Monday, May 22, 2017

Florine Stettheimer



Florine Stettheimer’s current exhibition on view at The Jewish Museum, Florine Stettheimer: Painting Poetry, is an incredibly charming show. Stettheimer is a cultish artist in some circles and those that love her work are smitten and those that don’t, well perhaps you shouldn’t go because it is to the tilt with Florine.

She was a New York socialite in the blossoming days of Modernism and her works reflect this completely. They are of friends, all upper crust or avant-garde, as well as her idyllic fortitude inhabited by her sisters (three) and mother. Everyone goes on and on about her close friendship with Marcel Duchamp and while that might be a spur in her recognition as an artist herself these days, it shouldn’t be seen as the only reason why.

Stettheimer paints like she is frosting a cake. There is a sweetness, a slathering type of giddiness that goes right to the edge of over-doing it. Her palate is like icing too. Whites, yellows, blues and pinks whose unnaturalness makes them festive. Objects as well as people have a prop like quality to them and it should be no surprise that she did some theatric design and loved all things staged.  Her works have this stilled posing that promotes vacancy but this doesn’t take away from their fabulousness. It’s as if her only directive while painting was to make it ‘Fab-u-lous and Fun.’

She was a rich girl with lots of free time on her hand and this might make some viewers annoyed and dismissive but she knew it too. She painted for herself, her pleasure, her want. We just happen to be given access to them because her sister, Ettie, disobeyed her wish and didn’t destroy them when she died. Good for Ettie and for us because these are simply lovely and feel so wonderful to see.

The heaviness of Modernism the malenessmakes such lightness and yes; I’ll say it, femininity, of Stettheimer’s work not only delightful but important. How many women, wealthy or otherwise, do you think actually did/have burned their works because it was just not ‘heavy’ enough? And yes, her privilege allowed her to indulge her fancies but should we really hold that against her when men from time eternal have been given this latitude?

The focuses of her works feel surface and seem a bit shallow or simple; picnics, parties, shopping, lazy summer days, but that’s life sometimes and who are we to say what can or cannot be subjects? Below this surface there is the actual painting though. It is faux-naif as they say but it’s got so much personality and panache that it is undeniably ‘art.’

Stettheimer was a woman who lived a charmed life and her work reflects this. I find her embracing this type of attitude enlivening and let’s be honest, rare for any artistsmale or female.

Go see this show if you want to teleport to a time, to a spot of sunshine under a tree, where the world is your oyster and filled with all the people you love most.

I leave you now with some of her poems because they too reflect this exposed wonderment and lightness.



Today
The breaking waves
Look like
Ruffled-edge petunia leaves

----------

MY ATTITUDE IS ONE OF LOVE
is all adoration
for all the fringes
all the color
all tinsel creation

I like slippers gold
I like oyster cold
and my garden of mixed flowers
and the sky full of leaves
and traffic in the streets
and Maillard’s sweets
and Bendel’s clothes
and Nat Lewis hose
and Tappê’s window arrays
and crystal fixtures
and Walt Disney cartoons
and colored balloons

----------

You stirred me
You made me giddy
Then you poured oil on my stirred self
I’m mayonnaise

----------

THE UNLOVED PAINTING

I was pure white
You made a painted show-thing of me
You called me the real-thing
Your creation
No setting was too good for me
Silver --- even gold
I needed gorgeous surroundings
You then sold me to another man

Monday, May 15, 2017

Highly Recommend

Maureen Gallace


So, as this blog attests the last few months have been savagely shitty and instead of wallowing in it further, I’m going to be positive for a change. I tend to not like being overly positive because, hello, shit is too real out there, but sometimes you just have to embrace things with a squeezy hug versus white fists. Also, it’s May ya’ll and the weather is getting warmer and flowers are blooming and even this cement city we call home seems full of life.

Below are some recommendations that made me smile the past week or so. I hope you are smiling a bit more and if not, fake it till you make it babies.


Maureen Gallace at PS1 MoMA

Went to see Ian Cheng’s show at PS1 and although I liked that show, I was really surprised and happy to see Maureen Gallace’s show of paintings. They are discreet oils of houses; beaches; flowers and they feel like an antidote to all the heavy dystopian over-the-topness in art of late. Light, shadows, speckling of sky are masterfully, I mean truly masterfully done and although the subject matter might feel pedestrian, these paintings are anything but. They are quiet but haunted, beautiful but complicated, they are so clear yet have this enigmatic quality that makes you aware of what the word impressive means. This show is formal and feels classic but wow, does it feel like a breath of fresh air. So much of art today is overly cryptic and sophomorically dense. In contrast, this show is transparent and light which makes it risky and bold.


Sam McKinniss’ Consumer Report on ArtNews

Want to laugh out loud at your screen while at work? Then read Sam’s Consumer Report on Artnews. This is a little thing that the mag does wherein they ask an artist to archive/live-stream their lives for the past 24-48 hours or so. These are all sort of funny but Sam’s is even funnier, and even if you don’t know Sam, it’s still very fucking funny because Sam is brilliant with words and his timing in all things is genius. It also makes you see the ‘art world’ scene in a true-blue way. One that is full of everyday glamour, friends, humor and booze.


Adriana Ramic at Kimberly Klark

So I’m biased, I know and like both Adriana and KK gallery but kids, you just have to make it out to Ridgewood to see this show. This is a small space that is packed with wonderfulness. Dirt, moss, and flowers cover the floor and Ramic’s coded language, conceptual puzzles are like a Mensa child’s dream wallpaper. It is smart and charming and it has chops all around. Also, why isn’t there more art work with dirt? All those guys from back then are dead now, let’s make dirt alive again! Really, a very charming show which has gotten the critical kudos it deserves. Trek out if it is far away from you and then enjoy a pint and pretzel at Gottscheer nearby and contemplate the lexiconic fairies you just witnessed. 


Reading

Duh. It’s the best thing ever and you can have You time and also look and be smart. Fab. Fab. Fab. Maybe I’ll put together a summer rec books list from some friends and share in a few weeks but for now in no particular order or reason here are some I recommend for this month. Octavia Butler – Wild Seed; Kool AD – OK; Dostoyevsky – Idiot; Joan Didion – Play it as it Lays; Raymond Chandler – The Big Sleep; Jean Rhys – Quartet (always!); Andy Warhol – From A and B and Back Again; Calvin Tompkins – Living Well is the Best Revenge.


Getting A Hair Cut

Getting a hair cut is a form of catharsis, or it can be, and I think it should be. As the season changes I think it’s the best of times to re-vamp your look and to get rid of all that dead debris that is your hair. I chopped off over 7 inches last week and let me tell you, I feel so much lighter in all ways. It’s a personal thing and can be radical or just a hint but I think care and re-invention of self is a must do at least once a year. If you don’t have hair enough to cut then do something else but I encourage anyone who is sick of their look or wants to kick start the new you, cut it. Just cut it all off.

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Burdens of Oversharing




There are times in life when the last thing you want to do is share or reveal anything about yourself. Possibly there are a few true-blue egoists out there who may never feel this way but I think most of us know this feeling and make it a point to retract ourselves in one way or another. As this blog attests, I am one type of self-inflicted over sharer and even though I don't really reveal a lot about myself (my true self), it’s still a lot, like way too much.  It’s like holding a mirror to refract light trying to distract people but you are still acting the fool by holding a mirror up at all.

Regardless, it’s tiring and a bit cringe when dissected. I have been thinking about this more because I have started new projects that do even more oversharing and when I sat to write this thing today I couldn’t help but think, ‘who the fuck cares,’ and ‘I’m tired of me, everyone else must be tired of me.’ This impulse to share is a strange but seemingly unavoidable thing about our social condition. We are all so tired of presenting ourselves but yet we keep doing it. It’s as if we need to, and perhaps in some ways we do.

So everyone probably reading this has some sort of social media account. Multiple probably. On one or the other platform there is a tone and presentation of self that one ‘gives’ or ‘allows’ others to see. The concept of the edit in structuring one’s projected self is just wild these days in its control and impact. The idea of being seen and perceived is as old as time though, possibly innate to being a human. We dress a certain way, walk and talk certain way, in order to cue who we are in the world or who we want to be seen as.

All this reflects one’s history, curiosities, fascinations and comforts but it is also essentially about the audience. We want to be both lauded and accepted and to be ‘recognized’ for the self we think we are and/or want to be. Life is certainly a stage but now this audience is virtually expanded via the Internet and social sharing platforms. Words and images are the cache of signifying who/what/where/how you are who you are and how we want others to perceive the story of ourselves. We want whatever life we live, or wish to live to be witnessed, confirmed and thus made real somehow.

But how really real is it all? How much time goes, consciously or unconsciously, into performing or acting out this person you want others to perceive? If there isn’t a pic, did it not happen? If you don’t get likes or reactions to it, did it matter? Are you sitting there taking selfie after selfie trying to look casual or spontaneous when it is anything but?

There are extremes of every behavior and to be able to balance reality vs. fictive reality can co-exist but regardless, if you do share your ‘life’ to the world, there is always this edit. The act of editing acts to protect oneself but also to control the gaze and the spectator. This is all so obvious but I’ve been thinking about how this has become so ubiquitous that it’s normative and that’s what makes may hair stand on end. Normality of this type of impulse and way of connecting with each other feels like some sort of edge of a cliff.

Let’s not all be lemmings and let’s all take a step back and realize that through all this sharing, are we negotiating other things that really matter. The way people talk to each other, hangout, have sex, build friendships, develop relationships long and short are all caught up in this now normalized impulse to share, edit, and present in this way.

It is not all bad of course. The internet is an amazing thing. But doesn’t it feel like sometimes it’s all just too much? That there is just too much of everything, even yourself? I’m not a luddite and I’m not one to ‘take a break’ from anything but yeah, too much is just too much sometimes.

But maybe it’s not the oversharing that gets me down but how most of what is being shared is so edited, so truncated, so manicured. I’d rather get a pile of realness then the slivers of someone’s edited presentation of self. I get it, it's a form of advertising, our exchange of our selves is literally the money in our pockets at times, but is it really worth it? As usual I'm being wishy-washy about this whole idea. I know I can’t have it both ways, but yeah, I know I’m a part of the problem too so here’s to hoping I either go all in and be for real-real or just fade the fuck away. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Spring Poems



It’s May. The first of May is commonly referred to as ‘May Day’ which can be connoted to International Worker’s Day, which is associated with socialists and communists and their politically aligned, and it is also the day to celebrate spring.

The Maypole with its ribbons and dancing circle, the Roman’s and their celebration of Flora, the goddess of flowers, and varieties of fetes welcoming spring with ‘pagan’ origins that are still somehow remembered.

Spring is truly here in New York and it feels like a time for new possibilities or at least the wish that this will come.

With this clinging optimism I will leave you with some poems that reflect spring.


The Wild Flower's Song - William Blake

As I wander'd the forest,
The green leaves among,
I heard a wild flower
Singing a song.

I slept in the Earth
In the silent night,
I murmur'd my fears
And I felt delight.

In the morning I went
As rosy as morn,
To seek for new joy;
But O! met with scorn.


A Light Exists in Spring - Emily Dickenson

A light exists in spring
Not present on the year
At any other period.
When March is scarcely here

A color stands abroad
On solitary hills
That science cannot overtake,
But human nature feels.

It waits upon the lawn;
It shows the furthest tree
Upon the furthest slope we know;
It almost speaks to me.

Then, as horizons step,
Or noons report away,
Without the formula of sound,
It passes, and we stay:

A quality of loss
Affecting our content,
As trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a sacrament. 


First Day Of Spring - Matsuo Basho
First day of spring--
I keep thinking about
the end of autumn.


I So Liked Spring - Charlotte Mary Mew
I so liked Spring last year
Because you were here;-
The thrushes too-
Because it was these you so liked to hear-
I so liked you.

This year's a different thing,-
I'll not think of you.
But I'll like the Spring because it is simply spring
As the thrushes do. 


In The Spring Twilight - Sappho
In the spring twilight 
the full moon is shining: 
Girls take their places 
as though around an altar 


 A Little Flower - Dmitriy Kokarev
A flower grew out of the ground
A tiny flower from the dirt
A tiny living soul from underground
A baby crawling from the dirt
A little innocence of wild color
A tiny spark of hope
A tiny pleasure free of charge
A flower that i called my own
A little baby ran towards it
A tiny flower crushed beneath the feet
A little human innocence
A little bliss destroyed by ignorance
A little flower dead on the ground
A little baby jumping up and down
And only me from my own window, witnessed the death of my own flower beneath the feet of blissful child without idea of his first crime... 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Seven Deadly Sins



Oh my gawd. Is it just me or this Mercury Retrograde kicking your butt too? Literally at the screaming into the silent void mode and although I know that, ‘this too shall pass,’ it feels like some indomitable force of crap-on-crap daily crap fest. Anyways, these last few weeks have been a bit grueling and I’ve been trying to put my finger on just exactly why. This led me to think thoughts about Karma and Murphy’s Law and things like that. Today, while continuing to ponder on the epic scales of WTF of late I thought about the Seven Deadly Sins.

Not sure why but it feels like it’s time to excise and to confess the deep dark down there thoughts related to the concept of said Seven Deadly sins because like every Roman Catholic flagellating oneself for inane self inflicted guilt is our favorite pass time.

I’m doing this all in the attempts to purge whatever bad juju I might be compacting in my soul with the hopes that it will exorcise something and make me feel a bit more on track and in control.

For those that are doing just fabulous of late, fuck off and congrats.


Pride

Ya’ll who read this know that I have a massive ego. To do this type of crap week after week, year after year is only a sign of some deep level narcissism and while I totally admit to it (with pride!) it is a bit much.

Let’s break this down a bit more though… Is pride ego? Or do they (white Christian boys club) mean something else? I’m not sure but it seems like in today’s culture/society ‘pride’ is actually the goal. To have pride is to self-love and that is the thing that we (Americans) are told is the penultimate of self-actualization.

Let’s think of this as opposites and consider humility as pride's contrast. So what is humility? The ability to not only ape a scale of self in respects to accomplishment and stature but to really feel the connectivity and reliance of others in those things.

It seems like an easier ask to have more humility then less pride in this day and age. Maybe I should be more prideful to have more humility? IDK... Philosophically confused over this one.


Greed

There was a phrase that an artist once said to me that has stuck with me for years and that is that people are either “Needies” or “Greedies.” I think the jist of what they were meaning is that we all take but it's the form of that taking that defines us.

I think I’m more of a Needie than a Greedie but nonetheless it’s a bad thing. Of course I want things and feel I deserve it. Don’t we all! But I guess when it comes to greed, like money and power, I’m a bit averse to it because I’m a bit lazy about it all.

But this isn’t about how I’m not these things so here are things I am greedy/needy for: attention, recognition, energy, excitement, change, security, fabulousness, fun, free things, designer clothes, affection, time, control.


Lust

Lately I have been super lusting after attractive people that I see just hanging out shirtless or looking super stylish in the city. I don’t have actual sex thoughts, it’s more like I giggle to myself and feel warm and fuzzy in my head.

Does that count as lust?


Envy

Serious though, I had a big case of envy last week for real. This person I know from the art world got this really killer job and I think they sort of suck and I literally had a massive freak out of, whoa is me, what the fuck have I done with my life, I’m a failure, melt down.

When I see my peers making it to high places, especially in the art field, I usually am totally happy for them. For real happy! They deserve it, they have worked hard, I am proud of them and for them but there are times when you see this happening and it makes you want to bash your head and scream. These times happen because you don’t understand how they got to this or that position or place and its makes you realize that you are a part of a game and system that rewards certain things and that being one of the last ‘punks’ standing means that it will never ever be your reality.

I absolutely admit that I was salty as shit about it and while I’m over it now, wow did that envy hit hard and make me felt icky. 


Gluttony

I’m skinny ya’ll.

(But sometimes I go on benders where I drink as much as a man and can do drugs for 8 hours straight. It’s not cute. It’s really, really not cute.)


Wrath

I’m a self-anointed Scorpio and my wrath is like the center of a volcano that is just chilling for the right time to explode.

I don’t actually ‘get mad’ cause I’m so over everything nearly all the time but when I do get upset it’s like ice meets lava and even my vapors will destroy innocent bystanders.

Is Wrath linked to revenge? Not sure. I’ve wanted to get revenge on people but yet again that seems complicated and too much energy so usually I just have an intense movie play in my mind of said revenge where my eyes can pierce holes through their face but then I get a text message and I forget about it.

Those that feel real wrath are fucking scary. Yikes.


Sloth


This is probably the sin that I’m most guilty of, of late. I have been so slothy recently that I have that stupid sloth grin and walk all slow.

For most people with some awareness of the shit that is reality, sometimes you have ups and sometimes you have downs. Currently I’m in a down aka a spell of depression and my depression this time around is me sleeping a lot, (like a lot) and binge watching internet TV and laying horizontally on my back as much as possible.

It’s a sad look but meh, this too shall pass.

Energy given is energy received so out of all these deadly whatevers, this is possibly the worst because the deeper the hole you dig and longer it takes to get to the light.

I’m going to sloth it up for a few more days but by end of this week, watch out world. I’m going to be a pride filled, wrath envying, greedy, sexy, fat goddess.