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On Wonder (A Review)

Wonder. It’s something we long for, isn’t it? I do, at least. That’s why when I saw the ad for the Wonder exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery in DC, I had to go. What an audacious and somewhat unimaginative title: Wonder. What kind of a curatorial tour de force could justify such a choice?
     The show was a series of installations by, as NPR put it, nine leading contemporary artists, including Leo Villareal (who did the Bay Lights installation on the SF Bay Bridge), Patrick Dougherty (who famously weaves twigs into bulbous architectural forms), Maya Lin (who controversially designed the Vietnam War Memorial down the road), Janet Echelman, Jennifer Angus, and four more. Each artist occupied a single large room and was apparently given pretty free rein. The art was decently stimulating, of an unusual scale, and well executed… so why did I walk out feeling a little anxiety and a little despair rather than the uplift I had hoped for?
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