Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What's up with those gay mermaids?

It's the night of the exhibit, Art Show at The 'Loop, and I'm out with my mother, brother, and five of my brother's friends for dinner at a Japanese restaurant.

"Did you guys have a chance to check out any of the artists?" my brother asks his friends.

"Yeah," says his friend sitting next to me. "But all I remember is one with a bunch of gay mermaids."

I raise my hand. "Uh, that would be mine."

We all have a good laugh and I think to myself how funny it is that people will pick up on something about you, or that you do, and then you become "that guy." It reminds me of the promotions for Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle (I loved that movie), where one of the jokes was, "starring that Asian guy (from American Pie)."

Race, when it's visible, is a characteristic easily picked out, like covers on books (which, if you're not supposed to judge a book by, why do they go through the effort of making them attractive?). Essentially, anything different--or that you wish were different--from you, you'll notice (and assess whether it's a friend or foe).

So the guy sitting next to me noticed the gay mermaids.

What's interesting is that first of all, they're not mermaids. They're mermen. But why isn't that word in his vocabulary?

If you think about why, then you'll know one reason why I paint mermen, and also have a sense of what I think about objectification, the female body in art, and the male body in art.

What, politics in my fantasy artwork?!

Well, yeah.

I love art that can be read at multiple levels. It makes it fun. It's no accident that I created Yeti and Sasquatch during the 2008 Olympics when there's so much animosity and self-righteousness between China and the U.S., using not only traditional and complementary Eastern and Western themes and styles, but also naming the pieces in the languages of two indigenous and oppressed peoples in both countries.

And yes, they're furry and adorable (at least I think so), kid-friendly, and will probably match your decor, too.

So what's up with those gay mermaids? You tell me. If you think art is an answer, you may fight or accept it. If you think art poses questions, then you'll think.

Isn't this why when dictatorships take over countries, they kill and jail the artists and writers?

Invite Beauty,

I.

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