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Yes I Said Yes I Will Yes

Artist’s rendering of “YES!” sculpture, via Daily Camera

Yes! That’s the good word (complete with exclamation point) from the progressive city of Boulder, Colo. Last week the Boulder Public Library announced:

An art project called, “Yes!” by artists R&R Studios based in Miami, was selected by a public art selection panel on March 31. …

Yes! is proposed as free-standing aluminum letters, lit from within, with the light visible through perforations in the red surface. Yes! will be installed outside of the curved glass wall to the north of the Main Library’s entrance. The artwork is planned to be installed this fall.

What is the significance of this $150,000 work of art? Well, the local newspaper, the Daily Camera, offered this explanation by the Miami-based artists, Rosario Marquardt and Roberto Behar:

Yes! consists of one unique and iconic element that metaphorically embodies the affirmative essence of Boulder as a distinct American community and the positive nature of the library’s mission to enhance free access to ideas for all.

If that’s too hifalutin, here’s what a member of the Boulder Arts Commission stated: “Whatever your taste in art, this sculpture will make you smile. The artists have captured Boulder’s vision of itself: positive, confident, sophisticated and innovative. Yes! will be recognized nationally but will still shout out ‘Boulder.’”

And according to the Camera, the city manager of Boulder said, “The iconic image of Yes! will be a must-see for visitors to Boulder, and a legacy to our growing collection of public art.”

So far so good, right?

Yes … but.

Not everyone in Boulder was as enthusiastic as the members of the Boulder Arts Commission. One local artist told the Camera, “There’s more to art than enthusiasm and crayons. The color, the font—it doesn’t jibe with the rest of the library. It’s just ugly.”

Another citizen complained to The Denver Post about Yes! blocking the view of the mountains. And a student at the University of Colorado told the Post, “It seems a little blunt, with the sharp edges and the bright red.”

More than 40 responses were posted to the Camera story, including:

YES=Your Excessive Spending

As a bonus it will make a nice clothes line for bums to dry out their smelly frocks after washing them in the library bathrooms.

City Manager Jane Brautigam’s statement “this will be a must-see for visitors to Boulder” is good material for the Onion, and the size of the letters probably violate the city’s sign code.

The new sign in front of the library will appeal to inarticulate individuals who regularly spout the overused expression “YES!” whenever the other word in their vocabulary “AWESOME!” will not quite fit.

Is there any way to say “No” to “Yes!”

Yes! is an expression of affirmative action that will probably not be struck down by a conservative Supreme Court. It has been in the English language for more than a century, on the sunny side. But if we’re making statues of words, I’d say the honor should go to that uniquely American invention, the nation’s and the world’s greatest word, OK.

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