Modern Art Monday Presents: James Rosenquist, Volunteer

James Rosenquist Volunteer
Photo By Gail

Excerpted from a Textual Analysis by Frank D’Antonio:

James Rosenquist’s Volunteer is dated 1964, but, according to Rosenquist, [it was] finished shortly before the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

I think one of the coolest things about this painting is the use of fragmented symbols to depict the American life in the mid 20th century. The washing machine in the upper right speaks to a viewer as a symbol of American technological progress. The man in the business suit speaks as a symbol of how the American professional was dressing during this time. The ice cream speaks of American’s desire for “gustatory pleasure” (James Rosenquist. Volunteer. 1964. Art Institute of Chicago).

I like this painting because of how it can be interpreted in many different ways. My interpretation is that the artist is being cynical in this piece, depicting things that Americans were concerned with in the era of the mid 1960s. It is interesting to see how Rosenquist interpreted American culture at the time, symbolizing technological advancements, personal appearance, and personal pleasure being the main concerns of Americans at the time, concerns that are still on the top of the list amongst Americans.

The puzzle pieces with a piece missing are also an important aspect of the work. I found no insight into why they exist on the work, so I formed my own opinions. I believe that the missing puzzle piece is the artist separating himself from the mold of American culture he illustrates in this piece. He wants to break the mold as an artist and not fit in to the stereotype that he has depicted in Volunteer.

Many of Rosenquist’s other works have an underlying cynical message to them. Some depicted war machines, most often airplanes, representing his dislike for the war and global tension happening at that time. From my research, the most cynical and interesting part of the picture is Rosenquist’s image of his own palm which stands out past all of the other images. According the Rosenquist, the palm cynically represents “the hand that volunteers”. I see this being cynical, but at the same time pretty spot on. In my opinion, the artist volunteers his time to all who will view his work and will use it to interpret messages about their life and what they view important in it.

Rosenquist is telling us that modern technology, flashy self appearance, and delicious self indulgence are not bad things in and of themselves, but when put upon a pedestal and made the most important things in our lives, we lose grasp on the true meaning of life. We need to separate ourselves from the mold of society, the mold that tells us that bigger is better, only the good looking make it in life, etc, etc. We need to start living as human beings who help each other no matter what.

Volunteer By James Rosenquist is a very interesting piece of modern art, one that challenges us to use the painting as a mirror, and reflect upon ourselves when we look at it. Seeing how we fit the mold he has characterized, and how we can ultimately break out if it.

Frank D’Antonio

Photographed By Gail at the Museum of Modern Art in March of 2014 NYC while on loan from the Art Institute of Chicago.

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Video Clip of The Week: Black Belt Karate, “Transformer”


At a time when I can’t even bear to turn on the radio for fear of being exposed to whatever mortifying horrorshow that’s passing for popular music, LA-based rock quartet Black Belt Karate are like oxygen in a vacuum. Being schooled veterans of many and varied rock projects (guitarist Jason Mezilis also plays in Owl with Cult bassist Chris Wyse) BBK deftly blend power pop hooks with a classic rock edge to deliver addictive tunes that will appeal to fans of Sloan, Green Day, Foo Fighters and Cheap Trick.

The very fun clip for “Transformer” — a buoyant anthem with a positive message of self-realization — sees the band auditioning for a casting director in front of a backdrop that makes it look like they’re part of a police line up. Interesting! The video takes on a bit of a “Sharp Dressed Man” feel with its interspersing of sassy video babes and clips of the band rocking out. You can see that lead vocalist Ryan Hanifil is just dripping with Rock Star charisma. Rumor has it that they also occasionally perform as a Doors Tribute band. Excellent.

Keep up with Black Belt Karate’s music, news and live performances by following them on the FaceBook at This Link. Enjoy!

Black Belt Karate Band

Black Belt Karate Are: Ryan Brown (Drums), Harry Ostrem (Bass),  Jason Mezilis (Guitar) and Ryan Hanifil (Vocals).

Stephen Romano Gallery Presents In Missa Interfectionis

Colin Christian Cat Woman
Art By Colin Christian (All Photos By Gail)

What a great discovery it was to find out about the existence of the Stephen Romano Gallery when I went to one of their first group shows last June. Even though it is a teeny bit of a jaunt from Manhattan to DUMBO, going there gives me an excuse to visit a very cool neighborhood that is home to lots of amazing street art. I also appreciate that Stephen Romano has a keen talent for curating these Surreal, Dark Pop exhibits that harken back the early days of the Last Rites Gallery, and even incite feelings of nostalgia for the late, great Bold Hype Gallery. What a bummer that that place had to close.

Girl with Red Flower
Chie Yoshii (Japan) Flower of Soul, 2014

Gallery View

So, it was a great pleasure to attend the opening reception last Saturday for one of Romano’s latest group shows, entitled In Missa Interfectionis; an eclectic exhibit of paintings, photographs, sculptures and installations all celebrating The Dance of Death, Hexes, Voodoo, Curses and Witchcraft — just in time for Halloween!

Alter with Pirate Skulls
Haitian Voodoo Altar Pirate Skulls! Argh!

In Missa Interfectionis features works by some of our favorite artists such as Colin Christian, El Gato Chimney, Darcilio Lima, Eric Richardson, Matthew Dutton and Peca, as well as contributions from over thirty additional artists.

Here are some of our favorite pieces from the show!

Eric Richardson Painting

Here is a new painting from Eric Richardson, an artist whose paintings always have so much going on in them; so many fine details and so many layers of meaning. I love his art. It was fun to get to spend some time with Eric and his awesome girlfriend Joy at the reception. They are so cool.

Matthew Dutton

Matthew Dutton is a sculptor who likes to make things with antlers and baby doll heads. Good for him! This piece is fantastic.

12 Lithographs
Theosophical Print Collection, c 1920’s Italy, Artist Unknown

Tattooed Woman and Child

I love the colors in this painting by Lori Field.

Carved Wooden Box

This ornately carved box, called Haxan by Colin Christian, reminded me of The Master’s Coffin from the TV Series, The Strain. Scary!

Glowing Orb with Skulls

How cool is this sculpture by Judy Chappus, with its glowing crystal orb, silver-painted Barbie Doll parts and lots of awesome skulls? I love everything about it!

Glowing Orb with Skulls

Here’s a closer look. So great!

Peca Hopi Dream

Here is a fun kinetic wall sculpture from the Hopi Dream series by the artist Peca. I love her mystical sensibilities.

Day of the Dead Lady

This gorgeous portrait of a Voodoo Priestess is by Aunia Kahn, who is just fantastic.

Bird House

This Birdhouse thing by Tine Kinderman is called Baba Yaga, after the Grande Old Dame of Slavic/Russian witchcraft. Be sure to take look inside for a scary surprise…

Three Candles
Banish Evil, Sacred Dirt, Virtual Candle (2014) By Ted Victoria

It might look like these three candles are in danger of setting fire to their wooden holders.

Electric Candle Close Up

But if you take a closer look, you can see that these flickering flames are electric! So clever!

El Gato Chimney

And here are two more by one of our favorites, El Gato Chimney. I love the little monkey face! As you can see, there are so many great pieces of art in this show. You really must get your art-loving self to DUMBO and see it in person!!

In Missa Interfectionis will be on Exhibit Through November 30th, 2014 at Stephen Romano Gallery, Located at 111 Front Street, Suite 208, DUMBO, Brooklyn.

Chinese Artist
Watercolors by Pulu Zhao (Beijing) a. Witch and Deer 巫和鹿 , b. Threaded 螺紋 c. Deer Doll 鹿娃娃 2014 d. Regression 回歸 2014

Yes Octopus Mural in DUMBO

Yes Octopus Mural
All Photos By Gail

In September of 2103, NYC-based design firm Sagmeister & Walsh was commissioned by the DUMBO Improvement District in partnership with Two Trees Management Co and the NYCDOT Urban Art Program to paint two 80 foot long murals on the walls of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway underpass, on Jay Street in Dumbo. The firm collaborated with renowned Japanese illustrator Yuko Shimizu and created two large typographic messages to sit on the facing walls. A fierce Octopus and its tentacles form ‘Yes!’ on one side, and a graphic black and white version (not shown) covers the opposite wall. Both murals were hand painted by Coby Kennedy.

Yes Octopus Mural Detail

Pink Thing of The Day: Jeff Koons’ Moon (Light Pink)

Moon Light Pink
All Photos By Gail

If you missed the Jeff Koons Retrospective that just closed at the Whitney Museum this past weekend after a 3-plus month run, then you missed your chance to see this lovely piece of art up close and personal. Your bad! Like his famous Balloon Dog — the reflection of which is visible in the photo above — Moon (Light Pink) is one of Koons‘ mammoth steel sculptures with the hypnotic mirrored finish that make it so much fun to photograph, but impossible to get really clean shots due to its endlessly reflective surface! I think Moon looks like an oversized, inflatable button. Love this thing!

Artist Shepard Fairey to Release Limited-Edition Art Prints: Poster For George

George Harrison Silver
Poster for George: Silver Edition (Images Courtesy of Big Hassle PR)

There is no denying that George Harrison was a ridiculous babe, as evidence by the above poster, which was created by Shepard Fairey based on a photograph by Astrid Kirchherr. I want to own it.

Poster For George will be offered in two editions — Red and Silver — as a tie-in with the recent release of the CD Box Set, George Harrison: The Apple Years 1968-75. Both editions are limited to 400 signed and numbered copies. The posters are being sold one day apart and via separate webstores, as detailed below.

The Silver Edition (pictured above) is an 18×24″ Screen Print, which be released October 24th, 2014 at 10:00 AM PST through the George Harrison web store located: This Link.

George Harrison Red

The Red Edition will go on sale on October 23rd, at a random time between 10:00 AM and 12 Noon PST through Fairey’s Obey Giant Web Store. Both poster editions will sell for $65 each and here is a limit of 1 print per household/person.

About the posters, Shepard Fairey remarked: “My parents were Beatles fans and introduced me to them at a young age. In college, I grew to especially love the later Beatles albums like Sgt. Pepper, The White Album, and Abbey Road. George Harrison started to contribute more songs to the later Beatles albums that were just as strong as any Lennon-McCartney compositions.

I got George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass album a long time ago, but even as a kid listening to the radio I reacted very emotionally to the song “My Sweet Lord.” The song has a profound beauty and melancholy that is unique and powerful. I love George’s solo material musically, but what speaks to me most about George’s music and actions is his humanity and his soulfulness.

I think George looked at himself as a world citizen, and not only brought international influences into his music, but was sensitive to human rights and politics around the globe. I’ve always seen music and art as amazing pleasures, but also as relatable vehicles to deliver a point of view. Art and music can invite people to think about something they might ordinarily not be interested in.

George put together the Concert For Bangladesh as a way of using his music to benefit humanity. I admire that he went beyond just writing songs addressing issues, and used his significant cultural weight to be an activist and put something noteworthy together, both as a way of raising money for Bangladesh, and of publicizing the situation there. George is a hero.”

Fun Game App: Monsterpark Zoo!

Monsterpark Zoo Promo 2
All Images Courtesy of Roo Roo Games

Do you like Monsters? I sure do. If you have young kids who enjoy using your Apple devices and are looking for a fun iPad or iPhone App that you can download for your little ones to keep themselves amused (and maybe have fun playing it yourself) I recommend Monsterpark Zoo, a new children’s game, just released on October 15th.

Monsterpark Zoo was created by Brooklyn-based husband and wife team Eric and Shannon Althin, who are also fine artists and gallerists (being owners of the late great Bold Hype Gallery, which we miss very much). Eric and Shannon’s company, Roo Roo Games, previously released the popular title, Stumpy’s Alphabet Dinner. We expect that Monsterpark Zoo may become even pore popular!

Monsterpark Zoo promo screenshot 1

Eric Althin offers that the couple’s 3 year old daughter was the inspiration behind Monsterpark Zoo. “She loves monsters and animals,” he explains, “and if she sees that someone is sad, she always wants to know how to make them happy again. During a trip to the Brooklyn Zoo it all fell into place and we knew we had our next game concept: Monster zoo animals that need help to make them happy!”

Monsterpark Zoo takes place in a friendly monster world, featuring 10 unique zoo monsters with different troubles. Some need food, some require a bath, while others need their enclosures cleaned. It is up to the player — who assumes the role of the Zoo Keeper — to figure it all out through fun, intuitive, and stress free game play!

Monsterpark Zoo promo screenshot 3
This Monster Needs a Bath!

Monsterpark Zoo is designed to encourage problem solving, emotional development, coordination, and laughter! It is aimed at ages 2-6 but is sure to delight kids of all ages. “I’ve been drawing monsters since I was old enough to hold a crayon,” Althin continues, “so designing all the different monster animals for Monsterpark Zoo was a super fun and creatively rewarding process.

Our ambition is to keep updating the game with new monsters in the future (with no additional cost for the parents) to keep things fresh and fun.” We already have some awesome new characters in mind!

Download Monsterpark Zoo for just $1.99 from the iTunes Store at This Link!

Monsterpark Zoo promo screenshot 2
Feed The Monster!