Monday, April 30, 2007

Other digital

So I have finally been able to explore the new digital store at OM and I have to say I am very excited! Sampling great music all day. Check it out and support a great independent music paradise.

Friday, April 27, 2007

capturing exceptional conviviality

Doesn't Frank Stella make painting look fun! The current show at FIAF does look fun and quite interesting. The portraits by Arman of the NY art community of the '60s-'70s are on display and seems like a must see for the history minded here in our fair city.

FIAF Gallery, 22 East 60th Street

Gallery Hours:
Tuesday-Friday 11am-6pm
Saturday 11am-5pm

image: Arman - portrait of Frank Stella

Thursday, April 26, 2007

catching the Amazon wave

ok so I officially have a bad case of spring fever and the travel bug. I keep day dreaming about being anywhere but here. So I thought these pics of people surfing the Amazon River would fulfill today's dream requirements. Pretty amazing - that's a river! for the full story and more photos go to Fogonazos.

tip: Phronesisaical

Sunday, April 22, 2007

pining for the a fuel efficient kind of way

Geoff over at Non-Prophet Art has made me rather jealous on this Earth Day with what looks like my dream CA/NV road trip. Call it stuck in Brooklyn with the Mojave blues. Here are some piturs:

Saturday, April 21, 2007

that stand up routine is getting old

"Our strategy can be summed up this way, as the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down."
- George W. Bush

Training Iraqi troops no longer driving force in U.S. policy

WASHINGTON - Military planners have abandoned the idea that standing up Iraqi troops will enable American soldiers to start coming home soon and now believe that U.S. troops will have to defeat the insurgents and secure control of troubled provinces.

Training Iraqi troops, which had been the cornerstone of the Bush administration's Iraq policy since 2005, has dropped in priority, officials in Baghdad and Washington said.

No change has been announced, and a Pentagon spokesman, Col. Gary Keck, said training Iraqis remains important. "We are just adding another leg to our mission," Keck said, referring to the greater U.S. role in establishing security that new troops arriving in Iraq will undertake.

But evidence has been building for months that training Iraqi troops is no longer the focus of U.S. policy. Pentagon officials said they know of no new training resources that have been included in U.S. plans to dispatch 28,000 additional troops to Iraq. The officials spoke only on the condition of anonymity because they aren't authorized to discuss the policy shift publicly. Defense Secretary Robert Gates made no public mention of training Iraqi troops on Thursday during a visit to Iraq.
So if you can pull yourself away from your VT massacre media induced trauma for just ten seconds, wrap your head around this story. A story that it is worthy of headlines has only been brought to light by McClatchy - formerly Knight-Ridder. Though we have been hearing for years that the primary goal is to create a self-sustaining military in Iraq befitting a self-sustaining democracy it appears that the great minds at work have changed course once again. Never mind the millions of dollars flushed and the hundreds murdered for signing up for the Iraqi army,some Pentagon pricks now think training a military is untenable and that the only way to "win" is to roll up our sleeves and do it ourselves. Makes a hell of a lot sense doesn't it? Security is going so well over there we may as well turn back the clock to year one of the war. Can we fire the Pentagon for incompetence yet? All those bureaucrats in the funny shaped building can only come up with this??? What do they do all day? Since when does not training an Iraqi force become an "additional leg" ? Sounds like an amputated leg to me. This is a ship of fools.

So what is the goal here? If we're aren't going to have a trained Iraqi force of say 150,000, who is gonna fill the security gap, the credibility gap with Iraqi citizens? A draft perhaps? No, Americans don't want a draft, we're not very good at responsibility and much prefer the working class to disappear over there somewhere while we postulate the merits of an armed classroom and get siked about the coming rapture. Besides a draft for an illegal war might cause trouble - might make people question motives as they are forced to personalize the war and the pillaging - the volunteer part is the loop hole.

Or perhaps another deal has been inked to fill this gap with private
mercenary forces. Seems like the only way to do this. They could stay forever without bothering with Congress and all that fussy legal stuff. As for the Iraqis well you'll just have to get used to an American occupation forever because let's face facts there's still a hell of alot money to be made over there and we sort of regard you as helpless children anyway.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Frank Loyd Wright designs for Baghdad

Phronesisaical blog turned me on to this fascinating story at KuiperCliff on Frank Loyd Wright.
American architect Frank Lloyd Wright had been involved in plans to modernise the Iraqi capital Baghdad, located on the plain between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates. He visited the city in May 1957, as an old man nearing his 90th birthday, and, inspired both by Arab and Persian art and architecture, began to draft a series of blueprints for a new city.

King Faisal II invited several prominent architects to contribute ideas to establish Baghdad as a modern world city. This included Le Corbusier, Gio Ponti and Walter Gropius. Faisal was assassinated in 1958, after which a military junta seized power, setting the scene for the modern history of Iraq with which we are depressingly familiar. None of Wright’s buildings were ever constructed, the revolutionary government deeming them “too grandiose”, although some of the other plans were later implemented: Gropius’ Baghdad University (1960), Ponti’s Ministry of Planning building (1958), and a Le Corbusier sports hall (the Saddam Hussein Gymnasium, erected in 1981).

So Wright was enthralled with the mythology of 8th century Baghdad under caliph Harun al-Rashid, a memory still central to Pan-Arab utopianism and I'll assume the identity of the general culture at large. That's an interesting contrast to his peers who rejected out right any romanticism. I think it's a safe bet to say that these grandiose plans will not be revisited if Baghdad can ever be resurrected from its current chaos and dysfunction. I would like to think though that if this disaster ever comes to a close that prominent architects may converge in a spirit of reconciliation to take on the reclamation of a once historic and influential city. So for now we will have to endure the bad decision to fragment Baghdad into security sectors.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

market maze

A few days ago Artworld Salon had this piece regarding the upcoming Arts Chicago:

However, one innovation strikes me as likely to draw criticism: The NEW INSIGHT section, described as “an amazing display of the future emerging talent in the art world… comprised of artwork from 24 graduate students at 12 of the country’s most influential Master of Fine Arts programs,” including CalArts, Yale, RISD and the Art Institute of Chicago. Especially given the fact that these students were selected by renowned Renaissance Society director Susanne Ghez, I’m predicting a stampede by neophiliac collectors to buy their work. Unless some draconian mechanism has been put in place to make sure that doesn’t happen - an idea which might be considered advisable in some quarters, but would almost certainly be a) an infringement of some Constitutional right and b) totally ineffective in the face of aggressive collectors.

Offhand, I cannot recall ever seeing a section of exclusively graduate-student work displayed as part of an art fair. (Although one certainly comes across the occasional artwork by a graduate student who’s already joined the roster of a participating gallery.) In this sense, New Insight marks the latest stage in the crumbling of the wall between art schools and the art market, the earlier stages having been 1) the prowling of art-school studios by dealers and collectors, 2) the growing professionalization of degree shows, and 3) the “School Days” show at Jack Tilton last spring. Honestly, this is a topic on which I feel divided. Part of me sides with the logic that led Columbia arts dean Bruce Ferguson to close the studios of first-year grad students to collectors. Then again, I think, maybe it’s totally reactionary to think that we can sequester students from the art market, or even that doing so would be a good idea.
- Marc Spiegler

My first reaction is ugh here go again into the insatiable world of art spin and youth fetish. I mean an "amazing display" ? The only amazing displays I saw in grad school were alcoholism and jaded instructors! Isn't future and emerging roughly the same in art lingo?

First, I'm glad for Chicago to get back in the game and for the artists who live there. What I am sad to see - but at least now it's open and codified - is the "top 12 " schools openly marketing their students. In other disciplines this would be seen as a good thing - it's job placement. I can also see how this is appealing to an artist who wants some sales, especially having just dumped $40-$100G on a masters degree. The school should help them get some of that back. But this isn't about those student artists. This about branding programs and getting collectors to develop a taste for that brand (Yale, RISD, etc.) and I'm afraid that it is the student artist who is not only the "bait" but the potential victim. This is starting to look a lot like college sports more and more. Or like sitituations where the top highschool talent skips the college level and goes pro without what many experts in the field would consider a necessary maturation period for development. I'm sure many univeristities are now looking at their art programs as potential money makers and marketing tools not unlike their sports programs - they are in some sense the opposite ends of a pendulum. Banks love contemporary art - it's the new craze, the new asset class for global capital. Most "new" collectors I'm assuming are largely coming from the financial sector and wealth management so from a universty admin .perspective this is a win win. Finally a "legitimate" business sector recognizes the "value" of a program that has largely been ignored and maligned in the past.

So having an art student section at a fair makes sense also from the "niche" perspective. Fairs are getting bigger, broader and more competitive so there will need to be more targeted attention paid to buying habits beyond traditional gallery programing and the standard emerging/mid career paradigm. You need some means to make your fair "different". So beyond gallery programming what else can you offer under the "contemporary" umbrella? Well why not "student" art. But if the artwork is directly inserted into the market can we even call it student work? Does "student work" truly even exist anymore? - with regard to the top 12 marketable programs, I'm not so sure.

So the central question is:

Should the artworld/art university program mechanism expose students directly to the gobal art market or shield students from direct and immediate immersion?

I'm willing to see both perspectives but also inclined to think that it is harmful to the development of culture at large. When money and demand enter the picture at any stage - much less an early stage - people alter their choices, or worse, let others(the market) make their choices for them. Artists I think in general want to connect with an audience of some kind and that often manifests in pleasing any audience they might have whether it be small or large. There is an entertainment aspect to all this - though much smaller than my use of the word suggests. My point is if people are paying for something they like, they want what they like to always be available - in other words to stay the same. That goes for the buyer but also the seller. Known quantities are easy to predict and easy to classify, package and sell. It's in the market's interest to have this in place. Call it a compromise on quality. The trend that may result from all of this speculative collecting and marketing is that generations of artists moving forward will begin to have shelf life and the role of the artist within their own work will be further diminished by a competitive based art market which is built upon consumer trends, financial speculation, capital investment schemes and ultimately awash in "product" saturation.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


well another giant has passed away this year. You get the feeling that we are losing so many of the great contributors and I have to wonder who if anyone can replace them. Maud Newton has some great links on Vonnegut today.

image:JC General

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

April is the cruelest month

A year ago today, a revolution took place right here ...... uh well, not exactly but I did start this blog which has turned into quite an experience.. So in honor of this I got a new banner to celebrate - thanks to Non-Prophet Art for taking my photo and adding the bells and whistles!

Blogging has changed my life in some obvious, and some not so obvious, ways. It has changed me as a person, and how I see the rest of the world. It's been inspiring often and helped me tremendously in terms of being more focused and informed as an artist and as a citizen. I feel fuller, more engaged, and I think it probably has done wonders for me just to muse on various subjects that may or may not be central to my "everyday". Sometimes it feels like grad school on the cheap - a wonderfully big classroom where no one is particularly boring. The blog roll, though ever changing (see some new additions), continually brings some kind of edification into my day. I've gotten to know several of the bloggers I read and over the course of a year a few new friendships have come about. So thanks to everyone and keep up the good work! I look forward to year two...

*Some "vital" year 1 HLIB stats - 43 linked blogs, over 10,000 visits, over 22,000 page views and an 11% readership in China whenever the word "China" is used.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Sol LeWitt dead at 78

Not sure if anyone has read the news yet but conceptual giant Sol LeWitt has passed after a battle with cancer.
The modest artist, an innovator in minimalism and conceptual art, eschewed fame and celebrity.

"He never felt that art has to do with the personality of the person who made it," says Andrea Miller-Keller, former curator of contemporary art at Hartford's Wadsworth Atheneum and a longtime friend and collaborator who is regarded as a foremost interpreter of his work. "It's not about the star power but about the art."
from the Hartford Courant

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

holy chocolate

Ok, so I wasn't even going to give the latest "Jesus/art" controversy much thought but seeing that I have shown at The Lab gallery (NY) and know the now re-signed director Matt Semler, I had to say something. Watch the clip - it features Opus Dei thug Bill Donohue attempting to bash the artist and conveniently slandering all artists, you know, us "unemployed" dirt bags.

My first thought is groan, as religious symbols like this are an easy lightening rod - a quick way to get your name out. You know that you are going to get attention. But alas, it is fair territory with a long tradition within the church and art history and the piece looks somewhat interesting. It is certainly much less graphic than many of the Christs I've seen in churches throughout Italy.

What pisses me off additionally beyond censorship, is the sullying of artists in general by the Catholic League. This CNN piece further illustrates why artists need to be literate and able to speak for themselves. Cosmo does a decent job but I would have loved to been in his place. I would have had harsher words for that bigot Bill Donohue who if you notice makes a veiled violent threat against the artist. Donohue also displays his 6th grade intelligence.

Again I'm reminded of Sam Harris' contention that religious moderates give cover for fanatics like Donohue who is little more than a money changer at the temple.

So who is Bill Donohue? (from Media Matters)

William A. Donohue, president of the conservative Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, has made 23 guest appearances on TV news programs in 2004. Donohue uses his appearances primarily to attack gays and progressives. He has referred to the "gay death style," remarked, "God forbid we'd run out of little gay kids," claimed that Senator John Kerry "never found an abortion he couldn't justify," and claimed that "Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular ... Hollywood likes anal sex."

In 2004, prior to the November 2 presidential election, Donohue appeared on cable news programs 15 times and twice on network news shows. During his two network appearances, on NBC's June 12 Saturday Today and ABC's February 25 Nightline, he discussed Hollywood films' portrayal of Catholics. Since the November 2 presidential election, Donohue has appeared as a guest six times on cable news shows, including four appearances on MSNBC's Scarborough Country. Here are some examples of his comments from his appearances:

  • I will stake my reputation on it right now! People will be paralyzed when they see this movie [The Passion of the Christ]. They will be breathless. It will bring people back to the church, and it will be a good thing for Catholics and Jews. And the people who are clamoring this -- this rhetoric, this cacophony against Mel Gibson, boy, are they going to have to pay for it when it's all over! [CNN, Paula Zahn Now, 2/4/04]
  • The fact of the matter is the media elite have an aversion to religion. Some of them even have a phobia and some of them are obviously anti-religion. ... They want Tom, Dick, and Harry to get married. They want "under God" out of the pledge of allegiance. They don't want anybody to see The Passion of the Christ. It's all tied together. [MSNBC, Scarborough Country, 2/24/04]
  • After all, 15-year-olds, they go to abortionists. They get their babies killed without parental consent. The new Puritans [those criticizing The Passion of the Christ] don't seem to worry about that. They like gay sex. They like [the film] The Dreamers, a brother and sister who bathe together and stuff like that. The same people in The New York Times who say this movie, I don't think it's not really right for kids, they have no problems when it comes to sodomy. It's smoking they don't like and Catholicism. [MSNBC, Scarborough Country, 2/25/04]
  • Name for me a book publishing company in this country, particularly in New York, which would allow you to publish a book which would tell the truth about the gay death style. There are certain things that the left won't tolerate. They are censorial at heart. Indeed, the signature appetite of the left has always been power. Now, they are running up against the American people. [MSNBC, Scarborough Country, 2/27/04]
  • Well, first they said it [The Passion of the Christ] was anti-Semitic. That didn't work. Then they said it was too violent. That didn't work. Then they said it was S & M. That didn't work. Then they said it was pornography. That didn't work. Now they're saying it's fascistic queer-bashing. That kind of language would ordinarily get somebody taken away in a straitjacket and -- put you in the asylum. I don't know what about -- the queer-bashing is all about. I'm pretty good about picking out who queers are and I didn't see any in the movie. I'm usually pretty good at that. [MSNBC, Scarborough Country, 3/12/04]
  • There's nobody in the United States Senate who has a more radical voting record on abortion than John Kerry. He's never found an abortion that he couldn't justify. ... Well, first of all, the guy [Kerry] is an idiot. He doesn't even know there never was a [Pope] Pius XXIII in the first place. [MSNBC, Scarborough Country, 4/12/04]
  • Well, no. I'm saying if a Catholic votes for Kerry because they support him on abortion rights that is to cooperate in evil. [MSNBC, Hardball, 10/21/04]
  • We've already won. Who really cares what Hollywood thinks? All these hacks come out there. Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. It's not a secret, okay? And I'm not afraid to say it. ... Hollywood likes anal sex. They like to see the public square without nativity scenes. I like families. I like children. They like abortions. I believe in traditional values and restraint. They believe in libertinism. We have nothing in common. But you know what? The culture war has been ongoing for a long time. Their side has lost. [MSNBC, Scarborough Country, 12/8/04]
  • This same guy [Dean Hamer] came up with this idea of the gay gene. I remember when that conversation was going on. Gays were all of a sudden worrying if people would start aborting kids when they found out the DNA suggested the kid might be gay or God forbid, we'd run out of little gay kids, so all of a sudden, they became pro-life. [MSNBC, Scarborough Country, 12/14/04]

The Catholic League, which Donohue has led since 1993, purports to defend Catholics' right "to participate in American public life without defamation or discrimination." The League has protested numerous art exhibits and theater performances around the United States that it perceived to be anti-Catholic. In 1994, the group sponsored bus and subway advertisements discouraging condom use.

During a 2001 appearance on Hardball, Donohue articulated his opposition to stem cell research as follows: "You can't take the egg of the bald eagle and kill it or move it, and yet we're talking about human embryos as if they were a piece of putty, and if that were the case, we might as well serve them as appetizers at a human embryonic cocktail [sic: party] to people." In 2003, Donohue defended a controversial remark made by Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) equating homosexuality with bigamy, polygamy, incest, and adultery, saying: ''To defend the institution of marriage is pro-civil society. This traditional institution cannot be defended if all alternative lifestyles are treated as its equal."

Members of the Catholic League's board of advisers include conservative author and media analyst L. Brent Bozell III; conservative radio host and syndicated columnist Linda Chavez; right-wing pundit and author Dinesh D'Souza; former Republican presidential and senatorial candidate Alan Keyes; and National Review Washington editor Kate O'Beirne.

Prior to leading the Catholic League, Donohue was a sociology professor at La Roche College, a Catholic college in Pittsburgh. He was also an adjunct scholar at the conservative Heritage Foundation. He has authored several books, including Twilight of Liberty: The Legacy of the ACLU (Transaction, 2001) and On the Front Line of the Culture War: Recent Attacks on the Boy Scouts of America (Claremont Institute, 1996).

* not all links are active