Tara Servatius makes her living selling vicious essays about subjects she knows little about, and from time to time, she deposits a nasty piece of work on her blog or in Creative Loafing with the same, prejudicial attitude. Public art is her topic de jour (Citizen Servatius: "Running Circles," Oct. 3). Anti-government philistines love Ms. Servatius' malicious little muggings, and slurp up her slanted rhetoric while they page avidly through her yellow journalism.
In her transparent desire to mock and vilify visual artists, Ms. Servatius' current favorite object of ridicule is the Charlotte Area Transit System's public art program, in particular a commissioned public art project of large scale earth-cast discs by Thomas Sayre for the South Corridor light rail line.
Her readers call her a good writer. Even though her method of critiquing public art is to lambaste it in the most obvious way possible, some people call her brilliant. Maybe she is. Not a brilliant writer, but a brilliant mime artist, mouthing the feeble ideas and skewed opinions of some of our area's more ignorant naysayers. Appearing to be clueless about the realities of the public process of granting an artist a public commission, she makes herself seem ignorant in her willful refusal to understand. Failing to express the difference between a proposal and a commission, she masses all of Thomas Sayre's work in erroneous ways, attacking the artist and sneering at the work.
Rather than grasping that artists develop individual vocabularies of shapes, methods, and materials through personal forms of repetition, Ms. Servatius states that each piece has to look entirely different or it isn't art; it's a "rip off." Even the briefest acquaintance with an art appreciation class would teach her that this is not how artists work. Artists and designers modify forms as they manipulate them, using similar shapes and techniques over and over, until they "own" them. This "ownership" creates a style, and enables people who are visually alert, in the museum or on the street to say: "That must be a Moore. That must be a Rodin, a Picasso, a Gehry."
I can't help but wonder if Ms. Servatius is being disingenuous when she claims not to grasp this notion. But she sarcastically describes bodies of work as "... basically the same piece over and over again, with a different intellectual explanation by the artist for what it means." How many times did Monet paint water lilies or haystacks? Was the great Impressionist a "rip-off artist?" Ms. Servatius, in her mean-spirited blindness would think so.
As if ignorance is not a sufficiently clear element of Ms. Servatius' writing, there is a clear strain of hypocrisy in her work, also.
She ridicules artists' use and re-use of similar forms and designs, yet in her attempts at character assassination, Ms. Servatius does exactly what she accuses Thomas Sayre of doing: recycling the same ideas -- in print (years apart), on the radio, on the television. Servatius blatantly double-dips her own ideas.
-- Linda Luise Brown, former visual arts writer for Creative Loafing, Charlotte
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