We’ll never forget how cool we felt telling someone who lived in St. Louis about the “Beautiful Losers” exhibition when it started its global ramble a few years ago. For someone new to LA, this roster of artists was the ultimate measure of how much a place like California ruled. “Oh yeah, it’s like graffiti, and skateboarding, and, you know, surfing…” Popular culture has since been irrevocably altered by that unofficial collective of artists, and today, if we were to tell that same person about the show, we could even call a few of the artists by name–“Geoff McFetridge, Shepard Fairey, Mike Mills…”–and that person would probably get it. Dude, we bet even our parents would get it.
A lot of that has to do with “Beautiful Losers” co-curator Aaron Rose, who invited us to a special sneak preview of his documentary film of the same name. Beautiful Losers tracks the unlikely careers of this group, who more or less converged at Rose’s infamous Alleged Gallery in New York during the 90’s. Footage from that period, with the artists assembling group shows, makes for some of the most incredible shots in the movie. And it made us realize how wrong we were about the whole thing.
We always thought that this art, drawing from fringe and fuck yous, was generated by this cultural elite trying to out-hip each other. But it’s not. These were just kids, creating the only way they knew how, often with very little training or resources, teaching each other. And seeing them all on film, together, it’s their earnestness more than anything that shines through. They might swear up and down they’re losers–a surprisingly-eloquent Ed Templeton has one of the best quotes in the movie about it–but they’re pretty much heroes for anyone out there who wants to make something they love.
We hear that a few scenes will be screened at the RVCA party in Sundance, with Money Mark playing songs from the score live. Definitely worth skipping one of those other movies for.