Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Criminals of the Art World

The following series of gouache paintings, collectively titled “Criminals of the Art World”, was created in the fall of 2005, for “Real Art – A Question of Culture”, a group showing at Sessions Gallery in Ballard, Washington, featuring illustrators and cartoonists tackling the theme of preconceived definitions of art and the gallery culture. Also showing work were Peter Bagge, David Lasky, Bob Rini, Megan Kelso, and Greg Stump.
Choosing to display my artistic rogues in the manner of an FBI “most wanted” bulletin, I wrote a brief dossier for each, detailing their crimes against humanity. I’ve included these here, as I believe they are a vital component of each painting.
The series is currently posted for sale at Comic Art Collective. If you are interested, please hurry on over, as a few are still left.
Also, you might find this review of the show, from the Seattle Weekly, to be illuminating.

Mandalet Blanchet, THE SURREALIST- also known as “Poppa Dada” and “Blank Check Blanchet.” Notorious for putting the “der” in meaning (that’s meandering, of course).
Most notable art crime: “The gentry, asleep, masticating, unfed, indigenous fear, a cup of wine,” 1993. Installation featuring man’s pajamas, painted with acrylic to the point of rigidity, suspended, as if floating in dream, over worn and soiled mattress, while hidden tape recorder plays voice of young girl reading from Kierkegaard’s The Sickness Unto Death.
“Blanchet’s art makes one want to take candy from a stranger!”- The Utne Reader
“How brilliant?” – Newsweek

Oscar Templeton, THE PUNK ROCK PHOTOGRAPHER- also known as “Shatterbug,” “Scarman” and “Oscar Ramone.”
Drinks: PBR, Hershey’s syrup and Stiv Bator’s bathwater.
Most notable art crime: Punk Rawk Saves the World!, 2002. A fifty print exhibition of photos taken between 1997 and 2002, featuring friends and family posing as famous old-wave punk performers. The collection, mistakenly perceived as genuine photos of punk icons like Johnny Rotten and Richard Hell, showed for months straight in countries like Georgia, Azerbaijan and on a barge in the Sea of Azov.
Actual quote: “Those Azerbaijan chicks thought my fat-assed Uncle Julio was really Sid Vicious! Gotta love Azerbaijan, man!”

Chuck Mode, THE PROLETARIAN SCULPTOR- also known as “Chisel Chin,” “The Commie Dude,” and “Horsebreath.”
Most notable art crime: The Steel Tears of My Daddy’s Hands, 2001. When his eighty-five year old father died, he quickly set about to making plaster casts of the dead man’s hands and head, all before alerting other family members of the passing. He then set out to eulogize his working class roots by making eighty five pairs of metal hands, which he welded to two poles placed inside his father’s old boots, a rubber-molded mask of the head placed at the top. A thin hose running inside one of the poles created a continuously running stream of water, trickling from the mask’s eyeholes.
“Art so real, you can almost taste the tears!”- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Annabella Jones, THE GALLERY VAMP- also known as “Look, it’s her again!”
Often spotted at: Openings where middle-aged punk rock drummers are showing their post-Zoloft contour drawings and anything co-sponsored by Red Bull and/or Lucky Strike.
Most notable art crime(s): “Drawing more attention to herself than the art on the walls, constantly using her reflection in frame glass to apply her vampire lipstick, referring to everything she likes as a cross between Georgia O’Keeffe and Big Daddy Roth and, worst of all, giving sad sack artists everywhere the false hope that they might actually have the “mojo” workin’.
“Look, it’s her again!”- Some Sad Sack Artist

Zach Malone, THE WATERCOLOR PATRIOT- also known as “Paint it Khaki,” and “I was in ‘raq, man, that’s why!”
How his agent sells him: Zach has seen the true colors of war and he may dilute his paints, but he’ll never dilute the truth.
Most notable art crime: Sand in My Paintbox, 1994. A large watercolor, depicting the United States’ allies in the Gulf War of 1991, each as a different color swatch in a child’s paint set. Sleeping peacefully nearby is Lady Liberty, shown as a little girl, her torch now an over-sized brush.
“Lt. Malone, with his sensitive artistry, reminds us that we are, simply, the most powerful military force on the planet” - USA Today
“Call it propaganda, call it contrived, but it sure sells!” - People

Benjamin Abbey, THE EMOTIONAL ARCHITECT- also known as “Mr. Windowpain,” and “The Bleeding House Guy.”
His thesis: Walls hear, floors talk, windows reveal, doors deny.
Most notable art crime: The Right to be Frank, Llyod, 1996. An architectural installation of a wooden house, built in the form of the “body architect,” featuring a torso living room, arm and leg corridors and a private study at the head, all made entirely of timber derived exclusively from pine and weeping willow trees. The heart? A rough chunk of scrap wood, sitting on the living room floor, split down the middle with an axe.
Actual quote: “Where would all the great books and paintings be without the building? Soaking in the rain, that’s where!”

Dexter Clemens, THE PAINTING CELEBRITY- also known as “Mr. Ebony, synthesizer player for early 80’s electro-funk duo, Ebony and Flo” and “Geoff Royale, Private Eye, 1985-86, NBC.”
Most notable art crime: Purportedly giving up his second career in acting to devote four years studying fresco technique at Milan’s Acadamie Uffizi, only to return to paint, upon the handball court of his Geoff Royale co-star Larry Hagman’s El Paso mansion, a mural entitled “Who, why did you shoot JR?”
He is currently painting a cruise ship on Bernie Koppel’s garage door.
“Tony Bennett amazed us, Martin Mull impresses, but Dexter Clemens WOWS us!”- TV Guide

Dictator Floorwax, THE PERFORMANCE ARTIST- also known as “Dogbite Religion,” “Vincent Van Picasso” and “Snot.”
Most notable art crime: “I Will Shoot The World’s Bankers at Precisely Noon on the Morning of August 15, 2001,” an art performance, which he advertised would feature his actual shooting, from an adjacent rooftop, all those exiting the Trans-Global Banking Symposium being held at the NYC Convention Center. The city wasted $26,000 posting SWAT teams, police and paramedics about the area, only to have the artist announce, by phone, that it was all simply a prank of syntax.
Actual quote: “There’s no noon IN the morning, you stupid fuckers!”
“Should we feel, perhaps, just a tiny bit culpable in this?” - The Progressive

Dinny Tarbuck, THE POST-MODERN BEAD ARTIST- also known as “Craft Cheese” and “The Beaded Lady.”
Can be found: At bead shops, bead outlets, bead warehouses, bead
festivals, bead workshops, bead lectures, and bead truck spills.
Most notable art crime: The Statue of Beadity, 1999. A forty foot tall replica of The Statue of Liberty, made entirely of wire-strung beads and adhesive, was first unveiled at Lollapalooza, then toured shopping malls and bead fairs about the country. Her artist’s statement reads: “I, as an artist, cherish liberty and freedom for all. We are all beads, strung together by our love, even though sometimes we bump into each other and it makes this lovely little chik chik sound. You should totally hear it!”

Sol Valentine, THE ILLUSTRATOR JOURNALIST- also known as “Mr. Art-rocity,” “Your pain, my gain,” and “That’s him, the man who drew my grandmother when she was bleeding to death.”
His philosophy: People die, I draw, people draw, I die.
Most notable art crime: How I Learned to Sketch the Mongolian Death Crawl, a book collection, published in 1999, of renderings he made while living among the desperately poor inhabitants of Bulagumm, a city in Northern Mongolia, where the average male is lucky to live to twenty-nine.
“Valentine does human suffering like Peyton Manning does a third and fifteen! He nails it!”- Nuvo Newsweekly
“Leaves pencil shavings in morgues the world over”- Life

Suzy Donaldsberg, THE ARTIST REP- also known as “Failed painter, business major” and “I can get you to New York, just give me more time.”
Most notable art crime(s): Convincing her top client to use paint mixed with his own feces, to render Jesus as an Easter chocolate (mere days after Christo’s “Piss Christ” controversy hit the papers), paying $14,000 for an oil painting of a baby goose sniffing a sunflower (because it was reportedly painted by L. Ron Hubbard) and driving a bright yellow 1980 Le Car, because, well, it’s “French.”
Actual quote: “I can’t make you famous if you don’t already exude fame. Fame is like a pumpkin, darling, I may water it, but you have to carve it.”

Simon Jackson Shelby, THE GRAPHIC NOVELIST- also known as “Hermann Hesse for the Popeye Set” and “Charlie Manson meets Charlie Brown.”
Most notable art crime: “I Never Should Have Shown You My Diary,” 2004. A 664 page graphic novel concerning the author’s struggle to finish and then find a publisher for his graphic novel, his break-up with his girlfriend, more struggles with his graphic novel, getting back together with his girlfriend, more graphic novel struggling and, oh, a satellite, infected with a deadly virus, that crashes onto the high school football field, making everyone’s head swell to the size of a laundry basket.
“Eminently Radical!”- The New Yorker

Sandy Apple, THE CHILD PRODIGY- also known as “#48642, Long Island Correctional Institute.”
Discovered: With her winning entry in the 1979 Green Giant “Eat Your Vegetables” poster contest. Subsequent appearance on the Tonight Show led to representation by Manhattan’s prestigious Robert Cradle Gallery.
Most notable art crime: “Sandy Sparkles Suzie,” 1983. Featured the tinsel and glitter suffocation of her five year-old sister, leading to her incarceration until the age of twenty one. Married rapper Baaad Newwz in 1991, divorced in 1991. Attempted an unsuccessful art world comeback in the late 90’s with a series of child star portraits painted on disposable diapers.
Currently posing at www.yourartistmodel.com

Granny Hoffman, THE NAIVE OUTSIDER- also known as “Barbara Hoffman, ex-Amway saleswoman” and “I hate you Grandma Hoff, I really hate you!”
Discovered: Needlepointing a death threat to President Bill Clinton while watching the Home Shopping Network.
Most notable art crime: “A Prayer for All Little Girls with Painful Kidney Stones,” 2000. An enormous, 35’ x 29’ needlepoint tapestry, featuring two hundred actual kidney stones (collected from obliging hospitals), glued and arranged in the form of a praying angel alighting upon the Brooklyn Bridge, apparently a tribute to a childhood malady.
“Granny Hoffman is the Grandma Moses of the MTV generation!”- Harper’s

And lastly, to be fair, I offered this damning dossier of myself, believing that no artist is free from such good-natured, but pointed, criticism.

Jeremy Eaton, THE CARTOONY DRAWERER- also known as “You mean that guy who always does those goofy big heads?” and “A constant enigma to the Internal Revenue Service.”
His philosophy: Please don’t scrutinize, it’s simple really, I unequivocally and I literally cannot do anything else.
Most notable art crime(s): A Tom Waits review illustration done for the late Rocket music paper (scrawled in Sharpie in less than ten minutes and faxed in less than five), an illustration of a hydro-electric damn he did way back in 1984 for some Schenectady power concern (where the art director had to re-draw all of the water because it looked like spaghetti), the Bill Clinton editorial illustration he did for the Village Voice in 1996 (a crime, according to the art director, but what the hell did he know anyway?) and, oh yes, the sixteenth portrait he painted for the “Real Art” show.
“Tony Bennett amazed us, Martin Mull impresses, but Jeremy Eaton WOWS us!”- TV Guide