The Emergence of Tradition: Cartoon Plasticism 2006
Viva Cartoon Plasticism!
Here it is people! Here it is. Here's Cartoon Plasticism in all its radiance! Can ya handle it? Can ya stand up under its devouring gaze? Perhaps you like your art easily cataloged and dismissed, bagged, tagged, and field dressed. If so I have a tool for you, the name, Cartoon Plasticism. It is my gift to you. I am an enabler. Judith Iscariot tells me that I am an enabler. I want to enable you to dismiss my art shortly after the novelty wears off. However, my art will never dismiss you. It will enter and latch onto your soul and imagination. It will be like a second heart sewn onto your aorta increasing circulatory efficiency 12%! Look out! Lookout, it's symbiotic! It's Cartoon Plasticism!
You want to wrap it up neatly with no loose ends or frayed bits of thread hanging. You! I want you to be able to go home and forget your epiphany and the sun burn on your heart that will result from the viewing of my art. Your comfort above all else is my desire for you.
Cartoon Plasticism is a painterly use of the cartoon image and sequential pictorial narrative (comics). My paintings are not magnified comics panels; they are full paintings and favor compositional options over narrative mandates in their use of interlocking shapes, color, and line. Often, narrative description is submerged or subverted. These paintings are not a comics panel, to be instantly digested. They require time and effort of the reader. Study them for your needed benefit; and they will study you. Engage them, ponder them. They do not need your love. You need theirs.
The paintings, like a comics panel, serve a much larger body of work, a mythic narrative set in Milwaukee2. They form a circuit board of timelines that tangle about and intersect one another through the third dimension. Like serialized comic strips, these narratives have no beginning or end. They are stories in series each one fading into the next with a segue that acts as both end and beginning. A hiccup. It is all explained for your easy consumption in the painting, El Presidente Reveals Grand Schema to Employee.
A list of the sagas here represented followed by the number of images representing them:
The saga of the Peg Leg Monkey
Peg Leg Monkey Business 2
The Peg Leg Monkey in the Land of the Cowboys 3
The Ride of the Peg Leg Monkey 6
The Peg Leg Monkey Runs Amok 6
The Purgation of the Peg Leg Monkey 3
The Peg Leg Monkey Returns 1
The Saga of Montgomery Blanc 3
The Saga of Criminal Investigations (Not Divorce Investigations)LLC 2
The Saga of Hector Pendentivson 1
The only complete saga, "The Ride of the Peg Leg Monkey" is hung in order from right to left. The rest, when grouped, are read left to right.
Where does it all come from?
As I began writing my artist's statement and the notes on the title cards, I realized that my life's work, my toil in paint for the last five years, is the mind workings of a little kid. I am a little kid! "Holy cats," I said to myself backstage before this show went up, "Anti Faerie Faction? A horse and a samurai in the French Foreign Legion? And all these Peg Leg Monkey pictures! I'm a little kid. What will the ladies think?" I faced my personality and said, "Okay personality, this is it, I guess. This is what we're working with." And I squared my shoulders and strode onto the stage.
My friend Mikeforce once called me a Willy Wonka Cowboy. He said that, as children, we all promise ourselves we will never become like the adults. We won't become one of them, but inevitably fall down that boring frightening staircase. He claimed that I had kept the promise.
A real cowboy looked at my work, however, and said, "This guy needs psychological help." True story. A Palestinian, after seeing my work, exclaimed, "You have a good side! You have been hiding good side! Most people show good side and hide bad side!" A lady who is now a roller derby chick once said, "Your style is like a rock-em-sock-em robot." My knees went all slippery.
So what is it, brothers? What's the verdict, sisters?
I was the chisel that split a church once. It was my drawings that I painted on the men's room wall. Maranatha Christian Fellowship had just moved to a new building and we were excited at the new beginning. I decided to decorate the men's room. I painted symbols of manliness: a cigar, a giant cup of coffee, 3 on the tree, a gun. I mixed these with ikons for the new millennium. One of the ikons was a picture of a foot with a hole in it crushing a skull. The skull's teeth were breaking and a word balloon squeezed out from the chips. It was saying, "Yug!"
In one of the stalls I had begun a painting of a ship or a train. I hadn't decided, and had only gotten as far as the sound effect, "toot." The board of directors toured the men's room and came out changed beings. Men were red faced. Women cried. "We're shooting ourselves in the foot!" someone exclaimed. Our pastor stood up for the drawings, me, and anyone creative who might possibly walk through our door. "What about all the other Skrausses out there!?" he protested. Nada, they only responded with pure antagonism. "She was actually shaking with rage," he later reported to me. Even though I decided to obliterate the drawing, I painted over them without being asked, half the church left and never came back. I wish I could say that I'm not proud of that.
I have an issue of Action comics, saved since childhood (a state I am still in, see above) in which Superman has lost his super powers and to compensate for this loss, has built the Supermobile. This Super machine is sculpted out of a metal called supermanium. It is so strong that only he "can manipulate it with his superstrength, and then only after softening it with his heat vision," reveals Batman.
You should see the Supermobile; for a pinch-pot it is perfectly aerodynamic, symmetrical and smooth as glass. I am trying to get to the mindset that wrote that story, and not only because I'm laughing at its absurdity; but because I believe it. Of course, I also believe that Jesus is god. Of course, I also believe that art can be hilarious, and I don't mean ironical hilarious (which is when nobody laughs). And of course, I hide my good side, my classical good looks. ¡Mujeres, vi tener cuidado!