‘Where The Juggalo Roam’ Turns Insane Clowns Into High Art

About a year ago, British artist Lucy Owen was on a message board when one forum member mentioned being a Juggalo, and “suddenly everyone was yelling at him.” She had no idea about Insane Clown Posse or what a Juggalo was at the time, and she says “I had no idea what he’d just admitted to.”

“I started Googling it, and the torrents of abuse that were out there online were just amazing to me, and so the more I dug, the more I realize that there’s far more to it than mainstream culture seems to see.”

So began a fascination with the peculiar subculture spawned by murderous rap clowns that saw Owen travel to the midwest, attend the 2014 Gathering of the Juggalos (at a new venue for the first time after 10 years in Cave-in-Rock, Illinois), become an artist in residence in Detroit, and culminated in her latest exhibit, “Where the Juggalo Roam,” which runs until this Saturday at Start Gallery in Detroit. The art world, how does it work?

Some of her portraits included folks we saw (this page used to have pictures on it, I swear) at last year’s Gathering of the Juggalos, and I asked her on this week’s Frotcast to compare notes.

As for the art, specifically the piece above:

“F*ck Gainsborough,” for example, is Owen’s satirical take on a famous painting by Thomas Gainsborough, called “Mr. and Mrs. Andrews.” Now at London’s National Gallery, the original portrait was commissioned by a wealthy 18th-century British couple, meant to hang in their home “to show guests how wealthy they are,” Owen says.

In Owen’s painting, the wife in an expensive frock is replaced with a bikini-clad, tattooed juggalette blowing clouds of cigarette smoke, and the nobleman and his hunting dog is replaced with a disaffected juggalo in baggy black clothing, sitting on a lamppost. Instead of posing in rolling, pastoral fields, the pair stands in front of The Gathering’s ferris wheel. “It’s my way of putting juggalos into the art historical canon,” says Owen, who studied painting at the University of Capetown. Having dabbled in gothdom in high school, Owen herself sympathizes “with almost any subculture.” [FastCo Design]

Or, to put in in Juggalo parlance, “I don’t know much about this Thomas Gainsbeefer ninja, but me the homeys Wicked Tobey and Jock Itch James and some of the rest of the Stanktown Fam snagged Mama Gypsy’s Neon (mad props to Uncle Ken for the whip, RIP) and drove down to D-town to peep some Juggalette paintings. The Neon’s wack brake pads got merc’d halfway there when Mama G had an insulin fit and almost clipped a call box and then Pyro got picked up on a warrant and we had to ride back in some C-Town skank’s El Camino, but someone uploaded some bomb ass paintings to FaygoLuvrs. That one of Skinny Mike’s ex-old lady with the pierced neden getting a Faygo shower and lezzing out with Buttplug Britny had me straight trippin. It was gangster, like, the Mona Lisa with bomb ass titties and sh*t.”

Here’s a few more:

I definitely remember the guy in the Batman mask with the speedo and giant strap on. That guy is a fixture.

You can see more at LucyOwen.co and at Start Gallery until Saturday.