By Gideon Bok
For University of Southern Maine
Abromson Center, USM Portland Campus
Gideon Bok (2008)
The band name 'Dandy Warhols' is obviously a reference to Andy Warhol and the impact that he made on the art and culture of the late 20th century, while giving rise to a new way of looking at fame, art, and music. He helped bring together a way of making art through music, and vice versa. He designed a few album covers for the velvet underground & Nico (the banana) and for the rolling stones' Sticky Fingers LP (the crotch shot with the real zipper on the album.) Both of these records are in the foreground of the painting. The dandy warhols' "welcome to the monkey house" record has a peeled banana with a zipper down the front of the banana. This image is a playful conflation of the Rolling Stones, the Velvet Underground, and Warhol, which seems simply playful at first but becomes more complex and intriguing the more one looks at the history and the cultural moments that those records happened within as it relates to time of the making of the dandy warhol’s record. I was also listening to many other records while making this painting, some of which contributed to this conceptual idea. The only other record that has representation in the title is the New Pornographers' "Challengers" LP.
Since most viewers may have a sense of the size and feel of an LP record, I find that the inclusion of the LPs in the foreground and middleground helps to establish the floor plane as it moves from straight down (the bottom of the canvas is more or less where my feet meet the depicted space) to looking towards the horizon (the more the objects move up the canvas the more they recede in illusionistic space) so that the objects are moving from flat to spatial as they travel up the canvas. In a very wide interior painting the objects on the walls would do similar things, as is happening as one moves left to right along the walls. The walls are at 90 degree angles to each other, yet they are both, at points in the painting, flush with the picture plane (the rectilinear elements on the walls are flat against the picture plane.)
The USM Art Gallery served as a studio site and subject for Gideon Bok over the course of two exhibits during his residency, the USM Art Faculty exhibit and Bok’s own subsequent exhibit Analog. The painting you see here, Velvetdandynewpornstones, was begun during the USM Art Faculty exhibit and depicts some of the faculty art as well as people who hung out and modeled for Bok. Included here are USM art professor Joel Seah and his art class. Bok asked Seah to model the police officer uniform Seah wore in a performance piece at the faculty exhibit reception, where he handed out specially printed tickets to faculty for “art violations.”
A Maine-based painter, Bok is represented by Plane Space Gallery of New York and Alpha Gallery in Boston. His work also can be found in numerous public and private collections.