This is but an opening salvo - a shot across the bow of
the entrenched postmodern establishment in the United States.
We fire our volley from the city of Los Angeles, home to
the Hollywood dream machine and peddlers of a manufactured
culture consumed around the globe. In short, this is a declaration
against the inanity and hucksterism of today's art world
- especially as it exist in L.A. ]
O.K to be Stuck!
thirty grammar school age children in a room with ample
tables and chairs, give them blank sheets of paper and crayons
and tell them to draw. They will do so enthusiastically,
and in a short amount of time will come up with all sorts
of interesting narrative pictures. They will draw pictures
of their family and pets, things they've done recently or
places they've visited, or perhaps something more fantastical
from a film or story they like. They will display a wide
range of skill levels, with most rendering little more than
colorful stick figures, while a few may attempt some shading,
depth, or perspective.
insert an adult authority figure, such as a teacher or parent.
Almost immediately, that adult will be able to determine
which of the thirty children are the better artists, most
likely picking out one or two or three which are "the best".
Usually, it is these children who are given praise, and
awarded in some way, perhaps have their work shown before
the group for all to see, or given some small token or prize.
alas, these poor budding artists have to grow up.
in the "real" world, in the adult world, these same artistic
abilities that were valued when they were children are now
passť, old hat, conservative, and every other negative adjective
one can think of. Narrative, emotional connection, artistic
skill - well, sorry kiddos, but those old notions went away
with poodle skirts and milk delivered to your front door.
Now, the culmination of contemporary "fine art", the elite,
the avant garde of art - for far too long the norm has been
abstract over realist, emotionless over emotional, "concept"
over narrative. Oh, you can draw? That's nice, maybe
you can get a job working for Disney someday, wouldn't that
is that little voice in the back of your head that says,
"something's wrong here". The voice that asks,
if anthropologists use the painting on cave walls as one
of the decisive evolutionary steps that made us human, why
is this intrinsic human skill and trait now largely dismissed?
It is the voice that looks at art throughout the annals
of human history, and shakes its head and wonders about
how the present will be viewed by future generations. It's
one thing to be told by your elders that art is dead, history
is dead, painting is dead, realism is dead. it's another
thing to believe it yourself, to continue the cycle by pushing
the idea on others through your own work, actions, and opinions.
the fine art world seems to be the only field which has
come to this inauspicious conclusion. Brain surgeons, hair
stylists, and car mechanics are all still going around with
the "antiquated" idea that it is important to have skill
at being a brain surgeon, hair stylist, or car mechanic.
Even more bizarrely, the population at large is still willing
to fork over their hard earned money to obtain quality services
from these individuals - and few would visit them a second
time if they were displeased with their services (especially
the brain surgeon).
best feature of Stuckism is its simplicity. The shortest
explanation rings true to even the most inexperienced of
art onlookers - yes, please, give me a Monet over a pickled
shark any day of the week. But then what? What is the artist
to do? Ah, that is the challenge. Yes we want to paint,
but paint what? And how? Good luck finding a university
that sponsors decent painting or drawing classes, or better
yet, good books on these subjects readily available. And
if we don't even know how to paint, then how are we to determine
what to paint? Because unfortunately content and response
to the world around one's self are also ideas that went
out with the bathwater many an age ago.
is the beginning. It is the doorstop to keep out the ego-artists
and the P.T. Barnums who wish to enter this sacred space.
It is just another name, the most recent manifestation for
a thread that has run through the work of great artists
since the dawn of time - that art is the most profound
expression of our humanity. It is the assertion that
you can't make good art, never mind great art, if you don't
attempt to address at least a couple of the age old human
questions.. because last time we looked, they hadn't all
been answered yet (and anyone who tells you they have, is
trying to sell you something).
greatest danger with the very word "Stuckism",
and its assertions against the status quo of the fine art
world, is the very real threat of being deemed "conservative"
or "reactionary". True Stuckists at heart are not afraid
of this challenge, and are happy to take it on. Is it conservative
to wish to limit deforestation of the rainforests, or to
keep cigarettes out of the mouths of children? Is it reactionary
to respect all people's faiths and cultures, and desire
true liberty and justice be enjoyed by all humankind? Was
it conservative to desire an entire race be freed from bondage,
and an entire sex to cast their vote in the polls - were
people who wanted these things accepting the miserable lot
of mankind, or desiring to improve it? Hah! Like everything
else my friend, the world of art is upside down and inside
out, do not let these silly games of changing definitions
dissuade you, the challenge is enormous but the
passion is strong.
Stuckism in the 21st century? Why Stuckism in Los Angeles?
the 20th century, brilliant minds, many of whose names you
don't know, railed against the horrors of their times and
warned against their dark predictions of the future if those
horrors continued - in every conceivable facet of human
life. The family, the environment, political ideas, aesthetic
movements, religion and race, urban development, sex and
gender issues were thrust on the table and dissected, analyzed,
and struggled around like no prior era of human history.
And while all this was happening, the number of cars on
the roads increased, TV dinners became the norm not the
exception, the population was bombarded with more and more
advertising every minute of their lives, rebellion against
the mainstream was modeled, packaged, and sold back to us..
right up to the present, when someone like Jessica Simpson
can be called a "singer" and unmade beds and a room with
a blinking light can be called "art".
occupants of the 21st century and inhabitants of the city
of Los Angeles, we feel we offer a unique perspective simply
by living in Babylon, Hollyweird or whatever moniker you
wish to identify our city by - we see the "culture" spouting
from Satan's mouth first and foremost. We've seen the best
artists of multiple generations eaten up by the lure of
potential riches of the various entertainment industries,
and we've seen time and time again, the few good artists
that our city has produced, be overlooked for the hottest
stars from New York. We turn on our televisions, go to the
cineplex, or open up the culture section of the local newspaper,
and say to ourselves, "This is not my city, this is not
my reality, this is not my life!" And we know that if we
feel this way, then millions of others around the world
must feel the same - who have even less power to stop the
onslaught of Hollywood-created cultural products.
formed the Los Angeles chapter of the Stuckist International
because - and we don't think this is egotism speaking here
- this city needs Stuckism more than any other on earth.
For generations it has been the mecca for creative types
of all stripes, but most who come here are lost in the neon
glow and dirty alleyways, and the broken dreams outnumber
the "successes" by a million to one margin. It is packaged
and sold to the world as the city where anything is possible,
but, damn, it's been a while since any great new ideas came
out of here. It is a city where every culture in the world
has come together, but far too many wear blinders to the
lives and humanity of their closest neighbors and are psychologically
ghetto-ized. It is a city where history is torn down every
twenty years and replaced with the newest model, and then
a screenwriter decides how best to tell that story and sell
it to the rest of the planet.
created STUCK IN L.A. to challenge the artists of
our city - the artists of all disciplines, mind you. We
did it to throw down the gauntlet and demand better of them;
to thumb our noses at the art critics who say that art movements
are dead, and kick over lanterns in the art schools that
won't even teach painting anymore. To remind the high art
world that there are still some people actually painting
out here, and to insist that painters learn their craft
before they unleash themselves on the world. To encourage
people to read and learn and absorb all they can from the
wealth of human creation that's come before them, even if
it makes them unpopular.
okay to be out of vogue. It's okay not to be the
next big thing in "Art in America". It's okay
to buck the system... the whole system. It's okay
to be STUCK!
Stuckist group - April 9, 2006.