Gen-Next Art Collecting January 2001
By Jon Alain Guzik
You’re not a dot-com millionaire or big Hollywood star, you may not even be an up-and-coming media mogul – those cats collect the things you can’t afford anyway. My ear to the street says their tastes are veddy, veddy expensive. Christina Ricci dropped $16K on works by local painter Bill Shortridge and photographer Robbie Caponetto at a recent Los Angeles benefit. This is not you and it is not me. So what are Gen-X art folk collecting? Art lovers, especially local gallery owners, can’t seem to resist the playfully ironic pictures of subjects ranging from childhood antics to modern-day romance by the husband-and-wife team of Scott and Denise Davis, known as Davis & Davis (davisanddavis.org). “People who buy our work are pretty young,” says Denise. “When I ask them what they do, they’re usually stylists, photographers and artists.” And with price tags ranging from $200 to $1,000, even we semi-pauper (er, um, cheap) folks can afford them. Check out Davis & Davis in a group show this month at Holly Matter (www.hollymatter.com) called “Under the Queen Size Bed.” Someone I like who has a celeb following is musician, artist and all-around weirdo Daniel Johnston. As his music fan base continues to grow, so has the regard for this manic-depressive’s felt-tip drawn creatures and superheroes. One of his notable collectors is Simpsons creator Matt Groening, who owns a number of Johnston’s drawings and shares his love for comic books. Loyal fans packed Johnston’s one-night-only show at Zero One Gallery on Melrose last year, where his childlike art was presented alongside painter Ron English’s grand interpretations of selected Johnston cartoons. Johnston’s usual cult following of indie rockers (Kurt Cobain donned his T-shirt, Beck and Yo La Tengo cover his songs), geek-chic hipsters and leather-clad characters were present lining up to buy The Definitive Daniel Johnston Handbook (Soft Skull Press, 2000), and a chance to see the man himself. I was there, were you? So enough with all the starfucking. Chances are you’re not a celebrity (yet) and, like myself, you don’t get art for free, unless of course you’ve pulled the ol’ “Nazis during the war trick” and stolen your priceless works of art. Perhaps you were lucky enough to snatch one of Shepard Fairey’s ever-popular Andre the Giant posters or stickers (www.andrethegiant.com), or successfully rip a poster off a city surface by local favorite Robbie Conal (www.robbieconal.com), without spending a dime. Although the notoriety of these two artists, in part, is due to the fact that Gen-Xers from all over roam the streets to “collect” their work – artists can’t make a living off your kleptomania. If you want to collect art, buy what you love, let some artists pay their bills, and don’t follow any celebrity trends, because unlike celebrity, art lasts. * Jon Alain Guzik is a writer, journalist, digital artist and owner of pawn Shop Media, a Los Angeles-based production company.