14″ x17″ (43×36) Collage, photo early 20th C. Sweatshop, acrylic.
View more work at Saatchi Art, and on my web portfolio: ART BY WILLARD For photos on this blog, click MY ART on the right panel and scroll down.
For generations, artists in the Euro-American traditions, like ancient Greek heroes, accepted the idea of posterity–the hope for an enduring place in history and myth, that they, and their work, might defy mutability–hope for a kind secular immortality; artists and poets might die, but art and poetry was forever. On the brink of collective human suicide–and even if we should survive our human-made catastrophes, it will be but for a blink of the universal eye–who can believe in such a thing, now?
I’ve been thinking about this for some time. My work will never achieve an enduring status, and even if it did–what posterity…? when, in a few generations, there will no humans left on the planet? And in the immensity of time, before the sun consumes the inner planets as a red giant, who can maintain the illusion of a lasting memory, of a lasting anything? What then, can take the place of that old fantasy–dead as the gods who belonged to that vanished world? What, but change itself? Like Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Seed. Rather than imagining, how works of art might endure, think of them in terms of what they do, as themselves, agents of change–which they are. As works of art and poetry have always been… done?
Lubricants to slide us another step into a future we can only know when we get there. The only past worth saving, is what will remain as we break the chains that bind us to it, the past that will survive, because it changes with us in a future we create together.
Stuff on the web is forever. I lost the files with most of the photos of work made before 2016. Typing up journal entries from our Wells Fargo trial, there was mention of a paining I did soon after: the broken nosed 3 foot (My Master’s Voice RCA dog that I used as a model at the Ox. I stuck torn up pieces of the subpoena’s from the trial to that piece, and called it Subpoena Dog. I gave it as a gift, so couldn’t take another photo of it… but when I Googled, Subpoena Dog Willard Art–there it was! #133, from March, 2013. 32×22, Acrylic on Masonite–the rough side.
What makes art, revolutionary?
I’m fine with political art. We need it. But that’s still basing its value on use–on the use that is made of it, and not for itself, which is how this fucked up culture judges everything and deprives everything, human lives not the least, of any value but how they can be used, or what can be got from it.
Art that is USELESS is also revolutionary, not because of what it represents, but because it witnesses to the reality of inherent value, of value that can’t be reduced to any exchange.
I love art with a powerful revolutionary messages, and respect those who make it. But please don’t dismiss the not so obvious revolutionary power of holding to a belief in inherent value, autonomous from all else… as we must hold human life as of value, apart from all the ways it can be put to use.
36″ x 27″ Acrylic on canvas. Someone gave me a 32oz jar of Golden Cadmium Orange… that’s a lot of orange. Instead of the usual neutral underpainting, I took a palate knife and lathered the canvas with Gritty Orange… to see what I could do with it. This is what happened.
This is not how most humans, for most of our existence on this planet lived. This is a capitalist disease! And nowhere has it advanced to the deadly level that we see in the USA.
I’m in a desperate situation. Not sure I will be in a place I will want to choose to remain alive in another 3 weeks.
Tryin to think beyond my personal problems here–why is this happening? Asking this, so it’s about more than me.
Goin through this–desperate to find a place to live, a place where I don’t have to give up what keeps me alive–making art–makes me think, if I had money, I’d buy a big house, low rent or free for a communal core, with extra rooms and lottsa soffa space, so people coming to actions from out of town, or comrades passing through, or people in need of emergency shelter would have a place.
We need those kinda communal shelters. Something I’ve had on my mind for more than more than 50 years. In 1970 we bought a big fixer upper in Powelton, group of us–with one person putting up most of the initial money. Should be places like that all over the city. It is STUPID and WASTEFUL and socially destructive, the way we live in isolated units now. It takes learning new habits, new values, but makes so much more sense.
More than 50 years later, I’m haunted by some needless deaths in an apt house I was living in–old people without family alone in their flats. Most deadly for older people as they lose their health. A person alone in an apt, without family or friends, is in a place as unhealthy for mental health as solitary confinement. We put people–with disabilities, the very elderly–in Capitalist Solitary!
It’s so unnecessary! We don’t have to choose to live like this! We can change how we arrange our common lives–this is something in our power. We don’t have to wait for the revolution! We can BE that part of the revolution!
This is a concern of lifetime for me… a ‘concern’ the way older Quakers used the word. Does anyone care or think about this? How we could actually DO something to change how we live together–with profound consequences that would echo through the whole economic political social universe!
How many hundred thousand houses in Philly? If 5% of them went communal, most, if not all, of our les sans toit, would no longer be living on the street. And for those in need of more intense medical and psychological care, that same kind of housing, with people with training and skills needed to deal with those problems, would be able to take even THEM in. This is like, Street Medic Ethos–raised to the level most street medics actually would aspire to.
We need to think seriously about organizing on THIS level–on how we live–on learning to live together, caring for one another, in the world we want to make happen.