Laguna Beach was founded as an artist colony. I took an art aptitude test once. I had to draw a horse, people and a floral arrangement. As a child I was always in a hurry. To save time I put two stick figures inside a horse and placed a red hat with flowers on it. I thought my picture was worth a 1,000 words. I entitled it “Old Mare.” Three things happened. The “Red Hats” organization gave me a lifetime exclusion to their society, the art testers sent me a potato head ear in their art aptitude reply, and the models never worked again because both were a horses’ ### and neither had the head for modeling. I still have the ear. It’s a reminder of sorts. I like to say to it, “What? Sure I can speak up. Can’t you hear me? I’m a great artist. I don’t care what the critics say about my art.” The silence is deafening.
Okay, maybe I’m not the guy to review new things in the art world. Art people in the know may be offended. But your anger is misplaced. I’m not the enemy. Your enemies are art critics that won’t recognize your genius and give you grants to pursue your greatness. My parents treated me the same. My parents tried to redirect my misguided art passion by reminding me what the experts had told me from the get go. I received two more potato head ears to nudge me into accounting. I realize now that it must have been hard for my parents to take this tough love stand with me. But I still didn’t hear them. I was set on becoming a great artist. I kept turning out the artwork in grade school. I made each of my parents matching hand print ashtrays. For years they pretended to need my ashtrays when what they really wanted was to quit smoking. But I was too blinded to see beyond my artistic ambition and ended up hurting the ones I loved. Or so I thought. No, smoking didn’t kill them. It was the lead based paint from China in my hand painted ashtray that did my parents in. I hold China, the school district and Underwriters Laboratories responsible. So did nine Supreme Court justices that remembered their own ashtrays and gave me an astronomical settlement that only requires that I hand out the monies to other struggling artists who may have accidentally done their parents in while blinded by the canvas.
Oh sure, now you’ll listen to what I have to say. There’s a new art movement a foot in Laguna Beach. It’s called Ekphrasis. It’s a Greek word that means forgery. Just kidding. Ekphrasis is an artistic group that intends to interpret paintings through dance and music. Wait. Hold that brushstroke. The “Pageant of the Masters” interprets art by standing still. It’s the colossal collusion between action art and state of being art. Like verbs, the English language has both but can Laguna Beach accommodate both? I think a referendum should be called to secure a democratic decision. Those in favor send in one potato head ear. Those opposed send in two potato head ears. Mrs. Potato Head will count the votes and return all casted ears back to Mr. Potato Head in a final attempt to get him to listen and give up his portrait art for landscape art. If he doesn’t face the music, Mr. Potato Head will be dancing to a new tune, the mash potatoes.
Mark is a transplant to Laguna from Chicago. He occasionally writes the guest column “Pet Peeves.” His recently deceased Border Collie, Pokey, is his muse and ghostwriter.