as this is to believe, I am the sort of wilfully ignorant person who appreciates the realism of the Dogs Playing Poker school of art, wherein you look at a painting and think to yourself: "Wow! Dogs! Playing poker! Ha ha ha!"

Call me an uncultured lunatic, but I feel a piece of art should, whenever possible, look like something artistic, or if that's not possible, it should look like something someone might recognize.

The problem is the last thing a modern artist wants to do is to create a work of art that members of the public will recognize as art. The result is, when the average person goes to an art museum, they waste valuable time appreciating trash cans or bathroom fixtures or souvenir shop items, which they have mistakenly confused with actual works of art.

Unless you are a highly trained professional artist, it is almost impossible to tell the difference between an extremely valuable piece of modern sculpture and, say, a motor vehicle collision, or household items someone has piled on their curb during a giveaway weekend.

So I have a great deal of difficulty "appreciating" modern art. A good example would be a giant statue that was unveiled not long ago in the Austrian city of Salzburg on the eve of a visit by Prince Charles.

This statue in front of the Rupertinum Modern Art Gallery consisted of a huge naked man bending over backwards with his hands on the ground and a part of his anatomy that we do not discuss in family newspapers thrusting into the sky, if you catch my general drift.

I'm not sure what artistic message the giant naked man was meant to convey, but I suspect it was something like: "You will not be surprised to hear that I have a hard time finding pants in my size."

The point is, it would have been a tragedy for mankind if the pile of wood sculpture in Sackville, N.B., "the culture capital of Canada," had been accidentally used as firewood.

Fortunately, the town's manager rushed over to Ron Fahey and stopped him before he could haul the wood away. And the artist is considering putting a sign up identifying his wood pile as an official work of art.

I think that's a great idea, but this discussion has tired me out. I think we should all curl up beside my fireplace and get cosy. Hey, you guys look a little cold. Here, let me toss a few more logs on the fire...


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