Painting Gallery

About The Still-Life Series

The “Still-Life" series came out of a desire to make art about my ambivalent feelings regarding living in this era of the HIV cocktail and the industry that has flourished around the disease.

Twenty years ago, art that dealt with AIDS was about the governmental inaction, homophobia, AIDSphobia, and the wave of death decimating the artist population. Art tended to be political, angry (righteously so) and emotional. Explorations of the body, commemorative odes to fallen comrades and/or agit-prop of tremendous power, Collectively the body of work from that era has become a memento mori- i.e. - a reminder of death, human mortality and political failure.

My desire was to make art that reflected my observation as a long-term survivor, of the place where HIV has landed in the U.S marketplace and popular culture two decades after it’s discovery. I chose to use the formal language of Pop Art, taking my cue from Warhol, Hockney, Ruscha but especially Wesselmann who’s still- lifes from the late 50’s –early 60’s made from collaged “found” advertising and materials were ironic illustrations of American consumerism and sexuality. The skewed perspective resulting from placing illustrations of products from different advertising sources next to one another on a table top imbued his pieces with a hyper-reality and humor that felt like an accurate method of evoking the skewed perspective of long term survivors at the beginning of the 21st century. On the one hand we have the psychological (and physical) reality of being alive while most of our friends are dead, coupled with the bombardment of pharmaceutical advertising portraying a healthy, athletic, even sexually vibrant way of life with full page imagery of men climbing mountains, looking at sunrises, holding hands and smiling with fulfillment. The marketing of pharmaceuticals, (with HIV drugs as a subset niche market) has become an accepted part of American life with ads in media outlets from radio and television to billboards and magazines bombarding us with a range of pills, capsules and tablets.

Underneath these pictures of health and vigor one finds the fine print detailing the harsh realities of potential side effects, with a range of human misery from fevers, rashes, diarrhea, vomiting, onset of diabetes, and heart failure to “in some cases”… death.

The possibility of severe side effects is most evident with people who by their diagnosis already have suppressed immune systems, which in turn are clobbered by toxic remedies that may or may not work. It’s a rather schizophrenic perspective on the pursuit of happiness. Yes, we are glad to be still alive, but the journey is filled with side detours, side effects and in fact I have had friends die from complications arising from long-term use of HIV medications.

Lest you think I’m “anti-HIV drugs” let me state that I am not. I recognize the tremendous work and dedication of doctor’s, scientist’s and political activists (myself included) whose efforts have led in one way or another to the varied options for combating this “smart” evolving, mutating virus that used to be an automatic death sentence. But the marketing and billions of dollars in profit made by the drugs manufacturers puts these “life-saving” medications in the same category as any consumer product in American culture. In the Still-Life series product placement puts Viracept, Zerit, Videx … next to Peter Pan peanut-butter, Arm & Hammer Baking Soda and Coca-Cola.

Still-life with ViraceptStill-life with Viracept
2003, 36" x 48"
acrylic/mixed media on canvas

Still-life with ZeritStill-life with Zerit
2000, 36" x 48"
acrylic/mixed media on canvas

Sustiva Still-lifeSustiva Still-life
2000-2001, 36" x 48"
acrylic/mixed media on canvas

Still-life with VidextStill-life with Vidext
1999-2000, 36" x 48"
acrylic/mixed media on canvas

Still-Life With CrixivanStill-Life With Crixivan
mixed media on canvas

Still-Life With Forget-Me-Nots And One Weeks Dose of TruvadaStill-Life With Forget-Me-Nots And One Weeks Dose of Truvada
2012, 36" x 48"
mixed media on canvas

Black Jack 8Black Jack 8
2008, 48" x 30"
mixed media on canvas

The Sweeter The JuiceThe Sweeter The Juice
2003, 60" x 48"
mixed media

A Bigger PieceA Bigger Piece
2008, 60" x 36"
mixed media

Just What Is It About Today's Homos That Makes Them So Different, So Appealing?Just What Is It About Today's Homos That Makes Them So Different, So Appealing?
2009-2011, 120" x 48"
diptych mixed media on canvas

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