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Romero Britto

Every year my bank gives me a bunch of things to help me get through the year: an address book large enough to be called a notebook with maps of Korea, detailed maps of larger cities, and subway lines; pens; wash cloths; wall calendars; and desk calendars. I like the desk calendars because not only do I need them, but the bank commissions a different artist every year for the imagery and design of the calendar.

I was pleasantly surprised by this year's desk calendar: it's laden with bright reds, yellows and whites (among many others) illuminating the flying hearts, sculptures of presents, dancers, dogs, sailboats, birds, and a bear in a tuxedo. Wow, here's art that makes me feel good. Here's art I might actually want to buy. Here's art I might actually afford to buy--and, wow, it might even be a decent investment!

Ah, that Ian, he's so innocent sometimes. So I google this artist to look into who he is and maybe how I might go about buying something he's done. The artist is Romero Britto, celebrated corporate artist.

If you don't know who Britto is one can find out quickly using the same methods I did. I don't know how I feel about Britto and what he's done with his art. It's easy to name him as a sell out. Looks like he's made a career of creating imagery or illustrations of the kinds of impressions multi-national corporations want to use to inculcate we hapless consumers with ideas, emotions, and feelings that make we consumers emotionally sympathetic to these corporations--end result being we give these corporations our patronage and--the Exxon bottom line--our money. At first glance, this appears to be art to turn our brains into mush.

At the same time, what's wrong with bringing imagery of love and positivity into the world? Don't we human beings need as much of that as we can get? Aren't we lucky that these kinds of messages are being harnessed by multi-national corporations and scattered like chicken feed for the masses? I mean isn't this better than the blanket narcissitic materialism we normally get, which in terms of net yield on the human mind has probably a greater negative impact? Could our human civilization be positively impacted by commercialism? When I say commercialism I'm not talking economics, marketing, and innovation here--I mean the messages we receive, not the business of the messages.

As an artist, Britto says of his work and his purpose: "I bring these (images) to you as hearts, butterflies, bright polka dots and stripes because they are straightforward and pure," and also, "Art is too important not to share - share happiness!"

I don't know, but the issue is interesting enough for me to be willing to hesitantly suspend judgement. Those flying hearts are certainly the product of a being that appears to be about love and spiritual can I judge that?

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