Daniel Kany’s July 15 review of John Bisbee’s installation “American Steel” misses the point. Kany comes close when he says, “Black spikes shoot off the wall from the words, giving the whole thing a comic book-like energy and feel.” But he then says that the show has no deep and intelligent conceptual content.

Hey, the whole thing is a satire on how too many Americans see ourselves. From the coiled Gadsden snake, to America taming the Plains with barbed wire and guns against the Indians with their arrows, to the American Dream, with its hygienic bathtub and broom, coal pile, anvil and sledgehammer, all ending in American Steel, hard, impervious and all-conquering, Bisbee asks us to think about who we are. The phallic jokes show that too often we easily accept what we should not.

Yes, it’s comic and exaggerated in a comic book style, a steel graphic that is starkly contemporary. We may laugh at it, but we should also recognize that Bisbee’s work has a sting in it.

Deeply conceptual? It’s a satiric wake-up call. People should see it. Bisbee has nailed it.

Charles Priest


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