Great art may be in the eye of the beholder, but it isn’t necessarily in our museums.
Look no further than the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), in Toronto. Yes, this lovely museum boasts many beautiful works of art, including paintings, carvings and an extensive collection of model ships.
But it also includes works of “art” such as a pile of rocks interspersed with Cheetos. “Do not eat the art,” a sign nearby warns. Perhaps Canadian ants can read, or perhaps the exhibit is sponsored by a chemical company as proof of the effectiveness of its product. Nonetheless, it’s difficult to imagine that spilling food on the floor passes for art.
Of course, a couple of nearby exhibits, while perhaps having more artistic value than the snack-rocks, also highlight the danger of following the conventional wisdom, artistic or otherwise.
Near the Cheetos, a row of televisions show an ever-changing picture of Canadian wilderness. This supposedly serves as a warning to visitors: If humans don’t stop destroying the environment, a sign warns, the museum may be the only place to see native flora and fauna.
If anything, humans have become better stewards of our fragile blue planet. The United Nations reports that the amount of North America covered by forests expanded nearly 10 million acres between 1990 and 2000. Canada itself still retains some 90 percent of its original forest cover.
The simple fact is that North Americans have managed to develop a standard of living our ancestors couldn’t have dreamed of, while also protecting our environment. This may be the great untold story of the 21st century: Too many of us ignore amazing progress while focusing on phantom or unproveable “problems,” such as global warming.
And speaking of global warming, during his campaign, President-elect Barack Obama held forth on the dangers of supposed climate change. But the Greens have gotten exactly what they’ve long wished for: Less use of fossil fuels. Funny how we don’t hear much cheering from the left about that now.
As the United States has slipped into recession, the use of gasoline has tumbled. That’s why pump prices, over $4 per gallon this summer, are now under $2 and heading down. Things are so bad, the government may soon have to bail out all those oil speculators who bet oil would cost $150 per barrel at Christmas, since the real price is likely to be half that. Or will it turn out that speculators are evil only when prices are going up, not when they’re plunging?