Free Speech Retrospect: Don’t Draw That réspondez s’il vous plait

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dont_banner300 It has been a while since I posted. I have been occupied with completing art works for a display at Art Basel , follow up show at AutoBody Fine Art, and a movie project.

My first show in 2015 is participation in a group show at Works/San Jose, a community art center in downtown San Jose, CA. This is my inaugural showing in San Jose, CA. I honestly cannot recall the reason it has taken so long for me to have a show in San Jose, because it is one cool city. I used to come here yearly for Game Developers Conference and I always visited their modern museum of art which never failed me with a brilliant show.

Don’t Draw That: réspondez s’il vous plait is a group show at Works/San Jose gallery with a wide variety of work that responds to the recent events—including the murder of artists by terrorists in Paris, and the calls from many in reaction, including from some world leaders, for artists not to create provocative work on religion or other subjects that might offend—have spurred a wide range of responses from creative individuals and communities. The show includes work that touches the subject across all lines and pain points.

One of the art works I have in this show is a painting I did in 2009 titled “Jihadi Martyr in the Golden Pussy of Heaven.” I am not placing an image of it here, as I wish for patrons to attend and see it in person (March 6th – 21st, 2015). However I did wish to take the opportunity to write a few words on my thoughts about my participation in this exhibition. The painting in question is a classic example of my influences from religious art, cartoons, and Mad magazine style satire. This work was originally part of a series called “Die for Allah.” It was a defiant reaction to Islamic extremists attacks on non-Muslims. There were 5 paintings which displayed images that were satirical views of what some people, may consider to be absurdities of extremists interpretations of the Islamic faith i.e. promises of paradise for killing innocent people, virgins to tend to the sexual desires of martyrs, …etc.

This series of work was shown in a gallery exhibition and then posted on my web site.  A few years later, I submitted a proposal to a contemporary art space in another state for a completely different series of paintings. I was told that the curatorial committee was interested in my show but saw the “Die For Allah” works on my web site and decided to decline my proposal. Their decision was based on the idea that they felt that the “Die For Allah” series would be viewed by their patrons and their association with me would jeopardize the art centers funding and make them a target for Muslims who would be offended that they were displaying my work.

I was quite irritated that they were judging my proposal on work that wasn’t even part of my proposed show – in addition I felt they were spineless and self censoring their program out of misdirected assumptions and fear. On the other hand, it was their decision and they have the right to display work that fits within the framework and guidelines of their program. This is their Free Speech and I respect and support that fully.

I believe, as many artist do, in exercising my right to Free Speech and defending it for others whether I agree with their viewpoint, find them offensive, or otherwise valueless. Free Speech at all costs is a tight rope and delivers a challenge to a society in global multicultural system. Dialogue and tolerance are paramount. In addition there is the responsibility to wield it with a tempered sword and still the possibility exist that you may cause offense…that is the price we pay.

For my part I must declare, I don’t feel the same way I felt, when I first painted “Jihadi Martyr in the Golden Pussy of Heaven.” It’s not that I think the painting has lost its impact or that the satire is wrong in anyway. For at the time my motivation was fueled by a need to react against the actions of extremists by exercising my right to satirize their actions and religious beliefs, and this painting does just that – it very poignantly takes a satirical jab at Muslim extremists who feel that it is their mission to kill those who don’t agree or live by their standards. The political statement behind the works very strongly raised the flag of opposition to any group who would use violence, coercion, threats or murder to limit Free Speech in a free society.

In retrospect, I see that the deeper devilish danger threatening Free Speech is not the actions of extremists. For ultimately their impact is shallow against nations who have liberty embedded in their constitutions and culture. Au contraire, the real threat is the reactions of governments who use the actions of extremists, taken against artists, to pass legislation that usurps the very freedoms for which artists use to create art.

Post Charlie Hebdo, there was a call for more police power and surveillance. The Orwellian lie was repeated by media outlets, that we need to be protected from extremists and the only way is to allow government to remove more of our freedoms.  Democratized governments are increasingly turning their eye toward their citizens and using the actions of extremists as justification for building a police state and increasing reductions of privacy and the deterioration of personal freedoms. The Snowden revelations are concrete evidence of this direction coupled with politicians loudly parroting the message  “We need the power to listen in to conversations, we need the power for home searches, we need the power to comb internet records…”

This all pales the threat from extremists on the soil of democratic nations. My goal in writing this, is not to diminish the lives of the artists in Paris or any others who have suffered at the hands of extremists for exercising Freedom of Speech, without doubt this is tragic. I only now realize that perhaps I didn’t tell the whole story.

Perhaps, my painting didn’t go far enough…perhaps it should have included elements that detail how democratic governments are stealing the freedoms of citizens and using Muslim extremists as an excuse to rob us of our Free Speech, privacy and personal rights. For that would have been more accurate in focusing on the real danger from the Hebdo murders.

As an artist, the final act of creation is displaying your work to the public. This is the moment when what you have created becomes a permanent part of the cultural landscape. I am a fan of satire and my work has always had humorous elements. Much of my art has been an exercise in button pushing. When you see “Jihadi Martyr in the Golden Pussy of Heaven,” you will either love it or hate it. Some people have viewed it and thought is was in poor taste, and others have seen it, and laughed uncontrollably! Ultimately, I hope that this art work creates a dialogue that encourages viewers to explore the complex Free Speech issues we are faced with.

To other artists I say, express yourself to the fullest and use your tools freely but examine what you have wrought. Examine it closely, because there are many who will use it to fulfill their purpose and it may very well be the undoing of your freedom to create.

Art Review: Derek Van Beers @ Roscoe Ceramic Gallery

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I hate what you Stand For © 2012 Derik Van Beers
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Fix Me Jesus © 2012 Derik Van Beers

Oakland’s art scene is booming. The First Friday event is fun but definitely more of an overcrowded night on the town. It’s quite difficult to maneuver and see the various galleries. Fortunately we have Third Thursdays which is my choice for gallery hopping. This month artist Derik Van Beers has a couple of works at Roscoe Ceramic gallery. Van Beers’ work moves away from traditional trappings of ceramic sculpture. The pieces are expertly crafted objects made up of multiple pieces collaged together. Van Beers blends a comic style with Day of the Dead. The topics reference the indifference of understanding between warring parties. These sentiments are juxtaposed with happy colors and clown-like faces. I am looking forward to seeing more of his work. Take the time to go down to Roscoe Ceramic Gallery and see the works on display.

Book Review: The Rudy Letters

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the_rudy_lettersRudy Schumann is a oddly-mannered American who lets his thoughts be known. Uninhibited with his prose, he takes to writing letters to a variety of companies and entities detailing bits of his personal life and making strange requests. At times, mistaken in his understanding and other times perverse and absurd. All the letters were actually mailed and the recipients replies are included. Delightful, witty and funny, The Rudy Letters take you on one mans’ trek to connect with the world. A great read!

Ezra Li Eismont at Redux Gallery

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photo 2Ezra Li Eismont : How High The Sky, Measuring The Infinite

June 13 – August 2, 2014

A great show from Oakland, CA. based artist Ezra Li Eismont. His current show at Redux is the result of a residency with Saint Vincent De Paul’s Redux Gallery. SVDP offers artists salvaged materials in order to produce a show that is relative to their goal of recycling and re-purposing items.

Ezra has a long history with recycled materials, in the past he was part owner of Re-Made in America- a recycled clothing company that silkscreened and redefined second hand clothing. In addition his earlier artworks contained many collaged recycled/ found objects. He is a master of combining and redefining objects through collage and sewing them together with his creative savoir faire which includes his love of mathematical alchemy and eastern spiritual symbolism.
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The Redux show is comprised of one central piece that works as a large mural made up of individual pieces and then a few satellite works. His work is well focused and brilliantly executed. The influences and variety of imagery is anchored by his imitable painting and beautiful drawing  style which is the hallmark of his work. He  borrows much from his graffiti roots yet transcends into art that is uniquely his own. Some included pieces are interactive Geo Manadalas that have magnets on the individual pieces so the viewer can rearrange the art work. More of Ezra Li Eismont’s work can be found at Ezrali.com

This is a great show and well worth the trip to Alameda!

The exhibit will remain in place through Saturday, August 2, 2014.

Redux Studios and Gallery is located at 2315 Lincoln Avenue, Alameda and is open Monday through Sunday, 11:00 am to 6:30 pm.

Review: Art Hazelwood and William Wolf @ ArtZone 461 Gallery

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Steven Lopez and Eric Koehler at ArtZone 461 Gallery : Art Hazelwood and William Wolf Print show
Gallery Director Steven Lopez and Eric Koehler at ArtZone 461 Gallery : Art Hazelwood and William Wolf print show 2014

San Francisco, CA. – Up now at ArtZone 461 Gallery March 1 – April 6, 2014 is a two man show of printmakers Art Hazelwood and William Wolf. This show is produced in conjunction with the SGC International 42nd Annual Conference in San Francisco. ArtZone is the host gallery. Both Artists have incredible artistic vision and technical mastery to match. This is a posthumous show for Wolf who passed away in 2004. Wolf was one part of the early bay area figurative movement. Hazelwood worked with Wolf over the last years of his life as archivist and friend.  Wolf’s works on display are truly poetic. Many are a collage of body parts disjointed and visually bound by their eloquent composition. Subdued colors along with exquisite print textures exude a harmony which runs through all of his work. His modus operandi included repeatedly re-working plates so that there was an unending evolution, resulting in one plate having many different print incarnations. In contrast Hazelwood’s prints of political inspired themes, with rich black ink and melodious line quality, speak volumes of his interest in bell ringing the injustices of America. His figures are beautifully drawn, and orchestrated into scenes which touch upon the political pain points with a style that is reminiscent of satirical cartoons. There is much theater in Hazelwood’s work and his vision and characters come to life on the paper. This is a unique opportunity to see two masterful printmakers side by side. I recommend you take the time to go by and experience the work for yourself. The show is up thru April 6 at ArtZone 46 Gallery. Located at 461 Valenica St. San Francisco, CA.

1 minute of video is worth 1.8 million words: Misinformation or Hyperbole?

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Screen shot 2013-12-22 at 12.59.25 AMThe other day I sat in on a marketing Webcast and the presenter made the statement “1 minute of video is worth 1.8 million words.” He attributed this to no one. When I heard it I thought, “Woa- that is an interesting stat.” So I googled it, and indeed I found the quote all over the web and many people attributed it to Dr. James McQuivery of Forrester Research. I searched further because I wanted to find the white paper or report in which this statement first appeared. Alas I couldn’t find it. Nonetheless I tweeted it out. Shortly after a friend tweeted back on it and said “@gpbprince Wow, amazing! Do you have a link for that?” But I didn’t.

This statement had been quoted hundreds of times (maybe more), included in countless Powerpoints, a bullet point in gobs of marketing materials, used in ads, regurgitated by marketing pros who use it to back up their reasons why companies should use video to market their products…but the source is nebulous. For all the times this statement is used not a single one links back to the original statement. So I emailed Dr. James McQuivery of Forrester research and asked him to share. I am still waiting for a response (intermission music plays) and I’m still waiting.

I actually don’t like be part of the misinformation feed and when backing up my marketing, I do my best to use reliable resources. On my drive into SF this morning an annoying thought came to me. How could Dr. Quigley measure video in such a manner as to determine that 1 minute of video is worth 18 million words. What was his formula? Then it came to me. Duh!

It IS a formula. 1.8 million, 18 is divisible by 6 and 3. There are 60 seconds in a minute and a standard frames per second for video is 30. There is no research, there is no white paper, there is nothing. This statement is just an extrapolation of the statement ” A picture is worth a 1000 words.”

1 second = 1 picture in video media, 30 frames per second x 60 = 1,800 pictures x 1000 words = 1.8 million words

So the statement, often quoted, should be prefaced by the statement “If 1 picture is worth 1000 words, than …”

Even that statement is a made up stat that has been peddled since as far back as 1911. “Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.” appears in a 1911 newspaper article quoting newspaper editor Arthur Brisbane discussing journalism and publicity - Wikipedia

This statement had been used over and over to describe the strength of pictorials in marketing/publicity and advertising. Is it scientific – no! Does it sound believable? Apparently so, because since 1911 that message has been hammered into marketing statements and the public consciousness.  We could make the argument that a picture (and symbols) relay ideas very strongly and indeed in a more concise manner than the written word. Why have a road sign that say “Drive slowly there are school kids crossing the street frequently at this intersection.” When we can post a silhouette of small stick figures and the word “school.”

So in a process of truth in advertising it is better to say “If a picture is worth a 1000 words, than 1 minute of video is worth 1.8 million words.”

This statement is clear and honest and most certainly makes the argument more believable than willy nilly stating that 1 minute of video equals 1.8 million words.

Of course if you are shooting at 60 frames per second and in HD, than one minute of video must be worth a heck of a lot more than 1.8 million words.

 

 

 

Art Review: Rocky Angel at 2520 Telegraph

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Oakland, CA. This month’s Art Murmur was a bit dampened by the rain and cold. Folks here in the SF Bay Area are spoiled by generally great weather year round, so rain and cold can be off-putting. Nonetheless, I braved the elements and made my way down to see Rocky Angel’s latest work at 2520 Telegraph… and I was glad I did!

I met Rocky years ago when I first opened INFERNO gallery, he came to all the shows and he was a ardent fan my own art work. We also share an interest in the world of conspiracy and unexplained phenomenon. After seeing his work, I liked it so much I asked him to join with me for a two man show at INFERNO. So when he recently told me he had new work, I was eager to get out and see it.

Rocky’s paintings are visual answers to the great mysteries of the universe. His show at 2520 Telegraph is a continuation of his artistic research resulting in an eye-popping explosion of religion, UFOs and sexuality. The latest works show a refinement in his technique without losing his imitable style and freshness. “Space Bottle” is a wonderful painting that eloquently translates a sky of stars into a quasi-pointillist field embellished with a stylized milky way, and faraway  galaxies. The centerpiece of this painting is a multi-appendaged spaceship with happy nude figures at the helm.

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Space Bottle by Rocky Angel © 2013

So much a part of Rocky’s personae is that of a nudist, which comes out gloriously in his work. Many of the figures tend to be nude, this is in parity to the idea of aliens and how they are typically nude as well. The nude figures in the Spaceship in “Space Bottle” appear perfectly natural, the same as Adam and Eve in a jungle paradise.

“Sci-Fi Seaside Smash-Up” is a beach scene of aliens and humans engaged in pleasant debauchery and manic brotherhood. The sky is filled with spaceships clashing and exploding. For all the mayhem there seems to be an underlying sense that all is well and the world is moving towards a landscape where humans and aliens are to live together.

Rocky peels away the falseness of our current social structure and declares a cosmic new world hedonistic order. Take the time to go down and see this show. It’s not to be missed. Recommended! 2520 Telegraph Oakland, CA.

reviewed by GP Barbosa Prince

Artist Rocky Angel with his painting “Sci-Fi Seaside Smash-Up”

 

Let Me Google That For You: Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions

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Screen shot 2013-12-06 at 11.11.41 PMWhen I was  kid I loved MAD magazine. One of the artist, Al Jaffee, came up with “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions.” This was hands down one of my favorite bits. Jaffee’s great drawings were paired with several choices of answers to stupid questions. The quips blended with his unique style of drawing was pure genius. When you work in an office environment you become accustomed to the pervasive culture of “information need” and along with that comes a lot of stupid questions.

What is a stupid question? Well, it is anything that can be easily answered by doing a quick search on Google, looking in your email, or reviewing information that has been previously provided to you. Basically it a question birthed from laziness. As an event manager I can’t enumerate the amount of times I have been asked the dates and details of an event by my colleagues. Honestly, some folks ask for all the information that could easily be acquired if they would just go directly to the show web site. The amount time they take connecting with me and asking the question is longer, and takes more energy, than it would take for them to look it up for themselves.

So here is one quick way to provide a snappy answer to a stupid question, while also sending the message that in the future the questioner can take initiative and answer their own question. When approached with a stupid question simply go to:

www.Letmegooglethatforyou.com

Type in the pertinent search criteria and then click  “Search Google.” You will then be provided with a URL that you can send to the questioner as your “Snappy Answer.” You can formulate your response like so ( I also provided a URL for you to test):

_________

Hi

Here is the answer to your question about stupid questions : http://lmgtfy.com/?q=Stupid+questions

Have a great day!
Gary-Paul

__________

Once they click on the URL it takes the user to a page that shows their question being typed into a Google like interface, searched and results appear. It is a wonderful site and I use it all the time – needless to say I have received a lot fewer stupid questions and time wasting queries.

 

Book Review: Rise of the DEO

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Rise of the DEO bookI consider myself lucky that I have worked in the area of creative how-to publishing for so long and that my job is actually an education and skill building endeavor. I am basically paid to learn and stay on top of technology trends – there is one other plus, and that is working and getting to know the brilliant minds who are our authors. Maria Giudice is a fountain head of creative savvy. From the early days of the web she has been a leader in creating design that enhances and extends user experience and heightened visual continuity. She has spoken at conferences the world over and co-teaches a Business and Design course at the California College of the Arts with co-author Christopher Ireland. After running HOT Studio, hands down the most successful design studio in San Francisco, Facebook recently purchased HOT in order to bring in Maria as Director of Product Design.

In Rise of the DEO Maria and Christopher recognize the function of the Artists’ role operating at the highest level in the corporate structure. In the new paradigm the MBA left brain approach which dominated the 20th century corporate structure has given way to the DEO. Design and data are paired with intuition and savoir-faire that understands evolving media.
Well written and structured to real-world application. Maria and Christopher share practical knowledge that is helpful to all levels of leadership. I recommend you get a copy for everyone in your organization. This book is destined to be a classic!

Rise of the DEO
ISBN-13: 978-0-321-93439-0
Published by New Riders