Part III
Stewart Lane Ellington's final response
...and a fan let's loose.

Nick
A fan who contacted Stew after reading the Special People Club page. Stew wrote him back and this final letter from Nick sums it all up wonderfully.

Thank you Nick.

Hi Bob,

Thanks for agreeing to post my letter. I'm happy to accept any publicity as long as I can represent myself fairly along with it. Initially, after my first letter, I was under the impression that maybe you pretty much ignored fan mail from men, and I didn't want to be ignored, so I tried appealing to your vividly illustrated attraction to sexy ladies in a respectful way that I was hoping you might appreciate, but with a little bit of an edge, too, because when someone is as edgy as yourself, I always assume they can take it as well as dish it out. I believe I unintentionally pushed a button with you, you felt insulted, and this provided you with the impetus to create my very own page on your site, taking the time and effort to lift images of my art, etc. I'm glad to have my art on your site, in addition to the link, because it looks great anywhere.

You start out your last letter very fairly, giving me some facts about "what you do here." If you don't respect me as a person or an artist, I can appreciate that. As far as how I present my art and my site goes, I am trying to appeal to the widest possible audience, internationally (not to cynical atheists only). I'm not sure where you read my "rave reviews" about my own work, but I do find that people who are not steeped in art history and theory like a little bit of explanation to go with theoretical art. So, that's all I'm doing. I use inflated language because that's the way I like to write. If you go to museums, you'll usually find brief statements about the work being shown posted with it. I'm not likening my art to museum art, just illustrating a point.

Also, if you look at the web sites of many artists, you'll see it's pretty standard practice to post a curriculum vitae. Many artists post all of their shows and awards received. I think mine is very modest in comparison. Because this practice is beneath you, I will humbly defer to your rebelliousness against convention.

35 years ago, Andy Warhol appropriated most of his imagery from advertising and other sources. If you don't like or respect him, fine - I just want to be sure you know that many artists of his stature use this technique quite often. And they also sometimes use them more than once, if you can believe that! As far as calling the found images I use "my own," you're making another mistake. The appropriated images themselves are not my own, but in the contexts of my compositions, they become parts of artworks which are my own. I can think of many cartoonists and illustrators who came before you and whose work yours very much resembles. Saying my work is "slight manipulations of other people's stuff" is dead wrong. The images are found, the artwork is mine. We all draw inspiration from somewhere. Also, I must correct your reference to me saying that I promise to be more exciting and provocative. I was referring only to my news entries, and not to myself or my art.

I disagree with spirituality not being painful for you. Let's look at your recent past as a neurotic, ill-adjusted, CHRISTIAN? At least I can say I have never been a Christian. I'm not sure you were a Christian per se, I'm pretty sure you were, having followed the beliefs of your parents? At any rate, you believed in God not too long ago. I think when you come to peace with your past self, you will find Christian-bashing much less interesting. I think the inspiration for Jesus Dress-Up did come from a negative history, as does the choice for green hair ("I know! I'll dye my hair green and that way no one, including myself, will ever mistake me for a Christian again!").

On being funny: Your pretending that your quotes I sited from your (my) web page are something I actually said is certainly a laugh-riot ala Don Rickles. Or perhaps you really did forget you had written these things, or just couldn't decipher my very difficult email? In this case, this symptom of simple-mindedness might qualify you for your own Special People Club. I don't wan't to be nasty, don't need to be, I'm sorry you feel like you have to. I will continue to enjoy your site and the hits I receive from it.

Two more of your fine quotes:
"I am going to assume that your repeated attempts to get me at your site were so that I would give you a blunt opinion of your work."

I wouldn't have minded an opinion of my work, but what I was after principally was a link on your site. Hell Yeah! A link from your million-hit a month site! Sue me! And who is presenting a high estimate of his own opinions here?

"I am at the point in my life where I choose to NOT have discussions (debate anissue like spirituality or art)"

Bob, if you will be kind enough to post this letter as well, I will be happy to call our debate quits. I know it's long, but I'd appreciate it. My wife Larysa, who is a very cute and sexy atheist, believes that our debate is the most interesting thing on your site. Maybe you could convince her to send you a fan mail letter and a picture. Lastly, you split an infinitive here ("to NOT have").

Best,
Stew

Hello again Stew,

I must say I am a little surprised that you are sending me letters that you are sending to Bob. Primarily they address differences of opinion that you two have over your work, and your previous emails to him. Although I am certainly a fan of Bob's site, I do not know him personally, and was not trying to advocate his point of view, but rather my own. I have always grown up with a high level of exposure to art, my Uncle is a prominent art collector (primarily art deco and south/central American art) in Boston, and although I certainly do not have a surfeit of artistic ability, I have been exposed to art that I have found evocative, extraordinary, "good", interesting, puzzling and even poor. My reaction to your site was primarily fueled by your art falling into that last category. As you have kindly included me in this correspondence between Bob and yourself, let me make this brief assessment of your, shall we say, MO.

1.) Your art is not bad, it is without the ability to evoke feeling, or thought. You are hardly making any original statements, and the work itself utterly lacks both beauty, feeling, or any other quality, positive or negative, that would make the observer stop for a moment and just think. In short, you seem to regard art as a form of expression, yet your art is singularly mute.

2.) Whereas your art is mute, it is a tragedy that you are not similarly impeded. Your responses to me have been reasonable responses to criticism, which amounts to me saying, "I don't like your work." This is all well and good, after all, "there can be no debate over matters of taste."(although an honest attempt at it can yield interesting results.) Bob however, seems to have expressed considerably more in his commentary, and your responses to that have been, what I would characterize as, "passive aggressive." For example, "I am trying to appeal to the widest possible audience, internationally (not to cynical atheists only)." In the context of your letter's dryly polite tone, this is a rather quick and dirty characterization. In one fell swoop you have intimated that you (attempt) to appeal to an audience broader than the (e.g. presumably) mind of a "cynical atheist."

Stew, this is the point where you really lost the shred of credibility you had with me. Up to this point I have been working under the assumption that you are an annoying speck, but you have actually managed to piss me off. I thought you were simply one of the untold number of people who "attempt art" and fail, and who in their time, fade and die without leaving a scar upon the world. The bare fact is, until this letter, all you had going against you in my eye's was pretension and ignorance, but now, you got nasty, and furthermore, you stepped out of the realm of art (a notable refuge both for the unrecognized genius... and everyone else.), and into the much more objective realm of language, and logic. In one word you ceased to bore me, and began to make me rather cross. The word was "cynic". Ask your wife, who you say is an atheist, how often people have discredited her belief as mere "cynicism" pessimism, used another in a set of dismissive catchalls.

What you fail to recognize is the difference between a cynic, and a skeptic. A cynic automatically assumes that "something smells fishy" whereas a skeptic will not buy a "Rolex" from a lad on the street for 50 dollars. A Cynic, when presented with the question of religion may well draw the same conclusions as a skeptic, but upon examination, their opinions will be as unfounded in thoughtful analysis as a Baptists.

A Skeptic, on the other hand, will not accept a claim without reasonable evidence. Yes, there can be an endless debate over what is reasonable evidence, and yes, some people will claim to be skeptical, when they are simply deaf. It does not take long for someone who is even marginally bright, to realize with whom they are dealing. Cynics do not allow for the opinions of others, and do not recognize them. Skeptics do not necessarily accept the views of others, but can acknowledge them, even if they may seem outlandish to him or her.

I find that the primary appeal of Bob's site, the appeal that really drew me in, was his response to hate mail. Lets face it, he trashed the people who trashed him, but in a manner that showed a better way to trash, and that set a standard for dialogue. Of course, people continue as they will, but it gave the viewers a notion of where Bob was coming from. There was a stress on grammar, the quality of thought and the ability of the individual to express that thought in writing. As time has gone on, his responses no longer contain grammatical reprimands, and indeed, the hate mail he posts tend to be more based in a genuine reaction to his site, rather than a "Die you devil worshiper! Take down the site or the pope will declare a crusade..." threat. I think that Bob still has the same dim view of grammatical error, although I am only guessing here. I think that his point however has been made, the humour in that subject spent, and a more genuine note of inquiry has risen. This is not a guy who is looking for targets to paste. He has put together a delicious piece of satire that is humorous, and gives the honest opinions of an atheist, in response to the beliefs of others who respond.

What you seem not to realize, and what seems to be a real sticking point for you Stew, is Bob not debating spirituality with you. After all, you have the link, and I have 2 examples of your response to art criticism. Your assumption that spirituality was so repellent, or fearful, or painful, that he could not discuss it with you, is absurd. I really don't know Bob, so I am going to speak for myself here, and let Bob do the same for himself, as I am sure he will: Stew, you strike me as being neither bright enough, interesting enough, original enough, or flexible enough, to discuss the buttering of toast with, never mind "spirituality", or any other topic. How one characterizes "enough" is a personal judgment, but for me, it means that you are not going to provide me with a rerun of another conversation or debate I have had, that you are not going to simply provide me with what you have made of Depak Chopra's latest book, or what you think it means to "nurture the inner you." I personally look for either a question, or a topic. If you said, "What do you believe" or "Here is what I believe..." that BEGINS the debate/discussion! No one outside of high school picks the topic by statement of name! After all, the very first thing you would have to do is establish what you meant by spirituality. Do you mean spirit as in a soul? Do you mean spirit as some corporeal part of us that needs to be tended, but is not purely intellectual or emotional? A sum of some other set of parts? An answer to these questions INVITES debate. Your "invitation" sends a signal as strong as musk, that you are going to be the kind of puerile debater one would expect of a 31 yr old man, who is only in art school.

The point that you, and so many others like you always miss, is that you are of NO INTEREST to people who can find worthwhile art all over the world, in and out of museums; art that speaks for itself, and makes you want to ask the artist for information. Skeptics learn early, or die young, that people like you provide no sustenance for the hungry mind, only frustration and horror, that ignorance and boorishness such as yours exists, and the realization that people like you and worse are the majority.

You are glad you were never a Christian. What were you? What ARE you? I was raised, quite literally, as an atheist, by atheists. Bob was Christian and questioned and doubted until a new way of thinking asserted itself. What do you believe Stewart? Let me be clear: I don't care, if you choose to tell me I will read and comment, but this IS NOT a request. This is my attempt to point out that you have been trained, and are suited, more to work of justifying your own work through questioning the ability of others to appreciate it, than you are at creating work, that would draw attention. "Third place at THE GOD SHOW?" Stew, people of any quality read that and laugh! I was laughing when I saw your picture!! When you pretend that you intended it as a joke, when it is so clearly not if taken in any kind of context, it crosses amusement with disgust. Most of what you have produced, and said does that. You have aroused feeling of contempt, disgust, and anger. But even now, even with your writing having made me feel this, when I look at your "art" I can't even take it out on that. Your work is so totally devoid of even the semblance of worth or expression, that it is not even a fit target for disdain.

P.S. To Stew: Anything I have attributed to Bob is merely my own supposition from having read through his site, entire. The opinions and views expressed here are my own, and most pertain to my reactions. Please to not confuse these with the few suppositions I have made as to Bob's thoughts on this and other matters.

Nick From MA

P.S. To Bob, I hope that I have in no way misrepresented you here. I wish to make totally clear that this represents my view, and my opinions, and not an attempt to represent you. I hope also that your response to him is on a par with those others which have given me so much to chuckle over, when I would otherwise have found only sadness at another's ignorance.

P.P.S. I thought the name Larysa, whom Stew cited as his "cute sexy atheist wife" sounded familiar, so I clicked back to his site and lo and behold, I found this.

Date of Birth: 8.7.74 Resides in: Oakland, CA B.F.A., California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, CA, 2000 2nd Year Master of Fine Arts Candidate, San Francisco State University This page features the work of my friend Larysa Rybchynska, a Ukrainian immigrant/anarchist/atheist who is a very skilled painter after having studied extensively in Eastern Europe and the States. Larysa enjoys dogs, fine food and heated philosophical debate.

So my question stands now, is he trying to be misleading when he refers to her merely as a friend? Or, as it seems more likely, did he simply lie for absolutely no reason, and claim her as his wife. I know this may seem totally irrelevant, but this fellow seems, in all respects, to be a somewhat frusterated individual, and wouldn't it just be the icing on his cake if amongst his appropriated and "not quite his" images, he claims a somewhat "less than his" wife! Makes you awfully glad to be you doesn't it? I know this made me grateful as hell to be me... Anyhow, take care.

Nick, the final letter that you wrote to Stewart (09/09/01) was wonderful. There is absolutely no reason for me to respond to his ongoing emails (thank you), because you have said it perfectly.

I am going to post your letter (as I know you don't mind) and leave it at that. I was riveted to your every word and I can't remember the last time an email has done that to me.

Thanks Nick.

Stew, you have made it very clear the kind of person that you are. You have lived up to your extra-specialness in more ways than I could have dreamed. You're entirely too pleased with the misunderstanding I had (and much to my delight you have posted the statements I'd made which I regretted having to edit out) and you have also displayed far too much concern for what this stranger (me) thinks of you.

Let me be clear that I do not owe any of you for being fans of mine. Viewers/readers are appreciated but this by no means obligates me to be kind to you, respect you, vouch for you, link you or deprive you of my opinion(s) of you.

Anyone who contacts me (especially repeatedly) should be confident enough in themselves (and the personal items they might attach) to handle my critique. I feel, as I always have, that my honest, uncensored opinion is a favor to you all... whether you know it or not. And this is not the first time I've given a witty, insightful, negative assessment to someone who calls himself a fan... Just ask Rob the Monkey Boy, or David Chamberlain. Oh what a bore it'd be to create a forum for ass-kissing with this site! And this leads me to my next point...

The reason that I've created this site is because so much of the Internet is a bore, done by people who don't care, who link up other people that don't care that link up more people, and so on. Everyone seems so anxious to push off the responsibility of quality onto someone else. Stew, your web site is a perfect example of this.

I post the links that I find interesting. You can bet that if I don't give you a link that I don't find your site interesting. If it is somehow possible for me to make you interesting, that is what I'll do to link you. And this is what I've done for you Stew. I've made you more interesting as a favor to the World Wide Web and it's multitude of boring sites.

So, everyone, you can all visit Stew's site at http://stewellington.com OR you can visit a new HILARIOUS page of Hate Mail that'll leave you laughing harder than you've ever laughed in your life!

More Special People...