Last night I went to go see "Exit Through the Gift Shop."  A friend recommended the film and I saw the reviews.  I knew I would love it but I never guessed how inspiring and thought provoking the film would be.  It is the story of Thierry Guetta, an eccentric French "film maker" who befriended and filmed some of the most famous and elusive street artists.  Beginning this journey by following his cousin, Invader, he traveled the world following such amazing artits as Shepard Fairey, Neckface, and Swoon.  His filming spans over a decade and we learn of his obsession with finding the infamous Banksy!  Much to his suprise, and completely by chance, he does get his wish.  And slowly but surely, he gains Banksy's trust and friendship.

I can only imagine how inspiring it must have been to follow all of these prolific artists and how much it would make anyone want to do what they do.  Well, after a scary attempt at putting thousands of hours of footage into a 90 minute film, Banksy sent him on his way back to Los Angeles to "do some art" while he edited the footage himself.  After six months of what one can only compare to Warhol's Factory, Thierry (now Mr. Brainwash) set out to have the biggest street artist show which he called "Life is Beautiful." 

Half of this film is an amazing documentary of the unseen underground world of outsider art, but then we really learn what Banksy had to say with the making of this film. 

Mr Brainwash was never an artist.  He was the equivalent of a tag artist groupie.  Taking from other artists and conceptualizing his piece, he handed off his ideas to hired artists who created his work.  With his amazing, LITERALLY OVERNIGHT SUCCESS, it begs to ask the infamous question: what is art?  And what makes someone an artist? Is it internal or the external world (art collectors, gallery owners, etc) that decide who is an artist and who is not? 

Leaving this film inspired me to create and truly sit down and think why I paint what I paint.  Why do I paint at all?  I paint in oil but all I wanted to do was grab some Montana GOLD and a stencil and find a wall!

Is Mr Brainwash an insult to artists who have been working for years (decades even) to become the artist they are now?  Is he an insult to art collectors and dealers?  Is he completely insane or a total genius? On the car ride home, there was a debate and the wheels in my head just kept on spinning.  Each question lead to another question instead of an answer.  But it was not frustrating.  It is what art is about. Banksy created something amazing here and for that I thank him.  As for Mr Brainwash...well...I guess I'll have to let that thought marinate a little longer.




Artists as the Way Showers Sages and Soothsayers by Cheryl Whitestone

This 16x20” oil painting is one of the illustrations from a story that came to me, a kind of healing Native American myth. I have titled the book “Dennies Totally Bizarre Magical Mystical Rite of Passage.” I would tell you it is a true story but you wouldn’t believe me, so you can think of it as fantasy. That’s ok some metaphysicians believe what we think creates reality. Anyway somehow I have always had a sense of the fantastic and extraordinary. In fact I am drawn to the unusual and fantastic. I always believed people/our society today needed new dreams, myths, legends, up-lifting stories and traditions that they themselves create. In a sense we are doing this with blogs, web sites, music, videos, art, movies (Avatar). We see you James Cameron! You can see my meanderings in my blog www.cherylwhitestonesworld.blogspot.com. Look at the oldest posts.

I believe artists will step out on that ledge of the extraordinary and explore, then lead others to their personal muse whatever it may be. Art is such a healing activity for anyone, no matter what skill level. When I was painting abstracts I could actually see what was going on in my life in the painting, a window to my soul, I could actually read the painting.

When I came across Joseph Campbell, I jumped for joy. I devoured the books and videos. Someone who though what I thought! PBS ran a series called “Joseph Campbell the Power of Myth, with Bill Moyers.” I taped them all. It was a beautiful series. And the book is set up as an interview:

          Moyers:  “Who interprets the divinity inherent in nature for us today? Who are our shamans? Who interprets unseen things for us?”
          Campbell: “It is the function of the artist to do this. The artist is the one who communicates myth for us today. But he has to be an artist who understands mythology and humanity and isn’t simply a sociologist with a program for you.”
Go inside yourself and explore, write, blog, paint, create a new mythology, create happy endings. Long Live the Arts.




Art Stars Contest WINNER! Cliff Welty

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Hat's off to Jerry's Artarama for sponsoring the Art Stars: My Art Journey Video Contest. It truly gave a great opportunity to many artists to share their painting tips with the world. I'm glad they named it the "Art Stars Contest", because all who participated were winners. I would like to thank Jerry's for the privilege to participate in the Art Stars Contest. It was the experience of a lifetime.

-- Cliff Welty, Brownsville, TX


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