Back in the 1960s, with revolution and change and Abbie Hoffman in the air, it was considered extremely offensive to wear any image of the American flag as an article of clothing. There were laws against such acts of desecration, intended or not, and a shirt or pair of pants resembling the ol' red, white and blue that touched one's stinky nether regions was considered blasphemy, punishable by a fine, arrest, or a vicious beat-down if you happened across some Hell's Angels. How dare one sweat upon Old Glory!
Now? Notsomuch. That old thinking has done such a 180 in the past 50 years that these days, the more stars and stripes you sport, the more patriotic you are. Ahh, 'Merica, you're a funny country ...
Along similar lines of reinterpretation, the AR4T Gallery is opening a group show Thursday, Oct. 4: Futureland 2012: The American Flag, in which 18 artists will offer up their own versions of the familiar star-spangled banner. Some of the artists included in the show are Gordon Holden, Adam Mars, Electric Coffin, Sticky Shaw, Zac Egge, Emily Hoy, Craig "Skibs" Barker, and some folks who call themselves the Brainfarts (will their piece have a whiff of controversy?).
"I think the decisions we make now in politics and lawmaking will affect the future immensely, even more so than it affects life as we know it right now," show curator Torrey Cook explained. Artist Emily Hoy was a bit more pointed:
"I am really an optimistic/positive person, but the flag has always been a negative symbol in my mind, it reminds me of all the times we went to war and how many people have died for this so called "freedom." So when this project came along, I thought, OK, now it's time to see the silver lining in this. Stars have a more spiritual meaning to me. So I translated my version of the flag to have the actual stars in my design."
"Being an American is an ever-changing experience because there is a tendency for people's level of patriotism to shift based on the nation's political situation," said Adam Mars. "I've never aligned myself too strictly with politics or being politically correct, but I do have a huge respect for the personal and creative freedoms that are afforded to Americans. I would say that one of my objectives, as an American, is to honor our progressive culture by pushing creative boundaries and making relevant work."
Up next at the AR4T: Elephants & Asses, slotted to run for just six days, Nov. 1-6, and promises to be "our first and possibly only group show in which artists raise their voice about politics."
Futureland 2012: The American Flag at AR4T Gallery, 210 N. Coast Hwy. Opens with an artist reception Thursday, Oct. 4, 6-9 p.m. On View Oct. 4-28.