Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Dash Snow, American Artist: July 27, 1981 - July 13, 2009

Dash Snow, a downtown manhattan hipster artist, mostly known for his start in graffiti art died last week from a heroin overdose. And there you have it.

I'd never even heard of Dash until last week, when the art news medias went crazy with reports of his death. Dash is a member of the de Menils family, oil people from Houston who are known for their extensive collection of modern art. His great-grandmother was heiress to the Schlumberger oil fortune and his own mother is Uma Thurman's half-sister. (What's the song? Money, money money. Monay!) At only 13 he was sent away to Reform School for not so good behavior and at 15 he was released, never to return home. He ventured on to none other than the Lower East Side in Manhattan and started the Irak graffiti crew, tagging the walls of the city with his name 'Sace'. He journaled his life with Poloroid photographs and was encouraged to exhibit his photographs, which is where he got his start as a professional "artist."
There were tons of critics though, deeming him the poloroid picture taker with the drug habit. His art was definitely reflective of his lifestyle. Yet, none of the obits really talk about his "work." New York Times stated in Dash's obit, “Sexuality, violence and life’s fragility were frequent themes in Mr. Snow’s work, but there was also an air of exuberant misbehavior.” The UK Telegraph describes one of his exhibitions in which Dash experimented making a "hamster nest" installation by destroying 2000 phone books over five nights.

Stephen Marche from the Star took note that Dash had joined the 27 club, saying, "Twenty-seven is supposed to be the most glamorous age to die." Dash joins Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, all of whom died at age 27.

After perusing and googling Dash for a while this morning looking at his work, I have this strange feeling that I saw a slideshow of his polaroids at MOMA last winter. His artwork is shocking and left me with butterflies in my stomach, and they're not the same kind I get when I look at Johnny Depp. However, I don't think Dash seemed to care at the thought of social disapproval. I think he probably stopped caring when he decided not to go home after reform school. Is his way of shocking us with his work the same as a painter creating something beautiful just to have it be easy on the eyes? I'm not too sure.

Everyone seemed to think Dash was on the wagon as he was recently in rehab for drugs this past Spring. The news of his death is unfortunately cliche. All I know is this, the world we live in is a fascinating place to experience, enjoy or hate through all of our senses. Fascinating enough on its own that there's no need to indulge in substances to enhance that experience. As much as I'd like to think that Dash's death would "shock" his bohemian circle enough to wake them up out of their drugged haze as his own art shocked the rest of the world, I don't see it happening anytime soon.

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