VIDEO: When Worlds Collide-A Python Talks Conceptual Art on Doctor Who

Tardis Art

Cameo: Wonderful affunctionalism

I’ve made no secret about my vintage Doctor Who fandom on this blog. Recent comments by comedian John Cleese reminded me when he made an art-related appearance on the legendary television series in 1979.

For his brief dialogue, story editor Douglas Adams served up a piece of art babble worthy of Vogon poetry status. Cleese and actress Eleanor Bron give the Doctor’s time machine, the Tardis, a critique that could straight out of  Saatchi gallery press release. (See the John Cleese clip from “The City of Death” at this link. )

Cleese: “For me, one of the most curious things about this piece is its wonderful… afunctionalism.”

Bron: “Yes. I see what you mean. Divorced from its function and seen purely as a piece of art, its structure of line and color is curiously counterpointed by the redundant vestiges of its function.”

Cleese: “And since it has no call to be here, the art lies in the fact that it *is* here.”

[Doctor, Romana and Duggan dash in and enter the TARDIS; it dematerializes]

Bron: “Exquisite. Absolutely exquisite.”

Pompous elitist art patrons like the ones caricatured here are real enough. They are the type of people that have given non-talents like Tracy Emin a simulacra  of relevance and a facade of a career.

The establishment rejects the self-evident principle expressed in the Stuckism manifiesto: “Art that has to be in a gallery to be art isn’t art.”

The elitist’s response is, “We declare it is art because we say so. We camouflage our unscrupulous power trip with lots of pretentious, pseudo-intellectual banter. We don’t care about art, we care that we are the only ones whose opinions matter.”

The art world is full of hopeful supplicants who will wage war on behalf of the most absurd cultural institution dogma, hopeful their conformity will be rewarded with crumbs of acknowledgement. Their whole identity is invested in acting as defender of the woefully inept establishment artistic status quo.

Sadly most of these acolytes would not acknowledge real art if it appeared – or vanished – right before their own eyes.

Bonus video clip: Cleese and the Doctor (Tom Baker) indulge in a little backstage skit with some Python bite.

 

VIDEO: How Cooking is Like Art

We cooked dinner with my sisters-in-law last Saturday. It was a fancier meal than we would normally make so my wife Michele Bledsoe brought her camera, intending to document the process.

What began as a spontaneous goof on a cooking show intro became something more as the evening went on. Michele filmed each step, not for the purpose of making a how to video, but as a platform to reflect on the overlap between our normal efforts at art and the preparation of a special meal to share with family.

The results were fascinating and extremely delicious.

EXHIBITIONS: Un Amor – Festival Arte Sano X, Andalusia, Spain

A Thistle From The Heart

Richard Bledsoe “A Thistle From The Heart” acrylic on canvas 9″ x 12″

One of my latest paintings will be exhibited halfway around the world in July.

The show is “One Love,” otherwise known as “Un Amor,” at the Festival Arte Sano X, being held in San Pedro de Alcántara, in Spain’s Andalusia region.

The names of these places are like poetry to me. Not only do they sound beautiful, they evoke images of a rich and mysterious past. Epic stories of the maneuverings of Romans, Vandals and Moors, Republicans and Nationalists. Song lyrics from the Doors and the Clash. Columbus set sail from this region. Pablo Picasso, an explorer of a different kind, was born and raised in Malaga.

In honor of Malaga’s most famous ex-resident, I created the painting for the show in a spontaneous manner. I was thinking of the amazing film  The Mystery of Picasso, which was so influential on me as a young artist. Even as I improvised, imagery and order appeared.

It was very exciting to package up my painting, knowing where it was going.

spain package

Getting ready for the post office

 In the best DIY tradition, this show was organized by Artista Eli, founder  of Spain’s Malaga Stuckists art group. She generously invited an international crew of Stuckist and Remodernist artists to take part in a festival celebrating health and art.

It’s a good fit, for the cutting edge philosophies of these 21st century art movements are a great cure for sickness and lethargy of  the establishment art industry.

I am so grateful to live in the age of the internet, which allows me to connect with inspiring people no matter where they are, and share our art around the world.The grassroots have gone global.

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Artista Eli – One Love Tree – 2015 – Acrylic on Canvas – 92 x 73 com

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.

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.

ARTICLE: The Vincent Price Collection of Fine Art

 price art

Vincent Price: Bringing Art to the People

A large part of what drives the asinine blight of the contemporary establishment art world is a strange creed of status seeking. The current power brokers, through their strangleholds on government, the media, academia, and the arts, demonstrate that status is dependent on slavish conformity to their imposed hierarchies. Anyone not willing to submit to their dictates and priorities is outside the tribe, and therefore deserves only contempt and demonization.

Following the implied commands and encouragement from this would-be ruling class, the witch hunt and the lynch mob are becoming an increasingly common activity in our society. The news is full of stories of hateful hordes swarming to crush anyone who dissents from the precepts of our current corrupt establishment.

There’s nothing new about this educated New Class assault on those who aren’t properly awed in the presence of their betters. Modern era intellectuals used the term Middlebrow to deride “ordinary” people who enjoyed advanced cultural experiences.  How dare they go directly to art without relying on a superior priestly class to translate, and inform them how they are supposed to feel and respond?

There’s a big pile of snobbery effervescing at the core of the establishment art world. And now that the information age has made culture so accessible, the so-called elites have had to go full Doublethink to maintain their separate, and therefore in their minds elevated, caste status. The current domination of Conceptual art is a tool of oppression, meant to degrade standards and reinforce the control by establishment cronyism as the only arbiter of accomplishment.

It wasn’t always this way. And despite the concerted efforts to declare that history is over, and the current winners and losers will be frozen in place forever, the world continues to change. The story of the twenty first century will be about the destruction of centralized power. This toppling of mighty strongholds can be informed by visiting noble ideas and actions from the past.

Vincent Price could be seen as a kind of middlebrow icon. True, he was a wealthy celebrity, but he was a character actor known mainly for low budget horror movies. He even appeared on The Brady Bunch, for goodness sake. How gauche.

However, Price was also a passionate connoisseur and advocate of fine art. He wrote, “Art is excitement which if we can’t create ourselves, we can at least, through love of it, make available to others.”

Price also seemed to have a pretty salty visceral response to art as well. He  noted, “I’m extremely profane, unconsciously so, when I see something great for the first time; I don’t know why, but beauty and profanity are related to me in the same way. It may be that I want to think of art in the vernacular, but I have no control over what comes out of my mouth when my eyes take in great beauty…it might just be the reason I avoid going to museums with elderly ladies.”

When the department store Sears, that bedrock American success story of middleclass capitalism, wanted to expand into fine art, they asked Price to guide their efforts. In 1962, The Vincent Price Collection of Fine Art was born.

The Sears archives describe the program in detail:

“…company executives observed that except for a few major cities, fine art was virtually inaccessible to the general public. Sears set out to end this isolation by merchandising art throughout the country, in a presentation from which pictures could be readily purchased to enrich American homes. Vincent Price was approached to take charge of this program. Price, although well-known by the public as an actor, was also known in the international art world as a collector, lecturer, former gallery-owner and connoisseur who spent a dozen years studying art at Yale, the University of London and other art centers abroad.

“Price was given complete authority to acquire any works he considered worthy of selection. He searched throughout the world for fine art to offer through Sears. He bought whole collections and even commissioned artists, including Salvador Dali, to do works specifically for this program…

“On October 6, 1962, the first exhibit and sale of ‘The Vincent Price Collection of Fine Art’ took place in a Sears store in Denver, Colo. Original works of the great masters – Rembrandt, Chagall, Picasso, Whistler and more – as well as those of the best contemporary artists at the time were offered for sale in this first exhibit and throughout the program’s existence.

“Items ranged in selling price from $10 to $3,000. Sears customers could also purchase items on an installment plan for as little as $5 down and $5 a month. Each work in the program was guaranteed as an original work of quality, just as Sears offered quality guarantees on its lawnmowers and TVs. The program was an instant success. So many pictures were snatched up the first day that an emergency shipment had to be flown in lest the walls be bare the next day.

The program expanded in the weeks that followed, adding exhibits in 10 additional Sears stores including Hartford, Conn., Harrisburg, Penn., San Diego, Calif., Evansville, Ind., Madison, Wis., and Oklahoma City, Okla. After the successful exhibition and sale of these first 1,500 pieces, the program was expanded nationwide to all of Sears stores throughout the country, bringing original works of fine art to the American public in unprecedented quantity and quality…By 1971, when the program ended, more than 50,000 pieces of fine art passed through a constantly changing collection into American homes and offices.”

Sears-Page

Sears catalog page. Far out, man

The online magazine Toccoa Catholics produced an article on Vincent Price rich in biographical information on his love of art:

“Although his stage and film career brought Price fame and some fortune, it was only his career. His true love was always art, and began at a young age, lasting his whole life. He bought his first work of art from a local dealer in St. Louis when he was twelve and paid for it in installments. But it was a good buy: a Rembrandt etching.

“During his Hollywood days, Price ran an art gallery and eventually donated his collection to East Los Angeles College, which is now home to the Vincent Price Gallery. He dedicated himself to promoting a wider popular appreciation of art. Throughout the 1950s and ’60s he traveled all around the country giving lectures on art, wrote a syndicated column on art, and worked with Sears-Roebuck to acquire original art for purchase by the common men and women who shopped for power tools and washing machines.

“He was utterly unpretentious about a subject that is usually prone to pretentiousness. (‘I never could afford to buy what other people said I should like.’) He looked at art ‘wide-eyed and openmouthed,’ but his observations were astute. He said, for instance, that a sketch can capture what the camera cannot. Both are immediate, but the sketch ‘has so much more humanity’ because ‘life is quicker than the eye.’

“He was an avid collector and promoter of native and folk art, and defended these artists against their highbrow critics with a line worthy of Chesterton: ‘At least they haven’t lost the ability to see directly in their own directions.’

“When he looked at the work of great artists, he realized that God-given talent was one of the things that make it easy to believe in God. ‘I had always felt that art and religion were inextricably tied together…'”

Price was also an unapologetic partisan for American art. Informed by his appreciation of this country, he wrote of the “…the unquenchable thirst of our artists and people for cultural achievement.” He saw our native sense of invention as an asset that leads to discoveries: “It may be said that, in this land that lacked the facilities for formal training, the untutored artist was forced to devise a style, almost a shorthand of his own invention, to make up his personal language of art.” He did not agree with the tiresome leveling effect of global art world dogma, understanding how regional identity strengthens artistic character and  accomplishment:  “To those who say art is international, I must say yes, in its enjoyment, but it has always been highly nationalistic in its convictions, if not its inspiration.”

It’s interesting how a B movie portrayer of madmen and monsters communicates more love and respect for both art and his fellow citizens than creative class pretenders have for decades. Our existing cultural institutions may be irreparably tainted, but the positive and healthy ideas about art Price represented are not lost to us. We are having to start over, but that’s a great place  to be. The natural environment of the American is the frontier. The power of Remodernism is ordinary people acting as explorers and inventors and finding their individual vision. Vincent would approve.

 The Vincent Price Collection of Fine Art Sales Training Film


EXPLOITS: Artist Bill Lewis and the Cosmic Unconsciousness

Lewis

Remodernist Painter and Poet Bill Lewis at a recent exhibit in the UK

But where does imagination end and reality begin?

-Dr Julian Karswell                                                    

Carl Jung was a visionary psychiatrist who understood religion, spirituality and mysticism as key elements of the human experience. In his work he developed the concept of synchronicity, the significant coincidence. It’s when things happen that seem meaningfully related, but which happen without any apparent cause. For Jung it was a demonstration of the collective unconscious in operation, a universal awareness that everyone shares. In my life experiences synchronicity is a common phenomenon.

I recently experienced an amazing moment of synchronicity. It involved artist and poet Bill Lewis. Bill is one of the original  British Stuckist artists, having been part of the seminal Medway Poets group even before the art movement began. Bill Lewis has continued his work as a Remodernist artist, and as I got involved with the international movement, I made his acquaintance through Facebook of all things. Since then we’ve exchanged books and our thoughts of the mysteries of art and life. It’s one of the wonders of this age, how we can connect with interesting people half a world away.

Reading

Reading “The Book of Misplaced But Imperishable Names” by Bill Lewis at a Phoenix AZ poetry event

secretlewis

Bill Lewis with The Secret Kingdom

Bill has had many intense moments of synchronicity, so his role in my recent experience is no surprise. One evening just before Christmas I was coming home from work, driving down a short cut through the alley behind our house, when one of the neighborhood feral cats ran in front of my car.

The cat was far ahead of me, it was in no peril. In the dark twilight all I saw was the indistinct bobbing of its mostly white body. The sight reminded me of a creepy passage from an old favorite story of mine, “Casting the Runes,” by M. R. James.

At the beginning of the story an evil warlock puts on a magic lantern show that traumatizes the local children. The images included “a horrible hopping creature in white.” The glimpse of the cat in motion triggered a memory of that description, although I haven’t read the story in ages.

When I got home moments later there was a package waiting for me that had arrived that day in the mail. It was an unexpected Christmas gift from Bill Lewis. I couldn’t wait until Xmas, I tore right into it. It was a DVD of the classic British horror movie, “Night of the Demon,” and the recut American version “Curse of the Demon.” This film is based on the story “Casting the Runes” by M. R. James.

dvd

I was so moved by this experience I ended up creating a painting about it, featured in the current exhibit “BOOKED: Contemporary Literary Art.”

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Richard Bledsoe “A Horrible Hopping Creature in White” acrylic on canvas 16″ x 20″

The connotations of this event are very interesting to me. A key plot point of the story is how the attention of paranormal forces get passed along by means of a rune inscribed slip of paper delivered to an unsuspecting recipient. In an interview, Bill Lewis describes inspiration being passed along like a virus between carriers. I see a connection  in these models.

I don’t see the demonic content of this particular transmittal as an ominous thing. If anything, it’s a cautionary example, a call to examine my own motivations and actions.  The warlock in the story and movie abused his knowledge selfishly, evoking energy in an effort to build his own power, and he was destroyed by it. In this unexpected and meaningful gift, I saw not a demon, but a demonstration of wisdom. Thank you Bill!