art focus

Sistine Pop by Joshua Budich

On August 2nd, Gallery 1988 in Venice opened a three person show with new work from Jeff Boyes, Joshua Budich, and Jay Shaw. While it’s a good show, the work I was most interested in was the Sistine Pop series of prints by Joshua Budich. Taking inspiration from the Renaissance, an area of study for Budich, he looked at the Sistine Chapel, specifically the sloping areas in which the Prophets and Sybils reside. 6 screen-prints, each one 18″ x 18″ were created with the layout drawing from Michelangelo’s masterpiece, and the figures pulled from Budich’s love of pop culture and toys. It’s an amazing idea, and not only does Budich’s style work perfectly for this series, but I am not wanting to see the an entire Sisten Chapel style re-imagining by the artist. If you check out the artists website you can see some detail shots, and even a sketch of one of the pieces (here).

See the Full Show here: Gallery 1988: Venice

Art Focus: “Northbound” by Dan May

It’s been a while since I have created an “Art Focus” post, the section where I spend a bit more time talking about one painting or even series of paintings. Today, Dan May released a new painting that gave me the inspiration to get this section back on track. For those familiar with Dan May’s work you are well aware of the content in most of his paintings. He employs a dry-brush style with acrylic paints, and creates these magical worlds with creatures plucked right out of his imagination. In the past two years however, Dan has been adding more figurative elements to his work. Stylized figures, often with little or no facial features, would make their way into his paintings and slowly more and more figurative has been filling his portfolio. In 2011 (Flickr) Dan created a few paintings that hinted to a new possible direction, as well as showed the artists ability to render faces and figures.

This new painting, entitled Northbound, focuses a majority of the attention on the figure. The stylized hair seen in his most recent figurative work The Departure, is missing and Dan has opted for a more realistic presentation. The lighting, and sky is the background, is a bit moody, however it serves to really push the focus on the figure. Aside from the skin tones, expression, and energy in this figure, I am most impressed by the “weight” the figure seems to have. It’s clear that Dan thought of the internal anatomy while painting this figure, as opposed to creating a shell that tries to represent a figure. The most impressive figurative works are those that you can believe the person exists, no matter how stylized they may be, you can sense every element, every bone and muscle that makes up the figure. Dan has achieved this perfectly with his first painting of 2012, and now I am curious as to what the next year will bring.

“Occupy Hope” by Shepard Fairey

I have been trying to take a break from reading the news as much as I usually do; It hasn’t been the most uplifting lately anyway. It’s always good to take a break and remember to enjoy all of the little amazing things that happen when you really pay attention. However, It’s been hard to ignore some of the events surrounding the Occupy Wall Street movement, with cops macing protesters, more people joining support, and artists jumping in and sharing their creativity for the 99%. Artists working in a variety of mediums have been creating posters that reiterate the groups message. Of course I have seen many sites that are offering shirts and posters, with no mention that your money will go to anything other than the pockets of those that sell the items but that always happens. One site worth checking out, has a good amount of OWS posters, each one is downloadable in pdf format for free, so you can help spread the images around.
Most recently Shepard Fairey has released a new image, in the same style as the Obama “Hope” Poster, which shows a redesigned figure wearing a hoodie, and a Guy Fawkes mask (representative of Anonymous and OWS). Below you can see the first version of the poster, and the updated version after Fairey received a response from an Occupy organizer.

The first poster was criticized as it came off “pro-Obama” with the use of the badge seen in the first poster, now with the 99% shown in the center, and most visible the callout at the bottom stating “Mr. President We HOPE You’re on Our Side”. In the response the Orgaziner clearly states OWS does want to associate with any major figure, especially Obama who has “raised more money from Wall Street than any other candidate in history”. The organizer goes to breakdown each one of the choices Fairey made in the creation of this new poster. In the end the poster was later changed with the full response that prompted it. Now the image states “We Are the HOPE”. Of course the colors will always associate the image with the original design, but I am curious to know how you feel about it. Does the design “reclaim” the original “Hope” poster and give it new power? What do you feel about the initial Occupy design, and the changes that were made?

Read the full response by OWS to Shepard Fairey here @ OBEY

Art and the “Occupy” Movement

A little over a week ago I touched on the idea of the need for political art in the article; Political Art for a Much Needed Time. If you have been watching the news, or the lack thereof in most cases, the “Occupy” movement is growing bigger and spreading to cities all over the country, and in some cases has inspired movements for change in other countries [1. Occupy Wall Street Protests Spread to Ireland]. It’s a very exciting time and I look forward to seeing what positive changes occur. I have also been keeping my eyes open to see what role art plays in these new movements.

Popping up in various areas in San Francisco the past few days is an image made by Eddie Colla. The image (shown above) features the iconic Guy Fawkes face, currently being used by the group Anonymous and many protestors at Occupy events. The mask was made popular again via the 2006 movie V for Vendetta. It’s a great looking mask, and I think the idea of being anonymous along with a recognizable image is a smart idea. What I find interesting is the idea that this mask is owned by Time Warner, one of the largest media outlets in the world, and every time a mask is sold they are paid a licensing fee [2. Masked Protesters Aid Time Warner’s Bottom Line]. It seems to be a difficult situation, as the overall message is against corporate greed, but the mask is now a symbol of the movement. The good thing is that Eddie Colla does not help Time Warner rake in more cash, and he is giving people to ability to download high resolution images of the posters, one for each city, and paste them around. Get one here

Finally, the “Occupy Art World” movement seems to be starting as well [3. ‘Occupy Art World’ Movement Emerges on Twitter]. A new twitter account, @OccupyArtWorld, created by an anonymous source has popped up and is pushing for change in the art world. The idea that the larger art world needs to change, and artists need to make more money and be taken care of is an old fight. The account is not very old, so let’s see if it sticks around.

Political Art for a much needed time

As some of you may know there have been some very newsworthy events happening in the past few weeks, and I’m not saying that there hasn’t been newsworthy events in the past year, but what about positive events? It feels as though all we have heard for the longest time is negative news stories, and sure they sell, but does it help moral and does it foster change? Currently the Occupy Wall Street event is going on and spreading across the nation (Reddit, Twitter), people are standing up for change and what they believe in, and the very idea that the news media is ignoring this proves that the event is powerful. The camera has the ability to make things important, to focus our attention at what is deemed important and what is not, but who are those people curating the world for us? Do we really find it a good idea to allow those with vested interests to tell us what is really happening?

This site has always been about art, and always will be. It’s what I am passionate about and what I think about every second I can spare. So I spent some time looking around at art with a political and social message. Art that has the ability to not only look amazing, but art that has the ability in itself to spark change. To light the fire inside of us to see things move forward, and to take a look at the world around us and realize that it could be better. It should be better. In the last year I have been to countless art shows, and very few had works that fit this vibe. I can understand the idea of creating art that helps to teleport us out of the negative things that are going on right now – art can act as an escape just as much as movies or music can – but there comes a time when the viewers needs a slap in the face, and not a mellow hand lulling us to sleep.

Is it that the viewers do not want to see this kind of art? I have a hard time believing that lovers of art, and even those that simply crave change would not desire images that help to foster change, and at the same time mark a point in history when great change will happen. Jacques-Louis David’s Death of Marat (shown) is the most iconic image from the time of the French Revolution, and has also been called the first modernist painting. The painting has been reinterpreted by a countless amount of artists. The power of the image stays strong to this day, which is also why it makes it a good candidate to be taken as inspiration by a contemporary artist. So when I see a new series of work, a new show, or happen to introduced to a new artist, I have been looking for those works that hold that power that previous works have held. The last time I went to a show and walked away still a true feeling that the art changed me, was the Jonathan Darby solo show that took place at White Walls (reviewed). The work was well executed, powerful, and most importantly educated me on a issue that demanded more attention. This was one of those that I walked away hoping more and more people would see, they needed to see it. I sit here now perusing though articles of protests, corporate greed gone rampant, and political corruption presented bare and I wonder where is the art created in reaction to this? Are we simply left with a small handful of artist such as Banksy or Shepard Fairey? I know there are more out there, and I have been keeping my eye on many of them, what I want to know is what you think. How do the fans, the patrons, the lovers of art feel about what is going on. Is it really a missing void, or are you quite happy with the art that helps you escape, or laugh, or weep? Or do you crave the art that makes you want to stand up in the the manner of Peter Finch and scream “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore!”.