STUDIO: An Ikea Hack for Painting Storage

A Simple Solution for Painting Storage 

 

I’ve written before about the challenges of being a compulsive painter who likes to work on medium/large paintings (see 2016 entry STUDIO: Sixteen Years of Paintings.) If not sold, on display, or on the walls of my own house, where can I keep all the paintings I make?

The number of works has only grown over the last 3 years. Due to life circumstances, for a few years I had to store my paintings at a separate location. But in the fall of 2018, they came back into our home.

All 185 of them! We used the transportation and unpacking process as an opportunity to do a really thorough inventory and documentation of all the works I’ve made and kept over the last 18 years. This count does not include works I’ve sold, traded, given away, or painted over.  I’ve been busy.

Just a Small Sample 

But once they were all accounted for, we still had the problem of how to store them. I had the idea of constructing a two tier painting storage rack out of plywood and 2 x 4s. I did various sketches, contemplating the best methods for joinery and assembly.

When I showed my drawings to my wife Michele Bledsoe, she made one of her typically insightful comments: I was basically drawing something with the structure and dimensions of a bunk bed. There was no need to try and fabricate a stable, load bearing structure from scratch. We just needed a cheap bunk bed frame.

One trip to Ikea later, and I had a painting storage rack that could be assembled in an afternoon. It was $169.00. The raw materials for a wooden rack would have probably been cheaper, but avoiding the frustration my crude carpentry skills would have caused is priceless. I lined the beds with cut down sheets of cardboard from the boxes the bed came in.

The few largest paintings (3′ x 4′ and bigger) I have resting on the floor between the bed and the wall, elevated on strips of wood. All the rest now are safely stored on the adapted bunk bed rack. My paintings are lined neatly up by size, front to front, back to back, with dividers of cardboard and foam core for extra safety. My painting storage problems are solved!

 

The Big Ones Get Their Own Dedicated Space 

 

A stepladder helped in loading small works on the top tier 

 

The Great Ikea Painting Storage Rack Hack

Room for Plenty More! 

 

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Artist Turned Assassin: When a Marxist Mexican Muralist Attempted Political Murder

David Alfaro Siqueiros “The Echo of a Scream”

Perhaps the Screams of his Victims? 

 

“Our primary aesthetic aim is to propagate works of art which will help destroy all traces of bourgeois individualism.”

-David Alfaro Siqueiros

 

How much is forgiven to perpetrators of villainy, when they parrot the politically favored ideology. A case in point is the renowned artist David Alfaro Siqueiros  (1896-1974). This painter has works in prestigious museums around the world. Public art he created remains in prominent locations to this day. His experimental artistic techniques were said to have inspired the drip paintings of his one-time student, Jackson Pollock. Art history proclaims Siqueiros one of heroes of Mexican Muralism, a Modern art movement that claimed to be an art for the people.

Unless you were one of the people that didn’t agree with Siqueiros’s radical Stalinist viewpoint. In that case, Sisqueiros might have literally attempted to murder you and your family in your sleep. That’s precisely what he tried to do to the exiled Leon Trotsky on May 24, 1940.

Leon Trotsky was a Bolshevik leader, the heir apparent to take over the Soviet Union when the original cult leader Vladimir Lenin died in 1924. Instead, he lost out to the thuggish Joseph Stalin. By 1929 Trotsky was exiled and on the run, fleeing Stalin’s vengeful inclinations to tie up loose ends permanently by means of murder.  For years Trotsky wandered around Europe, Soviet pressures and intrigues denying him any safe location. In 1936 he was sentenced to death in absentia during a Moscow show trial. Russia’s secret police, the NKVD, now had a mandate: kill the traitor.

Trotsky received an unexpected lifeline in 1937, when the Mexican Muralist Diego Rivera pulled strings and got the Mexican government to offer asylum in Mexico City. When Trotsky arrived Rivera was too ill to meet him, but Diego’s wife, the fascinating Frida Kahlo, turned up to welcome him.

Safe at Last? Frida Kahlo Greets the Trotskys

 

For a time the Trotskys lived at Frida’s home, La Casa Azul.  She and Trotsky soon became lovers. She even dedicated a painting to him. In the work she holds a slip of paper which reads,  “To Trotsky with great affection, I dedicate this painting November 7, 1937. Frida Kahlo, in San Angel, Mexico.”

 

Frida Kahlo, “Self-Portrait Dedicated to Leon Trotsky”

 

Diego Rivera didn’t seem to mind. He had plenty of affairs of his own, and he was secure in his stature in the art world as one of the Big Three of Mexican Muralism, along with José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros.

A Prisoner of  his Politics:  David Alfaro Siqueiros

Unfortunately, Siqueiros wasn’t just another artist. He was a ruthless partisan working with Stalin’s secret police on a final solution to the Trotsky problem. In May 1940 the painter personally led an attempted hit on Trotsky and his family.

David Alfaro Siqueiros, The Sob 

The story is told on Marxists.org:

MEXICO – At approximately four o’clock in the morning of May 24, some twenty-five men under the direction of Stalin’s GPU penetrated the high walls surrounding Leon Trotsky’s house in Coyoacan, and riddled with machine gun slugs the bedroom where Trotsky and his wife, Natalia, slept. Robert Sheldon Harte, the secretary-guard on duty and member of the Socialist Workers Party, was kidnapped and murdered, his body thrown into a shallow pit filled with lime…

Trotsky had been working very arduously the day prior to the assault, and as is his custom on such occasions had taken a sleeping powder. He awoke hazily, thinking he heard the explosions of firecrackers with which Coyoacan commemorates the special days on the calendar. But the explosions were too frequent and they were not far away, as it had at first seemed, but almost within the room. With the acrid smell of powder, Trotsky realized that this was the attempt which he had been expecting for twelve years. Stalin at last had commanded his GPU to correct what he once termed his “major error” – exiling the leader of the 1923 Opposition.

Natalia Trotsky was already out of her bed. She and her husband huddled together in a corner of their bedroom. Natalia made an attempt to shield Trotsky with her body; he insisted they lie flat on the floor without moving. Bullets tipped through two doors of their bedroom, thudding in the wall just overhead. Where were the police who had been stationed outside the walls? Where the guards inside? Surely bound hand and foot, or kidnapped, or already dead.

The door to the room where Trotsky’s grandson Seva slept, burst open and a few moments later an incendiary bomb flared up around a small cabinet standing there. In the glare, Natalia saw the dark silhouette of one of the assailants. They had not seen him enter before the bomb flamed, but a number of empty cartridges within the room and five or six shots directly through each of the empty beds proved that this assassin had been assigned to make the final check, to still any movement that might still exist after the cross-fire from the French window opening on the patio and the door to Trotsky’s study. In the darkness of the room, and hearing no sound whatsoever now that the machine guns were silent, the assassin undoubtedly mistook the form of the bed clothes for the lifeless forms of Natalia and Leon Trotsky. He emptied his gun on those forms and fled.

The old revolutionists then heard what was to them the most tragic sound of the night, the cry of their grandson from the neighboring room, “Grandfather!”

Natalia found her way into his room. It was empty. “They’ve kidnapped him!” she cried. This was the most painful moment of all.

Seva, however, had awakened when the assailants machine-gunned the door opening from his room onto the patio, the bullets striking the wall barely above him. He immediately threw himself out of bed and rolled underneath on the floor. The assassins smashed through the door and as they passed his bed, one of them fired into it, the bullet striking Seva in the big toe. When they had gone, Seva called out, and then ran from his room, crying, certain that his grandfather and grandmother were dead. He left splotches of blood behind him on the pathway in the patio and in the library…

David Alfaro Siqueiros was eulogized in Futuro, Lombardo Toledano’s monthly magazine, as “an artist of great prestige and of universally recognized qualities. Throughout America, from New York to Buenos Aires his work as a painter is appreciated. He is a man who honors Mexico. In any country in the world a person of this class is an object of consideration no matter what might be his political affiliation. In Mexico it is not like this. Lately he has been the object of arbitrary abuses by the city police.”

It was this painter whose qualities were not given due consideration by the city police who, donning dark glasses, a false mustache, and a uniform of the city police, headed the gang which made the actual assault….

So Siqueiros failed in his efforts to kill an old man and woman. His network only managed to murder a guard and wound a little boy. But Trotsky didn’t have long left. On August 20,1940, another Stalinist assassin stuck an ice axe through his skull; Trotsky died the next day.

So what were the consequences for Siqueiros’s cruel act of terrorism? Not much. He managed to escape imprisonment:

 

The police department of Mexico City on June 18 announced that it had solved the case. Twenty-seven members of the Communist Party were under arrest. Among them, a number had made complete confession as to their participation. David Alfaro Siqueiros, the man who was an “honor to Mexico” according to Lombardo Toledano’s Futuro, was named as the actual leader of the assault. Above him were individuals from whom he took orders whose names were unknown to the staff members of the GPU caught in the police net. Haikys, formerly in the Soviet legation in Mexico and Soviet ambassador to Spain following the purge of Rosenberg in the civil war, was suspected to be one of these higher-ups. Carlos Contreras, GPU assassin in Spain, appears in the same category. Siqueiros, the Arenal brothers, Antonio Pujol, all members of the Communist Party, had fled Mexico.

The Stalinist press announced the arrests without mentioning the political affiliation of the prisoners, except indirectly in the case of Siqueiros, formerly the “honor of Mexico” but now “mad,” “undisciplined” and a “pedant.” The false mustache and dark glasses were undoubtedly the “pedantic” touch to his use of machine guns and bombs. It is not clear why they called him “undisciplined.”

 

Siqueiros lived a long life after he attempted to end Trotsky’s. He had highs and lows ranging from prison to star turns at Biennnals and vast public art projects, including the one of the biggest murals in the world, Polyforum Cultural Siqueiros, part of the Mexican World Trade Center. There didn’t seem to be any repercussions  for his murderous impulses. He was redeemed by the same elitist denial that ignores the estimated 100,000,000 human beings slaughtered by world communism. It falls right in line with predictions by Barack Obama’s mentor, Bill Ayres, that 25,000,000 Americans would have to be killed to advance socialism’s utopia schemes.

In my book, Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization, I describe the contemporary cognitive dissonance that occurs when creativity succumbs to ideology:

 

…Postmodernists don’t see the predictable Marxist pattern that today’s obedient flock will be tomorrow’s barbeque.

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

Frida Kahlo provided a horrifying coda to this disgraceful episode. Later in life, her artistic skills degenerating along with her health, she created a painting paying fawning homage to Stalin, the ruthless dictator who had ordered the brutal execution of her once cherished friend.

Echoing the depressing final line of George Orwell’s 1984, Frida loved Big Brother. She shares that trait with too much of our current artistic establishment.

 

Sellout: Frida and Stalin XOXOX

 

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PAINTINGS: “Gentlemen Astronomers,” My First Completed Piece of 2019

 

Richard Bledsoe “Gentlemen Astronomers” acrylic in canvas 24″ x 30″ 

 

Starting off the new year with a piece that I’ve been working on since September 2018. I completed Gentlemen Astronomers on Friday January 4, 2019.

This one became a study in moonlight.

 

Symbols give hints. They gesture. If you follow their indications, you find yourself gazing upon the unknowable complexity and profundity of existence.

I no longer work from preparatory drawings or grids. I create the images by painting them directly out on the canvases. While working on the paintings, the most effective results happen when I’ve become so absorbed in the process that I’m aware of nothing else. In fact, it’s like I’m aware of nothing at all.

I vanish while my paintings get applied to the canvas. I have the continuous experience of stepping back from the work to see it, and it’s like I’m stepping out of a trance. I’m constantly surprised by what I see has appeared on the painting, because I have no memory of doing it. Turning myself over to this receptive state allows something beyond my own capacities to take over. My best achievements are works done through me, rather than by me.

-From the book Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization, by Richard Bledsoe. Buy from Outskirts Press Here

 

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″ 

 

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Amazon is not accurately listing my book status. 

Order from Barnes&Noble Here

Order from Outskirts Press Here 

Now Available on Amazon!

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. 

PAINTINGS: “Do the Work,” a New Collaboration by Michele and Richard

Michele Bledsoe and Richard Bledsoe “Do the Work”

acrylic on canvas 12″ x 6″

 

Michele Bledsoe and I have completed the third piece in our ongoing collaborative series.

As we develop our art and our lives together, we have found inspiration in a book by Steven Pressfield:

Do the Work.

“A child has no trouble believing the unbelievable, nor does the genius or the madman. It’s only you and I, with our big brains and our tiny hearts, who doubt and overthink and hesitate. Don’t think. Act.”

-Steven Pressfield

Michele and I both created our own painting in our own unique style, but allowed a dialogue to form by the interaction of our individual efforts.

Michele compared it to having an intimate conversation.

The process of working on a piece together was so enjoyable that we will continue to collaborate. We hope to someday have a show of just our shared pieces. Watch this space for future updates.

 

Previous Collaborations:

Tusk

Blind Mugwump Johnson 

Why Banksy’s Shredded Painting Gimmick Isn’t Actually Art

A Cunning Stunt: Banksy Strips 

 

There’s been a strange pantomime playing out over the news for the last couple of weeks. It’s brought rare mass audience attention to the bloated and corrupt establishment art market.

I’ve written about Banksy before, one the elite’s mascots. As stated in the previous article:

Perhaps English media figure Charlie Brooker summed it up best: Banksy gained such art world stature because “…his work looks dazzlingly clever to idiots. And apparently that’ll do.”

 

So this anonymous artist supposedly pulls a prank at a glitzy auction, and partially shreds a work. We are meant to believe this was set up years before, and a blue chip auction house which specializes in archival handling of very expensive and fragile works of art managed to overlook a shredder embedded in a frame. Seems legit.

The picture itself is achingly banal. Finally, a work of art less insightful than an emoji.

She has a sadz 

It’s not even drawn well. It’s like she’s got a stubby little Tyrannosaurus claw right arm.

Due to the publicity stunt of the shredding, now this piece is worth even more than the final purchase price of over a million pounds. Almost as if the “surprise” maneuver was a calculated bid to drive up prices, and everyone was in on it:

 

“Banksy didn’t destroy an artwork in the auction, he created one,” Sotheby’s senior director and head of contemporary art Alex Branczik wrote. “Following his surprise intervention on the night, we are pleased to confirm the sale of the artist’s newly-titled ‘Love is in the Bin,’ the first artwork in history to have been created live during an auction.”

The anonymous buyer felt similarly, based on a quote given to Sotheby’s.

“When the hammer came down last week and the work was shredded, I was at first shocked,” the buyer said, “but gradually I began to realize that I would end up with my own piece of art history.”

I would suggest that, while the buyer has purchased a curiosity produced in this particular historical era, it’s not actually art history we’re talking about here. Art did not partake in this gag.

To misquote a decent 1990s scifi action movie:

What if I told you everything you’ve been told about about art by the establishment is a lie?

Whoa 

The Postmodern elites don’t want people to have the experience of genuine art. Real art could incite individuals to manifest pesky traits like free will, idealism, and spiritual awakening. So a false version of art is hyped by the powerful, something that will keep the people befuddled and indoctrinated. Banksy is one of their henchmen, a willing cog in the disinformation machinery.

I wonder if Banksy is a mere individual, or more of a group effort. His pictures and shenanigans all have an odor of decision by committee about them. It would probably take a lot a groupthink to come up with such insipid offerings

With the fawning collusion of the media and establishment art world, Banksy gets to have his cake and eat it too. He gets to play anti-capitalist activist while selling shoddy products for millions. His globe trotting graffitied works are supposed to impart street cred, and conceptual anti-commercialism. But the same generic stencils are easily put onto canvases and sold off to the highest bidders. What is being bought isn’t the art, but a perverse species of ostentatious prestige.

Banksy’s content is the same old leftist slant that already monopolizes government, the media, technology companies, academia, corporate boardrooms, and the culture industries. How is Banksy supposed to be a rebel when he does nothing but echo the party line? His stuff is graceless propaganda, less nuanced than an editorial cartoon.

Banksy socks it to the running dog imperialist orange man!

Just like absolutely everyone else who is allowed to share opinions on a public platform. 

Banksy is a Non Player Character entity who  disseminates mindless graphics  instead of mindless chants. His followers claim he is speaking truth to power when all he does is reinforce the typical establishment narratives. He’s made himself rich while pretending to be down with the proletariat. It takes a deep coating of cognitive dissonance to be able overlook that festering mass of doublethink.

But most of all, Banksy is a name brand selling a product that has the psychical characteristics of art, but is not really art at all. He offers artifice, an approximation of art  that does not actually deliver on art’s most important aspects. He simply does not provide a credible artistic experience.

Banksy’s mock art displays no personality. It does not display advanced achievements in craftsmanship. It does not suggest a meaningful philosophy. It is not unique. It lacks real emotional resonance, spiritual awareness, a sense of contemplation. There is no awe, no sustainable experience at all, just a one liner summary of social engineering tropes. This type of empty, soulless junk is what the elitists have propped up to act as a decoy away from actual creative efforts.

The time has come, when our ruling class tries to shove an inert narrative down our throats and tells us it is art, that we shred their presumptive authority.

In my upcoming book, Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization, I describe how contemporary art has been weaponized into an assault on the culture:

“Unfortunately, a substantial disconnect exists between the widely held respect for art, and the alienation most serious contemporary art evokes when actually encountered.

Instead of being reverenced as a communion for all, contemporary art is being treated as a wedge, a social signifier of elitist attitudes. Officially sanctioned art is all too often based on theoretical formal matters and sociological notions designed to exclude, rather than engage, the general public.

Practically no one is paying attention to contemporary art other than a small bubble of artists, academics, cultural institution apparatchiks, trophy-hunting high rollers, and those who wish to vicariously participate in presumed sophistication.

Any art from outside this tight little cabal is treated as non-existent. Through their powers of finance and institutional control, this self-serving, out-of-touch elite presume to dictate art matters for the entire world.”

 

Banksy’s shredded painting is not art, but a con game, just another sting operation of the Big Store swindle.

It does, however, make for a nifty topical Halloween costume.

 

STUDIO: Knowing When to Reuse a Canvas

Richard Bledsoe”Each in Their Garden” 30″ x 30″ 

Working as an intuitive artist carries risks. I paint directly onto the canvas from out of my imagination. I don’t work out problems in advance with preparatory sketches. I don’t cheat by letting a projector make my discoveries for me, and be a substitute for my own draftsmanship. I work to coordinate my mind, my hand, and my eye, to communicate the subtlety of inner vision.

The risk is I don’t always succeed in producing an effective image. This is okay, because I always have multiple paintings going at the same time. I put the unsatisfactory canvas aside.

I mentioned the Room of Shame in a previous post. It’s where the unfinished paintings wait. Some I will pull out and bring to proper resolution. But some are past saving. Case in point: Each in Their Garden. 

The title is a reference to a short story by H.P. Lovecraft. I’ve had a vision of the prehistoric monumental chaos he describes in his mythos. I attempted to depict it on this 30″ x 30″ canvas. It ended up murky and congested. The more I tried to fix it the less cohesive it became.

The seething image I can see in my mind didn’t make it into this picture. It’s become too overworked to repair.

I am so unsatisfied with it I’m going to start an entirely new image on the canvas. It is still a vision of chaos, but in a much more tangible form. I’m excited to get to work on it.

I did want to give Each in Their Garden this one acknowledgement, because parts of it I really enjoy-mostly in the upper half of it. I will take what I learned from this, and move on.

 

“The making of true art is man’s desire to communicate with himself, his fellows and his God. Art that fails to address these issues is not art.”

-The Remodernist Manifesto