Friday, December 19, 2008

the World Spilled its Money/BAILOUT!

New Work
16" x 40" x 2"
Chopped Coin Mosaic


North America...

...South America...



...Europe, the Middle East, & Asia

The world from pocket change, chopped into tiny pieces. Global finance, wounded deeply by debt, spills oceans of copper blood. Emergency measures seal the gash with more money, stopping the flow of credit. While the patient/victim remains in critical condition, questions remain to be answered: will it heal?
Is money something we can save?
Most importantly, is it worth it?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Military Entomology Holiday: TOYS-war-US

As Christmas approaches amidst a collapsing monetary empire, it seems appropriate to reflect upon the true meaning of the season: Toys. A recent court settlement given to Mattel calls for the seizure and destruction of millions of Bratz dolls, who in turn become victims of a thought crime perpetrated by their creator. The dolls are guilty only of being better looking and cooler than Barbie. The impending genocide must give us pause. Why on Earth would a toy company want to execute millions of dolls? Aside from the lost labor hours, materials and promotion costs, these are actual, usable dolls, and should be given to Toys for Tots or somehow otherwise distributed to children who will appreciate them. Obviously Mattel is more interested in money than kids. Humbug!
What has capitalism done to deserve such clout? When did money become more important than life? Can life exist without it? While we were enjoying the excesses that credit allowed, workers in China were toiling to fuel it, slaves for us all, hidden deep behind doors we would rather not open, like the animals in our stomachs and the gasoline in our tanks. The cold fact is, our lifestyles have been fed to us at the expense of many others, and in the end, even the customers at home are unimportant to these corporate bohemoths.
In Autumn 2006 I made a big bug from plastic toy soldiers, all hand-painted in China, which I purchased at a discount store in my Brooklyn neighborhood for 75 cents each. It was displayed during the Spring of 2007 in the front window of the Tacheles art center in Berlin's Mitte. I was struck at the time with the significance of putting a creature made from dismembered soldiers on the floor of a building that had been part of the Nazi government, and had been heavily bombed during the Allied invasion of Berlin. Real body parts from the past became plastic in the future as, phoenixlike, rose my MILIpede, 15 feet long, to greet hip young Berliners as they passed back and forth between the local purveyors of art and alcohol. Danke!
Today, two years later, I find myself revisiting the theme.
Two weeks ago, faced with the sudden loss of an already meager income, I found myself inventing a limited addition of Insects built from Army Men. Geared to sell before X-mas, they would all have catchy names to broaden their market appeal. The first would be "G. Fly Joe", the real American Hero.
The arms and legs were mounted as to maintain pose-ability, and the wings are made from machine guns.
I see these as a collaboration between myself and an unknown Chinese painter. Each is wholly unique and definitely handmade.
Next came "Beetle Bailey".
Two soldiers unite to form his underbelly.
Each has two poses, straddling the divide between insect and man as only art can.
Lastly, and most appropriately, I endeavored to create "Army Ants".
An edition of 6 was created for each "species".

Economic hardship pricing goes as follows:

Army Ant: $20

G. Fly Joe: $30

Beetle Bailey: $40

Act fast if interested. Orders beyond the current stock will be honored but may take several days for assembly. Please contact me regarding availability. Local pick-up/delivery in NYC, or can be shipped anywhere express. Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Work in Progress: Money Earth

11/11/2008 11:11 pm
I begin a new project.
Continuing with my explorations of mosaics from chopped coins, I choose a metaphor inspired by the global financial crisis and the subsequent banking bailouts.
I decide to create the whole planet from sliced pocket change.
First I sketch out the continents, freehand.
Next I make lines to denote the equator, the tropics of Capricorn and Cancer, and also the arctic circles. Arrows establish a flow for the tiny pieces, tracing the actual ocean currents.
Beginning with a line at the equator, I lay out these currents first then spiral inwards and outwards simultaneously.
Tiny, fingernail-clipping shaped crescents are laid meticulously end to end.
Thousands will be necessary to cover the entire field.
Obsessed with completion, I work on nothing else for 2 weeks.
Each piece has to be placed using tweezers, and special care is necessary at all times to avoid disturbing the other pieces, which will not be glued down until the entire image has been laid out.
For the continents, a more linear approach seems appropriate.Pieces of cut dimes, nickels, and quarters add contrast with silver.
Meticulous effort goes into keeping the gaps between pieces small.
The distribution of coins varies by geographic location.
Continents like Africa have a slightly lower number of silver coins.
Australia is more or less balanced, 50/50.In addition to simply depicting things metaphorically, I wanted to add an additional element to describe the current financial emergency.
Therefore, like a surgical suture, a gash runs horizontally across the entire planet, stretching from Wall Street to the Bank of England.

America, nearly silver save for some spots, looks like a cadaver after an autopsy.
The arctics are assembled from nickel slivers, chopped into tiny triangles.
Hundreds of hours later, the layout was complete. Like a Navajo sand painting, gravity alone was the glue. In one sweep of ANYTHING, the entire image could vanish. A great power lies in this potential danger, like standing at the edge of a cliff.
Somehow I managed to keep the cats away and my elbows off the table for the entire time. A week and a half in, I began to hallucinate swimming pieces of coins, yet I pressed on, aware that if I stopped for a day I'd risk losing the momentum to finish. One accidental tossing of my keys or hat onto the surface would have killed me. Two weeks to the hour from the start, neck sore, eyes strained, and wrist stiff, I prepared for the next stage.

Here, hundreds of hours depended on 15 crucial minutes. Once I began to lay the adhesive, there would be no undoing. I began by carefully taping the front surface, after which the entire image was flipped over.
Silver silicone went down first, behind the continents only, followed dark brown silicone behind the oceans.
Four tubes were necessary to cover the entire surface.

After letting it cure, I peeled off the tape....

Wednesday, November 5, 2008



This victory for intelligence represents the beginning of a new era in the direction of my art. Whereas most work I've made in the last 8 years has reflected frustrations I've felt towards my country and its actions, now the doorway is open to make triumphant, hopeful images instead. I am excited for the world. What a relief.

Two other artists came to my attention during the promotion of my own work, both extremely different, but of the same vein, using actual money to depict the President. Perhaps a new genre has been birthed. History being made...

"Change" by Andy Magee

"Barack" by Jim Kelly