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James Franco's art exhibit makes us all feel bad about ourselves

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James-Franco

James Franco makes me feel like the laziest person on Earth. He’s a Golden Globe winning actor, a published author, and a graduate student at not one but two premier universities. Just when I thought he wasn’t busy enough, he goes and debuts his own art exhibit. (And here I am patting myself on the back for making it through the entire series of Lost.)

Franco’s The Dangerous Book Four Boys opened at New York’s Clocktower Gallery earlier this week. In his first solo show, the actor-filmmaker-writer sought to explore traditional aspects of masculinity, sexuality, and celebrity through mixed media including film, photography, drawings, and sculpture. As a fan, the idea of a James Franco tackling the art world intrigued me (what will he do next?), and I was curious to see just what goes on in that pretty little head of his.

The result? A slightly overwhelming combination of sights and sounds, with short films featuring Franco (looking very dapper, which is enough of a draw for many) and the artist Carter. The exhibit is spread over two rooms, one of which features a collection of artifacts from a boyhood bedroom, representing the transition from youth to adulthood and the material possessions we accumulate along the way.

But enough of me pretending to be an art critic — let’s get to the weird stuff. There was plenty of strangeness to take in, which is to be expected coming from the man who calls his work on General Hospital “performance art.” One short film contains a chapter devoted to mustaches, motorcycles, and mannequins, while another combines ghost costumes, flaming arrows, and a mechanical bull. I may not have understood everything he was going for, but the exhibit gave me more insight on James Franco the person (although the jury is still out on whether or not he has a body pillow girlfriend).

No matter your stance on art — or Franco — there is something to be said for actors turning away from what could be otherwise typical Hollywood careers to do things they’re  passionate about.  And sure, being James Franco probably helped him secure his own show, just as it will help bring some buzz to the exhibit and the Clocktower Gallery (part of the non-profit foundation Art International Radio, founded in 2009). But overall, The Dangerous Book Four Boys grabs your attention, and at the very least displays the mind and creativity of an obviously talented individual.

The Dangerous Book Four Boys is on view at the Clocktower Gallery and is open to the public Tuesday – Friday from 12 – 5pm through September.

What do you think about James Franco “the artist,” PopWatchers? What’s next for him?

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