When Politicized “Ventriloquising” Replaces Art, Who Are the Dummies?

Helen Cammock: Poet?

“From Brutality to Livelihood to Discarded Cumbersome Noncompetitive Capital Investment…”

Cumbersome Indeed

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“Politics, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles.”

-Ambrose Bierce

 

The UK’s Tate Museum holds an annual awards ceremony, the Turner Prize. It’s supposed to be about art, but it isn’t. This spectacle is meant to lavish funds and attention on whoever is judged to be Britain’s best exemplar of the Postmodern establishment’s efforts to undermine Western civilization.

The elites are on a relentless quest to eliminate genuine art from the culture. The long march through the institutions has resulted in our social foundations being riddled with radical hacks. Since colluding Cultural Marxists maintain monopolistic control over society’s mass communications, including the arts, these partisans set the agenda. It’s now painfully clear the program is to reduce art to just another vehicle for social justice activism.

The excesses and absurdity of the Turner Prize are nothing new. It’s been retreating from recognizing actual artistic achievement since its inception in 1984. The Stuckists, the first Remodern art movement, organized protests against the inane non-art of the Turner shortlists for years.

But a shift is happening in the art world. Emphasis is moving away from trends which dominated the art market since the 1990s: obviously silly anti-art.

Not Woke Enough 

This junk was political in the sense it was an assault on traditional expectations of artistic excellence. Now even that mask is off, and nothing but pure propaganda will be advanced and rewarded.

Case in point: Turner Prize nominee Helen Cammock. She makes dull videos while reciting derivative observations and slogans. It’s a poor substitute for creativity and skill.

She lays out her cred in this article:

ARTNET: ‘All Art Is Political’: Meet Artist Helen Cammock, Who Went From Social Worker to Turner Prize Nominee

“I think all art is political,” Cammock says. “Even if you make work that doesn’t speak of politics, if you’re not speaking you’re making a political decision.” But the artist feels her message is wider in scope than just a criticism of Italian politics. “It’s a global statement, and it’s the same statement I would make about this country” she says. “We are also living in the politics of the far right, we are just in a different geographical location.”

“The call to action is to everyone,” Cammock says. “It’s not about identifying Italian politics or Italian culture as any more extreme because I believe we are all in a very dangerous and poisonous moment.”

Fascinating. While Cammock’s fellow travelling leftists dominate not only the arts, but government, media, social media, tech companies, academia, corporate boardrooms, and the globalized upper class, she’s lamenting that the “far right” is shaping the environment. Right.

In a way though, she’s got a point. There are threats to the status quo, which was supposed to be permanent. Even though the Cultural Marxists rule, they have not succeeded is forcing all to bow before their usurped power. The people oppose the New Aristocracy of the Well Connected.

Eruptions are happening around the world. From American Deplorables to French Yellow Vests, from the UK’s own Brexiteers to Hong Kong’s Umbrella Protests, from Italian sovereignism to the Brazilian PSL, there are mass movements against our declining Postmodern masters.

This was foretold in the arts, going back to when the Stuckists dressed like clowns as a condemnation of the beclowning of the Tate Museum. Welcome to the next phase of civilization: the Remodern Age. The story of the 21st century will be the dismantling of centralized power. It’s an exciting time, even though the course ahead will not be easy.

The Helen Cammocks of the art world oppose this developing and promising future. They lash out against it because it threatens their privileged positions as useful tools within the Postmodern hierarchy.

Of course Helen Cammock believes all art is political. Her inferior replacements for art are nothing but realpolitik screeds of victimhood and implied retributions. Helen Cammock is up for the Turner Prize because she checks the correct diversity boxes, not because of the quality of her so-called art.

Watch one of her pieces here, if you can bear it: Helen Cammock Showreel. It may have been the longest 6 minutes of my life. A static camera films uninteresting scenes, or stock footage unspools, while a monotonous voice drones on in buzzwords about economics and exploitation. Truly an art for the ages!

Helen Cammock is cashing in on the passive aggressive stance of the establishment’s preferred mode identity politics. Because once people were mistreated, she must be above criticism. Whatever she churns out must be lauded and praised. She presents her stale monologue travelogues as if appreciation is mandatory due to ethical concerns.

The art world set these expectations for her. She’s come so far without displaying any legitimate artistic chops. Does she realize she gets opportunities not despite the fact she is a 40-year-old-female-of-color-Sociology-major-former-social-worker-without-an-artistic-background-who-spouts-leftist-dogma, but because she is a 40-year-old-female-of-color-Sociology-major-former-social-worker-without-an- artistic-background-who-spouts-leftist-dogma? This quote from the article may reveal some lack of self-awareness:

Her affinity for text was something she discovered while studying for her Master’s degree at the Royal College of Art. She was juggling the coursework while running a photography festival in Brighton, and a sympathetic tutor excused her from having to make work for the remainder of the course if she promised write something every day. “That was the beginning of it,” Cammock says.

Wow, getting preferential treatment from an institute of higher learning. Better check your privilege! I feel sorry for all those saps who had to actually do their coursework to earn their degrees.

Not everything has been easy for Cammock though. She ruefully describes this:

“People can be very suspicious of artists,” she explains. “There’s an idea that it’s really surface or superficial, or that it’s a way of stealing, like cultural thievery. But I want it to be an exchange.”

Maybe if her art was better, she wouldn’t be so sensitive to the charges. Granted, the establishment art industry has been superficial for decades. The griping about cultural appropriation sounds like the wailing of other leftists butthurt they got outmaneuvered in the intersectional grievance identity sweepstakes. Normal people don’t think or act that way. But hurling ideological accusations to drag a rival down is a prime tool for leftist status seeking. We can see it playing out in the increasing frantic Trotskyites versus the Maoists dynamic which is roiling the political classes. Stay tuned to see how that plays out.

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

Postmodernism started off by redefining art into anti-art. It’s now spread. Like a virus, Postmodernism converted every institution it infested into a factory for producing more of the Postmodern disease. Postmodernism makes every worthy cause betray its rightful mission. Remodernism is the correction of this treachery.

 

In another article, Cammock describes her efforts as “ventriloquising.” I’m confused by the analogy. Is she claiming to be the puppet master here, making her subjects mouth her approved tropes? Or is she saying she is the dummy, and supposedly the downtrodden masses are speaking through her? Is she The People’s Poet? Ryk, the original SJW from the cult TV show The Young Ones, shows how it’s done:

The People’s Poet: Don’t You Give A Fig? 

 

Either way, whether she’s claiming to be the mastermind or the mouthpiece, such a method has nothing to do with the intimate explorations that lead to compelling artistic excellence. Just look at her results.

The art of Helen Cammock is a phenomenon of the elite’s totalitarian effort to squeeze every aspect of life into rigid political submission. Her videos are not art, they are indoctrination. Politically correct Postmodern attitudes would demand we ignore the misdirection and failure on display.

Remodernism rejects this conformist approach. It recognizes we the people have the right to self determination, including the right not to accept a biased, uninspired sociology lecture as a valid replacement for the mystery, the grandeur, and beauty that only real art can provide.

 

Helen Cammock: Putting Identity Politics on a Pedestal 

 

 

My previous article on last year’s Turner Prize follies. From May 6, 2018:

ARTICLE: Activist Art Exposed as an Elitist Bait and Switch

 

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

 

 

BOOKS: The Cthulhu Blues and Other Stories-by Richard Bledsoe

Richard Bledsoe and Michele Bledsoe

“Blind Mugwump Johnson” acrylic on canvas 10″ x 8″ 

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“We were led away from the others and sat under the shade of trees in the cemetery. As he arranged himself, sitting rather irreverently on a crypt, it gave me a chance to consider the hardships he must have suffered to reach such a condition. He was exceedingly tall but thin to the point of gauntness. His coloration could be described like that of an albino’s but instead of a pinkish tone, his pallor displayed a greenish tinge, with mottlings of purple. His unseeing eyes were squeezed shut, bulging behind lids that almost seemed to be sealed over. Unmindful of facial expressions, as the blind often are, he seemed to have a terrible snarl always about his lips, exposing his gums and a surprisingly strong looking set of teeth.

“Once he started to play his talent was evident, but it was not to my liking at all. The sounds he produced on his guitar I can hardly credit as music; his voice fluctuated between an eerie falsetto warble and an impossibly low croaking or gasping sound. Many of lines were delivered in some harsh language or dialect completely unknown to me. Those words which he sang that I could discern have shaken me to my very core.”

From the short story “Blind Mugwump Johnson and the Cooloo Blues” 

August 20th is the birthday of horror author H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937). I have been a fan of his writings since I was a teenager. It’s amused me to watch his influence spread over the years, becoming mainstream commercial to the extent you could go on a Cthuhlu-themed shopping spree, if you wanted to.

Lovecraft invented an underlying myth for a series of short stories he produced during the early decades of the twentieth century. In his nightmare world, prehistoric Earth had been colonized by monstrous demonic aliens. These evil beings were still here, slumbering under oceans and desolate wastelands, waiting for their time to rise again. Encounters with these creatures or their human accomplices led to madness, death and destruction.

Many other authors have built on the haunted universe Lovecraft suggested. Here in Phoenix, H.P Lovecraft’s Birthday was a performance art event for many years, held at various venues. I took part in these shows, doing readings of a series of short stories I wrote, my contributions to the Lovecraftian Mythos.

These stories are collected in an ebook available on Amazon. The Cthulhu Blues and Other Stories.

My wife and I made a book trailer for it, which had us shrieking – with laughter.

The painting currently on the cover is a Lovecraft inspired painting I made in 2001; “Tendrils of the Dreamer.” However, when Michele Bledsoe and I first conceived the book, I decided I was going to create a new painting for the cover design.

I was going to produce a portrait of the character Blind Mugwump Johnson, the mysterious and sinister Delta blues singer. I started right away. However, as Michele assembled the e-book, I couldn’t get the painting right. It happens sometimes. Here is an earlier version, long before I quit working on it:

 

I covered this base coat with purples and unbleached titanium and then piled on more green, and redrew the mouth. It just wasn’t happening. Rather than delay the book, we went with another image, and the work in progress hung on the wall of our studio for months, unfinished.

Recently Michele and I started collaborating on paintings. After we finished our first one, she had another idea of how we could share a work. She asked if she could put her hand to finishing “Blind Mugwump Johnson.” She didn’t want to change it, just tweak it a little. I loved the idea.

She brought it to a wonderful resolution. With a light touch, she brought substance and subtlety to the image, and made it complete.

My next book is going to be “Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization.”  We are in the final editing stages now, we want it out this summer if possible.

But once that’s all complete, I look forward to returning to the shadowy depths spawned by Lovecraft, and discovering some more stories to tell about them.

 

 

ARTISTS: Remembering Steve Gompf

Steve Gompf April 27, 1963 – March 4, 2018 

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Steve Gompf was the first person I met in Phoenix that became an enduring connection.

It was the winter of 2000 – 2001. I’m not sure of the exact month. I had moved to Arizona at the end of October; after being in town a couple of months, I finally made it out to the First Fridays art walk.

Steve Gompf was in the basement of the Luhrs Tower. He was working the Artlink table, passing out maps. Young, thin, Steve Gompf, with shaggy red hair and a beard. I had been involved with an arts non-profit back in Virginia, so I was curious about Artlink. I pestered him with some questions. I don’t think we even exchanged names. Little did we know what the future held. I certainly didn’t realize I had just met a visionary artist, who would become a significant co-conspirator and friend.

As time passed I kept running into to Steve, as the art scene is its own small town within the larger city. He was at parties, he was at openings, and when I joined the Artlink board, he was there too. Eventually I made the connection between Steve and the wondrous creations he produced: the televisors.

These were Steve’s signature body of work. He presented them as if they were historical relics: antique televisions, manufactured between 1889-1928. That time range happens to be before there was any practical television technology widely available, and definitely before there were any broadcasts being made. But the specificity of the dates effectively reinforced the idea the televisors were pioneering examples of luxury goods from a bygone age.

 

The Televisors

Steve knew enough about actual antiques to reference the styles of different countries and eras in his televisor designs. The amazing thing was he managed to pull off these creations using the most random bits and pieces he scavenged from thrift stores. The televisors were assembled from candlesticks and dog bowls and lamp fixtures, and just about any other scrap of wood and metal you can imagine. He arranged all the parts meticulously into an illusion of sophisticated industrial design. I used to joke they were only held together by gravity, but it’s pretty much true. All those fiddly pieces were just in place due to a series of Steve’s willful balancing acts.

Steve embedded monitors inside these elaborate cases, and showed his own video creations on them. This is where things took a darker turn, which added more complexity to the televisor experience. His video imagery was sometime soaring and celestial, but more often it was like Hieronymus Bosch fever dreams, It was as if the televisors  were receiving broadcasts from Hades. Steve took the sequential photographs of Eadweard Muybridge, and re-animated them into a grotesque cast of chimeras wandering in some lost nocturnal plane.

Reanimated video stills 

 

This video art culminated in his epic “Parade: The Absolute End of the World.” He worked on this video for 8 years. It literally has a cast of thousands of his wild beings marching past in formation.

 

I Love a Parade: Stills from Steve’s epic video art  

We got to spend a lot of time with Steve and his art in the 5 years we were members of Deus ex Machina Gallery. Steve’s televisiors were always the stars of the show there. They were instantly accessible and fascinating for our patrons.

The televisors worked on so many different levels. They were sculptures. They were assemblage. They incorporated video and sound, They were conceptual in the best sense of the word, hinting at an entire alternative reality. And they were unapologetically beautiful.

An hypnotic televisor at Deus Ex Machina 

We had so many special moments at that gallery. Steve like to set off smoke bombs in the street and play double dutch routines on the sidewalk with invisible jump ropes. Once Steve got his hands on a top hat, and serenaded my wife Michele Bledsoe with his rendition of “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka. The lyrics of that song applied very well to Steve: “We’ll begin with a spin/Traveling in the world of my creation/What we’ll see will defy explanation.”

Michele and Steve: Pure Imagination 

Like the ornate videos he created, Steve was a complex hybrid of traits. He could be bawdy and bossy and boisterous. No matter what shenanigans he was up to, you just had to say, “That’s Steve,” and roll with it. His infectious, anarchist laughter was a clue to his driven nature; part Elmer Fudd, part Woody Woodpecker, coupled with wide eyed enthusiasm.

In his teacher mode, Steve was a master of the blunt but accurate critique. He was one of the few people that Michele felt like she truly learned something from. And to this day his advice drives my artistic production: he told me once you should always have a long term, a medium term, and a short term project going, all at the same time. This wisdom has become my own method.

As a gallery partner, he was committed and supportive. As a friend, he was giving and affectionate in his own particular Steve way. Our home is full of the thoughtful little gifts he came across during his Goodwill shopping. I shared his fascination with strange history; he was always bringing me topical books to read. He recognized Michele’s love of beautiful trinkets, so he brought her exotic objects of glass and brass.

Ultimately Steve was a worker, always so excited to push his art to new levels, and to share his own strange vision with the world. He loved to be involved in events and happenings.

I will always be glad, in one of our last exchanges through Facebook, I invited Steve over for dinner. He responded by sharing a trailer of a cool movie he was excited about: Embrace of the Serpent. We didn’t confirm the date, and I kept meaning to follow up. I thought we’d have plenty of time to work out the details.

We wanted to see Steve before his birthday. I was already mentally planning the menu. Only later did I learn that not too long after that message, he was gone. We did not find out until weeks later.

The New Times provided a thoughtful eulogy to Steve, that stuck one discordant note. It mentioned how his works made you want to question more. Although the idea that art equals questioning is a dominant  piece of dogma in Postmodern art, it is a misreading of Steve’s accomplishments.

Steve did want not his viewers to question. He wanted them to experience wonder, which is not the same thing at all.

We loved Steve a lot and learned so much from him. We will treasure the time we got to spend with him.

 

Michele Bledsoe “Portrait of Steve Gompf” acrylic on canvas 

 

A Celebration of Life for Steve Gompf

Sunday May 20, 2018 7 pm

Alwun House

1204 East Roosevelt Street

Phoenix, Arizona 85006

ARTICLE: Establishment Art Institutions Aren’t Worth a Bucket of Spit, But They Will Subsidize One

Ragnar Kjartansson: Spitting Mad 

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Pity the poor Hirshhorn Museum. They occupy a prime piece of real estate, right on the National Mall in the wretched hive of scum and villainy, Washington, DC. And yet, as a museum dedicated to contemporary art, the institute just doesn’t seem to get much love or respect. I feel sorry for the uranium magnate Joseph Hirshhorn, who originally  endowed the collection. Little did he know how radioactive his legacy would become.

An article about a recent acquisition the Hirshhorn made may give some insight as to why they lack esteem. Smithsonian.com is eager to explain it in this article:“Why the Artist Ragnar Kjartansson Asked his Mother to Spit On Him.”

Mind you, they don’t give the real answer, which would be an ambitious artist is performing the obligatory pandering required for advancement under the current corrupt Postmodern junta that dominate the arts. Rather they let the artist speak for himself: ““Art is so serious, it’s too serious to be serious about,” Kjartansson informs us.

Well okay then. Thanks for clearing that up. A trite little statement of doublethink nonsense to justify the non-art offered up.

The article does us the favor of explaining the video work:

In the filmed performance piece… a 24-year-old Kjartansson, still in art school, stands in a blue dress shirt as his mother, recognized in their native Iceland as the accomplished actress Guðrún Ásmundsdóttir, hauls off and spits on him.

There is silence, and a dramatic pause in which they exchange gazes, and she does so again and again.

Every five years since the first video in 2000, Kjartansson has repeated the action in the same location—before a bookshelf—and added on to the film. When the fifth iteration is shot in 2020, it will come to the Hirshhorn as well, as will all future versions.

A new segment of this debased piece of pretentiousness coming in 2020? We can hardly wait.

The article also has a link to the video-at least 6 minutes of it. The entire epic currently runs 20 minutes.

I have not watched the video. Why would I? Why would anyone?

Having it linked here also raises the interesting question of how a museum can “acquisition” something available as a Youtube link. Perhaps they’ve gotten hold of the director’s cut, featuring deleted scenes and an alternative ending. The article does note there are no immediate plans to put the “piece” on display, so at least we’ve got that going for us.

What is so discouraging is imagining the amount of behind the scenes meetings, discussions, budget planning, and project management that went on to facilitate bringing this loogie into the collection of a major American museum. It’s sad the way the left has as destroyed the credibility of our country’s enduring institutions. The arts fell long ago; currently the activists are working on NFL football. It can all be summed up by the timeless tweet by Iowahawk:

 

The partisans we are talking about here aren’t capable of generating something new. Their model is like a virus: infect a host and reduce it to a virus replicating factory, until the host withers away. Move on to the next host, and repeat.

We live in the dying days of the futile Postmodern campaign to destroy the timeless human tradition of art making. Postmodernists are so saturated in groupthink they can’t tell the difference between producing art and producing saliva. They are so deep in the echo chamber they don’t hear how, outside their bubble, indifference is shifting into impatience, soon to grow into rage.

It doesn’t how many out of touch museums embrace this stuff. Establishment efforts failed because humanity instinctively rejects the absurd assertions coming out of elitist academia and art industry bureaucracies. We aren’t buying the cultural Marxism they’re hawking.

They hate us and they are lying to us, and no amount of puff pieces claiming reality and make-believe are collapsing in on each other can disguise their contempt. It’s not a video of a mother spitting on an artist the Hirshhorn has obtained. It’s evidence our incompetent, entrenched culture industries don’t even bother to hide their disdain anymore. They are spitting on Western Civilization, art, the family, civil society, and all of us.

“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 Remodernism Manifesto

EDIT: Welcome Instapundit readers! Please visit other articles for more commentary on the state of the arts.

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.

Artista-Eli-One-Love-Tree-2015-Acrylic-on-Canvas-92-x-73-com1

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