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Illustrated Iconography

Artist James Charles Recreates Classic American Figures

— July 11, 2011 — Art & Design
The Shooting Gallery, an art exhibit nestled in San Francisco’s trendy Tenderloin district, recently unveiled the combined works of James Charles and his colleague Akira Beard in a show entitled ‘American Iconomics.’

In short, these watercolor paintings will astonish you as they inject vigor into America’s forgotten idols—from Mr. Miyagi to Travis Bickle, the country’s most loved and loathed icons have been revamped in vibrant acrylic colors.

But it isn’t just fictitious characters who received a makeover. In a daring move, James Charles defaced dozens of assorted American bills (a crime in the United States), replacing the familiar faces of Lincoln and Washington with those of Spock and Mr. T.

By vandalizing legal tender, the artists hope to raise questions about the intrinsic value of paper currency, which is made from inexpensive materials yet ostensibly controls the direction of our economy. Reclaiming the bills as art, James Charles has momentarily disrupted the circulation of money while simultaneously making a strong statement.
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