…But Nobody Wants To Die
Cerulean Arts is pleased to present Heaven’s Gate featuring oil paintings by Yuri Makoveychuk, an artist, animator and filmmaker based in the Ukraine and New York. Comprising large-scale, oil on canvas paintings, Heaven’s Gate represents a contemporary take on traditional themes of human folly, reminiscent of Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Brueghel. Makoveychuk’s traditional technique, combined with a thoroughly contemporary artistic sensibility, gives the work its arresting power. At first glance, the works seem to be digital photographs, the illusion is so complete. The figures depicted are culled from different eras – some in 1930s fedoras, others with Renaissance hairstyles. Keeping the attention in the foreground, the backgrounds are for the most part blank, markedly different from the deep space of Renaissance works. The low-intensity, monochrome palette, representative of early 20th century print and film, helps unify these disparate elements, much like contemporary American painter Mark Tansey. This contrast between depth and surface, past and present, create an electrifying tension, keeping the viewer thoroughly engaged. Makoveychuk received his MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1996. In addition to producing the animated film The Institute, he has served as scenic artist for such films as Great Expectations starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Ethan Hawke and New Rose Hotel featuring Christopher Walken and Annabella Sciorra. Heaven’s Gate is on view through November 28, 2008 MORE
WIKIPEDIA: Heaven’s Gate was an American UFO religion based in San Diego, California and led by Marshall Applewhite (1931-1997) and Bonnie Nettles (1927-1985). The group’s end coincided with the appearance of Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997. Heaven’s Gate members believed that the planet Earth was about to be recycled (wiped clean, refurbished and rejuvenated), and that the only chance to survive was to leave it immediately. While the group was formally against suicide, they defined “suicide” in their own context to mean “to turn against the Next Level when it is being offered”, and believed that their “human” bodies were only vessels meant to help them on their journey.
Thirty-eight group members, plus Applewhite, the group’s leader, were found dead in a rented mansion in the upscale San Diego community of Rancho Santa Fe, California, on March 26, 1997. Two former members of Heaven’s Gate, Wayne Cooke and Charlie Humphreys, later died in copycat suicides. The suicide was accomplished by ingestion of phenobarbital mixed with vodka, along with plastic bags secured around their heads to induce asphyxiation. They were found lying neatly in their own bunk beds, with their faces and torsos covered by a square, purple cloth. Each member carried a five dollar bill and three quarters in their pockets. All 39 were dressed in identical black shirts and sweat pants, brand new black-and-white Nike athletic shoes, and armband patches reading “Heaven’s Gate Away Team.” The suicides were conducted in shifts, and the remaining members of the group cleaned up after each prior group’s death. MORE
BOING BOING: Mark’s recent post about a Christian children’s coloring book from 1954 pales in comparison to the horrific images of placidly smiling Jehovah’s Witnesses standing before a burning world. (I grew up a JW — what a mind job!) Many of these images are from books not primarily aimed at children, but children would be exposed to all these images — as I was — since they study right along with the adults at their endless meetings. MORE
NEW YORKER: Seven years ago, Prince became a Jehovah’s Witness. He said that he had moved to L.A. so that he could understand the hearts and minds of the music moguls. “I wanted to be around people, connected to people, for work,” he said. “You know, it’s all about religion. That’s what unites people here. They all have the same religion, so I wanted to sit down with them, to understand the way they see things, how they read Scripture.” Prince had his change of faith, he said, after a two-year-long debate with a musician friend, Larry Graham. “I don’t see it really as a conversion,” he said. “More, you know, it’s a realization. It’s like Morpheus and Neo in ‘The Matrix.’ ” He attends meetings at a local Kingdom Hall, and, like his fellow-witnesses, he leaves his gated community from time to time to knock on doors and proselytize. “Sometimes people act surprised, but mostly they’re really cool about it,” he said. MORE