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Art and Controversy: Stu Mead 
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Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2007 9:47 pm
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Post Art and Controversy: Stu Mead

Among the wide array of jobs that compose my resume is a long stint at an art gallery in Hollywood back in the early 90s. It specialized in "Low Brow" art, and it helped give careers to painters like Robert Williams, Joe Coleman, Mark Ryden, The Clayton Brothers, Coop, Frank Kozik and many others. The experience made a collector out of me, and I've managed to collect pieces by Dave McKean, Trevor Brown, Becca, Miles Thompson, Alan Forbes, Clint Carney, Kristine Kryttre, Krys Sapp, Misery, and many others. I am still very involved with art and artists, and I have a special interest in the sub-genre of Lowbrow known as "Degenerate" art.
I gave Gea one of her first commercial art assignments, and helped currate a show years ago for Mike Diana, who had been involved in a very high-profile legal battle with the Ohio state government and was court ordered not to paint, draw or illustrate anything during his parole. He was actually convicted on obscenity charges. For drawing. No kidding -here in America.
Usually, other artists will be very supportive of another artist's first amendment rights, but on occasion (for whatever reason) a polarizing figure will divide opinion that seems to go beyond a simple argument of good taste. Whether or not I think that an artist's work is particularly good or not, I would never begrudge them the ability to show their work in public -with certain age restrictions in place.

Hyaena, a rather cutting edge gallery in Burbank, California has recently hosted a show of Stu Mead's art work. Stu's work is really unrefined. It mixes elements of naive, outsider art with the look and feel of early 20th century grotesque. Most of his art is focused on fetish-heavy depictions of Nymphs and devils engaged in various acts of a possibly degenerate nature.
I would say that his art is far less overtly offensive than that of Mike Diana, or even Robert Crumb. In many ways the idea that art can be offensive is offensive in and of itself, but in the interest of properly conveying a specific point of view (and one I don't subscribe to) I'll use the language of the masses.
I've always been of the opinion that most of the baggage people carry to a work of art is their own. People see a static work and draw conclusions about what they are seeing without ever speaking to the artist about the work, and use broad assumptions to support whatever agenda they have.
Here's where it gets weird:
The boyfriend of another artist who has shown at this gallery was incensed by Stu Mead's art, and got two or three other artists to launch an official complaint with the gallery manager, who explained that Mead's work has merit, is highly sought by collectors of his style, and at the end of the day, the gallery is his and all decisions about who he will show are also his. He wasn't a dick about it, either.
This same boyfriend, whose girlfriend's career has been nurtured by this gallery, and whose work -while it has a following- is not likely to book shows elsewhere, claimed to have called the police and implied that he could turn the gallery over at any time! He seemed incredulous that he wasn't consulted about who would be showing at this gallery -one that he neither owned, showed at or shared any kind of stake.
It's bad enough, to me, that one artist would cause trouble for another artist, but to cause trouble for a person who has been completely supportive is mindboggling. And to take it to the extreme of threatening to call the police by declaring the art offensive is the most chickenshit thing I've ever heard.
As a precaution, the gallery director removed several of the pieces from the walls. He's not a millionaire and a potential lawsuit would be very costly to fight. It was a decision on which I support him, though I think the circumstances behind it are FUBAR.
Almost all of the show prints sold out, ironically. But a few prints and other items are still available. I encourage you to check out the show online if for no other reason than to fight censorship.
Here's a link to the gallery page:
http://www.hyaenagallery.com/stumead18plus.html

I find the style a little too basic, and far prefer Trevor Brown who is a master craftsman whose work is as dark or darker. I would not likely have a Stu Mead painting in my collection, but I do support his freedom of expression, and do own a print. This show was the first Stu Mead exhibit on US soil in over ten years, as Mead currently resides in Germany. How ironic is it that he gets no flack in Germany, but his show in California is censored?


Last edited by highlysatanic666 on Tue Sep 02, 2008 8:04 pm, edited 2 times in total.



Sat Aug 23, 2008 7:25 pm
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the reason is that the american people are fucking stupid and don't understand the meaning of free speech. it is a problem that makes me disgusted because these days your common american cares more for perceived security than he/she does for liberty. america is fucked.

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Sun Aug 24, 2008 3:38 am
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The plot thickens.

Today the gallery director let me know that the three artists who objected to the show came to the store and removed all of their work. As a note of explanation, I should mention that in addition to the current exhibition, there are hundreds of paintings that represent the work of the regular contributors. Among these three was the artist whose latest opening was scheduled for next Saturday (and whose postcards were already printed) and another was a girl whose show was scheduled for November. The real irony here is that

1.) One of them makes her artistic statement through the sculpting of dolls of dead children.
2.) In my opinion, not one of them would be able to book a solo show anywhere else on the planet.

So of course the only people that they're really hurting are themselves, but pulling a show after the invitations have been printed to me would seem to be a litigious offense.

To speak to perennialsorrow's post, I have to say I disagree. I don't think these three artists speak for the rest of America -though they may be a fair representation of the majority of Goths I've known in my life who live for drama and to rebel against absolutely anything regardless of the merit of doing so. There's a propensity toward infighting that seems to flourish among Goth Horror collectors. I can't tell you how many times I've been in a room (whether convention or party) where there were two or more individuals who couldn't be in the same room at the same time, because they had some beef with one another that threatened to ruin everybody's good time. It's really childish, and incredibly common in the social circles I've just described. I don't know if there's a high level of professional jealousy or if the genres of goth and horror (when combined) just happen to draw a high concentration of emotionally immature individuals.
That this has happened among people who consider themselves artists is unfortunate.

Again, I'm sure that I'm not their target demographic, but I'm happy that I'll never have to look at their work again.

I should also point out that I am in no way the spokesperson for this gallery, and that the opinions expressed herein are my own.


Wed Aug 27, 2008 6:48 am
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