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March 29, 2005

Homer of the Transmundane

When destiny calls, you gotta accept the charges:

Marge: So... you want to go on tour with a traveling freak show.
Homer: I don't think I have a choice, Marge.
Marge: Of course you have a choice.
Homer: How do you figure?
Marge: You don't have to join a freak show just because the opportunity came along.
Homer: You know, Marge, in some ways, you and I are very different people.

"Homer of the Transmundane"
Posted by Dan at 05:26 PM

Comments

Howdy!

A) Welcome back - I was getting worried there...

B) As I would assume that you're a Simpsons fan, and I don't own a TV - I've been looking for an episode of the Simpsons where Homer becomes (plays) a conceptual artist. Theoretically it might have been broadcast in the early 90's but I've never been able to source it down. Can you help?

Posted by: Zeke on March 29, 2005 at 08:42 PM

"Why does art hate me? I never did anything to art."

> I've been looking for an episode of the Simpsons where Homer becomes (plays) a conceptual artist.

I dare say you've come to the right place, Chris.

The episode in question would be one Mom and Pop Art, from April 1999 and featuring the vocal talents of Jasper Johns (playing himself).

If you're looking to watch the episode, you're not going to find it on video or DVD yet. However, through the magic of the internets you can download a copy here (Windows Media—36.7 MB).

[at Homer's opening]
Lisa: Dad, chew with your mouth closed. You're losing your mystique.
Homer: Lisa, all great artists love free food. Check out Jasper Johns.
Johns: [stuffing food in his jacket] You squeal on me, I'll kill you.
...
Homer: Moe, this is Astrid, my dealer, and these are my fans: Gunter, Kyoto, and Cecil Hampstead on Cecil Cecil.
Moe: So, uh, you guys are Eurotrash, huh? How's that, uh, workin' out for ya?
Gunter: Eh, to be honest, we are adrift in a sea of decadent luxury and meaningless sex.
Moe: Uh-huh... so, uh, where might this sea be located?
Cecil: I must be back to my hotel and practice my affectations for tomorrow. Bon soir!
...
Marge: Oh, Homer, being an artist was my dream, but now, without even trying, you've accomplished more in a week than I have in my whole life.
Homer: Oh, honey, I've always liked your art. Your paintings look like the things they look like.
...
[Homer's latest works meet with a lackluster response]
Homer: What's going on here? You weirdoes love this stuff.
Astrid: Homer, I'm afraid they only love what's new and shocking. These pieces are just like your earlier work.
Gunter: You've gone from hip to boring. Why don't you call us when you get to kitsch? [forced laugh]
Cecil: Come on, Gunter, Kyoto. If we hurry, we can still catch the heroin craze.
...
Marge: Homer, what have you done?
Homer: It's conceptual art. "The Grand Canals of Springfield," just like Venice, without the black plague. What do you think?
Marge: I think some people are going to be upset.
Astrid: [floating on a log] I love it, Homer! You've turned this town into a work of art! I just wish Jasper Johns hadn't stolen my boat.
Johns: [speeds by on a motorboat, splashing Astrid] So long, suckers!

More here...

Posted by: Dan on March 29, 2005 at 10:48 PM

Howdy!

Thank you tons! I think I finally got something on Bill Burns!

To explain: There's this artist up here with just about the most deadpan sense of humor since Harold Lloyd. He's been touring an exhibit up here called "Safety Gear for Small Animals." When he gets the requisite interview with the local art press he invariably mentions that as a consequence of an exhibit he had in NYC in 98 or 99 that the Simpsons then went and made Homer a conceptual artist who was trying to save fish or some other not large animals.

As local art press don't have the time, money, energy or desire to act like real reporters this "fact" normally gets repeated verbatim. Which ends up annoying me something fierce.

Judging by the quotes you've supplied it looks like Mr. Burns (the Canadian artist, not the cartoon character) "embellished" the Simpsons episode. I'm about 85% through on the download (thanks even more tons for the link) and once I've watched it, I imagine I'll be able to sleep in peace.

Hope your day goes as well as mine has because of you.

Posted by: Zeke on March 30, 2005 at 10:23 AM

I recall being amused by Bill Burns' creations before.

> When he gets the requisite interview with the local art press he invariably mentions that as a consequence of an exhibit he had in NYC in 98 or 99 that the Simpsons then went and made Homer a conceptual artist who was trying to save fish or some other not large animals.

Indeed, before flooding the streets of Springfield so to realize his Grand Canal, Homer and Bart go to the zoo to outfit the animals with snorkels. It's not a major plot point, but it is step two in Homer's three-part plan "for a wonderful art project that'll make everyone love [him] again."

However, they actually primarily focus on the larger creatures: Homer handles the goats, pigs and ponies while Bart takes care of the lions and bears. I seem to recall a snorkled giraffe as well.

Glad to see someone is not about to let this Burns fellow's erroneous claims slip through unchallenged. He may have banked on the laziness of our press corps, but it looks like he never anticipated a tangle with the diligence of the blogosphere. Viva!

Posted by: Dan on March 30, 2005 at 11:11 AM

Howdy!

Thanks for the link, again. I was finally able to see the show, and in fact I laughed out loud it was quite funny - as an aside I think it was the first time I'd ever seen an entire Simpsons episode, although I did see a couple of them on the Tracy Ullman show way back when...

With a little luck Bill Burns won't do a Jasper Johns impersonation if I show it around...

Posted by: Zeke on March 30, 2005 at 08:25 PM

You know, Marge, in some ways, you and I are very different people.

One of my all-time favorite quotes, and - when relevant proper nouns replaced - one of the most useful.

Posted by: MS on March 30, 2005 at 10:41 PM

> I think it was the first time I'd ever seen an entire Simpsons episode, although I did see a couple of them on the Tracy Ullman show way back when

Don't consider this episode to be typical of the Simpsons at its best. It's from around the time the show began to suck on a consistent basis. I'm not sure I'd even care for this one that much were I not some kind of huge art dork.

Posted by: Dan on March 31, 2005 at 12:09 AM

Doh!?! How have I never before heard about that episode? Thanks for providing the link.

Zeke: I'm all for the TV-less existence, but to miss the Simpsons? Especially in their earlier days? Call me American, but what kind of Canadian are you ?!? Dude!

Posted by: sarah on April 1, 2005 at 12:31 PM

Hi everybody,

Bill Burns launched Safety Gear for Small Animals in 1994 at Gallery 303 in NYC. Chris, you can go on about how lazy the press is, but the date is pretty much a statement of fact that can be found in the PR for the show which has already toured all over the place and still has a ways to go. I was on a curatorial committee that reviewed this work which subsequently showed at Mercer Union in Toronto in 1995. You can buy, the catalogue/brochure for the Gallery 303 show online at Wessel and Lieberman Booksellers for ten dollars (http://www.wlbooks.com/cgi-bin/wlb455.cgi/search.html?id=Ls4xgKMk). And I believe there is also a publication from the Mercer Union show with an essay by Ian Balfour. I am sure his exhibition history boasts a stack of other publications across North America and abroad. I find your take on this so weird - artists have to knock around for a long time and the work has to be pretty interesting before it is exhibited as widely as that of Bill Burns. I don't know about the Simpson's thing but Bill Burns' ouevre was in circulation a good five years ahead of the Mom and Pop Art episode. Bill Burns has a great website : http:/www.safetygearmuseum.com/ totally worth checking out. And for the record I'm a huge fan of The Simpsons.


Posted by: J@simpleposie on April 1, 2005 at 03:10 PM

Howdy!

I'm not dissing Mr. Burns' art. I quite like it. What I am complaining about is that he goes about saying "the Simpsons stole my idea" he isn't being truthful. And if the press decides to write about it as fact, then they should fact check before publishing. He told me exactly that when I interviewed him last year, I chose to ignore it. He told Sarah Milroy the same thing and she went and published it on January 22nd. It just isn't true - in the episode all Homer does is put snorkels on zoo animals. Which has been a standard issue visual joke pretty much since snorkels were invented.
http://www.cartoonstock.com/directory/s/snorkels.asp is one of many examples that I can find.

Questioning things is good. Accepting things blindly ain't so hot.

Posted by: Zeke on April 1, 2005 at 03:36 PM

Howdy!

And then to respond to Sarah - I'm not Canadian, I'm a Yank - full blooded US citizen, and not looking to change any time soon. Being an ex-pat suits me fine.

Posted by: Zeke on April 1, 2005 at 03:38 PM

Watch the Mom and Pop Art video carefully. At minute marker 02:48 there is an image of an American flag, comprised of blue boxes with white lightbulbs sitting on a hardware shelf, and a red-and-white striped object sitting on the hardware shelf underneath. There's an unobstructed view of the background at 02:50.

Posted by: Henry on April 3, 2005 at 11:02 AM

... and "Astrid Weller" (proprietress of the Louvre: American Style Gallery) is an anagram for "Sell weird art."

It's all right here.

Posted by: Dan on April 3, 2005 at 05:34 PM



Referenced in this post:

Simpsons Archive: Homerpalooza (3F21)