Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Social Realism and the Popomo

Since “Popomo” is a term peculiar to this and a very few other sources it is important to clarify. “Po” stands for Post. Pomo stands for Postmodern. Thus, the Popomo is that period after the Postmodern, which I contend passed around the turn of the century.* Social Realism in Art History originated among the Mexican Muralists during the 1920’s and blossomed in the United States and Europe during the 1930’s. *1 My interest here is how that movement relates to art in the Twenty-First Century. Perhaps I should ask the question, does Social Realism relate in any way to contemporary concerns in American Art? Sounds like the topic for a scholarly tomb, and I certainly can’t do that here. Never the less, I can and will write a few journal entries on the subject.

“Let’s start at the very beginning…” in Mexico with the big three Mexican Muralists, Diego Rivera, Jose Orozco and David Siqueiros. Some scholars separate these three along with other artists into another movement they call Socialist Realism thus constructing an artificial opposition to Social Realism. Instead, these great artists are based in a Mexican nationalism and social concerns that grew out of the Mexican Revolution. Yes, they were interested in Carl Marx as were most Social Realists both in Europe and the United States during the 1930’s into the 1940’s. That is not sufficient reason to make two movements where there is but one. I posit that reasons for the separation are based in a 21st Century conservative political world view, or an illogical fear of such. Below are images of the big three Mexican muralist's artwork.

Diego Rivera, Tenochitlan *2

Jose Clemente Orozco, Mural at Baker Library, Dartmouth College *3

David Alforos Siqueiros, Mural in Tecpan *4

To be continued in the future.

Notes and Permissions

*Entries in this journal about the Popomo include the following; 1) John's Post-postmodern Position, 2)Post-postmodern characteristics, 3) Post-postmodernism Defined: Really now John! (Continued), 4) Post-postmodernism: Danger / Caution! Peligro / PrecauciĆ³n, and 5) The Death of Postmodernism: PoMo versus Po-Pomo among others.

*1 Anreus, Alejandro et al, The Social and the Real. Penn State (2005).




Friday, October 22, 2010

Making Peace in the Sand

Ten days ago I went out to Cape Henlopen to letter the word “peace” in the sand. Once lettered, I took photographs of the word to possibly use in a mixed media distressed painting for the “Peace on Earth” exhibit at Lighthouse Center for the Arts in Tequesta, FL. The painting is a real rush job, because I have but a few days to finish it in order to get a digital image mailed to Lighthouse Center before the October 27th deadline, and it may or may not be accepted for exhibit. Never the less, I want to enter the work because I will hopefully be teaching the “Mixed Media Distressed Painting” course at the center this winter. I’m about half way through the work, and these mixed media works progress in slow motion with the accidental process of the distressed paint hiding and/or revealing letters, words, and images. Thus I’m still not sure if this Cape Henlopen “peace” photograph will appear in the actual artwork.

Chalk this entry up to the semi-crazed ramblings of an artist trying to describe a bit of the process involved in a particular act of creation.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Guillaume Reymond – Video Artist

Reymond is a Swiss multimedia artist who won the 2007 YouTube video competition in the creative category. He also runs a multimedia company named “NOTsoNOISY, based in Vevey, Switzerland.

The winning 2007 Video project was titled “Gave Over,” and it included the human stop action photo performance of Tetris, Pong, and Pac-man.

While I personally don’t find these videos terribly fascinating, the greater culture certainly does. I do find the Postmodern ideation behind Reymond’s videos made from hundreds of still photographs to be extremely interesting!

Reymond says he is not trying to (moralise), but is fascinated by the potential of his creative collaborative processes. 

"Everyone's a consumer; it's important to get people to participate," he said. 

"Also, there is a tendency to (digitalise) people to make 3-D films, and I thought it was more interesting to do the opposite: rather than use a computer to imitate reality, to imitate the computer using reality – humans," he added.
* *2

Reymond’s latest video is titled “Transformers." There are three of these videos so far.


• Bradley, Simon,, “Classic video games project goes viral, April 18, 2008, Viewed, Friday 15.10.2010.
• 2 (moralise) and (digitalise) – spelling is in the original article.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Critter Tracks

I drove out to Cape Henlopen with my partner and his sister yesterday with the objective to shoot another waterworks montage. I did that. However, we also found these bird tracks on the dunes. The angle of the eastern side of the dune and the sun conspired to create the perfect light, and we all marveled at the subtle gradations in the sand and the funny little critter tracks.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Art Banksy

The Videos and Photo below tell most of the story. The artist’s actual name and portrait photo aren’t available because he doesn't want them to be. His work is all over YouTube, and there’s plenty more to view where these came from. I describe his work as Popomo High Graffiti and Junk Sculpture – Post Postmodern because Banksy is definitely in the tradition of Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress. The works are social criticism with painful references to innocent tots and war, fastened to urban walls with stencils, masks and spray paint. This last, a characteristic of the Popomo, that is the work inflicts pain/anguish on the viewer.

The Sculpture / assemblage, Pier Pressure makes the devastating accusation based on the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Disaster that the only experience a child might have of the sea and porpoises in the future will be through dowdy oil based plastic amusement park creations.

Pier Pressure on UTube

Banksy Graffiti Artist

The Conservation Report on Banksy

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Station Museum

An interesting find, I’m assuming the physical plant is a modified fire station or police station. The Website doesn’t say. However, the Website does list as one of the museums goals the “emphasis on the fine arts and artists that are rarely, if ever acknowledged by other cultural institutions.” I found that admirable especially if the emphasis is actually on artists that remain outside the Art World’s concerns because production is aimed tangentially (that is not directly related) to the current commercial goals of the global Popomo (Post Postmodern) era - a time when the 19th century concern for "beauty" in aesthetics is considered by many to be ancillary to the political and cultural concerns of art production. Not that I have anything against cultural and/or political concerns in art production. I do not. Never the less, the primary concern should be the artist’s personal aesthetic, which will often include cultural concerns, and which (I maintain) should include a concern for the aesthetics of beauty.**2

I would always ask the following questions first. What about this artwork is aesthetically stimulating? Does it invoke an emotional response through the use of space, form, shape, line, color, and/or other such devices? What are the techniques involved in production? How does the use of any/all the above enhance/ contribute to the expression of the cultural/political concerns of the artist? Only then should I ask, what exactly is/are the cultural concern(s) embodied in this artwork? I personally also wonder if the cultural concerns must be made readily apparent, or might they be obfuscated by other aesthetic concerns. Might that also be a production goal of the artist?

I took the time to explore past exhibits at the museum, and most of the artists exhibited do have cultural, political, and / or economic concerns expressed through their artwork. Indeed a primary goal of the museum is “to encourage the public’s awareness of the cultural, political, economic, and personal dimensions of art.” Unfortunately, the Website doesn’t show me enough of the actual artworks of the various exhibitions over time to establish whether or not my concern for “aesthetics first,” is also part of the museum’s mission. Indeed, the goals of Station Museum are such that I believe the definition of aesthetics here includes the cultural and political as just one more dimension of an inclusive format.

Now that I’ve expressed my own concern for beauty in aesthetic art production, first, it must be said that the Station Museum is privately funded and run by a power art couple, Jim and Ann Harithas. He was a past director of both the Corcoran Museum of Art, and the Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston, thus insuring that the primary concern of the museum will be to service the commercial goals of the global Popomo, probably all the while, not realizing that Station Museum is an integral part of a sub/culture that governs so much of recognized art production during the first decade of the Twenty-first Century. This last is not to disparage the International Art World, just to recognize that its goals are tangential to my own, and often to the goals of parochial artists in any/all American locals. Indeed, it is essential that ideas contrary to the local region be expressed and placed in the public eye in the hopes that such will influence growth in public understanding of the world beyond.

"So what, John," says my alter ego.

To which I reply - ss a working artist whose artwork remains outside the mainstream of the "Art World" I fantasize that we will see a resurrection of, and/or at least a concern for the aesthetics of beauty in Art, FIRST.

Never the less, I know that if I find myself in Houston once again, having lived there for two years as a twelve to thirteen year old (oh so many years ago), I will definitely look for and visit the Station Museum of Contemporary Art.


*A definition of beauty in aesthetics would of necessity be an extensively annotated philosophical treatise, and is beyond the scope of this journal. Suffice it to say that beauty is often in the eye of the beholder, and in this journal I - THE ARTIST - am the beholder.

*2 The Postmodern placed the viewer in the primary position of importance, not the artist or artwork itself. I maintain that the artwork is the most important because it is the switch through which the artist, viewer, and culture function, thus placing limits on my own argument in this particular journal entry.