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Art, Hoops and Videotape

July 31, 1994

I have always enjoyed Peter Plagens' fanciful and witty writing. But I have never considered his opinions the definitive statement of contemporary art history. I'd like to expand on his use of the theater, cast-of-characters and basketball metaphors in his article on Bruce Nauman ("An Artist and His Roots," July 17):

The first act of my play would be over in an instant. Donald Judd and Ed Kienholz would be dead. Bruce Nauman, his retrospective over, would fade away and disappear in a neon-lit stage.

In the second act, the cast would be all new and enormous. Among the players would be the cheated-upon wives, the ex-mistresses, women gallery owners, primary nurturers and teachers of progeny of the disappeared good-ol'-boys club. These women would remember their fallen and confess their sins of compliance. They would make a blood oath never to be in collusion again.

A joyous and raucous racket would be heard as the curtain rises on the third act. Women artists' daughters and granddaughters (all artists themselves) would be engaged in a volleyball game. Occasionally a warning would be sung out: "Move the babies further back from the playing court!"




1. Everyone knows that all basketball is due to a repressed desire for artistic ability.

2. The distinction between teaching and creating is false and phobic. Some artists, such as Cimabue, Rubens, Hofmann, Leger, Diebenkorn and Thiebaud, could hack and even relish the engagement; others can't--particularly if they have to drag an enormous ego across town to the classroom. After all, what is journalistic criticism but a teacher in search of a larger pulpit?


South Pasadena


Thank you and Peter Plagens, for the cover story on Bruce Nauman and the Pasadena art scene.

My mother was the former Elizabeth Flowers Gibbons, who modeled for Vogue and Harpers Bazaar from 1936 to 1947. She passed away last summer, but in the 1950s and '60s she was part of the Pasadena Art Alliance with Eudora Moore, et al.

Because she's no longer with us, I cannot ask her about Nauman, but she left my brother and me a Billy Al Bengston, as well as a few of the Pasadena Art Museum's books from that period.


San Gabriel

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