Off Limits

The art of the deal

There's no Factory and, as yet, no up-and-coming Andy Warhol. But never mind the details: Last Friday, Denver officially launched the newest art-world movement: UNPOP ART.

"It's basically imagery like pop art, but using source material that's unpopular," says Boyd Rice, the local musician and artiste who timed the launch to coincide with the 59th anniversary of Adolf Hitler's suicide. "We try to approach unpopular material in a way that's fun, as a way to transform it. Shaun Partridge does these gigantic Day-Glo portraits of Anne Frank, and they're really fun -- and then you realize, wait a minute, that's a picture of Anne Frank."

And talk about fun: In homage to Pop Art founder Warhol, the new www.unpopart.org website features a photograph of a can of Chef Boyadolf Pastikas in tomato sauce. There's also a stake through the Hamburger Helper hand; a variation on the Apple "Think Different" ad campaign featuring an image of Charles Manson; and a tinted photo of a nude woman on her back with her legs splayed, accompanied by the text "Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here."

 
 
A matter of taste: "Pastikas," from unpopart.org.
A matter of taste: "Pastikas," from unpopart.org.

Though artists from around the world working in all mediums are expected to join the movement, our own cowtown is the epicenter. Writer Brian Clark moved to Denver to write a book about Boyd, and when he heard his subject talk over ideas with Partridge, he pushed them to create a website and formalize the concepts. "We realize that this is a phenomenon," Boyd says. "But a lot of times you don't recognize a phenomenon until somebody comes up with a catchphrase."

Enter UNPOP ART, bringing absolutely no Warholian glamour along with it. But even though Denver lacks an Edie Sedgwick, and coke hasn't made enough of a comeback to fuel our own version of Studio 54 (besides, there's already a drag club by that name on South Broadway), the founders are hoping that the next Jean-Michel Basquiat or Gerard Malanga may emerge. L.A.-based Feral House publisher Adam Parfrey has signed on -- which is apropos, because his imprint regularly features looks at serial killers, satanists and conspiracy theories -- as have Seattle artist Charles Krafft, who does Delft porcelain work, often of rifles and hand grenades, and Portland author Jim Goad, who wrote The Redneck Manifesto.

"It's the first time that I know of that somebody has consciously sort of marketed an art movement," Rice says. "Brian has brought this sort of corporate strategy to it."

How totally un-Pop.

Enough about art; in Mootown, it's all about sports: Last week, the dailies were vomiting team spirit all over their pages. But now that the Denver Nuggets have once again displayed their general suckitude and the Colorado Avalanche can't decide when to put their golf bags in their cars, how are the papers going to fill that space? No more Carmelo Anthony cutout masks, no more terrifying cornrow sendups of John Hickenlooper and Peter Forsberg. So as a public service, Off Limits offers the following options:

1. The Denver Post should print an outline of the body found on Larry Walker's property, which you can snip out and hide somewhere around your house or yard. When your roommate or spouse or the water meter guy finds it, invite friends over to speculate on what it all means and to discuss whether Walker should have ever been on the Colorado Rockies injured-reserve list, anyway.

2. Forget Carmelo -- Todd Helton's new Bon Scott 'do or Royce Clayton's dreadlocks might look great on your kid! The Rocky Mountain News could print a child-sized facsimile so you can test them out. In fact, that's the least the Rocky should do to get that creepy image of Anabel Bowlen in cornrows out of our heads.

3. Fans are feeling pretty ripped off after buying Clinton Portis jerseys, only to have him traded away by the Denver Broncos. The dailies should do those fans a favor and print up special iron-on patches to cover "Portis" with "Bell," in honor of Tatum Bell, who will wear number 26. When Bell's traded, though, everybody's on their own.

4. Peter Forsberg won't return for another year of thuggery in the NHL, but he'll no doubt be back in Sweden playing for his old team, MoDo. So it's only right that the Denver Newspaper Agency sponsor Swedish rock band The Hellacopters as the new house band at the Larimer Lounge.

5. Since no hockey, football or basketball fan knows that the Colorado Rapids exist, the dailies should devote free ads encouraging English-style soccer violence as a way to draw more interest to the MLS soccer club. Instead of the usual mini-ball giveaway, each fan will get a pack of C batteries, a two-by-four with a nail in it and a 22-ounce bottle of Carlsberg beer.

It's going to be a long, long time before Denver sports fans can taste the tangy essence of victory again; soon we'll re-enter that dark loser age that all of those people with "native" bumper stickers on their cars remember all too well. In the meantime, enjoy the outrageous, full-color, life-sized Earl Boykins poster coming at you in next Sunday's Post.

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