In a surprising twist, Two Buck Chuck delves into the struggles of “Generation Me” growing up network-addicted.

By Kristie L. Smith Nikitin, freelance writer & art enthusiast

Two Buck Chuck, a dark painting by mixed media artist, Kris Gebhardt, chronicles the story of his son. In real life, 22 year old Chuck Gebhardt works for Apple. Yes, that Apple — makers of the iPhone, the iPad, the Apple Watch and for those seasoned veterans of the age of computing, the Apple IIe. Chuck is never without his iPhone. The two have been constant companions since it hit the market. Like others his age, he types, tweets, texts, posts and searches nearly as fast as he thinks — the internet is literally an extension of his brain.

Gebhardt the elder’s work often explores the plight of the aging, diving deep into their psyche and leaving their life story encrypted on the canvas. In a surprising twist, Two Buck Chuck delves into the struggles of “Generation Me” growing up network-addicted. He applies some of his standard themes of clothing and at times conspicuous symbolism to the plight of those born in the 80s, 90s and early twenty-first century.

The caricature is a slave to his gadgets, literally chained to an apple. If not constantly on a device, then having to be wary of charging and charging stations and making sure he has enough juice to make it through the day. The prisoner stripes reinforce the idea of being behind the bars of connectivity. Like many of Gebhardt’s characters, Chuck also sports the motley threads of a court jester, showing up in the office to entertain as he plays the fool. Echo Boomers, will often dance the line between buttoned up professional and social-media-whore to the delight, utter amazement and confusion of their Generation X and Baby Boomer coworkers.

Our hero, Chuck, is lucky, he works for a technology company. But many in the Peter Pan Generation are in for a rude awakening if their first jobs are in more traditional fields. Often companies have a “no cell phone” policy and may require employees to put down the electronics. Without being able to feed their addiction to the warm, soothing glow of movies, music and television at their fingertips, unhappy workers may just up and quit. They need not know the weather or the Dow, but who is “pinning” and what has been “grammed.” Generation Y knows what jeans their friends are buying or what beer their bros just ordered but have never had a conversation with the person sitting in the cubicle next to them. Possessing an insatiable need to “reach out and touch someone” millennials lack the gratification of touching anything at all.

2 Buck Chuck @ ArtExpo New York

April 21 — 24 2017