Art and Subverted Commerce

Just as punk broke down the doors to a career in music and subverted the notion that one had to possess musical skills prior to entering the arena, the art aesthetic called “low brow” had opened the doors to Art.

The DIY ethic that grew in more and more people in the late 70s and early eighties was born from a determination to create your own authentic version of whatever you wanted or needed to bring into the world.

Basquiat was able to take his business from the street to the gallery when the times allowed.

For me, Frank Zappa represents the beginning of the DIY ethic for me. He questioned the established paths, methods of operation, commercialism and other conformist attitudes.

FRANK ZAPPAIn southern California in the 60s there were other freak artists. Surfing and Cars were a big part of the culture. Ed “Big Daddy” Roth was making really interesting art from automobiles and so was every guy in every little bedroom community within a 50 mile radius of Los Angeles.

An artist name Robert Williams was drawn in to Roth’s scene and look what he has done with that free and subversive attitude.

Check out his very interesting art rag Juxtapoz.

<My 2005 painting of Frank Zappa. Check out his rhinestone studded eyes.

There are two other artist I want to jump to before I run out of time and space this morning.

Ron English and Shepherd Fairy.

These boys studded their environment, especially in the case of English,  with subversive art laid over advertising. English added elements to the pervasive advertising art, billboards, street signs that made the viewer reexamine the content of that add.

Shepherd Fairy creates iconography that invites the viewer to assign value to the symbols used.

His Andre the Giant icon was made on a whim while working with and teaching a friend about silkscreen images. Fairy started posting the simple image up in his environment and watched as, unexpectedly, people speculated and invented a really mind-boggling variety of myths about what force or group was behind the image. He was shocked by the reaction but realized the potential power in image.

The top of Fairy’s web site reads “Manufacturing quality dissent since 1989.”

Chinese propaganda posters from the Cultural Revolution Mao era are particularly interesting to me.

I’ve done taken a couple of the images and rendered them as Bitty Pix.

This one features Mao and a Cecil B. DeMille scale cast of patriotic chinese citizens all waving the flag, which i have made black instead of red, and cluching their copies of Mao’s little red book. Those radiant lines are used often by Fairy.

Fairy created the simple and powerful film poster for “Walk the Line.”

The Chinese posters were selling the notion that with hard work and dedication the people would bring about abundance and health and beauty in their country.


Here ia a fresh link (6. 14) to an article in the L.A. Weekly about French filmmaker/ artist Thierry Guetta aka Mr. Brainwash.


2 Responses to “Art and Subverted Commerce”

  1. Kudos for a thought-provoking, lovely blog and great linkage, Ms. D. Your Andy glam portrait is just gorgeous — and I share your Andyworship. I was once in an elevator with him and he was so nervous that I just smiled and said nothing; he seemed greatly relieved. From A to B and Back again is one of my favorite books.

    Speaking of repurposing, borrowing and rearranging, you may enjoy our ancient proto-website, the the Herb Lane Museum with some musical and graphic backstory at

    Also found an intriguing new artist Daniel Barrow. His video for Hidden Camera’s “A Miracle” is gorgeous!

    Keep up the inspiring work, and we’ll keep stopping by. Thanks!

  2. Thanks Tripleshack.
    I appreciate the kind words and the great links to Herb Lane Museum and World Imitation.

    That house in Northridge is splendid, too.

    One of my favorite things about the W.I. video are Laurie’s eyes. You’re spellbinding Ms. Laurie.

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