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Live Active Cultures

Seth ponders the paradox "Art is endangered; art is everywhere"

Photo: Anna McCambridge, License: N/A

Anna McCambridge

If, after seeing all this, there was still any mystery behind this misunderstood medium, Beth Marshall Presents was there with an easily digestible primer on the subject. The former Orlando Fringe Festival producer’s troupe of actors offered an edutaining performance: Jennifer Bonner, as a harried museum curator, was handed a stop sign by an irritable delivery man (Brett Carson); when she complained that the object wasn’t art, actors Rob Ward and Arwen Lowbridgeappeared to explain “the history of graphic design in three minutes.” OK, so the dialogue wasn’t Mamet – more like copy-and-paste from Wikipedia – but the sketch wasn’t long enough to wear out its welcome, and we all learned important lessons like “graphic art is everywhere” and “a bill of lading never lies.”

Outside the front gallery, Vegan Crumbs offered complimentary cupcakes (I can vouch for the yummy double-chocolate ones), and the American Institute of Graphic Arts, a professional designers association, gave out free posters proclaiming “I promise not to use Comic Sans or Papyrus,” a pledge every fledgling Photoshopper should be forced to take under penalty of death.

Finally, in the museum’s farthest gallery, I found evidence that the blurred line between fine art and commerce is nothing new. Until Aug. 21, OMA’s Martin and Gracia Andersen Parkview Promenade Gallery hosts American Brilliant Period Engraved and Cut Glass. Crafted between 1876 and 1916, these crystalline containers were both practical and decorative; they were products and symbols of the growing industrialization of American society.

In other words, whether we’re talking about 100 years ago or today, the answer to the question “Art or advertising?” still seems to be “both.”

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