A Highbrow at Lowbrow!

Lowbrow Art: A Definition by Wikipedia
“Lowbrow, or lowbrow art, describes an underground visual art movement that arose in the Los Angeles, California, area in the late 1970s. Lowbrow is a widespread populist art movement with origins in the underground comix world, punk music, hot-rod street culture, and other subcultures. It is also often known by the name pop surrealism. Lowbrow art often has a sense of humor – sometimes the humor is gleeful, sometimes impish, and sometimes it’s a sarcastic comment. Most lowbrow artworks are paintings, but there are also toys, digital art, and sculpture.” Read more about Lowbrow Art.

That does…well…an adequate to piss poor job of explaining Lowbrow Art. And I’m not going to try to clarify it with my own words. The term, and entire genre, is from Robert Williams, the founder of Juxtapoz Magazine. “In 1979 Gilbert Shelton of the publisher Rip-Off Press decided to produce a book featuring Willams’ paintings. Williams said he decided to give the book the self-deprecating title, “The Lowbrow Art of Robt. Williams,” since no authorized art institution would recognize his type of art. “Lowbrow” was thus used by Williams in opposition to “highbrow.”

Since then, the genre has had many other names thrown its way. But I like the term Lowbrow. Because, at the time, it was a statement to the art elite. Fine Art is great, but it has a tendency to puff itself up with the air of superiority. It oftentimes uses pomp, circumstance and pretension as badges of honor. Art doesn’t need all that to be great. Matter of fact, it takes away from art. steals its life and vitality. Ok, that was a lot of words when I said I wasn’t going to use any.

Let’s get to the focal point of this post. The Artist. Todays serving of Lowbrow Art is by Tara McPherson. Her art looks like Wiki’s definition of Lowbrow Art.

You can see the influence of “underground comix world, punk music, hot-rod street culture, and other subcultures.” Her work is tough and sassy, yet tender enough to allow the audience to feel vulnerable. Tara has done poster work for bands like Mastodon and The Melvins, comic book covers and comic illustration. Her preferred mediums are drawing, painting, print and sculpture. Tara and a few other brave souls just launched The Cotton Candy Machine, on April 9th 2011. It is a Lowbrow Art boutique located in Brooklyn, NYC. It specializes in art prints, posters, shirts, books, toys, and more by a variety of artists. Good luck Tara and friends! I root for your success. I leave you with a 3 page spread of some of Tara’s comic work.


All works by Tara McPherson. Copyright 2011.


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