Monthly Archives: December 2012

Thomas Eakins

The other day I finished The Revenge of Thomas Eakins which I found used in a book store while I was down in Florida. It is an excellent book if you like Thomas Eakins. I always liked Eakins. When I was in High School my art teacher, Mr. Beaver, used to tell the story of how Eakins, jaded and unappreciated most of his life, rode up on his bicycle to accept a medal and promptly rode off and had it melted down for its cash value. He was a pioneer of realism in America at the same time that Modernism was beginning to sweep through Europe. He was a champion of the figure and utilized both anatomy (he studied with Dr. Gross) and photography to make brutally honest paintings that were less than flattering for most of his patrons. His painting, The Gross Clinic, which was shown at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia (the first World’s Fair in America) wasn’t allowed to be exhibited in the main (or secondary) exhibition hall and was instead shown in a mock Army hospital because it was deemed to “not be art.” After The Agnew Clinic was rejected by New York’s Society of American Artists he wrote a letter severing the relationship that said:

“For the last three years my paintings have been rejected by you, one of them the Agnew portrait, a composition more important than any I have ever seen upon your walls. Rejections for three years eliminates all elements of chance; and while in my opinion there are qualities in my work which entitle it to rank with the best in your society, your society’s opinion must be that it ranks below much that I consider frivolous and superficial. These opinions are irreconcilable.”

I wish I could write that letter to a couple of organizations that have rejected me over and over again over the years.  Here are some of his best paintings.

484px-EakinsTheGrossClinic Agnew Clinic Thomas Eakins h2_34.92 Thomas Eakins (1844-1916) The Concert Singer 1890

Leave a comment

Filed under Other Artists

The Corporate Wars: 2135-2312 and Corporate Freedom in the Age of Reason

In 2003 I  made a set of paintings called The Corporate Wars: 2135-2312 that used corporate buildings in them; these were 1 or 2 story buildings that I would often see while driving around out on Long Island when I was in school out there. I started by making a trip back out to Long Island from Brooklyn so I could take some photographs to use as references for the paintings. I wanted to make the paintings minimal without any real outstanding features showing so I decided to take the photographs so that only one corner of the building would show. I also wanted a lot of sky so I aimed my camera high to get as much sky as possible. Back at my studio I picked the best photos and cropped them exactly as I wanted them. I had recently stumbled across the Golden Ratio and wanted to use it to establish the proportions for my paintings; the Golden Ratio is supposed to be the ideal proportion for an aesthetically pleasing form. I chose 36″x58″ and for the first time decided to make my paintings using canvas stretched over home-made panels. I built 4 panels using 1/4″ smooth luan and 1″x4″‘s that I nailed and glued together and left to dry overnight. The next day I sanded any edges that were rough or splintering and wood-filled any edges that had blemishes in them.  After this process was done I stretched and primed the canvases and then painted them with oils.

After I was done I decided to place them into a political context by imagining a future where corporations ruled the world; these paintings would essentially become “portraits” of corporations that were involved in a war of the future. I gave them random numbers to make it seem like there were many more “portraits” in the series than there were. I also used the term Untitled in the title because I really don’t like it when artists don’t title their work so I wanted to use the term in an effective way. I’ve only shown this series once and that was in a group show at PS 122 as the Associated Artists for Propaganda Research.

In 2004 I made another painting of a corporate building that wasn’t part of this series. I made it 48″x78″ (also using the Golden Ratio) and painted it using a flat acrylic latex background. That one is called Corporate Freedom in the Age of Reason. Here is what I wrote about the Corporate Wars series and below that are the 4 paintings and the painting from 2004.

Terror is an extension of violence. At its very nature it is a psychological infliction imposed by a dominating force upon a weaker and more susceptible “victim”. In traditional history these boundaries are seemingly easy to understand by well defined rules of acceptable and unacceptable aggression. However, these rules of aggression become increasingly skewed by a very precise and powerful propaganda system that aims to protect the invested interests of the wealthy elite. These interests are often contradictory to the needs of the population at large but are easily protected through coercion and sometimes force.

             The Corporate Wars: 2135-2312 presents a horrific future in which the corporate elite dominate and control every aspect of civilization. This future of course does not present itself instantaneously but rather very slowly over a very long period of time. First public utilities are privatized and monopolized, forcing the population to pay exorbitant prices just to survive, then the media and communications industry are stripped from the public sectors and conglomerated, paving the way for a massive filtering system for information, then education and medicine are privatized, severing the last ties to any democratically sponsored responsibilities. Finally, military operations become increasingly bloated, forcing massive budget increases to help pioneer capital ventures and to control the restless and largely unhappy masses. It is at this point, when the corporations have established complete control over all domestic interests that the corporate landscape will make its final shift into oblivion, forcing the now dependent population into complete economic annihilation. 

Untitled_Building_6-Brian-Higbee-Associated-Artists-for-Propaganda-Research Untitled_Building_7-Brian-Higbee-Associated-Artists-for-Propaganda-Research Untitled_Building_12-Brian-Higbee-Associated-Artists-for-Propaganda-Research Untitled_Building_23-Brian-Higbee-Associated-Artists-for-Propaganda-ResearchCorporateFreedom-Brian-Higbee-Associated-Artists-for-Propaganda-Research

Leave a comment

Filed under Associated Artists for Propaganda Research, Painting

Allen Higbee

Sometime in 2009 I saw a documentary about the painter Alice Neel who didn’t become famous until very late in her life. The documentary recounts how she and her sons grew up in poverty while she struggled to paint and make a living. One of the questions that one of her sons asks is if she never became famous would anybody care about her or her art. This got me thinking about my grandfather who I knew as a painter my whole life and was in no way famous or successful in gaining notoriety. It made me think about how he had the same drive as she did to create art and did so for almost 40 years while barely selling a thing. His paintings, which numbered probably around 800 in the end, were mostly unsold and sat stacked around his small house in Roselle Park, New Jersey. I decided to make a documentary about him so I could ask him questions and to try and figure out why he painted. As an artist myself, I already knew the answers but I wanted to hear it from him. In some ways his lack of “success” echoed my own fears about my failing career as an artist.

So I asked my friend Mark Parsia if he would shoot the documentary and he agreed. We showed up at my grandfathers house with my father, lights, microphones and a camera and I proceeded to interview him while he sat on his couch and chain smoked cigarettes. At some point we got up to look at paintings in one of the small bedrooms upstairs and again in the sunroom; he had stacks and stacks of paintings stored around different parts of the house. He pulled them out, unsticking them as he went, and the sound they made reminded me of the many family visits growing up in which he would unstick his paintings and pull them out for us to see.  I not only asked him painting questions but also questions about his military service during WW II, his experiences on the Manhattan Project and his many years as a chemist. I didn’t use any of the interviews that didn’t deal directly with painting but he told some good stories that I hesitated to leave out. Part of the urgency of making this documentary was that my grandfather had developed dementia so I was worried about his memory and his ability to recall his past. This proved to be interesting since he would often tell the same story many times with new details, not remembering that he had already told me the story. About a year later, before I finished the documentary, he was found wandering the streets where he lived, not knowing where he was. About 2 weeks later he died of complications from pneumonia after being in and out of the hospital several times.

After he died I took it upon myself to catalogue the artwork that was left behind in his house. This included around 600 paintings and about 30 small wooden sculptures. It took about a year to shoot all of the work (many had to be cleaned of nicotine), edit them, format the book and have it printed. Here is a link to the book and the documentary (which I finally finished) and below is the bio that I wrote for the book. Below that are some of my favorite paintings of his.

Allen F. Higbee was born on August 7th, 1920 in Millville, New Jersey. He studied chemical engineering at Cooper Union in New York City from 1938 to 1942 and while in school worked as a chemical operator for Schering Corporation in Union, New Jersey. In 1941, he was hired for a top-secret government job at Columbia University working on what would eventually be known as the Manhattan Project, a project to build the world’s first atomic bomb. He was married in 1942, and less than a year later was drafted into the Army. Assigned to the 489th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Force, he found himself outside of London calibrating bombsites for B-24’s and other large Air Force bombers. The 8th Army Air Force became famous as the division that lead the air campaign over Nazi occupied Europe and Germany, suffering half of the US Army Air Forces casualties in World War II.

 He returned to civilian life in 1946, attended Rutgers University and had the first of his three children. He graduated college with a degree in chemistry in 1948 and was immediately employed as a chemical engineer for Allied Signal Company (Allied Chemical) during which time he received a patent for his work with block and graft polymers of nylon.

 In the early ’70s, by then separated from his wife and retired from Allied Chemical, he spent some time living in Hawaii as a (self-described) ‘beach bum’. Inspired by the Gods and idols of traditional Hawaiian culture he created his first piece of art; a large sculpture carved from a large wooden bread tray into a mask and two spears and later he came to make his own sculpted Gods and idols. He eventually moved on to other styles and subjects including several sculptures of soldiers and a drunk fisherman. His art often turned whimsical, like the humorous sculpture Executive Ladder which shows a group of circus like figures clamoring to ascend the corporate ranks, the top most sitting contently as the chairman of the board and the bottom most struggling as the guy just getting out of middle management.

It wasn’t long before he turned completely to painting, opting to use acrylic paints due to its quick drying time and brilliant colors. In painting, he specialized in landscapes, seascapes and ships, inspired by photographs he found in magazines or had been given to him by family members. He would develop several different styles over the years, sometimes painting with detailed precision and other times opting to paint with bold broad strokes of pink and white. Retirement allowed him the freedom to paint as much as he wanted and in 40 years  he completed over 700 paintings, some as small as 8 inches and others as large as 4 feet.

(Deep Water Sailing, Romance of the Sea) 30x24 El Capitan, Texas 18x24 Lonely Flyer 24x36 Tracey Pond (Maine) 24x30 The Target of the Atomic Bomb is the Elimination of Mankind from the Earth 24x36 Minaret Wilderness, California 16x20 Untitled (Forest Fire) 20x16

Leave a comment

Filed under Other Artists

The Shadow, The Shadow (Small Scale Model) and F-117 Nighthawk (Small Scale Model)

After showing The Black Box (Downing of Air Force One) Version 2 at Rotunda Gallery I was asked to show it again at the HERE Arts Center for a show called Airport 03. I was reluctant since I had already built it twice so I negotiated with the curator to create a new piece for the show. I decided that I wanted to try my hand at building a different kind of landscape, one that I hadn’t tried before. The idea came to me quickly to create a snowy landscape out of flour and to use a model of an F-117 Nighthawk that I built the year before. In my studio I started by making some initial drawings to determine the size that I wanted to make it. I decided that since the gallery was positioned in a place where people enter and exit a theater that I wanted to elevate it a little more off the floor so that nobody would accidental trip over it or step on it. I settled on two feet tall and seven feet wide. One of the problems that I discovered with The Black Box (Downing of Air Force One) Version 1 was that because the landscape was so large it was hard to see what the object was in the middle so this is why I decided on 7’x7′ in the end. I built the sides out of particle board since it’s cheap but it requires more wood filling and sanding since the corners are brittle and break easily; I try not to use particle board anymore. I built a structure inside out of 2″x3″‘s to help stabilize the corners and to elevate the surface that the flour would eventually be going on. I had to calculate so that in the end, after laying my 3/4″ plywood on top, it would only be about 3″‘s from the top. This gives me enough depth to fill in with the flour. After building my box I built another F-117 and destroyed most of it by breaking it apart and melting most of the pieces; I destroyed almost everything except for the tail which I wanted to preserve so that the viewer would know that it was an airplane wreck. Unlike The Black Box (Downing of Air Force One) I didn’t need this plane to be recognizable so I thought that it would be more realistic to have most of the aircraft destroyed by the impact.

I took everything to the gallery and built the sides and inside structure according to how I built it in my studio; everything was numbered and lettered so that I knew what attached where since I already made my adjustments and needed it to be built exactly the same as it was before. When I was done I decided that I needed to lay plastic over the surface to keep the flour from slipping through the cracks. I bought 100 pounds of flour and dumped it into the box and started tamping it down with the palm of my hand to smooth it out. Before I got too far I put the tail of the F-117 model out there along with the melted and broken plastic pieces that went along with it. For added effect I used scrapings from a charcoal stick to create a finer spray of black debris around the wreckage. I finished tamping down the flour until it covered all of the edges.

After a few days the flour started to get small hairline cracks all over it which I though was a nice look that I hadn’t anticipated; it also would have been impossible to stop. I was pleased with the end result and received positive feedback about the piece. I thought the contrast visually between the white landscape and the black object was a good one and was excited that my idea panned out the way I wanted it to. I should also say that I made a small 11″x22″x22″ version of it out of luan, foam and burnt plastic as well sometime before I started working on the final version. Here is what I wrote about the final installation and below that are some images of the installation, the small scale model and the model of the F-117 Nighthawk.

The Associated Artists for Propaganda Research’s The Shadow addresses one of Carl Jung’s basic archetypal principals of the unconscious mind. The shadow explains that while repressing our uncivilized and dark qualities, we unconsciously project these characteristics outward, seeing in others the undesirable traits that we’d rather not see in ourselves. As a tool of propaganda, these unconscious tendencies are used against the general population to escalate differences and cause unnecessary conflict between the righteous Us and the evil Other.

The Shadow is an 84″x84″ floor model made using 100 pounds of flour padded down to create a smooth and consistent surface. The landscape shows a destroyed black F-117 Nighthawk which was used by the US for stealth operations during the first Gulf War.

The Shadow by Brian Higbee and Associated Artists for Propaganda ResearchThe Shadow (Detail) by Brian Higbee and Associated Artists for Propaganda ResearchThe Shadow Small Scale Model by Brian Higbee and Associated Artists for Propaganda ReseachF-117 Small Scale Model by Brian Higbee and Associated Artists for Propaganda Research

Leave a comment

Filed under Associated Artists for Propaganda Research, Sculpture, Small Scale Model

The Black Box (Downing of Air Force One) Version 2

In 2003 I built a second version of The Black Box (Downing of Air Force One) for the Rotunda Gallery in downtown Brooklyn, NY for a show called Critical Consumption. For this version I wanted to build a large wooded landscape and settled on a 6’x6′ floor piece. I had been making smaller landscape models that fit into pedestals for early Future Living Projects pieces but wanted to make something larger and this was the perfect opportunity. Since I had already made my model of Air Force One for Version 1 I only needed to concentrate on making the landscape. I started by buying many packets of railroading trees and railroading grass used for model railroading. I decided that for transportation and storage purposes that I would split the landscape into two 36″x72″ plywood pieces and use trees to cover the seem. I started with these two 3/4″ thick pieces of rough plywood and glued newspaper onto it to create a paper mâché landscape. I crumpled up pieces and placed newspaper on top to create small hills. I used watered down Elmer’s glue to help seal it all together and create a rigid surface. I did this for both sides and made sure that the contours of the surface matched at the adjoining seam. I painted both sides with dark green paint. I mixed 2 different kinds of railroading grass in a glass grated cheese container. I squeezed glue out on the surface of the green landscape in small sections and spread it out using my fingers. Before it could dry I shook the grass from the glass container onto the glue covered surface, making sure to cover the glue completely. I did this for a few sections and after they dried I would tip the plywood onto some newspaper to collect all of the grass that didn’t get stuck to the surface so I could reuse it. I did this until all of the surface was covered on both pieces. The last part was attaching the green railroading trees that I bought. Before I glued them onto the surface I made sure to rip them down into smaller sizes. I covered most of the surface with these trees but made sure to leave space in the middle for the airplane wreckage.

Next I made my 2″x4″ understructure and placed the landscape on top. I measured the height of the piece as it would sit on the floor and added one inch to get the height of my sides. I needed the landscape to be sunk below the sides so that the edges of the plywood would be hidden. This design is an extension from my previous pieces that I built into pedestals where I had used this same technique. In order to emphasize the aerial view of the wreck, I pushed the landscape to the floor and in effect, created a very shallow pedestal for it. I would use this same technique for Epicenter City and Pure City/ Sigma 6.

I painted these sides white and took everything to the gallery to build. Everything went smoothly during building and I needed to wood fill the seams of the white sides and sand several times to eliminate any imperfections. I also covered up the seam in the middle with extra trees and also used these around the edges. Before the show I made both stickers and pins to give out at the opening. The stickers were of Air Force One in black and white and I had 2 types of pins made, nine that said A.A.P.R. Co-conspirator and one that said Chief of Protocol on it, which I wore. At a third showing of this piece I also made a 11″x17″ take away poster of a drawing that I made on vellum of a plane going down in flames with what look like cross hairs on it. At another exhibition I made an all white version of the Air Force One model which I showed on top of a light box pedestal with a vitrine on top (It was later found to have been destroyed due to an irretrievable missing piece.)

Below are 2 images from the show, the sticker, the pins, the poster and the model.

The Black Box (Downing of Air Force One) Version 2 by Brian Higbee and Associated Artists for Propaganda ResearchThe Black Box (Downing of Air Force One) Version 2 (Detail) by Brian Higbee and Associated Artists for Propaganda ResearchThe Black Box (Downing of Air Force One) Sticker by Brian Higbee and Associated Artists for Propaganda Research

A.A.P.R. Pins by Brian Higbee and Associated Artists for Propaganda ResearchThe Black Box (Downing of Air Force One) Poster by Brian Higbee and Associated Artists for Propaganda ResearchAir Force One Small Scale Model by Brian Higbee and Associated Artists for Propaganda Research

Leave a comment

Filed under Associated Artists for Propaganda Research, Sculpture, Small Scale Model

The Black Box (Downing of Air Force One) Version 1

The Black Box (Downing of Air Force One) is the first large scale floor model that I made as the Associated Artists for Propaganda Research. I started by purchasing a model of Air Force One, building it and destroying it by cutting it apart and burning parts of it to blacken them. I used white paint chips and blackened plastic pieces to create debris and studied photos of airplane crashes to try and figure out how it should look after the crash. The problem is that more serious plane crashes usually decimate the aircraft and I needed the aircraft to be slightly intact so I opted to minimize the damage. I decided that it would be best to have the nose intact, the tail intact, and most of the body of the plane intact. I also researched photos of Air Force One so I could apply the decals properly and paint it with right colors. Next I researched the type of sand that was available and chose the finest grained sand that I could find. I worked out some sketches for the platform structure and decided on simply using 2″x4″‘s with half inch rough plywood on top. I went to Pittsburgh and the warehouse space that I was showing in was giant. I had planned on making the platform for the sand only 8’x8′ but because the space was so big I decided to make it 14’x14’ so it wouldn’t get lost in the vastness. I went to the local lumberyard and purchased all of the wood and sand that I would need. The other problem that I ran across was lighting since the space had no lighting available. I decided on 2 large yellow work lights, each with 2 lights on it, to give it enough light. I built it fairly quickly and dumped all of my sand on top of the platform and started spreading it out evenly. I padded it down with the palm of my hand to create a smooth surface and spent time creating dunes to make it look more realistic. I started in the middle so I could place the model airplane in there first and worked my way out. I decided not to finish it with sides since I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of building them and instead left the sides exposed so that the structure can be seen underneath. I didn’t mind the rough finish but wish that I would have made the sides which is something that I’ve used on every floor piece since then. I set up my lights and used extension cords to run the power.

I was pleased with how it turned out my ability to adapt my piece to the space that it was being exhibited in. I find that it’s important to be able to logically respond to circumstances and conditions that arise when exhibiting in unknown spaces. Usually these circumstances become problematic to the proper viewing of the piece and the key is to find an adequate solution that makes sense for it. I should also say that the photographs for this weren’t very good and the detail is actually a reproduction that I made in my studio at a later date.

In 2003 I made another version of this piece for The Rotunda Gallery in Brooklyn which used a wooded landscape and was only 6’x6′. I’ll write about this one in my next post.

Here is what I wrote about version 1:

The Black Box (Downing of Air Force One) is a project that was first exhibited in Pittsburgh during the Pittsburgh International Sculpture Conference in the Spring of 2001. It featured a small scale model of the United States Presidential aircraft, Air Force One, burnt and broken in a large desert landscape. It was built using 20 bags of fine grained play sand spread out and smoothed on top of a large wooden platform. Two large work lights were used to beam a nonstop flood of bright desert light.

It was originally conceived as a way of outwardly criticizing the Persian Gulf War and the continuing sanctions against the people of Iraq throughout the 1990’s. The piece was designed to aggressively respond to the US government which foolishly brutalizes innocent civilians through massive military campaigns without the slightest fear of reproach. The UN council and the laws of the Geneva Convention do not warrant a war which has as its aim the blatant pollution and destruction of over 1 million people in the name of protecting oil interests.

The Black Box (Downing of Air Force One) is a way of conceptually destroying an important symbol of American tyranny, bringing to light a growing dissatisfaction with how we conduct our international affairs. It has become increasingly important for America to recognize itself as a prominent participant in the creation of a broad global community which values the rights of all people and scorns senseless acts of destruction as crimes no matter which side its on or from which side it comes.

The Black Box (Downing of Air Force One) Version 1 by Brian Higbee and Associated Artists for Propaganda ResearchThe Black Box (Downing of Air Force One) Version 1 (Detail) by Brian Higbee and Associated Artists for Propaganda Research

Leave a comment

Filed under Associated Artists for Propaganda Research, Sculpture, Small Scale Model

Pure City/ Sigma 6 (Small Scale Model 1,2 and 3)

In 2008 I started working on another cityscape using old computer parts called Pure City/ Sigma 6. I wanted to develop a more comprehensive floor sculpture for Future Living Projects that matched Epicenter City which I made for the Associated Artists for Propaganda Research. I started by collecting some out-of-date computer and ripped them apart to salvage their insides. After pulling out the insides I washed them and spray painted them using a white primer made by Do It. This off-white turned out to be the same white that I would use for all of the artwork made for the Future Living Projects by having the same color mixed in acrylic latex. I made 2 versions quickly so that I could have documentation for a larger version. The first one is 1.5″x6″x6″ and is made using white museum grade matte board as “sides”. The second version is 11″x22″x22″ and was made with a pre-made insertable pedestal that I had made for an earlier piece called The Shadow (Small Scale Model).

After making these 2 models I started collecting as many computers as I could and was lucky enough to acquire a complete car-full from the Brooklyn Children’s Museum which happened to be getting rid of a large quantity of them. (Thanks Glen!) I ripped all of them apart and brought all of the unused cases to a recycling center to be recycled. I kept all of the small speakers and lights, thinking that I could maybe use them for a future project. As a side note, I’ve often thought about using lights and maybe making my floor pieces interactive but have always decided against it thinking that it creates too much of a “spectacle”. I like the idea of using lights though and think of the time that I visited the large model of the Johnstown Flood at the Johnstown Flood Museum in Johnstown, Pa when I lived out there. They use lights and sound on the large model landscape to help explain the timeline of the ensuing disaster to great effect.

After I took all of the computers apart I washed out all of the dust and spray painted them white. I wanted the final version to be huge, maybe 12″x12″ in the end but I also wanted it to be variable depending on the space that it was exhibited in. The piece sat unfinished for quite awhile since I couldn’t get anybody to show it. In 2010 one of my roommates moved out and I quickly scrambled to build a large version of Pure City/ Sigma 6 in the empty space. I have a lot of wood lying around my studio from past projects so it wasn’t hard to put some sides together and a base to build on. I built it as quickly as I could and took photos while I had the chance. I’ve never shown it in a gallery space and the parts now sit in boxes on top of my bathroom. I imagined it as part of a larger installation that would include The Architect’s Tomb, Journey Into the Realm of Reason, From Dusk To Dawn, At the Gates of Dawn, New Dawn Fades, the ICB series and the pieces from I Was A Landscape In Your Dream. Below are the 3 versions that I made.

Pure City:Sigma 6 Small Scale Model (Version 1) by Brian Higbee and Future Living Projects Pure City:Sigma 6 Small Scale Model (Version 2) by Brian Higbee and Future Living Projects Pure City:Sigma 6 Small Scale Model (Version 3) by Brian Higbee and Future Living Projects Pure City:Sigma 6 Small Scale Model (Version 3) Detail by Brian Higbee and Future Living Projects

Leave a comment

Filed under Future Living Projects, Sculpture, Small Scale Model

A Means to an End (Small Scale Model)

A friend of mine back in Pennsylvania has a virtual junk yard in the back of his house. It’s full of old trucks, rows of old unusable refrigerators and piles upon piles of scrap metal . One day while roaming through his “collectables” I found an old rusty sign. It’s the kind that has wheels on it and is used on the side of the road to advertise local business information. This one was in particularly bad shape and looks like it hadn’t been used for a long time (I attached a photo at the very bottom.) I inquired about it and he told me that he had all of the glass for it, all of the fluorescent bulbs that went in it and the letters for putting information on it. I started thinking that I would like to use it as a sculpture and took my time thinking about what I would want it to say. I decided on I PUT MY TRUST IN YOU which I felt had a couple of different meanings. For me it conjures up religious connotations and is often used in Christianity to refer to someone putting their trust in Jesus. I also like that the word “PUT” is both past tense and present tense depending on how the reader wants to interpret it. I felt that the sculpture was also about economic collapse since the sign had once been brand new and was emblematic of capitalism’s failed promise of prosperity. It was also about a personal relationship that didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to.

I built this small model so I could mock up how it would look for a proposal that I was working on. I made the model out of small plastic modeling parts that I had. I found 2 sets of wheels and a base for it and glued it together. I used balsa wood to make the structure for the sign and glued part of an old clear tape case to it for the face. I printed out I PUT MY TRUST IN YOU on plain white paper, cut it out and taped it to the front. I made it clear so that I could shine a light through the back, creating the illusion that the sign lights up. In the end, I wanted the sculpture to be shown in a field in the middle of nowhere and figured that I would have to devise a way to use solar panels to power the lights. I never made the sculpture but I still have the model.

The title of the piece is from a Joy Division song. Here are the lyrics.

A legacy so far removed,
One day will be improved.
Eternal rights we left behind,
We were the better kind.
Two the same, set free too,
I always looked to you,
I always looked to you,
I always looked to you.

We fought for good, stood side by side,
Our friendship never died.
On stranger waves, the lows and highs,
Our vision touched the sky,
Immortalists with points to prove,
I put my trust in you.
I put my trust in you.
I put my trust in you.

A house somewhere on foreign soil,
Where ageless lovers call,
Is this your goal, your final needs,
Where dogs and vultures eat,
Committed still I turn to go.
I put my trust in you.
I put my trust in you.
I put my trust in you.
I put my trust in you.
In you. in you. in you.
Put my trust in you, in you.


Leave a comment

Filed under Sculpture, Small Scale Model

The Trinity Test, 1945

I finished The Trinity Test, 1945 yesterday. Here is a photo of it in my studio.


The Trinity Test, 1945 By Brian Higbee and Associated Artists for Propaganda Research

Leave a comment

Filed under Associated Artists for Propaganda Research, Painting

After Capitalism’s Collapse

I made After Capitalism’s Collapse back in 2003 for a show at ABC No Rio called Disaster. The sculpture is of a rusted I-beam skeleton of a corporate building in a green tree filled landscape. The image comes from an unfinished corporate building that I used to see on the side of the highway in New Jersey on my way to and from NYC. It sat like that for almost 10 years and was just a shell of a corporate structure halted at the very beginning of the building process. For After Capitalism’s Collapse I imagined a model of this same structure but its state of decay is unclear; it can either be on its way to being built or on its way to being destroyed.

I already had the plexiglass top so I had a piece of wood cut for the bottom. Hardware stores sell kits that use a bolt and a piece of metal with threads in it that can be recessed so I drilled holes in the sides and attached the hardware. I made the landscape using railroading grass and green railroading trees. In a hobby store I found strips of plastic I-beams and I painted these using rust colored paint and attached it all with glue. When I was done I screwed it all together and luckily found a pedestal at the gallery that fit the piece exactly.

After the show was over, I left the piece in my van and somebody broke in and stole it. I had this funny image of somebody using it as a coffee table. Why would somebody want to steal it?

After Capitalism's Collapse by Brian Higbee and Associated Artists for Propaganda ResearchAfter Capitalism's Collapse (Detail) by Brian Higbee and Associated Artists for Propaganda Research

Leave a comment

Filed under Associated Artists for Propaganda Research, Sculpture