Saturday, November 28, 2015
The Tyranny of Hope
Is this hope or are just happy to see me. HOPE not just another four letter word. Hope the opium for the desperate. Hope is the easy way out from actually rebelling against complacency and actually do something about ones situation beginning with self motivation. Save the sentiment for birthday cards or get well wishes life is a motherfucker of a ride and you better buckle up to more then just hope. This is a beautifully captured world ripe with tragedy but yes these face are the faces of hope but only if we see ourselves in them and stand by them.
Friday, November 27, 2015
Interview with Jim Riswold for PDX Art
How do you feel in retrospect about being born?
I was born on the 16th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. December 7th: a day that will live in infamy. Twice.
What aspects of David Bowie did you want to incorporate into your persona and were you successful?
I had four heroes growing up: Bugs Bunny, David Bowie, Lou Reed and Andy Warhol.
In other words, outcasts attracted this outcast.
What is your argument for societies need for art?
Let me paraphrase Nietzsche on this one since Nietzsche is way smarter than me: Life without art would be a mistake.
What has been your influence on society so far and what are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of my kids, Hallie and Jake.
Speaking of Hallie, she posted the following a while back on a Father’s Day:
“I’m so happy you’re still alive to fart in my face, constantly remind me who handsome you are, model how to use the word “fuck” more in my every day vocabulary, tell me jokes my social worker self shouldn’t laugh at, and show the world that your biggest accomplishment isn’t in advertising or art, but how to stay alive. Love you, Dad—Happy Fucking Father’s Day.”
You can’t beat a fucking kid like that.
Which commercial are you least willing to take responsibility for?
I take responsibility for everything I did in advertising—the good, the bad, the ugly.
What is the evil of advertising?
Advertising isn’t important enough to be evil.
Advertising pretends it’s important. I honestly think advertising’s desire to be nothing more than mistake-free comes from its self-sustaining belief that it is extremely important. Excuse me, but was there a sentence I missed on the tablets that Moses hauled down from Mount Sinai referring to the sanctity of advertising?
In which way does your early infatuation with vacuum cleaners connect to your preoccupation with dictators?
That’s a question, and a doozy of a question, for my therapist.
What dreams are you entertaining?
I dream one morning I will wake up and look like Brad Pitt.
What satisfies you?
Trying new things.
Picasso, no slouch in the trying-different-things department, pointed out, “God invented the giraffe, the elephant, the cat…He has no real style. He just goes on trying things.”
It’s tough to argue with God, let alone Picasso, so I won’t.
What do you get out of making art that doesn't sell?
Is it okay to make fun of dictators or is it trivializing the matter?
Yes, I know, for instance, my so-called Hitler art begs the question, “What’s so funny about Hitler?”
Look, it’s no secret Hitler was a bad guy, except to lunatics and certain right-wing talk show hosts. I’m going to repeat myself here, but it bears repeating: Bad guys don’t mind being called bad guys. But bad guys don’t like to be laughed at. Thanks to people like Ionesco, Swift, Voltaire and Monty Python, I’ve always thought humor could diffuse fears and deflate even the most evil of egos. Never forget the Voltaire quote I always dredge up: “I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: ‘O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.’ And God granted it.” I made Hitler look ridiculous. Hitler is ridiculous. But please don’t tell him I said so. I’ve heard you don’t want to get on his bad side.
What is absurd realism and what inspired it?
The world inspired absurd realism.
What is art worth if it is unsellable?
Warhol said, “Art is what you can get away with.” This sounds like pretty sound advice to someone who makes Hitler and cancer art.
What is there to life like more than dictators and cancer?
Hopefully there is a fuck ton more to life than dictators and cancer.
If Jeff Koons' work is about class struggle what is your work about?
I’m going to quote the delightfully acid-tongued art critic Robert Hughes on this one: “Jeff Koon's says his work is about class struggle. If Jeff Koons’ work is about class struggle, I am Maria of Romania.”
I like to call my work Absurd Realism.
Others call it Perverse Whimsy.
And still others call it “a black hole sucking the life out of everything.”
How would you deal with your bullies today?
Laughter is the best medicine unless, of course, you have Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia then Gleevec is the best medicine.
Seriously, humor is a powerful weapon. So, by all means show Hitler with his pants around his ankles; put a clown nose on Mussolini; slap a Kick Moi sign on Napoleon’s back; give Mao some onion gum; put a whoopee cushion under Stalin. Descended pants, clown snouts, kick me signs, joke gums don’t mix well with the overbearing pride that is the hubris shared by all history’s most notorious bullies.
What drives somebody like Trump and what drives some of us to vote for him?
Fear and anger. Fear and anger are lousy motivators.
What's your philosophy of nature and where does the human fit in there?
I have to agree with Spinoza.
Spinoza wrote, “Dues sive natura.”
In English words, this translates as “God is nature.”
These words got Spinoza excommunicated from the Synagogue in 1656 with the following words:
“Cursed be he by day and cursed be he by day; cursed be he when he lies down, and cursed be he when he rises up; cursed be he when goes out, and cursed be he when he comes in.”
That’s a hell of a lot of cursing.
Cursing aside, don’t fuck with God.
What would be the slogan if you had to advertise your self as an icon?
When does curiosity become addictive?
Is curiosity anything but addictive?
Creative people are by nature curious.
Curiosity is never satisfied.
Once curiosity becomes satisfied it becomes complacency.
NB: Part of the definition of curiosity is “somebody thought strange.”
Do you love to love?
I fucking love loving.
What is the significance in doing Putin as a dictator and in pointillism?
It made for a rather catchy title, Pointillism Putin, don’t you? What else would you call a portrait of the son of a bitch made from a ton of really tiny Russian prison tattoos?
How important is production value to your art?
I like my Hitler's in dresses to look good, if not downright fetching.
Do you have any tips for artists who want to sell maybe even need to sell art?
Shy away from Hitler art. I myself have overestimated the Hitler art market. Stick with fish and furry woodland creatures and trees and mountains and bodies of water.
Do you have any tips for yourself on how to proceed with life?
My best friend nicknamed me The Human Cockroach. The Human Cockroach shall scuttle forth!
Thanks so much Jim
thanks again for your time and effort
1983 BA Philosophy, History, Communications, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
2015 Tips for Artists Who Don't Want to Sell, Augen Gallery, Portland, OR
2013 Art for Oncologists, Augen Gallery, Portland, OR
2012 Philosophy is Not Funny, Wieden+Kennedy Gallery, Portland, OR
2011 The War to End All Wars That Didn’t End All Wars, Augen Gallery, Portland, OR
more info at
So help us God. In the eye of the tiger we are just another meal ticket in the grand scheme of Nature we are just more dust to the Earth. The Earth births heroes, saints, and dictators. Yes it births artists like Jim Riswold who give the finger to anyone who dares to look. This show is so good it needs to travel, be shown in New York, being picked up by a museum and certainly bought by collectors or all of the above.
TIPS FOR ARTISTS WHO DON"T WANT TO SELL
more info at
Life is a collage of images impressions, emptions and judgments. We walk along its path like a voyeur that picks and choses which images we are inspired by getting aroused not in a sexual way necessarily but in a spiritual way. When we see beauty we are elated we see pain we are depressed. At the end of the journey we created our own picture book that describes us. We have become our own collage.
In everything is water we are reminded that even though we seem solid we are just cut ups from society's heap of possible versions that are represented in our everyday environment.
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
A note to my self
I am like the Bosanova
nobody know's how to dance it anymore
even though I am born in modern days
my soul is of the ancient ways
there were natives before me
but their wont be anymore left behind me
only strangers that linger on even stranger corners
just out of reach and out of view of my eyes
I don't mingle with the rest of you
but linger with the shadows
that flicker in the hot air
which circles around me
as if to stalk my thoughts for answers
papers are blown everywhere
like fallen leafs of a paper tree
waiting to be watered by eager minds
I missed the biggest full moon
the last one for another two decades
but I also missed my birth
being stuck in between my mothers legs
passed out passed on and reawakened
slapped back into consciousness to cry
I wish someone would slap me now
I wonder if I still have tears left over
I wonder about if I still can wonder