STUDIO: Highlights from my Image Morgue

Inspiring Imagery Fuels the Image Bank in my Mind 

 

An update of an earlier post on how I collect the images I need to create my work:

 

STUDIO: The Image Morgue (May 20, 2016) 

These fragments I have shored against my ruin: a sample of my reference material

“The model is not to be copied, but to be realized.”

-Robert Henri

In painting, there really are no rules. But understanding painting as I do, there is a prevalent practice these days which I find completely undermines the integrity of the act.

Projector artists. Artists who cheat themselves and their audience by projecting an image onto their canvas and doing a paint-by-numbers routine to create their works. Artists like this have reduced themselves to a mere cog in a mechanical reproduction process, not creating, but taking dictation from their gadgets. They let their tools make their discoveries for them. It is an inferior mode of creation.

If you’re an artist, do your own rendering.

Now I am not rejecting the use of source material. I learned the hard way, through years of artistic practice, I lack the omnipotent powers of observation and recall to paint strictly out of my own mind and produce the results I want.

How do a frog’s legs attach to its body? How many wings does a mosquito have? What is the musculature of a horse? These are just some of the composition problems I have encountered. I can’t see clearly enough into my memory to reach the level of realism I want in my paintings.

So I use source material. Not all the time, but when it’s important to get something right, and I can’t summon the depth of detail I’d like to. When needed, I find photographs on the internet of what I want to portray, print them out, and study them.

But then-and this is the really important part-I put the photograph down, and paint what I remember about it, what I learned about it.

The image passes through the filters of my consciousness and becomes more me. And that is vital in art: depicting your own unique sensibility…

x

I’ve been busy since I wrote that post, I’ve made many paintings, and envisioned many more.

This morning I added a picture to my digital image morgue folder for a new painting I’m contemplating. I haven’t printed it out yet because the painting is not yet begun:

  Ancient Olive Tree

 

I started browsing through the folder. Some of images have been used in paintings, possibly in ways you’d never recognize. Others were more particular and identifiable. I wanted to share this window into the workings of my creative procedures. These are some of the pictures which have caught my attention, out of the endless resources of the internet.

 

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x

 

x

 

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As I state in my book, Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization, art isn’t about just reproducing appearances.

 

Making a painting becomes more than just a matter of how to represent something. It symbolizes the artist’s engagement with life. We want so much to make an image that says, “This is who I am, and this is what I saw.”

When we do it right, everyone who sees it will find that image inside themselves as well. It becomes a moment we share, and which can be visited over and over, with new understandings always unfolding. This is the power of art.

Ultimately a painter doesn’t replicate the real world, but creates a world in the painting that exists nowhere else. There are no limits for a painter; every decision in the work can be freely made to best suit the desired result.

 

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I don’t fundraise off of my blog. I don’t ask for Patreon or Paypal donations. If you’d like to support the Remodern mission, buy a book. Or a paintingPlease send any inquiries to info@remodernamerica.com. Thank you! 

SACRIFICING ART-AND EVERYTHING ELSE-TO THE CLIMATE CHANGE CULT

The Climate Change Hoax:

Banksy Contributes Yet Another Piece of Establishment Agitprop 

 

“The Foundation of Empire is Art & Science

Remove them or Degrade them & the Empire is No More…”

-William Blake (1757 – 1827)

 

There’s a common saying across the internet these days: “Get woke, go broke.” The phrase acknowledges when a business emphasizes Social Justice Virtue Signalling instead of producing quality results, the bottom line will suffer.

Joining the Orwellian flock of conforming sheep, bleating out allegiance to the latest leftist trends, leads to annoyed audiences and alienated consumers. No healthy business actively seeks to piss off big parts of its customer base, but it’s been happening with increasing frequency for years. It’s gotten so bad even major corporations are serving notice they will no longer run their operations with efficiency and competence, but will squander resources chasing the ever moving goalposts of social engineering. Blame our Postmodern establishment, which has degenerated into acting as enablers and enforcers for the totalitarian left. Their abuses have warped many professions, especially the arts.

Art is not about money. Or at least real art isn’t, despite the manipulations and miseducation practiced by our current corrupt arts institutions. They exterminated ideals of quality and skill from art, so price tags act as a stand-in for measuring achievement. But a shady and inflated purchase price doesn’t add integrity to a work of art; it definitely can’t change non-art into an actual artistic accomplishment.

Postmodern partisans control the mass communication purse strings. They make sure only the ideologically pure get funding and exposure. Support is possible as long as an artist parrots the approved talking points, or fits into the favored diversity check boxes.

So assuming the money aspect gets covered by submitting to political expectations, are compliant artists then able to create meaningful, evocative artwork?

No. Even with a monopoly over cultural expression, the skewed messages favored by our self-appointed creative class censors are failing to connect, even with sympathetic audiences.

Take the relentless Climate Change Hoax, and how a 2015 art show bent the knee to it.

I’m 50 years old, and for my entire life I’ve been hearing we are teetering on the brink of an environmental catastrophe which never actually arrives. As supposedly urgent climate deadlines go whizzing by, the nature and timing of the threat constantly mutates, but the remedy is always the same: the people must sacrifice comforts, wealth and freedom so the New Aristocracy of the Well Connected can keep living the high life. ,

The graphic timeline below charts more than my whole existence, and lists just some of the erroneous claims made by the Mean Greens:

 

Seriously people. Looking at these 50+ years of fail, it can’t be any clearer. The predictions aren’t accurate. The models don’t work. The fears are unfounded.

It’s a plot to grab money, attention, and power. These schemers hate any part of humanity they don’t see when they look into their own mirrors. They are indifferent to the suffering they would unleash, as long as they get to be in control. Get a load of this poor brainwashed thug-in-the-making:.

 

Doomsday Addams Wants You to Stop Breathing Right Now. For the Children. 

 

Does this look like someone manifesting long term planning, reason and compassion? Or is the face of someone who can’t wait to segregate us into our assigned cattle cars?

“Climate Change” isn’t science. It is mass hysteria and rent-seeking disguised as an emergency. The Progressives intend to progress us right back into the Dark Ages.

Art got recruited to be part of this charade in 2015, at the United Nations affiliated ArtCOP 21 event in Paris. “Climate is culture!” the bureaucratically  engaged creatives cried, instead of recognizing that culture is culture, and climate is weather.

A Horse Is a Horse, of Course, of Course? 

Take the example of this participant, performance artist Marion Laval-Jeantet. Her “art”  is described as:

Marion Laval-Jeantet allowed herself to be injected with horse blood plasma containing the entire spectrum of foreign immunoglobulins (following several months of precautions to build up her immune system). after the transfusion, the artist performed a communication ritual with a horse while wearing prosthetic horse-like stilts before her hybrid blood was extracted and freeze-dried…

“I had the feeling of being extra-human, I was not in my usual body. I was hyper-powerful, hyper-sensitive, hyper-nervous and very diffident. the emotionalism of an herbivore. I could not sleep. I probably felt a bit like a horse.”

Doctor Moreau, call your office. Thank goodness we have such paragons of science hyper-involved in the arts! What this actually has to do with climate, I couldn’t tell you, but surely she got paid to make this madness happen. Horse-like stilts are probably very expensive.

What is interesting is that a study was done of how the various artworks at the climate change carnival influenced the viewers. Not too much, it seems. Artnet explains:

 

Can Art Change Minds About Climate Change? New Research Says It Can—But Only If It’s a Very Specific Kind of Art

Only three works out of 37 left viewers feeling inspired to take action.

Researchers have found that art on show in Paris during the 2015 United Nations climate change summit did change people’s feelings about the environmental crisis, but only if it contained a hopeful message.

In a new paper published in the journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the ArtsLaura Kim Sommer and Christian A. Klöckner of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology have identified a narrow set of parameters for what makes activist art effective in altering public opinion.

The study surveyed 874 visitors’ reactions to works on view at the ArtCOP21 climate change festival, which saw artworks scattered throughout the city of Paris to coincide with the World Climate Change Conference. It looked at their emotional reactions, the relevance of each work of art to their daily lives, and how much the works inspired personal reflection or action, according to Pacific Standard. Based on the results, researchers were able to divide the show into four categories: “the comforting utopia,” “the challenging dystopia,” “the mediocre mythology,” and “the awesome solution.”

In the end, only three works among the 37 on view made people feel like they were able to do something about climate change. All three, which were categorized under “the awesome solution,” were “beautiful and colorful depictions of sublime nature that are showing solutions to environmental problems,” Klöckner and Sommer wrote…

To the researchers surprise, the participatory works on view did not have much effect on visitors. “It did not make them reflect much on their own role within the climate crisis or the consequences a changing climate would have for them,” Sommer told artnet News in an email. “It just gave them a sense of belonging, which is why we called it the ‘comforting utopia.’ I was expecting that offering people a way to participate would lead to more engagement. But it seems that people want to be made aware of something awe-inspiring by someone that thinks differently, rather than be part of the creative process.” [emphasis mine]

So let me get this straight. People enjoyed the beautiful artwork, which showed them something they judged to be beyond their own skill levels. It made them feel more connected. And that is striking a blow for climate change activism?

Or is what described actually a very traditional experience of art, and the climate change con artists are hijacking the response, claiming it fulfills their agendas?

The Postmodern Establishment is trying to switch off the Enlightenment. The climate change hoax is an attempt to de-industrialize the West, even as our political classes continue to live in luxury. They try to use art as one of their tools of propaganda. Even when their hand-picked artists fail to get the desired result, they co-opt the interpretation, and explain why they win again.

As I state in my book, “Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization:” 

 

The Modern age was the greatest liberation of humanity in history. As we became more efficient in providing the necessities of existence, we had more freedom to determine what kind of lives we wanted to live. As Modernism rose to highlight the potentials of individual initiative, leftist political movements counterattacked. Their goal was to squash humanity back into undifferentiated, subservient masses.

The elitists understood to maintain power, they had to undermine resistance. That’s why the top down cultural forces have made Postmodernism so prevalent. Using mass media to communicate their sickening message, the establishment made dispiriting Postmodernism the terrain we all must navigate, the atmosphere we all must breathe, the environment we all must adapt to.

The real climate change we need is the annihilation of Postmodern corruption. The Remodern Age has already begun.

 

Catering to Postmodern Madness is Thinking the Crocodile Will Eat You Last 

PAINTINGS: In the Night

Richard Bledsoe “In the Night” acrylic on canvas 20″ x 24″ 

 

From the Remodern America Manifesto:

Art is a more enduring and vital human experience than the power games of a greedy and fraudulent ruling class. The managers crashed the culture in pursuit of their agenda. They defend their usurped authority and privileges with doublethink, misdirection, and intimidation. Their time has run out. Reality is crashing back through their carefully constructed facades, and a time of reckoning has come. Enduring changes start in the arts. Remodernism defeats Postmodern desecration.

 

-Excerpt from

Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization

by Richard Bledsoe.

 

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I don’t fundraise off of my blog. I don’t ask for Patreon or Paypal donations. If you’d like to support the Remodern mission, buy a book. Or a painting. Please send any inquiries to info@remodernamerica.com. Thank you! 

 

“Bill Wants To Be The Bad Boy:” A Me-Too’d Art “Maven” and the Postmodern Abuse of Art

Circling The Drain:

Taking Advantage of the Decline of Artistic Expectations 

They say the way you do something is the way you do everything.

Here in Phoenix, Arizona, an all too familiar drama is playing out. An affluent influencer has been accused of sexual aggression towards multiple women. The details offered are lurid, and awful.

No charges have been filed. There is no proof I am aware of, beyond mostly anonymous statements given to journalists. In this country, we are all innocent until proven guilty. This must be a very difficult time for everyone involved. Pray for all of them.

Unlike Joe Biden, I was not there 3,000 years ago, when Isildur took the ring and the strength of men failed. But I was there in 2002, when landscape architect Bill Tonneson took the title of artist, and the integrity of the art world failed. I met Bill Tonneson at one of his first exhibits, at the old Paper Heart Gallery.

It was a poor showing. Mostly patterns of found objects mounted on wall hung canvases. But it turns out, these examples of bland decor were the opening moves of a grand strategy.

Back then, Tonneson had decided he would make himself the world’s third most famous artist in one year. In a Phoenix New Times interview at the time with art critic Robrt Pela, Tonneson explained his gambit. The article is full of telling quotes:

A year ago, architect Bill Tonnesen launched a career in modern art. His 12-month goal: to create 100 significant pieces, and to land a one-man show in a notable gallery. He chronicled his experience in the self-published Tonnesen: 12 Months to Fame and Fortune in the Art World. The book pictures many of his mixed-media assemblages (a frame filled with teacups, another jammed with hundreds of Bic pens) and is full of revelations (“As I surveyed the art world, there seemed to be a lot of paintings. Crazy abstract stuff that looked relatively easy to do.”)…

NT: There’s that old line that you always hear about modern art: “Hey, my kid could do that!” Your career as an artist strikes me as a big riff on that whole notion.

Tonnesen: That’s a subject I love to talk about: understanding art. The notion that one painting deserves a more important place in the history of art. It’s very convenient for uninformed people to think that their opinion is the equal of someone like [deceased MOMA curator] Robert Storr’s. What makes contemporary art so unique that suddenly everybody is an expert? Why can some idiot walk in off the street and think his opinion about a painting has any value?…

NT: …You actually made an A-list of artists in your book. What is that based on?

Tonnesen: Primarily on auction results.

NT: So for you, it’s all about the money artists make, and not what their work is expressing or how it moves you.

Tonnesen: Well, money is a measure of collectibility. So are references in textbooks, a presence in museums, and mentions in publications like Art News, which essentially make the art world. But the common currency is money. It’s the most concise way of determining an artist’s popularity.

NT: That’s a pretty arrogant position to take, to create a list that values artists based on how much money they make.

Tonnesen: The list is the least controversial aspect of what I’ve done. Essentially, it’s unchallenged, partly because if you survey the horizon of thousands upon thousands of artists, people like Jasper Johns and Gerhardt Richter are the ones who rise up, and it’s relatively . . . I can’t think of the word.

NTYou seem torn between saying that the art world is full of shit and wanting to be part of it.

Tonnesen: My goal is to point out that the art industry is a market, like any other. I am a libertarian, laissez faire capitalist. I believe in markets. What I’m interested in doing is studying how the art market works and competing there, but not at a regional level. I have worked now for one year in this regional environment, and now I’m ready to compete on a larger stage…

The interview concludes with this nugget of Tonneson analysis: “I don’t think people really have much insight into what is art and what is not art.”

Bill Tonneson has been relying that disconnect ever since.

In the interview above Tonneson expresses the perspective of a Postmodern partisan. The attitudes are all there: the relativisim. The appeals to authority. The derision towards the little people who dare to have their own opinions. The lust for money, fame and power. Tonneson states the values of the establishment art industry, which are of course the values of the establishment in general. Our elites are corrupt Postmodernists to the core.

His take-over-the-art-world book is still available (Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,664,166 in Books). Needless to say, that initial scheme failed. But the marketing blitz made Tonneson a player in the lively Phoenix arts scene.

British artist Charles Thomson, co-founder of the Remodern art movement, has attributed the crisis of relevance in the contemporary arts to “…a Postmodern ethos that puts celebrity, cynicism and commerce above any spiritual or deeper human values.”I would add a fourth C to that list: controversy. Since 2002, Tonneson has worked those unappealing angles to keep himself as an artistic presence.

Like in 2012, when he plunked this beauty down in front of his house, so the nearby pre-school and church could take a gander at it:

 

“Arizona Man Feuds with Neighbors Over Statue of Obese Naked Woman,” reported the New York Daily News.

“I love it,” Tonnesen said. “I’m crazy about it.”…he wishes his neighbors could see it as a work of art, and not just a nude woman. His neighbors aren’t alone — Torrenson said his wife doesn’t like the statue’s placement and made him cover with a sheet.

“Until I can work something out with my wife, we’re going to leave it covered,” he told KNXV.

That poor long suffering lady. I read a later article which said Tonneson had added a bikini made out of money to the piece, but I couldn’t find an image of it.

He was at it again in Tucson in 2013: “Artist Hopes Nude Statues Cause a Bit of Outrage:

Tonnesen has created a pair of statues — torsos of nude women jutting out of a tower of truck tires — that sit in front of an apartment building at 2230 E. Fort Lowell Road.

In Phoenix, Tonnesen is a bit of a bad boy. Some of his large-scale pieces, often in prominent spots at apartment buildings, are in-your-face nudes. One, an obese nude woman sitting on a wall, faces a church. Another nude — it looks to be of the same large model — holding a urinal at her crotch (presumably an homage to Duchamp) is on display at the front of an apartment building not far from the Phoenix Art Museum. Protests to the works were loud.

Tonnesen, who solicits publicity, loves the controversy his art creates…Tonnesen calls the works, molded from a live model and made primarily of plaster and epoxy with a steel frame, “Domestic Totems.”

Two female torsos sit on top of 11 gleaming black tires, raising the works up to about 16 feet, nearly reaching the top of the second story of the two-story building.

The torsos are white. Each has large, exposed breasts.

The figures are draped with a shawl and have headpieces made of pots, pans, dishes and other accouterments of domesticity. One has an electric hand beater as a necklace, a mop covering her eyes as though they are long bangs, a baby sitting on top of the headpiece, and a mouselike figurine on top of that. The woman’s mouth is opened in a sort of shocked “O.”

…“My grandson doesn’t like them; he thinks they’re nasty,” says Marybeth Davis, who lives there with him. She, on the other hand, has no problem with the bare breasts. It’s the works themselves that bother her.

“I don’t call them art,” she says. “I call them gaudy.”

Tonneson’s controversies aren’t limited to art. Even before the recent allegations, in his landscape architecture business there have been some very vocal dissatisfied customers, and neighbors. His plans for a Phoenix Holocaust Memorial spiraled out of control (Illusions of Grandeur, New Times March 2005).  The project was not completed. And then there was the time he convinced the former mayor of Tempe to convert a local landmark into a Bill Tonneson theme park. (Bill Tonnesen, Contentious Tempe Developer, Aims for Immortality, New Times November 2012)The city council didn’t go along with that one.
Quotes from the linked articles paint an evocative picture:
On renovations:

…At first, the pair enjoyed getting to know the charismatic designer and his workers. They even bought a few pieces of his artwork, including one with orderly rows of coffee cups featured in Tonnesen. He assured them it would only grow in value as his art career took off.

But the piece hasn’t aged well; one of the coffee cups has fallen off its backing, and in its place, Dacquisto has stuck a movie stub from Kill Bill Vol. 1. Like the artwork, his relationship with Tonnesen also deteriorated precipitously, after the project dragged on for nearly a year…Worst of all, when the partners went to talk to a lawyer, the lawyer gave them a piece of information that caught them totally off guard: Tonnesen Inc. didn’t have a license to do electrical work, which it had done. Or a mechanical license. Or a plumbing license. Or a residential contractor’s license. Tonnesen never should have been allowed to redo their kitchen in the first place, their lawyer explained….

The Holocaust Memorial:

Tonnesen claims, repeatedly, that Phoenix’s memorial will be the only one in the world to show six million objects. It’s a contentious claim: After all, schoolchildren in rural Tennessee recently collected more than six million paper clips to display in an old German cattle car. It was an improvised effort, without a master plan or a visionary architect, but the exhibit now draws thousands of kids from all over the Southeast….

But that doesn’t count, Tonnesen says, not under his criteria. Sitting in a big pile, the paper clips aren’t visually distinct.

Similarly, he doesn’t count the New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston, which shows six million numbers etched on six glass towers. “That’s different,” he says.

He can’t seem to acknowledge that any previous effort has hit the nail on the head. This, after all, is a guy who dismisses the Vietnam Veterans Memorial: “Beautiful idea, but immaturely executed.”

There goes the neighborhood, and the Tempe Flour Mill:

…And always, Tonnesen’s sculptures — many of them life-size statues of Tonnesen himself, in various guises: holding an umbrella, pointing at a giant thermometer, perched atop an air-conditioning unit. But his accolades…often are drowned out by the moaning of people who’ve had dealings with Tonnesen.

Like the employees worried that he talks too much about working without proper permitting. And the city officials who felt he was forcing his public art onto the Tempe Flour Mill site, after he sneaked two of his sculptures onto the site on the evening of its grand opening…

“The problem with Bill isn’t a lack of talent,” says a colleague of Tonnesen’s who refused to be named because, he says, any public commentary on Tonnesen leads to days and days of e-mails and phone calls and recriminations.

“It’s that he doesn’t listen, and he wants everything his way. So you ask him for a glass of water, and he brings you a swimming pool. And you say, ‘Put the swimming pool in my backyard, then,’ and he mounts it on your roof and plants 70 trees around it and then encases it in a big metal box made out of recycled refrigerator shelving, because it’s what he wants.”

…”His houses are ridiculous, and they don’t fit in on our street,” says one of Tonnesen’s Tempe neighbors, who won’t go on-record because she’s heard other neighbors complaining about Tonnesen screaming at them. “I got yelled at by people on the block, because I had seven wind chimes on my front porch. But this guy can have a giant metal box and a hundred trees in the front yard, and everyone’s thrilled!”

****

“I’m hard to work with,” Tonnesen admits. “When I hire someone, the chances of it working out are tiny. I only care about two people’s opinions — my wife’s and my assistant’s. Everyone else is just workers, and I’m hoping they won’t screw everything up.”

“Bill does things first and asks permission later,” that ever-vigilant assistant, Samantha Staiger, says. “That bothers people.”

“You gotta make your own opportunity!” Tonnesen yells excitedly. He’s an imposing presence: 6 1/2 feet tall, wearing his signature uniform of pressed blue jeans and a white Oxford shirt with his last name stitched above the pocket. His smooth hairstyle recalls the blunt bob worn by Gloria Vanderbilt in the ’60s and ’70s. “I’m not sitting around waiting for permission. I try to be proactive and to make things happen…”

***

“I had some grandiose ideas,” Tonnesen admits of his Flour Mill plans. “I want to do the unexpected. I want people to be curious and confused by the art things we put in. So I drew up an elevated walkway with a hole in it, and we would have someone sitting by the hole, and maybe spraying water on people or videotaping them as they walked by.”…the Tempe City Council wouldn’t go for a walkway with a built-in hooligan, so Tonnesen came up with a second plan: a giant Advent calendar-like cabinet filled with his own custom statuary.

“I had it dripping with my sculptures!” he bellows gleefully. “And of course no one had any money to do this. I would have done it for free! When it’s an iconic structure in my own town, I’m on board!”

To rehabilitate his reputation, Tonneson worked with Alison King, a web designer and co-founder of Modern Phoenix.

Shining up Tonnesen’s public image was no easy task, King admits. “It was among the hardest jobs I’ve taken on,” she says. “Bill wants to be a bad boy. He can’t help it. It’s who he is. He would rather ask for forgiveness later than ask permission first.”

But then, in his most ambitious art move yet, Tonneson got his theme park. Thwarted by short sighted city bureaucrats, he installed his monument to himself, himself. Bill Tonneson went to the Lavatory.

The Lavatory is the name of Tonneson’s solo act art museum. Seriously, what is it with these elitists and their juvenile caca fixations? 

“Big Fun Art’ Spreads to Phoenix” City Lab December 2018

Illuminated by floor-recessed lighting, the bottom half of a 1,500 square-foot subterranean room is suffused in pink, slow-curling fog. By one wall is a life-sized plaster-cast statue of a bare-chested woman, head concealed in cloth, holding a naked infant upside-down. A gaunt female model with an alabaster face saunters languidly through the space, like a mute witness to some macabre ritual. The 50 or so patrons, who each paid a $30 entrance fee, tentatively explore the room’s perimeter, wading through the puffy fuchsia tide, when a baritone voice registers through speakers:
“Ladies and gentlemen, you are about to be buried alive.”
Following a New Year’s Eve-style countdown, a huge net tethered to the ceiling releases 120,000 three-inch plastic iridescent balls, eliciting instantaneous glee from the crowd. They now occupy the largest, most bizarre, adult ball pit playpen in the world.The “wizard” behind the curtain is 63 year-old Bill Tonnesen, who serves as MC at the Lavatory, a risqué, if not outright scatological, art exhibition housed in a 16,000 square-foot, two-story commercial building just north of downtown Phoenix…in addition to the “pit,” [it} includes other themed rooms (one requires a non-disclosure agreement to enter). Also featured are two claymation cyclorama booths with professional portrait quality lighting conditions; a claustrophobic ten-by-eight foot room filled floor-to-ceiling with 18 functioning toilets; and many, many pieces of artwork by Tonnesen himself.

“A traditional experience at a gallery or museum is to look at a painting on a wall,” the artist told CityLab. “We’re working on a mechanism to make that painting fall if you get too close. My goal is to confuse.”

There is some confusion going on here all right. Clarity can be reached by looking at the broader, top down goals being inflicted on our culture.

The Postmodern establishment is trying to exterminate the experience of art. As I state in my book, Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization: 

Art is undergoing a crisis of relevance. Elitist malfeasance has marginalized the visual arts in popular culture. In doing so, the New Aristocracy of the Well-Connected block access to powerful resources. They deny our society the inspiration to live up to ideals, the encouragement to think and feel deeply, the yearning to harmonize with truth and beauty. As a result, the mass audience has turned away. People instinctually reject the superficial and nihilistic contemporary art championed by an imperious would-be ruling class.

Ruling class totalitarians use Postmodern art as a tool of oppression. Elitists have weaponized art into an assault on the foundations of Western civilization. This deceitful cabal seeks to destroy any principled perspective on the lies, manipulations, and abuses they commit. The scourge of Postmodern relativism as a cultural force is no accident; it’s a top-down driven campaign. Hyping soulless, unskilled art has a toxic, weakening effect on society as a whole.

There’s more than one way the elites have attacked art. The really prevalent one right now is to turn art into just another form of leftist activism. 

But the more insidious one is to replace art with the fleeting, tacky thrills and tawdry spectacles of a carnival midway and sideshow.  This is why you now get things like giant slides in art museums.

The Tate Museum’s Downward Slide 

Sure, that looks like fun, but is it art? No, it is not.

Depsite Postmodernism’s efforts to redefine words to suit the vast agendas of control, real art is the very opposite of the whirl and swirl of the county fair. Real art freezes a particular moment and makes it reverberate with timelessness and deep meaning. It doesn’t immerse us in sensations which drive us to distraction. Real art moves slowly in us, but with massive force. It is an enduring and abiding experience. Real art inspires  awe regarding human potentials, and takes us out of ourselves.

The elites don’t want us to have those profound moments. Too much risk of uplifting, transformative wisdom occurring. The ideologically driven artifice they favor can’t provide the moving qualities actual art delivers. So, using their hold over our cultural institutions, they are doing a massive bait and switch. Call something art, but then deliver cheap, lewd variations of Chuck E. Cheese attractions. They substitute the intensity of traditional art with an empty buzz of quick hit one-liners.  That will keep the ignorant proles in their place!

The Future of Art? 

The Lavatory fails the achieve art. It might pass as a fun house, but it doesn’t really look like much fun. It’s over burdened, trying to prove its art cred by dragging in stale Duchamp references. The images from it suggest a sinister, sleazy vibe, which recent reports only amplify.

Scenes From the Lavatory. Ick.

After the Me-Too style allegations surfaced, the Lavatory has gone dark. Tonneson shut down his Instagram account, and from the vicious commentary left showing on his Facebook page, it seems to be untended as well. Venues have started removing his works from display.

Tonneson’s come back before from scandal. He may be back again. If so, we can hope he will be able to deliver an authentic artistic experience, rather than just another tacky destination for selfies.

Bill Tonneson: Say Cheesecake 

 

 

Update: Welcome Instapundit readers! Please visit other articles for more commentary on the State of the Arts from a Remodern perspective. 

COMMENTARY: The Art of Bigfoot and Painting as Philosophy

Richard Bledsoe “Along the Allegheny 1767″ oil on canvas 30″ x 24”  

 

Even though I write a blog about art, I do not believe art should reply upon words to be effective.

Excessive explanation is one of the worst traits of the corrupted Postmodern art world. Lots of hackwork gets propped up by commentary, both by artists themselves and the institutions which support them. These days most of the extraneous chatter consists of appeals to grievance groupthink or other politicized posing. This trend follows academia’s current status: deep in the septic tank of Cultural Marxism.   It’s predictable that those best at spouting the party line aren’t really the creative ones.

No virtue signalling propaganda will ever fulfill that crucial human need for art. Great art speaks for itself, no explanation or justifications needed. It uses a language without words, which speaks directly to our souls.

Nevertheless, being of an analytical nature, I can’t help thinking about painting, and describing my observations.

First, painting is philosophy. Not in the pedantic sense, where insular scholars endlessly split hairs, and quibble over nuances. Painting is philosophy in action. Painting is translation, changing esoteric thoughts into comprehensible forms. Painting is consciousness harnessed by a physical process, which creates evidence of an individual’s world view. Show me what you paint, and you show me who you are.

Second, what do my paintings say about me?

I have come to identify two great currents which run through my art. I’m always a story teller, a painter of fables and parables. But I see the nature of the stories told come at me from both on high and down low.

I call this dichotomy the Canon and the Tall Tales.

The Canon reflects my impulse towards the stately achievements of  Western Civilization. As I state in my book, Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization, “The expansion of Western civilization had been nurtured by belief in objective standards, which originated from an underlying order. Whether this order was divine or merely natural was debated, but the acceptance of universal laws was pretty universal.”

We of the West have an amazing legacy to draw on. Our forefathers bequeathed us great traditions of faith, science, art, literature, and law. Part of my art is part of that continuum of grand accomplishments. To recognize the structures. To uphold the harmony of reason, grace, and beauty.

Where some of my artistic practice drifts down from the cosmos, other parts of it pushes out of the earth like toadstools.

The Tall Tales are the grotesque gargoyles on the soaring cathedral. The ghost story told around the campfire. The frightening fairy tale told by a beloved grandmother with a big wart on her nose. It’s the spooky and the strange and the dark places. These things are just as much a part of humanity as the decisiveness and compassion of our better angels. They  are also as American as Edgar Allen Poe, and Robert Johnson.

I realized both aspects of my artistic viewpoint came together in the painting above, Along the Allegheny 1767. It depicts what happens when the representatives of the uniformed hierarchies of the Old World encounter the mysterious weirdness of the American wilderness. Magical things occur.

Currently our tainted elitists are ruthlessly attempting to suppress and destroy our heritage so they can rule over us unopposed by any notions of quality. The rise of the Remodern era shows they have failed in their cultural suicide mission.

 

 

I don’t fundraise off of my blog. I don’t ask for Patreon or Paypal donations. If you’d like to support the Remodern mission, buy a book. Or a painting; Along the Allegheny 1767 is available, along with many others. Please send any inquiries to info@remodernamerica.com. 

 

Update: Welcome Instapundit readers! Please visit other posts for more commentary on the state of the arts from a Remodern perspective.

 

 

 

STUDIO: Scenes from the Studio, Part 1

My Better Half

Michele Bledsoe’s Studio Set Up 

 

In my book, Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization, I include a description of our current artistic working conditions:

 

Michele and I now share a studio in our home. We’ve spent countless hours together making art. We work back to back, with the stereo in the middle to play the music which inspires us.

She sits at her easel. I pace around in front of mine.

Michele uses tiny, soft brushes. I use big house-painting brushes for much of my work.

She discovers her imagery through stream of consciousness dreaming. I am replicating the vision I was assigned.

She likes to focus on one work at a time, and linger over it. I have multiple pieces going at once, at different stages of completion, and I compulsively push them towards resolution.

Michele doesn’t know what she is going to paint when she begins, but she applies her masterful technique to it. I know the image I need to present, but I don’t know how I’m going to paint it out.

We are both wholly committed to our art, and we show it in our own different ways. Remodernism encourages dedication to individual expression, and the pursuit of excellence.  

 

I’d written before about our shared art space. Back in 2015, i did a blog post on “The Mystique of the Artist Studio:”

There is nothing like having the dedicated space just for art. There is great pleasure in not having to pack up and move all materials at the end of a session, to have the needed tools within reach when an idea strikes. The magic in artists’ studios is in the sense of purpose, a Zen-like meditation on process.

It is an exotic environment. Many strange devices and substances are used there. Simple everyday needs like lighting and storage take on whole new urgency. And in the studio there is the artist, a person who puts appearances onto ideas. Might seem like an anachronism in these technological times, but the artist fulfills a deep human need.

It occurred to me that our studio spaces are full of wonderful moments, where our tools and inspirations blend together into intriguing vignettes. Why not share the excitement that is happening there, even we we are not working?

Michele Bledsoe has created a whole magical world to surround herself while she paints. In her blog post post “Art and the Proximity of Curious Objects,” she wrote:

My husband is always telling me to take a picture of the weird collection of items I have on the tray of my easel.

I’m not exactly sure what the actual purpose is for this little shelf-like area..

but it is where I keep all my favorite stuff.

Polished rocks, glass marbles and rusty keys.

Floppy-limbed Micronauts, the metal license tabs from Gunther’s collar

and my father’s college ring.

My art studio is filled with strange little objects that have captured my attention..

but you can tell how much I like something by how close it gets to my easel.

Here are some other special moments from Michele’s half of the studio. I will show mine in a future post.

 

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EMBATTLED VCU PROFESSOR WAS ONCE MY ART TEACHER. HERE’S WHAT I LEARNED.

All Aboard the Witch Hunt Band Wagon!

The College Mob Springs into Action 

The Death of University Arts Programs, Part 6

For years I have studied and commented on the crisis of relevance plaguing the visual arts. Malignant elitists are destroying the artistic experience, all the better to create a passive and befuddled populace. I’ve worked to expose the decadence and corruption of establishment art, but usually I’m analyzing distant events and actions. But now, I have a personal connection with an unfolding incident which perfectly illustrates the death throes of Postmodern culture. The destructive conflict playing out at one Virginia art school can be extrapolated out to changes that are taking place on a global scale.

This article from The College Fix lays out situation:

Students Demand “Complete Removal” of Professor even after the School Cleared Him of Racist Behavior

Virginia Commonwealth University officials suspended associate professor Javier Tapia last semester despite concluding that he did not racially discriminate against an unfamiliar black professor when he called security on her last fall. The decision prompted a lawsuit from Tapia and protests by students who want him fired.

Tapia, a Peruvian-born art professor who’s been at VCU since 1988, is heading to court in an attempt to force VCU to let him continue teaching while asking for $1 million in damages. A settlement conference is scheduled for June 11. Meanwhile, dozens of students have held campus protests to demand that Tapia be fired and that the school increase its diversity.

 

So a bunch of N-P-C students are demanding the firing of an Hispanic immigrant teacher in the name of “diversity.” The cognitive dissonance, it burns.

It’s shameful to see what’s become of my alma mater. I graduated from VCU, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting and Printmaking. I was there when Javier Tapia joined the staff. For one notable semester, he was my teacher. What I learned from him then, and what is happening to him now, is extremely educational, but not in the way you’d find in a syllabus.

It was a terrible experience when I studied painting with him in the early 1990s. I ended up basically teaching myself some powerful lessons. By opposing everything this misguided academician manifested, I ended up discovering my own way as an artist.

Javier had quickly built a reputation. Temperamental. Tough. Demanding. Aggressive even. His critiques were said to play out as fiery psychodramas, reducing hapless students to tears, counselling and changes of majors.

I signed up for this, on purpose. I was determined to learn artistic skills by traditional methods, trying to paint realistically from observation. This was not the trendy thing to do at VCU, which emphasized conceptual and abstract art. I was out of sync with most of the other students, who were producing slapdash experimental works. Despite my plodding development, I felt ready for a challenge. It didn’t go down like I expected it to, but then again, hardly anything ever does.

This was a studio class, meeting all day twice a week, all of us students painting together in a filthy classroom tucked away on the top floor of the gymnasium. The infamous group critiques only took place every few weeks. During typical sessions Javier would turn up late, after we had already started working. After depositing his satchel and coffee at the paint encrusted work table he used like a desk, he wandered around the room, selectively interacting with those who caught his interest.

I actually gained positive attention for the first class or two. I set up a still life I was working from: a collection of metal and wooden objects. Those first classes I was just doing what I considered the underpainting, laying in broad areas of color and vague suggestions of shapes, tinkering with the composition. I was working in greens and yellows for some reason, although nothing I was depicting was green or yellow. Knowing my own methods, I knew anything I laid down would ultimately be covered over as I refined the painting.

Javier was initially intrigued by the masses I was setting down, and visited with me several times on those days, curious about the direction I was going in. But as soon as I started to make decisions, drawing in the specific details and starting to nudge the picture towards realism, the interactions ceased. He preferred talking with the students whose works remained only broad areas of color and vague suggestions of shapes. Turns out he was a partisan for that aesthetic, and had no patience for other forms of expression.

Javier liked to have us all gather around his desk so he could lecture us. They weren’t actually so much lectures as they were harangues, delivered in tones of bitter disappointment. The topics were usually variations on how much better he had been than us, back when he too had been a mere student. We were expected to stand there while he monologued and just suck it up, waiting until he was done with us. Only then could we crawl back to our easels, beaten half senseless by his disapproval.

Finally the day came for our first group critique. It was just like I’d heard: hostile and belittling. The collective mind of the class took on the personae of the professor. We squared off like gladiators battling to the death, egged on by his imperious disdain. I actually got off pretty easy, only because when my turn came, Javier announced right up front he saw nothing in my still life. No one had much to say after that, and we rapidly moved on.

What Javier chose to linger over during that crit showed us what he was expecting from us all. His personal pet student was displaying a largish square canvas. During the initial weeks of the class this student had simply brushed the surface of this over and over with layers of thick brownish paint. Every now and then he’d draw in some geometric shapes, only to bury them under more impasto.

Apparently the pet wasn’t satisfied that this was enough texture, because he started to adhere ragged strips of torn canvas into the wet paint, plastering over them with more smears and gobs. The final result was an unsightly, scabrous beige void. This, according to Javier, was true painting. We probably spent three quarters of an hour verbally dissecting this masterpiece.

The ones who got it worst in this critique were those who were trying to work abstractly, but who fell short of Javier’s elusive standards. Why their work was worse than the clotted lump he praised I couldn’t tell you, but the instructor seemed to take their lesser efforts as a personal affront. He sicced the class on these students like a vicious pack; they in turn were gleeful at their chance to pass on the abuse they had been experiencing. It was an ugly display.

I’m familiar with the boot camp idea of tearing someone down in order to build them up into something new and better. Maybe this was the method Javier was going for, believing he was some kind of drill instructor of art.

However, the key component of this concept is the second part. Done effectively, the broken and rebuilt recruit should be in every way superior to the weak and naive shape they began in. Tough love is the secret fuel of drill instructor rage. The cruelty is actually compassion. The targeted viciousness awakens in others the toughness and strength that will be needed to survive dire circumstances.

But with Javier’s obligatory destination, his philosophy that paintings consist of incoherent mud and marks, to be served up with a lot of posturing, the end result was no improvement. It was ultimately a merely materialistic viewpoint he served, camouflaged with a lot of cranky analysis that lent a veneer of intellectualism. He was actually espousing a major strain of thinking in Modern art, advocating for a set of beliefs that had been in vogue since the early 20th century. In this school of painting, what was important was paint as a substance applied to a surface, and how blatantly it could be made to act like paint being applied to a surface.

Well, duh.

All Javier’s ill-tempered observations could be distilled to euphemisms for, and variations upon, “paint behaves like paint, but you aren’t making it fit my intellectual theories of paint-like behavior enough.” The professor’s emotional investment in this pedantic set of concerns was puzzling. He may have been intense, but what he was emphasizing was irremediably wrong.

What matters is not what paint is, but what it is used for.

After that first critique, the class meandered on, painting time interspersed with tongue lashings and bouts of mob savagery. Now about two thirds of the students were just wiping streaks and blobs onto their canvases, pandering for approval. They still got sliced and diced during the group discussions, all except for his canvas scrap golden boy, who could do no wrong.

I remained unpersuaded, and defiantly began another still life.

Javier made it clear I was a lost cause, and that kept the abuse directed at me brief. I just wasn’t worth talking about. The only comment he’d make to me during his classroom ambles was I needed better brushes. He said this several times. I understood he felt the problem was not actually my brushes, but what I was doing with them.

I’m glad I had my habitual punk nonconformity and suspicion of authority supporting me, otherwise I too might have ended up smearing paint around. But even though I was rejecting Javier’s priorities, it was still frustrating to be ignored. I was still so young, and so uncertain in many ways. I was basically left to teach myself, since he couldn’t be bothered or was not capable of guiding me on my own path as an artist. He just wanted everyone to do it his way. And for me, his way was a dull waste of time. But still, to labor under the hostility of someone so advanced in my chosen field caused great unease.

And then, I actually saw one of Javier’s paintings.

This was still pre-internet, or at least pre-my access to it. How different the world was, back when we did not instant access to information about everything and everyone! I had to wait until a faculty art exhibit to see Javier’s work. Strangely, he never shared it with us in class.

I turned out for the opening, a buzzing, energetic Friday night affair. I enjoyed the free pretzels sticks and cheese provided for the reception, but really was there for the art, to see the works of teachers current and past; I didn’t make a special point of looking for Javier’s piece. I was very surprised when I finally read his name on the title card under a large work on canvas.

His painting was inferior. Undistinguished, indistinguishable from the work of thousands of other contemporary painters-student painters included. A mass of orange with a few tentative streaks near the bottom. I can’t find an image of it, but it was of a comparable quality to this beauty I found on the web:

A Genuine Tapia 

Everything became clear. All the professor’s bombast and attitude was overcompensation for some very justifiable insecurity. His bluster was an attempt to conceal some extreme weakness. However, in painting, there is nowhere to hide.

Despite all Javier’s credentials, all that training, all those words, the preemptive strike of haughtiness he launched on us poor pupils, the domineering and disruptive dynamic he stirred up in his class, despite all that, he failed where it mattered most. When it came time to perform, and put brush to canvas, all the academician could manage was a sloppy blankness.

After witnessing the professor’s clichéd artifice on display for all to see, for the rest of the semester, whenever Javier went on his class room tirades, I listened with a smirk. Changes were happening in my art that amplified the hollow ring of his chest thumping, and rendered him even more irrelevant in my eyes. My patient discipline was starting to pay off on the canvas; I was discovering the visionary element that continues in my painting to this day, and I had achieved the technical skills to bring it out.

The coda of this special time was my final one-on-one critique with Javier at the end of the school year. Without his browbeat flunkies, he was subdued, sheepish even. I can imagine how difficult it was for him to have to talk directly with me. He had witnessed how I had completely disregarded his philosophy, but looking at my semester’s worth of paintings, the advances I made were unmistakable.

The professor muttered something about how my work had gone off in directions he had never expected it could. I think I responded with a blank stare that he was not willing to return. That was close to rapport as we ever came, and I took it for what it was worth. After all his hostility, I earned a B in the class. I considered this a major victory. I had a new direction to explore, new ideas to try out.

What I saw in this classroom back when I was young could been seen to represent the old school of the Leftism with dominates our institutions. The feeling of entitled power that comes along with a well-connected position of authority, defended with sophistry and attitude. But there is a new dynamic challenging the presumptions of the old guard, coming from the even further Left. A rabid, destructive element seeking to purge and plunder.

I didn’t approve of his ideas or methods. But what is happening now is just wrong. It is appalling how VCU has treated Javier Tapia during this controversy. Calling security on someone he thought was an out of place student would be a typically dick move from him, but it was just a simple misunderstanding. But grievance mongers got to monger, and now the Maoist mob wants blood, vengeance, and humiliation. The school found no racist intent, but that’s not good enough for the cultural arsonists. These chilling words from a student hack activist show the irrational totalitarian fantasies being nurtured in our institutes of higher learning:

“We 100% disagree with that conclusion. What many people fail to understand is that it is obviously technically impossible to prove someone did something because of the color of someone’s skin. It’s about embedded behaviors and implicit as opposed to explicit. It’s about the structures of this country and what principles this country and its institutions are built on.”

Of course the useless administrators have gone into the fetal position, and I don’t hold out much hope Javier’s career will survive this disgraceful injustice. I fundamentally disagree with him, but the right way to manifest opposition is by positive action of my own, not by driving for personal destruction.

As I describe in my book, Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization:

 

“Postmodernists will commit acts of senselessness and violence when top-down social pressure is applied. The Postmodernists have stolen the forms of religion to serve their aims. Original sin is now race, or carbon footprints. Indulgences can be purchased by reciting the catechisms of social justice. To prove loyalty to the cause, the SJWs eagerly throw blasphemers into the fire. Since they don’t know history, Postmodernists don’t see the predictable Marxist pattern that today’s obedient flock will be tomorrow’s barbecue.

The spiritual life of Postmodernism has been misdirected from transcendental and enduring values to ponderous politics. Nothing is sacred. There is no sense of continuity; only the needs of the moment matter. Where there should be a human spirit engaged with the eternal choice between good and evil, Postmodernists substitute slavish devotion to those who reduce morality to dominance.”

 

If there is actual justice-as opposed to the tyranny of phony collectivist social justice-Javier Tapia will be back teaching at VCU soon.

Who knows, maybe he will even learn how to paint.

 

Earlier entries in the “Death of University Art Programs” series

Part 1: Eric Fischl

Part 2: The Corcoran Collapse 

Part 3: Ignorance as a Method of Critique 

Part 4: The Subsidized Sedition of Establishment Art Schools

Part 5: Why Columbia Art Students Demanded Tuition Refunds