Sunday 25 January 2009


If you've been interested the art scene of Atlanta for any amount of time, the chances are good that you have heard the name Todd Murphy. A recent article in Peach magazine addresses a number of issues regarding the artist's career in Atlanta.
Keeping a 6500 sq.ft studio not too far from the Oakland Cemetery(which I am supposing puts him in the Mattress Factory?),the artist is said to have become something of a recluse. Ocassional walks home from studio to a residence in Buckhead, fan the flames of his interest in the city's development, planning, and architecture. He's said to spend time envisioning "social spaces" that could repair Atlanta's urban disconnect. I see him, I really do. It's a dark lonely night for Todd Murphy, looking for another HighRise to sell a BigOl' picture to. The article goes on to say that he sees nothing but opportunity in Atlanta, claiming that his politics are in creativity and that his duty is to inspire. (cough word "bullshit" into hand here)
Todd is presently self representing, after years spent with Bill Lowe.
I enjoy this quote from Lowe: " As imperfect as the gallery system is, it is the only mechanism for creating sanction for an artist's evolution and the growth of their career. My concern for Todd is that there is no advocacy for the work, by any gallery anywhere in the country,nor any museum, nor any strong critical voice. On the other hand, maybe this is just a new paradigm and I just dont get it."
No,Bill. My guess is that you just dont get it. The internet is our friend, the sick empty thing that it is.
(i also enjoyed this quote regarding mechanisms: "It's confusing. We haven't been able to delineate the mechanism by which the moneys can be identified and captured"- I think that can be attributed to Eddie Granderson, i forget.) Mechanisms,huh? I'm going start using this word more often.
I declare "mechanism" the new Power Word. If it isn't already.
Todd Murphy.The article in Peach describes Todd as the object of potential envy of other artists. Im paraphrasing obviously,it states that his work is seen by some as too easily executed and that making a living as an artist is a reason enough for envy. Some of his work is described as" melancholy" and "southern rot art", a description that wishes to pull on an aesthetic that exists and is associated with the south. His work has been criticized as being very theatrical and more concerned with fashion than saying something.
Ouch. I'd go into I hiding,too. Especially if the description was stamped on yr forehead by an adjunct curator of modern and contemporary art at the High. and we all know how respectable the High is.
Im presently reading a book about Thornton Dial. The same day I begin this book, I see a post from E.K. Huckaby announcing a Lisa Shinault opening. To further set my little stage, I have also recently (thanks to MTMitchell) learned(or more accurately, become exposed to) a neat little chunk of latin.
ad hominum.
I became familiar with E.K and Lisa both through friends before having any awareness of their work experience in the Atlanta art community. This is not to say they are my friends, they are not. I simply became exposed to the person, not the work first. I have to realize this for some reason. ad hominum? I write about them as an Atlanta native artist in whatever phase of my life I am in presently.

Hey, It seems that art has to do with utilizing "ad hominem" and perhaps pretending that it is not. The moment one leaves their house with art, it is not and never will be about the art. The goal/dream/hope/of the artist is to position themselves and the art in such a way that it gets an intended result. or any result, as most artists seem to be willing to take and exploit any reaction at all. From its orgin to its exposure to its last little piece biodegrading off the face of the earth a million years from now. (Or I suppose since we are the decaying morbid south, it's much sooner) It's a lie that tells the truth, as the old quote goes. In fact, if i want to be really cynical, I'd say its the arts duty to make itself as non-existent or non-confrontational as possible.. Who do we think we're foolin'? and to think..we imagine an imaginary idea of an art collecting/ thinking crowd? ha! where? but oh, the art itself is the thing. It's about sharing in Atlanta because of this fact. It makes it more "real". There's nothing to lose. So this is why I used to always here folks talk about how they couldnt handle "the politics" of the art scene...huh. I personally enjoy trying as hard as i can to pretend i don't care. ad hominum phasors set to stun. become a performance artist and play with this. Comedians do.

Hold up, Let's focus this. It is about Todd Murphy, I promise.
Thornton Dial and Todd Murphy both paint(create,sculpt, develop photographs) on large scale.(Okay. so does the guy in the studio next to anyone reading this)
I have this theory about painting/creating on large scale,but that's for another day.Let's just say..scale, is a trump card for some.
Thornton and Todd.Both have a sense of the south's culture or declare a sense of southern decay, growth, history,as imperfect and horrible as much of it is. There is a mood to their work. Perhaps they allow others to say that, and nod in acceptance when the characteristic is applied. When the VALUE is applied. One being suggestive of narrative, the other very clearly all about his ideas, his place in life. His story.Him being himself. Self representation status vs. the gallery system.
Todd's work is marketable. Simple as that. He used a gallery to get going. Was it necessary? I say yes. It had to start there for him. Now he can approach all the commercial properties he wishes with his name and the work, which are very open to theatrical vapid eye candy things. And no, I am not saying this out of jealousy.I say it because I feel what he does is a disservice. It parades,prepared to hide with a sense of holding the Moral High Ground .How dare you? Yr just jealous!You run headlong into it if you dare honestly critique. What I wonder, and have to wonder if Todd wonders or schemes/hopes...50 years(or much less) from Todd Murphy folk art? is that the angle? If yr in the south, braid yr intent with that stigma if you are fer real about art and want to stay here doing it. It's the only corner certain artists from certain walks of life have left as even a scatch of a marginal sense of a chance. So lets keep it sacred. (heh)
I am saying this because I am aware of E.K. Huckaby. I wish to draw a comparison only to the extent that I will say I find Huckaby's work to be fascinating. He has similiarites in slight ways, key words pop up between them that would not in others.For me, a silly but apt comparison would be, take the rock group Bauhaus and set them beside the rock group Type-O-Negative. With E.K., I wonder about where he is going with things. His work is undeniable. In his case, I wonder what his next research will reveal. Just as I am pleased to see that evidently Lisa Shinault has found comfort in her artistic voice and style, as it appears to be much as it was when I first discovered it close to ten years ago. Beautiful and non-confrontationally difficult strange fun images.
I have developed an awareness of ways different folks position themselves in their artistic market. It has to happen.Market.Audience. If I am jealous of folks,it is folks with burning passionate vision.I only get blurry visions and a voice full of heads.
I can't decide if I envy Thornton. Honestly,I can't say I appreciate the work all that much. The scale is sometimes impressive.I have seen some that were interesting.(i'd like to see "billy goat hill" in person) Oh. I'm from the south, was I supposed to just gush about liking it,him. his work? which one?? Would you question me if I DID like it? Perhaps I need to see more of the work in person.Perhaps i need to know more about the person. I will allow that and will always allow that. Fine. I used to despise Andy as well. Speaking of Andy:
Ad hominem. I'm sure there's gonna be some elaboration offered up to me on the full meaning of Ad Hominem. I'd enjoy it actually. About the writing, not the writer. Oh make me famous, but don't talk about me. Especially if you dont know what I eat for breakfast. Create the myth, but oh..nothing matters here. Have an opinion, but don't voice it. You probably don't know something and its better to let those in the know do the talking. This is Atlanta.. So you best just hide in yr shrinking suburb... until IT forces you to swim, fight or procreate.and buy a trendy loft. and some trendy art. from a trendy studio. in what used to be the sticks.
Let us pine for our lost pines.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Sad little boy you are always wanting things you will never have for that very reason.
    Tony Hernandez



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