If Lewis's art were one dimensional, visual only, and with all of the conditions of mainstream acceptance, would it/he be as admired as it is today? (The term "admired" being subjective of course). The "museumification" concept doesn't seem much of an option for him. The educated man at the center of attention has proven that optimal exposure requires multiple delivery systems. For example, viral media kindling has been working for him, the interest of mainstream media has provoked a lot of interest plus, just "being him" out in the community is a common rubberneck medium that gets people talking. This, my thirty thousand foot perception.
I toured the yard yesterday and we sat for a bit and discussed what is coming next. As we visited, and as I sorted through the fire-cracker of ideas and concerns, I wondered how many people would just as soon tell him to shut up in an effort to quite his art--that if the neighbors were polled for "ideal circumstances", as Hydra suggests--would they want him silenced in addition to his artwork being "rolled back"? I get the road show version pretty much every day. Would we miss him if he's gone?
My guess is that there are people who want him removed. According to Lewis, some have expressed this to the State--that he should be institutionalized. Lewis says that hotline calls from the local politicians requesting a psychological evaluation took place and he has it documented. We sat amidst stacks of acquired documentation, pictures, and gatherings of wrong doings by his naysayers. I couldn't help but think they were trophies of a sort. Testimony to his art touching people. A collection of reactionary expressions from (some) of the community, subjects on a canvass too vast and too meaningful to...not admire.
I was sitting, talking to Lewis (on a church pew of all things) outside the coffee house the other day. He had gotten worked up over the continuance of his case by a judge who he says he understands to be Jewish. In an effort to express his concern over the matter, he described what he calls the 50/50. He said 50% of the Jews in the St. Louis area think he is a loose cannon--that he does not recognize the anti-defamation league as a reputable organization and that there is an ethnic/spiritual/political influence certain to bias the decision of his case, because of the judge presiding. I couldn’t help but visualize the new outline of things to come, the shading, the multi dimensional process of the matter, he has begun the sculpting of how this thing will play out--that his art will now extend to the legal system, particularly in regard to his case, if he has anything to "be" about it.
Oh yes, if he relegated himself to the museums to satisfy the conditional acceptance of his peers. If he held wine and cheese parties, black tie events, men and women trekking from the county to the cages built for the conditional displays to sit and collect whispers of "I really don't like this piece" or "he is brilliant in his spray work of paint on wood". Museums with their "hours of operations" signs that control the coming and going, the pop value, the communicative medium. Nope the museum approach, the homogenated process by which art is dispensed, doled out, controlled, does not seem too much of an option for Lewis—that which is conditionally adopted/accepted by those who can afford to make the journey, accept the dumbed down cultural experience looking through safety glass-- the timing on convenient terms.