The first performance art piece, that I remember seeing, was in the summer of 1980 in the basement of a Polish church on St. Mark’s Place in the East Village. It was performed by fellow cartoon inspired friend, Keith Haring, and was titled, “The Acts of Life Art Show”.
It was mostly inspired by a week long symposium, “The Nova Convention”, that took place in New York just a year or so before. The festival was involved with the study of “Semiotics”, the science and analysis of language. It focused on how meaning is attached to words.
It somehow helped us understand the language we were seeing on the walls of the streets. It also explained the whole performance aspect of language as an art form. I have, from the beginning used the practice of this kind of thinking in all of the titles of my work.
It caught the attention of myself and many of my friends because we wanted to apply it to imagery, and how meaning is attached to visual things.
One of the principles participating in the Nova Convention was writer/spoken word performer, William S. Burroughs. Burrough’s “Cut-Ups” technique of taking text, cutting it up, and rearranging or combining the pieces to form new narratives, has always been an aspect in the start-up drawings for all of my paintings.
Sparky (Charles Schulz) would say that all forms of art rely on a formula. It is Burrough’s basic thinking in his “Third Mind”, two separate minds coming together to form a third, that has always been an important part in the formula of my Schulz related work. This is why “Performance Art” has two Snoopys face to face in the same painting. One dog representing Sparky’s thinking, and the other representing my thinking, coming together to form a new narrative, or a “Third Mind”. I leave it to the viewer to decide which dog represents who.
Moreover, both of the Snoopys in “Performance Art” are the result of the “Third Mind”. In Sparky’s early drawings of Snoopy standing on his hind legs, he was usually seated in a relaxed position on his legs with flat feet. I modeled the two Snoopys after a good friend’s dog named, Mick, who can stand on his toes, in a perfectly upright position, for an extraordinarily long amount of time while performing.
Their performance is actually not that different from the performance that we all participate in when we are face to face, as Sparky’s characters are here, with someone or something that we would prefer not to be face to face with.
Whenever I incorporate one of Sparky’s characters into my work, it has always been created through my thinking coming together with Sparky’s thinking- The “Third Mind”. The Snoopys, standing in the pink Tahitian water with Bora Bora on the yellow horizon, were selected out of all of Sparky’s characters as a reference back to Keith’s first graffiti tag- A Dog.