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Woody: Modern art a piece of work

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By LARRY WOODY

The Smithsonian American Art Museum recently introduced a new exhibit that includes a painting titled "Head In Ice."

It's a creepy portrait of a human head exploding in a spray of ice. I suppose the artist gets credit for truth in advertising, but is a picture of an exploding head really something you want to hang over the fireplace?

Another modern-art masterpiece on display is titled "Chicks In a Jar."

Again, you have to admire the painter's honesty -- he painted a picture of some baby chickens in a glass jar.

Yet another picture portrayed a close-up of a woman's garishly-painted red lips with a bumblebee perched on them. Maybe it was supposed to represent being told to buzz off.

Then there was the "impressionist" painting. Apparently someone laid the canvas on the floor, dipped a cat in paint, and let it roll around on it.

It was just a bunch of swipes and splatters. It looked like a used drop-cloth a house painter put on the floor. Who frames a drop-cloth?

I once read about a painting that was unveiled in one of those snooty "showings." It was an albino goose trapped in a blizzard. The canvas was completely blank. The critics oooohed and aaaaahed!

Maybe the artist's next project will be a black skunk on a dark night.

That's not my idea of art. I lean more toward the portrait of Dogs Playing Poker.

I also enjoy studying the subtle brush-stroke style of the artists who paint those black-velvet Elvis portraits. Some of them glow in the dark. (The portraits, I mean, not the artists.)

I once saw a large velvet painting of a matador hanging in a truck stop that actually hummed and gave off low-levels of radiation.

My boyhood buddy Booger Johnson has always been something of an art connoisseur, and over the years has acquired a considerable collection, most of which is displayed on the walls of his garage.

The majority of Booger's artwork consists of pictures of dead fish or fresh ladies. Some of the pictures were torn from magazines and feature beer ads.

Say what you will about Booger's taste -- at least when you view his artwork you know what you're looking at. That's a fish. That's a young lady. That's a beer can.

You'll find no "Head In Ice" or "Chicks In a Jar" hanging on Booger's walls.

I don't mind what someone considers "art." If they enjoy looking at pictures of exploding heads or a purple pig wearing a tutu and dancing the Charleston with Eleanor Roosevelt, that's fine. They can gaze away.

My only gripe is I have to pay for it. Millions of tax dollars go to support stuffy art museums and provide endowments for so-called "artists" who I wouldn't let paint my barn.

Just as taxpayers don't have to subsidize Booger's garage gallery, we shouldn't have to pony up for all that other trash. Let the artists support themselves by selling some of their masterpieces. Who wouldn't pay big bucks for a picture of chickens in a jar?

As for me, I'll take a painting of a pastel sunset dipping over a distant range of snow-capped mountains, a flock of geese silhouetted in flight as lingering golden rays shimmer across a glassy lake. A giant beer can is optional.

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