Friday, April 27, 2007

When Good Monks Go Bad

Some disturbing images that I ran across. Is there ever a moment when it's alright for humanity to overcome philosophy? - DN

Thursday, April 26, 2007

To College You Should Go?

There are about 30 full-time classical ateliers in America. "The atelier system--of extended apprenticeships in the studios of master artists--is an old European tradition, spanning back to the Renaissance and up through the Flemish painting guilds to the Ãcole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. But they faced extinction in America when art education became a province of universities in the first half of the 20th century." - The Stranger 04/25/07

Click here to read the entire article.

This is a fantastic piece written about the conflict of modern art education with a lack of traditional training. I recall innumerable art students, from my college years, which graduated without acquiring actual technical skills. Even my own skills were not to a comfortable-level until I had acquired a few years of self-education after graduation. It definitely makes one wonder what they were paying for when they dropped $40-$100k on an accredited university education and didn’t learn the one thing they wanted most to understand. I tell everyone I meet, if I had it to do over again, I would have never chosen my University. That, in itself, is a sad truth to realize, after the fact. – DN

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A New Show in New York

A new show at New York's "PS1" is made up of "only art that can't be bought. Thus, the exhibition is composed of work that artists either kept or, in a couple of weird cases, sold then bought back. By this curatorial criterion, nearly every artist on earth could be included. Curator Alanna Heiss compounds the problem by haughtily stating that the show evinces her 'unfortunate allergy' to the marketplace. But for the director or curator of an institution that relies on the largesse of artists and dealers--who in turn depend on commerce--to claim an 'allergy' to the marketplace is not only smug, it's deluded and hypocritical."

“Not for Sale” doesn’t fizzle because most of the artists in it are millionaires or famous or both. Nor does it fail because more than a third of the work on view is less than ten years old and fourteen of those pieces are less than five years old, making you wonder how “not for sale” much of this art actually is. No, the exhibition fails because its ideas and construction are lazy. - New York Magazine 04/23/07

Click here to read the full article.

It seems odd to hold a show featuring only the most marketable of New York artists as a shining example of anti-consumerism in the art world. – DN

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

When Faith Darkens Our Path

"Efforts to restore Afghanistan's legendary Bamiyan Buddhas are moving forward at a snail's pace, a far cry from the few days it took the Taliban to destroy the 1,500-year-old statues." CBC 04/23/07

Click here to read the complete article.

"Celebrated storyteller Mike Daisey had barely begun his 90-minute monologue at the American Repertory Theatre when much of the audience suddenly stood up and walked out. One of the put-upon patrons even picked up a glass of water used as an on-stage prop and poured it over Daisey's papers. The problem? The posse, 87 students and staff visiting Thursday from Norco High School in Southern California, objected to Daisey's dirty language." - Boston Globe 04/23/07

Click here to read the complete article.

Now I haven’t heard Mike Daisey’s monologue, so I’m not even sure if I’d enjoy it; but after reading the two articles, from an artistic standpoint – what is the difference in how the religious majority handled creative works? – DN

Monday, April 23, 2007

Sounds Great (but doesn't help me much)

Feminist art is the most important art movement since World War II, writes Blake Gopnik. "More than any other 20th-century movement, feminism pushed back against the art-for-art's-sake attitudes of modernist abstraction. It pushed instead for work that talked about crucial issues in the world outside. Ever since feminism, in all areas of artmaking, the message has mattered as much as the medium." WaPo produces a section of stories... - Washington Post 04/22/07

Click here to read the entire series of articles.

Some good points are made in the above by-lines, but I guess that leaves me out as far as actually participating... - DN

Friday, April 20, 2007

Abstraction is Back! (life might be more fun if I could more easily jump onboard)

Abstract Expressionism and the artists behind it have always intrigued and inspired me. Steeped in the moment of the creative process, their paintings were layered with more than just paint – they boasted the passion of self-destructive lives as their undercoating.

Few will argue that the rise of early abstraction coincided with the birth of photography. As the number of non-artists purchasing Kodak Brownies rose, so did the emphasis on abstract subject and technique in the visual arts. The past couple decades saw a resurgence in the popularity of photo-realism and figurative painting; however, with the advent of digital photography it seems that Abstraction is becoming vogue, again. Is this return to non-representational themes a backlash to the now common use of Adobe PhotoShop by computer-savvy non-artists? Is this rebirth a reaction to the rise of the Internet and it’s purely representational, straightforward presentation?

While I respect the work of past and present pure abstractionists, I know in my own paintings that totally non-representational work is an unnatural act. When painting and writing, I rely heavily on the places I’ve been. The lives I have been allowed to share. The emotions that have been stirred and kindled in my own mind – I see these images at all times, and repressing them for the sake of fashion are beyond my control. Even my most abstract works are shrouded in the mystery of imagery. Mysteries that unfold themselves as my works evolve through the years, from series to series and moment to moment. Masking the questions of a lifetime with the unique, yet unifying, color and symbols of a place. – DN

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Abstract is Back (Did it go somewhere?)

"Just as the figure--once disparaged as academic, facile, or simply frumpy--experienced a renascence, showing up in numerous guises to suit the social, political, and artistic moment, abstract art has been flaunting its brilliant past and reconfiguring itself for the present and future." - ARTnews 04/07

An interesting piece in this month’s ARTnews magazine; click here to read the entire article.

Is abstraction cycling itself around again? Did it ever really completely leave? Will it become as eclipsing of other styles as it did in the mid-twentieth century? – DN

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Manifesto to Fight Manifestos

A little something floating around the internet that was brought to my attention. - DN

Monday, April 16, 2007

Did I leave too soon or just in time?

As detailed in an April 8 feature in The Post's Travel section, the burgeoning Santa Fe Railyard development with its growing cluster of top contemporary galleries, is helping reshape and further energize the New Mexico capital's long-flourishing art scene.

A project in the discussion phases, however, could propel it to a whole other level and generate even more international attention than the city already receives, especially during the summers when artists, critics and collectors descend on SITE Santa Fe for its respected contemporary-art biennial.

Longtime art dealer Charlotte Jackson and other Santa Fe leaders are pushing the idea of a contemporary-art museum designed by Frank Gehry, the architect responsible for the Guggenheim Bilbao, the most influential building of the past decade. – Denver Post 4/12/2007

Gehry in Santa Fe could definitely solidify the city as the new American art destination; but I have to wonder how well Gehry’s contemporary architecture will fair in a town that secretly still prefers selling Indian pottery and horse paintings to tourists. – DN

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Oh NO they didn't!

"Two hundred years after wandering through drifts of spring flowers in the Lake District, William Wordsworth has been given a pop video and rap version of his famous poem on daffodils. Read by a zany red squirrel in a series of dramatic mountain and lakeside locations, the hip take on the 24 lines of verse aims to lure more young people to the national park this summer." "Wordsworth's Daffodils poem has remained unchanged for 200 years," said a spokeswoman for Cumbria tourist board. "To keep it alive for another two centuries we want to engage the YouTube generation who go for modern music and amusing video footage on the web." - The Guardian (UK) 04/11/06

The original:
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

The rap:
I wandered lonely along as if I was a cloud
That floats on high over vales and hills

When all at once I looked down and saw a crowd

And in my path there was a host of golden daffodils

so Check it!

The kind of sight that puts your mind at ease

I saw beside the lake and beneath the trees ..

Is it really necessary to dumb-down everything in this world? Is nothing sacred? Is there no longer a belief in the idea of universal timeless appeal? – DN

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Intelligent Art

"The election of Tracey Emin to join the Royal Academy of the Arts as a Royal Academician alongside more traditionally academic artists such as David Hockney, Peter Blake, and Anthony Caro" raised a question, unspoken though it was: "Is she enough of an intellectual to join the RA?" Ana Finel Honigman matches it with another: "Why is this even an issue?" The Guardian (UK) 04/10/07

Click here to read the entire article.

The above article, when read in full, classifies “intellectual” in a purely classical sense. I don’t believe it is that simple. On one hand I agree that art cannot be measured by purely traditional academic standards then again, I take umbrage with the title of the journalist’s by-line: “Intelligent Art is a Foolish Concept”.

We recognize the difference between literature and recreational reading; art films and the latest Die Hard incarnation. Why is fine art any more difficult to differentiate? Is it really that surprising when we run across a “mall” gallery, wedged between the Gap and Old Navy, boasting their collection of priceless Kincade or Jesse Barnes prints? While Tracy Emin is hardly of the low-brow caliber of these charlatans, I have to wonder if the author isn’t undermining the art and artists she wants to defend. Here are some comments, from readers of her post, that I feel sum-up my impression of this subject very nicely:

  • There's a difference between an intellectual and someone who's intelligent. Artist's use materials and their handling of that denotes whether they are intelligent - is the work economic or fussy ? are the right materials used in the right places? etc. etc. They don't need to be intellectual to do that do they? Jackson Pollock was by all accounts a bit of a drunken brute but his handling of paint was fantastically intelligent.
  • Or maybe artists should do us and other artists a favour and stop thinking it's clever to hide their intelligence.

While I’m sure the author would never think twice about considering the standard American “mall artist” prints in her assessment of an art form or category; I believe we tread a dangerous path when the glorification of ignorance becomes precedent. Much like the concept of whom decides what is good; in this case who decides what is too intelligent to be “fun”? – DN

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Unforgotten... simply misplaced for a few decades

“The Annunciation” by Maurice Denis

Maurice Denis (1870-1943) was a member of the Nabis group of painters active in Paris at the turn of the century. Their credo (the name Nabis is derived from the Hebrew word for "prophet") called for the incorporation of aesthetic pleasure into every aspect of daily life, and the merging together of art and craft, an approach that would inform the Art Nouveau movement. Together, the Nabis celebrated the beauty of the natural world and domestic contentment in scenes that were highly decorative, with simplified, stylized forms built from areas of lavish patterning and sumptuous colour. Unlike his leading Nabis confrères, such as Édouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard, Denis was an avid writer, becoming the movement's chief theoretician. Yet he has remained largely beneath the radar. – Globe and Mail (Canada) 4/09/2007

Click here to read the entire article.

The above article was written regarding an upcoming Montreal Museum retrospective of Maurice Denis’ work. It would appear that given enough time all good artists eventually get their due. It is these “minor artists” and their “minor art movements” that have always given me the most comfort as a painter. Even Van Gogh went largely unrecognized for a number of decades after his death. – DN

Monday, April 09, 2007

Equality and Separatists

Museums in London and New York have recently made headlines with serious attempts to increase the profile of female artists in their collections. "Two concerns, though, arise from attempts to increase the valuation of women in art. Does the imposition of modern equalities on museums that deal with periods with different sensibilities falsify the historical record? And is a balance best achieved by the creation of separatist institutions?" The Guardian (UK) 03/30/07

This raises some important questions. Did female artists such as Mary Cassatt, overcome their feminine label to become recognized as master painters, or because of it? Will the establishment of separate museums/institutions for female artists help to recognize their importance or simply further the rift? Would Lee Krasner’s importance as a painter and role in Jackson Pollock’s life have been overlooked in another time? – DN

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Iandi I shall go...

So the past two weeks I have been trying to have an intelligent conversation with the Iandi group I mentioned in an earlier blog post. Unfortunately, they seem to want no part of my questions. They have ignored my legitimate questions and even deleted some complete topic/posts I started. It seems they only want to hear praise. Hey, who doesn’t… this is the most recent topic/post on their “discussion” board:

Over the past few months we have dedicated ourselves to giving well thought out answers to legitimate questions about our art movement. We have been very pleased with the discussions we’ve had with artists however, every so often someone that feels a sense of entitlement comes along and feels free to hand out opinions of our movement as if they know anything about us. I’m not sure what would posses someone to feel it’s acceptable or even mature to insult an entire group of people they’ve never met. The discussion board was created to have positive critiques and ideas about art. It was not created for random hurtful statements to boost the ego’s of angry artists that can’t believe a group of artists can make art for art’s sake. The discussion board was not created for us to respond to underdeveloped criticisms. If you have nothing nice to say, then don’t say anything.
Also it would seem hypocritical to despise our art movement, but use it to advertise your own web site.
-EK Wimmer (Iandi)

Daniel you have nothing to offer. We will delete anything that is not an apology.
-Maria Rose (Iandi)

Ironically, I posted one question three times and that seemed to really set them off. All I asked was “What does Iandi mean?

Well, to be honest, I may have also mentioned something disparaging about choosing an Art History degree over a Studio Art degree, while claiming to be an artist… and maybe a word or two questioning the legitimacy of their claims to actual technical prowess as artists. But in my defense, that was only after they refused to answer my repeated question about their name.

This morning, I was formally blocked from logging into their discussion board and finally I received this email…

Well, I received your raging criticism on the discussion board. I feel that I need to address you directly as your insults were of a very personal nature. First, our website is set up to create a discussion about art. Criticism is fine, as long as it is helpful. You obviously have some personal issues that extend beyond our website. Your first contact with us said that you did not mean to be snarky. Unfortunately this is not the case. You have shown your true intention. We are not criticizing your work, your record of shows (yes, I have been to Billings and yes I have a bag of criticism about your work), your training, your skill. Instead I would like to criticize you as a person...

What kind of person wants to impede the professional development of another artist? We are not in competition with you! We have only tried to create a community of mutual support/development. What can possibly be negative about that? Why do you need to vent your aggression? Is it because we didn't answer your question about our name? You have no right to know everything about us. Clearly we were right in guessing what type of person you are.

I know that you are unimpressed with our work, even though you complimented it earlier. You are a very mean-spirited person and I don't really value anything that you have to say. You use the anonymity of the Internet to allow for freedom to show your true colors. You are not a kind person. You are irrelevant. You are small. Hopefully your family has not seen this dirty side of you. Leave us alone if you can't think of anything worth saying.
Maria Rose

Wow, I guess I was just overcome with confusion, I was wrong, the combined genius of Iandi is unmatched… it’s all my fault really, you have to keep in mind that this was the first time I had encountered an art movement based on sunshine, rainbows and lollipops. I suppose Iandi somehow means… happy? – DN

Friday, April 06, 2007

Sundown Towns

I’ve been in a bit of a daze these last few weeks as I worked to set-up my new studio, and put the finishing touches on pieces before shipping off to upcoming shows. Occasionally, I have to take a moment to stop amidst ordering slides or rewriting artist statements to notice that the once familiar environment of my youth has drastically grown and changed. However, I find this “new” home to be strange in so many ways I never expected.

When I left my Poplar Bluff home fourteen years ago, the nearby township of Dexter was still a notorious “sundown town”. For any non-southerners out there, a sundown town is a place that does not welcome minorities within the city limits after daylight hours have ended. Thankfully, this practice is now defunct and the population is much more diverse and open to change.

Despite this less than sanctimonious practice (or maybe, ironically, because of the hundred-year old tradition) the community developed into a pocket of “deep south” culture and cuisine at the northern-most border of the “Southern” States. While there is still the occasional outcropping of NASCAR fan-boys (I still do not understand the joy in watching someone drive in a circle 500 times) and rebel flags… I have to admit that the number of trailer parks dotting the landscape is drastically reduced when compared to my previous New Mexico home. Then again, maybe old-fashioned southern decorum is just more suited for hiding their evidence of poverty behind weeping willows, dogwood trees and azalea bushes.

This southeastern Bootheel region is often considered the poorest section of Missouri. I suppose when one decides to measure the world in terms of monetary rewards, it’s hard to argue with demographics and statistics. Despite the formal townships, such as Dexter, that once lived by “sundown rules”, the overall region boasts a relatively large black population which makes it distinct from the rest of rural Missouri, giving the area, its music, and food the uniqueness associated with rural southern black culture. Unlike the rest of Missouri, the Bootheel is culturally considered more Southern than Midwestern. Some say it is part of a subculture that includes northwestern Tennessee, the westernmost part of Kentucky, and the Little Egypt portion of Illinois.

The Bootheel area, where I now reside, is on the edge of the Mississippi Delta culture that produced the Delta blues. The music that I loved enough to always take with me wherever I traveled. My good friend blues musician Don Haupt grew-up nearby on the banks of the Mississippi River and first cut his teeth on this same music and food that later formed his musical career. He’s been sharing our Delta blues music on the West Coast for about seven years and has cut two CD’s. Don’s long gone from the region, now, but I can still hear him slap his National resonator guitar everytime I open the door to a backwoods fish house, come near a pit barbecue or watch the riverboats and barges pass. – DN

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Rebel Artists of the Postwar Era

I ran across a great article by Carolyn Kinder Carr, Deputy Director of National Portrait Gallery. In her curator's statement for an exhibition titled: "Rebel Painters of the 1950s", she recreates a fantastic portrayal of the birth of a new art movement in New York City after World War II.

Click here to read the full paper. - DN

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Has the curator replaced the artist as rebel?

I posted the long article about Robert DeNiro, Sr., yesterday, in an attempt to reinvigorate the discussion around the artist as a force of life rather than just a machine-like craftsman. While even I am guilty of factory-like production numbers in my own painting; I believe that I utilize nearly every opportunity to randomize my life in a manner that forces the art work to evolve via the continuous introduction of radical change.

I ran across this year-old article at

Wednesday, March 29, 2006
LONDON, England (CNN) -- With a fiery, alcohol-fueled temper and a dynamic splatter-gun technique, Jackson Pollock was one of many painters and sculptors who, from the 1950s to the 70s, embodied the classic role of the rebel artist.

Perhaps in an indication of the rising status of the curator, a feature about America's groundbreaking Whitney Museum in a recent edition of the New Yorker magazine focused not on the artists or works displayed in the gallery, but on the driving force of its director Adam Weinberg.

Thus, in the same way that old fashioned rock stars have been eclipsed by DJs creating music from mixes and samples, these newly empowered curators have finally helped lay the rebel artist to rest.

Click here to read the piece in its entirety. Unfortunately, the author seems to be primarily interested in land artists such as Christo and I question whether he believes these are the only artists worthy of the term contemporary. – DN

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The other De Niro

Although I have always enjoyed the work of Robert De Niro, the actor; I find the life of his father even more intriguing. This is one of the better descriptions, of his life, that I’ve found. It is long but worth the read.- DN

Both of Robert De Niro’s parents, Robert Sr. and Virginia Admiral, were painters and students of the legendary Hans Hofmann. They painted together in an airy Greenwich Village loft and entertained their bohemian friends including the writers Anais Nin, Henry Miller and Tennesee Williams. They separated then divorced two years after their son’s birth in 1943, when Robert Sr. acknowledged his homosexuality. Robert Jr. was raised mainly by his mother who supported herself by doing typing, and later by opening a typesetting and printing business.

While his ex-wife demonstrated her practicality and supported her son, Robert Sr. moved to what his son later called the "dank and dreary" part of New York to pursue his art and the counter-cultural lifestyle that went with it.

Whatever the complexities of their family situation, Robert Sr. was devoted to his shy, sensitive son who often took a hamster to school in his pocket. They went to movies together, and afterwards the son entertained the father by imitating the leading actors of the day, including John Wayne. Young de Niro, who would break out his shyness by developing into a neighborhood tough nicknamed “Bobby Milk” taking cues from what he saw on the screen.

When the teenage De Niro took up smoking, his father, then working as a guard at the Guggenheim Museum, bought him packs of cigarettes on the way home, hoping that the glut of tobacco would make him quit. The father and son began to quarrel as De Niro Jr. hung out with questionable friends, and by the late 50’s De Niro Sr. felt estranged enough to leave for France and pursue the life of an artiste. When he found himself depressed and destitute a few years later, it was his eighteen-year-old son, now a budding actor, who flew to Paris to bail him out and bring him home.

Through the years, Bob Sr. built his meandering life itself into a kind of work of art. In the late 40's he meditated with Paramahansa Yogananda, the charismatic Indian founder of the "Self-Realization" movement in the Pacific Palisades. In the 50's he painted at the famous artist's retreat Yaddo where an onlooker once asked him "How can you paint, weighed down by all that jewelry?" In 1960 the uranium magnate Joseph Hirschorn purchased a group of 50 De Niro works, and the artist used the money to spend three more years in France where he sipped wine at "Deux Magots" and painted in Montmartre. In the late 1970's he lived in the Bernal Heights area of San Francisco -- it reminded him of Montmartre -- and spent time in San Francisco helping Jack Kerouac’s widow Stella extricate her daughter from the cult of Reverend Sun Yung Moon.

As his poems indicate, he was self-consciously building himself a rootless life of Bohemian splendor:

My days are spread like an Eastern plain

I've searched a Dynasty in vain

I am a Chinese of another Empire

My splendor is let out for hire...

-Robert De Niro Sr.

Although he periodically had shows in New York, fame as an artist was eluding him. The art world in the 60's was dominated by Pop art, and then came the vogue for minimalism. De Niro Sr. may have been flaky in some ways, but he was ethical and focussed when it came to his art, and it developed steadily through the years regardless of the trends surrounding it.

De Niro’s art remained true to its roots in French Fauvism, and his signature style hints at both the artist’s and his love French modern art of its themes of luxury, calm and voluptuousness.

Characterized by Matissean color and loose, Zen brushwork, De Niro’s best paintings are intensely sweet and sensual. When he painted he kept in mind the painter Ingres’ statement that “You can catch more files with honey than with vinegar.” An increasingly strong draftsman, De Niro was, in fact, an artist who worked very hard to make his art seem easy.

When De Niro became a household name in the 1970’s it was because of Robert Jr’s gritty and hyper-realistic performances in movies such as “Taxi Driver” and “The Godfather.” which brought threats to the actor and his family. The fame of his son was a source of pride and annoyance to Robert Sr. who still had a very minor reputation as an artist even though he had shown at Peggy Guggenheim’s Gallery with Jackson Pollock in the forties. The art of Robert De Niro Sr. remained practically invisible, while the name “Robert De Niro Jr.” became internationally famous.

In 1976 the artist/poet published a small red book of poems, titled “A Fashionable Watering Place.” It opens with a note that “These poems are by Robert De Niro, the painter, not to be confused with Robert De Niro, the actor, his son.” The last poem in the book, titled “42ND STREET MOVIE” hints at the strangeness of his life, and of what it felt to be upstaged – and rescued -- by his son.


The Mexican upon the screen
Shoots twelve men
Flees unseen
John Wayne
Will win
In the end
His horse and he
Fly round the bend

This isn’t the poem I started to write,
Nor even the same movie.

-Robert De Niro Sr.

Throughout the years, father and son remained close, but De Niro Sr., who liked one-on-one contact with people and avoided large groups, stayed out of the limelight surrounding his son. He remained, in the words of dealer Larry Salander, "... more interested in the act of painting than in the business of painting."

Since his death of cancer in 1993, Robert Jr. and his mother have worked to bring his father's art the broader recognition it never received during his lifetime. Had de Niro Sr. still been around, he would have probably held them back: he had always wanted to be known on his own terms. Even the title of one of his poems -- "I DON'T WANT TO REINCARNATE ANYMORE"-- hints that he wouldn't like the idea of a retrospective.

At the recent opening of his father's work in Rome, Robert De Niro Jr. stated that although didn’t pay too much attention to art as a boy, he had adored his father. De Niro Jr, who told Vogue when discussing his late father "I also have his temper, his eccentricity, his passion..." is a chip off the old Bohemian block. The actor has even kept his father's studio untouched since his death, leaving it as a place to reflect on his father's life and legacy.

Click here to see the website where I “borrowed” the article and some examples of De Niro’s work. - DN

Monday, April 02, 2007

Obama Christ

Father forgive me for what I am about to do... yet another story that I have to admit getting from the FOXNews website... Amen
Some call it art. Other call it blasphemy. A new piece of art showing Senator Barack Obama as Jesus Christ is now on display at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. - FoxNews Chicago 4/2/2007

I don't think this story has had quite enough time yet to piss anyone off (did ya catch my subtle reference to the "Piss Christ" artwork from a few years back? Yeah, I am that kinda person). I feel the work is pretty dead-on for contemporary issues, simply because the country is putting a lot of pressure on one man to act as savior. I personally like Obama. When you think about your options being the regular batch of career politicians such as: Hilary, Edwards or McCain... Obama and his "newness" to the Senate look pretty sensible.

Now I realize that there will be plenty of middle-America knee-jerk reactions to anything that comes out of an art school... or someone recreating the image of Christ as a politician... or recreating the image of Christ as a black politician... or recreating the image of Christ as a black politician endorsed by Oprah. But c'mon people open your eyes and see the work for what it is: caricature.

Caricature of the idealized man. Caricature of the "we need a savior" mentality. Caricature of the expectations being placed on this lowly politician by the media machine. Caricature (mixed with a tad bit of celebration) of the fact that the artist created this work of a "religious figure" and he doesn't have to fear for his life. Life in this world has such potential for beauty, no one should have to fear retribution for living outside the socially-accepted religious norm, censorship is only good for the censors... try to cut the head off that idea. - DN

Darth Vader is one of the numerous carved grotesques on the Cathedral. Like gargoyles, grotesques carry rain water away from the building’s walls. Gargoyles carry away excess water via pipes running through their mouths; grotesques deflect rainwater by bouncing it off the top of their heads, noses or other projecting parts, and away from the stone walls.

How did Darth Vader, a fictional villain from the Star Wars movies, end up on the wall of Washington National Cathedral?

In the 1980s the Cathedral, with National Geographic World magazine, sponsored a competition for children to design decorative sculpture for the Cathedral. The third-place winner was Christopher Rader of Kearney, Nebraska who submitted a drawing of this futuristic representation of evil. Darth Vader was placed on the northwest tower with the other winning designs: a raccoon, a girl with pigtails and braces and a man with large teeth and an umbrella. –

Interesting stuff, I guess George Lucas didn’t toss-up any copyright ownership issues. – DN