Thursday, April 2, 2015

An Exciting Holy Week This Year

The one and only exhibition of the entire completed Passion of Christ series at JHS Gallery in Taos, New Mexico in 2007.

My how fast things change!

These paintings have been around for 10 years.  They've been published and exhibited, and mostly noticed by a small but growing cult following.

This past Palm Sunday, suddenly everyone else decided to notice.  I'm not quite sure what happened.

Kittredge Cherry posted a blog entry on Huffington Post about her book on the series, and the notice was sudden and overwhelming.  Within about 3 days of running, the post gathered over 2200 comments, over 600 shares, and 10,000 likes.
Our book began selling rapidly, at one point at a rate of 35 books every 2 hours (usually I'd be happy with selling 35 books every 2 months).  Amazon sold out, and the book had to go to a second printing.

I'm not sure what changed.  Kitt Cherry has published on HuffPost before, even posts about my work, and notice was comparatively scant.

Almost immediately Kitt and I faced a brown roaring flood tide of hate mail and hateful comments on Huffpost.
Even on the Facebook Page that I keep for my art, I got lots of hate messages and at least a couple of threats.  I also started getting them in my personal email (I've taken down all the public links to that address).

Here are a couple of representative samples:

",,,xcuse me You are a perverse piece of shit if, I here of this again it will be you and you friends who will be cruzified, to the huffington Post --I am going to knock you out Crown Prince Michael Xavier Marini of Jerusalem," 
Now do your gay Mohammad if your not a coward and put it out their with your name on it.
Douglas Blanchard you are NOT an artist but a sick person. Your art is just piece of crap and a blasphemy against God !!

Multiply all of this by scores, and you'll see what Kitt and I have been living with since Sunday.  And I am sure there are worse things on comment threads that I've not bothered to read.

We are now stars of the Teabagistan press.  Here is a review in Brent Bozell's Newsbusters that is not exactly a rave.

And here is another representative review.

On the other hand, one of the best and most thoughtful reviews of our book comes from an evangelical pastor in Oklahoma City.

My feelings at the moment are wildly mixed.  I take tremendous satisfaction in the big noise over my paintings and Kitt's writing.  In this I feel that all of our work over so many years is vindicated.
On the other hand, I'm not used to hate mail, and since I'm no celebrity or politician, I don't have a staff to screen these things out.
All of this hostility is causing serious stress for me and for Kitt, plus some security concerns that perhaps pastors and community college art professors should not have to worry about.

Where I really do feel vindicated is in my lifelong ambition to revive the innate communicative power of painting.  That any paintings could stir up such passions in the age of imax movies, digital special effects, video games, etc. is testimony to that innate and long dormant power.

I've never been interested in the modernist project of collapsing the distinction between form and content.  I'm not interested in any self-consciousness about art as a social object.

I'm interested in seeing painting once again engage with a broad cross section of people instead of with a few initiates.

Allegory of Painting from the bronze doors of the Gould Memorial Library designed by Stanford White on the campus of Bronx Community College.


As Oscar Wilde once said, "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about."

Or, as Lord Beaverbrook once said about the Prince of Wales, "At least he reads it, or else he wouldn't know it was a 'bloody awful newspaper.'"


Tristan Alexander said...

Congrats! No matter why people finally discovered your work, I am happy for you. We should all be so lucky!

Kittredge Cherry said...

One reason that you and I work well together is that I share your urge to “engage with a broad cross section of people instead of with a few initiates.” You do it from the perspective of painting, and I do it with writing, but it is the same desire to make these great powers available to the general public. Too many religious thinkers write for an elite audience, leaving the masses to stay uneducated and intolerant. We’re changing that!

JCF said...

Huh: well, this answers my question re MadPriest's comment!

Quoth Lady Gaga (!): I believe, Doug, you're discovering both "The Fame" and "The Fame Monster"? :-0

Heh-heh, new claim to (my own) fame: "JCF: I still have Doug's Private Email" ;-)

The Lord bless you and keep you, Doug. A restful Holy Saturday, then...Happy Easter!

Counterlight said...

I'm still going back to work on Monday after Spring Break.

Counterlight said...

Thanks Tristan and JCF!

Mary Clara said...

Doug, congratulations on the positive attention the book is getting. I pray that God will bless and keep and uphold you in every possible way in the face of all the hate mail, which only underlines how important your paintings are. You and Kitt have done such valuable work together and separately. I give thanks for your vision and courage. Fear not (but watch your back). May you be filled with the joy of the Resurrection. Your proud friend in Baltimore -- Mary Clara.

Leonard said...

I love your ¨bestselling¨ results...all of it, wide or narrow, you've made a great statement (and I hope the sales continue because, if money is spent, it's from fans because the bookburners are way to cheap)!