Amazingly Talented Artists on Etsy

There was a time when art was something that was only for the very rich. Throughout history, there have been movements to make art available to the commonfolk, but the ones that were of any value were inevitably hijacked by rich folk. The remaining movements would be relegated to the world of kitsch. This is a mark of a very inefficient market: When there’s plenty of supply, the price should go down. But then, why has there been such exclusivity with art? Is it true that only very very talented people can produce good art? Something tells me, no.

Rather, I tend to believe that art is and always has been, for the most part at least, all about marketing – about perception. Look at Jackson Pollack. Is he good? Without question. Did he invest something remarkable? Of course. But is he all that unique? Not at all. Some would counter, yes, but he did it first. No, he was just the first to be discovered. He was the first that got legitimacy from the art world. That’s the only difference.

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But we are evolving. Our civilization is changing. In some ways it is for the bad, but at least for art’s sake, it is mostly for the good. In our evolving information civilization, artists, like musicians, might not have the same opportunity to become incredibly famous. But certainly there are more opportunity for a wider number of artists than there ever have been.

Etsy, believe it or not, is on the vanguard of this movement. We might think of Etsy as a place to buy overpriced scented candles made my a homemaker in Utah or something. But it has been serving as a place for artists who actually want to make money to sell their goods. These artists are less concerned with showing their work in a gallery and more concerned with getting their work in the homes of consumers. Isn’t this the definition of kitsch you may ask. Yes, at least it used to be. But like I said, we are on the edge of a cultural revolution.

Take a look at Valdas Misevičius, an artist from Lithuania. His art is incredible. He makes unique original etchings using copper plate, german etching paper, and carbone black etching ink. His figures are haunting, simple, and yet impossible to look away from. Here is what one reviewer said, “I bought this piece for a friend who has nurtured me through a lot of tension and anxiety. This will remind him of his loving embrace and caring nature. The artist expresses it so well here.”

Linda Monfort  is an artist who works in her studio on Burnsworth, North Carolina. Her work is in abstract expressionism and she paints with acrylic paints on canvas. Her work may not have the recognition of an icon of abstract expressionism, but it is as beautiful without a doubt.

My favorite photographer on etsy (and there are a great many) is currently Andrew Kaiser. His work is mostly described as “fine art nudes and landscapes” but mostly they are nudes (in a landscape). He believes firmly in the “art-for-all” ideology. While it is certain he would be welcome in the world’s finest galleries, he sticks to creating and selling art to us masses. He puts it best, “I am a big believer that art should not be something only wealthy patrons can afford. I try to keep my prices low so everyone out there can enjoy and collect original pieces of art.”

He works with Black and White Film, Ilford HP5, Mamiya C330 TLR, Camera, Ilford Photo Paper, and his pieces typically run you about $20.

 

Categories: Art

The Most Unabashed Examples of Whitewashing in Hollywood

We’ve come a long way as a society. Civil rights. Tolerance. Non-discrimination. It’s great living in a country where your ethnicity is something to be proud of, not something that holds you back.

As diverse as our country is, it’s interesting to see how our entertainment sometimes fails to convey this. Usually, most roles are cast with white actors. Unless a part specifically calls for a person of a non-white race, chances are it’ll be filled by a caucasian.

Now, I’m not a person who sees conspiracies everywhere. More than likely, there are simply more white Americans interested in pursuing an acting career than people of other ethnicities. As a result, a lot of the big stars are white. And casting directors for movies and TV look for recognizable stars for projects.

Thus, they select from the pool of famous actors and actresses–most of whom happen to be white. So it’s not so much a case of white being the default race for casters; that’s just how the numbers play out.

However, this tendency to cast big names has led to some pretty hilarious casting decisions over the years. It’s one thing to cast a white person when the character’s race doesn’t matter to the story. It’s another to do it when race plays an important part, or when the movie is based on a true story.

Some call it “racebending.” Others call it “whitewashing.” These are the worst offenders.

Ben Afleck in Argo

Ben Afleck’s Oscar-winning retelling of the true story behind the 1980 rescue of six American diplomats during the Iran Hostage Crisis.

Ben Afleck plays the main character, Antonio J. Mendez–the CIA officer in charge of the operation. The movie is great, but something is clearly off with Afleck’s character. Just read that name–Antonio Mendez. And have a look at this picture of the real Tony Mendez compared with Afleck.

Mr. Afleck may be a good actor, but Hispanic he is not.

David Carradine in Kung Fu

Kung Fu, one of the most popular shows of the ‘70s, follows the captivating adventures of a Shaolin monk traveling through the old west and using his martial arts skills to vanquish wrong-doers. While our main character is half white, half Chinese, the same cannot be said for the actors who plays him–David Carradine. Carradine was of mostly Irish descent, with lots of other European nationalities thrown in.

To be fair, he did have a small amount of Cherokee in him. It may not be Asian, but it’s close enough, right?

Jennifer Connelly in A Beautiful Mind

Ron Howard’s A Beautiful Mind tells the moving story of a brilliant man (Russell Crowe) tormented by mental illness. Jennifer Connelly plays his wife, Alicia. In the film she’s only ever referred to by her first name, although in real life she was Alicia Esther Lardé Lopez-Harrison. She was from El Salvador.

Connelly does a great job in the role, but it seems like such a strange decision considering there are plenty of talented Hispanic actresses around. In fact, the filmmakers originally considered Salma Hayek for the part. For whatever reason, that didn’t go through. So they changed course and whitewashed the character. A really big missed opportunity.

Johnny Depp in The Lone Ranger

Lone Ranger was Disney’s attempt to capitalize on the popularity of Depp and the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Depp plays the title character’s sidekick Tonto–a Comanche Native American.

Look–I love Johnny Depp. Everyone does (especially Tim Burton). I wish Johnny could be in everything, but there comes a moment when you have to draw the line. There’s no situation in which he makes a believable Native American. What’s next? Casting Johnny Depp as Kunta Kinte in a Roots remake because he happens to be 3/2048 African.

The Cast of Starship Troopers

This satirical look at a future fascist Earth at perpetual war with giant space bugs has become something of a cult classic. It stars an all-American cast–despite being set in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Seriously, if they wanted to go this route, why didn’t they just change the setting of the Earth scenes to the United States. It wouldn’t have affected the narrative, and it would have made things less out-of-whack.

Jake Gyllenhaal in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Jake Gyllenhaal playing a Persian. Need I say more?

Sean Connery in Nearly Every Role

Seriously, Sean Connery is the worst culprit on this list. Look at his crimes. He played a Russian in The Hunt for Red October. An Irishman in The Untouchables. Even these are forgivable. But the unpardonable sin was Highlander, in which Mr. Connery plays a Spaniard named Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez.

The worst part is Connery never even tries to change his accent. So you end up with a Spaniard who talks like a Scott.

Hollywood–we’re willing to let a lot of things slide. But for roles like these, please take the time to do some additional casting research and spare yourself the embarrassment of making it on this list.