Pro-war? Anti-war? Political statement? Or just plain art?
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However you view it, The Grenade is the most controversial artwork to hit Santa Fe in years. Its impact echoed beyond the narrow realm of galleries and collectors to the broader stage of public opinion.
Visually stunning, it inspired praise and criticism, puzzlement and tirades, and acts of vandalism.
The Grenade was first installed a week before the November 2004 Presidential election. It occupied a prominent position outside Linda Durham Contemporary Art on Paseo de Peralta. You couldn't miss it.
Gallery owner Linda Durham decided that the commentators needed a forum, and organized an essay contest. The entries were thoughtful and diverse. Quotes from the Judy Prisoc essay "Grenade by Marty Horowitz: An Eloquent Monument to the Hubris of War" appear below.
"By coating this object of violent destruction with gold leaf, Horowitz links mechanistic aggression with a symbol of wealth. He also suggests that the portrayal of war is distanced from actual war - gold-plated, so to speak. War is glorified or gilded to make it more palatable from afar and Grenade ironically and elegantly implies that organized aggression and the status of gold should be examined.
One might initially presume Grenade is an anti-war statement, but I think that it is more that that. We live in a time when people within the same society operate under divergent and often mutually exclusive concepts of reality. A sense of historical context is often lacking in a broader society and rational analysis does not inform consideration of events or art. As a result, people often arrive at very different responses to the same stimuli or circumstances. The strength of this sculpture is that it allows the viewer to respond without forcing a reaction to a specific didactic message.
Rather than being a simple anti-war statement, Grenade is an eloquent monument to the hubris of war."
It was toppled from its base and crushed in March, 2005. After a complete refurbishment involving re-welding, re-powder coating, and re-gilding, it traveled to Chicago for Art In the Park, a nationally known art show. Returning to New Mexico, The Grenade was installed at Linda Durham's Gallisteo gallery, only to suffer another act of vandalism, albeit a more creative one: Someone decided to play tic-tac-toe with black spray paint.
While on loan to the Hot Springs Museum Of Contemporary Art the grenade was destroyed by vandals. It was returned to Santa Fe and crushed.
Artist Martin Cary Horowitz remained sphinx-like through all the uproar. When asked "the meaning" of the work, he simple said: "It's a work of art. The interpretation is up to you."
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