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Really Big Paintings

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On this episode of Arts & Letters, we speak with artist Robert McCann who talks about his paintings, which interrogate the drama that is entertainment culture and place us smack down between studio wrestling and external ideas of contemporary spaces. 


McCann's paintings explore popular culture, history and mythology by stitching together stories and characters from the world of “the golden age” of studio wrestling to external ideas of contemporary spaces: the stage set of The Price Is Right, a street scene from Hands Across America, the concrete parking lot of a Dollar Tree store. Many of these paintings are on very large canvasses, roughly the size of a garage door.


McCann paintings on exhibit.

During the episode, McCann talks about his process of working from life, drawings, collages, and imagination, being mindful of a sort of image soup that links the Renaissance to the Postmodern to a billboard on your I-Pod.  


"I'm attracted to the number of simultaneous intentions and cross-purposes that can be acted out in a single painting," McCann said.

Robert A. McCann is a Midwest-based artist and educator. Born and raised in the Ozarks of southwest Missouri, he developed as a studio artist through studies at Missouri State University, Indiana University, and as a Fulbright scholar based in Berlin, Germany.  In the fifteen years since that time, McCann’s paintings have frequently dealt with the potential for metaphors in our byzantine mass media culture, and the overwriting of epic and intimate events in the particular artifice of painting. 


Close-up of "Hands Across America"

In summer 2017, he mounted the exhibition “Staged Revolt” at the South Bend Museum of Art in South Bend, Indiana.  He will have a new solo exhibit at Amos Eno Gallery in Brooklyn, New York, in September 2019.  McCann is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Art, Art History & Design at Michigan State University. 

"This episode is an attempt to bring the mythos of the visual elements of Robert McCann's paintings, including studio wrestling, American iconic spaces and lived cultural events like Hands Across America to the ear," says executive producer and host, J. Bradley Minnick. “McCann paintings are also tinged by a currency of nostalgia, the surreal, and the fantastic--and in this episode, he talks about 'the tipping point between action and violence.'”

Music and sound mash-ups for this episode were provided by Donavan Suitt of Rural War Room


This show was recorded during a McCann exhibit  “Jobbers, Heels, and Faces” at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock campus. This program was made possible through a grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council, the National Endowment for the Humanities and from listeners like you.  

Executive Producer & Host: J. Bradley Minnick Story Editor: Mary Ellen Kubit Co-Producer: Donavan Suitt Recorded by: Christopher Hickey Intern: Krista Hancock



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