Pop Goes The Pandemic

Why don’t you just tell me what you want me to say, and I’ll repeat it for you.”

~~~Andy Warhol (to an interviewer)

Anyone wanting to commit ground troops to Asia should have his head examined.”

~~~General Douglas MacArthur

I made a mental note to plan another visit to OKC when I was there last November, before we knew of the impending pandemic. On my way back from Tucson, where I had three artworks featuring Arrokoth, a planetisimal one billion miles past Pluto, at The University of Arizona’s Annual Art of Planetary Science exhibition, my third straight year taking part.

I’ve always loved OKC. The people there are very welcoming and pleasant. Not like some cities I’ve been to that shall remain nameless. Portland. Well, some people were nice there. But not like OKC.

When I went to the OKC Museum of Art in November 2019, I learned they’d have their Pop Power exhibit up in June of 2020. Luckily for me, the museum reopened from the ubiquitous pandemic shutdown on June 17th, 2020.

I love Pop Art. I feel a great affinity with the Pop artists. And, it’s not just because as an old school Michigander, I never say soda.

I love German Expressionism and Dada a lot, too, and Monet, well, Monet. But Andy Warhol revolutionized art. Of course, so did Monet and Duchamp; but Warhol was the first American artist to really grab the art world by the reins and take it for a joy ride.

And many other Pop artists, notably Roy Lichtenstein, kicked ass and took no prisoners in Oklahoma City. Any artist who feels he or she needs to ask permission to revolutionize isn’t worth their salt. It took Warhol a little time before he realized he didn’t want his paintings and silkscreens to drip, for example. He never asked permission to make them look more perfect. As if they had never been touched by human hands, you might say.

One of my favorite Warhol quotes came from an interview he once did, paraphrasing, “Why don’t you just tell me what you want me to say, and I’ll repeat it for you.” Sheer genius. No one has ever put the media in its place like that before or since!

Andy’s art led off the show. I loved his Queen of Englands with diamond dust on them, spread tactically all over the canvases. The Mickey Mouse in the show was also sprinkled with diamond dust. After all, Mickey is quite the star in a little neighborhood of L. A. called Hollywood. It’s no Arleta, the neighborhood I lived in for ten months after my freshman year at U of M; but still, it is something to see. I might have to get some of that stuff someday. I have used gold and silver waterpaint on some of my art works – but never diamond dust. How fancy!

Roy Lichtenstein had a cool distorted blonde lady in the show that really stood out. In addition to “Blonde,” his “Thunderbolt” was really unique and powerful. It was like Zeus or Thor holding a lightning bolt up in the firmament, ready to cast down upon the Earth.

Pop Art really solidified, crystallized, the magic of the 1960’s.

James Rosenquist’s “Stars and Stripes at the Speed of Light” was another brilliant work of art in the exhibition that I’d be remiss not to mention and show right after this article. Happy scrolling!

Before I sign off on the show, I wanted to write about “Love” by Robert Indiana. Mr. Indiana (and, yes, he was from Indiana, passing away in 2018) was a Pop artist, as well as a member of a few other art movements. Indiana liked to use words prominently in his art works. Not just in a balloon like Lichtenstein. His famous “Love” artworks even became an American postage stamp in 1973.

One of his “Love” artworks was in the OKC show.

The Hippie Movement of the 60’s made wide use of Indiana’s “Love” images, as love and free love spread around the world in a counterculture movement that sought an end to the brutal af Vietnam War that the United States eventually lost. General of the Army Douglas MacArthur once said famously the U. S. should avoid a land war in Asia. He was like Cassandra of Troy. No one listened to either of their warnings.

I like to make artworks with the word “love,” too. Love is the highest consciousness, the glue that holds the Universe together. Without love we will surely destroy ourselves in a seemingly endless battle of factions, religions, cultures, and nations. But there will be an end. An end that will end with the end of Mankind itself if we keep up this nonsense.

That’s why, as an Ultra-Renaissance artist, I feel a need to renew a call for the love of Love every so often.

I recently did a love artwork after the callous and totally unnecessary and brutal murder of George Floyd that calls for Love, sweet godly and goddessly love – made with only black, white, and grey. You can say gray, too. Either way.

I draw my letters often with my finger on my cellphone, an intimate, highly personal way to draw, rife with raw emotion and raw energy. I hope it is more evocative than Robert Indiana’ block letters that look like child’s toys.

Art evolves. Every artist learns from his predecessors and evolves, moving art ever-forward, pushing, pulling Mankind (or Humankind if you must obsess over changing the rules of language and saying that Mankind doesn’t mean all of Mankind, even though it absolutely does and always will….), hopefully inspiring us to be better, to resolve not to let the lesser evolved among us bring us down, destroying us utterly. Rather, let us have an Ultra-Renaissance of Global Civilization.

POP POWER FROM WARHOL TO KOONS: Masterworks from the Collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation is on display at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. For more information, go to https://www.okcmoa.com/visit/events/poppower/

Warhol made farm animals into awesome sausesome art!
Warhol turned celebrity photos into great art. This Marilyn is powerfully evocative.
Warhol’s soup cans really revolutionized the definition of art.
Warhol’s Mickey Mouse at the OKC Museum of Art is sprinkled with diamond dust.
Roy Lichtenstein’s “Blonde” is pretty cutting-edge.
“Thunderbolt” by Lichtenstein is a powerful reworking of a cultural symbol.
James Rosenquist’s “Stars and Stripes at the Speed of Light” is simply incredible.
“Love” by Robert Indiana was made into an American postage stamp in 1973.
“Love 2020” by Mike Wrathell

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