The recent passing of Steve Jobs and the subsequent mourning of loyal Apple lovers has made me take a second look at the state of society. Every time period has its impact names. If I said “Roman Empire” then you’d probably think of Julius Caesar. What about if I say “the Golden Age of Piracy?” Did you immediately go to Blackbeard or Henry Morgan? “Age of Exploration?” You might have gone to Columbus or Magellan. Now bringing this back to the art world; if I say “Renaissance” then who are you thinking about? Perhaps Michelangelo or da Vinci? Let’s focus on the Renaissance for just a moment because I think it provides a good example of what is happening today.
Before television, film, radio, and the internet made celebrities out of people, the most popular medium to make a name for yourself was through art. During the Renaissance, the painters and sculptors were the rock stars of their time. Affluent citizens who could afford it, would shell out a hefty load of cash to have a commission realized in their own home. Many of these artists derived their success from public works projects. For example, Lorenzo Ghiberti created the Paradise Bronze North Doors of the Baptistry of Florence in 1424.
This kind of work was not just about making a statement on a subject; it was an advertisement to future customers that he could do the amazing. People from all over would come to see the intricate works of the doors and be floored by the craftsmanship. The doors made Lorenzo a celebrity in Florence and all over northern Italy. Everyone wanted a piece of art in those days because it was a status symbol and it was the latest and greatest addition to the culture. Art was changing the way people viewed each other, their country, religion, and the future. It was not just reporting on the culture, it was inspiring it to evolve. Now let’s return to the 21st century. Who are the folks who are driving culture nowadays? Don’t answer to quickly – think about it. Perhaps Hollywood was driving culture in the 20th century, but they are certainly no controlling this one. Authors? There will always be an impact book here and there but the book does not reach everyone unless there is a real interest in reading. Athletes? Not since the Roman Times has sports driven a culture. So who is sculpting our ways of thinking nowadays? How about the technologists? The nerds? The geeks who start their own software firms? Now that is worth thinking about.
First off, how am I talking to you right now? On a computer. This information is made available instantly – a powerful feature of the internet. Where can you access this information? A better question might be where can you NOT access it? With the rise of the mobile smart phones you have the world at your fingertips from anywhere. What does this information do to people? It changes their lives – we hope for the better. Need a recent example? The democratic protests in the middle east utilized Facebook to get out their messages. They were able to coordinate their protests that their governments were trying to prevent. So you have people now waiting to see what the geeks and nerds will invent next to change our lives. So when Steve Jobs passed, people took notice and reflected on what their life would have been without their iPhone or iPad. Yes, the nerds are the Rock Stars of the 21st Century. While I accept that technology will be driving culture for the foreseeable future, I also believe that painters will always be able grab the attention of the world and create new inspirations for future societies. Recently the Obama “Hope” painting struck a chord with America in 2008 for example. So with all that in mind, I continue my efforts to connect my thoughts and emotions to my viewers through my paintings. And what’s next? What’s in the cards?
I mentioned last time that I was starting a new genre. The movie mash-ups will introduce different characters from different stories in the same painting. This idea is not original but my subjects will be. I am currently engaged in the forming stages of a painting that includes a couple of familiar names. Doc Holiday and the Joker have something in common: they both play with cards. So yes, you will be seeing a crazy painting involving these two and oh, by the way, Doc Holiday is being played by Val Kilmer. If you remember, he was the best part of 1993’s Tombstone. So let’s see if I’m a daisy and can pull this off. Who is my Joker? Heath Ledger. With all respect to Jack Nicholson and Caesar Romero, I really enjoyed Dark Knight. If this works then I have many more crazy ideas to work with. If not, then I have many more crazy ideas to work with. Now, let’s put a smile on that face and get back to work.