Friday, December 5, 2008

A monopoly of lollipops

Acrylic polymer emulsion on gessoed hardboard, 16 x 16''
Created Nov. 16- Dec. 5, 2008, #152.

This image has been on the back burner for more than two years. These lollipops were purchased for grab bags to offer trick or treaters on Halloween. Their transparent qualities inspired this playful image that was first meant to be fun and whimsical. Monopoly, the board game has a theme about climbing up the real estate ladder. The object of the game is to own every piece of property and drive the other players into bankruptcy.

If I am ever going to make any social commentary about our current economic state, this might be the time. Another title for this painting could have been, The collapse of the housing market: A monopoly of suckers.

When the average person gets a 3,5% wage increase per year, while in some housing markets, the prices of real estate were making gains up to 20%/year, it was just a matter of time until houses would no longer be affordable. Hitting the bandwagon in order to later resell to make a profit, or for the simple desire of owning a home became difficult for many. Others who are able to sustain these mortgage payments are house poor. With an influx of default and bank foreclosures when interest rate climb ever so slightly, this starting a chain of event that created such an impact that it can only be measured on a Ritcher's scale. Shaking the foundation on Wall Street and the global stock and commodity market, when giants cracks of several major US insurance companies and banks were revealed. Whether is was caused by over zealous buyers, sellers, building contractors, Realtors, banks lending to unqualified buyers with sub-prime mortgages or the government.

There are so many possible analogies in the imagery. From the least to the most expensive proprieties: Mediterranean Avenue to Boardwalk. With the lollipops in the colors of red, green and yellow which appears like traffic lights. When passing GO on yellow, it does become a cautionary tale. The Community Chest might not be as full as it once was. In the revised September 2008 edition of the Monopoly board game, the Luxury Tax has gone from $75 to $100 (a sign of the time). None of the lollipops appear perfect. The yellow has a piece missing near the stick, the sticks are not centered on the greens and reds, and the grape flavor on the left has a major crack in it.

During the initial drawing, the colorful grid of the cropped board reminded me of a composition of a Piet Mondrian painting. While I took great care to try to get everything exactly right, it only came to life once I started to apply all of the lighting effects in white paint on top. This was all done freehand, as it is not as important to get everything absolutely right to create the proper effect. It was a lot of fun and a very creative process.
My comments are not meant to point the finger or hurt anyone's feelings, just a reflection on our current situation. On a brighter note, there are 8 lollipops on the board. In Chinese culture, the number eight is considered lucky, meaning ''prosperity'' or ''wealth''.

Update - 2009/07/22 - ''A monopoly of lollipops'' was a finalist in the Still life / floral category of the Artist's Magazine 26th Annual Art Competition. Name to be publish in the Dec. 2009 issue.