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The Last Dinosaur Book/Show

Dear Tom, George, Dan, Jeff, and other friends,

     Rather than talk about what divides me from Tom Mitchell's 
philosophy, let me bring forward the long section in his Last Dinosaur 
Book about "Paleoart" which made me (a kind of Pop Artist) defend the 
book to many of you online and off as an important book for us.

     He begins by noting that paleoart exists in the art world only "as 
'scientific illustration' and it is not generally seen as serious art, 
the sort of thing that could make it into the Museum of Modern Art." He 
identifies the culprit: "The exclusion of the dinosaurs from the spaces 
of the art world-- from the studio, the gallery, and the fine arts 
museum-- exemplifies one of the central principles of high modernism." 

     He uses that exclusion to critique high modernism's cult of the 
"elite, refined, purified object d'art" ending with a vision of paleoart 
entering the sacred spaces: "The sleek modernist facade of the Museum of 
Modern Art, the temple of high modernism and aesthetic purity, is torn 
open by the dinosaurs that are filling its galleries." (275)

    Tom, here's a concept for you. You be the one to bring that art into 
the temple. In the Last Dinosaur Book, you have already curated, as if 
were, a conceptual show. Physicalize it, sell great stacks of your book 
as its catalog. Take the LDB public. 

     If you could acquire a tenth of the art showcased in LDB 
(particularly the Mark Dion installation) it would be a blockbuster. Also 
(and this was one reason why I thought you'd like this list) you are 
already in touch here with the best working paleoartists in the world. If 
exhibit gaps developed from availability, you're already in touch with 
exactly the people who could fill those gaps.     

    The LDB already supports the show with strong theory; therefore if I 
were pitching it to a wavering art museum, I'd point out to them what the 
science museums already know: dinosaurs are the champions at "outreach" 
to children. If you do the Last Dinosaur Show, every child in Chicago 
will discover where the art museum is; indeed, that there is such a thing 
as an art museum. Entire communities, previously alienated, would be 
dragged in by their children. 

     Having dinosaurs is like having Van Gogh. Hang out the sign, stand 

     I can think of many chances for corporate sponsorship. Our friends 
at Disney have a $200 million dollar dinosaur animated feature in the 
works. And Universal, where I am, is the Dinosaur House and proud of it. 


    (new website just launched: http://www.dinosaurextinction.com )


George J. Leonard, Ph.D. 
Professor of Interdisciplinary Humanities
San Francisco State University
530 Humanities Hall
1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, California, 94132
Ph: (415) 338-7428
FAX: (650) 366-5045
Website: http://www.dinosaurextinction.com