STUCK IN L.A.
The Los Angeles Chapter of the Stuckist International - www.la-stuckism.com
Stuckistas advocating Remodernism - the renewal of spirituality and meaning in art, culture and society.

[ 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. ]

It's O.K to be Stuck!

Put 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.

Now, 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.

But alas, these poor budding artists have to grow up.

Because 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 be wonderful?

Stuckism 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.

Furthermore, 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).

The 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.

Stuckism 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).

The 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.

Why Stuckism in the 21st century? Why Stuckism in Los Angeles?

In 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".

As 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.

We 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.

We 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.

It's 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!

LA Stuckist group - April 9, 2006.