Wednesday, March 14, 2012

“King Scrambly” The Meyers Boys, installation piece, Joliet, IL


All Hail, Scrambly! King of The Bearded Egg People! There’s something for everyone in this installation piece created by the Northern Illinois’ artists collective known simply as The Meyers Boys; the delicately crafted crown, the regal white beard hand-tufted to the perfect texture, the wild, power-hungry eyes and stuffed, luxurious red nest on dark wood. This is indeed a King and throne to behold, but who is King Scrambly? The placement of hard-boiled egg in nest (death in birthspace) is akin to placing an embalmed corpse in the delivery room. No matter how you gussy up the entrance, the end result is the same, detached affair -- crown be damned. Eggs-traordinary!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

"Horse Behind Rocks," by L, Portland, finger paint on butcher paper


Day Care Expressionism, the moody movement centered on emotional abandonment, which I so astutely covered in my latest book (buy it here this second), continues to gain steam. As with any emotionally relevant creation, new buds flourish as new followers breathe in fresh light. L may very well be the missing link that successfully harnesses the reckless violence of the movement into a more discernable, message-relaying experience. In short, these whiny babies may indeed have something to say. “Horse Behind Rocks” not only is the first work from a self-proclaimed Day Care Expressionist to pay any attention whatsoever to form, it’s also loaded with subtext. We see the horse, quite clearly, eyes as black and soulless as coal--a wild and free creature in a guarded box not unlike day care with all its “suggested” rules. No hitting, no fighting -- no living. A purple form appears to weigh down the mare, crushing its spirit. Is it the Birthday Clown? Or is it the shapeless all-consuming depression that surely takes hold after the 300th round of paddy-cake?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Racist Butt Gun, by T, North Carolina, pencil and crayon

North Carolina’s T has never hid from the spotlight. His multi-panel installation in Salt Lake City’s airport depicting Brigham Young as an organ grinder and his monkey earned him eternal banishment from the Mormon hotbed. And by the looks of his latest work, a stunning crayon and pencil joint entitled “Racist Butt Gun”, T seems to be making himself quite at home in the bright white glare. It’s hard to say what’s more shocking; the pale-skinned blond form attacking a clearly African-American figure, the raised-arm mirrored acts of surrender, or the powerful butt gun capable of creating a heart-sized hole in its prey. Both sides claim innocence here, but it’s clear to T who wields the power. The victim’s see-through pants only enhance the absurdity of the scene; a scene in which a butt gun can not only fire with deadly accuracy without need of a hand or arm to steady it, but somehow curve its bullet’s flight 45 degrees upward. Regardless of how it looks, T reminds us, it’s rarely as easily explained as black and white. Sometimes it’s more about the butt gun.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

"Sparkle App", by G, Malvern PA, new media



The interesting thing about pop art is that the “pop culture” it seeks to play with is constantly shifting -- Marilyn Monroe begat Jane Fonda who begat Britney Spears and so forth. Campbell’s soup can is no longer the iconic staple it once was -- today’s Warhol may have just as easily lampooned Google’s omnipresent logo. Roy Lichtenstein’s power-pop cartoon strips are simply not as relevant to the present day – save for two exceptions: Family Circus; as great writing NEVER goes out of style, and the irrepressible comic stylings of the indolent Andy Capp. Be that as it may, the pop art ship has drifted sans El Capitan for years now. In early ’05, a San Jose artists collective known simply as “The Toddlers” claimed to have spurred the next chapter but their decision to use only The Segway as the central theme in their work ultimately proved too limiting and nerdy. Enter G, a 10-month old sensation from Malvern, PA. G’s game-changer, “Sparkle App” is the perfect blend of old and new – all the pop art principles have a safe home here: bright, strident colors, mass accessibility, instant familiarity. G’s work looks and feels just as Lichtenstein wanted his to when he said, “I want my painting to look as if it had been programmed.” And yet G brings the movement to the present and future by replacing the comic strip with an ipad screen. Where Lichtenstein was driven to explore a sense of detached “antisensibility” in his work, G welcomes the viewer – the digital interface invites us to pick the next color and create the next line. It’s pop art for a more interactive, two-way society. That, my friends, is how you push things forward. Interview requests went unreturned but it is believed the artist cannot yet talk.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

READER MAIL


With my book now available on bookshelves and internets throughout the world, it’s only natural that my virtual mailbag has become impregnated with well-wishers, glommers-on and the occasional hot (under the collar) toddy. Here’s a sample. Enjoy!

Dear Dan, I adore the book. And I must say you look devilishly handsome! Could we discuss it more over a drink?

Sorry reader, but spirits never pass these lips. I can ill afford to lose a brain cell (or a million). It takes all my faculties to be this great. Something you’ll never understand, I’m afraid.

Dear Dan, you devote a lot of the book to Lily’s work. The same Lily that recently received a massive private industry grant. Is there a connection?

Oh joy, the common folk spy my new three-story Jackson Hole retreat and suddenly I’m on the take? Since you’re keen on gossip, reader, here’s a hot tip for you: focus more on your own life and perhaps you too may graduate from the Chevy SUV and buffet bar life.

Dear Dan, you didn’t review my son’s work. What gives?

What gives? I give. I give reviews to work worthy of my precious time. I give careers to unknowns. I give the gift of inclusion into a world you could never provide. However, I do not give reviews to diaper-soiling, saliva-dribbling mongrels that can scarcely find the wet end of the brush. Hope you enjoyed the book.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sticky-Stick #3: Curse of the Kitty, L, age 4, Portland, Oregon, stickers on construction paper


Haiku-thon ’88, my annual sabbatical to West Des Moines, a perfectly cut herringbone smoking jacket, and now Portland’s L—that’s rarified air, my young friend, but oh how my heart soared (and continues to do so!) at my first stolen glance of Sticky-Stick #3: Curse of the Kitty. It’s the once-in-a-generation artist who so cleanly eschews all schools and movements to create so viscerally from unchecked emotion. No hang-ups, as the kids say, L just does. While stickers may not be entirely fresh ground, it’s the concentration and layering that transcend the tired “pee-pee reward chart” and lays claim to higher ground. The simple joy of a sticker becomes a brand-new monstrosity, an old innocent ploy gone terribly wrong. The vibrant red, chicken-scratch backdrop only heightens the effect. Delicious details like the cow back-heeling the soccer ball under the watchful eye of the duck create mini-stories that add depth but never detract from the gorgeous whole. This is perfection. But L has already graded himself in the form of an A+ sticker at the top. Teacher’s pet!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Self-Portrait, K, Delaware, Ohio, pencil on paper


Yes, K, I do believe this is a self-portrait. Did you also live in Florence circa 1503–1505? For Leonardo’s sake, if you are going to plagiarize the master, have the decency to do it right. Mona Lisa’s strong Roman nose brings the viewer’s eye directly to the centerpiece of the da Vinci painting: her enigmatic smile. Your nose, dear K, looks more like the last pathetic strand of spaghetti in the colander. Furthermore, the last time I checked, Mona Lisa’s eyes both resided in the same ZIP code, and she wasn’t wearing wristbands. Now, if I am off base (impossible!) and this truly is a self-portrait, you should go see a doctor about that palsied left arm of yours posthaste.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

“On Sale”, by A, San Francisco, Colored pencils on gray paper


What a shop of horrors! Leave it to the artists of San Francisco to lay the rest of us bare with such finely-polished mirrors just as A does with this open-handed slap to America’s consumer (counter) culture. Looking every bit the tart with double Barbie ponytails, pink halter top, micro skirt and stilettos, our heroine is framed – in a flat, one dimensional style evoking Mayan wall paintings – in front of her temple which rises divinely to the sky. Only there is no sacrifice to be had here; Barbie’s bought everything as evidenced by the multitude of bags surrounding her – too many for the poor thing to carry. A sad, but true and effective commentary. One curious choice is the artist’s decision to place the lead singer of Dexy’s Midnight Runners in the GAP window.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Surprise!, by G, Richmond, VA, Etch-A-Sketch mural


I never liked Russian nesting dolls. Somehow, the “joy” of discovering smaller and smaller versions of a gift I’d already received and didn’t care for always struck me as insulting – as if I’d grow increasingly fond of the ridiculous bauble as I discovered cuter miniature versions. “But just look at the detail on this tiny one!” To quote the great Miro: “Who gives a flying shit?” Which is why I’m so fond of this new etching from little-known satirist, G. He offers us an X-ray glimpse (heightened by the pixilated texture of the Etch-a-Sketch screen) inside his creature to save us the toil and unrewarding trouble of uncapping one after another. What we find is exactly what we expected – increasingly smaller exact replicas -- each bringing considerably less to the party than the previous. To some, nesting dolls are a study in consistency, a social commentary on the triumph of detail over scale. To me, and thankfully to G as well, they’re nothing more than a bad joke repeated ad-nauseum. Which reminds me -- how many Russian nesting dolls does it take to change a light bulb? As many as you can shove in the live socket.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Poop Balloon, B, Columbus OH, crayon on paper


Trauma is an artist’s best friend. A life lived happily on the surface usually produces art about as deep and textural as most romantic comedies. And it goes without saying that potty training is a traumatic affair for most. Columbus, Ohio’s B turns that frown upside down in her latest effort, Poop Balloon. Shaping the unmistakable waste matter into a lighter than air, animal-shaped balloon, B reframes the beast from below into the most harmless form imaginable. Don’t fear the potty, she’s telling us, throw caution to the wind and embrace the waste. Up next for the littlest motivator? A multi-panel installation in trendy German Village entitled “Pee is awesome.” Straight flush!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Order this now or you'll just be sick.


Legion of fans, my book will be out in early December -- available at Barnes & Noble, amazon.com, and the two remaining independent bookstores in America. And don't be fooled into believing that it's nothing more than a collection of material from this blog. I respect you so much more than that. There is a treasure-trove of new material in the book: material you will never know the joy of reading unless you click here this second.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Tree of Life, S, Deerfield, IL, finger paint on construction paper,


Flyover country is also God-fearing country and northern Illinoisian, S, is a bold, touched and humble servant. “Tree of Life” is a massive title for a young soul, but when your first painting, “God as Caterpillar” triggered an outcry from none other than the Vatican itself, you tend to feel “big” may just be your birthright. No shying away from the spotlight in this effort; the wily serpent winds his way around the apple tree, changing his colors cunningly in mid-form. The apples, clustered in a bushing seem to be falling from a divine light – this is pre Adam and Eve as God and the Devil jockey for better seats in this first play. The inclusion of a blowfish at lower right is interesting if not totally bizarre and serves as what is fast becoming a trademark of the Midwestern artist – tried and true logic challenged by linear-breaking randomness. As in all her outdoor works, S leaves the grass high – a nod to her fear of lawnmowers.

Monday, April 4, 2011

APOLOGIES AND GINORMOUS NEWS!

First off, let me apologize for my lengthy absence. I took my annual "regeneration" trip to West DesMoines (Martha and Pete, you're both aces!), and then, upon returning, learned that my humble blog was being courted by a plucky book publisher. After weeks of intense negotiations, highlighted by my refusing to speak for 36 hours until certain demands were met (how is an author supposed to agree to ANYTHING LESS than total control over paper stock?!?), we reached a deal. So, my dear readers, should you like to hitch your wagon to a star and have your work reviewed in my forthcoming epic, submit a high resolution file to me today at danconsiglio@sbcglobal.net. I expect this book to be a best seller and if you aren't ready for that kind of publicity, simply step aside. As I learned during my time in community theater, the spotlight is not for everyone.

Monday, January 17, 2011

I show you the subtle difference between genius and crap.

Read and learn, novices.

"Dots" L, Chicago, dot marker and pencil
If paradigm-shattering composer Phillip Glass could paint, this is the masterpiece he would create. L’s gorgeous symmetry conceals blooming buds of chaos much like Glass’s repetitive notes conspire to create wholly other rhythms. Both artists display an other-worldly grasp on this simple human condition: repetition does not remove opportunity, it creates it. This is music to mine eyes.


"Circles" E, St. Louis, water based paint and fingers
This is just a bunch of colored dots on paper, unlike L’s masterwork, “Dots”, which trembles with a barely containable energy. A word of caution, E: do not confuse play with art. Take off the smock, put down the graham cracker and paint like the entire Pre-K room is watching. And maybe one day, they will be.

Friday, January 14, 2011

SPOTLIGHT!: L, Minnetonka



Without question one of the most exciting artists to come out of the snowy hinterlands since the scathing small-town critic, Sinclair Lewis, Minnetonka’s L has burst onto the scene like a mentos dropped in Diet Coke. And just like the Sauk Centre scribe, she pulls no punches. The irascable youth’s most important work to date -- “Defacing Disney” (shown above) caused an industry wide stir that ultimately prompted a much choreographed reaction from the Giant Mouse himself. A reaction that garnered little more than a passing glance from the artist. “I don’t like Mickey, I like Goofy. Mickey’s stupid.” Touche!

Forgoing paint and brush for more visceral tools like crayon and pencil, L’s work can best be described as guttural or as she puts it, “scribbly-wibbly.” Perhaps shaped by the long, icy Minnetonka winters, she’s less concerned with creating subtle intonations in her work -- she prefers to wield a sledge-hammer. “I like crayons because they feel super good.”

So true.

Is a mixed media surprise next in line for the Minnesota’s Muse? “I like to cut stuff with scissors. And I like graham crackers, too. They’re good.” Whatever she chooses to do next, we’ll be keeping a close eye on her. When asked about her literary cousin, Mr. Lewis, Lucy stops short of claiming she’s reached her artistic Main Street. “I like art. I like to do art every day and stuff.”

We’ll be watching!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

BOOB ALIEN, L, Nashville, crayons on parchment

It’s no surprise that after spending their first 12 months attached to mother’s breasts, that – oh by the way serve as their only source of nourishment -- children form a bit of a bond with the human milk delivery truck. But it is surprising to see one turn on the round cows like Nashville’s trickster, L. Make no mistake, disguise it as you will, L, with three blue eyes, rainbow spiky hair and a whispy moustache, that gaping pink ‘mouth’ is a dead-on areola. Added up, it is indeed a horrifying BOOB ALIEN. The only question left unanswered is this: what turned L so violently against her longtime companion? Was it lactose intolerance? Only L knows.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

"Gill-man" by Aidan





It’s impossible to put a price tag on art, but how about $12? That’s how much US currency you’ll have to part with to secure your very own copy of 'Gill-man' by Aidan, a 5-year old boy recently diagnosed with leukemia. Buy yours here; proceeds go toward Aidan’s medical bills. And although this particular “monster” bears more than a passing resemblance to the sleestaks made popular by the ahead-of-its-time TV show, Land of the Lost, WMKAS finds it jaw-droppingly beautiful. Well done and hang in there, Aidan.

Friday, October 15, 2010

"Family Farm" by L, Douglasville, GA, crayola on paper


What happens when the family farm is taken over by rogue cats? Plenty, according to Douglasville, Georgia’s rural Renoir, L. Don’t be fooled by the bright sun, freshly painted red barn and smiling “cattle” – trouble is brewing below the Mason Dixon line. Look no further than the bloated, plastic udders fashioned by the catcow on the left. Another sure sign that we’re not in Kansas anymore – the heaping mounds of catshit piled equally at right, baking in the hot sun. L’s point is not entirely clear in “Family Farm”, but one thing is as clear as the parchment sky – I wouldn’t drink the milk.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Artist Profile, S, Palm Desert



It’s rare for an artist to find and establish their voice so quickly in their career. That’s never been an issue for S, Palm Desert’s most promising export since dry heat. “From a very young age, I’ve just known what I wanted to say,” she told WMKAS over a very open and inspring brunch from her desert studio between bites of animal crackers. We should all be so lucky. “Art has always been and will always be my language. And I like to think I have a beautiful voice.” Such confidence is evident in the brave, sweeping, brightly-colored slashes that characterize S’s work; something that not only defines her style, but her worldview. “The desert teaches you that anything is possible; if a flower can bloom without a drop of water in 110 degree heat, then certainly I can create something of beauty. Or at least finish re-tiling my studio!”


Aside from the paint-splattered clothing and slightly dishelved hair, S doesn’t strike you as the sterotypical brooding artiste. Detractors have claimed she floats too happily on the surface instead of diving deeper into darker, richer territory. Don’t mistake her chippy demeanor for a lack of substance cautions S. “There is no artist’s handbook that claims depression is essential to creating important work. I wake up excited every day to create something new. And without my art, I’m not sure where I would channel that joy -- perhaps into my juggling.” There have been setbacks, however. At her first public showing in Los Angeles, her work was dismissed as “too fairy-schmairy” by decidedly moodier critics than those she had wowed in sleepier Palm Desert.

“That hurt, I won’t lie,” she says, head down, doodling with a burnt orange crayola. “Part of me wanted to pack up and go back home. But a larger part of me made the decision to never let anyone dictate my work. I put them in a mental ‘time-out’ and moved forward.” And she hasn’t looked back since.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

"Seamus" by F, Chicago. Charcoal on paper


Now isn’t this precious? A scruffy young pup imploring us to a game of fetch or whatever it is dogs do. Chicago’s F, who sent us this charming canine, certainly seems smitten with her “Seamus” but it leaves this reviewer as cold as a Siamese cat. With eyes as soulless as a sharks and ham-fisted shading looking more like the coarse etchings of a lifeless, turn-of-the-century nude than a frisky modern-day mutt, F has managed to capture all the warmth of a shareholders meeting. No need to play dead, Seamus.

Monday, September 27, 2010

"Purple" by N, Seattle. Mixed media on scrap.


The biggest formula for art is that there is no formula for art. There is no guidebook for inspiration, no paint by numbers for budding Mondrians. But there are notions. The notion that a work of art should ask something of a viewer – perhaps to re-examine, look deeper, reflect or even project; the notion that the work is born from a point of view; a kernel of communication no matter how blunt or obscure, nor base or garish in execution; and the notion of necessity – the feeling (not verified but deeply felt) that the artist had very little choice but to create the piece. There are notions, and then there is N. Her recent piece, aptly and unimaginatively titled “Purple” is a study in meandering, disconnected thought and shatters every notion of what art should and should not say or do. Too staged to be symbolism, too obscure to be remotely realist, “Purple” is simply play on paper. There are those who will say that play is paramount for art, yet I don’t believe Vinnie was simply “having a laugh” when he sliced off an ear. It takes suffering, people, not crayons. The Stormtrooper wearing the child’s backpack in the lower left, however, is a nice touch and leaves us with a trace of promise.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

"A Day in the Life of a Daycare Toilet", by N, Washington, D.C., mixed media

The temperature of the art world runs hot and cold and draws from the same tap as the political thirsts of this great nation. And you don’t have to be one of the top eleven online art critics in the Midwest to sense the discord in both. But leave it to N, a DC-based (where else?) “commode-artiste” to bring both worlds to a head – pun intended, of course. Entitled “A Day in the Life of a Daycare toilet”, N cheekily adorns the throne with all the trappings befitting the title – slinkys, racecars, various magnets, even a peppermint. We expect as much. Now, off we go to naptime, yes? No. N begs us to open our eyes and see the forest for the trees. Decorative as it may be, this is lipstick on a pig, folks. Distraction as message. And in a town where Glenn Beck can rally his true believers while claiming no politics, N’s piece feels right at home. No matter how you dress it up, it’s still nothing more than a shitbox. Well done, N.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

WMKAS RISING STAR: C, Boston



If you know anything about the art world, you know that landing a review – positive or positively scathing – in WMKAS is a major, major deal. I don’t hand out pixels to every Tom, Degas and Harry that knocks on my electronic door. But when a new artist delivers not one, but two gigabreaths of fresh air to my inbox, I grab my Smith Corona and take the message to the streets. Such is the case with C, or as she’s known in the art circles of her hometown of Boston, “that aht-ist kid.” But C is the rare case who views art as nothing more than a tiny part of a greater whole; a theorem applied to a hypothesis based on a hunch – everything and nothing is fact. These two remarkable pieces, entitled “Will she Star?” and “Will she Bird?” are as glorious and meaningful to the art world as they are to the hyper-nerds at MIT. How so? Consider this factoid from our friends in the lesser science: place a single atom in a controlled environment and it still cannot be predicted how long it will take to decay; only the probability of decay within a given time can be calculated. That’s the beauty of randomness. That’s the beauty of human nature. For no matter how many stars, birds or parameters you overlay, C cannot be predicted, she will be only what she will be. Chaos, my dear readers, is beautiful. And so is C.

Friday, August 6, 2010

"Demons of the Desert", by S, markers and raw fear on paper


Oh, how a year can change things. The millions of you who read this blog daily certainly recall the soaring work of Palm Desert’s S; crackling with intensity and verve, bold swooshes of reds and yellows bespoke her arid homeland and her bold, gregarious worldview. Fast forward some 9 months and it’s clear that S has entered a new phase in her prolific career – gone is the vast, endless possibility of the desert sky, enter the cramped, judging gaze of “The Monsters.” Intrigued by this sea change, WMKAS reached out to S who granted us a surprisingly candid interview over a cold fruit juice. “Life is not all sunshine and butterflies, now is it” S began. “I don’t believe in boogeymen –‘Monsters’, is less about the physical presence and more about the demons in the mental closet.” Does that explain the cold, lifeless eyes? “Not exactly" S replied, "I have trouble drawing pupils.” Indeed!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

"Ad", by C, Texas, markers and capitalism

You may not realize that before he was a pop culture sensation and the most sought after artist in the world, Andy Warhol was a…drum roll, please…commercial artist. Gasp! Oh the horror! In fact, quite a few artists have taken the reverse route from selling their soul commercially to the hard, honest, absolute truth of the fine arts (selling your soul sans deadlines to billionaire “patrons” who sit atop commercial empires). But few have taken as blatant and direct a route as Texas’s own C – who is apparently hunky-dory pairing her plastic, one-dimensional work with brand names slapped across as subtle as an ice pick to the eardrum. Bebe Gear is a line of children’s clothing – cute as a button, I might add – who claims to have no contractual ties with the artist. Could it be a precocious youngster’s update on Warhol’s classic Campbell’s Soup? Let’s discuss. Warhol’s fascination with mass produced iconography was simple and well-documented; the Coca-Colas and Campbell soups of America were and are the great equalizers – presidents and the poor have equal access to a consistent taste. Warhol’s work was packaged social commentary. The rudimentary structure and glaring inconsistencies in C’s "Ad" lead us to only one conclusion: C has sold out before she ever clocked in.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Please, please beat this.

It's been an unusually dull and hot summer. My serotonin levels have been more erratic than that one ape at the zoo. I attribute all this to my annual "re-awakening" (in which I find myself literally and figuratively unchanged since the year prior which triggers a shame spiral) but surely some of my malaise can be traced to the current state of the art world. The most interesting submission I have received of late is an absolute soul-crusher. See for yourself.


Animal Parabe? Oh, the banality! And why is the third beast from the left a Knight's shield? This "work" is not worthy of review. Even I can't spin gold from dull pencil shavings. Save me, dear readers, submit work worthy of my time. Do it now. Send it to danconsiglio@sbcglobal.net

Friday, July 2, 2010

“Three colored things on a rake with a fish nearby and some stuff”, R, Washington, DC

It could be the biggest understatement since Jimmy Carter’s infamous proclamation uttered his first day in the Oval Office -- “this ain’t Georgia” -- to say that modern art is polarizing. And so I expect equal amounts of hate and fan mail for devoting precious blog space to R’s latest head-scratcher, “Three colored things on a rake with a fish nearby and some stuff.” If we take the title at its word, R delivers in spades. But rarely are things as they seem with modern artists -- and good luck gaining any insight through an interview! R doesn’t speak to the media but responds to queries with semaphoric flagging she records from her home studio and sends out via quicktime. My take? “Three colored things on a rake with a fish nearby and some stuff” lives right there on the surface, alongside that partially decomposed dead fish R so cheekily placed to give us her intended perspective. Don’t fish here, she tells us, you’ll only leave frustrated and hungry. The joke is on us – although this reviewer isn’t amused.



Friday, June 11, 2010

"Total Bullshit" by D, Boston, madness on paper


Mental illness runs rampant in the art community. And it’s my job to deliver to you, the clueless layman, the airtight diagnosis for each artist – genius or madman? It can be thorny at times; how does one distinguish between the mindless scribblings of a homeless degenerate and the beautifully orchestrated chaos of Jackson Pollack? C’est ne pas une pipe, Magritte? Then what the fuck is it? Pardon my French. And so I labored long, hard hours over this piece from Boston school ground legend, D. What was his point of view? Where is the beginning, middle, end? What story was he telling? What connections was I – the viewer -- being asked to draw? There are leaps I am willing, no, obligated to take not as a critic but simply a viewer of art. The artist has earned that much. But for the life of me, I can’t find the thread between a turtle, mailbox, umbrella, swingset and what looks to be a cross between a Roman and Trojan soldier tapping a red fire hydrant with a reflex baton. This is pure madness. Perhaps D should check the mailbox with the upturned flag – he just might find a note from his local mental health facility.

Monday, June 7, 2010

"Color Me Bored", by L, Chicago, cut-up stuff with glue


The merry prankster returns with yet another farcical romp that could even bring the rouge to Warhol’s coke-white cheeks. Chicago’s own L, dubbed “The Snarky Surrealist,” lives up to that moniker with “Color Me Bored” a delightful mixed-media gem that lives joyfully outside of the lines. With the taunting youngster’s face placed bluntly atop a crudely-colored Crayola cutout, L puts a sharp point on an otherwise dull wax: don’t be fooled by all the pretty colors, the world we see is more dull grey. Is this a majority voice, or simply an artist broadcasting her unique image on the masses? Matters little to L, as she continues to grow her latest striking collection: “Thoughts for Time Out.”

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

"1122112211" by T, North Carolina, markers on stone paper


All work and no play makes T a dull boy. Watch the kitchen knives my friends, if work like this is any indication, T may soon be fashioning headphones with one earbud.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Theater of Pain, by S, Washington D.C., ink on used copy paper

In another first for WMKAS, we have the pleasure of reviewing a submission from the nation’s capital. And it’s no surprise that “Theater of Pain” a first from line-drawer and quasi-realist, S, is laced with all the fire and brimstone that currently engulfs the stately-gilded black hole on the shores of the Potomac. A smiling President Obama (note the grotesque ears) stands triumphant yet deflects praise to an androgynous Nancy Pelosi at the lectern as scores of widened eyeballs fasten their gaze. Is it disbelief in the passage of such stunning legislation or shock from a painfully exposed legislative process? To underscore the acrimonious atmosphere, S floats a freshly severed finger barely covered with a band-aid above Pelosi on a surfboard-y knife; a medicinal albatross set in motion by a bitter and diminished John Boehner. There’s little to interpret here. But one might argue that the yearlong theater played out on mainstream media was drama enough. To me, it earns an enthusiastic “filibuster.”


Monday, April 26, 2010

Bagheera's Castle, written and illustrated by JM, Glenview, IL

Bagheera’s Castle, written and illustrated by Chicago master-in-waiting JM not only cracks open a fresh category (book reviews) on WMKAS, but manages to both embrace and mock the whimsical, all’s-well-that-ends-well children’s book genre in one peculiar story. JM skillfully merges two plots – one the more expected monarchial power struggle and one deliciously metaphorical – as Bagheera the Guinea Pig King tasks his dragon and hedgehog pet/guards to search the land and bring him a carrot. JM puts the henchmen in harm’s way all in the name of the almighty carrot – a not so subtle nod to the foolish “quests” that best characterized a time when an enormous wooden horse befuddled the tightest of security.

In the end, Bagheera gets his carrot, but only after his dragon and hedgehog defeat an opposing king (looking more like the sasquatch). The last image is a satisfied Bagheera -- carrot jutting out like a victory cigar -- surveying his kingdom. What tastes sweeter, JM challenges, the unmitigated power or the simple pleasure? Bagheera it appears, can have his carrot cake, and eat it, too.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I'm plugging my book -- DEAL WITH IT

I tirelessly promote the work of artists across the globe so allow me a moment of proverbial chest thumping. This is my new book which you can buy here. It's perhaps the most important work of fiction to hit the parenting genre since DeClair's 1946 classic, "When Did The Baby have Corn?"

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Sheet of Lucy, photography, L, Chicago


Huzzah! Yet another whip smart challenge from arguably the art world’s most provocative thinker, Chicago native, L. Never one for Kool-Aid, L’s latest photograph lifts the veil, so to speak, on a long-believed rallying point for Christians around the globe --The Shroud of Turin. While the striking negative of amateur photographer Secondo Pia’s photographic plate revealed what many believe to be the face of their savior, L’s “shroud” veils nothing more than a child holding a dryer sheet wearing an ironic T-shirt. But like all of L’s work, including the 20-story urinal made entirely of toilet paper constructed outside Paris’ Gard du Nord last fall, the end is only the beginning. By shooting her subject intentionally veiling herself, is L suggesting we are each our own savior? Is it childish to blindly believe in an image which radiocarbon dating has proven to be from the Middle Ages, over a millennium after the death of Christ? Or is it the trusting, reassuring nature of Jesus to lead us to find ourselves in his image? Don’t look to L for answers, she clearly finds the questions to be a richer, more rewarding sandbox. Lucky for us.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

"Angry Grimace Jellyfish," by B, Delaware, Ohio, marker on white paper


Just like his admitted idol, filmmaker David Lynch, irrepressible line drawer, B, blends fantasy and reality with all the subtlety of a jab from a freshly sharpened Dixon Ticonderoga. Look no further than the title of his latest -- “Angry Grimace Jellyfish” – an obvious “holla” to the blatant semi-seriousness Lynch employs in plot and characters like the now infamous “Log Lady.” The difference is that Lynch, through film, has the ability to push and pull his viewers towards either side of the reality spectrum, constantly shifting the ground they stand on, forcing them to question and ultimately readjust their vantage point. “Angry Grimace Jellyfish” ends where it begins – with an angry jellyfish resembling Grimace dancing on an air mattress that has somehow sunk to the bottom of the sea. The only thing left to question is the emerging fecal matter with arms. Ho hum.