By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
An exhibition like this — with a theme pertinent to current affairs and done for a cause — is a dicey undertaking. It's compelling to news outlets, which always want to put art into conversations with bigger political and social occurrences. And it's genuinely exciting to think that artists could come together, weigh in on a topic and then make something happen both ideologically and financially, in this case by challenging ideas of what being a "good boy" means and helping an organization for abused children.
But the art is often at a disadvantage. Think of the recent "Artists for Obama" campaign, in which well-known figures such as John Baldessari and Richard Serra made prints specifically to support the president's re-election campaign, the political slant of which felt blunt: Chris Burden drew a "prickly cactus" and a common housefly, writing in childish cursive that they could not marry while a tulip and daisy he depicted could, the loose implication being that marriage laws are absurd.
This show does better than that. It's easier to do interesting work when you're reacting to one person's aesthetic instead of gaping issues. But Rockwell was a commercial artist beholden to the ideology of his client, who sold 2 million of his Boy Scout calendars yearly; the artists in this exhibition are beholden mostly to their own ideas. As a result, the art in this show begins to feel exclusive in a far different way than Rockwell's. Made for a venue frequented by relatively liberal, young Angelenos, it can be incisive without real fear of alienating an audience.
1331 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Category: Art Galleries
Region: Echo Park
A few paintings, Frohawk Two Feathers' and Noah Davis' in particular, take a different tack. Two Feathers took his inspiration from Robert Baden-Powell, the British founder of the whole Scout movement, who was an illustrator himself and who fought in the Boer War. The artist depicted, in a folk style, lines of uniformed native scouts and porters who participated in the 1899 Battle of Mafeking.
Davis painted one of the few black Boy Scouts from Rockwell's renderings, basing his portrait's dimensions on the space the boy took up in the original painting and giving him more textured treatment than Rockwell originally did. These works have an openness that likely would draw in even a conflicted minister reminiscing about what the Boy Scouts once stood for.
GOOD INTENTIONS | 1331 W. Sunset Blvd. | Through July 14 | subliminalprojects.com