Sunday, September 11, 2005


One of my family members in Ohio forwarded these photos of unbelievably realistic murals that transform public buildings. The art of Eric Grohe is becoming quite popular in the Rust Belt, as the grim urban landscape continues to decay. This man is a genius...but i'll let his vision speak for itself...


In progress:






Grohe's art recalls the architecture of earlier times. It used to be that all public buildings were built on a larger-than-life scale - think Grand Central Station, or even small town banks and libraries. Columns, arches and grand pediments celebrated the importance of institutions, while marble, granite and other rich materials made tangible our common-wealth. Sometime in the mid-20th Century, our public architecture started changing. "Institutional" became a synonym for unimaginative and utilitarian. Along about the same time, we began to realize that we were being systematically lied to by our elected leaders, and public servants were found to be plundering public coffers. This leaves me with a which-came-first kind of question: Did our "disillusionment" happen because we ceased to elevate our public institutions, or did public institutions fall in our esteem because we finally saw the truth behind the facade?

Is it worth trying to reinvest our public spaces with some of their former grandeur, a la Grohe? Or will we just be fooling ourselves?


Blogger mireille said...

I haven't got the stamina to appropriately address your philosophical question about facade and substance ... but I can express admiration for this artist's tremendous trompe l'oeil. Also, I believe that great murals -- some still existing in faded glory -- were commissioned as public works during the Depression, to attempt to pump money into the economy by supporting the arts. If only. xoxo

5:54 PM  
Blogger red-queen said...

Trompe l'oeil!! Arrgh! i was trying to think of that term when i wrote the post - could not, for the life of me!

Hmmm...supporting the arts could be good for us? Radical concept!

7:03 PM  
Blogger katiedid said...

Dunno about an answer, but ye gods is that amazing work... there's one quite like that here in Portland for the Historical Society's Museum. I need to check into the artist is again - it's such a part of my landscape when I go downtown that I sometimes forget to look at it anew.

8:53 PM  
Blogger Tan Lucy Pez said...

It's worth it. Yes!
So we fool ourselves. We do that every day, all day. We're going to die. Do we admit that to ourselves? Of course not!

Give me this wonderful art any day as opposed to an ugly-side-of-a-building.

3:45 PM  
Blogger ParisLondres said...

Fantastic Trompe l'oeil! Brilliant idea and I agree with tan lucy that it is certainly worth it.

I love seeing them around - and I always seem to be in awe when I see a very good one. Recent finds - saw some magnificent store fronts in Honfleur and also Matisse's house in Nice has painted windows and balconies. :)


12:37 PM  
Blogger red-queen said...

LucyPez & Parislondres, as it happens, I agree with you. Art is always worth it! Thanks for your comments :>)

9:53 PM  
Blogger Bela said...

Beautiful things are good for the soul. That man is really talented, isn't he?

If I had lots of money I would commission a trompe l'oeil mural of the Baie des Anges in Nice for the blank wall by my bed (I keep it blank because I read somewhere that it's best in a very small room b/c whatever you put on a wall makes it "close in"). I could pretend I was there.

10:39 AM  
Blogger cjblue said...

Wow. I wish more people would realize that it's not healthy to separate "art" from every-day living. My father was asked a couple of years back to speak in front of a group of senators about funding for the arts and took that opportunity to remind them that what remains of civilizations, cultures...the stuff that gives us a feel for who they were and what they the "art." Architecture, writings, paintings, music.

In Judaism, it's a mitzvah (good deed) to make even functional, every-day things as beautiful as possible.

Yes it is worth it.

11:56 AM  
Blogger red-queen said...

Hi, CJBlue! Thanks for visiting :>)

And thanks for making the link to 'everyday art' - taking pride in craftsmanship is another thing that's disappearing from our lives, sadly. My great-grandmother tatted yards and yards of lace to decorate pillowcases, towels, etc. I'm afraid I'm more of a shopper than an artist - it's all too easy to give in to the consumer culture!

9:51 PM  
Blogger red-queen said...

and J, you definitely should have your mural - think how that would 'open up' the room! :>)

9:52 PM  
Blogger Bela said...

It would open up the room for sure. LOL!

No one has the time to decorate everyday objects these days, do they? It's such a shame.

I try, but more often than not fail, to follow William Morris's precept: "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."

10:46 PM  

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