writings before 2005
This is my first attempt at an artist statement.
It was required for advanced painting1. I have to say that it was written with deliberate contradictions because I held many contradictions. I s'pose I still do. I revisited this thing twice. I don't know why. December 00
Skrause the magnanimous
and his art. Official beliefs
and logical systems of desultory
Note: not to be taken lightly
My junk is about romance. That is: the romance of space flight, test pilots, the battle of Midway, the Knights Templar, Vikings, the Samurai, the judges of Israel, spies, pirates, Beowulf & Grendal, flint arrow heads, the Lady of the Lake, foxholes, the sea, shell shock, Teddy Roosevelt, bullets, Batman, and battering rams, true romances; not this girly, "oh we're so in love!" "oh, hold my hand!" "oh Roger!" (which I wouldn't pick up for the toilet paper) are my plate of hash! The epic, and the epic injected into man's daily life, and mankind's repetitious wretchedness. Ulysses and Finnigans Wake, the mighty works of Stan the man Lee, and Huck Finn.
My rubbish is about urban angst and the disillusionment of technological growth. Our American feudalism and its corresponding erasure of the past. Our collective amnesia. Our devolution from the founding renaissance-men to the modern Greenbay Packer fan. No offence, Nick. It's a mourning for the days gone by which I never lived. You know the ones. Your parents lived through them, when Krazy Kat was in print (only because W.R. Hurst liked it and demanded it be printed in all his papers despite the public outcry against it, don't mistake me for one who believes that people were smarter in the 20s and 30s, oh no. In fact, the genius of George Herriman and Windsor McKay relied completely on the patronage of their corporate publishing mogul William Randolph Hurst and all his riches, not on any popular appreciation.)
Back then comics proliferated, advertisements actually used drawings. Say it with me: drawings. Drug stores had counters, vaudeville perfected entertainers, men wore hats, regardless of their social caste, and women wore gloves. People got along better then. People looked better. They were smarter, and never swore in the streets. Children were geniuses who could memorize poems and literary passages as easily as they brushed their teeth, and schools had windows with, get this, incandescent lights!! That was back when they lived more realistic lives, before malls and the wicked automobile destroyed neighborhoods and shrank the world. It was when you actually went to a butcher for meat rather than the shrink wrapped frozen slabs in your antiseptic warehouse-grocer's cooler. Then, you knew something died to maintain your life. These is all sophomoric college-boy angst, but it cuts me in the breadbasket. The gash is twice as deep when I realize that it's all down hill from here.
My stool is an attempt to play in and organize all the crapola previously mentioned, in the light of a ridiculed faith that is exclusive of all other faiths, and in an age when the high calling is to be tolerant of every aberrant behavior and selfish near-truth that people give themselves to in their desire to escape restraint and don bipedal animalism.
These alleged "pictures," to be referred to as my @#!!%* for the remainder of this statement, are, collectively, a visual horde of broad daylight robberies. I remember my first theft: the fingers of a Sergio Arragones drawing. Since then I've been on the road of plagiarism cleverly disguising it through my secret methodic patchwork. As a connoisseur of easy marks I prefer art that I can rip off over art that I can't. The only influences on my work are the chumps I steal from. All the rest are of no interest or value and should have gone the way of Niggle's i fine painting.
My #!!@%*#, the distortions and figure arrangements, are a means to an end. They are a pathway from comics into painting, and from painting back into comics, or at least back into the movie stills that we commonly call narrative painting, back to the thefts. My intention is to continue with them only as long as necessary and no longer, as they bore the @!!%# outta me. I just want to rip off my heritage, that's excitement.
So when I paint my @@@@@@#! I am delighted in the subtleties that emerge. The narration of life glows through the heavily worked surface, that struggle, that food chain, that carnage, that flowering. The push and pull between colors and shapes, the suggested figurative elements, are all part of an arcane dance that I stumbled into choreographing from the inside. Primal, cosmic, universal, ancestral harmonies churn, you know what I mean? Like that famous Matise illustration.
Insert Finnspeak here:
I hate art for the same reason I hate poetry plus an opposite reason which I shall articl berate prehesitantly. Aaaaaaaaaaaand begin. We live in a glut of bad picture, bad posey and have no time to mosy threwi tall to find a worthyworker. When a fabulous bedazzle us painter person is apparenting s/he's work, in seconds the thrill is vanquished and die bookture returns to the dust bin or the piquesture to fixture becomes another wall if 'tcomes atoll. If a pickpure is wort'at'ousen' words then two words such like: "I kill." Orpwraps, such as, "I spill." Stilppwrap e'en like, "I showered," produce inna mind mine pictures, not only one, mine you, but multiples, for a vague sentan'se hasatan numeral possibilities unteach one has 1 thousand words. 1000(multiples)=1KM to mind clearly, ofter pictures revel but once, annat somehards antic learly. To be bookword, however, is to mosey slowsly. Spork by foon.
Now then. I hate art. It is irrelevant to anyone except the patron. The patron is the one who gives me money. The patron hangs my #&!!@ over their couch and lives with my picture. The patron is the one who supports me while I work on art. This is the traditional patronage system. The traditional patronage system is defunct.
I hate art because it is made irrelevant by the proliferation not only of images on billboards and t.v. and buses, and t-shirts, and boys' briefs, but it is made irrelevant by art books. The very tomes, which we carry back and forth between here and Golda Mier smearing with dirt in between, cheapen art. They kill the surprise by revealing the picture before it is seen. No longer do I have to go to Paris to see famous art that is legendary, I can open any magazine and find the Mona Lisa selling internet access. Or if I loved art I would look in a 4 inch thick book and find a black and white reproduction just as good as the ad. Who needs the louvre? When I stood before Serat's pointillist thingamajig which stretched out for twelve feet on both sides of me, it struck me as having not lost too much in person, though I must say it lost no boredom.
Art books are the Pizza Hut of art. Just as Pizza Hut and its franchise ilk destroy the local flavor of a town art books destroy local art. The need to travel is eliminated. Gone is the adventure! Gone are local art treasures! Gone is the civic pride I feel knowing that Milwaukee has that one painting that it has!
It's like music. Oh we all love music don't we? No we don't! Any person who buys a disc or turns on the radio hates it! Music is the moment! It is infinitely cheapened by eternal preservation and ubiquity! Why do we hate Christmas music? Because we never git a break from it. That's "git." I spell, Golf India Tango. Your 200 C.D. collection reveals an appreciation that pales before that of people who must make it themselves or go without.
I once saw a cartoon from the 20's titled Remember When. It was a drawing of a couple two t'ree guys sitting on their porch playing two guitars and a banjo. The entire neighborhood surrounded their house to listen. My wife's aunt lived in the depression and recalls opening her window to hear the neighbor a few doors down play their instruments. Art is in the same crapper irrelevance. I say if you can't beat Chronos, join'im.
Art must be protected from the onslaught of a culture run by ignoramuses and video head! It is the DUTY of every artist to educate the public, to teach them about the higher quality of life that we have because a handful of us are willing to be ridiculed and brushed off like so much irrelevance because we see an angle on life that everyone else blows by in their accelerated life. It is our duty to console with beauty the heaviness of our life of little deaths, or to expose any of the multitudinous corruptions that claw at mankind. It is our duty to awaken people to the electricity of living. Life is too precious a gift to squander before the flickering idol, or to spend drunk, or to waste on violence.
Dada is not art. Only the historians think so. The fearful, who tag it, slap it with a credibility lending placard and nail it to a wall do so because they can't bear to let anything slip into obscurity. Their art is too precious. The Dadaists were right and wrong. Claiming art was ghettoized in the museums they put on their own multi media shows. They stole images from ads and newspapers. They made anti-archival @#!!. They exposed the substitution of art with the picture explosion.
Their mistake was that they didn't dive into mass publication themselves with a single eye. The new patronage of art is the periodical and book buyer. Peter DeSeive's illustration on the cover of last week's News week is more relevant than any @!!# that I could paint on a long piece of fabric. And Mr. DeSeive got a couple cool Bens for it. All I get is headaches and promises. If he's smart he'll compile his work in a book and sell it again!
But illustrations have that hollow ring. They are all surface. So why would any artist want to make them, wealth and fame aside? No reason. So the next solution is to find a broad patron base by self publishing some kind of picture periodical. Fill it with layered work. With a modest cult body of patrons the artist can rake in the cash, enjoy modest notoriety, and explore the issues he desires by creating the pictures he desires. His only limitations are those of printing technologies. I say again, mass production is the way to go. It reaches more people with out the hassles of dragging them to a musty gallery, widening the patron base (no longer does that one painting rely on that one sale), and it prevents the work from being ghettoized and fermaldahized for millennia. Thank you and good night.
Imagine little Joey Sixpack on the playground with a rolled up copy of your famous picture periodical, "Mad House Funnies" in his back pocket. Imagine that! He's your patron with his periodic 3 bucks. Imagine that!
Funk-a-billy! Batman, Bullets, Battering Rams! Cartoonish hijinx from beyond the tragicomic frontier! Hardboiled tear jerkers! Post Hurst! T.V. sewer workers! Post Rococo! Post Cold War Envy! Reflections to soothe the lost innocence of adventure-vanished adulthood! Post Modernity! Jack London Vs. Walter Mitty!
The work of Skrause: famous cartoonist is the subterfuge of adventure and the true romances (the Battle of Midway! Knight errantry! Wuxia! Spacemen! Merlin and the Macabre!) combined with the absolute humorists (Twain! Chesterton! The many Marxes! The Muppet Show!) With this hybrid, Skrause aims to reveal the truth of the universe. "I ain't just playin' tidily Winks, I mean it," he says.
Skrause: famous cartoonist is bent on marrying the two brows, high and low, into a uniform and symbiotic union of both comics panelology (low art, just above tattoos and sign painting) and (the high brow arts) painting and extended text mechanisms (literature.)
The form is less important than the content. To Skrause comics, novels, and painting are means to an end, which is story-telling. Involved in Skrap Haus' content are the following: The Peg Leg Monkey, Samson, Various Greeks, The Horrific Lunar War, the Samurai, the Cowboys, Montgomery Blanc - world's crookedest bureaucrat, and various spacemen.
The stories of these characters are set in the large confines of Skrause's myth cycle. He draws, paints, and dabbles in print making and sculpture for the opportunity to tell these myths. Through humorous fiction he wants to get through our superficial naturalist culture via the always accessible back door of laughter, and pick at the guts of mankind, and our history on Earth. He plans to reveal incongruities and misconceptions in our collective chronological arrogance and willful ignorance. Should Skrause fail in this endeavor his body of work will stand on the merits of its wit and entertainment. Albeit with the aid of a cane.
Skrause's flippant air and open hostility towards the current world of art is a direct result of the proliferation of the monster called both, conceptualart and literaryfiction. Conceptualart and literaryfiction have dramatically lowered the bar in the creative world, allowing feces into the museums and alienation worship into the books. As long as all the paperwork is in order, that is, as long as the conceptualpiece is accompanied by a credibility lending statement and other explanatory writings, which effectively make the conceptualpiece unnecessary, the conceptualartist is legitimized. Skrause wonders why the effort is invested when an artist could just crank out the credibility lending statements and leave them at that. Effectively creating literaryfiction.
With the deluge of abstract expressionism, minimalism, cannibalism, schism and other isms Skrause wonders where all the excitement went, and why do artists take their crippled thought processes so seriously. What infection has castrated the expert draftsman leaving him heirless? The answer is complex and Skrause doesn't care to discuss it. He's too busy marrying high and low while chucking all the current conventions of artistic respect in favor of the laughter of people who have not outgrown their curiosity and awe and who are man enough to call garbage garbage and love The Muppet Show.
The work of Skrause, famous cartoonist is dredged from the many romances. Adventure and humor is his goal. It is his desire to create an interlocked body of work around a myth cycle of his own creation. Some characters and events involved in this myth are: Montgomery Blanc, world’s crookedest bureaucrat, The Peg Leg Monkey, some cowboys and gunfighters (including Reverend Rusch, the Pan Handle Padre, and Count Harrison Johnson,) some samurai, Skrause, The Cream Puff Cow, the Lunar War, the zoo, space capsules, The sinking of the land bridge, and the Saga of the Peg Leg Monkey. As Skrause paints, writes, and cartoons his little books, everything will unfold and unite.
Skrause is reacting like a rash, against the commonly held belief that high art is full of content. This belief is false. Skrause is reacting to the respect that is given to works of “art” that are incomprehensible without their credibility lending statement. Skrause is reacting against the ill repute that is given to comics and picture books simply because they mix both words and pictures. Skrause is reacting with America.
The culture of the United States is non existent. It is far too young to have one of its own. Not fully settled until the turn of the twentieth century, it has borrowed from every other culture to survive. For three hundred years the U.S. suffered birth pains and had little chance to grow up. Now in the age of technology it is doomed to never mature. It is stuck in the perpetual whirl of the capricious modern world. It cannot settle on anything and develop it. America is a pastiche society in perpetual mutation an unfinished quilt. It is in identity crisis. America is Post Modern and Post Modernity is American.
Skrause’s aim is to draw together the legends and myths of our nation into a cannon, just as the Greco Romans did through their oral tradition, which were later transcribed by Homer, Ovid, and the playwrights. This involves isolating American cultural property that is not in the sway of our fickle fads, and is not of foreign origin. It means finding the heroes and the stories. But of course Skrause is an American Post Modern and cannot resist blending the True Americanisms with his own invented events and stories, and with all of his other nonAmerican influences (Iliad, Wuxia, Atlantis, the Bible.) In effect this mixed interest will inevitably cancel his intentional cannon, create a new body of work, a mutt and add to the identity anxiety.
Skrause is also engaged in the highbrow versus lowbrow war. Disposable art, such as comics and illustration and functional art (craft) are separated from archived and treasured art, such as painting and books. This is how the arts should be. A separation needs to exist between the functional, the fine, and the disposable. Skrause desires not to unite them, to bring the brows together, but to keep them separate, and work in both. The answer is not to bring comics into the museum but to bring people to the museum, or art to people, through comics and illustration. He seeks to pave the no-man’s-land that separates the two in people’s minds without lumping them together.
Funkabilly! Batman, Bullets, and Battering Rams! Cartoonish hyjinx from beyond the tragicomic frontier! Hard-boiled tear jerkers! Post Hurst! TV sewer workers! Post Rococo! Post Cold War Envy! Reflections to soothe the lost innocence and adventure -vanished of gray adulthood! Post Modernity! Jack London Vs. Walter Mitty!
The work of Skrause: famous cartoonist is the subterfuge of adventure and the true romances (the Battle of Midway! Knight errantry! Wuxia! Spacemen! Merlin and the Macabre!) combined with the absolute humorists (Twain! Chesterton! The many Marxes! The Muppet Show!) With this hybrid, Skrause aims to reveal the truth of the universe. "I ain't just playin' Tidily Winks, I mean it," he says.
Skrause: famous cartoonist is bent on marrying the two brows, high and low, into a uniform and symbiotic union of both comics panelology (low brow art, just above tattoos and sign painting) and (the high brow arts) painting and extended text mechanisms (books sans pictures.) The words will be ignored for the purposes of this statement of intent as will the comics.
In paint Skrause, formally speaking, enjoys a bright palette and applies the paint in often decorative strokes. His imagery is a hybrid of abstraction and cartoon iconography. The source of his choice in abstracting distortions can be seen in his figure drawings; the excitement of following the line of a bone or muscle and exaggerating it to ridiculous proportions. His figures often look like hideous lumps, but just as often, they emerge as graceful delicacies. Skrause laughs often when drawing them. It is a funny thing to squash a body to fit the page or extend an appendage beyond reason. Distortions, abstractions, distractions.
To Skrause comics and painting are means to an end (though very important means.) The end is the content, story-telling. Involved in Skrap Haus' content are the following: The Peg Leg Monkey, Samson, Various Greeks, The Horrific Lunar War, the Samurai, the Cowboys, Montgomery Blanc - world's crookedest bureaucrat, and various spacemen.
The stories of these characters are often intertwined. He draws, paints, and dabbles in print making and sculpture for the opportunity to tell these stories. Through humorous fiction he wants to get through our superficial culture via the always accessible back door of laughter, and pick at the guts of mankind, and our history on Earth. He plans to reveal incongruities and misconceptions in our collective chronological arrogance and willful ignorance. Should Skrause fail in this endeavor his body of work will at least stand on the merits of its wit and entertainment. Albeit with the aid of a cane.
DEC 2000 Author's statement
When I read I like to encounter word play and narrative experiments. I think all the junk that makes a good poem should be found in prose. All the rhythm, rhyme assonance alliteration onomatopoeia, and internal rhyme (whatever that's called) makes for a fun read. Wit! Wit is very important, as is humor. In fifth grade I realized that my funny stories were much better than my space action dramas. This is a couple two t'ree years after Star Wars. Everything was space then. Even the t.v. show What's Happening had an in-space cartoon version. But I couldn't pull it off. Rereading my stories embarrassed me like bad acting does, or like bad science fiction does when I'm in the presence of someone who is not a forgiving fanboy.
All my stories are an attempt to crack myself up, and succeeding in that I can then show someone else and enjoy the attention of their laughter or enjoy the superiority of my own wit when they don't laugh. I just wanna make people laugh, and yet I have this huge axe to grind. Hence the fish battle in Part One and the heavy handed abortion scene (which is sure to be refined, possibly to non existence) in The Brother Ferlic story.
I was forced to throw a tea pot this semester. I can't throw so I dodged the assignment and hand built one. It was a human head. When I realized that I had built a severed head on a tray I decided to make it the Blood of the Saints tea Set. 4 cups, each a beheaded figure on 4 saucers, each a saw blade, and 4 cake plates that are puddles of bloody gore. I take martyrs very seriously. In fact I almost revere them. I believe in them. Let me interject here that I don't subscribe to the Catholic cannon of sainthood. The Bible calls all Christians saints and it doesn't elevate any of us into any raised platform of spirituality. It simply means that we are part of a family and belong to God. So, I'm into it, yet I build this wacky tea set that made me laugh and everyone else stand uneasy due to its double message.
A class proposal 2001
Skrause: Famous Cartoonist proposes to paint furiously and with reckless abandon various subject concentrating on his use of color. That is, he elects to enlarge and color events and notes from his sketchbook, while combining cartoon imagery, the conventions of which and the images and ideogramatic system of symbols he understands far better than Pop Roy who had little to no understanding of the comics form, choosing to simply copy images and by lifting, enlarging, and isolating them call attention to their wacky nature. That is, big pictures from little designs which he plagiarized. Pop Roy made us chumps.
Skrauss: Famous Cartoonist, and author of the book, "The Further Shenanigans of Montgomery Blanc Including the Odd Characters Serving His Comeuppance," with his practical understanding of comics form and history plans to paint with this sensibility, that is the sensibility of a cartoonist who also understands painting, as opposed to Bob Kane: Famous Cartoonist, creator of Batman, who after seeing Pop Roy and that ilk, decided to paint Batman because he owned Batman and was not appropriating the character. His failure was that he was an illustrator, a designer, not a painter, and the worlds are different enough that his Batman paintings, though honest and true, and coming from THE Batsource, are only illustrations. Purposeless illustrations, that is, they are not for a cover, they belong to no text, advertisement, story, or any other cerebral project that would require a picture. They have no content. And though Pop Roy has content (Simply extracting and presenting out of context creates a kind of content through disorientation. The enlargement calls attention to its extraction and forces engagement, particularly if the picture is then hung in a gallery and sold for bigger bucks than Kane ever got his entire career!) Pop Roy does not understand visual sequential narrative. The images and stories are not his. I say again, he literally ripped them off.
Skrauss: Famous Cartoonist, author, and barrista intends with the first and primary series to engage the idea of migration between high and low art by finishing "Dihatsu" and creating other pictures that are narrative consecutively or through the inclusion of words. Often the meaning of the words will be irrelevant. Skrause is developing a language of gibberish with letterforms derived from English type and Middle Eastern, Asian, and Hebrew, calligraphies. It is more important that the figures are speaking or thinking linear "Voice Thoughts" than it is to know what they are saying.
Skrauss's focus is story, whether suggested through a movie still format (often misnamed narrative painting) or a polyptych format or panoply. The story told, or hinted at with only a few details revealed is the strength of painting, its suspenseful closure with the viewer's imagination. In his painting humor is essential. Skrause: Famous Cartoonist, barrista, egomaniac, and author of the picture book "The Bloody Battle" learned shortly after publication of "Battle" that without humor his work suffers becoming melodramatic, maudlin, or empty (which is the case with the painting "The Big'n").
The Big'n is a painting Based on two nude studies. It's awful and awful boring. Its failure prompted me to abandon the formal academics for their own sake, which my enemy-professor had been steering me towards. –skra'uss
proposal 2, advanced life drawing a third time.
The professor wrote back, "Brilliant!! Needs work."
Skrause's mission statement wherein he distinguishes himself, not only as a fine critical thinker and master bluffer, but also as a champion of human affairs and an empathetic soldier in the fight to eradicate, topsy-turvily the plight of man by single handedly aiding with one hand the glorious struggle against corruption and entropy which have been working in creation since the disobedience of Adam. With the other hand he will double handedly, by barrowing one hand of his wife, pat himself on the back, because he is the only one who truly realizes that a pat on the back is owed him for his excellent progress through higher education and the fractured Academy.
He, Skrause: Famous Cartoonist, being always sound of mind, declares himself, under the authority given to him as per rank by the dean of the college of fine arts, at Milwaukee's premier urban University; that is the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, to be both prudent and sane and able to exercise objective judgment. To which he objects at not being recognized by the public at large and at thin, as the case may be when factoring the time of day, as the distinguished scholar that not only brought high quality comics to Milwaukee. A simple sandwich supplied to him in an unceremonious paper bag in his office: The Skrause Haus International Global headquarters, located in Mitchell Hall room 325, would be a sufficient thank you.
Further, Skrause: Famous Cartoonist, Producer of High Schlock, does solemnly declare, understanding the duties and responsibilities provided for by the, as yet to be written statutes in the fractured, raveled Academy's, as yet to be authored, book of laws, statutes, and procedures Vol. 1 Chap.4 Article XV sub article xi clause five, and of the footnote therein referring to the fractured, raveled, splintered Academy's hazmat disposal guide Vol. 4, 1995, upon a stack of Watch Tower Society's little green Bible bowdlerization's, that he will, during the course of, as yet to be said semester (spring of two thousand and one) knowingly and willingly to the best of his knowledge and abilities, which are numerous, arrive to the creatively named building housing the majority of the fine art department of Milwaukee's leading urban university, the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (Here after to be referred to as UWM) at time 1830 on Tuesdays and Thursdays for twelve to sixteen weeks.
On previously mentioned appointed times Skrause: Famous Cartoonist, Producer of High Schlock, and Multi-Media Philanthropist, will bring with him supplies for engagement in the art of drawing, which distinguishes itself from the art of fishing and the art of thievery by its distinct lack of provision of any food whatsoever, not even one lousy Oscar Meyer bologna sandwich on Wonder Bread where the last slice of bologna has been used, the one with the famous and respected Oscar Meyer logo. Amongst his supplies and tackle he will have the following in his following: The Skrause Haus International Global Headquarters' cleaning personnel, a one Natalie Osawski, one to several surfaces on which to apply pigments, and pigment of several varieties with which to put to said surfaces. These items will contain: paper, canvas, acrylic paint, charcoal, and pastel.
With these items Skrause: Famous Cartoonist, Multi-Media Philanthropist, Connoisseur of High Schlock, and Unerring Social Critic, promises to, under no obligation to buy, and having not been paid for this endorsement, that is the treatise you are now reading, you, the professor of certain methods and disciplines, draw. Skrause: Famous Cartoonist et. all has three intentions they are these:
Intention number one, to pursue the dynamic use of the figure within the rectangle of his previously mentioned surfaces, and the use of the figure multiplied and interacting, which will undoubtedly shed light on the well-known works of pre nineteenth century masterworks, and vice versa. These figures, or single figures, will be set in a defined illusory space which may range from the use of a horizontal line and a prop, to more elaborate settings. When multiples of the figure appear on one given surface it will be Skrause (yadda yadda)'s intention and purpose and aim to create understandable, that is easily readable, whether viscerally of cognitively, emotional tension and or interaction between the figures. By "easily recognized," Skrause refers to the ability in the viewer who has little to no education, this category excludes art professors, historians, who, it is agreed, are a gaggle of goofs, and the literati, of which (all three) Skrause is a member, to see the figures and their props and their bodily appendages and other accouterments. He means nothing more. He does not mean that it will be his intention to obviate narrative or posture by drawing plainly -- to high school theatrical proportions.
Intention number two, to pursue the elusive wacky details and funky nuances of the figure's musculature and skeleton, and fatulature, and render these small discoveries of skin pokery, without taking his famed and hailed distortions over the top where they would obliterate these treasures.
Intention number three, to simply begin and follow the tutelage of the illustrious Professor The Schermernator and in so doing inscribe all the words that she speaks that he will forget in one summer of vegetation, as he has during other vegetative breaks, like this Christmas, and also to, in agreement with her, alter his modus operandi as directed following the assignments that they agree upon, either with the class or extraclassular, whatever that may possibly mean. Skrause: famous……………, is not joking and in no way intends to make light of the gravity of his professor's ideas. To the contrary he feels responsible to learn them and understand them in their entirety for a future date when he may or may not find himself deposited into a situation where he will be teaching them himself, though that is unlikely and far from any desire of Skrause's. Is it not however the ethical obligation of the artist to understand the history of picture making that has become eclipsed and diminished since the invention of chemical and electronic light reproduction devices? Is it not?!
Therefore it is Skrause's pledge to all his sycophants, that he has, by authorizing the transcription of this mission statement, under his own free-will, and that, not under duress or threat of torture or hunger has submitted his genius to all the brave men and women who have given their lives that they might, 'twere it possible, raise from the dust and fog individuals who will go forth and provide the planet Earth, which means dirt, and its myriad denizens, of all races and species, with beauty of creation and in so doing soothe the ache of a world that longs for the redemption of the sons of man.
statement written for the annual drawing scholarship competition, spring 01
money not received
These drawings crawled from the brainsqual Skrause had where he thought, why not just distort this here? Then he thought Why not just make that leg fit in the space. Then he thought, If the head is too tall for the page then I'll just cut it off with a line parallel to the playing field. This was all very funny and Skrause laughed and laughed.
It was suggested that he paint from these drawings that he found so delightful. Painting them killed them and everyone was sad, the drawing, Skrause, and the Shaw of Iran who was living at The Skrause Hausl at the time. So Skrause stopped painting these drawings and just left them as drawings and moved on. He moved on! He shifted to more important thoughts such as, In three months I start my real drawings, and My, isn't this studio comfy.
Do not be deceived by any lack of concept in this balled up wad of paper. There is none. They may be purty, but they are completely useless in every other regard. Skrause hopes that the freedom of the distortion, which waned after the first coupla months will inform his future drawings, the real ones, but as they sit in the back of his trunk under the tire iron he can only ponder the potential of laminating them and selling them as welcome mats. Skrause cares less for concept than he does for a discarded banana peel. Art has suffered much abuse in the name of concept. Skrause's philosophy is this: just think and let yer art grow. No, no this is his philosophy: If ya gots something ta say write an essay, pictures communicate little to nothing, unless they're propaganda. No, THIS is his philosophy: I'm not bitter.
statement for a show at Hi-Fi Café, fall 02.
Dare anyone imagine the freedom Picasso would have enjoyed had he admitted to himself that he possessed great skill at the cartoonist's craft? Or imagine our freedom as viewers of art had Pop Roy admitted that he had no cartoonist skills and was a mere plagiarizer/enlarger. Skrause admits both! He met a writer once who said, "I'm a writer."
"What do you write?" asked Skrauss.
"Fiction, Literaryfiction," they answered.
Literaryfiction, scourge of all imagination, pompass dictator over all realms of academic thought and impotent to sway the thoughts and emotions of the populace. Literaryfiction demands three obediences. 1) All work must be materialistic and/or pantheist. 2) All work must revolve around sex, assuming it to be the greatest experience known to man. 3) All work must resolve with alienation, disconnection, or brokenness. Literaryfiction and its graphic equivalent is joyless and proud of it.
Therefore Skrause has taken it upon himself to rid the Earth of her grim specter and set free the imaginations of the world. He recalls a day when Homer (the most literary of literary giants) and the author of Gilgamesh, the Epic of (first transcribed story) wrote stories and wrapped them around action smashing adventures. These authors had heavy weights on their minds: Eternal life, death, the gods, war. Literaryfictioners have this on their mind: "Death is evil and it scares me so let's fornicate."
Skrause remembers when Bob Kane illustrated Batstories of smashing action-adventure and filled them with whimsical drollery that engaged the reader's powers to suspend disbelief. The Literaryfictioner claims that the suspension of disbelief is dead and attempts to beat the corpse by creating the hyper-real, which is simply the inclusion into their work of items that, until recently, were "taboo." Really nothing was taboo, merely overshadowed by larger, more important themes, and by wit, and by imagination.
Skrause remembers Sigurd, Arthur, Beowulf, and Hrolf-Kraki! He remembers the SanFrancisco Vigilantes, the Samurai, and the Battle of Midway! Skrause remembers Tarzan, Sgt. Preston, and Space Ghost! Ravanna's Pushpaka, Nemo's Nautilus, and the powerful Mach 5! Skrause remembers those bursts of joy when adventure was life revealed.
The Literaryfictioner remembers pain when their hope was snuffed and art extinguished.
a fan letter to McSweeney's circa winter 02
May I call you fanboys? I mean not to exclude any females on staff. I went and saw Chipp kid the famous graphic designer and he told a story. When he received the signal to begin working on a Peanuts book that went above and beyond all previous peanuts books he called his friend Chris Ware. "Do you know anyone who has a collection of old Peanuts strips?" he asked. Of course if anyone would know it would be a cartoonist. "Yes," answered Chris Ware, confirming Chipp Kid's suspicions, "I do. I just bought them on E-Bay."
So go and purchase the mother of all Peanuts books and look at those tiny reproductions of strip after strip, yellowed paper fastened to yellowed paper with brown peels of Scotch Tape. The whole arrangement is brittle enough to turn to dust on the reproduced page and threatens to blow away from beneath its own brand new glossy sheen coating the brand new archival paper. We have Chris Ware to thank for that. Chris Ware the fanboy.
My friend Michael was with me when I heard Chipp Kidd tell this story. We were at a place in Chicago called Quimby's. When Chip Kidd told the story he pointed to a guy with a very large forehead who lowered his eyes in red smiling shame. We laughed. The audience chuckled. Mike and I like to reminisce about that night. "What nerds cartoonists are," one of us says. The other replies, "I would've done it, too."
So I call you fanboys, because you publish, and what insane person would publish except a nerd in love with words. So as I read the story The Observers in McSweeny's Quarterly Concern issue #5, which I purchased at Quimby's in September or October of last year, (I am now 2 issues behind, fanboys keep track.) I thought of the neuroses involved in creation, and those who make more stuff in a world choked with publications, in a world where video killed the radio star who put to death the writer, who assassinated the keeper of oral tradition. I read and I thought of the grotesquerie blushing his admittance to the crime of spending valuable savings buying a scrap book of brittle dust from an unseen stranger, whom he contacted via a medium that doesn't exist. That is, it isn't. It pretends to is.
I want to greet you from within the brotherhood of specialized removal from society's majority. Where did I read your desire to publish your first book with a little ribbon in it? #5? #6? Who can tell, I am not a fatboy, that is I am not a chapbook of microscopic information related to my nerddom. I am only a fanboy and lack the particular skills required to memorize vaults of information. Also, I lack the girth, which, I may point out is not necessarily a requirement to achieve fatboydom. What defective mechanism in a man's and or woman's mind would cause the stirring that becomes a need to publish a book and then to insist that it has a little ribbon dangling from its binding? The fanboy mechanism. That is, no defect; a perfect.
Welcome and thanks to all of you who send to me your strange mixture of highbrowery and hijinx. Welcome to the world I live in, though I am actually a neighbor, and not a good one. That is, I live in the shed of cartoons next door and befoul my lawn with my scatological ID. I hope you don't mind.
Your servile fan,
Junior Skrapmen Mission Briefing 2002
On May 14 2001 our intelligence detected an impostor in the art world. This impostor has infiltrated the intelligencia in its entirety and subverted the calling of artists everywhere. Do not succumb to its cerebral tensions, temptations, and inspeak double games!
The impostor, here after to be referred to as "conceptualpiece," has decreed that all art must be original and that each artist must stop at nothing to achieve this end. Conceptualpiece. Has trained them in the craft of words and set them about shoring up their works with long convolutions. Without their words their "art" means nothing and is nothing. Their art depends on their words, which proxies the object, negates it.
Thus slowly a demand has become a mandate throughout the art world, causing the art world to become its own world! Now art is only enjoyed by artists, critics, and accademia.
It is your mission, as junior skrap men, to recognize these impostors and the minions of the impostors, refuse their double spoke self-speculation and judge their work as you come to it. Reject mediocrity and its propagated mind cage! By calling garbage garbage you can stimulate and revive the arts, and with life, bring them back to Earth!
As an artist you must create your work abiding your own vision as discovered through exploration, knowledge, and execution. That is, study, disect, and mimic the masters. Master the masters! The masters are not just the dead guys but are every one of your heroes, and you must have more than one. Emulation is grounds for disbarring from the Secret Cabal of Junior SkrapMen. Read everything you can find to read, every fiction, every poem, ever essay and argument. Increase your understanding.
When you are satisfied with you work sell it! Spread it around! This is how mankind will know that not every artist has bend his knee to conceptual piece. Show them that not every artist is egocentric smugshruggery! Merchandise and create a fan base. The new patronage system is no longer the aristocracy. It is now the cult following who purchase large amounts of small ticket items like magazines, tatoos, trading cards, t-shirts, lunch boxes, Zippo lighters, and ball caps. Put your images on everything you can think of and sell it, but do not neglect the gallery or meuseum or art fair. Condesend no venue where you can sell your work. Your marketing model is Thomas Kincade. Heed his spectre which hovers over us.
Remember the Junior Skrapman's Pledge:
Sell my work
Keep it clean
Remember my heroes
Preserve my curiosity
Sell my work
This statement was written for Harry Schwarz Café spring of 03. Zero sales.
Can Ya Dig It?
Are you an ignoramus? Do you fear rejection? Are your four or less walls a funk-schvay cataclysm? Do arrows pierce into yer guts? Do siphons suck out your chi slash ki? Is evil ever present? If the answer is yes, and the Holy Bible burns too much for you to touch it, then your only escape is to own a SKRAUSE. Hang a SKRAUSE in your hut and watch the monies burgeon, watch love arrive on your threshold; watch calm tranquility protect you from the jack hammering madness of modernity. Purchase an original SKRAUSE while they are cheap enough for a Milwaukeean to afford!
Prove that you know the value of substance! Show it! Scoff at your friends when they purchase that empty conceptualpiece (one word). Crack up behind your hand when your socialite counterparts drop names like Schnabal, Koons, and Stella or whoever might be the current concept over art darling. Split a gut when they boast of their Kinkade poster. They're just playing around in the fun house of art. Back at your pad you have the viscera, the real deal, the SKRAUSA-fide bona-fides. Can ya dig it? Dig it.
A note on the work: These four paintings are from the Skrause Myth-Cycle featuring The critically acclaimed Peg Leg Monkey. These pictures are from three different concurrent series, Peg Leg Monkey Business, The Peg Leg Monkey in the Land of the Cowboys, and The Peg Leg Monkey Returns. What if we all opened our eyes to the crumby non-historic culture we thrive on? What would happen then? What if we stopped fearing the ghetto? What if we actually read a few books rather than watching idiotic video transmissions? What if we remembered how to reason and take correction? We'd notice more of this stuff going on, more of this stuff that Skrause sees. Skrause had to out-wrestle three academicians to bring these paintings to life, two of which had read the back cover of Foucault for Beginners! Enjoyment to you.
New American Paintings submission 2003, summer mid-west issue:
Skrauss, soon to be known as the anti-father of American myth, began creating art by making it his goal to create the American Myth Cycle, giving his people something to believe in and rally around now that they have escaped, for good and ill, the Christian clone-club. America needs myth and its fairyland, but is too young, fickle, and fact conscious to suspend its disbelief and develop one. American is rhizomatous, sideways spreading. Myth is tree-like sending firm roots vertically down into a people-land symbiosis with ancient history, and up, spreading its branches into the heavens the dwelling of God.
Skrause figured he could circumvent all the eons of waiting for tree growth by slapping down a plastic Christmas tree in the cultural identity and stringing it with the rhizomes that have founded and continually mutate our culture.
Rather than transcribing it, like Homer, he would make it up. Skrauss wrote, picking the potato off the tree as he came to it. As he wrote about the Space Race, the Samurai entered the story. As he wrote about Samurai, one became a horse mounted private detective, as he wrote about horse ridding he discovered the Land of the Cowboys. Above the land of the cowboys Hector Pendentivson runs with the gods, and below Montgomery Blanc, world's crookedest bureaucrat makes a sacrifice of everyone for himself. The Peg Leg Monkey overlaps all of it, traveling between tales and characters bringing hyjinx to their doorsteps. It's really quite a romp. And Skrauss said, "Ha! I have succeeded! I've entered Fairyland and it is called Milwaukee 2! Heh heh."
The pictures (sampled here) and the words (missing) are the splintered remains of a youthful comix ambition. Though divorced, these comics-components fornicate and influence one another, pulling, pushing, and instigating back and forth. C.S. Lewis claimed to write all his stories from a picture that would appear in his head. Skrause's paragraphs start with a painting, or sometimes the vice is versa, and the painting follows the paragraph.
While painting, Skrauss is obviously hybridizing fantastic drollery with cartoon imagery and academic abstraction. Yesyes, Skrauss is a product of the academy. Are you? Skrauss is putting the fun back in fundamentalism, and ack back in academy, and the pyre in piracy, the book worm in the apple a day, the "Ooh, do!" in voodoo, the action in fact-tion, and pop art back in the Pop Tart!
End of statement. Note to editor: I deliberately alternate the spelling of my name, for pronunciation purposes and to prevent a period from squeezing in between the S and the k. Above, "Yesyes," is deliberate, and the two spellings, "comics," and "comix," is deliberate.
letter to studio mate post graduation
Dear Christmas time Chariot, (the meaning of Natalie Ratha)
That's an oxymoron, you know. For obvious reasons that will make you red of face for stupidity if you haven't thought of the reason already. The reason is this: when chariots mattered in warfare the wars were only fought in the spring and summer. Fall was harvest and winter was too cold. So, merry Armistice, Christmas.
Today I had a McGut Burger's game piece for a free MCValue Mc Meal for McBreakfast. I got an egg bacon bisquit. I love bisquits. First of all I love most words that utilize the "Q". Second they are the delish. Are they going to have Bisquits in Kazakhstan? I did not get hired at Starbucks, probably because they know me too well, but not accurately. They see me there everyday and sometimes for longer then 2 hours! I'm not even particularly a fan of their coffee. But I would pretend to be if they hired me. I would smilingly make those goospresso drinks out of milk, and holler out such blasphemies as, "triple venti raspberry latte!" And "Quintuple carmelio Grande Biggie Machinate with jimmies!" and "Grande iced vanilla pretty please with sugar on top and a pickle, would you like fries and a game card with that?" It would be a fun job. There's a manager there whom I think would clash with me. She's one of those, "I'm in charge!" women who talk about their enemies behind there backs. But I just got done enduring and befriending one at the Flying Saucer, I think I could do it again for money.
So I walked to the McBucks and I cut through a trailer park and some railroad tracks. I usually don't because everything is so strangled with fences that you can't cut through a sausage without having to climb a rattling chain link fence. Did I ever tell you about Urbo Turbo? It's a sport I invented. It's inter urban off road bicycling. I have found that there are great obstacles in cities that are just off the street, including land along railroad tracks and rivers and under power line towers. It would be great fun, but the problem/ challenge is the fence barrier. So I was walking on the tracks cutting through a trailer park and then Sam's Club parking lot so that the folks at Starbuck's couldn't see me walking passed from their drive through window, and I went to McGutrot. My sandwich smelled like a tire on a bisquit. Throw in hot wet cement and you have three of my four favorite smells. On the tracks I found a handful of maggot cleaned vertebrae. I picked them all up. I collect vertebrae now. I am going to fill a mason jar with them. This is going to take a long time. Vertebrae take up all of your hand space when your fingers are curled around them. I'm sorry; I meant when your toes are curled around them, but when you put them in the jar they barely cover the bottom.
Famous Milwaukee artists eh? I understand your excitement about seeing real art after only looking at it in a book for years. Though I never saw any celebrities other than that guy who was asleep next to the fire hydrant huddled behind some cardboard, he and his dog, it was extraordinary to get so close to Washington Crossing the Delaware that I could have hugged it. Plus there was a bench in front of it which came in handy.
Kim and I have decided that she should move back into the Skrap Haüs, but there is a lease conflict. She signed a year lease. Why would anyone sign a year lease unless they thought they would be there for a lease? I was shocked to hear that come out of her mouth. But, she was under pressure to escape the hellhole she rented a room in. So if we can solve that problem then she will be back and we will decide where to go from there. She hates this apartment. I do, too, but the thought of moving all my stuff is strangulating. It's a fence around my brain. Moving! Aargh. To find a place as cheep as this with enough space to paint and that will take a dog and that is better than this light vacated hole will be a miracle. Everything is in the air and I'm the juggler and I have no juggling training. I am looking at grad schools in New York and Houston and L.A. Maybe I should look over seas. Are you mailing photos and slides to art galleries in Portland? Mike Force just was in Portland and he says it's great, but he had a few bad times and vows never to go back. Apparently they have a vibrant youth culture. Adventurous. He said it was great to walk around and everyone was around our age. We both know that our elders are less interested in culture, at least that's how it shapes up in Milwaukee.
I have painted less and less since the glorious days in Mitchell Hall. It's hard when you have no where to go to do it. And the studio had perfect light. It came in one window in the morning and the other window in the evening. That's what I want in a house and another studio. It's very important to my mental health. All I have here is north facing windows which admit light during the month of June, just for a couple weeks around the summer solstice. Very depressing, even in the hot sticky summer. I am bablbing. Thanks for the letters. They keep me smiling just when I can't take another mailed rejection.
From the land of McCarthy,
This is an unused introduction to the Skrap HAus Multinational Catalogue of Merrchandise 2003:
Clearly people want the things they cannot have. Curly wants straight and straight curly. Black wants blond and blond red. Celebrity wants anonymity and the anonymous celebrity. The bare walled a Skrause and Skrause a bare wall.
I really do want to bare my walls. They are far too over dressed, and that with the paint and canvases that I have anguished over and gnashed my teeth against and embraced and smooched and said, "Who loves ya, baby?" to.
My golem children have reached adulthood and now I must turn them out. Are you the prospective new parent? Can you give the necessary love that a painting needs? Many cannot. Many abuse their investment talking it down to its face like a Milwaukeean at a flee market. The following illustrations are representative of the work. Do you treat your work like the lady and the gentleman? Or do you treat it like the crack pimp and the crack
As the founder of the Skrap Haus Multinational LLC I am prepared to strike a deal. I may be reached at:
slides, sent via e-mail, to a famous critic. cover letter 11AUG03
Mr. Plagens, thank you for agreeing to look at a few of my paintings. My name is Skrauss. I am a recent graduate of University Wisconsin Milwaukee were I briefly had a comic strip that twice lost the coveted Charles M. Schulz College Cartoonist Scholarship, once to a cartoonist whose work I cancelled while Comics Editor of the UWM Post. I hope for your honest feedback. That seems to be hard to find. Except for those who like the work (which is honest enough, but vague), I receive many blank stares. I don't mean to sound snobbish, but most people just don't understand art, in fact they prefer not to, and have adopted the attitude that if it needs explaining then the artist screwed up. So they say nothing because if you can't say anything nice...
Most of my paintings revolve around a growing cast of characters. I should say all of them do; I am one of the characters. My intention is to create a myth cycle that comes as near to showing Christianity in its truth and Christendom in its flaws, as well as lend American culture a key to its sprouting mythology. Or is it too late for mythology? One of the drawbacks of the attempted "Christian Utopia" in the new world is that it eradicated magic. It suffocated mystery with facts and legalities. I am fascinated by the Chinese knight errant depicted in Wuxia film. His nonchalant use of magic as seen in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and Swordsman 3 is the same seen in India's Rammayanna and Iceland's quieter Saga of Hrolf Kraki. Similar suspensions of disbelief are required for American comic strips of the whimsical big foot era between the teens and thirties.
My entire body of work is growing in three mediums: painting, comics, and words. I find the translation between the three fascinating. Montgomery Blanc's square head in a comic strip is a matter of course, in fiction it's an abomination. Also, they influence each other, #1 began as a paragraph in a note book, while #6, or drawings related to it, inspired an entire notebook of story, and both Montgomery Blanc and the Peg Leg Monkey originated in their own comics. I hope you enjoy the pictures. Just ignore the type script at the bottoms of #5 and #6. They are explanatory notes made redundant below. Thank you again,
If you made it this far you deserve a reward. Contact me and we will discuss it.