Saturday, January 27, 2007

ARE THE SUBURBS A FIT SUBJECT FOR ART?

Yes, absolutely! Especially for cartooning! By way of an example how about this picture (above) of a suburban sidewalk by Crumb. The kid looking at the girl with the funny hat reminds me of the Thomas Hart Benton picture of the farmer peeking at a sleeping nude woman. Both beautifully capture a sensual moment and both seem to have something to say about the enviornment the subjects are in. Farms and suburbs are the products of human thought and are therefore charged with sexuality.

Suburbans (above) must go to work, all at the same time. Wood found a rough beauty in that.

A Crumb girl (above) takes time to read her notebook in a suburban greasy spoon. A wonderful depiction of a quiet moment in the city.

This (above) is an old sketchbook page (previously published on this blog) that I did of my daughter when she was a kid. I did it in a suburban fast food restaurant. Life happens in fast food places just like it does in arab street bazaars and picturesque Provence streets. Why are so many modern artists blind to that?



16 comments:

abwinegar said...

Very true, I like to go to places of commercial consumer trade and watch people.

I like to draw them and the actions of life play out before my eyes.

Then, someone gets upset that their valu meal order is all wrong.

Come on people it's fast food, not a five star bistro!

Anonymous said...

I agree, it is an interesting place for all sorts of stories about life.

I think the suburbs is the air many people breathe, and therefore, it's hard for them to see something they are so surrounded by as art.

Anonymous said...

I think Johns post on tude was spot on but the people who are now finding tude in golden age looney toons are idiots. John means the arms folded leaning against a no loitering sign rapper from 1992 tude.

That knowing look Bugs bunny used to give when dealing with elmer fudd and yosemitie sam aint tude

Max Ward said...

I really agree with this post, and I still really like the drawings of your daughter.

Anonymous said...

Have you seen any of the hundreds of printed sketchbooks and blogs of cartoonists? They're not blind to it at all! Quite the opposite. There are riches in store for you if you seek them out: Enrico Casarosa(and the hundreds on the Sketchcrawl pages), David Gemmil, Marlo Meekins, Ronnie Del Carmen, Jeremy Bernstein, James Robertson(Iron Scythe), Don Shank...the list goes on-really, hundreds!

Seek them out!

Anonymous said...

"Why are so many modern artists blind to that?"

For some it seems that their number 1 priority is feeling superior about themselves. They think that trashing the suburbs will make them look like non-conformist bohemians.

Myself, I grew up in an Arabian-Provenzal big city and am currently enjoying the suburbs very much, thank you/

-- anon for now

Anonymous said...

you should trash people in power, businessmen shareholders executives politicians, not real people

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Everybody: I regret the sanctimonious tone of
this piece and the slam against moderns at the end of this entry. It's not modern's fault that they find suburb exteriors uninspiring. Let's face it, the suburbs are often mathematically laid out and are dominated by cars, roads and parking lots. They're just not that photogenic.

Crumb was a great depicter of the suburbs because he hated them and was always trying to ferret out the dark side. His suburban houses always included fuse boxes, cluttered telephone polls, sewers, and the like. I don't agree with his point of view but at least having a point of view enabled him to get around the drawing block that crippled everyone else.

Anonymous was right to say that the suburbs are covered by lots of cartoonists and animated films. Even so, it's simultaneously true that few people who want to sketch for fun draw the neighborhood they live in.

It does seem to me that cartoonists are the best chroniclers of the suburbs. There's not much here to interest the oil painter but plenty to interest the comic artist and caricaturist.

Jorge Garrido said...

But the suburbs are booooooooring!!!! And overdone!! Every cartoon on CN and Nick is a parody of the suburbs. Cities are way better subjects becasue there's more of it. I can't stand living in the suburbs and hope to live in Toronto when I grow older, like in my childhood.

Every sitcom is in the suburbs, too. What ever happened to blue collar city humour?

Anonymous said...

you WANT to live in Toronto? thats fucked up

Max Ward said...

Toronto is the cleanest city I have ever been in, and there is free booze everywhere you go. It was quite a contrast from the city I live in, Pittsburgh, known for its grey sky & pollution.

Kali Fontecchio said...

The suburbs, where life is easy.


I love those drawings of your daughter- and I recognize some of the expressions now!

Jordan said...

I like this post a lot, Eddie. I don't live in the suburbs, but a semi-suburban part of Queens, in Kew Gardens, in NYC. My surroundings have affected me very deeply. I've gone from loving it, to hating it, to love-hating it, and now I think I've finally grown very affectionate and warm towards where I live.

I'm not out to be a cartoonist or anything (music is more my game) but I have sketchbooks and draw all the time, and they are filled with drawings reflecting where I live.

Sometimes without even trying or thinking I'll really nail down a strange subtle feeling I'll have about my surroundings. Those are my favorite drawings.


Here are links if you're interested. There's better stuff I'd like to scan, if I had a scanner.


out standing

looking back

night time


This one I drew at an open mic I did, and it PERFECTLY captured how I was feeling (i hate open mics):

open mic

And here's some pictures I took that kind of capture how I feel about Kew Gardens (in good and bad ways)

117th street

building

School Fence


LIRR

Arch Vines

black bag

tree shadow on grass

LIRR Swirly

Alicia said...

I live in Barrie, which is almost an hour north of Toronto. Toronto has it points although I question the cleanliness comment.
Speaking of cleanliness, remember the posting you had a few months back Uncle Eddie about artists work spaces and I told you how mine was not the chaotic mess you praised? Well, I put pics up of it on my blog. Hope I'm still welcome back to your corner after seeing them!

Anonymous said...

as far as boringness goes toronto is the suburbs

Anonymous said...

Jorge,

Most CN and Nick series are set in the 'burbs (or in metaphorical 'burbs) because network execs can't acknowledge life outside of major media centers. The current buzz is they don't want ideas that are 'too high concept', partly because everything they currently have on their schedules is exactly that. Forget small town America as a setting, it's neither on their radar nor in their vocabulary. But life does happen everywhere, whether or not it is perceived as marketable.