So as you dear reader(s) know, I make a lot of paintings based on popular culture. That is the aspect of culture that I suspect has had the most impact on contemporary human type beings. There are still a lot of people who love so-called High Culture– classical music (or New Music, or whatever), Fine Art (I particularly like that one!) and, well you get the idea. But Popular Culture shapes us in ways we’re probably not even aware of. It would not surprise me if there was even research into the idea that the pop culture we consume effects our political views. Maybe not for everyone (see Trumpists–okay, maybe they just hate Hollywood, but even they have their favourites–jackasses like James Woods, Scott Baio and Dennis Miller), and I can only speak from my own experience, but I know pop culture has shaped my own views on the world, including political ones.
I mentioned in my post about music that I when I was younger I didn’t feel like I belonged in my own generation, so I looked to the 60s and 70s for most of my musical influences. And the fact that most of the musicians I looked up to had left wing politics definitely had an impact on me. Satire was also a big thing for me. I’ve been told on occasion that satire is basically useless, that it doesn’t really have an effect on society. I know that’s not true, it had an impact on me and continues to do so to this day, and I know I don’t live in a bubble. I’m also pretty sure good satire can have an effect on someone who is on the fence on issues of our time, but I can’t prove it.
Satire is the reason I created my alter-ego Stan Dickie, influenced by satirical comedians, TV shows and movies and comic strips, and while I haven’t updated the site for a while, it feels like that should happen sooner than later. Speaking of comic strips, the satire in some of the best ones is the reason I wanted to be a cartoonist. Back in the old days, when Bloom County came along, it revived my interest in cartooning. The fruits of that can be seen at Gorilla in the Midst.com, the home of my comic strip. Who knows maybe one day I’ll update it again! Some of it is pretty damned funny, if I say so myself. I know I’ve said exactly that before in this blog, but I do enjoy knowing, or at least thinking that someone out there is reading it!
Anyway, I suppose what I’m getting at in my rambly sort of way, is that Pop Culture, can lead to satire, which can lead to overtly political art. I could also mention here that I used to do editorial cartoons for the student newspaper at the University of Manitoba. Looking back they weren’t that good, but it shows the interest has always been there. All this could also tie back into Stupidism, but I won’t get into that now.
Since I started doing the Picasso/Condo influenced work, I’ve dipped my toes into politics on occasion. There’s a series of small paintings that are a little more experimental than some of the other ones, but I also won’t get into that here. I’ve mentioned before that the only metric I have for what my audience prefers is social media, particularly Instagram. And the political ones don’t get a lot of love, but maybe they need a second look.
Although the subject matter of these paintings is political figures, they may not at first glance seem all that political. But I think the titles show a little subversiveness. Hilary (Trumped), for example is me imagining what the people’s choice for US president in 2016 might have felt like after a run-in with Trump. The title of my painting of Ruth Bader Ginsburg–RBG is Watching You–also betrays my political leanings (see last Thursday’s Instagram post for more, and give it a “like” while you’re at it!). Anyway, what do y’all think? Should I do more? Watch Instagram on Thursday for my painting of the woman I suspect will actually become the first woman president. See ya next week!