Butter sculpture is perhaps my favorite state fair art form, better even than seed art or glue-a-shoe or tree man stilt walking—which makes it strange to find no line of people leading up to the refrigerated case where the shoulder of the Creative Arts building butts up to the Embarcadero. Perhaps there has been a controversy over the use of actual Girl Scout cookies in the butter tribute to the Girl Scouts' centennial. Perhaps the butter sculpture purists cannot abide this adulteration of the art form and are keeping away in protest, because I too, as I look at the butter girl scouts dropping real shortbread cookies at the giant butter boots of a metonymous Big Tex, as I study the butter scout leader behind them clutching real chipboard boxes I, too, wonder, "What is butter sculpture coming to?"
Sure, you might say, the shortbread cookies are basically butter anyway, but that's not really the point, is it? An olympic gymnast made out of butter is admittedly a little odd, a little amusing, but it nonetheless has an artistic integrity, a curious wholesomeness. But imagine the same butter sculpture athlete in a real spandex unitard and the result is grotesque. Butter sculpture, it had not occurred to me until I saw it compromised, makes sense as long as it promotes one absurdity at a time. Butter Michael Jackson is a delightful kind of conundrum: a tribute of labor and attention, and yet in this most mutable and marginalized and temporary kind of medium. Butter Michael Jackson with real sequined-glove, however, simply dismisses the gloriously ridiculous medium of butter as somehow insufficient. It's like putting a wood and leather slingshot in David's marble hand. It's like a charade where someone talks. And it suggests a lack of confidence not just in the materials, but in the audience—as if we wouldn't already know the signature shape of a Girl Scout shortbread cookie! As if we weren't the same people who step away from the bounty of fried food opportunities to queue up at the Texas Hall of State at 11 and 3 o'clock for the promise of free Girl Scout cookies. That line winds through three galleries and down the stairs and around an auditorium, always moving but never getting shorter until the volunteers run out of sleeves of shortbreads to put in your empty hand.