Charles Thomson “Man With Top Hat”
INTERNATIONAL STUCKISTS: EXPLORERS AND INVENTORS
January 14, 2014-February 15, 2014
Opening Reception Third Friday January 17, 2014 6pm
1506 NW Grand Ave
Phoenix, Arizona 85007
“The Stuckists have earned their place in art history more convincingly than many of the overrated artists they have been so rude about for so long.” Jonathan Jones, The Guardian
In January, a special exhibition is being hosted by Phoenix’s premier multimedia arts venue, The Trunk Space. In this event, independent artists from Phoenix’s thriving underground scene will be displayed alongside a special travelling small works showcase of international artists: The Stuckists.
The art movement known as Stuckism has scandalized the establishment art world in many ways. The group grew out of an association of British writers, musicians and artists known as the Medway Poets. Since their founding in 1999, the Stuckists have issued manifestos, punctured the conceits of mega-collector Charles Saatchi, called conceptual artist Damien Hirst a plagiarist, and in general critiqued the excesses and absurdities of our contemporary creative class. The annual Stuckist protest of the Tate Museum’s Turner Prize has become part of the award’s tradition; they dress as clowns to demonstrate the general beclowning of the culture industries.
But the controversy the Stuckists generate is not the most important aspect of the movement. Stuckism was based on the radical idea that art is important in life. Unfortunately, what a small elite have decided represents the art of this age has failed to fulfill our basic human needs for expression and connection. A different philosophy is called for.
To the Stuckists, art is an inclusive, spiritually driven activity. They celebrate the amateur, those whose art is a labor of love, where the artist takes chances, learns about themselves and the world, and honestly shares their discoveries with the rest of us. It’s this approach that has made Stuckism a world wide movement; there have been 237 Stuckist groups founded in 52 countries. Stuckist shows have been held across the United States and Europe; the most recent exhibition was in Tehran, Iran. The Stuckists have made the grassroots a global phenomenon.
Says Stuckism’s co-founder, painter and poet Charles Thomson, “The purpose of art is to enhance life. The experience of art should result in the viewer feeling a deeper and more satisfying state of being.”
Edgeworth Johnstone has been extensively documenting the artists and exhibitions of Stuckism with Youtube videos and his own newspaper. He was an early adaptor of the movement, caught up in the excitement of it all. “I liked the manifesto and some of the artists, so I started The Other Muswell Hill Stuckists. I was the only member of the group at the time. I didn’t have much idea of why I started the group, other than wanting to join in,” he states.
Bringing the cutting edge art of renewal that Stuckism represents to Phoenix has long been a goal of mine. I was inspired by the principles of Remodernism which the Stuckists articulated when I stumbled across them on the internet. I realized I had hitherto unsuspected kindred spirits everywhere; there were others who cared deeply about art, and were concerned about the harm the misdirected priorities of the cultural apparatchiks are doing to our societies.
While the aristocratic art world might be setting sales records, the visual arts are suffering a crisis of relevance in everyday life. Many artists working today are focused on substituting hype, networking and baffling jargon for actually making expressive art capable of connecting with people. The Stuckists caused a lot of art establishment heads to explode when they pointed out how much of the contemporary work being promoted actually fails to function as art at all. For too long artists have been focused on making art that’s only relevant to other artists, culture industry bureaucrats, and trophy hunting elitists. I admire the Stuckists for making a stand that both creating and experiencing art is for everyone.
I wanted to share their spontaneous creativity and ideas with a new audience, while at the same time paying homage to the dynamic artists that live and work in Arizona. Putting together this show has given me this opportunity. I’m proud to be holding the exhibit at the Trunk Space, which for going on a decade now has been a beacon of cultural ferment in downtown Phoenix.
Artists are explorers in the sense we are navigating the existing terrain of human nature. We are inventors in that we innovate solutions to the situations we encounter. Everyone lives these processes every day; artists just happen to document their experiences so they can be shared.
Richard Bledsoe “Prospecting”
EXPLORERS AND INVENTORS coming attractions-scroll down for more pictures!
INDEPENDENT PHOENIX ARTISTS
Leslie Edeline Barton
INTERNATIONAL STUCKISTS (From England unless otherwise noted)
Charles Thomson, Co-founder of Stuckism
Ella Guru, original Stuckist group
Edgeworth Johnstone, The Other Muswell Hill Stuckists
Shelley Li, The Other Muswell Hill Stuckists
Artista Eli, Malaga Stuckists, Spain
Chris Yates Stuckist, The Bury Stuckists
Jasmine Maddock, Merseyside Stuckists
John Bourne, Stuckism Wales, UK
Mary Hamill, London/Kent
Andrew Galbraith, Waterloo Liverpool Stuckists
Terry Marks, New York Stuckists, USA
Annie Zamero, Crouch End Stuckists
Jacqueline Jones, Cardiff Stuckists
Wagnoir alias Elsa Dax, Paris Stuckists, France
Darren Udaiyan, Cambridge Stuckists
Jiří Hauschka, Prague Stuckists
Jaroslav Valečkan, Central European Stuckists
Markéta Urbanová, Central European Stuckists
Emma Pugmire, The Other Muswell Hill Stuckists
Wagnoir alias Elsa Dax
Chris Mudhead Reynolds