"What Would You Do?" Week (psst, there's a contest in this post)

I spent the afternoon with my friends, Patrik and Steven, at one of my favorite spots, the DeYoung Museum, in Golden Gate Park.

[caption id="attachment_2132" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="The De Young has been here since 1895, but this is a new building for the museum, designed by Herzog & de Meuron, and opened in 2005."][/caption]

We wandered into this room and something funny happened...

We spontaneously started talking about this crystal and light installation and what we'd do with this idea in a dining room. We talked about recreating the installation then painting the walls to match the shadows and removing the crystals. Would the magic still be there? Would people look up to find the light resource? Could some of the shadows be painted in color? What other shapes could we create with shadow?

As we wandered further through the museum we continued asking "what would you do?"...

Would you put this painting in your house?

If you painted this piece would you change anything? (not me, this is one of my favorite paintings in the museum)

If this painting was your idea and you painted it exactly like this, would yours make it to a museum?

Then we came into the Line of Sight exhibit created by Marco Breuer. He seemed to be laughing- even poking fun at museums themselves. He combined his original works (photographs created without a camera) with pieces from DeYoung's permanent collection, pencil sketches on the walls and tracing paper decorations. It was playful and funny for such a serious place.

Steven speculated about a rhetorical accusation between Artist and Curator- he charged, "Okay, Artboy! You're not actually going to damage anything here, are you?!" It got us laughing (too loud, actually, but we couldn't help it!) and then we asked ourselves,

"If you were given a whole room in the museum to do whatever you wanted, what would you do?"

Scribble columns with a pencil around the entry to your exhibit?

Sketch a display of rectangles on the wall then arrange your photographs on the drawing?

Decorate Girandole mirrors with tissue paper then tempt your friends to have a little fun with a single dress standing in the middle of the room? (Do it, Patrik, I dare you!)

It got me thinking, sometimes we (should I say, I?) think of an idea- a creative idea, an idea about our lives, perhaps- then think about all of the reasons the idea is impossible to execute. I thought for years about design ideas for my house, but immediately focused on the obstacles- it's a rental, I don't have the money for it, I could never find it...

Constructive criticism lies at the corner of most achievements. You have to be able to step back from your work, maybe gather input from others, to evaluate things before you continue. But it's easy to get hung up on the negative- on what's not working, or what isn't possible. We get discouraged or feel paralyzed- sometimes before we've even started- and feel defeated, or give up before we've even started.

I stopped working on this painting over a year ago. I approached the piece as a playful experiment in pattern and color-that is- until I got to the flowers. I became so critical about the colors and shapes/scale of the blossoms that I stopped and put the painting down indefinitely. Why did I stop playing? Why did I get so critical that I couldn't continue?...

This week, to get us all imagining cool things again without ANY criticism, I'm asking the question,

What Would You Do?

I'll present a series of images, projects, scenarios and simply ask, What Would You Do? Because sometimes we just need to wonder about things, even things unrelated to our own work, to Make Room for fresh ideas and new enthusiasm. No answer will be right or wrong- but if you smell a contest coming, keep reading...

Let's start with this. What would you do?

[caption id="attachment_2169" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="These raw silk curtains are from a showroom in the San Francisco Design Center"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2171" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="They are lined with sateen, have pinch pleats at the top and quilting on the lead edge (the edge that closes to the center of the window)"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2170" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="There are four panels each measuring 11 ft long by 7ft across the pleated top"][/caption]

Would you hang them in your house? Give them to a friend who's favorite color is poppy red? Cut them and make something else with the fabric? Stretch the fabric on a canvas and paint?...

No answer is wrong, just tell me, What Would You Do?

The first person to answer wins a print of this painting. Good luck!

Back to blog


Oh, and the title reminded me of this really cool project called “Why Do You Do What You Do?”:

It started at Burning Man and they continue to be out there every year.


Thanks, JD! Check out this video about Marc Breuer’s installation and you’ll see a little bit of that “performance” that you mentioned. http://vonlintelgallery.blogspot.com/2011/04/installation-of-marco-breuer-line-of.html And, my brother, Lane was the first to comment on this post, but has graciously forfeited the prize for being the first commentor, so if you want it, let me know on facebook and I’ll make sure to get it to you. Have a great week!

Shannnon Kaye

I think you left the flowers unfinished because that painting is perfect just the way it is!! I love the juxtaposition of the sketched petals and the fully realized background.

Lora Hart

Really great post, Shannon. I love your question about whether one of our works would make it to a museum if it was identical to the artist’s. That brings up the issue of context and reputation, how art isn’t just the work itself, but its relation to other works, to an artistic movement, and even to how well the artist plays the game; so that with this in mind, a “static” piece like a painting suddenly becomes a performance. Especially when the audience is interacting on such a level like you describe here. Your trip to the museum wasn’t as a spectator, but as a participant. You weren’t simply showing up expecting to be entertained. And look what it generated! An idea (the contest) for you to engage in.

I love this kind of shit! Art generating art, the “audience” becoming participants. As a musician, there’s nothing better than playing to an audience that’s out there dancing, giving back energy, performing themselves. It elevates the band’s output and becomes a circular thing.


Are you kidding me? this is a gold mine. As someone who is always trying to make big theatrical prodoctions on a budget of $5, I am constantly looking for fabric that’s cheaper or in larger pieces than the bolt at the store. I just made an enormous Prairie skirt for a performance out of a $5 pair of curtains I found at the Goodwill. It was beautiful. With these drapes a million costumes are possible.

It would be tempting to hang such a nice drape straight on the wall but I see so much potential in the yards of silk that I think cutting right in is the best thing to do.


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