For those of you who missed the 30×30 show last July, you now have a second chance! The remaining originals, including St. John here (currently my FB avatar) are going to be back on the wall. There will also be prints, prints, prints.
Check it out!
I wanted to do a post-a-day this month to highlight the 30×30 show, but life intervened. Now the show is ending. The last day is Friday, August 1st. If you haven’t seen it yet…well, you know.
Here are a few more images I wanted to share.
The Modern Madonna is hopefully self explanatory. She is taken from the Book of Kells, folio 7v. The baby Jesus has been moved from her lap to an official AAP approved car seat, while Mary texts on her smart-phone and gets a refill in her ubiquitous cup with green logo. My intent here is not to be snarky, but to make an observation. If the Madonna and Child happened today, this is probably what it would look like. This is a well established artistic device. Look at many of the famous biblical paintings and you will see ancient Judeans, Greeks, or Romans dressed in medieval European clothing.
Adam and Eve. OK. Maybe I am being a bit snarky here. In this design of my own making, Adam’s hair is being pulled by the serpent, while Eve looks on with resignation. I’m no expert, but I don’t think Eve had too high of an opinion of her man.
The Dudes shows a couple of guys derived from illuminated initials in the Book of Kells. They are just for fun, but deserve some closer attention. Their beards contain the words of the title and their clothing is based on Jeff Bridges costumes in ‘The Big Lebowski”. It was my wife’s idea, for which I am, as always, eternally grateful.
These, and all the other pieces in this show will be on my new web-site, coming very soon, as will be select prints available for purchase.
I got to thinking about iconic images. What are they? What do they mean? What makes them iconic? If we look up the definition we find that iconic is a: “widely recognized and well-established” and b: “widely known and acknowledged especially for distinctive excellence” (Merriam-Webster Online). According to my 1951 Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary, iconic means: “Relating to or resembling an icon or an image of any kind…” There is no inference of quality in the older definition.
Do a Google image search of “iconic art” and you will find a fascinating collection of work, much of it derivative. Andy Warhol is well represented, but there may be more interpretations than actual Warhols. The Girl With the Pearl Earring seems to have surpassed the Mona Lisa, and yet you have to scroll more than half way down the initial set of images before you find the Vermeer painting by itself, rather than as a comparison to someone else’s take on it. This is just the internet at work. A closer look at the sources of the top hits shows effective search engine optimization, not necessarily great art. We have accepted this kind of search from an algorithm where in the past it would have been conducted by art directors or curators.
So what do I post today? Why three derivative works, of course. But if I was going to look at iconic imagery from the present to the distant (and not so distant) past, then I had to use these images.
The blue police box will be recognizable to many as the T.A.R.D.I.S. from the long running Dr. Who TV series. The series itself has achieved iconic status, at least in my mind, and I don’t consider myself a real fan. If I had not done the T.A.R.D.I.S., my geeky family would have disowned me.
St. John is indeed a portrait of St. John the Evangelist. The basis of the art is St. John’s portrait in the Book of Kells, an illuminated Irish manuscript from the 9th century. Follow this link to the Trinity College web site and scroll down to folio 291v. You can zoom in on the portrait and compare it to mine. And what’s with the high contrast and bright colors in my version? It’s from the 1967 portrait of John Lennon by Richard Avedon. Two iconic images in one.
Nothing says ‘iconic image’ to me more than Andy Warhol’s 1962 Campbell’s Soup Cans. This work helped to define the pop-art movement which is, as I see it, the foundation of pop-culture today. And it doesn’t seem too far a stretch to compare it to the results of my Google image search. If Andy Warhol were still alive, might he not pose a Barbie doll to look like a Vermeer painting?
What are we doing? We take ordinary, everyday objects and change them in ways that make us look at them (and ourselves) differently. Isn’t that what art is supposed to do?
The raven is getting put on hold for a bit, as I now have a more pressing deadline. Thirty pieces of art in thirty days and I am one of thirty artists taking on this crazy challenge at Avanti Gallery. And it is a challenge. Just creating one piece of art can be problematic. Multiply that by thirty.
At least these are small pieces, 4″ x 4″, in whatever medium we prefer, which for me is watercolor. But the concept? Phew. There’s the challenge. If you have seen my recent posts, you’ll know that I have been on a bit of theme lately. So I thought, why not stick to it? What could be better than filling out part of my portfolio with thirty lovely little pieces of Celtic art.
I decided (and not for the first time) to seek my inspiration from the Book of Kells. (If you are unfamiliar with this manuscript, follow the link. Many hundreds of years ago, someone declared it was “not the work of men, but of angels”.) But somehow I got to thinking about the images, their meaning to the artists who painted them, and to the monks who viewed them. What do we have today that could possibly compare? In this age of Google image searches and internet memes, does the art we look at hold any meaning? I hope it does. This pondering led me to images that will be familiar to many, but rendered in a unique way. Yes, that is a rubber duckie you see in the picture below, as well as a British Police Box used as a prop in a certain long running TV show, all done in Celtic knot work. And there are images that may be unfamiliar to you in their original form, but altered, they show something of the common world around us.
So the question is, does seeing these images in a new way change their meaning for you? Good art should open itself up to the viewer; allow itself to be given meaning by the viewer. I have no idea if my thirty bits of Celtic inspired nonsense achieve this. But at the very least, I had to ask the question.
The artwork isn’t done yet. What you see above are the pencil layouts and one inked in piece. They are in the process of being painted and I hope to show some of them here before the show comes down. Then, back to the raven. Oh yes, and here’s the Facebook invite to the opening night party.