Art, Andy and technology

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One more passing thought on Andy Warhol…the role of technology in art. A quick refresher, Andy’s mom barely spoke English and they were very poor. Andy was a sickly kid and his mom would feed him Campbell’s soup everyday and give him coloring books.

Coloring books in the 50’s were a relatively new technology, the crayon being invented at the turn of the century and contemporary education philosophy blossoming in a post-war baby boom.

Andy “could” draw but by far enjoyed the coloring book experience as a way of creating art. From childhood, I remember that the challenge of the coloring book experience was to stay in the lines, but, more importantly, to apply an even field of color.

As a graphic artist, Andy would use a monotype technique to create outlines that he would later “pay” assistants to fill in. His discovery of silkscreen showed his attraction to the concept of applying a color field in a mechanical way vs. by hand. Andy was never interested in being a “silk screener,” his idea was to fill in a coloring book in a mechanical way.

So, Andy Warhol, coloring book aficionado? What do you love?

People always come up to me and tell me they would like to make art, but, they “can’t even draw a stick figure.”  Andy showed us that somewhere in our past, in our childhood, we connected with something visual. He elevated something so basic as a coloring book to being some of the most valuable art in existence today.

What do you love?

2014 Hugs and Kisses

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Well, Merry Christmas…

This year I am giving myself the ultimate gift. Permission to paint, draw and create in an unlimited fashion.

After a brutal year on the circuit in 2013, I noticed a couple important trends. The good news was that I was getting into better art festivals and winning awards. The bad news was that folks were outselling me.  In one instance, a patron came into my booth and I invited them to look at the work on a back panel. They came back, saw my neighbor’s abstract work and walked immediately over to her spending a considerable amount of money on a large painting!

I had always eschewed abstract work, claiming that I needed something to hold on to in a piece. I needed an anchor.

Recently I was reviewing an Andy Warhol documentary where it was shared that he never threw anything out…no work was ever rejected! Again, this was stunning. I can’t tell you how many dumpsters around the country have my work in them. Work that didn’t sell, work that wasn’t good enough, worked that I had judged unsuitable.

I have decided to try Andy’s way. That is, adopt a philosophy of “there is no bad art.”

Rather than paint abstraction, I have decided to paint concepts. A dialog if you will, like Gerhard Richter. The dialog is always the same. The Beatles said it fifty years ago and it hasn’t changed – “love is all you need.”

Again, please excuse me, but, going back to Warhol, he worked with analog tools in an analog world. A tape recorder, he called it his “wife,” a Polaroid camera, a movie camera…all analog.

Well, today the tape recorder is replaced with a digital servant on the phone, “Siri” The phone also makes movies, takes stills, plays music…all digital.

In the digital world everything is either a one or a zero. Quantum theory tells us that there is a third state that is being explored now.

So, to update Warhol, all of my work in 2014 will be digital. Instead of 1’s or 0’s I am working in X’s and O’s…those same symbols that people used to close (analog) snail mail with…X0X0 or hugs and kisses.

Yes all you need is love. So, all I am going to paint is love…X’s and O’s.

Hang on, the first wave of experimentation looks good. I will be sharing it with you soon.

 

 

Warhol – seer? Part II

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So here we are Andy. Not only has the absolute boredom of following absolutely ordinary people around with television cameras become the mainstay of popular entertainment, but it has gone way further than that.

The audience now has the ability to write the script. It has long been a practice in Hollywood to write several endings to a movie and focus test groups as to the most popular ending,   Now, we have the ability to vote to temper exactly what and how the characters in reality shows actually act .

In the recent case of Duck Dynasty  a character expresses a personal option that was deemed inappropriate by today’s politically correct standards.  The was immediately fired to in order to appease a particular vocal minority, while the character’s actual constituency represented a much larger segment of the viewing population. (Again, this is the most viewed, most successful cable television audience of all time.)

The details of the incident are immaterial in this argument, what is interesting is the overall implications. That is that today’s reality has leap frogged Warhol’s futuristic vision.

The media realizes it’s role as the caretaker of the opinion, taste and well-being of the masses. Today, people of like mind as Andy are the standard. When Andy was making art, they were literally unheard of…they were the underground. Today there is no underground.

Activities at Andy’s factory consisted mainly of drugged out adults acting out every fantasy imaginable. Nothing was too outrageous, it was the true beginning of performance art.

Few things are out-of-bounds save mass killings in schools, offending minorities, or earning too much money as a leader of industry. Note, outrageous salaries by sports, movie and entertainment figures is still welcomed, killing innocent people with robots from the skies (drones) and much more go unnoticed.

Warhol’s legacy has superseded popular culture. Culture has gone far beyond observing trite and boring themes to a position where the trite and boring are now driving the “culture” bus. The inmates have clearly taken over the asylum.

And what about Andy? He wrote the road map. Did he see it, record it and reflect it? Or, did his ability to communicate it actually influence and enable its presence.

If so, what is next? Did Andy provide the road map for what was to come? Or did he just know something about the human condition that we are now learning? Would Andy be surprised to know that Newsweek the parent of People magazine would fall to pieces way before it’s child – People magazine?

Who is the artist alive today that can see what is happening and superimpose it on future?

Andy, we hardly knew ya.

 

Tomorrow – the bold new world…

Andy Warhol

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Andy, Andy, Andy…could you see the future or what?

I confess, I am Warhol obsessed.

There I said it.

Before Andy, artists worked in mostly traditional media. He expanded the artists oeuvre to include motion pictures. One of his most notorious works was an eight hour pan of the Empire State building – a motion picture of something that didn’t move!

He is film work was characterized by non-scripted subjects (actors) being themselves on camera. During his career he created more than 500 “screen tests” where people sat down in front of a rolling camera for extended periods of time. Often, everyone left the room, leaving only the subject to react to the camera.

Consider this, fifty years ago Andy was quoted as saying…”there is no bad TV.” Kennedy was assassinated and the news cycle turned into a 24hr “constant” loop. Had he been alive at the time of the OJ Simpson “car” chase he probably would have been overjoyed. Cameras following a a plain white Bronco on a slow speed chase with millions of people watching.

Fast forward.

Reality TV, the idea of non-scripted people “reacting” to cameras was invented by Warhol. Housewives of where ever, MTV camera loaded house and now the most poplar cable television show in history “Duck Dynasty” all are ideas that gestated from a single Warholian thought.

“There is no bad TV.”

What is even more “Wharholian” are the recent events to be discussed in my next post.

 

Solstice

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Today is the shortest day of the year. The winter solstice. It has got to be my favorite day of the year, the days will keep getting longer for the next six months. More light, longer light. God i love the sun.

Last year was a particularly dark year for me for a variety of reasons, but the most impactful was by far my spiritual/professional connection.

Pain is growth. They don’t call it growing pains for nothing. Sitting in the pain of disappointing sales, I have re-evaluated my situation and will be entering a new vista. 2014’s body of work will bridge the gap between creativity and commercial success.

As an artist, there are certain things I am good at and other things I am not interested in. The new work will concentrate on the areas where intellectual and spiritual stimulation can live in harmony with something that “fits” over the couch.

My experience from 2014 has taught me that being the “coolest” booth in an art festival doesn’t translate into anything more than appealing to a group of folks who have little intention or financial resources to support the work beyond appreciation. What is required to succeed in festival art sales is an object that appeals to impulse shoppers. Something that is unusual, value-priced, aesthetically appealing and available in a variety of choices.

That is key to the highway. Stay tuned.

 

XOXO

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Today is going to be the 21st of December tomorrow. The first day of winter, ,or something like that. More importantly for me, it is the first day of a bold new body of work.

Come back and enjoy the unfolding of this newest work, its basis and realizations.