Friday, August 25, 2023

X Marks the Spot


X Marks the Spot

Skeleton // XXIII/II

Skateboard decks

Drella / II / 10.22

Frank Sinatra // XXI

Exploding Star // XXIII - X

By Tom Wachunas

“Follow your inner moonlight, don’t hide the madness” - Allen Ginsberg

"In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes." -Andy Warhol

“Billy Ludwig’s mixed media pieces are meant to look as though they were just cut off a downtown wall covered in guerrilla marketing and/or artwork that was once hanging in an establishment like a museum that has been abandoned — the structure set to be torn down after years of it and its contents being vandalized, these pieces have been rescued from demolition. Along with signature accents, each piece is embellished with various information about the subject - significant numbers, latitude/longitudes, quotes and more. The devil really is in the details…”  - from Billy Ludwig, at

EXHIBIT: SKULL & BONES -The Artwork of Billy Ludwig / THROUGH SEPTEMBER 7th  at Cyrus Custom Framing and Art Gallery, 2645 Cleveland Ave. NW, Canton, Ohio / Viewing hours: Monday - Friday 10am ish – 6pm / Saturday 11am - 3pm /Closed first Saturday of the month and Closed on Sundays / (330) 452-9787 / CLOSING RECEPTION FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, at 6:30 p.m.

   What does the name of this monotonal exhibit – “Skull and Bones” – suggest to you? Pirate flags and plundered booty? Mortality? Decay?  Aaargh, me mateys…

   The entire gallery space is saturated in a somber palette. Collectively, Billy Ludwig’s black-and-white mixed media works on wood or canvas exude a palpable solemnity and, perhaps, a funereal pallor. The visual un-glitziness of these pieces, given the nature of their subject matter, is weirdly ironic, yet somehow still intriguing and provocative.

   That subject matter is largely built upon appropriated photos of famous people and characters. Celebrities. Here are artists/entertainers, influencers, real as well as fictional, who have become (for better or worse) luminous pop-culture icons. Treasured objects of our worldly attention, affection, admiration. Presences now or once so bright we call them… stars.

   Yet their light, as rendered here, often feels faded. Their likenesses are printed in glib shades of grey. Sometimes they’re engaging, like a magazine glamour pic. And sometimes they’re also quite mundane, like photos on a driver’s license, a passport, a mug shot.

   Fame and celebrity can be fickle, feckless and fleeting - a dazzling, death-defying skateboard trick against inevitable gravity before the wheels fall off. Exhibited in this context, a few of Ludwig’s dramatically stark abstract paintings might be metaphorical reminders that fame and celebrity, like stars, explode. They end, leaving behind only scribbles, splotches and shadows of their former glory.

    To what degree are all of us pirates, insatiable consumers, ever searching for and seizing the latest greatest biggest bestest pleasure treasure the world has to offer?

   To the devil in the details, here’s a tasty tidbit of ancient wisdom, from Ecclesiastes 1:8-9: All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

   Aaargh, me mateys.

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