art at the mall
the arden fair mall back in the 1980s was the dirt mall of sac. sac has a fair number of malls then and today but arden fair was something special in its decrepitude. that is, until it was refurbished in the late '80s and it became the primo destination for shopping in the greater sacramento area. it was remade into a double-decker delight of the mind and eye, all designed to get you to buy a lot of stuff.
okay, i like malls. maybe i have to turn in my marxist card now. is it possible to be relatively non-materialistic and still enjoy malls and the things they house? in my case, oh yes, especially the arden fair mall now that it is no longer the primo shopping destination for the greater sacramento area. that distinction now belongs to the roseville galleria located in the outer-borough of roseville, california. roseville is its own incorporated city but like say city of industry outside of l.a. we, or i, consider the burgh ourter sac, a suburb of sac, if you will. roseville citizens might get all up in arms about that but come on, we are connected by a series of massively huge and efficient freeways and the cities nestled beside sac all blur together like one big sprawl.
but back to the arden fair mall. what i really like about this mall is the public art installation by the late joan brown. brown was a member of the bay area figurative movement of the late '60s. the art is smack in the middle or hub of the mall and features a large blue tile pyramid that the kids all love to climb on and surrounded by fairly totemic animals that are tiled on the floor, each flattened in a kind of broad hand that was brown's signature style. unfortunately brown died in 1990 in a freak construction accident while she was working in india.
it is a work of delight that i have loved going on 20 years now. and that it might become just a memory. i need to take a camera and document the piece for i've been told that the arden fair mall might be up for another makeover that would endanger brown's art. might get rid of it outright. i've no idea who commissioned brown the first go-around but that person or persons should be thanked for having some seriously good-ass taste.
brown i think had a comic book crudity that was married to a searching spirituality. her work reminds me of philip guston, only much happier in ways where guston's paintings are seething, corrosive indictments. i think that's why i'm so attracted to this piece. i'm not an expert at all of brown's work. just a happy admirer of this public work. click here for an interactive feature hosted by sfmoma.