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"Impermanence"
Acrylic on Canvas
1996

 

 

 

 

In my art class in my senior year of high school I painted three acrylics, one on paper and two on canvas. I have never painted before and I was less than confidant that I could achieve anything of any real substance. In the midst of teenage infatuation and starry eyed interest in teen idols I did the third painting in the same achy butt detail and photo realism that I have had done time and time again. Choosing musical artist that influenced me and actors that I have had crushes on, I started simply enough by painting each person on top of the other. The shape and arrangement of the painting ended up like many pf my paintings: coming from some subconscious need for structure and format that I am not fully aware of until the project is done.

The actual people on the canvas are from the year I did the painting and I must pause and make a statement: this was when I was seventeen and deeply in the closet and these teen idols and singers were a great escape and are forever burned into my heart. Some are dead, retired and some have married had kids and moved on with their lives and I wish them all the best.

Starting from top left: Taylor Hanson (singer) twice, Daniel Johns (singer), Will Horneff (actor), Taylor Hanson (singer), Daniel Johns (singer). Next row: Brad Renfro (actor), Beck Hanson (singer), Jonathon Brandis (actor) and Devon Sawa (actor).

The reason that Taylor Hanson made a triple appearance was simply that I had just bought Hanson's first ever single and used the CD booklet as a reference. Hanson had just popped out onto the music scene with "MmmmBop," and I had seen the long haired brothers singing on Mtv and thought that they were going be a great hippie band. I was wrong. They were alright and were cute, but a bit too pop and goody for my tastes at the time. Many of my classmates wondered why this grunge, hard rock loving artist liked such a band. The only answer I had and it was partially true was that the brothers were natives of my birth town of Tulsa Oklahoma and their debut album was titled, "Middle of Nowhere." Still putting albums, Taylor Hanson is happily married with children

Brad Renfro was an actor I had a crush on and actually liked as an actor as well. Jonathon Brandis however, was a teen idol but he quickly burned out. The strange irony of this painting is that Brad Renfro, one of my all time favorites died in 2008 a week before Heath Ledger and was quickly brushed aside in the news. A magazine article on Renfro's death mentioned five other actors that had dies due to drugs or other reasons far too young, and of the ilsted deceased were Jonathon Brandis and River Pheonix. Pheonix was said be an actor that Renfro had hoped to immolate. The bitter irony is that he did. The year that Brandis committed suicide, he was mentioned at the following Oscars, which was great except the year that Renfro died of a drug overdose, he was not mentioned at the Oscar however Heath Ledger (a great actor) was. Will Horneff I had always appreciated in the same way as Renfro in that he was talented and also good looking. Horneff is still acting and has travelled extensively and spent several months in Russia, helping underprivileged children in and around Kostroma. Horneff and a few others on this canvas were and still unknowns and not considered "cool" or main stream and thus I always took pride and secret delight in that they were my own in a way.

Not really mainstream except for a perceived at the time one hit wonder with the very different single "Loser," Beck Hansen (no relation to Hanson, but I did think they were linked on this frame) was an underground and very independent musician and artist. I added him in the middle for the possible reason that he was known and yet striking enough to make any instant sense of whom the others on the canvas were. He has a baby face and thus has the look of a teen idol but had enough artistic merit to state that this was not simply teen fluff. Later, Hansen has created a substantial name for himself and created the disorganized and yet perfect noise that I still to date enjoy.

Musically very different form both Hansen and Hanson, Daniel Johns of the Aussie alternative, post grunge band Silverchair just released his band's second studio album with a darker and dirtier sound. Highly influenced at the time with their single "Freak," incidentally I had carved said word on my arm while painting this acrylic, I added the top wet looking Johns from a Live Wire magazine cover that pictured in great aqua blue hue Johns with his unwashed blond hair that I had at the time as well. My bleached locks would go days without a wash and I was told at the time that it actually looked better unwashed. The singer of Everclear in an radio interview, that I still have on audio tape that aired around midnight, asked Johns when he does plan to wash his hair. Johns has married and divorced and currently still performing to sold out tours.

Of the celebrities painted here in 1996, two are dead and others have changed, some for better. I titled this painting, "Impermanence," which is a Buddhist term meaning that nothing ever stays the same. Everything evolves. The machine that is teen idol can seriously destroy many that come of age in its grasp. Some can go on to greater careers in the public stage when others do better living the rest of their lives in private sector. However, many former teen idols are destroyed by the process. Is it a good thing? I do not know for nothing is certain except the simple truth nobody can be a permanent teen idol. Impermanence.

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