Mark Todd Juggernaut Review and Art History

“King-Size Special” 33.75" x 51.25" : detail

Mark Todd’s latest painting installation, “Juggernaut,” opened at the Billy Shire Fine Arts gallery on Saturday, January 18, 2010. I arrived early, before the crowd, to quietly take in the exhibition and examine each piece carefully. “Juggernaut” features large-scaled paintings and collage pieces that celebrate Mark’s youthful exercises of collecting, reading and drawing comic books. And after examining each painting close up, nothing much has changed since the early years spent analyzing the Incredible Hulk, Spiderman, the Fantastic Four and all of their related adversaries.

Gate To The Cemetery : 20” x 31”

Mark Todd’s latest effort is a maturation of scale and appropriate placement of characters across the entire painted surface. You can see this in the Fantastic Four cover parody, “Gate To The Cemetery,” 20” x 31” mixed media on wood, which densely displays plenty of detail—featuring typography, comic heroes, villains and frowning ghosts. The piece delivers a graphic punch, (one of most vibrantly colored pieces in the exhibition), featuring loud color that adds to the tension exchanged between characters while paying homage to the Proto-pop art movement of the 1920s.

Proto-pop artists Gerald Murphy, Charles Demuth and Stuart Davis

Proto-pop was the first American pop art movement to utilize “as found” cultural objects visually articulated by American artists Gerald Murphy, Charles Demuth and Stuart Davis. Essentially, the idea was to create artworks based on mundane objects found in American commercial products and advertising. The American Pop art scene was officially born, spawning hundreds of critical exhibitions and inspiring US artists by the thousands, and then some…

Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein featured in the first Pop Art museum exhibit in Pasadena

In the fall of 1962, “The New Realists” exhibition opened in a New York gallery organized by Sidney Janis. Later that same year, Walter Hopps in Pasadena curated the “New Painting of Common Objects” at the Pasadena Art Museum, the first Pop Art museum exhibition in the United States. Both of these Pop Art showcases featured Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein who were later joined by Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and James Rosenquist in the 1963 Guggenheim Museum exhibition, “Six Painters and the Object,” curated by Lawrence Alloway.

Reduction/Revision” and Reduction/Revision 2 : 24” x 43”

Echoing the voice of Pop Art’s past, Mark Todd has painted and collaged a body of work that is furthering the evolution of the visual narrative arts, showcasing a new voice. The collaged pieces, “Reduction/Revision” and Reduction/Revision 2, ” (24” x 43”) features layers of painting, taped pieces and comic book artifacts. Both pieces reflect Mark’s love of developing mini comics, (zines), and offer the viewer a DIY concept that incorporates painting, drawing, printing and construction.

Of course these works deserve your personal attention, and if you can a trip to the Billy Shire Fine Arts you will not be disappointed, Mark is featured alongside San Francisco painter Owen Smith.

“Brawn and Iron” : 36" x 36" and “K.O.” : 24" x 36"

“Long Gone” by Owen Smith features fourteen oil on panel paintings that capture 1930s America’s pulp noire and the golden age of industry. Owen’s painted style features an elongation of the human form with weighted, muscular features similar in style to the American muralists of the Regionalist art movement of the late 1920-1950s.

Regionalist painters : Grant Wood, John Steuart Curry and Thomas Hart Benton
Notice : Harmonica player is Jackson Pollock who posed for Benton

Regionalist American painters: Grant Wood, John Steuart Curry and Thomas Hart Benton captured everyday American life, painting its cities, small towns and rural landscapes. Their realistic painting style, (realism), heightened the viewer’s political and social consciousness while conveying a sense of nationalism and romanticism. (If you’re interested in actual accounts that took place in art history, check out the latest book “Tom and Jack/The intertwined lives of Thomas Hart Benton and Jackson Pollock” by art historian Henry Adams. Really a wonderful read, as it features the main characters and all of the lives they touched along the way).

Mark Todd and Owen Smith are the second to last show being featured at the BSFA gallery owned by Billy Shire and directed by Matt Kennedy. Billy Shire has been an active patron and promoter of a variety of different art movements featured within the Pop Art. Billy’s gallery shows have promoted thousands of artists in Southern California including: Mark Ryden, Gary Panter, Tony Fitzpatrick, Joe Coleman, Frank Kozik, Elizabeth McGrath, Chris Mars, SHAG and on…Billy is revitalizing the gallery in his original and second location, La Luz de Jesus Gallery and will continue his tireless contribution to the arts as a gallery owner, novelty promoter, publisher, mentor, “shock and awe instigator” and all around connoisseur of counterculture.

“Juggernaut” by Mark Todd and “Long Gone” by Owen Smith are now on display at the Billy Shire Fine Arts gallery in Culver City through 2/6/10. Stop on by and participate in the historic legacy of Southern California’s Pop Art movement.

Also, catch Mark Todd online in a USAToday interview written by John Geddes and a great article written in the LA Weekly. (The links will take you to the stories, click and read).

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