Friday, January 31, 2014

POST #24: EXCITEMENT IN SUBURBIA: The Journal of American Suburban Art

One of the (many) problems facing artists who live in Suburbia is that we are grossly discriminated against. Never mind color, gender or religion, you can’t be successful in the art world as long as you come from the suburbs. Artists I know often give borrowed New York City addresses, knowing that a home in the suburbs is the kiss of death in the art world. My work was once recommended to Ivan Karp, the legendary gallery owner, and he seemed interested until he asked me where my studio was located. When I told him Stamford, he closed my portfolio and grandly announced that he “had a twenty minute radius” for artists. My daughter used to tease me that to be successful I needed to hire a beautiful twenty-five-year old “doppleganger” from a trendy neighborhood to pretend to be me.

A number of years ago, a group of local “artistes” (note the “e”,) Carolee Ross the writer/poet, Steven Auslender, a sculptor from Wilton and Carolyn Ginsburg and I, both artists and teachers at the University of Connecticut decided to give living in the suburbs some cachet. We (anonymously) put together a spoof of all those totally unintelligible manifestos that accompanied the avant-garde art movements of the 1920s and ‘30s. The Futurists, Dadaists, Suprematists, Surrealists, Vorticists, Rayonists etc. all had manifestos; you couldn’t have a movement without one. The last one of any note probably belonged to Fluxus in the 1960s. The four of us intended to produce
an “uber” manifesto” for Lower Fairfield County and call it The Journal of American Suburban Art, a title we deemed sufficiently pretentious. Carolee contributed her epic poem, “Suburbiad,” (several people recognized themselves in it and never spoke to her again), Carolyn did a riff on an Archie comic, replete with backyard swimming pool, I did an acerbic guide to how to become successful in the art world and Steve created a sealed packet of “French” postcards which we never dared show anyone. We mailed about fifty manifestos (in plain wrappers) to people we knew and offered subscriptions for a dollar. The responses poured in and we soon had at least fifteen subscribers, including one who paid in pennies. I don’t remember if we ever got to mailing out the second issue, but we do have enough material for several more. We even have a bunch of submissions to a Merritt Parkway Surrealist Bridge design competition that are pretty interesting .

Last month, I donated a dozen copies of “JASA, Vol.I, Issue 1” to a fundraiser for the Franklin Street Works gallery at 41 Franklin Street in downtown Stamford. If you think the latest art in Brooklyn is far out, FSW is every bit as challenging. We’ll make you a copy of the Manifesto (very limited edition) but you need to pay for it with a tax deductible contribution (any amount) to FSW. We’ll show those pseudo intellectual poseurs from Brooklyn we’re not all boobs out here!
And if you encourage us, we might even put out a second issue.

Chorus from the Suburbiad by Hieronymous the Anonymous  (to be sung like a rap tune)
          Oh it’s not very Good, but it’s not very bad
          And lately they tell me that I should now add
          That it’s now being called by folk Far and folk Near,
The Suburbiad, an Epithet, they’ve now come to Fear.

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