Grape Loves Ivy, & Ivy Loves Copernicus Grape
IN THE WAREHOUSE, also known as the Laboratory (IAM Central Labs, Seattle, hence sprung forth), the attitude was always one of a leisurely enlightenment . . . atoms commingled there with each other and various other atom-aids; their spirits were on fire but their appearance was subdued. It was a grand old pad.
The slow evolution
of I-A-M (and that's what it was, slow, like all good things--including the
humanist revolution that they themselves proposed) started with a man named
IAM was the first thing, of course . . . or was it? For under the IAM laid several eggs . . . Truthfrontier.com, American Samizdat, Sensual Liberation Army, International MuseProCo, Macrohard, etc. . . . and who really knows which came first. Was Grape the chicken, or the egg?
Grape was always a quiet madman for the boon and thrust of a well-shorn piece of art of any medium. It was never a conscious thing at first--good art just simply always gives you a good buzz and opens you up to the ah! of the universe, or the multiverse, as Grape liked to put it. And since, as the new Buddhists would have it: number one rule in life is pain, yes, but the second rule is ascension . . . and to be opened up to the ah! of the universe is the first step to this. This is where phenomenology comes in of course, and historically speaking we can point to the wonderful work of Shepard Fairey of the late 20th century for some glorious examples of this somewhat esoteric thought system in motion . . . Andre the Giant lives, baby! But what does it mean??
Perhaps to say that Grape would never have started IAM without the love of Ivy is an overstatement, a lie, a glib flip into mendacious waters--or even an overly romantic (last 2 words oxymoronic?) revisionist history put together by a half-assed historian who would rather believe the myth than the truth? Grape certainly had the burning in him, and he always had the great ideas which flowed from his cerebral cortex (or where??) like uh . . . you know, a Niagara spicket or something . . . but the focus to act was always a bit blurry, if you know what I mean. Perhaps he was just young, and then aged more or less gracefully into a late bloomer. Perhaps Ivy was just the inspiration he was waiting for. Perhaps Ivy had nothing to do with it.
At any rate, as the New Millennium slowly (there's that word again) dawned, and everybody who didn't understand that not only was this method of time-measurement merely a creation of man, but that even within this particular method it wasn't even the turn of the millennium at 2000 (but 2001) was running around resurrecting all sorts of primeval end of the world and Second Coming myths, Grape sought to see the positive, poetic potential involved . . . Grape was also, it must be said, about to turn 30 that year, and his so far lack of creative success was beginning to burn at him. Where did all those years go? Down the Scythian wind-tunnel? Or into an education, self-propulsed!, which would be necessaire for those possibly grueling years ahead battling it out symbo-style behind the soon to be powerful aegis of International Art Machine? Was this the future or the past?
Grape, like all
so called Gen-Xers of his time, wuz also afflicted with what some had mistakenly
termed ADD. "ADD," Grape liked to say, "Is nothing more
than a pseudo-scientific term attached by past and significantly slower generations
to our faster go-go now generation. Every succeeding generation will even faster,
hip to hip with better technology, wider net bandwidth and so on. Why,
a kid 200 hundred years from now couldn't even finish reading one of my paragraphs
before drifting off into a well-earned yawn."
Well, as far as chronology goes, we do believe that Grape officially founded IAM in Y2K (still technically the 20th century!). Sensual Liberation Army might have started sooner as a means to make money to start IAM, but there has been some debate about this. But we do have fairly good records about the actual launch (in physical realtime) of IAM . . . as we know Grape set IAM to be run (philosophically) by Haring engine, basically a symbo-subset of Keith Haring's (and many others, like Vincent Price and early 20th century revolutionary Russian artists, but Haring most notably, most successfully) basic art philosophy: art should be for the people, etc. All People. "If information wants to be free," Grape asserted. "Then art wants to cha-cha-cha." Grape also noted the connection between the American gov't at the time and historically denying art to the masses as the first step in keeping down the poor. Art was political. Art was the first step to politics (cue Fairey)--hell, it was the first step to everything, and that was the point. And every human should have it. (It was also one of Grape's proposed addendums to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights which Grape helped make so globally known: "Everyone should have access to art. And not bad art, either--but the good stuff, always the good stuff.") Art and activism was something very brewing at the end of the 20th, what with Aro.space and the annual Cascadia Peace org's art and revolution conventions, but it didn't go into the mainstream until IAM. The usual suspects griped, "Aw, man, I knew that band/artist/writer/political movement when it was small man, and now it's big and lost it's juju." But they were wrong re: IAM. IAM proper didn't lose it's juju until at least halfway into the next century, and by then it's many progeny were already alive--which is all anyone can ever ask for, really.
So how did Grape hatch IAM into physical space and real mental time? And how did it go from there to full flower into the world's mainline--resulting in the IAM logo being more popular than any sports shoe or sugar water logo ever?
This was how it started: KEITH HARING WAS RIGHT. That was the first message, in black and white--on billboards and bus sides, in the city of Seattle (think global, start--). Grape never bought tv time--not only could he not afford it, it was against his principles. Now, the actual TV itself, color cathode ray tube et al--this is not what he objected to, but what was transmitted via the corporate empire. He wanted no mixing with that, and knew by the Adbusters examples they probably wouldn't sell him airtime anyway if it conflicted with their greed, er, corporate agendas.
Second, the same mssge: KEITH HARING WAS RIGHT, now broadcast in color. By now a phenom was breeding. Next, of course, came the art: Haring's art first, in wild technicolor color--dancing mincing clapping adorable global iconographic figures just lapping it up: the love of a new generation.
This was just for openers but did the public good: piquing and prodding. It also gave IAM some much needed publicity when the estate of Keith Haring sued IAM for using his works without permission. IAM's legal defense was brilliant: "This was Keith Haring's philosophy and life work: his work should be for the people--all people. This is what we are doing;this is what we are giving the public. How can the estate of Keith Haring object to what Keith would have wanted?" Ok, well, the dividing line was whether or not IAM was directly making a profit off of this, or using Haring images to advertise for a company which planned to make profits. This next defense was harder, tho, Grape felt, right on and still in line with Haring's beliefs: "I founded IAM based on Haring's philosophy. This was my vision, this was my aim. But it could not qualify for a non-profit because to qualify for American gov't approval is inherently anti-art. The possibility of forming an NGO was thought over and still being debated. However, in the end I turned to Adbusters for inspiration: whose aim it is to fight the corporate powers with the method of the corporate powers: thus, business. Thus, socially conscious business.
"IAM does not sell Haring art. IAM uses Haring art to advertise its presence and philosophy which is based on the philosophy of Keith Haring. What IAM will sell is art (of all denominations), which promotes art and Haring's vision, and some of the profits will go into giving art free to the people, including Haring art, which also promotes Haring's vision while giving free publicity to Haring art and thus profits to his estate. The rest of our profit will go to a panoply of activist groups including Amnesty Intl, Greenpeace and PETA, and into IAM growth." Grape then made a few swipes at the Haring Foundation for not doing enough to promote Haring's vision, and then asked them to talk to him personally about IAM, and to help him with his goal. In the end this is partly what the Haring Foundation did, knowing they were getting nothing but bad publicity out of the whole affair thanks to Grape, and decided to drop the lawsuit. Since the members of the board were petty and vindictive, however, they never did attempt to help Grape in his further IAM machinations. That was fine by Grape, he really didn't need their help anyway, and the publicity garnered out of the whole thing was a great boon to him and his website (which I failed to mention was launched the same day the HARING WAS RIGHT text-only campaign was turned into the HARING IMAGES campaign--all these btw bore only the IAM logo in the lower right hand corner). Website hits and sales went exponential.
Meanwhile, the IAM Seattle publicity campaign had already continued: after the Haring art came a dizzying array of other people's art: from Miro to Bosch, Picasso to Kandisky, sticking mostly with the post-camera age.
Now, what, exactly, did IAM sell? We can get into this later.
part is that IAM was launched. It was here to beat the drums for truly
great art for people all over the world, whether by hook or crook, charge or
(latin term for no charge). IAM would take this Seattle physical real-time
plus global website plus national and some supra-national publicity via Haring
suit and expand, baby, expand. But this--and IAM's art thrust would continue
and keep the beat going on buses and sidewalks and billboards for many years
to come in many cities all over the world, eventually evolving into real-time
galleries and showfronts (real-time stores) as well--was just the beginning.
Because IAM was not only about art which static to the eye (painting and sculpture
and architecture and design et al), but it took the leap of saying other things
were art, too, thereby becoming an aegis for many other business-slash-activist
ventures. One quick example before we go someplace in this rambling display:
"IAM: Truth is Art." Thus the beginning of the Truthfrontier.com
and American Samizdat. IAM, after all, was ostensibly fueled by Haring
engine . . . but hidden motives were also involved. See Grape.
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