Monday, January 07, 2013

Painting Uncle Sam

I'm going to be part of a public art initiative in Troy called something like Painting Uncle Sam.  It might be called something else, but that's what I called the quickie site I put together to support my candidacy.

The upshot is that nineteen local artists, plus me making twenty, will be handed one of these bad boys ...

... and told to paint them anyway they like.  They are roughly life-size (if you're four foot ten, say, and own a massive hat).

Me?  Well, because my beat is the intersection between art and public commentary, I'm gonna gesso the shit out of the thing, so it's completely white, and then hang around in public places handing people magic markers and letting them write whatever they feel like writing on it.  In counterpoint to the usual "Enjoy Troy" comments, I'm hoping to enlist some number of meaningful Trojan voices and invite them to provide long-form commentary.  We'll see how that all works out.  Once everybody's done I'll brush on a UV-protective varnish and call it a day.

Come late spring/early summer all 20 will be "unveiled" and Troy will be awash with Uncle Sams of every color imaginable.

It'll be fun.

A couple of questions come to mind:  First, should I paint the face?  New York Magazine did an article on me back in the day titled something like "Write what you like but not on the face."  Which is what I say to people when I hand them a pen and ask them to write on my paintings.

So one theory says leave the face a ghostly white.   The conflicting theory says paint the face in a realistic manner and let the annotations fill the clothes, shoes, base, etc.

A second question has something to do with how best to prime the thing.  I have a $250 budget, so part of me is thinking about taking it to an auto body shop and seeing what they might be able to do.  I'll make that call once I have Sam in hand (we don't get the actual sculptures until Feb 1) and see how it feels on the fingers.

Cool project.
I think so.  Should be fun, if you accept the thesis that you can have fun making art without any hope of remuneration.
I believe you can.
Do you think hookers can enjoy sex when they're not being compensated for it?
I have no idea.  I hope so, for their sake.
Me too.  
Me too.  I have a question.
What?
You always give yourself the first annotation.  In this case, do you know what it will be?
Fair question.  It's early, so I reserve the right to change my mind several times, but I was thinking of painting a huge #8 on the back and writing "Aikman" across the back of the shoulders.  Like a football jersey.
Powerful.
I thought so.
I don't get it.
You don't get it?
No.  I don't get it.
Would it help if I told you that Uncle Sam actually was a real person and he came from Troy?
No.  That's not what I don't get.

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