aesthetic review

An occasional hammering of art, pictures, batshit weirdness and lunatic public ‘happenings,’ that has found its way onto the notepad of one of’s Editors at Large here in the UK and from our U.S Roving Reporter and Cultural Attaché, Joe Mudnich 

November 27th 2021 – From the USA , this first item in an occasional series:

‘Whither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?’

While America makes up its mind about that, let us take a moment to check out where it is now by taking a look at the work of Joe Mudnich , a Californian based Photographer.

Joe mainly posts his photo’s in threes. 

Presenting his work in Triptych form which when viewed on the Desktop instagram app, shows his work as he intends:

pictures copyright joemud 2021 – reproduced by kind permission

Joe’s photographic eye dwells almost entirely on the mundane. Everyday signage, storefronts, graffiti, and on occasion reportage.

pictures copyright joemud 2021 – reproduced by kind permission 

Joe’s pictures will sometimes be accompanied with a small one line caption, often highlighting a vividly apparent unfortunate truth:

. . . or the incongruous nature of language.

pictures copyright joemud 2021 – reproduced by kind permission

The three pictures Joe has kindly allowed me to reproduce here are from a visit to Donut Time. 

Donut Time is a small restaurant located at 10740 San Pablo Ave El Cerrito, CA 94530 – situated just a few miles east from the Albany Mudflats State Marine Park in San Fransisco Bay, best know as the dreadful, isolated location of Alcatraz Prison, and spanned by the distant Golden Gate Bridge.

A short drive from the seagull sky’d waters of the Pacific Ocean will take you to this unassuming Donut Restaurant, located in a row of small independent businesses and food retail outlets within a large, pleasantly tree’d carpark. 

This ‘review,’ is not so much concerned with Joe’s technical and creative approach to his art, this is more an investigation into the content found within the frame(s) he has selected. These frames, the choices made by Joe, almost without exception question the present moment. 

As noted below, there is an immediacy in them: Apparent lack of post processing. Simple composition. This is now.

Donut Time. In order of Posts L-R we have:


pictures copyright joemud 2021 – reproduced by kind permission

This opening shot drops us right into the interior and the decor arrangements within the Restaurant.

We are presented with a ‘fait accompli’ 

Is this framed picture hung on the wall, ’a customer, ‘a member of staff,’ ‘a model,’ ..?  we have no clue.

The words, ’Its Doughnut Time’ (sic) in capitals, confuse. 

The spelling is in British English.

The typo in ‘Its’ is understandable, as is all of the above if we assume this is a piece of homemade ‘art.’ 

Possibly of a beloved child or favoured near relation, lovingly cobbled together by a keen basic level user of Photoshop.

It wouldn’t spur me on to buy any further donuts, but if I could avoid having it in my direct line of vision, it would help.

Particularly if I was dinning in.

It is at least hung level.

(Although I note the premises has a window view of the carpark, so I might be lucky and have a large truck to gaze at.)


pictures copyright joemud 2021 – reproduced by kind permission

A straightforward shot of the Canopy of the restaurant. 

This is typical of Joe’s ‘high-key’ bleached out, low – no processing style prevalent in his exterior shots.

Without Joe outlining his working methods; whether he applies any filters and other controls, it is hard to state firmly wether this is a straight iPhone upload, or has had some treatment.

What is in evidence is a desire to offer us a level and visually easy on the eye, ‘classic,’ Americana style of reportage picture. Employing a balance and symmetry that happily ticks all the rules of thirds boxes.


pictures copyright joemud 2021 – reproduced by kind permission

It is this last shot that had me both faving and messaging; ‘wtf?’

And it is this picture, again from the interior of the publicly viewable walls in the dinning area of the restaurant, that I now find myself struggling to understand.

There is a lot to take in within this simple frame.

A strong diagonal slash of symmetry across the image. 

Cropped posters attached to the panelled wall on the left and right cause our eye to focus on both the central image, and the cut out portrait above.

I was unaware at first of the actual properties of the odd green image superimposing President Barack Obama and President George Washington.

Viewed on my small screen iPhone, I mistook it as an enlarged and cut out part of a Dollar Bill. Pasted up for some unknown reason. 

Joe explained a bit about this, but a discourse on the internal body politics of the US are beyond both the scope of this review, and my highly limited knowledge of the intricacies of American socio-economics.

So, to return to the eye popping, and lunatic photo that someone has decided to sellotape onto the glass of whatever was in the framed picture beneath.

This is clearly a highly skilled and highly crafted insult.

One that would have caused a massive eruption of keyboard battering, and raving mad shuddering outrage on the ‘Flame Boards,’ of old. 

Some poor bastard pitifully wailing about the ‘illegal,’ posting of P.I (Private Info) and threatening all manner of reprisals, from calling the cops, the F.B.I, their internet provider, lawyers and assorted other fanciful methods of imaginary vengeance.

Usually this ends with the ridiculed victim of this type of crude, ‘picture flame,’ (this type of image is always best when done with the obvious appearance of utterly rotten cutting and pasting. Why waste time: You have their real life image, they’re not a petrol bombing, child eating Hells Angel, just a spotty over-weight 25 year old in a tomato ketchup stained Pantera T.Shirt.) . . . morosely claiming, ‘you crossed a line dude. You crossed a line. . .’

And, it seems safe to say it’s one that appears to have gone unnoticed by the proprietors of Donut Time, and the unfortunate person of, ‘Johnny. The Donut King.’

What the fuck indeed.

There is no getting away from it. This poor fucker has had his face stuck onto a turd.

And to heap insult upon insult, has had put up in plain sight of all the customers at his, (former?) place of work.

Maybe it’s lost on him. Maybe he has seen it and is over the moon at being singled out, and is in the process of getting a frame for it. 

For an official place on the wall.

Maybe he’s not aware. 

But, this begs the question; what has he done to be ridiculed so vilely and with such utter contempt.

‘King’ of what? 

‘Donuts’ is too vague.

Stuffing enough into his mouth so his cheeks expand three times the size, and he looks like something from Hellraiser?

We will never know.

Whatever this cheery smiling kid has done, he has suffered enough.

Mocked publicly, reduced to an object of derision by some vicious donut addict malevolent freakish customer.

He can take a little comfort I hope in knowing he has started on the road  to become an internet legend.

His fame has spread from the weird streets of Berkley California to the green vistas of Southern England.

Johnny, you are the King.

But also a turd.

A Donut Turd King.

Joe’s other work can be seen on his instagram account here: