Bad Dog, Good Art

A 28-foot-tall canine leaves its mark on the Orange County Museum of Art.

HUMOR WRIT LARGE: A common object or oft-seen animal presented in sculpture form on a museum lawn tends to tickle people's funny bones. Think of the over-sized shuttlecocks outside the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City or the 40-foot-tall thumb sculpture that stands in Paris at La Defense Corporate Park. But a 28-foot-tall dog with a leg raised over a museum? That's almost beyond funny-bone-tickling, and nearly beyond the pale, too, which is why we love it so. Such a piece exists, it's called "Bad Dog," and irreverent artist Richard Jackson is the cheeky creator behind it. The mammoth piece, which is new for the artist, is currently keeping one leg lifted over the Orange County Museum of Art. (Yes, we were tempted to write "pee-ce" there, emphasis on the "pee," but surely visitors to the museum will more than go the distance on that joke for us.)

THROUGH MAY 5: A mammoth retrospective of the LA-based visionary just debuted at the Newport Beach museum, and the indoor works are as surprising and strange and occasionally funny bone-seeking as the mega mutt standing outside. Mr. Jackson's "The Laundry Room (Death of Marat)" is a macabre and modern play on this iconic image; the bathtub is there, as is the man, but before him sits a glowingly laptop. Chilling and timely, definitely. But there are other colorful and whimsical pieces that at first glance bring a laugh or a sigh. And the viewer's second and third glances? Those are likely to summon a bevy of questions. The artist is famed for his "action painting," and for walking the experimental, multimedia, painting-meets-sculpture road far ahead of his contemporaries. It's an exhibit with flavor, for sure. So if you prefer your art consumption highly spiced and with a strong and zesty aftertaste, this could be your thing.

EXHIBIT DATES: The gargantuan, relief-seeking pup and Mr. Jackson's other provocative, hue-popping pieces are on view in Newport Beach through Sunday, May 5. Show title? "Ain't Painting A Pain." 

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