VIDEO: At The Crossroad

 

“At the Crossroad” acrylic on canvas 24″ x 30″ by Richard Bledsoe

This painting was inspired by blues legend Robert Johnson. It was claimed Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil in exchange for musical talent. In this video, I talk about why that is a bad idea.

“At the Crossroad” sold the first time I exhibited it, purchased by a nice young couple. I have no idea who they were, or where the painting is today.

I enjoy when someone connects with my paintings.

Art enriches life.

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COMMENTARY: A New Word For Pretentious

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Parbunkells: A word as rare and fragile as the special snowflake who wishes to co-opt it

I SUPPOSE RANTALLION WAS TOO COMMON A PARLANCE: Article on “Artist Posts 17th Century Word on Billboard, Asks That Nobody Else Use It”

Ah, parbunkells. Straight from the bowels of the Orwellian world of university style post-conceptual contextualized readings comes the latest production of hipster welfare.

I’ve written in the past on how conceptual art is a tool of oppression. It’s part of an elitist strategy of filtering and access control. The promotion of soulless art without skill is one of the techniques by which the establishment proclaims 2+2=5. Embracing their doublethink lies, proselytizing on behalf of their reality-denying agenda, becomes the price of admission, mandatory behavior for being subsidized by the cultural institutions they dominate.

As I observed in my piece on the ridiculous Tracey Emin, “The scourge of postmodern relativism as a cultural force is no accident. It’s a top-down driven campaign, the result of a cabal of well-connected interests trying to remove any kind of objective standards that could lend perspective and inflict consequences for the lies, manipulations, and abuses practiced as they try to maintain control over the rest of us. Anyone allowed to move into this privileged New Class has to adhere to these deceitful practices.”

So who are these people? Who are the supplicants who are eager to to join the club of the cosmopolitan elect, the new aristocracy of the well-connected?

In the establishment art world, climbing the ladder requires being able to produce empty gestures while simultaneously discoursing about interfacing with hierarchical normative significations, or some such blather. You’d think that would be easy, and you’d be right. The real trick is getting close enough to right asses to kiss to earn the magical bestowal of the dingle berries of favor.

You see, they’ve made the commercialized contemporary arts such a tiny insular world that opportunities are hard to come by, and are jealously guarded by the power brokers. They are rulers of their own little parched desert kingdoms of cultural irrelevance. Competition is fierce for the limited resources available inside the art bubble, and since quality is not a concern, it all comes down to nepotism and tribal signalling.

It’s why academic art programs have developed such an emphasis on jargon as opposed to developing hands-on technical ability. Artists are being trained to speak a dead end language of obfuscation, the polar opposite of the clarity of truly intelligent discourse. They presume such sophistry can take the place of tangible accomplishments. Talking all this crap is one of the ways the insiders recognize each other.  There’s no art spirit to be found in the maneuverings of these ambitious bureaucrats.

Which leads to the sad case of Julia Weist. She’s behaving as a loyal member of the Party is expected to, coming up with a pointless idea, with a veneer of technology for a hint of pertinence. She discovered an archaic word, “Parbunkells,” which refers to rope splicing. She’s put it on a website and hopes to enforce her exclusive rights to use this word, which will apparently to help her connect with people.

If you click on her website a light clicks on in her home. What a meaningful way to engage with humanity!

To help spread this earth shattering concept Julia hooked up with an institutional enabler called 14 x 48, which put the obscure word on a Brooklyn billboard without any further explanation. There, before a diverse crowd of thousands, it will doubtlessly be widely ignored and make no impact whatsoever. If someone gets curious enough to google it Julia might get 15 seconds of illumination. That’s some profound artifying right there.

 14 x 48 states their mission “repurposes vacant billboards as public art space in order…to enliven the vibrancy of our urban environment.” Can’t get much more vibrant than unknown 17th century sailor lingo. They are run by Fractured Atlas, which takes part in the rarefied system of grant monies. They state “Fractured Atlas is non-curatorial. That means we do not discriminate, nor do we judge your art.” Thank goodness for that! Guess it come down to who can fill out paperwork the best, or who knows someone on the committee.

If tracking hits to a website seems more like a marketing scheme that a work of art, well, welcome to the establishment contemporary art world.

The confusion of art with incoherent philosophy and  half-baked sociology is toxic to our culture. This whole corrupted tower of art babble is destined for destruction.

*Thanks to Sarah Hoyt for discovering this on the Internets, good grist for the mill*

ARTICLE: America’s Supposedly Most Wanted Painting

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Komar and Melamid “America’s Most Wanted Painting”

CREATION BY FOCUS GROUP: A 1994 Article on a Postmodern Art Event

In 1994 two Russian painters had surveys conducted of what people liked in art, and made paintings based on the results. The article notes some of the data collected:

Having initially planned to produce different ideal pictures for various demographic groups, in the manner of localised ad campaigns, Komar and Melamid wound up painting only two canvasses: America’s Most Wanted Painting (1994) and America’s Most Unwanted Painting (1994). This decision was dictated by the results of the survey, which surprisingly painted a picture of an aesthetically unified society whose tastes cut across social lines. Thus even though the preference for blue (the favourite of 44% overall) diminishes with increased income and education, it’s still the colour preferred by the majority in every group; ditto for paintings of outdoor scenes (88% overall), paintings with soft curves (66%) and those with fully clothed figures (68% to only 3% favouring nudes).

The image they generated is shown above. It’s pretty much a reflection of its times, a disjointed assemblage of a sort, despite the naturalistic style. It’s hard to see in  the reproduction but there’s a hippopotamus at about 10 o’clock behind George Washington, to fulfill the demographic preference for wild animals (preferred by 51% over domestic breeds).

According to their research this was America’s Least Wanted Painting:

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The subsequent promotion and analysis of the works oozed with postmodern irony and condescension. The Most Wanted Painting is presented as a work of incoherent kitsch. How gauche to create art that the general population might respond to!

It was an implied demonstration of how the establishment art world sneers at the backwards people who still expect art to contain beauty, skill, reverence, inspiration and a connection to life.

The exhibit was set up like a satire of a marketing department presentation, with supporting graphs and charts listing their statistics. But the deadpan adoption of the corporate style suggests a very different conclusion than what the artists may have intended.

I don’t read this as a wicked skewering of bourgeois taste. I see it demonstrating the catastrophic failure of the establishment.

This is what happens when relativism devours the minds and souls of our self-proclaimed elites. This is what happens when those who have no core values or guiding principles are in charge. This is what happens when our institutional systems of the arts, the media and education are completely dysfunctional.

Polling and phony populism allows them to craft a distraction from their agenda of looting and domination. The elitists try to pay lip service the whims of those the elitist systems have failed to inform and educate. The results are grotesque.

There is a lack of leadership among our would-be ruling class. That’s because their big ideas are they should be on top, and exempt from the rules they would inflict on others.

Their safe strategy is to keep all who would challenge these presumptions either ignorant, or co-opted into conforming with the elitist mindset. Joining in the derision against anyone who doesn’t accept muddleheaded postmodern nihilism is great way to signal one’s support of our masters.

The establishment uses contemporary art as a weapon to enforce inequality.

The Remodernism Manifesto of Billy Childish and Charles Thomson summarizes a solution to this distortion:

It is quite clear to anyone of an uncluttered mental disposition that what is now put forward, quite seriously, as art by the ruling elite, is proof that a seemingly rational development of a body of ideas has gone seriously awry. The principles on which Modernism was based are sound, but the conclusions that have now been reached from it are preposterous.

We address this lack of meaning, so that a coherent art can be achieved and this imbalance redressed.

ART QUOTES: Henry Miller

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Henry Miller “The Procession”

One of my favorite writers is Henry Miller. I came to his work after absorbing the books of a whole generation he influenced, the Beats.

I continue to love the works of Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs, but when I discovered Miller I found out who set the example they followed. Henry Miller surpasses them all with the exuberance of his language, his powerful imagery, his inventive obscenities, and some really thoughtful philosophic musings.

Not only did Miller write, he loved to paint as well. His observations on art and creativity are spectacular. It’s rare to find someone who can articulate the largely nonverbal process of art with such insight.

Here is a sample of Miller’s commentary,  from Book 1 of his roman à clef trilogy, The Rosy Crucifixion:

Art isn’t a solo performance; it’s a symphony in the dark with millions of participants and millions of listeners. The enjoyment of a beautiful thought is nothing to the joy of giving it expression – permanent expression. In fact, it’s almost a sheer impossibility to refrain from giving expression to a great thought. We’re only instruments of a greater power. We’re creators by permission, by grace, as it were. No one creates alone, of and by himself. An artist is an instrument that registers something already existent, something which belongs to the whole world and which, if he is an artist, he is compelled to give back to the world. To keep one’s beautiful ideas to oneself would be like being a virtuoso and sitting in an orchestra with hands folded.

-Henry Miller, Sexus

COMMENTARY: Creating the Art of the Future

A Young City in an Ancient Land

Richard Bledsoe describes the principles of Remodern America

6. Modernism has never fulfilled its potential. It is futile to be ‘post’ something which has not even ‘been’ properly something in the first place. Remodernism is the rebirth of spiritual art.

-Billy Childish and Charles Thomson, The Remoderism Manifesto

My wife Michele Bledsoe, self taught artist, is now also a self taught video maker. I’m amazed by the results she accomplished in just a few days. DIY! See the video here.

She put together the piece above featuring my paintings and writings. I’m describing my thoughts on a seismic shift in ideas about how contemporary art is made and experienced: Remodernism.

It was probably around 2009 when my life was changed. Late one night, doing some random internet surfing, I came across the story of the Stuckists, and more importantly for me, the Remodernism Manifesto.

I’d been involved in the arts my entire adult life. I have a BFA in Painting from Virginia Commonwealth University. After art school there came the galleries, non-profits, arts organizations. It’s been a fascinating and joyful pursuit.

I love art and artists. Unfortunately the art scene also hosts a festering pit of toxic ideas and attitudes: the aggressive delusions of Post Modernism. This deconstructive system of nihilism, relativism and sophistry is presented as the only correct ideas to to proclaim, the only acceptable philosophy.

When I read Remodernism’s forceful denunciation of the failures of Post Modernism and their practical suggestions for an alternative approach, I was relieved to discover I was not alone in the world. Others recognized the issues our civilization was facing. Even better, they were doing something about it.

Childish and Thomson articulated ideas I’d always held but had not been able to express. It was trying to come out in my art, but even there I lacked clarity.  Reading their words made me intentional.

In Remodernism these 2 UK artists identified an open source art movement that comes right from the soul and reflects a tectonic change in the collective unconscious. It builds on the traditions of the past to create an art for the future, an art that is accountable to the people.

When they wrote their statement in 1999 they were ahead of their time, just like a good artist should be. Events have caught up to the observations they made. They stated that in the art world, the self proclaimed elites were dysfunctional and self serving. The establishment had bungled things terribly and now it was up to the rest of us to step in and set things right.

What was true about art then can now be recognized as a global phenomenon as our political classes frantically try to tighten their grip on the power they have mismanaged in a spectacular fashion.

The story of the twenty first century will be about the dismantling of centralized power. One of the first victims of the evolution in thought will be the rotting shambling corpse of Post Modernism. It was never really alive to begin with. Post modernism was a grand manipulative marketing scheme  by the establishment to create a baffled and distracted populace. Its collapse had been announced many times before but you can’t replace something with nothing. Remodernism provides the choice we’ve been denied by our cultural gatekeepers for so long.

 I am grateful for the integrity and generosity of the originators of Remodernism. A Remodernist artist is recognized not by a particular style but by a motivation: to connect on a deeper, more enriching level with his own nature, his fellow humans, and God, and to demonstrate this connection with his artistic expression.

I appreciate the opportunity to share my own art and words in the inevitable ongoing renewal of our culture.

STUDIO: The Soundtrack of Our Art

CDs

Essential Art Supplies

Painting is my passion. But music is my hobby.

My music collection has been decades in the making. It’s mostly CDs, which I regard as an endangered species these days.

I was sad when CDs overtook vinyl back in the 1980s as the dominant form for music releases, but I adapted. I’m glad vinyl still exists as a popular format, however I haven’t kept up purchasing records. Going digital  is unappealing to me. Part of the fun of collecting is having an actual object.

A big driver of the music collection is inspirational painting music.

My wife Michele and I always have music playing while we paint in the studio we share. We turn it up loud enough to make an impression but no so loud we can’t talk to each other.

Michele and I have very similar tastes in music, though I go to more weird extremes than she does.  She has been enjoying movie soundtracks lately, and they really set a great epic tone to work to.

When Michele takes a nap I put on headphones and listen to obnoxious punk rock and abstract hip hop.

This is the stack of CDs that have accumulated in our home studio recently. These could be seen as the soundtrack for our recent work:

Black Keys – El Camino (2011)

Last Wave – Last Wave (2014) Amazing local music

The Damned -The Black Album (1980)

Devotchka – How It Ends (2004)

Film Soundtrack -Only God Forgives (2013)

The Monks – Black Monk Time (1966)

Mark Lanegan – Field Songs (2001)

Blind Willie Johnson – Dark was the Night (1998)

Love – Forever Changes (1967)

Film Soundtrack – Trance (2013)

Pink Floyd – Obscured by Clouds (1972)

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Tender Prey (1988)

Pearl Jam – Vs (1993)

Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork (2013)

Forest Swords – Engravings (2013)

The Police – Synchronicity (1983)

Tom Waits – Bad As Me (2011)

BOOKS: We Go to the Gallery by Miriam Elia

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Miriam Elia illustrates a point

In America, older generations than mine grew up with “Dick and Jane” books. The simple words and clean cut imagery of these works were meant as a teaching tool for young readers.

It seems the British version was “Peter and Jane.”  The names might have been different, but the intent was the same: an educational experience for kids, presented in an easily assimilated,  non-threatening format.

As society grew more cynical, succinct statements  like “Look Jane, see Dick” took on an unwholesome, ironic taint. The images now evoke a whole vanished era, a time of earnest naivete and lost innocence.

UK artist and writer Miriam Elia took full advantage of this gentle nostalgic vibe in 2014.  She released “We Go To The Gallery,” appropriating the traditional format associated with the British publisher of children’s  easy reader books. But in Elia’s version, the kids are being subjected to the soul crushing ordeal of viewing contemporary establishment art.

In panel after panel, Elia skewers the nasty nihilistic productions of the decadent cultural elitists.

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Along the way many recognizable conceptual art works are referenced, with the Mummy character spewing the stale turpitude so essential to post modern poseurs. The corruption and presumptions of culture industry hacks make them ripe targets for such mockery.

On her site Elia advertises a lecture on “learning principles”:

-Helping children understand there is nothing to understand

-Ensuring the child’s own opinions match those of the arts elite

-Preparing young people for a lifetime of crippling uncertainty

She’s presenting this as a joke. But when I realize that is exactly what our institutions are actively doing for real, I find it less amusing.

I’d love to have this book, but it currently isn’t available through any of my conventional resources. It seems the traditional publisher didn’t appreciate the satire and some legal shenanigans have ensued. In some of the images on the internet I see character names have changed to John and Susan, and I wonder if that isn’t an effort to bypass some of the copyright concerns.

There is an extreme disconnect between the feebleness of contemporary art and the attitude of sophisticated superiority the elitists display. Irony was once their weapon. Now it is their shield. Soon it will be their tomb.

A generation’s worth of careers, reputations and investments have been built in a dead end, a pitfall of decadence and power lust. Outside of their carefully screened zones of consensus they are meaningless. But we can’t cede the custodianship of our civilization to these perpetrators. It’s time we start invading their enclaves and confronting their failures both as artists and as human beings.

Concise observations like Elia’s, presented with inescapable deadpan humor, will be the death of the current art bubble. Smart people are looking for the exits already.

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