Friday, February 25, 2011

Hype

We bought a piece of artwork when we were in Taos at the end of December. D suggested the idea; he’s good that way (always buying things when the mood strikes). Me? I’m usually too frugal but I admired his initiative. In any case, we found ourselves perusing the art down south for something we could bring back up north. It was a good way to commemorate our first trip with Miss M (and Gingy, since it was the first time old girl has been out of CO or tasted the sweet, sweet nectar of piñon). We found a piece in an artists collective just off the main plaza. The moment we saw it, we both liked it even though it wasn’t what we had envisioned purchasing. It wasn't from some fancy gallery or painted by some big name artist. Still the piece spoke to us - what we love about road trips and the mountains. Now it also serves to remind us of that great little getaway. Sometimes it brings me such joy just to think about when we bought it on that trip and sometimes it makes me happy just to imagine a lovely afternoon like the one in the painting.

Red Bug by Alan Heuer 
(apologies for the bad photo)
Recently I watched Exit Through the Gift Shop. It was my overdue follow-up to discovering Banksy and it really fired me up for the Oscars. I started perusing online to find out more information: Who is this guy? Is his identity really unknown and did he, perhaps, create another contemplative piece of artwork through this documentary? Could Mr. Brainwash be a hoax? The creation of Banksy to make a statement about the commercialization of the graffiti art genre, the commodization of art in general (good right?! it's not mine), and the climate in the US for that matter: are we all so superficial that we acquiesce to hype? And if so, is that a bad thing?

All of this leaves me believing the hoax is why the movie is up for an Oscar. In fact, I find the documentary much more intriguing from that perspective (and if so, Banksy is a friggin' genius). Certainly it makes an overnight artistic success like Thierry Guetta more interesting. Sure I can appreciate the limelight of Hollywood and a person's 15 minutes of fame but, as Banksy says in the movie (much more eloquently in his English accent), he never earned it. He didn't follow the rules for becoming an artist, which is ironic for a medium that lives by the belief that there are no rules. And in that context, how suiting for a piece of Banksy artwork.

When it comes down to it, what I like best about the documentary is that it begs for conversation. And isn't that the highest form of flattery in the art world? 

Thierry Guetta (Mr. Brainwash) is seen near his mural on La Brea near San Vicente. (Liz O. Baylen, Los Angeles Times / February 2, 2011)

We don't have enough money in our house to have artwork from big name artists but still we manage to have pieces that are dear to our hearts. I like to think that's how it should be as both the artist and as the admirer. The rest is just hype.

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