LOOK AT THIS STUDIO
FILLED WITH GLAMOROUS PRIZES,
FABULOUS AND EXCITING
The Game Show Series. Dare I say the most American of all Genre paintings? What is more popular and familiar in American cultural entertainment than game shows? And in America, entertainment is the extent of aesthetic consumption. As with much of my other work (Frat series, prom girls) I have explored a subject matter so ubiquitous in Main Street America in an attempt to make viewing art an accessible, undaunting experience. However, I am still skeptical whether ordinary Americans will ever covet art the way they yearn for the featured prizes – the objects they nearly always buy instead.
On an artistic level, creating the game show series allowed me to paint with all my favorite colors and in a variety of sizes, including sweeping panoramas. One theme emerged as I was painting: global warming. Many of the paintings feature fake scenes of nature – notice the water levels recede and the dominating sun detrimentally bake the ground. The signs of climate change are all around us, but our enthrallment with meaningless objects and an inveterate culture of excess and greed make us ostriches.
Despite the smiling beauties and hopefulness inherent in games of chance, the series, overall, has a much darker message: it is a statement on how the apparent elite collect art today. The outside art world consists of greed and fashion, promoted by Chelsea Galleries, art fairs, auction houses, and art advisors – arguably, the same greed and fashion that enables the 1980 Ford Taurus to make every coach potato in 1980 America drool, and every viewer in 2013 dry-mouthed, despite the car’s fresh paint. I question whether art in galleries will last any longer than the Ford, and whether that art is merely a prize to commemorate wealth. When people collect art as prizes rather than as personally meaningful objects of quality and beauty, we turn the art market into a game of The Price is Right (and the price is very, very high).
Along with the art-ignorant masses and the prize-hoarding collectors, I, too, am a guilty game show contestant. I am sitting in my studio hoping my name will be called, hoping for the opportunity to spin the wheel – knowing I could be the one to win the grand prize. But my disillusionment restrains my ambition: few of my canvases, by choice, will leave Salem. The Game Show series is unique among my work in that I painted it with the intention to sell it in the galleries as a commentary on art prizes. The series would be all the more poignant if the work sold for millions. However, though game shows may purport that some degree of skill will win the prize, in reality, they are games of chance, and no matter how much more talented I am than the contestants on TV, I may never be picked. After all, when the contestant can be anybody, it can be you, and it can also be me, but merit won’t propel me forward when the gallery is a game show stage.