Cities are strange, magnificint, and unnatural things. They set humans apart from all other life on earth, and in a strange way they take on a life of their own. A fitting place to study the wide variety of material arts which can be even more strange and magnificent, and most certainly take on a life of their own.
First of all, I'll say that I expected the exhibit to be larger. I'm not sure why, maybe the grandness of the tale, or the large number of pictures in Schultz's book; in my mind I pictured a huge structure, a perfect but gigantic replica of Moby Dick himself. A wonder of modern arcitecture, with colossus-sized statues of Queegueg and Ahab to either side of the entrance. I pictured vaulted ceilings with Smithsonian amounts of artwork displayed grandly. What I didn't exepect, but what I got, was a gallery about the size of the one here at NKU (it's not that big), although the huge expanse of water nearby (Northwestern University is on the shore of the mighty Lake Michigan) helped to up the grandeur a bit.
Not the the exhibit wasn't impressive of its own accord. To see the different artworks, and to know that they all sprouted from the common seed of Herman's head, was good enough. Add the personal motives of the artist and combine them with the perceptions and imaginations overflowing from our class roster, and you behold quite a spectacle. Although it might have seemed slighty more spectacular had I not stayed up well past four the previous night (er...morning).
The art was neat- and capturing- and innovative- but the experience of seeing Chicago for the first time eclipsed most everything else. The chaos and catastrophe of the Milloff seemed negligable next to the noisy rumbling L-trains and the amphorous crowds of denizens meandering hither and tither. I found more desperation in the face of a bum on the street than in Gilbert Wilson's brilliant Insanity Series. The Stella's at the exhibit were dwarfed by, well, the really really big Stella's we saw a bit later.
But the art was impressive. The only peice that I didn't care for was the one that looked like a giant Little Debby Snack Cake (the aformentioned sculpture was not part of E. Schultz's show- rather it was a permanent sculpture in downtown Chicago). I still can't figure out, though, if Stella is an amazing artist or an amazing con artist. His works are neat, sure, but to the layman's eye they look rather like piles of crap and swirls of color. The only thing that swayed me into believing that they could be art was the repeating wave/whale motif common in many of the Moby Dick pieces. I did, however, love the Town-Ho story, mostly because it looked like something I might make if presented with the means and the time. I'm still not sure entirely how the Stella's connect with Moby Dick except in vauge, strange ways.
Strangely enough, on the way home I felt something like an Ahab. There was no Moby Dick to pursue, no crew to command, but still I felt the darkness. I tried to cover it by staining my brain the words of others by reading, but the words fizzled and disolved upon contact. I played chess 'till my head nearly exploded, but still that would not coax the darkness back into hybernation. How I longed to laugh and socialize with my fellow classmates, but when I tried It was a forced, uncomfortable conversation (from my perspective, at least). How I have managed to lose the "low enjoying power," I cannot say, but until I can regain it it appears I'm on the creaking Pequod with only a peg-legged monomaniac for company.