Art, cynicism and Scott Jacobs

Since my story a couple weeks ago, I’ve been following the buzz about Scott Jacobs and his Obama painting “Someday Has Come.” While initially I was one of those swept up in the serendipity of it all, when coverage of Jacob and his art piece spread outside Ventura County, my cynicism crept in.

I mean, what do we know about the photographer who took the pic that Jacobs copied, albeit skillfully, but copied nonetheless. Has the photographer been given his due credit as Jacobs cashes in? And what exactly is he cashing in on? The art piece itself? This of course begs the question: what qualifies as art? Is decent reproduction art? What about the manic optimism surrounding Obama’s election? People are so enamored of the president-elect that virtually anything with his name or image suddenly becomes invaluable. Or is it the story? And the story has taken new forms as it’s been retold.

Jacobs was “homeless” he’s a “veteran” he drives a BMW and he owns a laptop. That he was kicked out of his home on election day because he’s an artist, then after visiting the voting booth was inspired to paint Obama’s likeness (from an existing photograph) in public (where else, he has no home), was invited to show the piece at Sylvia White Gallery’s election night party... has become a little preposterous to me.

I’d like to believe it all went down like this. I do believe in Kismet, but c’mon.

When the Artists Union Gallery took him under their wing momentarily to close their “Election Collection” show, my sigh was audible for blocks.

Turnout for the event was a who’s who of the Ventura artists community. People traveled from well outside Ventura County to purchase a signed/numbered giclee and meet Jacobs. And purchase they did. A physician who had been visiting Ventura saw Jacobs painting, became enamored of the “story” and funded the production of T-shirts for the Artists Union Gallery event. I looked around for a punch bowl full of Kool Aid to explain the collective bliss, the glazed over expressions… my negativity looming, threatening.

Faced with such almost naive enthusiasm from people I respect in the arts community, I began to feel a bit ashamed of my skepticism. Does it really matter why people are happy? Maybe this whole thing had some kind of divine push behind it. Who am I to judge it, right?

When I asked Jacobs what’s next he told me he was beginning a new collection about the Montecito “Tea” fire, ostensibly to raise funds for the victims.

My co-worker, Paul, had a reasonable explanation for my attitude: I’m a reporter, duh. I question (hopefully). I’m still somewhat at odds about the whole thing and I can’t help but look around for validation of my instincts from practically anyone who mentions Scott Jacobs, but I’m also planning to refrain from further examination of this story, for now. If, however, he sells the original for the $100K he’s asking (sheesh, even $10K) you can bet I will resume this conversation.

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5 Responses to “Art, cynicism and Scott Jacobs”

  1. and where is he now??? still on a street corner trying to be an opportunist and be in the limelight? saw him the other day hoping he wouldn’t get too close. as an artist, creativity is the most respectable form of art in my opinion…

  2. Your cynicism of the Scott Jacobs phenomena is truly unfortunate. Scott has not dropped off the face of the earth, but has been working the East Coast since before the Obama inauguration. I have been in almost daily contact with him, and in fact, just facilitated another GC sale on his behalf. People are frantic about how to reach him and obtain a GC of this great painting. He still gets by day to day…dollar by dollar…and to my knowledge has yet to give-up his original Obama Someday Has Come painting. To those who continue to struggle with the “why” question, all I can tell you is that you will never obtain the answer. It was never about “why”. It was always about the “who”, the “what”, the “when”, and the “how.” In short it was about us. How people who did not know each other came together for a brief time, if only to celebrate. Thank goodness the celebration continues…

  3. Everyone loves the Someday Has Come painting by Scott Jacobs. Even this website owner praised his work!

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