What Price Styrogami?

By Jules Vitali

I begin humbly with a quote from Rick Bayan's January, 2002, ''The Cynic's Sanctuary'' <http://www.i-cynic.com/jan_02.asp> ''It would be easy to write off these sorry examples of cultural sputum as the brainchildren of half-demented and over hyped performance artists. What boggles the mind is that collectors are actually BUYING it. Someone paid $29,500 for a dead ladybug in a styrofoam cup, ingeniously titled ''Untitled.'' (If I'm going to pay $29,500 for a work of art, the artist had better damn well take the time to come up with a title.)''

This cuts me deep. I'm an artist Ša sculptor Šmy only medium is that self same lowly Styrofoam cup. It's artists like the aforementioned who give Styrofoam cup sculptors a bad name, although my wife said that it was okay to feel some resentment toward the blatant robber who actually would ask that much for a piece of trash, but that we should try, however hard, to get the name of the individual who bought the piece in hopes he may be looking for a second ''objet d'art'' to complete the collection. Maybe they'd want three pieces. I could not, however, charge such an exorbitant price as $29,500 where my pieces sell for as low as $100. I came up with the idea of figuring the average between the two and letting it go at that. Let's see Š$29,500 plus $100 divided by 2 Š$14,800 on the nose Šthat sounds so much more reasonable. Hahahahaha. Besides, my works are titled. There still seems to be a flaw somewhere in this logic. There is such a fine line between greed and fair prices. Carrying this out just a bit further, I peer from my window and see my 1990 Jetta park in the driveway, perhaps worth a hundred bucks. I see my neighbor's car in his driveway. The model name of his car is in gold letters on the trunk lid Šcertainly it must have cost at least $29,500. They both do the same thing, right? How could there be such a disparity in price. I've pondered this for about two days now and have come to the conclusion that there must surely be a dead ladybug in the trunk of his car. Taking this train of thought back to the world of the entrepreneur and the artist, the following is what I have to say about my own artform, which I call StyrogamiŠ ''Styrogami is sculpture evolved from mentally extrapolating the trash and waste proliferation and combining the exponential growth of world population while factoring in rain forest depletion rates with due consideration given to the half-life of stored nuclear waste and the destruction potential inherent in modern day weaponry. I have come up with the visionary concept that we may indeed be presently and blindly basking in the glory of our final historical footnote, leaving no future generations to learn the hard lessons that the destruction of one's own planet will teach. Though I disdain the Styrofoam cup and the throwaway society it represents, Styrogami is, nonetheless, something metaphorically exquisite to admire as we walk this path to the gallows.'' This impassioned prophecy, blatant and bold as it is, I believe to be true. The spirit behind this statement, as well as an enduring sculpted piece of art can yours for the paltry sum of $100 or so. My statement is saying let's love this planet and each other and stop to look what we are doing to our environment and to other people and start caring, to appreciate beauty and simplicity in the small things, and be fair in our dealings. Not näive, mind you, but lovingly pragmatic with a touch of foresight and concern for our children's future. What's that other artist person have, a dead bug and a piece of trash Šand who would buy it? I'll tell you who would buy it. The person who has the $29,500 for an item such as that. Perhaps that shameless corporate CEO who was just got booted from his company because he was going to make the other thieves around him* and the board of director's who allowed his bad behavior look bad and spoil it for them Šand who is fighting like hell to take his bonus with him along with the millions he has undeservedly been paid for not performing honorably in the public trust. A person who could care less for employees or dealings with the poor vendors who supply him with the goods and services necessary to give the corporation the semblance of forthrighteousness (grammaticians, take note: that may or may not be a real word, but I sure loved typing it). The only groups this sleezebag wants and needs to impress are creditors and banks who will eventually be flushed down the proverbial terlet anyway once his fortune has been made and the Chapter 11 is filed. Do I sound bitter? Maybe a tad on the socialistic side today, after all I rode that corporate locomotive for a long while. That aside, art has to have a message, n'est pas? Either simple or complex, light or serious, bland or sensual Šet cetera. What a dead ladybug in a Styrofoam cup says to me is that ''There's one born every minute.'' That, in itself, may be the message. Maybe that was what the artist was trying to say. My thought for the dayŠ ''be at least a little creative in your artistry and fair in your business dealings.''

* I use ''him'' here in the gerundive metaphoric and could have just as equally used ''her'' (no offense meant to parties of either sex).

Uploaded to The Zephyr website July 17, 2002

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