Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 signoff

I think most of us are exhausted from 2008. Our world seems to escalate in randomness with each passing day. Let's hope 2009 brings less extremism of every order. Best Wishes!

image: Boston Globe

a dreaded year end list!

So we all hate the "best of" mantra but I could not resist posting at least one marker of the past year. It's a music list - I hear the rolling of eyes - but this is a fantastic list of good music to expand your ear.
I'll confess that I'm pinching this off a friend with a few embellishments of my own. The list is really about music we gravitated towards as artists. I think you'll find some nuggets here that aren't the usual suspects on music sites. I'm too lazy to provide links but here is the list anyway - enjoy!

BON IVERFor Emma, Forever Ago

GROUPERDragging a Deer Up a Hill


VIVIAN GIRLS -Vivian Girls

MOUNT EERIE w/ Julie Doiron& Fred Squire- Lost Wisdom

Peel Show Hits and Long Lost lo-Fi Favourites, Vol.1

NICK LOWE Jesus of Cool



VALERIO COSI -Collected Works/Heavy Electronic Pacific Loop/We Could For Hours (w/ Fabio Orsi)
NNCK -Clomeim

Touch 7" series
-Imperial Wax Solvent

TOUMANI DIABATE -The Mande Variations
-This Coming Gladness
-There Will Be Blood
EMERALDS -Solar Bridge
FANTASTIKOI HXOI -Kyriarxoi Tou Sympantos
LEGOWELT -The Rise and Fall of Manuel Noriega
ONE MORE GRAIN -Isle of Grain
vOLCANO! -Paperwork
Buraka Som Sistema -Black Diamond
Cambodian Cassette Archives s/t
Erik Friedlander
-Broken Arm Trio
Kim Doo Soo -10 Days Butterfly
THE RASTER NOTON LABEL (pretty much everything they put out this year)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Concerning Bar Identity

Question- in a time of economic disarray, if the local bar moves does it retain any of it's prior identity? From the New York Times:
But if drinking and dining have always been a moveable feast in New York, is charisma cartable? Can the character of everything from venerable pubs to palatial eateries migrate with their names and owners? This portability issue has gained new urgency in a season of economic disarray, when property owners are less willing to extend the leases of even the most beloved old-timers. New York is so provincial, three blocks is a huge distance.
In New York, the cultural ramifications of a move are huge and the cross currents of the biggest building boom and economic crises in decades does not bode well for the local haunt or the over comfortable regular. Changing scene in Brooklyn has arguably eclipsed Manhattan. You find yourself routinely at a loss for all the new local spots mushrooming and at the same time lamenting that you now "hate the crowd" at most of the spots you've been anchored to for years. Here, the cultural turnover of a neighborhood has to be approaching the speed of light. It's not simply the old guard versus the transplants, it's the transplants versus the transplants too. I always assume that what makes a bar so great to be in is the place itself. A place built by the wear and tear of the clientele over the years. In New York, this often means a holdover from another era, heightening one's sense of legacy. In truth it is the balance of a predictable and familiar clientele with a storied room and bar. The local question is, will the "local" be part of the vernacular in the coming years in an atmosphere of rapid economic turnover and an increasingly transitory populace?

Hat tip: phronesisaical
Image: Rosemary's Tavern/NYMag

Saturday, December 27, 2008

anatomy of a painting [6]

So I actually got a real shot of this piece at it's current stage. Not much to report other than that. Some minor tweaks to the grid are still in order but the next big issue is how best to activate the left quadrant of the painting and whether or not a figure(s) will be required. Also, I'm half considering the nuclear option of painting over the lower third entirely and rethinking that part of the painting. It's an ugly choice but I learned what I needed from the grid process even if it doesn't remain in piece. We'll see where the trail of dead leads.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

new paintings

The WhiteNoise Suite (no.4), 2008
The WhiteNoise Suite (no.4), 2008

So I'm continuing the White Noise series that I started and posted about back in the summer. The top one is the newest (no.4) in the group which ultimately will number 9 I think. The second one is actually no.3 from the summer but I reworked the cloud/dust portion. I'm much happier with this result than previously. Each measures 24 x 18 in.

Monday, December 22, 2008

New paper works cont...

Here are a couple of more. These two are also oil on primed paper. 30 x 22 in. each.

New paper works

I'm finally getting around to documenting some work from the last few months. These two are oil on primed paper measuring 30 x 22 in. each. More to follow.

Friday, December 19, 2008

the muck

I've always been struck by the muck of the Auerbach studio. The horror of ever advancing paint droppings and dust. When you look at his process you see the endeavor of persistence and the growing density of failure. The record lays bare the accumulation of the years marking, scraping, poking, smudging, groping through the gray light where the act never changes. It's good to see examples of this kind of activity as a reminder to guard against the external pressures of an accelerated world of information. Such work addresses physical reality, the tension between process and intention.

Increasingly I'm experiencing a need for painters who have a permanent sense of the tangible. Making work that doesn't simply mirror our times or arranging signs/symbols but making work that is an independent entity in itself. Works that grow through a process which are still vitally indebted to their sources, but ultimately veer towards an independence from those sources. A separate existence from the artist - palpable, fully intact and ready to demand a response by the very nature of that existence.

image: Frank Auerbach studio circa 1984.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dey Know ...Blago

This gets high points. Behold the evolution of the news cycle!

Via: Matt Yglesias

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

If I was high class.....

Sometimes you need a little APP....

Color Traits

I recently came across this project by Alan Woo which should hold some interest for artists. The above pie chart is the "color" of Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange. Pretty cool.

Alan Woo:
Curious to see if there were any stark similarities or contrasts within particular films, Pie aims to create an incredibly simple and concise baseline of comparison of films trough one particular trait: colour. This project was also the result of my first explorations into processing. The outcome is a number of triptychs comparing various films of particular trilogies, directors or genres. A program written in processing captures each frame of each movie and essentially creates a 'pie chart' of the colours contained within each film producing a simplistic and abstracted representation. Each poster includes the film title, year, director, cinematographer, running time and occasionally, various surprising/unsurprising similarities.
If this kind of thing interests you, a good art related book on the culture of color is Chromophobia by David Batchelor.

I wonder what color Chelsea would be.....

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Girls Write Now

The above clip comes via Maud Newton. I think you'll agree it is quite moving. Times are hard this year fro many of us but we should remember to find ways to support others, especially those striving to find a voice in a world that is often stifling and cruel.

Maud has this to say on the organization:

This year I joined the Board of Directors at Girls Write Now, an amazing organization that pairs talented at-risk teen girls with mentors — authors and journalists — who meet with them regularly one-on-one and support their writing.

What impresses me most is that the girls go on to college. So these mentoring relationships have the power to change the mentees’ lives not just for a few months, but forever. And while we’re focused on New York City right now, long-term we want to support disadvantaged girls across the country.

If you have a little to give, please do. A $25 donation will cover one of the girls’ costs for a quarter-season, and a hundred bucks sponsors her from start to finish, and into a completely different future.

If you can’t contribute now, please consider joining the cause at Facebook, to support us in spirit and remember us once change is jingling in your pockets again.

Additional reading: J. Courtney Sullivan’s article at the Times, “With Mentors at Their Sides, Girls in Need Write Their Stories and Find New Lives.”

Monday, December 15, 2008

feeling Baker Street

Not sure if it gets much better than this one.

Chris Jagers at Americans for the Arts

Art blogger and Slideroom guru, Chris Jagers is guest blogging at the Americans for the Arts blog. The subject is "Public Art", with Jay Sullivan, Professor of Sculpture and Chair, Division of Art: Meadows School of the Arts.

Here's and excerpt:

CJ: When I first asked you to do an interview with you about “Public Art,” what did you immediately begin thinking about?

JS: I first thought of Foucault’s idea of Heterotopias: spaces within a space, where a certain kind of special activity can take place, both within and also slightly outside of society. Classic examples of this are hospitals, insane asylums or graveyards. These are places where society can have safe conversations about things that they don’t want to deal with all the time or everywhere. Ironically, when I think about Public Art, I think about the Percent for Art Project and this notion that we seek to beautify train stations, airports and other things. There is a heterotopic feel about that. On one hand, it is defining certain structures (usually municipal) as being public in a way that other spaces (like major street intersections) are not. For instance, if I put a big sculpture at a major street intersection, I could get into more trouble (aesthetic) than if I put the same piece of sculpture in a train station—the spaces are “public” in different ways and we expect different things to happen there.

Of course, work like Richard Serra’s “Tilted Arc” violated all this … it went into a public place which was owned by the government, a super public space. Yet, it did some things within that plaza that attacked pre-existing boundaries of that being a public space normally appropriate for such works.

CJ: How do these ideas relate to the administrative process of choosing a project?

JS: I have had a chance to be on a few Public Art review panels, and its very interesting to hear the discussion of the jurors who represent the community. And it is also interesting to see what is given as the agenda for pieces because these things are always supposed to address the community. Projects are supposed to be responsive to the place, but at the same time they are encapsulated in a way that can be easily ignored or marginalized. And when a piece is easy to “bracket off” visually, it becomes difficult to address the community. A thing may be there, but it becomes ancillary to the space itself.

Of course, art has always occupied a special place that is different from ordinary objects … so it’s always a negotiation. A negotiation with the public about goals, the role of the piece and which spaces are potentially available for art versus other public spaces which are viewed are more private. In the early stages, but even later, the artist doesn’t have too much say in all this, which is difficult–the panel is in some sense “guessing” who would be best.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

crime scene

image: John Cole

Friday, December 05, 2008

Artist Lecture Series/Bidonville Cafe, Dec.7

The first Sunday of the month is upon us again and so another "slide show". I really encourage people to come out for some old fashioned art banter at Bidonville. The lecture series has been consistently good and I for one am glad to get another dose before the Holiday crunch fully descends. This month is Nancy Goldring and Zoe Pettijohn Schade and I think both are doing interesting work. So if you are not in Miami, stop by ...
Sunday, Dec. 7 @ 7:00 pm
Bidonville Cafe in lovely Fort Greene

Willoughby Ave. (b/w Clermont & Adelphi)
Bklyn, NY 11205
G or C train to Clinton/ Washington and march north
This month's artists:

Nancy Goldring

“Foto-projection,” is a term I coined for a unique process I have been developing over the last 24 years. This approach proposes irreconcilable time frames, shifting vantage points, and changing moods, and corresponds to my understanding of human perception. Though itself a synthesis, each foto-projection represents only one of the many possible ways of depicting or evoking a place. When viewed altogether, the non-narrative sequence of images offers a personal system for ordering the multiplicity of experience.

“Goldring’s images are the tools of an understanding located in a discrete zone somewhere between philology and an impression of reality, an understanding that must never be lost…”

- Paolo Barbaro, from Palimpsest: The Photographs of Nancy Goldring

Zoe Pettijohn Schade:

The artist works from the tradition of painting textile patterns with gouache, while burying each repeating layer of imagery beneath other layers. The embedded and abstracted images rise to the eye in their own time like memories. The geometry of repetition has as much perceptual and psychological ramifications as the image. Working with historical decorative structures and personal imagery, a constellation of associations is woven through each painting.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

anatomy of a painting [5]

So before taking off again this week, I wanted to post the latest update on this piece. I went back into the midsection and I'm getting closer to the space and feel of the final piece. Still laboring on the grid and think I am closer to understanding it's role which will likely be more of a subtle aspect of the ground and less of an overlay. But then again, who knows...

Monday, November 24, 2008

anatomy of a painting [4]

A little time has passed since my last update on this painting. The election consumed much of my head and heart space and then of course other works were demanding more of my attention. Last week, I got back into this one. Mostly still adjusting the grid and have some play with the colors. Tiling and discothequing endlessly, which turned out to be a good exercise and annoying at the same time. I decided to move into the center of the work with a different read of daytime. I moved heavy on the turquoise- really just to see it as I haven't explored the color enough. It's not really what I want at this stage but it has been useful to have it there for a day or two. Ultimately what is above is now a pretty well aligned ground for the painting to be which should more or less see this come to completion. This is the ugly duckling part of my process or the transition point where it seems like nothing is working but all most of the clues are there speaking in some way, however muffled.

Color adjustments for the grid are in order, more recession and sublimation as well as a new resolution for the midsection. After that the main focus will be to determine if this painting has an action, what player will activate the field or will I go another route. Perhaps some doubling/repetition of a sequence. Not sure and I'm guessing that makes little sense to anyone, but I know what I mean....
the piece is coming into focus for me as you'll see in the next "clip".

A detail in closing with a somewhat better color accuracy.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Stop proposed budget cuts for the arts

As many of you know, New York is heading into some perilous financial times. The financial crisis has hit this city and state quite hard as it is overly dependent on Wall Street. Big cuts are in the making across the board from fire station closings, police cuts and so forth. As you might expect, the Arts are front and center when cuts are needed. The following if from CAA. Take some time and call or email your rep.

Governor David A. Patterson proposes emergency budget cuts to the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA).

Send an email to your senator, assembly people, and the governor today to oppose these reductions.

We only have a few days to make our voices heard because the special legislative session convenes on November 18, 2008.

The New York State Senate and Assembly will consider the governor’s proposed cuts, including an additional $7 million reduction to the current arts budget. This could mean that almost four hundred grantees in the October cycle and a similar number in the December cycle would receive almost nothing. The inequities are staggering.

Governor Patterson’s proposal comes after $2.6 million (6 percent) already cut from the NYSCA budget a short time ago—thereby potentially decreasing the council’s total budget by about 20 percent, from $49 million to $39 million midyear.

The governor called the special legislative session to deal with the additional shortfall in the current year. His proposed plan is a comprehensive, two-year $5.2 billion deficit-reduction plan that he says will entirely eliminate the state’s $1.5 billion current-year shortfall.

The legislature can alter the “cut list” and make different recommendations. The governor proposed significant cuts to all sectors, so let your legislators know that the tiny savings they gain from the arts cut pales in comparison to the resulting social and economic losses in communities across the state.

Send an email now. It takes only two minutes to do so.

Thank you,

Thursday, November 13, 2008

James Castle retro in philly

The Philadelphia Museum of Art still has an ongoing retrospective of James Castle through January 4, 2009. I haven't seen it yet but a day trip is in the planning as this is a first and a must see. Also, a great new and comprehensive catalog is available. Do yourself a favor and check out this national treasure.

Here's the blurb:
James Castle: A Retrospective marks the first comprehensive museum exhibition of the work of James Castle (1899–1977), an artist from rural Idaho who, despite undergoing no formal or conventional training, is especially admired for the unique homemade quality, graphic skill, and visual and conceptual range that characterize his works.
By all accounts deaf since birth, and presumably never having learned much language, Castle turned his obsessive and constant production of drawn images into his primary mode of communication with what must often have seemed the strange and baffling world around him.
The exhibition consists of some 300 drawings, color wash pieces, handmade books, assemblages, and text works selected from museums and private collections, including many from the holdings in Castle’s estate.

a field guide to melancholy

Here's a new author for me and a title that I'm itching to read. Not quite available yet in the U.S. but it has been released in the U.K.

Dylan Trigg has this brief assessment:

As though to perfectly coincide with the onset of winter, Jacky Bowring’s new book, A Field Guide to Melancholy has arrived. I am working through it, slowly. Already I sense it is a book that deserves to be read with a particular kind of pace. Somewhat like memory itself, a book that is conducive to a certain light and rhythm, full of both twilight and permanence simultaneously. Recommended.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Jeff Sharlet - the Family interview

Guernica recently conducted a fascinating interview with religion journalist Jeff Sharlett regarding his recent publication: The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power.

Excerpt from the (Rawlinson) interview:
One of the most interesting things about anti-intellectualism in American life is that it’s a very intellectual project. Real anti-intellectualism, the Family kind, you know, “Jesus plus nothing,” the systematic stripping away of history, of theology, of any kind of influence—that’s an intellectual project. Not for nothing does Doug Coe express some admiration for Pol Pot. In year zero, he did the same thing. Pol Pot had all the intellectuals killed. You only do that if you have an idea. That’s an extreme form of ideology that says: I can purify things.

There are two great traditions that have been written about before, which are American rationalism and American sentimentalism. What you see in the Family’s expression of power is that these are not two opposite poles, but the head and heart, the realpolitik of world power. The sentimental narrative, which is anti-intellectual—is absolutely interwoven with the rationalist Family agenda.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

All Obama - the covers

I never did get a paper yesterday, but here is a link to all the cover pages from around the globe. Incredible.

Alain Badiou - tonight LES

Miguel Abreu Gallery presents:

Is the word 'Communism' forever doomed?
Thursday, NOV.6 7PM
Harry de Jur Playhouse
466 Grand St.

For the launch of Lacanian Ink #32

Seating is first come, first served basis

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

the new sheriff

The tsunami that we all hoped for. Let's get to work!

image: Iglesias

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

voting in Greenpoint

This was my view this morning heading into the gym where we vote. It went smoothly but I have never seen a crowd this size. The wait was 30 minutes which is quite different from what people are experiencing in the Bronx or even Bushwick. I have to say, I got a little choked up watching everyone eager to cast their vote.


You can report any voting problems to the Election Protection hotline.

• For immediate assistance, call the nonpartisan 1-866-OUR-VOTE hotline.
• To report problems to Election Protection’s state teams through Twitter, use these guidelines.

• ( – A live map and full database of all the reports received through the hotline
• OurVoteLive Blog ( – Breaking news and analysis on the state of the vote
• 866OurVote Twitter account ( – Breaking news and reports as they happen

Also, the Obama campaign has set up its own election hotline:

• To report problems at your polling place or your vote to the Obama campaign, call 1-877-US4OBAMA.
• Also, you can find information about your polling place on the Obama/Biden website

Monday, November 03, 2008

idealogues and the philosophical pragmatist

We're heading into the final hours of this historic campaign and it seems as good a time as any to look at the nature of Obama the candidate. This entry over at Phronesisaical truly renders why there should be excitement and interest in Obama the President. It also reminds me what is sadly missing from not only the GOP but our national punditry at large. I highly recommend you spend the time to read the full post.

Here are some of the juicier bits from Helmut:

To put it simply, Obama seems to me an experimentalist problem-solver of a pragmatic stripe.

A pragmatist thinks in terms of problems and tools and experiments for solving them. A problem arises, which is such precisely because we don't have the conceptual or normative tools at hand to solve it. The pragmatist looks around for explanations, interpretations, analyses, arguments, and new understandings to try help us resolve the problem. If it's political, or a matter of policy, or a matter of ethics or legal interpretation, the pragmatist understands that we start from an irreducible pluralism of values that are crucial to even understanding the problem, let alone resolving it. In a pluralistic country such as the US, policy and political disputes are often disputes involving complex, competing values and ideas. They are problems of intelligent cooperation.

Ideological commitment of the sort that drives the US political system is problematic here - it may provide us with some useful interpretive tools, but it more than likely frames and constricts our understanding of the nature of the problem and the range of possible solutions a priori, prior to investigating the problem. This suggests that the truth of the matter comes prior to testing ideas and policies. The ideologist ends up, by default, resolving problems from a partial and usually self-interested perspective. Pragmatists think this has it all backwards.


The pragmatist seeks to suspend prior ideological commitments and focus rather on generating ongoing dialogue, attempting to build a community of public discussion, in order to gain the fullest possible view of the problem as well as in order to eventually engage the most democratic means for resolving it.

What does this mean for Obama the president? I'd like to hope that the office doesn't convert Obama into yet another pragmatist of the crass, non-philosophical version I mentioned above. I'm not worried about him being an ideologue. Despite the right's best efforts to paint him as such, there's little evidence that he's that sort of person. He's going to make a lot of people unhappy on both the left and the right when he doesn't follow the rules of prior ideological commitments. That unhappiness will unwittingly reflect something profoundly wrong with the older and hopefully dying form of polarized ideological politics in the US. But, unlike how many pundits put it, the problem is less "polarization" than it is the epistemological backwardness of ideology-driven politics.

But can Obama function as a genuine philosophical pragmatist? I think so. Given the serious nature of the problems he'll be dealing with as president - from the wars to climate change to poverty and economic collapse to education and healthcare - we really do need someone who's not blinkered by prior ideological commitments and hackneyed policy ideas and tools. We need a philosophical pragmatist with a rich understanding of the complex diversity of the US and the world, a morally reflective person who's willing to listen, to experiment, to involve and engage, and to lead when it is time to lead. Everything in his background says this is precisely who Obama is.

Now vote Obama!



Tomorrow is the big day even though millions have cast early ballots. Here’s a video worth watching about a very important ongoing project called Video the Vote.Everyone who goes to vote, and has the technology to do it, should document their experience. Disinformation? Purged from the list? Long lines? Vote flipping machines? Turned away because of "missing" registration information? Harassment by partisan "monitors"? This collective effort will go a long way towards election reform, which I hope will be a big priority for the new congress and president but it can only happen with a mandate from us.

The clip above is from Video the Vote, a national initiative to protect voting rights by monitoring the electoral process. They organize citizen journalists—ordinary folks like you and me—to document election problems as they occur. VV then distributes their footage to the mainstream media and online to make sure the full story of Election Day 2008 gets told. You can watch another video here. If you have footage from your polling place you can upload it at the videothevote site.

via: Mudflats/videothevote

Friday, October 31, 2008

happy halloween

voter crunch time

Yes, we're still old school in NY and rockin the lever machines. I have to say, I love these things. They really are time capsules. Things are coming to a close after almost 2 grueling years for this presidential contest. Hard to believe because it seems more like 10 years on most days. I'm anxious to be less anxious and also fear the huge depression that may come as a result of a McCain coup. Regardless, if you want to follow what is happening state to state with all the controversy over fraudulent registration forms, voter purges, touch screens and intimidation in these waning days please saty tuned to the following blogs.

1. The Brad blog

2. Election Law blog

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Artist Lecture Series/ Bidonville Cafe, Nov. 2

The next installment of this intimate lecture series continues this Sunday. I encourage any readers to make it out or inquire about participating.So far so good with this fledgling effort.

Sunday, Nov. 2 @ 7:00 pm
Bidonville Cafe in Fort Greene

Willoughby Ave. (b/w Clermont & Adelphi)
Bklyn, NY 11205

G or C train to Clinton/ Washington and march north
This month's artists:

Josh Jordan

Jordan's ideas stem from his prepubescent and high school experiences from there. They were the emotional basis for his desire to pursue art as a young adult. These ideas are expressed in scenes of various delusions of grandeur. He creates passive/aggressive and sometimes self-deprecating scenarios of heroism, glory, or ardor to illustrate these delusions.The content of his work focuses on adolescence, its persona, and its tendency toward dreams, melodrama, fantasy, and infatuation. The focus of those states of consciousness is motivated by the seemingly mystical energy of adolescent girls and their ability to inspire longing, elusive flirtation, clumsy acts of chivalry, and inevitable humiliation. Jordan also calls upon the psychic, social, erotic power of pop idolatry to realize the extent and scope of the delusional narrative.

Timothy Hutchings:

"Some time ago I consciously chose to adopt a lackadaisical approach to the intellectual rigor of my art making. I'd decided that I was out to make work to amuse myself, not to communicate carefully crafted ideas about the world. By letting my brain go slack, I could accidentally create things which I could find pleasure in for myself - just as a sloppy hand can create a line which surprises it's owner. This has something to do with the structure of joke making, I think. My brain finds pleasure in the off-handed quip more than the finely crafted story, and finds little joy in telling the same joke twice. In retrospect, this may not have proven to be a very good tactic.