Pass the aspirin

I just love how eBay has a search criteria in their art category for “Dominant Color.” That’s so handy when I’m buying art to match the purple leather couch and overstuffed club chairs in my pricey downtown loft!

I also love paintings of young girls with huge eyes and enlarged, encephalitis-like heads. The ones that look just like the popular young actress Christina Ricci. They remind me of the paintings of Margaret Keane (who has dedicated her life to Jehovah, by the way, and thinks that you should too) or Kenner “Blythe” dolls from the 70’s.

And so many people make these kind of paintings nowadays – it’s great! It gives me so much more to choose from.

You’ve seen them. They are everywhere. Like kudzu vines engulfing an old slave quarters down south, they devour the modern “lowbrow” art scene in a horrible, indiscriminate carpet bombing of unoriginality rendered in a puke-hued color palette.


Technically speaking, encephalitis is swelling of the brain, but a side effect of that brain swelling is often a profoundly enlarged head, which is the crux of the biscuit here.

I don’t know how it happened (if I was a journalist I would go find out how it happened, but I’m not, so I won’t), but suddenly the world is full of encephalitis paintings. You can see them on eBay, in your local “cool” art gallery, on hundreds of web sites. Yes, they are everywhere.

Why? Ah, well, that’s easy. It is because only a handful of people walking the earth have original ideas. The rest of us just wait around until those original ideas get to our towns, and then we copy them. If you’re the first to copy the original idea in your circle, you can be considered a genius! This happens in music, art, politics, writing, web sites…everything.

Nothing against the non-Keane encephalitis artists pictured here – Jasmine Becket-Griffith and Ann Harper – in fact, one of them is very talented. I’m just using them as examples. You can find many others.

There is no shame in following, borrowing or copying I suppose. Mozart readily admitted he did it, and everyone else does it as well. And really, most people don’t want to be surrounded with original, challenging or weird things. They want to be comfortable.

But when someone like Mozart or Prince or Tibor Jankay “borrow,” they are filtering the results through an ingrained talent which makes the results interesting. When most of us borrow we just create tired, boring stuff that goes in one ear or eye and comes out the other. Yes, this means you. And me too.

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