Thursday, August 7, 2008

the next wing of the museum

Hey dirigibles, here is the next scintillating part of the 'museum' collab-writing effort between Jeff and myself. And if you have brown eyes, well then, you're already seeing the truth. Dig!


This next room here – and notice that all the walls are brown – contains several artists from the ‘Brown Collective.’ The collective was a group of like minded artists that believed the color brown was an access point for truth – heaven, or so I like to say. And although the idea may sound ludicrous to you, our first artist here - Deacon George – found it to be transcendent beauty.

There stands a brown stick, natural in appearance, but artificial through

and through. It smells distinct and impartial. Its crooks are careful

and strategic. An eerie sense of otherworldly origin is evident. The

stick erects itself from the ground through sheer will. Atop the pointed

stick rests a brown eyeball. When walking around the stick the eye

follows. If one stares intently at the eye, tears may come.

George first posited the idea that if the eyes were the gateway to the soul, and if his were brown, that the color itself must be some indicator of truth. By utilizing this color – by creating things such as his stick here – George sought to commune with the truth. He would go around town painting brown mustaches on movie posters. I once read somewhere where he said he wished the sun was brown. It was this passion for the color brown that got the ball rolling for the collective. The truth as we know it is elusive, but here, George said, here is a touchstone for those hungry and eager. And he delivered that message to fellow artists and they, dutifully, followed.

Our next artist, Regina Gray Gray, was the first follower of George to expand upon his idea. Oh gosh, she was a wonderful damsel. She took the color brown – the search for truth – and simply ran with it. She broadened the scope of the entire collective.

There is a painting of brown border and brown interior. The only

noticeable difference is the hole punched in the center. It has the

shape of a fist. It is menacing. The great hung painting in the center

of the room is a grimace. The painting explores in truth and tone.

Glory in the tough, violent textures of thick oils.

Gray took George’s idea of brown’s representation of truth and juxtaposed the artist’s reach in her interpretation. If brown was the gateway, she boldly claimed, then to place it taut upon a pictorial frame and pierce it was to pierce the truth itself. What insights might we gain, she wondered. She punched the hole herself. Apparently – oh this is just such a great folksy art story – shortly after Gray’s father passed away, she created this piece. She wanted to touch the other side, reach beyond her mortal capabilities. She was not religious, no no, but out of desperation, she sought to achieve an utter act of humanity. This is a piece of twisted grief, here on display for you. I like to think of her, her suffering, as I gaze upon this beautiful canvas. Did she reach a new truth? Who can say? But Gray did consider this moment to be the actualization of the ‘Brown movement.’ From then on, she supplanted George as the main proponent of the brown idea of truth.

Which leads us next to Maxwell Barshoom. He was Gray’s first lover and contributed found objects that were brown or browned by their neglect.

A pair of loafers hang from the ceiling, suspended by wire. They

do not smell, but they do look worn. It is easy to imagine an artist

kicking curbs in them. It is easy to see them upon an average man’s

foot and removed with fury at day’s end. A brown bag rests underneath

the shoes. Half-eaten foods languish in the sack. It is oddly comfortable;

it is oddly familiar.

Barshoom titled the piece “home-sweet-home.” He felt that the shoes symbolized travel, and to travel into the truth – he said – one must be utterly prepared. The food in the brown bag acted as fuel and would – in his words – yield energy necessary to walk with the truth. It was an act of divinity in Barshoom’s mind. He did, in fact, wear the shoes on several occasions, the final being to a terribly wonderful discotheque that used to be nestled in the warehouse district. On that night, a famous comet soared in the overhead, blazing a trail in the sky. Barshoom took this to be portent and dove straight into the Bo River that very night. He did not die, but from then on he would wear only white shoes. Apparently his color perspective had changed. Funny enough, Gray called the man newly colorblind. He dropped out of the movement shortly after. There is a song – I believe – that goes something like the brown shoes don’t quite make it. Or shoes make the man?

Yes, next we see Karen Nederson. She was only in the collective for a few years – just a minor character really – but she did contribute a rather splendid idea to the language of the browns.

There is a large photograph of a voluptuous woman painted head to

toe with brown paint. She is nude. She is a goddess, a mother.

Her face is blank, eyes closed. Her hair is done up. Her feet are small

and lacking, but not beaten and used. Her arms are stretched out

towards the viewer asking something.

Nederson thought that if she painted herself in the truthful color of brown, she could be a vessel for the truth itself. She deemed that in her guise, she would be a fount of wisdom and of beauty. The paint, she exclaimed, must be applied only to a nude frame, for to stand in the shadow of the truth strips us all, as she would often say. Funny story, actually: she was arrested twice in the village for public nudity. Ah, what a crazy kid. But, like I said, she only stayed with the group for several years before proceeding towards racier aspects of the nude female form. I think she had a show recently, yes, at New Task Center for the Arts. I believe it was titled “Butterfly,” but was not too successful. But, c’est la vie, right?

Anyhow, that leads us to our final artist on display, the magnificent Ted Tigh. He was the last of the true brown artists. His was the most gallant concept of all.

Hung low from the high ceiling is an airplane wing. Alongside is a

picture of an entire aircraft painted over in brown. The entirety of the

subject is mesmerizing. At night, such a vessel could be confused

for a UFO. It was a UFO.

Tigh took Nederson’s concept of applying brown paint to a vessel and decided to adorn his plane with the hue. He thought of angels, I’m sure, and in painting his vehicle in the brown of truthful telling, he hoped to fly about as an emissary of the truth. Tigh was a marvelous dreamer – he also painted many bikes and cars brown – but one night, in his brown plane, he became lost. The story goes that he did not turn up for several days. When asked where he’d been, what happened, he replied in one word: heaven. Tigh extrapolated the journey of the color brown one step further to suggest that it is also a gateway to heaven. Some accused the man to be an opportunist and a liar, a manipulator and propagandist. But don’t worry, folks, I say forget that. Art is capable of all things. If Tigh said he went to heaven, then I believe he did. He was a wonderful man – and I would like to say – incapable of lying. Ahh, but well, the controversy surrounding Tigh’s disappearance was enough to disband the collective. It was with heavy hearts – I assure you – George and Gray gave up the pursuit of the color brown. When asked why, they simply replied that the truth had been sullied.

Well, that’s it, then, for this room. The five artists we feature can give you a well rounded idea towards the goals and functions of the “Brown Collective.” We hope – truly – that you do absorb as much as you can from these pieces. I mean, really, it’s a marvelous idea – hell, sometimes I want to paint my face blue, so there you go. Ha. But anyway, look around, I implore you. Forget that there is only one hue and delve into the varied world of these marvelous artists. True – yes, I know I know, ha ha, believe me I know – the color brown might have a more disgusting connotation, but these artists beg that you look beyond that, traverse and transcend truth with them. I promise you’ll be rewarded.

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