It’s Official; I’m finally a Grumpy, Bitter, and Old Painter! by Jon Manteau

A passing thought or question-When did it become SO…popular to be unambitious, apathetic, full of irony and pretence (which in my opinion has become the replacement for ambition)? Yes, I know, quite often with great ambitions, come great ego and the potential for megalomania. Is the answer, “Hey man we’re Post-Post. Everything under the sun has been done so nothing can be truly original. I’ll make a facsimile of something that at one time or another may have been avant garde." I’ll imbue it with some ironic, inside joke, pop culture, cartoon, T.V. reference and…. that will make the piece contemporary art and relevant. The urban hipster wearing the “John Deere” tee shirt or trucker hat comes to mind. Yeah….man…..IRONY.

The majority of what purports to be art, these days, is nothing more than “of the moment fashion”. I suppose that this has always been the case. Pick up an “Art in America” or art magazine from the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, etc and one can’t help but notice that there is a lot of work that looks like the truly great art of that era, but it ain’t that work! Great art used to come from sub-culture and tight knit groups of ideologically cohesive, revolutionary, avant-garde. Once sub-culture becomes mainstream, popular culture, it then becomes mall-culture (at least in a Post-modern world). It then losses it’s original meaning, weight, relevance and gravitas. Is this the answer to my question? Is this where the ironic and apathetic dwell. In the mall..??. There was a time when surf, skate, graffiti, hip-hop, punk, alternative lifestyle, all were sub-culture and cutting edge.

In our Post-Post-modern world where corporate interests rule, someone decides (once it’s safe by the way) that there is real money to be made from one of these sub-culture movements, They market it heavily and “bang” the art form and or alternative lifestyle become neutered and loose relevance. Yes, one can argue that with mainstream-mall-culture comes acceptance of something that was previously misunderstood or shunned. I suppose that is the silver lining…but …I’ll make this analogy; I’ll take a really great cup of coffee from a mom and pop coffeehouse, over a six-dollar coffee from Starbucks, any day of the week. Yes, the six- dollar coffee from Starbucks brings a certain amount of homogenized, recognition of what a good cup of coffee should taste like…but at what cost? Mass acceptance = enlightenment =….??

If I never see another skateboard deck as support, abstract-landscape with cutesy Anime cartoon, 70’s Brady Bunch inspired (70’s anything for that matter), baby coming out of a photo-realistically rendered-shock value vagina, it will be a day to f#*!!&^ing soon.

- Jon Manteau