There is an artist I have admired for some time known as Billy Blob. His paintings are filled with life and humor and his cartoons display great wit and thought, as typified by animated shorts like “Karma Ghost,” which he showed at Sundance in 2002. Beyond the medium, Billy has a way of looking at how his art connects to the viewer outside of gallery walls. His website, www.billyblob.com, exhibits not only the work, but also acts as a window into the artist’s life.
What I really like about his work are his efforts to expose an audience to art in unconventional ways. In the spring and summer of ’97 Billy created a series of sculptures and paintings that were deposited in random locations, such as a highway rest stop, the L.A. Zoo parking lot, and Tommy’s Hamburgers.
An attached note would direct the finder to pay for the art by sending a check to Billy and, more importantly, submit stories and images of where the art continues to live. The notes encouraged the owner to move the art to other locations, as a vehicle to engage a larger community.
Most of the pieces were never heard from again. But one sculpture named “Confused” was left at a roadside rest stop. Four years later, it reappeared in an art studio of Guajome Park Academy in Vista, California. An art instructor used it as an example for a class project and when the students were finished with their own work, they set each piece around town, to see if anyone would pick them up.
Billy’s one piece appears to have impacted one community in a unique way. But who is to say the other pieces did not continue to travel? How many were exposed to these paintings before one person chose to take them away?
The idea that art can live beyond the confines of a gallery wall leaves endless possibilities.