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Where is the line?

I have found the line between what is acceptable as fine art and what is not.

Is it:
Quality of construction? No.
Art that self destructs is a genre.
It’s not subject matter.
Anything goes. Even shock value has lost it’s shock and it’s value.
Composition? Again, no.
A popular form is to inspire the urge to take the piece down and turn it another way.


It is Superhippo. I created him in high school at age 15. It was 1970.
My art teacher tried hard to make me stop drawing him but my notebooks filled up with Superhippo and his supporting cast. Hippie Hippo, Prostitute Hippo, Cop Hippo and others. I sewed a Superhippo on my jean jacket. I made a big paper mache Superhippo which hung in my room. These things are gone now. Recently I missed him so I painted him. Mostly just for myself and to remember a time when I knew everything.

I hung the painting in my solo show in the Underground Gallery at the Kansas City Artists Coalition in June. The River Market Regional Exhibition was upstairs at the time. Juror Jerry Saltz took the time to come downstairs and discuss my work. He liked a lot of it and said I was “Ready”. ( He didn’t specify for what.) He gave the advice to “Stay away from the comic book stuff.” He was referring to Superhippo.

In a blog, Tracy Abeln, art reviewer for The Pitch magazine, called my show “well worth while” but called Superhippo “ridiculous and out of place”. This actually made me very happy. And finally Marina, my wife, was not thrilled that he is the second image under the category of paintings on my website.

So if you want to be a good judge of fine art just think about Superhippo. If what you see is less silly than he is, it is OK. If it is sillier or goofier or more ridiculous than him, it is not OK.

So thank you Superhippo for providing us all with a way to evaluate the vast and previously confusing world of art.

These are charcoal sketches and drawings that I have done recently just for practice. They are 18 x 24 inches, the sketches (first seven) are $100. The drawings (last 5) are $200. Shipped in a tube, $10 shipping and handling.