The unmarketing socially benevolent artist

Not that I dislike the idea of being an artist on and of the Great Plains, but this would be the life. It seems to have all the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster. (Is that a good thing? Since it’s starting out in real life, I’m using it as a good thing in this context.)

Create for yourself a persona and carry out creative acts of artistry to bring awareness to social injustices around the world. JR, a French photograffeur, was awarded this year’s annual TED prize with accompanying “One wish to change the world.” The artist is very protective of his true identity, at first wearing sunglasses and a hat pulled down over his face in a Skype interview with TED.

A number of JR’s monumental photographic installations are “unauthorised,” pasted on the sides of buildings as inconspicuously as possible while officials who will most certainly object to the message go about their socially unjust business. One such installation was going up in China when he was being interviewed by the New York Times; JR was worried they might get into trouble. “We went into the building next door, and it was empty, and we went up to the tower, and nobody stopped us, so we just started working,” he said in the article. “It’s crazy. This city is so huge and overgrown, the more you’re in the middle of things, the more you feel transparent.”

The money the artist garners from sales and prizes go back into more ambitious projects around the world acording to the Times’ interview. See the artist’s installations on his website.

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Bookish grafitti

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted any grafitti. Yesterday my wife and I went through three boxes of dusty old books for my mother-in-law and I found this gem amidst the rabble.

LinkLuv: 16 April

Could Brandon Kidder be the next Thomas Kinkade? The 26 year old Minnesota portraitist recently illustrated a book for author Tania Frankie, and 22 Christian retail stores across the state are selling his prints and — wait for it — magnets. Via Iconia.

Recap of the Transforming Culture Syposium, held earlier this month in Austin, Texas. Part two of the recap here, both from Diary of an Arts Pastor.

Help DataPortability choose a new logo. After receiving a cease and desist notice from an overly uptight RedHat they’re making the best of it by letting the public design and choose their new identity. Vote here.

Temporary graffiti, developed by the Graffiti Research Lab, is there at night and gone in the morning. Story from Time via Arts Journal

I had the boards for the bed I’m building delivered to my office-mate’s garage last week while I was in Indiana. Last night I made it over to his place to examine the stack of long maple sticks and see about getting them back to my own house. While measuring and cutting the wood in my friend’s driveway I noticed that the units of the duplex he lives in were labeled with letters over the garage door. Why not over the entry (to the left of the garage in the above photograph)? This seemed to me another indication of how immersed in the automobile culture America is — even if the letter was applied without much forethought, which is also the likely case.

Painting: The Yummies

Last weekend my boss went to Denver for a wedding. While he was out there he met an artist. The artist goes by the name Donut David and runs a website called The Yummies. I dug a little deeper and found that Donut David has an Etsy store. The profile on the store says the following:

    “Our motto is ‘Art and Peanut Butter.’

    The Yummies is a full time collective that does art about the joys of life otherwise known as ‘Peanut Butter.’

    We started in 2003 doing paintings, clothes and performances.”

I’m a little confused about how to separate Donut David from The Yummies. For character profiles on The Yummies see this link.

From what my boss could tell, Donut David used to be a tagger. At some point in recent years he became a Christian and began painting instead of vandalizing. The only other thing my boss could tell me was that he actually makes a living, apparently, selling his paintings. His works are for sale on The Yummies website and Etsy; see his MySpace page here.

His current work is a massive series of small cartoon-like dogs:

studio_20070720_a.jpg

His use of mixed media is nice and the series’ consistancy is commendable. The layering on the surface is dynamic in some of the paintings. However, I still don’t empathize with work that so openly displays marks that more or less look like undeveloped craft. The dogs look like southern preacher folk art with a big city sensibility; the result is something like pop art without the precision of a Warhol or Lichtenstein.

Is it difficult to take serioulsy the art of someone who’s motto is openly “Art and peanut butter?”

Candy bar grafitti

This from Eyebeam reBlog, candy bar wrappers designed by 10 of New York City’s most renowned grafitti artists:

Originally posted at Shey.net. More fun stuff about this from

Chocolate Bar NYC

and lots more at

Format Magazine.

Urbana Arts Track: Photoessay II

Urbana has created a second photoessay of the Arts Lounge via this link. I’m partial to this gestural, grafitti-esque work:

An accompanying article (which I’ve yet to read all of yet) by the Arts Lounge coordinator, Dick Ryan, can be read via this link.

Entitlement in America: In the media

One or two years ago, Kia ran a series of ads “reminding” Americans they were entitled to certain things — things like 100,000 mile warranties. The commericals, as I recall, actually told the viewer “this is your right” and “you’re entitled to.” I can’t find these ads online, although a bunch of other innocuous Kia ads can be seen on YouTube.

What is it that entitles us to certain vehicular features and warranties?

I’m reading a very interesting book right now called Branded: The buying and selling of teenagers. Author Alissa Quart, while talking about the surge in consumerism following 9/11, writes this:

    The Los Angeles Times, in one of its many consumer-as-upright-citizen stories, quoted a Marina del Ray resident who told a reporter that “we need to put more money into the economy now.” The telling detail? The woman was “balancing a shopping bag and garment bag, while trying to stuff cash into her wallet in front of an ATM.”
    The kids got the message. “It’s patriotic to shop,” Amy tells me. Two of the Teen People trendspotters echoed the sentiment. Buying and spending on luxury goods were reaffirmed as the keys to citizenship. It was a message that the adolescents I spoke with in the months after September 11 took to heart. [page 33]

Citizenship tied to consumerism? Patriotic to go shopping? Who are these people?

Or who am I? I fear that me and my friends, most of which would find the above ideas completely absurd, are in a thinking minority. Quart worries in her book that the teenagers of the late 1990s and early 2000s (who she interviewed for her book) are lured into a brand and consumer mentality without any other frame of reference — without thinking about potential repercussions.

And rightly so.

Anti-advertising

    In 1977, the year I was born, city dwellers
    were subjected to an average of 2,000 ads each day.

While studying graphic design in college I noticed a lot of opportunities for designers revolved around designing advertising. Designing ads trying to sell people things they didn’t need using money they didn’t have did not appeal to me.

Of course, I’m now in marketing and designing ads.

However, the advertising I create is for something I believe in (a small, mission-mobilizing non-profit) and is very targeted advertising, in my opinion, in comparison to much of what Americans are blanketed with on a daily basis. I balk at 99% of television ads. After a sebatical from TV-watching last summer, turning the tube on again and sitting through commercials was truly agonizing. The sponsorship of college football games — not to mention entire college campuses (via Coke or Pepsi contracts), and basically everything else in America — drives me up the wall. It’s not the “Capital One Bowl,” it’s the “Citrus Bowl.”

Is everyone so hard up for cash in this most profitable of American economies that they feel the need to sell every square inch of potential ad space?

Rocketboom chronicled this video today:

The video, titled Light Criticism, is a collaborative effort of The Graffiti Research Lab (GRL) and the Anti-Advertising Agency (AAA). AAA’s website starts out by saying “Advertising is the vandalism of the Fortune 500,” and continues by documenting illegal ads in New York City.

Of course, a lot of advertising is not illegal. And while I am a little wary of the accusation of “vandalism” coming from an organization like GRL, I would not hesitate in referring to a lot of advertising as “aesthetic” vandalism.

    In 2007, city dwellers see an average of 5,000 ads a day.

Art news: 18 January

Apparently there is some sort of Graffiti war going on in New York (probably more than one? The Big Apple isn’t my territory!) according to this Curbed entry and it’s adjacent photograph:

Urbana: Graffiti

This graffiti was scratched into the back of a closet door in the Park Avenue Mansion on Lafayette Square in St. Louis. There were quite a few of these scratchings on the back of the door, all from around the same time (they were dated).

Housing (graffiti)

It was quite interesting to me that the back of the door was not painted like the front — that the current owners, who have meticulously restored the Victorian mansion, left it that way. It reminds me of an NPR story detailing the scratches of graffiti in the American houses of congress.