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 

ARTICLE: Establishment Art as a Form of Corrupt Currency

Meet the New Boss

Jeff Koons “Rabbit” Trick Makes $91 Million Disappear

 

Another day, another record-breaking auction price for a hunk of valueless junk advertised as “art” by the pestilent Postmodern cabal.

In this case, it was $91 million for “Rabbit,” a stainless steel knockoff of a vintage Easter inflatable. We had two of those plastic blow-up bunnies when I was growing up. I should have kept them as an investment. But who knew then that the establishment art market would go March Hare mad?

Dating back to 1986, the piece is credited to Jeff Koons, but he didn’t actually make it himself. He hires workers with actual skills to fabricate his feigned artwork.

Like most of the collapse inflicted on our crumbling culture, celebrating this new low in high bidding is a top down diktat. There is a concerted effort from on high to make such a sham a hot commodity. In 2007 an actual inflatable version of the reflective rodent was featured in the annual Macy’s Day Parade, as if it were a beloved icon like Snoopy or Spiderman. This gambit failed to impress; it is noted the Rabbit is “unlikely to return.” 

Hot Air: The Koons Balloon

When it came time for one of the several actual versions of the fake art to sell, the establishment went all in. Flagship auction house Christie’s handled the transaction; “Own the controversy,” they breathlessly advertised, giving away the game that what’s being sold isn’t art, it’s infamy.  Robert Mnuchin, the father of the current Treasury Secretary, placed the bid on behalf of an anonymous client. Given the opaque and inscrutable financing of the elite art market, it’s possible artist Jeff Koons and/or a consortium of his business interests actually bought the piece as a self-promotion stunt. It’s happened before, when another Postmodern manipulator,  Damien Hirst, took part in the purchase of his own work to prevent an embarrassing markdown. 

But’s what’s going on here, really? We know the elites poison civil society to further their schemes for domination. Relentless mass media propaganda campaigns are launched to make awful and dysfunctional things like socialism and Lena Dunham trendy. Koons is a part of that enforced corrosion, but assuming he didn’t buy his own work, why would some unknown billionaire put so much on the line to own a second hand mockery of a tacky toy?

The answer may be here, in this article from Bloomberg:

How Contemporary Art Became a Fiat Currency for the World’s Richest

“…contemporary art, once a thing artists made and dealers tried (unsuccessfully) to sell, has become a form of fiat currency for the very rich…Shnayerson describes as a new market dynamic: ‘The higher the prices, the more his wealthy clients vied to pay, hoping that the more they paid, the more valuable their new works would become.’”

 

“Fiat” comes from the Latin, and means roughly “Because I said so.” Usually the “I” is a government entity, which issues a currency that is really worth nothing on its own. It is assigned value based on the wealth, power, and status of the nation backing it up. Our own US paper money is fiat currency.

These days the super rich are spinning straw into gold for themselves. Using the wealth, power and status they have accumulated, they are assigning vast value to arbitrary, worthless  objects that make it through the filtering process of the Big Store con game that is the establishment art market. This will not end well.

So why should anyone care that the New Aristocracy of the Well Connected are making fools of themselves speculating in rubbish they pretend is art? Because it’s part of their assault on the quality and freedoms of our culture. As I describe in my book, Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization: 

Who cares if a bunch of billionaires are getting ripped off?

It’s not really the suckered patrons who are the biggest victims here. Our society as a whole is being debased. By taking art, the manifestation of the soul of our culture, and replacing it with a cynical system that exists only to enhance egos and bank accounts, we’re undermining the quality of everyone’s shared existence.

These self-indulgent poseurs are subsidizing Postmodernism’s attempt to destroy Western civilization. The self-serving attitude of big money art world participants is a public disgrace, and it’s about time they were made to feel it. As a society, we need to speak out, and strip the prestige away from the nihilistic, expensive hackwork our institutions promote.

Recognize the actual agenda behind these baffling choices: it’s all about control.

Make no mistake, the structure of the contemporary art world is used as a club to batter ideals of excellence, faith, and community that used to be celebrated in art. Our elites want to exterminate the artistic experience, and they use big dollar sales of dispiriting crap to warp artists away from their true purpose.

I don’t care if someone paid more that the gross national product of Sri Lanka on a trite piece of custom metal work. A shady price tag adds nothing to its intrinsic value. The piece is as hollow as the Rabbit’s shiny bulbous forms; it fails to perform as art. Its machined elements deny, rather than express, the human touch.  It does not draw a viewer in; it’s all hard, deflective surface. Intellectually it’s less than a one-liner joke; spiritually it is as blank as its featureless face. As the culture embraces its Remodern direction, the costs for such trinkets will deflate faster than a rejected Macy’s balloon.

 

Won’t Get Fooled Again? 

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

Richard Bledsoe “Among the Fortunate” oil on canvas 32″ x 32″ 

 

Order from Amazon!

Order from Barnes&Noble Here

Order from Outskirts Press Here 

 

REMODERN AMERICA: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization

Art reminds us of who we are, and shows what we can be. But these days the visual arts are undergoing a crisis of relevance. Art has been weaponized into an attack on the foundations of civilization itself, full of examples of irrelevance, carrion, excrement, pornography, and debris.  Instead of being reverenced as a communion for all, contemporary art is being treated as a wedge, a social signifier of elitist attitudes. In doing so, the New Aristocracy of the Well-Connected block access to powerful resources.

Our self-aggrandizing ruling class’s tawdry and nihilistic vision of life is being inflicted upon us all. They are trying to remake the world in their own rotten image. 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. We’ve come to call this assault Postmodernism.

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.

Postmodernism is now the consensus worldview of the ruling elite. It is also the reason their current hierarchy is weakened, and failing. Their would-be tool of domination is destroying them. They’ve been hollowed out by their own corrupt pretensions; their collapse is inevitable.

Postmodernism is dead. This is the beginning of the Remodern era.

Art is a more enduring and vital human experience than the power games of a greedy and fraudulent ruling class. The story of the 21st Century will be the dismantling of centralized power. As always, this course of history was prophesied by artists—those who are intuitively aware of the path unfolding ahead. Their works become maps so that others may find the way.

As Andrew Breitbart stated, “Politics is downstream from culture.” A ragtag group of UK artists fired the first shot against the abuses and ineptitude of the entrenched Postmodern establishment. What these artists initiated has spread across the world, in popular culture, the media, politics, gaining ever deeper significance and consequences. Enduring changes start in the arts.

Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization provides an historical overview of how art shapes society and politics. This book exposes how the contemporary art world is used as a tool of oppression. Most importantly, Remodern America provides the solution, and reveals how the power of art can be reclaimed as a force for liberty.

Remodernism is art of the people, by the people, for the people. Our freedom here in the United States should be producing the most moving and accomplished art in human history. America can be a world leader in culture, not just in military and industrial might. We, the people, deserve a better reflection of our character than the appalling mockery of the art favored by the elitists. So we, the people, are going to make it happen.

Remodernism is the recognition that Western civilization is still mighty. Remodernism knows we can still use our talents to create unprecedented growth. Remodernism is understanding our best days are still ahead of us, if we make the right choices, and do the needed work.

We will demonstrate this in art, to begin with. Imagine a new, decentralized creative class not invested in trashing our culture, but in celebrating it. What a choice to present to our citizens! Uplifting, honest artistry will change the tone of our entire society. Where we go one, we go all.

Renew the arts, and renew the civilization. Together, we can make art great again.

 

“This is our moment in the mighty continuum of art and life. Real art knows no boundaries; it communicates across all times, across all cultures. Art is as much an aspect of our species as the opposable thumb, and just as prevalent. The art world can be as big as all of humankind, if we do it right. Remodernism accepts responsibility for the art of our times, conveying the wisdom of tradition into the opportunities of the future. Remodernism is love made visible.”

-from The Remodern America Manifesto 

 

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

COMMENTARY: The Postmodern Establishment Wants to Exterminate the Experience of Art

Going Deep: An image from the Red Book of Carl Jung 

The war against the First Amendment has many fronts.  It’s become clear our right to freely express ourselves is being smothered by those who control the means of our communications. This stifling may have been subtle in the past, but no longer.

The New Aristocracy of the Well Connected, the class which dominates our government, media, tech  platforms, academia, and corporate boardrooms, are working in unison to suppress any Thoughtcrimes from spreading amongst the people. They can’t have any deplorable dregs of society dissenting from the totalitarian utopia being developed.

It has been become evident that the free flow of the Information Age has been stealthily blocked, filtered, and misrepresented to serve an agenda. The delusions being manufactured undermine our society; even our personal relationships are being soured.

However, “Empire follows art and not vice versa,”as the visionary artist William Blake noted. Enduring changes start in the arts. The signs that an unaccountable cabal was manipulating the culture into a state of uncomprehending submission  were evident in the antics of the establishment art world for at least the last century.

Many refer to any puzzling artwork as “Modern.” Modern art as a set of dominant ideas in the cultural elite also lasted about a century, but were pretty much wiped out by the 1960s. We as a culture entered a very different mindset, the clumsy power grab of Postmodernism. It’s the magical thinking of the ruling elites, who have decreed that they can alter reality with the sorcery of sophistry, and deny out of existence the eternal chains of cause and effect. The world has suffered greatly under this subversive hoax. Anything that could disrupt the systematic brainwashing of the populace was infiltrated and corrupted.

The arts were early casualty in the battle, targeted because true art is such a powerful threat to the elite’s influence and control. There has been no freedom of expression for decades in the establishment art world. It’s the personnel that matter. Only partisan fellow travelers get advancement and opportunities.

The cultural institutions have replaced art with artifice, an empty mimicry of the outer appearances and gestures of art, without partaking of any of its true substance and significance. Major museums try to conflate art with amusement park rides and political activism. Where once the ruling class subsidized creative geniuses like Michelangelo and Pablo Picasso, they now throw money at marketing hucksters like Jeff Koons,  propaganda shills like Banksy, and cynical nihilists like Damien Hirst.

These apparatchiks and others of their ilk can be counted on the enforce the status quo, and make the timeless human tradition of art seem off putting and banal. Postmodern art is a tool of oppression.

jk
Jeff Koons: A Pile of Inadequacy  

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Banksy: Know Your Place, Peasants 

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damien-hirst-shark
Tanked: Damien Hirst

The Postmodern establishment wants to exterminate the experience of art. They would 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. They want us to stay shallow and distracted. Anything not subservient to the all-powerful groupthink is a dangerous blow against obligatory conformity.

The elites hate genuine art because it is beyond their control. As the great analyst Carl Jung stated, “To the scientific mind, such phenomena as symbolic ideas are a nuisance because they can not be formulated in a way that is satisfactory to intellect and logic.” Elitist minds are far from scientific, but they love pseudo-intellectual grandstanding, so they reject manifestations of humanity’s spiritual core. It’s why progressives lash out so viciously at profound human experiences like art, but also at religion, patriotism and family kinship. These feelings cannot be tamed into the passive slavery that is supposed to be our lot in life. The arts have been marginalized by the establishment’s relentless efforts to drain the soul out of everything.

Real art stirs a sense of mystery that is beyond any reply. It is just experienced. Great artists manage to transmit their own unique experience of the mystery into a form which others can partake in. Concepts arising from our unconscious are infinitely more meaningful than the social engineering gambits we are being forced into. This disconnect causes discontent, and so, from on high, there has been an all out effort to remove the chance anyone could have their mind expanded from exposure to artistic achievement.

It is impossible to eliminate our fundamental human drives for long. They’ll come back, with all the glory and savagery of nature, because the human unconscious is itself a force of nature. Art will come back into right purpose and application, and provide vital assistance in freeing other areas of life. Across the globe, in various ways, we are shedding the baggage and burdens our cultural administrators tried to bury us in.

Postmodernism is now the consensus worldview of the ruling elite. But far from being an unassailable citadel, Postmodernism is also the reason their current hierarchy is weakened, and failing. Their would-be tool of domination is destroying them. They’ve been hollowed out by their own corrupt pretensions; their collapse is inevitable.

Postmodernism is already dead; we just need to put a stake in its heart, vampire style, to keep it from continuing to wander around, feeding off of the living. And what comes post-Postmodernism? It is the dawn of a new era: the Remodern age.

As I describe in my upcoming book, “Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization,” it’s time to get happy again, and look to the potentials of freedom:

 

“This is our moment in the mighty continuum of art and life. Real art knows no boundaries; it communicates across all times, across all cultures. Art is as much an aspect of our species as the opposable thumb, and just as prevalent. The art world can be as big as all of humankind, if we do if right. Remodernism accepts responsibility for the art of our times, conveying the wisdom of tradition into the opportunities of the future. Remodernism is love made visible.”

Carl Jung discussed the archetypes, models for the human experience that exist in our collective unconscious. One of the archetypes of the West is the Dragon Slayer. Postmodernism is just the latest version of the world serpent, the force in life that seeks chaos and destruction. Our own inner nature tells us we are destined to prevail against this threat, but only through bold action. Art is a Remodern weapon we can wield.

Carl Jung Understood the West: Our Monsters, Our Heroes 

 

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

 

 

PAINTINGS: The Evolution of “Hollowsaurus”

 

Richard Bledsoe “Hollowsaurus” acrylic on canvas 24″ x 36″ 

On September 1, 2018, I finished Hollowsaurus, an epic painting 6 months in the making. It was an ambitious expansion of an image I first played with on a small canvas:

 

Richard Bledsoe “Table for Two” acrylic on canvas 12″ x 16″ 

 

I was so intrigued by this vision I was presented with that it inspired a whole series of images in my mind.  These pieces are the beginning of a new body of work for me. I have already started the next one. I feel the powerful symbolism flowing through these pictures. They speak to me without being reduced to mere words.

While I was making Hollowsaurus, I took pictures of its development. I think these photos give insight on how I build a painting, and how the works evolve.

Barely Begun 

 

 

Defining the elements 

 

 

Building Details 

“Spiritual art is not about fairyland. It is about taking hold of the rough texture of life. It is about addressing the shadow and making friends with wild dogs. Spirituality is the awareness that everything in life is for a higher purpose.”

-The Remodernism Manifesto 

EXPLOITS: The 1990 Still Life That Changed My Life

Richard Bledsoe “Still Life 1990″ oil on canvas 12″ x 9” 

I spent too many years in college. Not because I didn’t know what I wanted to do; because I didn’t know how to get there.

I thought I wanted to be a film maker. So in 1987 I enrolled in Richmond’s Virginia Commonwealth University, the in-state school that offered the best artistic programs. The introduction year was called AFO: Art Foundation. We students called it AFO: Artists Following Orders.

AFO was intense and demanding, made to weed out those who weren’t serious. They exposed you to a little taste of all the disciplines: drawing, painting, sculpture, design. We even got to make a little animated film. I found I really took to art, and made it through the freshman year.

The problem was I found out during the foundation program, film classes were part of the Commercial Arts school. This was before digitalization had taken over everything design related. If I went into Commercial Arts I would have spent years working on designs with Press Type transfer lettering, a methodical hand-done system that required exacting precision. Not my skill set.

So still trying to get into film, sophomore year I changed my major to Theater Tech. I thought I’d get into the movies from learning how to create theatrical productions. Not a bad idea, but I quickly learned how hard it was to work collaboratively with all the dramatic personalities drawn to theater. Also not my skill set.

I was only 19 years old, and still had my options open, especially since my family was supporting me. So in what should have been my junior year, I started over again, in the English program. I’d write my way into the movies. Still not a bad idea, and I did well in this program.

These were still pre-computer days for me personally as well. I had a bulky electric typewriter, fortunately with a correcting ribbon built into it; this was my workhorse for my writing intensive courses. I set myself up at the kitchen table of the apartment I shared with roommates, drank beer and typed for hours, alternating between bursts of frenzied writing and periods of tense review and contemplation.

By the spring semester, I had turned 20, and my academic results were good, except for math class. Unfortunately I was still feeling frustrated. The words were coming, but were they enough?

Apart from my assignments, I was trying to write creatively, on my own. When I tried to write expressively, I felt the visions inside me were not being set free, but being trapped in cages of words. Language just felt so limited, not capable of the nuance and impact of visual imagery. The most important aspect of any vision is the part of it that can’t be reduced to words.

The authors I most enjoyed reading were craftsmen, technicians of language who still managed to tell a good story. This was a very different approach to the epic rushes of sublimity I yearned to evoke.

Hunched over my typewriter, pounding out yet another three page essay, my mind turned back to my early days of college. I remembered what satisfied me the most, moments that had little to do with my fantasies of film making. Pouring over library books of visionary artists. The spontaneous joy I felt coaxing big images to appear by the application of brush and pigments. A hands-on, tangible process compared to endless calculations and ponderings. Actions instead of words.

Unlike film, painting provided a combination of self-directed creativity with the graceful, ineffable presentation of visual imagery. I’d barely touched on the practice of painting, only had a glimpse of the possibilities, before practical careerist plans had led me elsewhere. Now I wondered if I hadn’t overlooked something very important.

I performed an experiment. For the first time in a few years, I made a painting. I bought a small pre-stretched canvas; I don’t even remember where I got the rest of the supplies, the oil paints and brushes I used. Maybe I borrowed them, or had them laying around from my freshman year. I set myself up a little still life: a candle, a rock, some folds of cloth. And in an afternoon, I made a painting, working to make the objects look as realistic as I could.

Even though the candle was white, I painted it as pink. That and the position of the stone I arranged ended up being super suggestive. After I was finished I didn’t need Freud to identify what I ended up creating was an unconscious phallic symbol. I took this to be a positive sign.

While making this small piece of art I managed to get paint on the wall, on the floor, in my hair, even on my underwear somehow. But even though it was only a small canvas, the fascination with the process quickly reemerged. I was creating objects that looked like they had volume; they cast shadows, occupied space, were illuminated with an imaginary light. Summoning these illusions felt magical.

The outcome was simple enough, a nice study in blue, pink and gray, a bit sloppy. But that plain little painting held vast implications. By the time I was finished, I knew I was going to have to tell my long-suffering parents I needed to change my major again.

My life as a painter had begun. The work hasn’t stopped for going on 27 years now.

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“A true art is the visible manifestation, evidence and facilitator of the soul’s journey. “

The Remodernism Manifesto