Known for creating paintings, drawings and installations of surreal cartoons, psychedelic landscapes, and pop culture iconography, Mark Dean Veca has created a new body of work around the theme of Americana. In Made for You and Me, Veca references capitalism, nationalism, and the American spirit through paintings on canvas that reflect a culture in decline.
Feeling as though he was witnessing the collapse of the “American Dream,” Veca began these paintings in 2009 to address the corruption of ideals in this country. The title of the exhibition comes from Woody Guthrie’s popular folk song, “This Land Is Your Land”– a song originally meant to express communist sentiments that has been co-opted to represent the spirit of capitalism and growth. Veca’s latest work can be understood as a form of Sinister Pop, with images from our consumer culture—Exxon Mobil’s Pegasus, the Monopoly logo, dollar signs—twisted and transformed into dark, slightly maniacal forms. This is best exemplified by the image of Reddy Kilowatt. Once an emblem of consumption, Veca has revived this character as a symbol of our ever greater dependence on electrical power and our embrace of consumption rather than conservation.
Born in 1963, in Shreveport, Louisiana, Veca studied at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. Veca has exhibited throughout the United States, Europe and Japan at institutions such as the San Jose Museum of Art, The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, MoMA PS 1, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, The Bronx Museum of Art, The Drawing Center, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
In 2011, Veca completed a New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Percent for Art commission for the Spruce Street School at 8 Spruce Street – the Frank Gehry building in lower Manhattan. He was named Honoree of the Jennifer Howard Coleman Distinguished Lectureship and Residency at Otis College of Art and Design in 2008 and in 2006, he was awarded a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant. Amongst his many honors, Veca has thrice received the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in painting and has held residencies at institutions such as the Bronx Museum, the MacDowell Colony, and Villa Montalvo.