Molly Crabapple works the crowd

Molly Crabapple with Great American Bubble Machine

Bob Cenedella would love this. Illustrator and fine artist Molly Crabapple is using Kickstarter to fund her political paintings. It’s a way of doing an end run around the galleries, the collectors, the whole apparatus of how the art world rolls forward. It’s a great idea, partly because she spins off from each project a line of small novelty items and even gives her lesser contributors artifacts of the process itself: old brushes, a used palette, preparatory sketches, or little tchotchkes adorned with little drawings. Or, if you can’t give much, you simply get access to what she’s up to at particular times. It’s a bit Warholian, a way of turning the process of making a painting into a business with investors, and yet it doesn’t reek of cynicism or greed. She wants to get the work done without being beholden to anyone or anything other than the idea that drives the work. Still not clear on who actually gets the one big painting that spawns all the other items, if anyone, but for her latest project she’s raised more than $50,000. Take that, Chelsea. This isn’t for everybody, or even most of us–does she have a staff of elves to make all this “merchandise” for investors? And it does seem to veer queasily close to the capitalist business model the movie industry uses to generate merchandise from a summer film. Yet it’s an interesting way to make a living doing good-hearted work. I like her attitude too. She’s serious but she keeps it unpretentious:

Is Shell Game dirty commie pinko propaganda?

Maybe a little. But you’ll find the same scampering fat cats, tentacles, and surreal details that are always in my work. So my fans who could care less about world affairs should still like it.


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