Sunday, October 12, 2014
Art And Craft (2014)
"Take Me to the Movies!!" barked the Jungle Girl from the safety of a vine outside my kitchen window. "And why should I do that Oh Princess of the Treetops?" japed I. "Because I can summon Pteradactyls, Tigers and the General Counsel's Office of the Department of Fisheries!" needled the Blonde Vine Swinger. And so we went to the movies, that is the problem with Jungle Girls, they are Perpetually on the Bum. *** Mark Landis has a psychosis...he produces painstaking copies of museum quality artwork (sometimes by very transparent means) and then donates them gratis to all sorts of museums and galleries thru out the Southwest. Because he has never accepted so much as a penny for his rampant compulsive fakery, Landis has never yet been indicted for fraud despite the fact that he routinely makes his donations under an alias (at one point he impersonates a Jesuit!) and is saddled with a spectrumy personality that makes PeeWee Herman look like the Godfather of Soul. Per this exhaustive documentary, Landis lives in a cluttered condo spending his days faking everything from religious icons to Dr. Seuss drawings. And to me, as a thwarted artist of some vintage it is an ineffably sad story, because Landis has genuine talent, he is part of that mystical minority of art lover who can gaze at a masterpiece and really get something out of it. Alas though, his talent is completely dominated and ultimately nullified by his copy-and-donate psychosis, indeed it seems clear to me that he cannot express his deepest artistic impulses any other way. You see this sometime in the farthest corners of what is "geek culture" extremely able costume designers or talented writers of fan fiction who are content to simply replicate with exactitude other people's fantasies. In Landis' case talent that could bring him gallery shows or a respectable position in an advertising agency or a king hell head start on an outlaw artist run...is instead making donations of fraudulent art simply to feel the love. That in turn ties into the perpetual credulity of museums they wanna believe badly amidst all the commerce that attends on the art world in the essential goodness of the gratis donation. So in a way, whenever Landis pulls off this scam two compulsions are being satisfied.