Mediocremonster Debuts Art Show in Philadelphia
by Mary Anna Rodabaugh
Upon walking in the door of The Dreaming Building, located at 618 N. Front Street, I’m asked a simple question: what color? Nestled on the table sits an array of wristbands in green, yellow and red. Next to the wristbands there is a chart to help you choose the right color. Red means you’re taken. Yellow means it’s complicated. Green means you’re single.
I choose yellow, because I like to keep people guessing. Each wristband has a few words or phrases written in blue ink. Mine has a doodle of breasts and says “titties.” I wonder if this is somehow going to end up a conversation starter.
I’m barely past the wristband table before a well-dressed young man hands me a flyer. At first I thought it was a coupon for pizza, maybe a sponsor for the show. The couple in front of me looks confused.
“What the...” the girl asked her companion quizzically while holding up the pamphlet.
I take a closer look at mine. It reads: Have You Asked for His Forgiveness, and advertises God’s forgiveness for only five easy payments of $24.99. All major credit cards are accepted.
The young man is wearing a WWJD lanyard and carrying a Bible.
The back of the flyer has a picture of a priest with dialog bubble reading, Also Sign Your Son Up For Our Alter Boy Afterschool Program.
The advertisement comes with a disclaimer. In small print next to to the priest’s photos it reads: Pete is legally obligated to inform you that he is a registered sex offender but he has received the Lord’s forgiveness so it’s cool.
I quickly learned this was a live portion of Mediocremonster’s “Church on Sunday” exhibit.
“Jonathan is the altar boy. We’re addressing the big elephant in the room: Catholic priests and little boys,” show curator, JP said.
“Church on Sunday” featured a stenciled painting of the Virgin Mary wearing a black bikini, a painting of praying hands with beads and dollar sign medallions intertwined between the fingers and a painting of a church with a dollar sign at the top of the steeple.
“Basically, everything is satirical,” JP said. “Everything in this room is intentional.”
This couldn’t be more accurate for the “Kids These Days” exhibit. One painting featured a little girl talking on the phone with her mother. The girl says, I want to be like Rhianna when I grow up. The mother looks concerned as a thought bubble floats above her head. Inside the bubble is a picture of Rhianna’s bruised and battered face.
Beneath that, there was square of orange fabric with the words Exploit is the New Black stenciled in black in the center.
“It’s a satire of Orange is the New Black. Every single one of you wants to make sure your uncle is on Instagram. You make sure your cousin is on Instagram. Every Instagram, Twitter and Facebook should be personal. This is my way of poking fun at you,” Mediocremonster said.
As the self-proclaimed “Pharaoh of Photoshop and Kobe of Adobe,” Mediocremonster pushes the envelope of artistic medium. One of the most striking pieces in the “Kids These Days” exhibit was a piece created with a painted canvas and Photoshop. Two little boys are sitting in front of a TV that depicts a beautiful sunny day in the city. Outside, “in real life,” you can see a sunny day in the city while the two children watch the same scene on a screen.
Right next to “Kids These Days” was “Sex Sells,” a tri-layer stencil exhibit of a woman with long hair looking over her shoulder with her hand on her hip. The woman’s body was broken into three separate canvasses. The exhibit featured three separate women. The first had a neon pink background, establishing the relation between prostitution, neon lights and go-go bars. The second woman had a bright red background. This was to signify the Red-light district. The third piece had a background collage of photo cutouts depicting uncensored sexual acts. This makes a connection to the porn industry.
Mediocremonster covered religion, children, sex, technology and politics. In his “Culture Exhibit,” he had a stencil piece of Ronald McDonald with the face of Anonymous and a painting that read United We Stand above a line of individuals standing in an unemployment line. There was also a large work with a background made of supermarket circulars and a large red steak with a skull on it in the foreground.
“It’s my first art show so I’m getting used to actually putting the art up,” Mediocremonster said.
The show took about six months to put together from start to finish. Each piece in the exhibit was for sale via silent auction with the bids starting at five dollars.
Mediocremonster’s work was made up primarily of stencils. He began experimenting with street art about five years ago.
“Street art is the only form of personal expression that can be forced upon people,” Mediocremonster said.
Originally from Camden, New Jersey, Mediocremonster has one goal in mind: to become a household name and to affect culture. In particular, the culture of Camden, one of the poorest and most dangerous cities in the United States.
“Every other city has a voice. Why does our city not have a voice? We are literally at the bottom,” Mediocremonster said.
Everything in this inaugural art exhibit was intentional. The color-coded wristbands were created to serve as conversation starters. The exhibit featured multiple opportunities for interaction including the voluntary vandalism of a green picnic table. Powerful beats pounded from the speakers at the hands of the talented DJ Sylo. The bar served an original Mediocremonster drink called Marijuana Milk, made with green berry punch, Sour Apple Pucker, Monster Energy Drink and Skyy Citrus Vodka in lime green Solo cups.
While Mediocremonster strived to provide a networking atmosphere for his visitors, he also wanted to make guests uncomfortable through his blunt satirical art.
“I want to be the Eminem of art. I want to be the South Park of art. I want them to realize it’s culture, it’s diverse, it’s aggressive. I want curse words in my music at the DJ station. I want curse words on my art. I’m just pointing out the elephant in the room at all times,” Mediocremonster said.
As the show winded down, the Sex Sells piece with the pornographic background was sold. Rapper Mick Raw took the stage to spit a few tracks. People continued to take their lime green cups to Pat, the bartender for some more Marijuana Milk and visitors left their mark on the graffiti covered green picnic table.
“The main thing I want them to take away is ‘oh, I went to something that was different. I went to an art show that was different. I got drunk at that art show. I met someone at that art show and had sex afterwards. I had fun at that art show’,” Mediocremonster said.
Mediocremonster plans to expand his art exhibits to DC in the near future. This is just the beginning.
To learn more about Mediocremonster visit their website http://mediocremonster.tumblr.com/