Monday, August 24, 2009

Artist Jane Wooster Scott: Racist?

As most of you know, I am a moderate. I also have a great deal of common sense, which is why I don't scream "Fire!" in a crowded theater, or "Racism!" unless it's blatant.

But I was shocked to find a famous Americana artist had recently produced a work of art that appears to me to be questionable at best.

My best friend (Pov) has a teenage daughter who is obsessed with jigsaw puzzles. Knowing this, we all buy her jigsaw puzzles whenever we can. If I opened a Christmas present to find a jigsaw puzzle, I would be sorely disappointed. However, there is nothing that Bugs likes better. A friend of her mother's recently donated over fifteen puzzles, and Bugs got to work.

The problem with Bugs' puzzle obsession is that once they're assembled, she can't bear to take them apart. That means that either her mother or I end up spending vast amounts of time covering the puzzles in Mod Podge and mounting them so that she can either keep them, give them to friends and family, or donate them.

This weekend I decoupaged about ten puzzles. I ran it like a production line, which is why I didn't notice this puzzle until the Mod Podge had dried. It's titled "Flights of Fancy." (click on the picture to view it in a larger version):

Now: What is wrong with this picture? (Hint: Look at the roller coaster)

That's right. The Confederate Flag is pasted all over it. I've written about the Confederate Flag before. I find it to be offensive for two reasons: It is a defeated flag, and it has become a symbol of racism.

But I thought, "OK. There are still some simpletons who think that it's 'charming'... that it's symbolic of a culture and not overt racism." So, I looked for the token black person(s) that might offset it.

I can't find any. And I looked over this puzzle diligently.

Could this be a simple oversight? Possibly. But I find the combination highly distasteful, none the less.

Perhaps Wooster Scott would argue that this is supposed to be a piece of Americana before (or during) the Civil War. However, the outfits are post Civil War era. I grant you that this was definitely a time of racism, but do we really want to celebrate it?

I am amazed that Wooster Scott's paintings are so popular. They're hardly my style. I enjoy art that appears to take true time, maturity, and thought. Her artwork looks as if a sixth grader did it. I would praise the sixth grader, but I can't praise a full-grown adult who produces such primitive art.

However, her paintings are apparently collected by some major celebrities, including "Marty Allen, Marlon Brando, Carol Burnett, Robert Conrad, Charlton Heston, Paul Newman, Leonard Nimoy, Victoria Principal, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sidney Sheldon, Nancy Sinatra, Sylvester Stallone and Loretta Swit... the list goes on."*

I wonder which one has Flights of Fancy hanging in their living room?

* from


Angela said...

The picture does not even make sense, it seems there is absolutely no point in putting the confederate flag in it.

Of course I can't say a whole lot, my state has the confederate flag flying on the State House grounds. It used to be on the State House, but due to the NAACP protests they moved it to an even more prominent place on the grounds. Have to love these good ole boys. Yikes!

I am stuck in the middle on the debate of what the flag means, a lot of people here preach it as a part of their history, do they really mean it or are they in fact just racist? I'm not making judgements either way, well at least as long as I live on the South.

Three Score and Ten or more said...

Racism is in the eye of the beholder, as is the patriotism of one's ancestor who fought for the Confederacy. My experience in the last forty years is that most of the invidious racism has moved northward, but the pride of family, heroism (and heroism was never limited to those with whom we agree) is still prominent in the south. I still remember a t-shirt I saw worn by a local young man that said "American by Birth, Southern by the Grace of God" and the T shirt had crossed flags on the back, one, Old Glory (positioned as it should have been,) and the other the Confederate battle flag.

The Lazy Iguana said...

Yea. The racism moved to the north.

That is why Jim Crow laws did not exist in the south, and why the Klan did not form in the south.

OH WAIT - all those things actually DID happen in the south. I keep forgetting.

I have family in Mississippi - which is about as south as you can get in the northern hemisphere. I was there once and went to a bar. After a couple of minutes this idiot who looked kind of like Boss Hog from The Dukes Of Hazard said to me "You aint from around here are you". This was because I asked if they had Sam Adams beer, which is a great American Lager. So I said "no, I am actually from Miami Florida". To which the man said to me - and I am not making this up - "how can you stand to live there with all the niggers, spicks, and jews".

Seriously. He said that to me.

So no. There is no racism in the south. It is all quite cosmopolitan actually.

And since the bar was an Applebees in the parking lot of the hotel I was staying at, I remained there till the man left. His truck had more than one Confederate flag sticker on it. Imagine that.

After the war, the Confederate Flags were not really displayed much. It was not till the birth of the civil rights movement that the "it represents States rights" people popped up with their stupid flag of an ENEMY state.

And what is REALLY REALLY funny is that the flag people display today is not at all historical. It never even existed before the 20th century. The original battle flag was SQUARE shaped. What people display today is actually the SECOND navy ensign of the Confederate States - with the color scheme of the battle flag.

So not is not reflect "history", it does not represent "states rights", and it is not any of that other crap.

It is a sign that says "I am a stupid inbread ignorant dumb ass with no teeth - and my mother is also my cousin".

Saur♥Kraut said...

Krok, Love having you stop by, but you need to keep a civil tongue in your head. No pun intended. ;o)

Three Score and Ten or more said...

Lazy, it would have been easy for you to have had an almost identical experience in Montana, or Iowa, or Kansas. (I drove a log haul truck briefly in one of my earlier manifestations and saw what occasionally happened to black truckers who happened into the wrong neighborhood in the fifties, and I never drove into a southern state). When I moved south in 1970, any black man who married a white woman (or the reverse) had a problem being accepted in either community. Now, I see mixed marriages all the time, including politicians of both complexions, accepted as routine. (I travel northward, and except in big metropolitan areas, I see much of the old southern reaction to mixed race couples.