Thursday, August 7, 2008


I've been asked a couple times in the past week whether I'd be making any Obama/McCain art (okay, two people have asked me). I guess if I started now I could totally have some kickin' election paintings ready by mid-November, early December. Which is exactly why I think politics is a pretty bad subject for art--it's too of-the-moment and easily dated, and yet, completely weighty and consequential. One of those guys is going to end up improving life for certain people while making things worse for some other amount of people, and any image of that person will carry whatever reverence or hatred or love a viewer brings in his or her heart. I'd rather paint people of absolutely no consequence; it makes it a lot easier to create content around the subject, rather than have the subject dictate the content. No one (I'm pretty sure) will ever live or die by anything Edward Norton says or does.

Somewhere, at some point, I read a really good description of what makes art bad or good (at least I think I did, since I can no longer place the source; I want to say it was Joseph Campbell quoting someone else). It concerned 'fast' and 'slow' art (I might even be wrong about these terms, since I don't get anything Googling fast+art+Campbell). Fast art moves you towards something, it wants you to make a judgment on its subject matter, to take action, to want or need or possess something. It's advertising, it's pornography, it's the art you made when you were in high school and angry. Slow art exists for the aesthetic experience. There can be content and meaning and message, but while you're looking at/hearing/watching it, that should be the only thing you ever want to do. I guess what I'm saying is, that slow art is the kind I'd like to make.


Neil Kelly said...

I don't know, "No Love For Spidey," "Crimefighters (Credits March," and "King of the Cage" are pretty political, in my opinion, for starters.

Keep up the excellent work!

bbird said...

To be fair, I made "No Love for Spidey" long before Spider-Man entered the gubernatorial race.

Jim said...

As far as painting people of "no consequence", I specifically bought a print of "The Dreamer and The Dream" just so I could think about how this guy is Tom Cruise's personal Jesus.

And every first year sociology student knows/quotes/loves Noam Chomsky.

So, you have the socio-political down. Why not hit the political flat out? Maybe you should paint the pundits. I'd love to see you render the apple-cheeks of adorable Katie Couric or the furrowed brow of Bill O'Reilly.

And by the way, you are one of my favorite painters.

bbird said...

I should amend my statement to, "People of no consequence, and the occasional dynamic thinker or batshit-loony cultist.*"

I'm not trying to say that my work** is apolitical (it's about a specific culture, it uses elements of that culture, it kinda has to be cultural critique on some level), just that I don't think a painting about an election can rise above the level of, "vote for this or that candidate" and be solid, enjoyable art in and of itself. I don't think I've ever seen that. But I did go to UC Santa Cruz, and saw plenty of art that aimed for political discourse but came off more like political... squawk.

*L. Ron Hubbard was in fact the craziest crazy to ever crazy:

**Using the phrase "my work" is my least favorite thing about being an artist.

Jim said...

Yep, I can't disagree with anything you wrote.