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But do people recognize ‘fine art’ when they see it?

October 18th, 2011 · 72 comments

At the local art exhibit of the Utah State Fair: a smug reminder of what we already know, thankyouverymuch. As our submitter wrote, “We’re not animals, after all!”

But do people recognize

related: Signed, R. Mutt

FILED UNDER: art · Salt Lake City · touching

72 responses so far ↓

  • #1   looney

    But do *people* know how to address other *people* appropriately and with a minimum level of snark?

    Oct 18, 2011 at 12:31 am   rating: 8  small thumbs up

  • #2   Roundredhead

    1) People know not to touch fine art.
    2) People have touched this art.
    3) This art is not fine.

    Oct 18, 2011 at 12:37 am   rating: 76  small thumbs up

    • #2.1   park rose

      The fine art of not touching fine art.
      The finer art, yet, of touching
      If you had a lighter, and an arsehole, could it be fiery
      Performance prrrrprrrarrrrtt?

      Oct 18, 2011 at 6:18 am   rating: 8  small thumbs up

    • #2.2   cizzerhand

      I mean, just try to name ONE famous finger-painter…

      …who’s not your honored Montessori student

      Oct 21, 2011 at 1:39 am   rating: 1  small thumbs up

    • #2.3   infanttyrone

      park rose,
      Are you aware of the fartiste, Le Petomane ?
      C’était les beaux-arts … tout naturellement.
      Toot naturallement ?

      Oct 26, 2011 at 3:53 am   rating: 1  small thumbs up

  • #3   jen

    …you sure this isn’t an exhibit? because it’d be a pretty good one

    Oct 18, 2011 at 12:38 am   rating: 24  small thumbs up

    • #3.1   Sean Jungian

      Oh, PoMo, what hast thou wrought?

      Oct 18, 2011 at 7:36 am   rating: 4  small thumbs up

    • #3.2   park rose


      Oct 19, 2011 at 6:53 am   rating: 4  small thumbs up

    • #3.3   infanttyrone

      What hast PoMo wrought ?
      PoMo being the dramatic sort, it wrought irony.

      Desiderrida (apologies to Porter, Monroe, et al)
      While stripping away text’s underclothes
      My trousseau just might seem to falter
      But don’t worry Steve…I know all about Eve
      And I’m constructed like the Jacques of Rib-altar

      I may wind through some Richter scales
      My Aeolian ‘Arp strumming “Ta Da!”
      But my seismic shifts will weather the gales
      Cause my heart belongs to Dada

      Oct 22, 2011 at 5:10 am   rating: 2  small thumbs up

  • #4   gadtwo5

    With a great deal of my family hailing from the land of milk and honey, I feel as though I can say that the people of the Utah State Fair probably wouldn’t have a great impression of fine art and how to handle it.

    Oct 18, 2011 at 12:50 am   rating: 4  small thumbs up

    • #4.1   Canthz_B bang

      Even if it’s Impressionist?

      Oct 18, 2011 at 12:59 am   rating: 4  small thumbs up

    • #4.2   gadtwo5

      Oh, that would just confuse them more. I don’t think they would even be able to pronounce Van Gogh, let alone accept it as art.

      Oct 18, 2011 at 1:07 am   rating: 1  small thumbs up

    • #4.3   Canthz_B bang

      So unappreciative.

      Oct 18, 2011 at 2:11 am   rating: 3  small thumbs up

    • #4.4   Sean Jungian

      To be fair, most people don’t know how to pronounce Van Gogh correctly.

      Oct 18, 2011 at 7:37 am   rating: 11  small thumbs up

    • #4.5   aaa bang

      Yes, but van *HOCKER* is really hard to pronounce if you’re not Dutch.

      Oct 18, 2011 at 10:51 am   rating: 4  small thumbs up

    • #4.6   Rattus

      I know how to pronounce it properly, but I don’t because I find that a goodly number of those North Americans who do pronounce it properly tend to be pretentious douchebags (ie., my dad).

      Oct 18, 2011 at 1:37 pm   rating: 8  small thumbs up

    • #4.7   Rattus

      My dad also pronounces sauna correctly. I would smack him if I were willing to spend any time with him.

      Oct 18, 2011 at 1:40 pm   rating: 4  small thumbs up

  • #5   Canthz_B bang

    The penalty for touching fine art is probably a fine, but that’s self-explanatory, so people probably already know that.

    Oct 18, 2011 at 12:57 am   rating: 13  small thumbs up

    • #5.1   BrookeDiz

      Art doesn’t.

      Oct 18, 2011 at 4:36 pm   rating: 3  small thumbs up

  • #6   Rhamza

    well then, if the people attending the Utah State Fair are not touching the art work, then the animals must be…what is that saying about the patrons? Were I the ‘people’ who have been touching the art, I’d file a discrimination suit against the curator! He is obviously calling them animals. ’0′

    Oct 18, 2011 at 1:01 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

    • #6.1   Palomon


      Oct 18, 2011 at 11:51 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

  • #7   litchic

    “You want the art?”
    “I want the FINE ART!”
    “You can’t HANDLE the fine art!”
    from A Few Good Docents

    Oct 18, 2011 at 1:13 am   rating: 45  small thumbs up

  • #8   Somebody Else

    Then why post a sign?

    Oct 18, 2011 at 1:43 am   rating: 6  small thumbs up

  • #9   Canthz_B bang

    What about fine braille art?

    Oct 18, 2011 at 2:02 am   rating: 5  small thumbs up

    • #9.1   park rose

      Word Up, (of the day) CB! T’was a good one.

      Oct 18, 2011 at 6:22 am   rating: 3  small thumbs up

    • #9.2   MD bang


      *stretch stretch stretching to drag the serious hat out of the far back corner of the chaos closet*

      *begins violent coughing and sneezing fit*

      Whew! This thing is dusty! And grimy. I’m getting hives–and at least one infection–just from holding it…

      Some museums / galleries /studios will arrange special tours for the visually impaired. With the aid (and strict guidance) of staff, while wearing the same special pristine white cotton gloves said staff uses to handle the art, the VI, basically, get to grope the art. This gives them a way to share in certain types of art, like sculpture and paintings (with elaborate raised textures of detailed brushwork, which many less impaired people have to fight NOT to touch. Or maybe that’s just us art geeks.)

      This does nothing for ‘modern’ ‘installations’, such as a random deliberately blurry slideshow, or an actual pile of garbage.

      I stopped visiting my local museum when one of the ‘works’ was a pile of, hmmm, maybe ten or so fast food cup tops, with straws still skewering them. The info tag reported it’s name as ‘Untitled’. Of course. In my view, if you can’t / didn’t name it, you aren’t even pretending to be fucking trying. The tag also revealed it had been bought by the government for 75k.Or 100k. It might have been more. I was literally almost blacking out with rage at that point, so…

      As a professional writer and artist, I have so many of my peers, who are super talented, and can’t place their work. Or sell it for almost nothing. In fact, they don’t make enough to buy the fast food to ‘make’ the scam crap, and yet they were forced to buy *taxes) this ridic garbage.

      Major rage.

      I did get some comfort. After making the loop of the room, I discovered someone had–surely accidentally–kicked the ‘installation’ to the four winds. And they, or perhaps the next patron, had picked up {most of) the ones near the waste bin and tossed them in.

      No one appreciates litter. Or garbage.

      I wonder how many times per day the twits who had bought this crap–with not-their-own-money, natch–had to scrape it out of the trash.

      Whatever, it wasn’t enough. Even if the trash included diapers and worse.

      Annnnnyway, clearly, they don’t make / let the blind touch that. They probably got tired of being punched afterwards.

      (Note: If you made it through, this frickin essay has met your mreading quota for the day. Congrats!)

      Oct 23, 2011 at 10:51 am   rating: 7  small thumbs up

    • #9.3   Canthz_B bang

      Braille: a system of raised dots which impart information.

      Braille art: Art constructed using braille.

      Not quite the same as the VI access you describe. GOD, HOW I HATE EXPLAINING JOKES, especially to those who think that failing artists are “super talented”.

      Super-talented artists sell. “Artists” need to find real jobs.

      Oct 25, 2011 at 2:18 am   rating: 1  small thumbs up

    • #9.4   MD bang

      I didn’t miss the joke; I had just recently read about museums attempts to be more accessible, and I thought it was worth passing along. Especially since–and here I’ll try not to get too technical in my terms–my experience is most people go out of their way to be asshats, not to be helpful.

      I identify my peers as artists, because they make art. Most of them sell it, at standard ‘professional’ rates. But most of them also hold more than one day job.

      Analysts say it’s this crap economy, and use the old ‘art is a luxury’ argument. The economy has been crap my whole life. It will be crap when the earth is eaten by the sun, or the sun burns out whichever comes first.

      Point: Government sponsored art is insane. Since the twits aren’t spending their own money, you get them stumbling along, thinking art is anything ‘edgy’, and you get the cup lids. The same exhibit also had another ‘installation: dollar store fake vomit glued to the floor, the ceiling, the walls.

      And outside, we have government sponsored sculptures, that look like a random heap of metal fell off the recycling truck, and rather than pick it back up, they just bolted it down to rust.

      So,it’s not just the insult to honed skills and creativity, it’s giving a huge whack of tax dollars to scan artists.

      And those? I think most can agree it’s not the type of art they want to support…

      Nov 6, 2011 at 10:33 am   rating: 2  small thumbs up

    • #9.5   infanttyrone

      @MD…When a cat we cared about a looongg time ago never came home,
      I had no problem facing up to the likelihood that its death had been the result of a too-close encounter with a vehicle or a pack of coyotes.

      In the case of your local museum, I find it easier to believe that the money figure on the info tag was part of some kind of psychological experiment.

      I lived in two places where there was serious controversy about the cost of a couple outdoor art installations, so I know that the reality might be exactly as you describe…but 10 or so cup lids with straws ??

      @CB…Super-talented artists sell. Undoubtedly, this is often true.
      However, for a variety of reasons, in many cases they do not sell.
      I’m no guru on the art scene or history, but Van Gogh comes to mind.

      Sometimes people in government purchasing jobs buy inferior goods
      with public funds and often they receive kickbacks from the vendors.

      Nov 6, 2011 at 4:22 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

  • #10   chainsaw annie

    What is fine art doing at a state fair, anyway? I’m from IA & we had butter sculptures, livestock displays, tractor pulls & corndogs.

    Oct 18, 2011 at 8:16 am   rating: 19  small thumbs up

    • #10.1   Dr. Chalkwitheringlicktacklefeff

      We have something simillar at county fairs in England; only we have tractor sculptures, corndog pulls and buttered livestock.

      Oct 18, 2011 at 8:21 am   rating: 20  small thumbs up

    • #10.2   quatfaux

      Corndog pulls are held at a different venue here.

      Oct 18, 2011 at 10:10 am   rating: 12  small thumbs up

    • #10.3   The Elf

      You left the butter sculpture out?! It’ll spoil!

      Oct 18, 2011 at 1:04 pm   rating: 27  small thumbs up

  • #11   Dr. Chalkwitheringlicktacklefeff

    If I visited that gallery I would probably make a point of touching every single piece of art. Because I’m an obstinate jerk.

    Oct 18, 2011 at 8:20 am   rating: 8  small thumbs up

    • #11.1   Palomon

      Or walk up to each display, with finger extended, arm reaching out, not quite contacting the object and shouting, “Not touching it! Not touching it!”

      Oct 18, 2011 at 11:55 pm   rating: 8  small thumbs up

  • #12   Dee

    This sign makes me want to touch the fine art and maybe knock down a couple of things.

    Oct 18, 2011 at 8:27 am   rating: 3  small thumbs up

  • #13   squib

    So we can touch it if it’s crap art?

    Oct 18, 2011 at 8:31 am   rating: 17  small thumbs up

    • #13.1   divaandwriter bang

      Dammit, you stole MY comment!

      Oct 18, 2011 at 10:45 am   rating: 2  small thumbs up

    • #13.2   squib

      I’m pleased to see that at least people know not to duplicate fine comments.

      Oct 18, 2011 at 10:55 am   rating: 14  small thumbs up

  • #14   bookworm

    Sign posters know how to get people to touch fine art.

    Oct 18, 2011 at 9:32 am   rating: 11  small thumbs up

    • #14.1   Somebody Else

      Where is the multi-thumb button? I am desperate for a multi-thumb button right now!

      This comment is priceless …

      Oct 18, 2011 at 6:28 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

  • #15   Canthz_B bang

    It’s OK to touch fine artworks, just steer clear of their naughty bits.

    Oct 18, 2011 at 9:40 am   rating: 5  small thumbs up

    • #15.1   Canthz_B bang

      See what some douche bag did to poor David…

      Oct 18, 2011 at 9:43 am   rating: 6  small thumbs up

    • #15.2   The Elf

      He was asking for it.

      Oct 18, 2011 at 1:05 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

  • #16   Canthz_B bang

    Fine art at the State Fair?…Yes, because the greatest honor for an artist is a blue ribbon the same as is affixed to the winner of the Best Hog competition.

    Oct 18, 2011 at 9:52 am   rating: 6  small thumbs up

    • #16.1   aaa bang

      No, it’s more special than being awarded “Greasiest Pre-Bacon” because the ribbon for “Bestest Art” totally has glitter and bedazzling on it. I think they might’ve gotten the ribbon off Etsy. Now that shit is fucking classy.

      Oct 18, 2011 at 10:40 am   rating: 4  small thumbs up

  • #17   aaa bang

    Well, knowing and doing certainly are two different things, aren’t they?

    Oct 18, 2011 at 10:38 am   rating: 9  small thumbs up

  • #18   divaandwriter bang

    However, animals are welcome to touch the crummy art.

    Oct 18, 2011 at 10:47 am   rating: 3  small thumbs up

  • #19   gus

    So maybe animals haven’t figured out not to touch, but the fact that they’ve evolved enough to read AND show up to art exhibits is impressive. Do we really need to rub in the fact that we have better manners than them?

    Oct 18, 2011 at 11:49 am   rating: 8  small thumbs up

  • #20   The Elf

    Where do those “touchable” exhibits for kids figure into all this? Does that mean that fine art is not for children or that children aren’t people?

    Little of both, probably.

    Oct 18, 2011 at 1:06 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

    • #20.1   PANs_Labyrinth bang

      There, there, Fine Art. Now can you show me exactly where that nasty old man touched you?

      Oct 18, 2011 at 1:28 pm   rating: 10  small thumbs up

  • #21   trinity67

    Annoyingly, there actually are people in the world, who touch art. So, I guess this means that I’m part of the snarky/snippy bunch who think this sign is necessary.

    Oct 18, 2011 at 1:53 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

  • #22   Allie

    Sure, but what is “fine art”? It’s subjective, so it means I can touch anything I don’t think qualifies. Why don’t you knock off the douchebaggery and just say “Please don’t touch this art”.

    Oct 18, 2011 at 2:27 pm   rating: 10  small thumbs up

  • #23   je

    I watched a grown woman rub her hands over a oil painting at Windsor Castle. If I would’ve been closer to her in line I would’ve smacked her hand down off of the painting. And I would’ve smacked the cellphone out of the hand of the woman taking a picture, I did see someone confront her and she said “it’s not a camera it’s a phone” (you can’t take pictures, eat, or talk on your cell phone in the castle). It drives me nuts when I see people doing things like this. Let’s all go to the zoo and take pictures with the flash on at animals who are in darkened rooms. Sounds like a great idea!

    Oct 18, 2011 at 3:28 pm   rating: 7  small thumbs up

  • #24   Scot Mathis

    Unfortunately, today we have a tour group from New Jersey coming through.

    Oct 18, 2011 at 4:57 pm   rating: 2  small thumbs up

  • #25   ShellyB

    I went to high school with a really fine Art. His girlfriend told me the same thing.

    Oct 18, 2011 at 5:13 pm   rating: 6  small thumbs up

    • #25.1   Rattus

      I went to school with an Art Fineberg.

      Oct 19, 2011 at 7:43 am   rating: 1  small thumbs up

  • #26   pony girl

    They had to laminate the sign to protect it, and yet they think that sign alone will stop people from touching the so-called fine art?

    Oct 18, 2011 at 7:01 pm   rating: 9  small thumbs up

    • #26.1   Somebody Else

      Lamination pretty much says it all.

      Oct 19, 2011 at 11:50 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

    • #26.2   infanttyrone

      that sign alone… and the dulcet tones exuded by the endless loop of Donny & Marie’s version of Hammer’s cautionary tune lulled the viewers into a bucolic state of eyes-only enthrallment that was in perfect synch with the hogs, chickens, and cows next door.

      Oct 22, 2011 at 5:33 am   rating: 1  small thumbs up

  • #27   Spooky

    I used to work at a (very) fine art museum. One day, Tony Randall was there with the woman who eventually became his wife. He was touching the (fine) art. I was too abashed to actually tell him to stop it, so instead I went into gushing fan mode, and asked to shake his hand (you know; the one that had just been touching the painting). He was a douchebag about it all.

    If I had the chance to do it all over again, I’d have just yelled at him like I should have.

    Oct 18, 2011 at 8:24 pm   rating: 4  small thumbs up

    • #27.1   Pit Pat

      That woman who was, like, 62 years younger than him? And bore his children? And then he died? After teaching them to love opera?

      Oct 18, 2011 at 11:03 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

    • #27.2   Spooky

      That’s the one.

      Oct 19, 2011 at 5:48 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

    • #27.3   Spooky

      And he was lecturing her on the brush strokes.

      Oct 19, 2011 at 5:49 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

  • #28   Ish

    Please, this is Utah, where people clap between movements, take flash photography in Symphony concerts and wear jeans to opera.

    Oct 21, 2011 at 12:28 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

  • #29   Rykan

    I’ve actually just finished my masters dissertation on the issues of people touching stuff in museums they shouldn’t. It didn’t really include paintings specifically, but people DO and WILL touch stuff even (and sometimes especially) when asked not to. Finding the right signage to discourage this kind of interaction is tricky.

    Oct 22, 2011 at 5:16 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

    • #29.1   Canthz_B bang

      Well, a sign that describes the items on display as “exhibits” rather than “stuff” might be a good start.

      Oct 23, 2011 at 4:25 am   rating: 1  small thumbs up

    • #29.2   Alethia

      That’s assuming the ever-lovely patrons know what the word “exhibits” mean. ;)

      Oct 23, 2011 at 5:51 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

    • #29.3   Canthz_B bang

      Patrons of the arts normally know what “exhibits” are in this context.
      I’d worry more about which meaning of “stuff” they’d take to heart!

      Only myself, my wife and my doctor are allowed to touch my stuff. I was arrested the time I made it a public exhibit. :-P

      Oct 25, 2011 at 2:27 am   rating: 2  small thumbs up

  • #30   sofi

    I’ve worked at a few art museums and noncommercial art galleries and have seen many, many people touch artwork. I have even witnessed people dragging their hands across paintings as though they’re stroking a cat. Despite the frequency, I’m still shocked every time I see it.

    Some museums have alarms that sound when someone steps closer than arm’s length towards a work. Brilliant.

    Oct 23, 2011 at 2:56 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

  • #31   tamr

    I don’t believe this here signage was generated by any genuine IA born individual. This is the work of some ‘high minded, red wine drinkin’,douchebaggery, east coast-type’. Everyone knows ‘art,fine or otherwise’ is in the eye of the beholder. Shameful.

    Oct 29, 2011 at 5:10 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

  • #32   Tours in Venice

    But do they? I want to a museum with a friend’s mom where we were reminded to touch only with our eyes. And still the evening ended with about 3 security personnel approaching us exclaiming “you can’t touch anything at a museum!” I would have reminded her but I don’t like to correct my elders.

    Nov 11, 2011 at 2:36 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up


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