I remember hearing this joke frequently, and I'm aware of the baggage that a lot of very large, metal sculpture carries as far as being big instead of good, but I like big, steel things. My favorites at the Walker's sculpture garden are Serra's Five Plates, Two Poles or Calder's The Spinner
I know you've all seen those, so I apologize for wasting the space to post yet another picture.
What I like about these is the way that the scale and material can surround you. The size of these creates an interaction that is not always available with smaller works. The tactility of the steel, and the heat it puts off even into the evening is a different type of interaction than most objects I encounter. I do touch everything as I walk around all day, and quite a bit of manufactured or built objects seem to fail to absorb and slowly release the evidence of existence around them. The self healing nature of the steel also means that even the marks from children's feet or chalk or graffiti are absorbed, but also slowly released over time.
One of the artists I mentioned, Anthony Caro is yet another artist that dealt with steel as a material. From what I've read, it seems that his work, at least for the last half century has been commissioned work, rather than self initiated, but I assume he has the luxury of choosing what to be commissioned to do. One interesting thing I learned from the website, was that he collaborated on London's Millenium Bridge, the walking bridge over the Thames. Arup.com The way I think this ties into our discussion is that Caro is among those credited (by his own website anyway) with placing large, brightly painted sculptures directly on the ground so that they engage the viewer on a one-to-one basis. I think that while there are now many more interactive ways to engage a viewer besides placing art in the same plane they are standing in, I have to imagine that at the time this was a big deal.