I don't know art, but I know what I like. And I think I like George Zimmerman's latest painting.
It is absolutely brilliant, on an artistic level. The yellow ink on a red backdrop -- evocative of the Chinese flag in its bold use of what in America are condiment colors. The primitivist rendering of the subject, the eyes frozen without soul, the Katherine Harris bangs,the gaudy necklace like a Kool Moe Dee gold chain; this painting lays it all bare like a chicken plucked and slaughtered.
Forget who painted it. If it were Basquiat, you'd feel differently. The style, reminiscent of the brilliant painter and iconoclast, Lee Harvey. Bold strokes used in bold ways to make bold statements.
And the quote up top? Perfectly understated. Sort of, well, at odds with the Zimmerman public persona -- a Travis Bickel figure who fights with trolls on Twitter and creates bizarre publicity stunts and claims that Sean Hannity is the last honest man in national journalism.
He plays a buffoon on TV. But what if he is working us all?
Angela Corey is not a popular politician, though she is effective. She plays hardball, and she doesn't lose. Which is part of the reason she alone among local political figures would merit being the subject of a painting at all, never mind one of this quality and thematic resonance.
I have, of course, some unsourced theories on Zimmerman's paintings. One of them being that there might be no better way for him to launder money than by creating a dummy market for some awful paintings -- like that first one he did, allegedly plagiarized, that still netted $100k.
Brilliant! Never occurred to Aileen Wuornos, Casey Anthony, or Ted Bundy to bring it like that. George Zimmerman's first painting: a dummy shell, intended to establish a market price for anything with his imprimatur. A price for the celebrity that comes with shooting a teenage boy in cold blood because he was getting pummelled by that boy, whom he stalked in the dead of night for entirely specious and wacked-out reasons.
But enough about that. The man has cashed in. He can paint -- or even better, commission -- a few of these pieces a year (and why wouldn't he? Warhol did it.) and bring in serious money (or provide the cover for bringing in serious money, as it were).
What's next for Zimmerman? Hopefully, a cavalcade of cash ins. Why not a cologne? Why not a spoken word album? Why not a reality show? Whatever his means, whatever his reasons, whatever his myriad failigs, he has made that great American transformation -- from being famous for villainy to being famous for being famous.
And, in this sense, George Zimmerman - the hoodie hater -- is more hip hop than anyone. Equal parts Shook Ones and Can't Knock The Hustle. If Keith Haring's ghost is truly walking the streets of Riverside, then it should be added that Basquiat Reincarnate walks among us, somewhere south of us in the Sunshine State.