Notes of an Artistic Mad Man: Art & Violence

Above: Clint Eastwood watercolor by Becky Cooke.

…In some ways art and violence might seem to be polar opposites but they are really joined at the hip; both the representation of violence in art and violence towards it; from cave paintings depicting the slaughter of animals to the blowing up of the world’s largest carved Buddha’s in the Hindu-Kush Mountains by Islam extremists on March 11 of 2001 six months before the destruction of the World Trade Towers, a foreshadowing that can’t be ignored, but I digress. First, in the current art violence continuum is the recent brouhaha stirred by the movie, American Sniper, depicting the real life sniper who had the most kills in American history. In a statement not mentioning the movie but found guilty by association, Michael Moore bemoaned the place of the sniper in warfare as being a cowardly act, drawing from the death of his uncle who had been killed by one.

My uncle killed by sniper in WW2. We were taught snipers were cowards. Will shoot u in the back. Snipers aren’t heroes. And invaders r worse

— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) January 18, 2015

The outrage that followed by Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich and Fox Network was predictable. First thing I have to say on the subject is, I love Clint Eastwood from the Spaghetti Westerns to Dirty Harry to even the heartbreaking El Camino. Clint has made his bacon on violence, big violence, excruciating violence. I mean so much violence that when he gave his infamous GOP convention speech talking to a chair I thought it would have been way more interesting if he had pulled out his .45 Magnum and shot the shit out of chair turning it to splinters. I’m quite sure the GOP would have jumped up in great applause and the NRA branch of the GOP would have gushed in tears of inspiration. That brings us back to American Sniper and the argument about violence and who is more cowardly or heroic in the brutal violence of war. Calling snipers cowards or heroes to me is a non-starter, if they are indeed cowardly because of the anonymous aspect of their violence then what are pilots who drop bombs, people who plant IEDs or soldiers who program drones? These are questions that brighter minds might be able to answer but historically it has proven to be a question without an answer. One thing I do believe is the real cowards are the politicians, leaders, mullahs, sheiks, kings, oligarchs and various media groups who direct, order and cheer soldiers on to war but when they come home leave them homeless, mentally unstable, suicidal, poor with no where to turn, made basically refugees in the country they fought for and then ignored by the same people who send them off to war in glorious spectacles…

…The other evil that dragged the artistic and creative mind into the fomenting violence in the world was the massacre at Charlie in Paris by extreme jihadists. It was sickening, who knew that drawing a caricature might lead to the deaths of innocents but now we know: parody can kill. What I don’t understand is that the violence is coming directly from religious people who are trying to protect their God and it has been happening since the beginning of time. What confounds me is who is deciding that Gods need humans to fight for them? What God worth anything needs the help of humans? I mean aren’t Gods all and everything. My thought is any God who needs humans to fight for them isn’t much of a God.   They’re Gods for Gods sake let them fight their own battles…

-C.C. Long


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Day x Day Tour 2015: Featuring Cauzndefx, Lucid Optics & Airospace [Jan 28- Feb 6]

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dayxday_swaggerlessCatch the Day X Day Tour 2015 featuring Cauzndefx, Lucid Optics, and Airospace, January 28th- February 6th.

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Notes of an Artistic Mad Man: Art & The New Year

Above: Turner show, 'Painting Set Free', at Tate Museum in London.

Photo credit: Penny Lee

…Art and the New Year 2015…. It’s over – the whole North Korean sabotaging of Sony and The Interview drama that we have all had the pleasure of witnessing; along with the mighty Hollywood industry looking like children in their attempt to deal with damage control. George Clooney tried to come to the rescue with a cry of “not letting this happen on our watch” and then stepping up to create a letter that he wanted to be signed by other film execs to stop Sony from pulling the bad-fart movie from the theaters, but nobody signed it. It seems the movie biz execs knew quite well that you couldn’t buy this type of promotional fanfare that would make a real bad movie a box office moneymaker as it did. So all the Presidential “wish you didn’t do that” platitudes and the furor over First Amendment Rights were all for not, when really all it was about was money. So much money that promotional people at other movie studios are looking for other rogue nations to pick up the slack for their really bad movies…

…Looking out at over the open plain of the up-coming New Year I’m sure there are going to be more things that inspire than there will be to depress. I am calling this New Year the Year of Turner, the late great British Painter is not only being celebrated with a show, Painting Set Free, at the Tate in London that will travel to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles in February and then take the trip up the I-5 to the de Young Museum in San Francisco in June. It is a must see show of a man who was intimate with light and water and might be the harbinger of abstract art. He is also being featured in a movie by another British Artist/Film maker, Mike Leigh, entitled, Mr. Turner that is being well reviewed and was a hit at Cannes. Although its been critically acclaimed it does fall into the trap of using just the the artist’s name in the title like so many artist-bio genre films, including Caravaggio, Pollack, Basquiat, Klimt, Camille Claudet, Modigliani and Frida to name a few. They are all very good films about seminal artists so why fix something that isn’t broke. See them all in the New Year, they don’t disappoint. …


…A couple of other exciting happenings in the art world in 2015 including the opening of the new Whitney in April. The often referred to mediocre modern art museum tries to flex some muscle by pounding some sides of beef in the meat packing district in Manhattan with a design by Renzo Piano. Then in London an interesting show in February at the Hayward Gallery, History is Now: 7 Artists Take On Britain, with seven modern artists: John Akomfrah, Simon Fujiwara, Roger Hiorns, Hannah Starkey, Richard Wentworth and Jane & Louise Wilson each curate a section and a viewpoint of British Art history. And finally at the Philadelphia Museum of Art the most interesting show of the New Year: 200 years of African-American Art that highlights over one hundred African-American Artist and their place in art history in America. Just a few things to look forward to and enjoy in the New Year. Have a good one…

-C.C. Long


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Notes Of An Artistic Mad Man: Art & Crime

Above: Picasso vandal tote bag from Art Basel Miami by Brandon Dunlap.

Photo credit: Brandon Dunlap ; @brandunlap

…Crime and Art…not exactly bosom buddies but they’ve known each other long enough to enjoy a glass of Chianti and talk shop once in awhile.  Needless to say crime has a lot to talk about these days since it has inundated much of modern society’s most cherished institutions, including politics, finance, entertainment, sports, the corporate boardroom and bedroom, high tech, low tech, not to mention judicial malfeasance and police provocation, communications skullduggery and religious treasons, (stop me if you can), education transgressions, rampant racism, personal offenses, hidden agendas and pedophile atrocities.  And then there’s art crimes; not as creative as they should be, highlighted by the graffito taggers rocking their spray paint, grease and chalk illegally in urban sprawl or the forever depressing creepy essence of law suits targeting various artists appropriation of images that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that stealing art is art.   And then there’s the wannabe artist, who is tagging National Parks with cute paintings on ancient rocks.  It’s really quite embarrassing and boring at the same time.  All I can do is yell at the top of my lungs: Long Live Banksy

…Another pathetic art crime was committed by an artist, James Meyer, who was convicted of grand larceny of millions of dollars of art created by Jasper Johns.  Meyer, better known as Jasper Johns‘ studio assistant and not an artist, admitted to a federal judge that he stole 22 paintings from the Jasper Johns’ Connecticut studio and sold them for a pretty penny.   He bought a vacation home, a yacht, not to mention cars and everything and anything that big time art thievery money can buy.  Meyer sold Jasper’s paintings under the guise that they were gifts from the his boss so he wanted to keep the sales on the down low but who knew how low James Meyer would go…

…And of course there are the usual run-of-the-mill art crimes like stealing, forging and defacing that are investigated by the FBI’s rapid deployment Art Crime Team created in 2004 surviving the acronym, ASS, short for, Art Swat Squad.  I think there is a bad television show in there somewhere. The team is composed of special agents, each responsible for addressing art and cultural property crimes in assigned geographic regions. The Art Crime Team is coordinated through the FBI’s Art Theft Program, located at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C.  Since its inception, they have recovered more than 2,650 items valued at over $150 million.  But not one of those art crimes inspire the Hollywood glitz of The Thomas Crown Affair or the spectacle of Picasso being suspected of stealing the Mona Lisa or as outrageous as Tony Shafrazi’s defacing of Guernica by Picasso with the infamous scrawled epitaph: KILL ALL LIES.  A credo all art crimes should measure themselves by…

-C.C. Long (Artistic Mad Man)

C.C. Long: A professional artist and writer for over 20 years. Has been published both in England and the United States. Desire, The Driftwood Review, Flux, Chin, Exit Art, WhiteHot Magazine, Art Nouveau Magazine, The Village Voice, The Thompkins Park Literary Review and the Boston Literary Magazine are just a few of the magazines and literary reviews that has published his works. 

Notes of an Artistic Mad Man: Art & Celebrity

Above: Guests at James Franco's 'New Film Stills' exhibit at Pace Gallery.
Photo credit: Ella M ; @ellamm12 

…Art and celebrity… The latest newsbreak is Kim Kardasion’s greasy ass is art, as is her daughter’s use of a Hermes bag as a finger-painting canvass and of course everything father, Kanye, does is art after all he is a self-declared artist-god. It’s here to stay whether you like it or not the celebrity’s desire to actually make art whether it be putting a paper bag over your head or playing the kazoo.   It’s all-good, there’s plenty of room for imagination and artistic endeavor to fail or succeed…

…Another celebrity. James Franco, who makes art and other things with facile energy, has recently received a double dose of criticism for his recent show at the Pace gallery. The tag team bullying critics Roberta Smith of the New York Times and Jerry Saltz of New York Magazine, who are also husband and wife, took out their mighty pens not to review Franco’s show but to attack him viciously. Jerry Saltz’s active imagination could come up with nothing more than: “George W. Bush is actually a better artist than James Franco.”? What is sad is I’ve been reading Saltz’s reviews since the Eighties when he worked at the Village Voice. He usually makes sense, enlightening his reader not tearing down the artist, but it seems he has fallen into a brewing caldron of outrageous cynicism that the New York Times critical art staff led by Roberta Smith seems to dabble in. The great Roberta, who I have also been reading since the Eighties is plagued by jealousy fueled by her mediocre appeal. She blows up on Franco conjuring her great critical mind by declaring: “Someone or something make him stop!”    Funny, that’s what I think when I read one of her reviews.   She goes on to one liner us with a final epitaph that Franco is “clueless”. I always thought critics were usually talking about themselves and she hit it on the head with that blast. I’m wondering how those two decided to review Franco? I can see it now: them laying in bed re-reading their tweets to themselves, chortling in their superiority. Saltz says –“I’ll take his head.” Roberta answers – “Good, because I got his balls”…

…Something to look forward to by another celebrity artist is Tim Burton’s movie, Big Eyes, about the painter Margaret Keane, whose paintings of women and children are recognizable by you guessed it, big eyes, really, really big eyes. Her story is fascinating.  Her husband claimed that he was the painter of the “big eyes” phenomenon that had become so popular and valuable. So it was off to court to battle for artistic rights. After much kvetching the judge ordered them both to paint a painting in the courtroom in front of him. Margaret agreed, her husband refused, end of story. Oh for a judge like that on the Supreme Court…

…Finally, after starting this missive with a greasy ass, I’ll leave you with greasy palms as the art world is all a tizzy about record breaking sales at this years auctions, over a billion dollars paid for mostly dead artists’ work. It’s good to be alive for most people but for artists it’s better to be dead…

-C.C. Long (Artistic Mad Man)

C.C. Long: A professional artist and writer for over 20 years. Has been published both in England and the United States. Desire, The Driftwood Review, Flux, Chin, Exit Art, WhiteHot Magazine, Art Nouveau Magazine, The Village Voice, The Thompkins Park Literary Review and the Boston Literary Magazine are just a few of the magazines and literary reviews that has published his works. 

Notes of an Artistic Mad Man: Art & Politics

Photo credit: @reinhard_keck

…Art and Politics…since it is the political season we find solace that our government is dysfunctional and will continue to be so until the end of time. And as for the arts, there’s been nothing as excruciatingly embarrassing as John Ashcroft shrouding the “The Spirit of Justice” sculpture because it was topless. I guess he wasn’t a tit man…

…But there are some things that has tethered art and politics together recently besides the constant complaining that the arts in the United States are critically under funded. Who cares? So the Defense department is allocated 800 billion dollars while the arts is allocated about one and half billion dollars. Artists aren’t making aircraft carriers or a vast array of munitions or paying U.S. service men. I would like to point out though that when a great civilization finally dies it is not the battlefields or number of war dead and destruction that is remembered; it is the art and culture of the society that remains to tell the story of that society. The truth is artists should never mix with politicians because they may be mesmerized by all the empty promises and fall into the pit with them. A little dramatic maybe or maybe not…

…And speaking of government controlled art, the North Korean Mansudae Art Studio founded in 1959, employs 4000 workers of which 1000 are artists; it is one of the largest art production studios in the world. They produce all the propaganda art that is needed to control the general populace but they also create real art and some of this is being shown in London this season. It is the first time the art has been shown publically and four North Korean artists have travelled with it. It is the first time they have ever been out of North Korea. One of the artists describing the studio said – ‘It’s a nine to five job but some people get into their work and they’ll stay all night.’. Artistic reverie. freedom that can’t be taken away…

…Iran, has made some news this month, too. Mahmoud Obaidi an Iranian painter sold “Farewell Kiss” at a Sotheby’s auction for a record 65,000 dollars. The most money paid for a modern Iranian piece of art. The painting features a portrait of President Bush encircled by shoes, commemorating the incident on the President’s last trip to Iraq where in his farewell news conference a shoe-throwing assailant targeted him. The President dodged the shoe with a quick duck and weave…

…Finally, back to former President Bush, kudos to Dubya, who started painting when he left the presidency and seems consumed by it? He has given paintings away to various celebrities, including Jay Leno, breaking the great credo of every artist: ‘never give art away’. Free art is never appreciated and always neglected. But it does get me to thinking: what would the world be like now if he would have started painting before he became president…

-C.C. Long (Notes of an Artistic Mad Man)

C.C. Long: A professional artist and writer for over 20 years. Has been published both in England and the United States. Desire, The Driftwood Review, Flux, Chin, Exit Art, WhiteHot Magazine, Art Nouveau Magazine, The Village Voice, The Thompkins Park Literary Review and the Boston Literary Magazine are just a few of the magazines and literary reviews that has published his works. 

A blog for strugglin' artists


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