The Art of Etsy

I haven't been selling things on Etsy.com for very long, but so far it has treated me well. I was featured on one of their "editor's picks" mailers, and have done almost $200 in sales in the last few weeks. Not bad, considering that it's the only way I've sold anything through the internet, which includes this stupid blog of mine.

So in the spirit of free enterprise, I thought I'd highlight the work of other Etsy sellers. These are all two-dimensional paintings and drawings that have already been featured on Regretsy.com, a "worst of Etsy" blog that you're probably familiar with already, but is new to me since I'm always late to the party. Out of respect for that blog, I'm only including quotes from the artists themselves on their original Etsy pages. Click the images to go to the sellers' stores:

"Original Acrylic Bird Man Painting"
"In my paintings I love depicting people and animals. Well, this one has a little of both... It has to do with setting your appropriate boundaries."

"The Belly Button Witch"
"I dreamed of this one night and woke up in a dead sweat. I dont know what it means but felt compelled to put it to canvas. This woman like creature just walked up told a man to lift his shirt grabbed his belly button in her teeth and ripped it from his abdomen. While blood was spilling out of him she just sat there holding it in her teeth. This comes as a 16x20 inch acrylic that has been glazed for durablity."

"Nazi Killer 2"
"Acrylic paint on broken skateboard. I HATE NAZI SKINHEADS!"

"She's Got Big Tits"
"signed limited edition Epson Print (out of 50), 8 1/2" by 11" on matte Epson paper"

"Kitten Head on Amputee"
"The series of cat heads is a superimposition of a soft, cute image on top of images of violence, removing any visual expression of violence from the face of the subject. The few times people have seen these they usually completely focus on the soft aspect. The usual reaction is "Oh, how cute!", even in an over-serious academic environment. The series is meant to depict the inability to perceive or understand the violence of a society because of previous and mostly visual association with visual aspects of benevolence."


Faces of Death

Oh, don't be so offended. It isn't a "snuff" film. It's a badly faked mondo film, and a funny one at that.

Granted, there are a few scenes of actual human death (the political assassination, the bouncing skydiver, the movie stunt gone wrong) but those are bloodless and benign, and the rest of the movie is clearly, obviously fake. There is plenty of animal death depicted (a staple of mondo movies), but it doesn't constitute "animal cruelty" in the conventional sense, due to the fact that it's footage of slaughterhouses. Meat-eaters should have no problem with it. I would argue that footage to be of value, actually. But for laughs, it doesn't compare to the monkey brain dinner, about 20 minutes in (which is fake).

These days, you can go online and watch a video of Saddam Hussein being executed, Steve Irwin getting a Stingray tail in his heart, or that poor girl in Tehran bleeding to death. I've seen none of those, and don't plan to in the future. It's hard to imagine why anyone would. But I have no problem with phony huckster movies like this one.

For more about this ridiculous series, and info about the new Blu-Ray release, get your death on at - where else - facesofdeath.com, yo.

Mazes and Monsters

This commercial was on the air around the time I was playing Dungeons and Dragons, between the sixth and eighth grades. And I know I mentioned it in yesterday's post, but that isn't what inspired me to post about it. This morning, Boingboing.net happened to showcase this Canadian news magazine piece, also from the 80's:

(part two)

It's very much a part of the Reagan zeitgeist: parents were told to be afraid of the things their children were imagining they were doing. Kids have no business indulging their creativity. No good can come of it.

After all, remember what happened to little Tommy Hanks in Mazes and Monsters:


Berwyn: Art Mecca

I grew up a block away from Berwyn, a lower-middle class, blue-collar suburb bordering the West side of Chicago which was populated largely by Eastern European immigrants. Not the sort of place where you'd find much of an art community. The nearest shopping center was Cermak Plaza, which contained no-frills practical stores like Sears, Woolworth's and Service Merchandise. The most esoteric retailer was the hobby shop where I'd go to buy model rocket kits and Dungeons and Dragons modules.

So it was quite a shock to see this ugly heap of concrete and trash erected in 1980:

This atrocious Nazi hate-crime tainted my childhood. It's so hideous, I couldn't even find a color photo on the internet. Sitting right alongside Harlem avenue (a major thoroughfare), but just inside the parking lot, the sculpture was named "Big Bil-Bored", making the title just as stupid and arbitrary as the object itself.

Right away, Berwyn residents started complaining. But there was little they could do; Cermak Plaza was privately owned by David Bermant, who paid $25,000 for the unsightly behemoth. Its creator, Nancy Rubins (she's gone on to do some okay work; she has a piece permanently installed in the courtyard of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art) specifically said it could never be moved.

Bermant felt he had a winner on his hands, and ignored all the protests. Even ten years later, local politicians were trying to get it torn down. In 1990, a referendum was held to check on public opinion. 6,379 over 1,662 were in favor of trashing the trash-heap. But Bermant said that only 20% of Berwyn was represented. And besides, non-Berwyn residents visited the shopping center as well.

Finally, mercifully, Big Bil-Bored was torn down in 1993 for safety reasons. There were concerns that the metal in the sculpture (consumer items like fans and bicycles) would rust away and compromise the structural integrity.

But I always appreciated Cermak Plaza, because Bermant followed up "Big Bil-Bored" with loads of other sculptures, scattered throughout the parking lot. Just outside the Woolworth's was a clock by George Rhodes similar to this one:

Then there was this Burning Man-ish interactive sculpture that you could play with included mallets:

And of course, "Spindle" by by Dustin Shuler (we just called it the "Car-Kebab"):

If you do a Google image search of just the word "Berwyn", most of your results will be pictures of this thing. Therefore, the Car-Kebab IS Berwyn.

Or I should say "was". It was torn down a couple years ago to make way for a Walgreen's:

I don't respect the decision, but I'm very thankful for Cermak Plaza. They took a parking lot in a rundown neighborhood, and used it to give something back to the community, albeit in an eccentric, impractical way. And it's privately funded, as all art should be.

Thanks to this site for some of the pictures and info.



Saturday Morning Krautoons

Krautrock: The Rebirth of Germany is a recent BBC four documentary on German Prog. An hour long, it's a third the length of Kraftwerk and the Electronic Revolution and better produced. Highly recommended.


Animatronic Cylons

I visited Universal Studios in Hollywood with my family in June of 1980, around my 11th birthday. The two big attractions at the time were "Battle for Galactica" and "Castle Dracula", both of which made a big impression on me, in a "this is thematically crappy but technically impressive" sort of way.

So this demo reel for the animatronics shop that created the robots for the park is quite a treat. They have a creep-tastic skinned cyborg as their logo, and the early 80's video effects are pretty charming.

Here's a more complete video of the thrilling 2-minute ride-through for "Battle of Galactica", which only employed a single live actor:

"it's not everyday you need to be rescued from alien invaders firing laser guns".
Actually, yes it is. Everyday. For you, at least.

More than you'd ever want to know about this can be found here.



Check out the new LDS page.


Devo: The Men Who Make The Music was due to be released on home video in 1979 (making it one of the first music-related tapes, alongside Gary Numan's excellent Touring Principle), but Warner Brothers didn't like all the anti-corporate sentiment so they shelved it. Two years later "Whip It" was a hit, so they put it on the market. Containing homemade music videos, 1978 concert footage, and lots of oddball interludes (like this), it's their finest work, and for some reason or another it's never been re-released.

They had two albums out at the time, and as far as I'm concerned, they're the only two albums worth hearing. They weren't yet a synth-pop band, but some kind of undefinable surrealist mutant-rock collective. Some of my favorite moments:

(psst... it's hard to find due to licensing issues, but a 70's performance on a popular late-night show can be seen here)