BlackmonsteReview Mater, Mother and Child

Mater, archival inkjet monoprint, 40 x 80 inches, 2017

The Politics of the Cartoon and Contemporary Art

a Statement


Tavarus Blackmonster



Historical Confluences

Thinking of the painting, Self –Portrait with Carnation, 1912, Otto Dix, I realize that my endeavor in art is serious business. And that is not to say that art is not full of its pleasures. But, any career endeavor offering little capital reward for extensive work should be taken serious. That is, of course, if you are a person of integrity who can find craft in the studio and in one’s lifestyle. Therefore, understand my necessity to imbibe the sublime in my paintings, and also too understand, that I am not making beautiful objects. I ride my bicycle. I don’t own a car. The parallels between the way I feel when an angry driver threatens me with their vehicle and the way I felt when being told what being African-American would mean for me by my Irish-Italian mother (because I was raised without a father), is a basic introduction to what supremely influences me. I don’t have to be a genius to understand the implications of global warming.

But, I ride my bike. Why should I care? I don’t have to be a genius to understand the delicate threads that bind and ultimately define the relationship of the African-American to American History. However, I work, vote and file taxes, so, why should I care? The German Expressionists, The Hairy Who and 1960’s Hyde Park exhibitors including Jim Nutt, Gladys Nilsson, Roger Brown, Ed Paschke and Don Baum, also, the work of Peter Saul, Robert Williams, Lari Pittman, Philip Guston, Carroll Dunham and Robert Colescott, all provide a contextual lens through which to view my work. The use of cartoon imagery is something that is evident in their paintings. Like some of them, I looked to images in places like comic books, car magazines, and cartoons with characters such as Donald Duck, Pop-eye and Woody Woodpecker.

In no small way, I have been working in their shadow, the odd ball, and the outsider. I have always made cartoons because I actually like cartoons. Working in my studio, thinking of affecting someone with what I make, I paint absurd things. Notions of abolition by J.M.W. Turner may have seemed romantic at the time, so using a cartoon to talk politics should not seem so juvenile. I prefer the euphemism, irreverent, and link its heritage to the American comedic traditions, comic strips, literary illustrations and perhaps World War One and Two political propaganda. The trappings of post war America in the 1950’s weren’t all Betty Crocker dead-ends, and the subjective nature of first, second and contemporary generations of Fine Art Cartooning has always been critical. Both, moving away from and deeper towards a space of Abstraction but also too and away from the populous. These cartoons are born of a popular media but with the addition of grotesquery and personal/social content, which is at odds with the arms of illustrative or animated content produced as commerce-as opposed to expression. Like these savants of the delicate, grotesque, irreverent, bawdy, cathartic and poignant, I aim to express. The Fine Art Cartoon embraces expression because to embrace production is to become a cog of capitalism, a laborer of products wherein mass producibility and globalization can be the only natural end- game. But, the vulnerability of presenting the unknown, the bravery to dismantle the mimetic into only its most recognizable or unrecognizable, its most emotive or comically apparent attributes is to venture nakedly into the subjectivity of the majority. And the majority can at times be particularly uncreative and decidedly sycophant, which is difficult for an artist who will inherently chose a path of contrast.

In my personal life and regarding the populous, cartoons are the coup de grace of a failing cinematic industry. I could no more sit in front of a major motion picture release and be lied to for three hours than I could listen to someone manipulate me and be easy. With the cartoon there is a guise of fantasy, in that any social or political message has an ultimate deniability or implausibility. But in life even the image of reality is enough to fool the masses or, in the case of War of the Worlds, H.G Wells novel that infamously frightened a listening public when broadcast in October 1938 by Orson Wells, even a sound that resembles the familiar is enough to cause frenzy. With the cartoon the events of that world happen in as much as the characters and mis en scene are manipulated to represent a situation but they are made, not represented and no one is fooled. But, even content based in reality has a measure of separation from reality, in that the fallacy of the fantasy world is not enough to impress the notion of actuality-at least now that we are all desensitized to depictions like, The Great Train Robbery, 1903, Edwin S. Porter. But, just like an infant chimp who prefers a furry mother with no food, opposed to a metal Mom with lots of milk, a viewer can be more deceived by the images that satiate their expectations when compared to the cartoon, which is ironic because unlike mimesis the cartoon is the antithesis of deception, being both real and unreal with the power to deem indifferent or fervor. I believe that if I cannot change the world perhaps I can change someone’s mind. Because, I want to live in a safe, healthy and happy world and since I can’t have that, sarcasm, satire, irony, irreverence and maybe even a little ribald painting is all the agency I have left.

Without being too hasty, having a forum within which to insert these discourses is not something to be taken for granted, and painting and a career in Arts instruction will help to support my family. So, I suit-up, say what I feel and the irony is never lost. And, with the Fine Art Cartoon, irony is criticality without confrontation; this is a world where everyone and everything can be held accountable, without violence or subjugation. Entrenched in the Fine Arts, I like to think the spirit of Muhammad Ali is something that informs me. Something artists like Robert Colescott and Lari Pittman possess is a strong connection to the unique cultures that inform them. I am not different. Ali could ‘float,’ and ‘fly,’ and in my own way, a confidence, a sense of the brash, is something I bring to my practice. If the work is effective I’m doing my job, if the work has an impact I’m really “doing the dozens.” The psychology of a Mother joke is as such: take something that someone holds dear and, subvert it… The use of line and the employment of expressive colors is something important to someone like Peter Saul, who is quite effective at subverting the subject. These two formal qualities are the basis for my work. Just like drawing is important to an animator, and elements of design are important to a sign maker, form and space are the ultimate factors for a painter. But with a crooked line and a high key color I am confident that I can offend or inspire with relative ease. And, with a crooked line and a high key color I create original forms and unrecognizable spaces. These artists, and myself, draw a formal, technical and perhaps, philosophical line when it comes to showing/not showing particular forms and spaces. That is to say the aesthetics of the cartoon hover the grotesque like a fly over a dying body and throughout history, have been a means to think critically about difficult subjects. With there natural comedic style, which is commingled with serious concerns, the cartoon can be one of the most powerful images.

One of the most haunting films of the last hundred years, to me, is Land Without Bread, 1933 Luis Bunuel. Perhaps the sheer comedic juxtaposition of the Spanish Aristocracy and the trifling foibles of the indigenous Spaniards with the austere perception of the presentation of ethnography is what is so disheartening. The life and bright of a cartoon poses the difficult in a lush and robust world, much like in The Adventures of Prince Achmed, 1926, Lotte Reiniger, Carl Koch and The Triplets of Belleville, 2003, Sylvain Chomet and especially the post-war, pre-industrialized eco masterpiece, Princess Mononoke, 1997, Hayao Miyazaki. Where the grotesquery of Land Without Bread is represented as a donkey ravaged by killer bees, the cartoon hovers the disgusting as to not be of it. And, where the larger ideology of disgusting can be seen as the actual experiences of some people, the cartoon hovers over the collective human experience, not being quite of it but an encoding of pain and sacrifice, beauty and hope that transcends even the human form or humanity itself, and exists in a realm of transcendence or psychedelic expression- neither real yet, not all unreal.

The visual artists I am discussing use a fine line, one in polar balance - between extreme exaggerations to Photorealism, to articulate the object and subject. And color, well, they have a strong appreciation for color. Why else use hot pink or complementary pairs like purple and yellow, why else paint a Blonde in a Juke Joint or Dresden in green or use Day Glo colors if you aren’t utterly compelled to create an engaging space through the cacophony of disparate chromatic qualities? Yet, there remains a harmony to the composition. A masterful use of line is constituent to an ability of drafting. Painting, then, is what makes them such exciting contemporary artists and such exciting artists of their time. Color transforms technical ability into an experience based on an interaction of invitation, whereby a space is created within which to enter. Most importantly, the term enter refers to an experience which does not exist on a surface, or, the surface. Further, the surfaces of their work are varied and well treated, consider the fleshy pink hues of Philip Guston in his earlier abstracted paintings to the idea of the palimpsest that circulated his work after his departure with abstraction. Further, consider the fleshy browns, pinks and yellows of a Robert Colescott figure, the slick, sleek, transparency and optical play of a Lari Pittman masterpiece or the notion of collaboration and aspect ratio (to use a filmic term) in a Don Baum found, paint-by-numbers painting, etc., etc., etc.

Utilizing the cartoon as a painting language, allows them to reduce or emphasize the qualities of line like speed, rhythm, repetition and contour, etc. All variations have their own specific psychological effect. They exaggerate the qualities of expressive colors. No doubt, color theory from hand-painted cel animation, signs, psychedelic poster art and comics influenced their respective theories, as well as Modernism, graphic illustration, technical drafting and Retablos. Perhaps intentionally doing things “wrong,” was a factor, or the patina of a dark, dank, bloody battlefield made an impression that informed some of their work. The World War One photographs Hugo Erfurth showed Otto Dix must have been cathartic, coupled with his war record Der Krieg seems the predecessor of any visual zombie apocalypse.


They create experiences. They are unique, irreverent, ugly and beautiful. If ever you were to look, and could in fact move past all the color, or social commentary or bloody truth you will see. Cartoons are linked to pulp media, and comic strips and illustration and children’s programming, but the art of the Fine Art cartoon is one that holds no pretensions to expectation. Whereas an art that merely satisfies a formal expectation is not one of daring or invention or risk-taking, only existing ubiquitously as a reflection of those expectations - similar in the fashion of a mirror. The cartoon shatters those expectations because juxtaposed with edgy content, it not only has its own way of beginning a discussion yet satiates the eye with an immediate, visually revealing interaction, and is inherently rooted in opposition. Opposition that is, of the mimetic or natural experience. My art is an attempt in this regard. And, with all the talk surrounding art with little object and subject matter, with all the confounding and conjecture, obscurant information and literary obfuscation, all the talk of plasticity before the time that plastics filtered into our blood streams, why not? With all the time spent deliberating on the medium, why not enter this space? And, see if all the grand ‘knowing,’ all the postulating, and empty, verbal gesticulations, can stand up to all the things that aren’t being said.

Peter Saul utilizes elements from various movements of Modernist painting: Realism, Futurism, Surrealism, and Abstraction. Representational imagery gets juxtaposed with Abstraction. With Jim Nutt, grotesque imagery can be juxtaposed with the technical touch and media of a sign painter, all under a subversive and comic-like context. I have been exploring similar methods and materials, seeking the look of a sign at times, painting on vinyl and painting on canvas. I use transparencies; I work in oil and acrylic. I work on paper. I spend time drawing, drawing, drawing. Not having to look far into art history to influence my work, contemporary artists like Peter Saul and Robert Colescott seem to push the envelope of painting. They show you something you don’t want to see and always follow the rules of good painting, in that all the aesthetic painting mores may not be adhered to, but the formal lynchpins like color, paint handling, form and composition are packed with substantive strength, vibrancy and excitement. Even when everything has been done, you can still throw the sink around. Sometimes what splashes makes a mark. It is not enough to merely add sugar and spice for me however; I do want to bake a cake. I don’t want to fool around; I don’t want just anything. I want a delicious chocolate cake.

In closing, I notice the sense of sensual detail, so wrought and exhausting that it exists in the Horror Vacui. Thinking of Blonde’s Have More Fun, 1990, Robert Cole Scott, there is a parallel between his portrayal of American life and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s, Street, Dresden, 1907. A unique personal response to the delicate interweaving of American identities and the social response to German modernity might have informed the expression. Just like the domestic relations regarding urban communities in California during the Regan Gubernatorial era might have been influential for Government of California, 1969, Peter Saul. Here, the sensory and psychological experience is expressed through color, irreverence is achieved through satire and irony, and they attack each edge of the picture plane. What I learn from Lari Pittman is that you dare not stop looking. He is in command at every point of the picture. Being generous, satisfying my urge to indulge my work - working all over - I also aim to please. What I learned from line and color I also learned from composition: extreme sensation presupposes extreme expression; I’m not painting this way. I am this way, every time I paint. Further, one can not live in the world and not be affected by it. And, to purport a world removed from reality is to award artists who commodify fantasy. But art and entertainment are mutually exclusive, or are they? And, how ironic to exist under the guise of realism but perpetrate a lie of culture/humanity

Formal/ Informal

My paintings drip, much like blood and semen and tears. A lot of sweat drips from my body on any average day in my studio. My work oozes, seeps and simmers, it is done, undone and over-ripe; this is everything and more without apology or the necessity of explanation. The spirit inside is something I reveal, however excitatory, much like phlebotomy, ejaculation or one’s mammary gland reveal their humanity in a moment of intimacy or expression. But, the search for meaning is never overshadowed by my urge toward aestheticism. One painting can have so much content: social, political, cultural - you name it - but an ugly painting is an ugly painting. Conversely, a painting with no content can really light someone’s fire. I try to make art that is exciting; I try to make art that can kick your art’s ass. And, a nod of criticality amidst the prerequisite of formality, all juxtaposed with the play and “fun,” of the cartoon make the Fine Art Cartoon an ironic insert into canonical rhetoric. But further for me, the “thing,” is never more important than the philosophy of the thing. And it is our understanding of each other, or lack that is, which offers meaning to subjugation of object.

It is thinking about reclaiming the rainbow and reclaiming the kitchen that informs my practice, these things I regard as inalienable gifts, though, so far removed from my reality as a heterosexual American male. What is the representation of masculine vulnerability? Forms from nature, roles of domesticity, compassion; I try to connect to the values and sensations of a nurturing humanity that inspire me. Painting a stove, articulating a beautiful rainbow: I cherish the strength of Mothers, and am proud to love a rainbow for what it is and what it might represent. What about reclaiming the Gingerbread boy, in as much as a cookie is a metaphor for a disenfranchised youth? Realities are vibrant, chaotic, sublime and violent, but they are never equal. Much about my work I can’t control. Using motifs and paints and drawing is how I engage my work, but doing more and planning less has paid dividends. I perceive a certain authenticity in the immediacy of my work. Abstraction, juxtaposed with surrealistic imagery, altered states of consciousness and automatic drawing - the Street - I will drink and dance and stare you down. At one point accepting hard-to-swallow truths was a way to overcome the difficulties like a methamphetamine addiction, homelessness, suicide attempts, not having a father, loosing my mind, alcohol abuse, but now, having come so far, painting truthfully allows me to work with dignity and not feel like the Big Truth is lodged in my throat. I feel my painting serves as a reference to what I’m thinking. I hope my painting serves as the start of a conversation: the binary nature of truth is that it remains perpetually bound to fallacy.

I’m heterosexual and I want to talk about the rainbow because it is a symbol of compassion and a sign for the disenfranchised and it is important to me. The Mother and child are important to me because the woman and lesbian female influence modeled roles of domesticity in my youth. Having children and becoming the father I always wanted, Cooking for my children and learning to eat healthy are important to me. Being Other is important to me. All my Gingerbread Cookies are important to me. Riding my bicycle and not buying gas helps the environment and my health and is important to me. The Swastika, as perceived from a non-Western perspective, is important to me. Rabbit’s on the moon, fantasy, nature, magic, the secret of The Serpent In The Sky, all are important to me . . .

Using imagery like this exposes my respect for nature, life, family, Women, healthy lifestyle choices, under-represented individuals, the poor, practical living, green energy, urban and diverse cultures and the importance of the father to the child and family. You can pile up all the heroic marks and heroic gestures and heroic impulses you want, I’m really trying to light a fire. I’m striking a match, and turning up the fucking heat.

Technological Practices

My work, in some regard, is dependent on technology. I use it either as a sole means to create work or, at the least, I use digital photography and computer applications to document my process and output images for the purpose of promoting my work. My background in Film and Video influence my practice. Having been trained in lighting and cinematography, I feel very comfortable with a camera in my hand; what artist today is not handling some kind of camera? As someone who works with technology, it seems natural to reference it in my work. With the series Chocologic, the camera and the idea of the ‘shot,’ and the implications in the aftermath of a shooting are connected. Consider the ‘shooter,’ then, but for some reason I go back to the camera: looking at different cameras throughout history, are they a tool, a social art form, a collateral party

- perhaps.

You can point and shoot a gun and you can point and shoot a camera. To me they seem to be utterly symbiotic. Could shooting video be as harmful as firing a weapon? Given our sensational media, and film’s history specifically, The Birth of A Nation, 1915, D.W. Griffith, not to mention the racist ideologies that perforated cartoons from the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s, a case could be made. Today, violence precipitates the record button, quarreling is the cue of fledgling videographers and taping the madness is no more the work of cowards but an attempt to stay with… the shot! In deed, the trappings of the Surveillance State are that everyone is holding a camera and thus, everyone is on camera. To state it further, without the documentation of film/video and photography reality lacks the solidarity, moreover, the authenticity of the sign. Our lives are less for not having been recorded and our stories are now constituent to their ability to be recorded and serialized. We behave according to trope and stereotype, we communicate with signs and speak in symbols and our self worths are up for public vote. And, how too far the silent tree has fallen from the echo of attention. Kerplunk!

Studying Film, researching photography, and painting for pleasure: what is the point? Many people die on camera and I don’t even own a T.V. Painting, painting, painting. Printmaking. If the pixel is the language of the Automaton the code is dichotomy. A binary sign becomes the discourse of the masses . . .

What say we meet in the middle.

Working with digital printing processes over the past few years has created new avenues for my work. Printing large scale, and then working with paint and collage on top of the print, allows me to re-contextualize the problem of mechanical reproduction. Thus, even if I printed something more than once-which has not occurred in my practice-the painting on the surface of the print would never be the same. Printing on various substrates: canvas, paper, Di-bond, Gator-board, plastic, and aluminum, while utilizing traditional techniques like lamination, collage, and painting on top of the print, has helped to create works that are neither all print nor painting. This is an interdisciplinary methodology, which is a formal bent that remains part of my practice. Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between the printed mark and my handmade mark. This is an element that adds mystery to the work. All examples of my printmaking practice are an effort to further understand - with an assumption of pushing the linear boundaries - the limitations of the digital medium. My background in drawing and my interest in medical illustration inform me. The work of artist’s like Albrecht Durer, M.C.Escher and in contemporary terms, John E. Buck, are an influence. Now, through the democracy of digital print media, I have entered the realm of the printmaker without ever having touched a plate. But, what of this democracy, is the digital free or bound to be other? Well, thinking of cinema and photography though digital practices overtook analogue to a degree the patina and enthusiasm of and toward film still cannot be reproduced or rivaled. Thus, any blowback from traditional printmaking toward digital art should be seen as petty. Much like the cartoon is a psychedelic representation, computer art creates avenues whereby without technology there is no access for some. Art is of the hand but first, art is of the mind.

I recently purchased my first large format printer, so printing at home is allowing me to make art in new ways. Roughing up paper with ashes and sticks and wire, drawing on top of the paper with different sizes of pens and pencils and markers, is now an option. Scanning the paper, importing to digital platforms, then printing from my desk, is definitely assisting me in creating new art. Throughout history artists have used tools to facilitate their process. From projectors, lucida, camera obscura and of coarse observation, artists have used various artifacts and senses to materialize the immaterial. The computer, today one could assert, is a prerequisite of education if not humanity. Free government smart phones are available on the corner of America’s ghetto’s, and microprocessors are found in many household objects and are even worn by many people as status symbols. To state that computer art is diminutive to the hand is to undermine that society is dependent on technology and thus, artists are dependent on society. Painting may wear the crown but the pixel sure does a lot of leg work. Working all-over in the Horror Vacui, then quickly and non-destructively utilizing design elements like value-placement has benefited my creative process and has been made possible through my digital work. A little access goes a long way, and as a crafty artist, one can make a print, send it to a bookbinder, animate the rig, add audio, have it printed on a shirt and/or send it to a 3D printer. There seem limitless possibilities in a single, unassuming computer file. Access to technology provides more opportunities to create much like, for the artists that have been discussed, painting cartoons provides more opportunities to create and think critically. If one can’t be at the studio, they can work from the desktop at home. The portability and mobility of computer art is that you can take a laptop and camera wherever you go. Monet had a little boat; artists today, including me, now have the world. Thus, the art of digital media is one with innumerable possibilities for global dissemination, meaning democracy is in the hands of those willing to do the work others will not do for them. My work has traveled farther around the world on the computer than it has traveled around my home town. How do you like them apples!

I would like to further my understanding of these and other new developments in technology. It is important to clearly establish that I am not merely playing with toys, but, take access to technology very seriously. I understand the cost of a single Smartphone to the ecology, and sociology of the planet not to mention the entire amount of technology I consume. It is important to realize that for every new device in the store, a significant human, biological and environmental price be paid. At the least, in using it’s resources, I feel a social responsibility regarding the content and context of my work. To me it seems consumer technology is no more a record of society than it is one of consumer trends. Access, accessibility and democratic practices should be considered a priority for the future of technological development. But, an artist makes a record of culture, subjective or objective, and I attempt to make a responsible one; I use technology to this end.

And with the closing notes on technology it is important to discuss and contrast the roles of the designer and the artist, the priority and benefits of STEM fields versus the treatment of artists and how the cartoon, specifically the Fine Art Cartoon is akin to creation and invention where design is used for manipulation and suggestion.

In Serpent in the Sky, 2012, John Anthony West, Quest Books, the correlation is made between dark magic and sorcery and subliminal messaging and the advertising industry. One of the definitions of art is that it exists to be an art object, as identified by the artist, and has no other purpose but to be seen. Art, in fact, does many things other than be seen and the ability of artists to transcend through their work, the viewer into not only perceived and intangible spaces but unconscious and metaphysical relationships with not only people but culture is phenomenological.

But, design is not art. Though, following the suggested logic it could be closer to artifact. Many artists become designers and many people set out to be designers but design does not exist just to be seen. Design has a purpose, a function and it is used in one regard to influence people to buy products. Also, design is used to create facsimiles of products such as weapons, worlds and advertisements are facets of the New Millennium that help to create avatars of identity. Ads guide consumers through their lives which can trace and timeline activity like economic growth and decline, technological access and personal and professional communications from device to device. Psychology is a major factor of design and messages rooted in sensitivity to chromatics, forms, angular and linear rhythms and geometric attributes all effect us to one degree or another. Add in the persona and the link in the brain between observing and the perception of doing and not before long you’re mirror neurons have memorized the Oscar Meyer Weiner song, but don’t even eat hot dogs. But the catch is, in a time of hot dogs you have Oscar Meyer on speed dial.

But even with the power of advertisement, which in the hands of Industry is never considered sorcery, the truth remains that it is artistic. Which, comparing it to art, would make it more like artifact with its deliberate function. Further, the recent developments in technology and the designers apparent aptitude or necessity to communicate through digital or technological means has deemed it a STEM field. Alas, the work of the artist and designer only differ in there societal and cultural function: Art creates meaning/Design creates purpose. Meaning can be described as the articulation of relationships between things such as people, culture and the world we inhabit. Purpose on the other had is considered a reasoning or justification for something and as a verb is known as one’s objective. The trouble is apparent. The purpose is Coca Cola. The purpose is Disney. The purpose is Wal-Mart. It seems we’ve lost our purpose to a faded glory, much in the way we have become sarcophaguses of identity. We speak in a consumer language and only understand each other with respect to our perceived consumer sensibilities.

I am a Marlboro Man, and I don’t even like to smoke…

It is true that studying STEM related fields and instructing in STEM related fields offer benefits to individuals who in turn behave as consumers establishing their societal roles and schools of thought based on the breadth of Industry and commerce. In addition to the difference between the role of the artist verses the role of the designer and how the function of their products are disparate, so too different is the agency of these fields. Perhaps STEM is a designation of luxury for designers because a designer can only say what is allowed. Style books, portfolios and brand loyalty are all methods for not only advertisers to keep their products in the hearts and minds of consumers but also the designer in a non-creative capacity- or at least one within a parameter of design. Artists however, one would assume, do what they want. This is definitely not true. But they can and, some do. A lack of oversight it seems is why an artist is not allowed the benefits of a STEM designation but a designer, is. After all, multinational and global corporations employ designers and this only helps to bolster corporate interests, which is the basic function of the designer. An artist or artisan then, must seem like a naive blunderer, without the framework of Industry the artist blindly gestures through their work, with the unfortunate potential to create something universally or genre specifically recognizable, which in the end circles them back to a brand, icon, sign etymological reverberatory trance, tempting the devil with his own smile. Becoming a triadic arbiter between the pseudo individuality of the artist, the peddling of style and fashion masquerading as culture and the automaton consumer, this artist bases their work on the market. The consumer purchases style under the auspice of culture due to their dependence on a culture that inculcates them with designs that psychologically effect them with a self prescribed purpose. Hence paradoxically, art creates purpose to seek design that creates meaning through its consumer attributes. Then, the artist becomes a designer of style instead of expressive of culture. And, the style is an icon of a perpetual consumer encoding.

The Fine Art Cartoon separates itself from this design and the overall broken discussion on technology and Fine Art because it implies originality. It separates itself from Pop Art or contemporary outsider art because it references the culture of society but not the culture of media. It separates itself from cartoons because as a visual object and experience it does not posses a narrative as to have been written. It seems that a ping-pong and direct line can be drawn from the late 19th C and early 1900’s from the German Expressionists, specifically Republican Automatons (Republikanische Automaten), 1920, George Grosz and Colonial Mannequins, 1943, Giorgio de Chirico clear up to the end of Modernism and contemporary painting with works like, George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware, 1975, Robert Colescott and San Quentin #1, 1970, Peter Saul. But one has to wonder if the 19th and 20th century iterations of political criticism of Grosz and Di Chirico and that of Colescott and Saul were also influenced by a populous or constituency as to empower a situation subtle, artistic unrest? Robert Colescott and Peter Saul’s careers continued into the New Millennium and Peter Saul is still active, evidenced by Relax in Electric Chair: Peter Saul at di Rosa and In Conversation: Peter Saul at the Gatehouse Gallery, di Rosa, May, 2015. This is proof that the most powerful of political cartoons aren’t found in the New York Times, The New Yorker or other city-wide periodical, but housed sometimes in galleries and museums. One can not design expression then, because it is encoded with a feeling or intuition and offered to interpretation by the artist and STEMs from an articulation of individuation where design, on the other hand, is decoded with the intent to further the profit and facilitate the centralization of Industry.

The Role of the Fine Art Cartoon-Revisitation

In many painter’s quest to show the figure the ego of the self overshadows the importance of and due respect to the painting. For example, in theological terms, if first God creates humans in an image reflective of that being and humans develop beasts based on their servitude, the painter often assumes the role of God to create images of people in a manner reflective of their personage. For example, one might wonder if it occurred to John Currin to depict an interracial love scene. So as it were, the taboos of affection and the expectance of acceptable intimacy will remain oppositional among a paradigm of indifference and discrimination. But as artists, we are trained to make (paintings) things that are beautiful, sublime, aesthetic. Art itself is a luxury which implies that it is desired. People like nice things and as artists we are trained that art is subjective, visual, experiential, and that art objects are meant to be to be looked at. A look un-averted, mind you, is a look of satisfactory agreement. We all appreciate things that are pleasant to look at.

For example, a butterfly, a sunset over an ocean or flat, farmland plain-a rainbow, these are things that are nice to look at. They are beautiful. This phenomenon is physiological and neurological, thus neuro-physiological, in that we experience beauty with the senses(body) and the mind(neuro-chemistry.) Much in a correlational manner, not surprisingly, to how one would experience the phenomenon of simultaneous or complementary contrast. Or moreover, in the manner of a three dimensionally spectacular experience, or any visual experience rather, where elements of light, surface and color form a nexus dependent on the variability of physical and chemical interaction based on the phenomenological occurrence of altered perception. Art today has traversed into an age of ubiquitous pleasure and spectacle. Void of authenticity, resplendence or a visceral, psychological or spiritual appreciation of humanity, nature and the proximity, connection and coexistence with others; style perforates meaning. There is no more appreciation for the art of the figure as today, actuaries of acceptability are promoted, tailoring paint-by-number careers benchmarked by familiarity and the encoding of a loop of self-prescribed, consumer-driven decode-ability. People actually watch murder on T.V., the internet and their smart phone. Yet, it is such that the same people often pay at the cinema to watch similar images of people blown to bits between choking on kernels and cavorting guffaws in stinky theaters with slimy floors. The desired experience is one of expectation. The obvious figure is one of reciprocal gratification.

But then again, an image of a beautiful figure (at least a beauty that falls within a slim spectrum of acceptability) is an image in an agreement to be immediately identifiable. And, it is this method of identity which in metaphysical terms is representative of recognition, that at its root, any unrecognizable figure, any figure without previous qualification is one without measure. But, the point in art is not a didactic delineation. The point in art is expression, and most satisfying is the expression of the original. Not, on the contrary, a redundant scientific hypothesis of previously stated and long standing articulation of the identity of self. For what we all come to learn, speaking in metaphysical terms if we will, is that to every self there is an in-self. In fact, and posing an academic argument, the presentation of the self met with realistic terms is one that appreciates the muscles of the face, the bones of a seductive and shifting contrapposto and the blood, bile and belligerence of an affronted being.

Meaning further, that for every outside a constituent inside exists. And it is a constituent presupposition that determines the outside to relegation of perception, whereby the inner being related to all in its entirety, of figure and figurative terms. More bluntly, sleeping next to someone brings warmth, togetherness and other myriad sensations indicative of affection and longing. To believe that life is alive in the visage, is to sleep with a carcass, a cold, blue truth that to lose what is inside is to transcend to a recognition which in essence exists in the brain, heart, bones and neurotransmission. This is inside, as opposed to resting on the tip of a Roman nose, or the fluttering edge of a batting, beautiful and bashful lash. If a butterfly is beautiful then what is a spider? One can dream of a butterfly caught in a spider’s web and think of the flitting, colorful beauty of the metamorphosis of the caterpillar and contrast that with the creep, crawl and blackness of the common spider. When thinking, as a Californian, of the Black Widow, one can feel so deep in the reptilian memory the alien nature, chilling sensation and crawl on the flesh of the deadly yet common interaction with this Black, female creep. Hence the Black Widow is a devilish creature, so alien, deadly, ugly and portent with ominousness to be killed on sight by beautiful people.

So, a butterfly is beautiful and a spider is dead ugly, as to be quickly removed from sight as to not mar the beauty of anything that might be in its presence. This is a fundamental framework of Immanuel Kant’s discrimination of beauty and the sublime. However, distinguishing joyfulness and horror in terms of day and night, light and dark is a humorous and juvenile, even naive interpretation of elements of humanity and existence that are necessary and scientifically without intention, personification or anthropomorphism. Yet, as artists we are trained to believe that making beautiful things can be rewarding yet trite, though as business people we are faced with the question of making things that are commoditized. For example, does any business set out to fail but, succeed? This endeavor can boggle the mind so as artists we all face the challenge of making things that at least can support the production of new work. As artists who paint the figure we face the challenge of expressing the image of our identity yet at the same time creating an artwork that is desirable. (What does the ugly, unimaginative, figurative painter depict?) But in reality, the butterfly and Black Widow both exist, thus in terms of ecology are equally necessary to the fulfillment of our humanity. In fact, they are essentially made from the same materials. Could they both be beautiful in their own way? One way of thinking about this is how a butterfly does a good job of being a butterfly. It is not a piece of lead with wings. It is not a cigarette with the wings of a fly. It is not a farting bit of sputtering, flying excrement. It is a butterfly. Similarly, a Black Widow is good at being a frightening spider. A Black Widow is not a silly pair of crawling breasts, you will never find a pair of hairy testicles in a spindled mess of a cob web in the corner of your garage and the bite of a pair of butt cheeks never hurt anyone. But the Black Widow is like a black teardrop with a red hour glass that crawls and creeps and will kill you. This is a quantification. The Black Widow is good at being itself and one could say that its elemental form is beautiful in that we can always recognize it.

But the question of the figure is not rooted in dichotomy. For one to hold a Black Widow and not know what it is could be dangerous. In this regard, recognition is beneficial. Butterflies and spiders are not a question of oranges and oranges, or even apples and oranges that is, however. They are not even the same species. But, regarding the figure we must accept that it is a question not of disparateness but of sameness. Humans are one species. If you do not believe that I know a sexy Black Widow, I would like you to relate to. Therefore, if all types of figures are inherently similar in their humanity, a monochromatic, mono-cultural or mono-ethnic approach to painting the figure must be seen with an understanding of commoditizing the image of the figure, rather than celebrating the painting of the figure as a study. Rendering a realistic figure therefore, is an abasement of the experience of humanity. That is, we don’t experience life with our faces. We experience life with the intangibility of the metaphysical self. No two who live will have the same experience but the ego of the self in photorealistic painting terms is a presentation of the celebrated. Whereas the presentation of the unrecognizable figure is itself a celebration. But in this rampant age of commoditizing humans, the figure has become an object and not a being, a number and not a life and a dirty value to worship or rebuff. Therefore, circling back to our metaphysical argument of the self and in-self, the value of the thing has become more of merit than the quality of the thing. For example, water is the essence of life but far less valuable than wine and, though I dare the privileged to build a home out of diamonds; wood, concrete, steel, brick and mortar have done more for humanity than precious stones. But powering democracy with water and wood is not an option and perhaps, one day we may all be charged for hours of daylight. But we all like nice things and bitter the rebuff of our freedoms of taste. Quality of life is a sociological argument and not an artistic one, but it should be appreciated in our contemporary times that the relative quality of life on Earth is something that directly relates to the health of the planet. But as has been stated, can we expect anyone to care about the figure in the sense of true appreciation and splendor if a kill-or-die attitude, a take-everyone-with-me sensibility (the same binary narratives that trickle down from the cinema into the NEWS or otherwise up-trickle, which in any effect perpetuates a cyclical nature) prevents us from even caring about our neighbor? Yes, indeed, one dollar versus one million dollars, versus one billion dollars under a blanket of one trillion-trillion-trillion stars will always remain a relative argument. But then again, would you really chose diamonds over water-even now?

Yet even still, as an artist who paints the figure the question has always been about the figure, which is a question inherently rooted in the inquiry of our humanity. But as a society and global culture that places a dollar sign on a life, the role of the figurative painter has been diluted into a presentation of pleasing images. The work of Pieter Bruegel the Elder is full of diversity of humanity. Whereas contrarily, the work of Lucian Freud lacks diversity of humanity but is ripe with expressiveness of the figure. Hence the question is raised: what is more important, the painting or the paint; the life or, the listless luxury of objects directed into theatrical poses that though conjure emotion with the viscera of tactility and expression, fail to empower the figure as a symbol of our humanity? Which ultimately, is a categorical misplacement of value over content, style usurping substance. To speak in these terms places the real and the imagined in oppositional terms. But not in a discriminatory manner, but in one of affirmation. The value of the recognizable figure is similar to the value of sugar water. The taste does not change but when you require a taste the expectance of pleasure is reciprocally presented. An unrecognizable figure is similar to the friend, The Black Widow, in that though it is happening the lack of forethought or perhaps, a prejudicial recognition of the experience is rebutted with the admonition of the righteous. Without recognition there is no merit, without merit there is no acceptance but what is merit at its core? A badge. A rank. And, an unacceptable remembrance is one of portent nature or distaste, and to add up that which is undesired is in its self a categorizing of that which is without the desire to code-if only in its genocide. But it must be agreed, to count the constituents of entomological figures is like counting the stars. At least something so vast deserves to be considered; much as in the creations of the mind. But whom is counting?

A paradox of impossibility is the under-tasking of the painting of the realistic figure without reference. The painting of a realistic figure that does not exist in real terms is impossible. There can be no realism if there is never an existing subject. A realistic painting is life-like. Painting a cartoon, on the other hand, is a real endeavor. The cartoon figure exists because the painting is a real thing. It is not a symbol or signifier or relative marker. A realistic painting from reference points to something real though we must appreciate that it is not real. The photo is not the person. The painting is not the photo and moreover, the person is not the image. The painting of a cartoon figure is a painting in actual one to one terms. Realistic portraiture is a presentation of attitudes of the figure that loops from expectation to presentation to presentation to expectation. The satisfying nature of an acceptable image is the basic framework for prejudice. Whereby a cartoon figure is an expression of the essence of humanity, in that we are not summed up by our biting lips, our leering eyes or flirting and reneging gestures. We as a people are that which is a response to these things. It is the intangible perceptibility and subsequent slight, quiver and repose of the experience that makes us unique animals. The cartoon is what it is. Its quality is representative of its meaning. And yet further, irrespective of Directed cartoons its meaning is representative of its quality. A realistic figure can posture to mean many things but is never the thing. There is less magic here than trickery, less imagination than posturing and less authenticity than falsehood. But of coarse, to look into a well and see one’s reflection is to look out into a dangerous world and see something ever so welcoming. The art of the cartoon welcomes the unknown. And further, exposes the darkness as not a void of danger and plight but rather, an endless space for possibility and promise for the unexpectedly magnificent. Is the realistic figurative painter afraid? A fraud? A slant rhyme and slight of hand are cousins. But, as much can be determined one thing is for sure: in the echo of a fearful world the realistic painter is a trade of lucrative nature and prestidigitation.

But as the snake oil salesmen would testify, can it be wrong if ‘twas what they want?

Further, a zoologist might say when contrasting animals with humans, that animals lack expression because instinct is driven by primal memory and not interpretation. But for us humans, interpretation is a tool to conduct a metamorphosis of experience to fruitfulness of creation. Further, a Black Widow can make a web but we can express how and why and wherefore. And, though there may be art in the math of a spider’s web, a beaver’s den or a pineapple’s fractal form, it is expressed in the manner of both beautiful and sublime nature which is inherently closer to truth than a fallible person. But true art lies not in the numbers but in the fallibility of a violent and deadly species that can still find beauty in the human nature of our flawed existence.

We must choose to either accept to believe a lie or we must venture to learn the unknown as it is told. For an art based on expected outcome is an art rooted in expected incomes. And contrarily, an art based on discovery is one rooted in true revelation.

All hail the cartoon sermon.

Addendum: The Reconsidered and yet, Restated

But what if I was wrong? Though, as has been stated and so consequently assumed, that if a work of art is to be responsibly met with subjectivity then so too it shall be critiqued with the same measure of taste. And that, as well, this matter of taste is to be that which determines fair from fairest or fond to fondest, we must seek to inspect and appreciate, thus create, in rather terms of obvious to enlighten, familiar to sublime. But in terms of art itself the role of the artist should be that of reciprocated unconditional devotion to all art, should it not? As while the creation, existence and subsistence of art itself is primary to the benefit of any culture it has been proven that artist as well as dictators, regimes, political systems and monarchy's all fail when compared to the will of the people, or thus an even more determined culture, or fiercer dictatorship. Though to me art is never political. Unless of coarse imagery is used to propagandize an ideology, or otherwise, style or otherwise agenda. With exception to confederates infiltrating the art market to the will of capital gain, which has been theorized in historical terms, in art there can seem to be no surprises yet operates with the highest of stakes-for the artist.

It is just that agendas are constituent and necessary to the figure, regarding our discussion. As to by, a human is the pinnacle of desire and the figure is the image of our humanity. But and so, to purport the desire of a supreme taste is to champion the reins and the horseman's whip. Yet, to venture a weary stroke in the canvas of the unknown is to accept the mysterious gesture that inclines you to continue… without guarantee, of the legitimacy of one’s creation.

The Contemporary Cartoon and the Economics of Painting

In thinking, as we have, of the historical confluences of the Fine Art Cartoon it is equally important to provide credence to the influence of such work and how the progenitors of this work into the market are still facing formal hurdles. Though contemporary artists of this ilk have also been well received and have careers of the highest critical faculty, formal institutions such as The Museum of Modern Art fail to shed light on the figure alone but more specifically, the cartoon.

The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World, 2015 opened under the auspices of featuring contemporary painting but the catalogue showed neither the work of post war artists who use the cartoon aesthetic nor contemporary painters who use the figure, painterly compositions or cartoons as language, such as Trenton Doyle Hancock and Dana Schutz. And, if you were to hear the lecture, What’s at Stake for Abstract Painting Today - and Where Do We Go from Here, 2014 The Jewish Museum, its as though the painting of the atemporal world or some, popular contemporary painting as it were, is suspect to critical validity and also lacks, quite ironically, a measure of craftsmanship. Going so far as to point this out, this paraphrase of the artist Stanley Whitney, paints an interesting picture:

If I stepped on the canvas Barnett Newman would return it; even if I wiped it off. He only bought enough canvas for one painting at a time.

Moderator and critic Bob Nickas retorts the dichotomy of post war artists and contemporary ideologies fueled by the market,

“Today if you stepped on canvas they would hire you to be a studio assistant.” Further, in referencing the lecture A Panel on Painting, 2015, a collaboration of The Brooklyn Rail and Hunter Art and Art History Department, artist Carrie Moyer provides respite from wanton, vicarious advancement and promotion of the MoMA exhibit by asking the obvious question, “…What about Peter Saul?”

Mr. Saul was not included in the exhibit and getting back to the lecture at The Jewish Museum, the fact is that many artists with distinguished careers were neither included in the MoMA show nor are they generating the buzz of their Reagan era generation, digital/painting, Laissez-faire counterparts. It seems that taste-makers missed the boat. It seems that nepotism and neophyte economics supplanted an opportunity to breach the canonical walls of conservative Modernism, for the cartoon. But in truth this is just a recent affront and not the complete or representative picture.

Around the mid 1960’s Philip Guston flipped the script on Abstract Expressionism and in the lecture, Between the Lines: Philip Guston and “Bad Painting,” National Gallery of Art, Wyeth Lecture in American Art, Bryan Wolf, Professor American Art and Culture, Stanford University brings up the notion of the palimpsest. This is an idea prevalent in the layering of Lari Pittman’s worlds, Peter Saul’s expression of culture, Robert Colescott’s compositions of heritage and hegemony and in contemporary terms, Trenton Doyle Hancock’s tapestral Mound paintings and the sensory-illusory-psychological-narrative, which is subtext to the painterly, paintings of Dana Schutz.

Guston is an important figure for the contemporary painter who creates Fine Art Cartoons. Being a contemporary among the Abstract Expressionists and member of the New York School, Guston’s shift in aesthetics from the abstract to the representative may have been a turning point in the formal discussion of the figure and cartoon imagery. However, if you were to look at the works, Martial Memory, 1941 and City Limits, 1969, Philip Guston you would find a resonance of cultural discourse or satire, as to separate the cartoon from Social Realism, in that it is of the culture, representative of The People and inherently, undoubtedly, unreal.

These unreal paintings, people and worlds have long been a part of the historical narrative of art. Peter Saul has received two NEA endowments, a Guggenheim Fellowship and received the Academy Award for Art, American Academy of Arts and Letters. Trenton Doyle Hancock was featured in the 2000 and 2002 Whitney Biennial exhibitions, one of the youngest people ever to be included, and has work in the collections of the Whitney and New York MoMa as well as many other prestigious institutions. Dana Schutz has exhibited nationally and internationally and has works in the collections of the New York MoMA, the Whitney and The Museum of Fine Art, Boston, to name but a few. In fact, many of the artist that have been discussed with regard to the cartoon have experienced critical or economic successes and have distinguished careers as not only painters but educators. However, at least in my painter’s upbringing, they seem some what back room discussions of art that is “good,” but very far from the over-reaching argument of formalist painting.

How strange. How disappointing.

So as it were, there is precedence and prejudice. And for people like me, making images that light a fire to temper the beast of curious taste, this is an inherent undertaking, just as feeling strange is natural to my identity and experience.

Oh how, in sumptuous, bad taste!

Tomorrow’s Work

Thinking about Art History, like the brooding tenebrism of Judith Slaying Holofernes, 1614-20, by the Caravaggista Artemisia Gentileschi, the socio-political implications of The Third of May 1808, 1808, Francisco De Goya, and the Black paintings that covered his home, I am humbled. From the World War One informed prints of Otto Dix to the cultural cartooning of the Hairy Who, cultural, political and social contexts in art are still relevant. Referencing passages from painters passed, looking at art, being present in the studio, teaching students and raising a family, my work in the future will continue an interdisciplinary approach. Planning work for 3D printing, printing on garments and large format printing, creating web based art and digital video, animation and new media work, reflect a trend toward commercial practices and technological advancements, though backed by the formalities of Fine Art. Initiating dialogues within my work about the similarities between consumer culture and art is important. Continuing to work with transparencies and painting mediums, specifically making color through powdered pigments, working with collage, mixed media, and drawing: my education as an artist has given me the ability to be fluent in cross-disciplinary approaches to interdisciplinary art making in this technologically advancing world.

As a film student I was taught that film is a business. Then, through studying art, the question of whether film is art, became apparent. Now, questioning the value of art as a marginalized and emerging artist: those with art practices today, think and view their processes, work and content in similar fashions as artists from past movements-as to be critical. I appreciate intellectual approaches to discussing art, and thinking about this profession in a serious, critical way. The inside joke of the artists’ trade is one of folly and leisure but in truth their are few stars and much more blackens the sky. This is what interested me about art to begin with, the idea of subjectivity juxtaposed with its dichromatic pair, objectivity. Art can be so important, so valuable, but in a way not matter at all, in as much as its definition. Further, everybody feels things differently and as people who experience life with our senses, visually being but one method, there seem endless opportunities to communicate and engage with others through making art objects. What, after all, is art without people?

But, what interests me most, is finding a way to satisfy my urge to create something that is unique to me. However ugly or illustrative or colorful or detailed or, perhaps even unintentionally sublime, the things I create or imagine to make may be, they are of me. And if one wondered, this is not an insular situation, being ‘of me,’ because to be is to be one of many and, with the art that I produce it is valuable to express my connection to people and the world, et. al. Creatively producing ways to deal with the questions, mysteries and illusions of the two- dimensional plane that have intrigued and ignited artists throughout time is a grateful endeavor of which I feel fortunate to undertake. As it were, making images and making cartoons are two creative practices that have interested me since childhood. Working three-dimensionally gives me the ability to challenge my mind in a different way. Learning a little about casting-which is not enough-creating assemblage, gluing layers of paper and cloth, assist my process in this endeavor. Moving the print from paper or canvas to a t-shirt or artist book or three-dimensional print, help inform my work in this realm. Thinking about sculpture more critically enables my practice to be visualized in multiple dimensions, multiple platforms and with an engagement with materials defined by expression in space. But what is a cartoon sculpture? From the Funk Art of California dating back to the mid nine-teen sixties and beyond that to Dadaism of the 1920’s, one need not look further than opposition to envision how a cartoon can be interpreted across vast if not any medium.

The future holds unknown opportunities and a prepared artist will plan to create art from all sides. Working traditionally with painting, sculpture, and printmaking, working in cross disciplinary ways including writing and video into my practice, is formative and exciting for me. Working digitally, promoting work through social media, and finding ways to make art from the computer, seems a boundless process with technology advancing as fast as mastery can be achieved with any application or code. Creating a practice, for me, has been about showing something about myself that could only be said in paint. Working as an artist, however, means developing many skills that go beyond traditional methods. Because, just as portfolio requirements have moved from the slide and carousel to the email address and file codec, the artist must situate themselves in a world where mastery of art and mastery of business do not exclude one another… and business moves at the speed of light. In the studio or in the lab, in the wood-shop or in the classroom, as an artist all elements of my creative and technical faculties are at work. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be a musician, or writer or, Director; intellectual or Bad Ass, or addict. It’s that being an artist, for me, is a way to funnel everything that inspires me into the creation of original Art, whatever form or file or discipline that means, whatever Apollonian or Dionysian vice that is prescribed. And after all, with the teeter-totter of subjectivity and objectivity in art, in my own life, I could both be and not be the things I just described. It is relative. But I am an artist. And as an artist I do not know magic however, you might call it magic if a mechanic can fix your radiator, or a postal worker can get your package delivered in time for a special occasion. Yet just like them the artist works at something until they are proficient. But the integral term is work.

As a human with means to focus my mind, as a critical thinker and creative person, it is this work that affords me freedom of expression. And with the cartoon, I attempt to be serious with the understanding that a silly image can have a universal effect in that sometimes they make us laugh and sometimes they make us think. But with fun and play and unabashed delight in the juvenile, the provocative and possibly the painfully poignant, I hope people understand that this work is deep and shallow. This work is effected and unaffected, as serious or as joyful, painful or pleasurable as I can imagine because it is important to express my enthusiasm for life.

In closing, my family, the artist’s mentioned in this text and the many unnamed artist’s surrounding me in the region of Northern California, humble and inform my practice. I couldn’t be more honored, more privileged, to do something that is subjective, arbitrary, unforgiving, pretentious, pointlessly beautiful and at times, inspiring. The darkness is indeed, filled with the bellows and cries and wailing of injured folk, but the light that shines out is gleaming with the luminescence of a transcendent kind. I try to take those to the place they need to be, for the wanting of the many can be out-shined by the few who ache and moan and transgress for something beyond the state of the comfortable. And finally for me, to leave off with an analogy, cartoons are to painting as laughter is to sorrow. Despite my appointment, I am saddened by the pain that is fundamental to our existence… and continues perpetually.

And with the falling stars, the bubbling sea and the burning skies they remembered what was important and,

realized their fatal flaw.


Cameron, Dan. Peter Saul. Newport Beach, CA: Orange County Museum of Art, 2008.

Crumb, R., and Robert Williams. Zombie Mystery Paintings. San Francisco: Last Gasp, 1986.

Roberts, Miriam. Robert Colescott: Recent Paintings. Santa Fe: United States Pavilion, 47th Venice Biennale, 1997.

Koestenbaum, Molesworth, Phillips, and Storr. Lari Pittman. New York: Rizzoli, 2011.

The Politics of the Cartoon and CONTEMPORARY ART

Tavarus Blackmonster · The Politics of the Cartoon and Contemporary Art


Tavarus Blackmonster · Literary Hip-Hop, Capitalist Americans

The Politics of the Cartoon and Contemporary Art, Master's Thesis

U.S. Copyright Registration

Related Links

Open Your Mouth 👄(a 999er)

Certificate of Registration: Literary Hip Hop, et al

Literary Hip Hop👄💻

The Politics of the Cartoon

Me & Karen

Sac State Sholars

Between 2013 and 2015 the Artist, Tavarus Blackmonster, wrote and completed the MA Thesis project, The Politics of the Cartoon and Contemporary Art, under the direction of Professor's Ian Harvey and Andrew Connelly at CSU Sacramento. The written thesis is a 35 page, hardbound, Master's publication, property the Artist and CSU Sacramento and also published on Scholarworks. In addition to the written work, the thesis was developed in two more areas: AI text-to-speech Sound Art using Natural and, website development, which at the time was front-ended on Adobe Muse. In 2015 the thesis project was developed here:


and also published on Soundcloud.

The project also includes the work Capitalist Americans. This would be the second large-format text-to-speech work by the Artist, who’s collaborative repertoire includes Bruce, Karen, Leika and Fiona.

The final element of the Master's Thesis was registering the U.S. Copyright for Capitalist Americans. This is an AI text-to-speech recitation of the copyright registration and original work of Art. The intention, in 2015, was that playing the interactive file attached to the web button would release and therefore prove registration of the U.S. Copyright. The copyright claims Right over Text-To-Speech Rap (Hip-Hop) created with the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Now, in 2023 Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology is spanning vastly across industries. Also, the responsibility of such Sound Classes as Rap and Hip-Hop must be responsibly developed by Scholars invested in the equitable resource and cultural heritage inherent with the technology. Further, a simple proxy does not un-write our American history. A history made rich on the dissolution, disbandment and disenfranchisement of others.


The Politics of the Cartoon and CONTEMPORARY ART

In 2017, The Politics of the Cartoon and Contemporary Art was developed at Blackmonstereview. This gave the Artist room to park their Thesis and develop Sound Experiments on AwedioCodex. Each of these sites and projects are still live.

AwedioCodex landing page 2017

Awediocodex Gif

AwedioCodex interactive landing page, 2015-2017

AwedioCodex interactive page, 2015-2017

2015-2023 All Rights Resereved | Tavarus Blackmon Art LLC