Artists flip cancer the bird
Michael Gross never planned on joining the front lines of the fight against cancer.
The guy who once put a terrified-looking dog on the cover of National Lampoon magazine with a gun to its head and the words, “If you don’t buy this magazine, we’ll kill this dog,” was only thinking he’d have a little fun with his art students when he told them to draw a hand with a raised middle finger.
“Makes a dramatic statement and teaches a little about anatomy,” the gruff, gravelly voiced artist told the Associated Press.
It was only after he reviewed the drawings that Gross, who is dying of kidney cancer, had one of those whitelight bursts of inspiration: “I said to myself, ‘This is really funny.’ And I said this also makes a nice statement about how I feel about cancer.”
So the artist who spent a career corralling others to work with him on magazine covers and films began calling in favors from muralists, abstract expressionists, illustrators and others for the Flip Cancer project. Whatever their medium, they would all do the same thing: Create a drawing of a hand with a raised middle finger.
Having gathered more than 30 pieces, he plans to organize them into a touring gallery show, eventually sell them and also screen some onto T-shirts and limitededition prints for sale. He plans to donate whatever money is raised to Scripps Health’s cancer-treatment programs.
The works run the gamut from Gross’ own pop-art drawing of a green hand with a raised middle finger to graphic designer Tracy Belcher’s nude woman in profile flipping somebody off.
Gross is a legendary figure in art circles, not only for his quirky, oversized personality but for his impact on popular culture. When New York’s prestigious Pratt Institute held a 125th anniversary celebration two years ago, it surveyed people for their thoughts on the 125 most admired icons created by alumni. Gross’ “Ghostbusters” logo, created for the films of the same name, came in first, beating out the Chrysler Building.
Gross, shown in his studio, wants to mount a touring show of the Flip Cancer works.