Sunday, August 28, 2011

Everything is going to be okay

Life. It’s complicated. The ups the downs and the mind numbing parts are just too much to stand sometimes. The matters of the heart, of the mind and of nature are uncontrollable for the most part and that is why religions, quests, and exploration of mind and body are fixations to us humans. I won’t go on espousing one thought or another or suggest some sort of cure-all because that is wholly private, personal and specific. What I will do is make a little list on a few possible remedies for some maladies and also some complimentary things to heighten the positive things in life. In the end, if nothing avails, just go swim in the ocean. It will make you feel big and small all at once.

Broken Heart – Cry, cry, cry while listening to Sinead O’Conner’s Nothing Compares to You. Go make out with someone hot but sorta dumb. Take a piece of paper and cut into small pieces. Go to the Greek wing at the Met and just sit.

Headache – Look at Vija Celmans drawings or paintings of the ocean.

Insomnia – Watch Christian Marclay’s The Clock. Write poetry. Watch Kurosawa films

Manic episode – Make cakes. Dance till dawn. Go look at Yayoi Kusama’s work.

Depression – Sleep. Take short walks. Learn more about outsider art. Read biographies. Do not watch TV or movies.

Tooth Ache – Stare at Cy Twombly paintings

New Pet – Make it capes from old pillowcases. Don’t give it a name that could be the name of a future ex.

Inherit lots of money – Don’t tell anyone. Quite job immediately. Buy yourself one nice thing and then live like you used to. Go to galleries and ask to see things you know you can, but probably will not buy.

Extreme Giddiness – As a downer: Go inside Richard Serra’s sculptures. Go look at Dan Flavins. As an upper: Watch Pipilotti Rist video. Eat things that have whipped cream on them.

Fear of Heights – Lay down, look at On Kawara paintings

Make a new friend – Go to a hardcore show. Watch Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Watch Ab Fab.

Tummy ache – Drink bitters and seltzer. Read about Duchamp.

Fall in love – Have lots of sex. Listen to bel canto operas or Motown. Hold hands in the Greek and Roman wings at the Met.

Death of a loved one – Look at modernist art. Lay directly on the floor. Go to a Cathedral.

Bored – Read graphic novels. Take a walk. Watch the movie Kids. Eat a hot pepper.

Jealousy – Make small effigy and burn. Do everything possible to look better then ____. Look at works by John Baldessari.

Money Problems – Get a public library card and read, a lot. Read Burroughs.

No will to live – Spend time with a 2-4 year old. Look at Magritte paintings. Visit every country you know someone in.

Hangover – Eat an egg and cheese on a bagel and drink a coke. Watch Peter Schjeldahl talking online.

Regret – Look at Van Gogh’s Postman: The Portrait of Joseph Roulin. Watch Aki Kaurismaki films.

Happiness – Go outside. Eat with friends.

Anxiety – Breath slowly. Look at Velazquez paintings.

Melancholy – Watch silent films. Read Jean Rhys. Read Hemingway. Read The Philosophy of Andy Warhol.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fall Predictions

September is upon us and that means the art world is going to be at full throttle in a matter of weeks. It’s exhausting to think about. Maybe that means I’m over all of it. Possibly. But nevertheless it is extraordinary to see. Each gallery functions as it’s own microcosm with the gravitational force made by its dealers, artists or all around brand. What will this fall bring? What will this crazy market place pendulum of fates decide for all of us involved…?

Below are a few predictions for the art world and on this and that. Will they bare fruit in their premonitions? Probably not, but if they do, lets have a celebratory shochu when we see each other next.

Performance art is just so over. It has become so “in” that it is “out.” Things will have to cool off until at least the spring (probably longer) in this genre for it to really matter beyond its market machinery.

Internet art is shifting from its acknowledged but incohesive form to one that will have more force and dialogue. There will be a group of strong representatives in this area that have now reached an age and also a practice that makes them not only relevant but the most interesting thing in town.

These people’s faces will be all over the place and each time you see them you will think “jesus fucking christ”: James Franco, Klaus Bisenbach, Kanye West, Miranda July, Kalup Linzy, Larry Gagosian, Karl Lagerfeld, Alexander Wang, Lady Gaga, Terence Koh, Michelle Bachman, Obama, Chole Sevigny

These words are so ugggg: contemporary, facebook, app, fantastic, irl, fabulous, coterie, dichotomy, juxtaposition, relevance, signifier, application, intensive, converting, ubiquitous, representing, expanding, displacement, censorship, activate, hyper-, twitter, LES, Pace, delineate, reconfigure, impulse, graphic design, platform, collaborate, nytimes, after party, diy, highline

MoMA will expand into 1-2 more buildings, trying to feature more “not white guy” art. MoMA’s PS1 is also going to expand and also do increased product marketing. A new top curator will also be added, hopefully a women but probably not. Most likely it will be some curator with the name Jans or Hans or Frans somewhere.

The upper east side will somehow have hip art relevance cache.

There will be a new young hot art star that will emerge late in winter. It may be a duo. They may not last long but they will be fun as hell to observe.

Dealers will be more forthright about “being in it for the money.” This will not cause any commotion though as even artists will be like “damn straight.”

The leading alternative non-profits in NYC will still be a bit stale. It will take the formation and success of new and smaller non-profits to start to push the larger ones to take more risks. A few people may get replaced to jump start this.

2 major galleries will expand and 4 minor galleries will close by spring 2012.

Backpacks are “in” in full swing.

Whole wheat is passé.

Bacon and cupcakes are replaced by cured meats and donuts. Corn dogs will be popular somehow.

The art world will have an amorous interest in sports. Its athletes and otherwise.

Sigmund Fraud is coming back in a big way

Well there’s a little ramble sampler, maybe these things will happen, maybe not. None particular really matter, so there are no stakes to be gained or lost. Things change; the sun stays out shorter, the air will get crisper and things will just chug-chug along because if it didn’t, who knows what we would do with ourselves.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Pittsburgh : A Quick Overview

I went to Pittsburgh Pennsylvania for the first time and these are a few things I saw:

Mattress Factory: 500 Sampsonia Way Pittsburgh, PA 15212

A nicely appointed brick building located in a partially revitalized neighborhood of Pittsburgh has multiple floors for permanent installations and changing exhibitions. Sarah Oppenheimer’s 610-3356, 2008 is fun to see in real life but unfortunately it’s in a locked room. This makes sense, as you can fall into the piece through its floor aperture, but being separated in such a way seems uncomplimentary to the idea of the piece. James Turrell’s Catso, Red (1967), 1994 is very Turrell-y and fine to see, his other installations, a zero light room and a blue rectangle piece feel too familiar, maybe too Turrel-y. Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Dots Mirrored Room, 1996 and Repetitive Vision, 1996 utilize her foolproof method of mirrors, lights and psychedelic dots. They are a hit here too, the rooms are a bit stuffy, a bit small but nonetheless they are a feel good time. The current exhibition, Neighbo(u)rhood is a group show, apparently about the perception of neighborhoods, boring in concept, boring to see executed but things can’t always be hits eh? There seems to be money, potential and know how to Mattress Factory but it feels a bit stilted, maybe because it is summer, but it seems like it could somehow have a bit more energy or young Pittsburgh art scene thing or something like that. It is a great space; hopefully it is funkier during the rest of the year.

The Andy Warhol Museum: 117 Sandusky Street Pittsburgh, PA 15212

Andy Andy Andy. This town was just not big enough for you. Nor was the universe but still, this is where you sprang from and that in itself is charming. The Warhol is in a big building, near one of the city’s many bridges and it is a bit of a mausoleum/Masonic temple to Andy. The problem though is that it is all a bit underwhelming. The best of the museum is the video works. There is a room of hundreds of hanging TVs that feature Warhol’s cable television ventures that he started in 1982, Andy Warhol's TV and Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes. On these shows he interviews famous people, movie stars, designers, singers, and various others. He also features culture and various snippets of the time such as Chinese theatre makeup preparation and the NYPD and their horses. Sometimes he is in them, sometimes he is not, either way all of them are just fantastic. Another wonderful thing to see is his video recordings of his other projects. One in particular that was heart breaking was when he was photographed in drag with silver blonde wig and red lips. He looks superb but also hysterically gross. You can see his pox marked face and the pores of his nose, yet he has perfected the gaze into the lens, controlling the pupils of his eyes and the tilt of the jaw. What is most amazing to see is that below the makeup line on his neck he is wearing a pedestrian button up, a silly pink and blue fabric belt and soggy looking denim jeans. His frame is revealingly slight and he looks almost child like in his moments of boredom, of waiting for things to go on. It shows so much of everything Warhol was. The rest of the museum had some not very interesting celebrity portraits done by The Factory and a smattering of other hits. These rooms seem poorly considered though. The other exhibition rooms for group shows and other artists were just b.a.d. Someone please do not just stop at the laurels of the Warhol name.

Wood Street Galleries: 601 Wood Street Pittsburgh, PA 15222

This space is dedicated to new media art and resides on two floors and a few off-site locations in downtown Pittsburgh. The show on view is an interesting group show of Icelandic artists entitled, Long are the Days, Short are the Night (recent icelandic art). One floor had a cacophony of sounds and mostly video works and projections on walls, objects and other such things. The noise and lights and crazy music video vibe works well. A standout was Egill Saebjornsson, Rotation Unit, 2010, a chicken fence oblong form that reminds one of 3D modeling software spinning slowly on a pedestal like platform with light striations beaming onto it. This is the first time I have experienced something like an irl computer imaging sculpture; odd but good. On another floor it was sparser and quieter, there was a room by Darri Lorenzen called Converge, 2008, where once you go into the room it automatically locks for five minutes. There is a single filament light bulb on the ceiling in the center of the room. This gradually dims, them there is an odd buzzing emanating from the vents on the ceiling. The room darkens and the sound begins to feel magnetic. When it gets completely dark “Iceland” becomes center in the brain. The light pops on and the door unlocks. This piece is simply but cuts to the point well.

Space: 812 Liberty Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15222

It is what is calls itself, an impressive ground floor space in the heart of downtown. The space is very cool, the exhibition installed, not so much. It was wall drawings made by various artists made within a day. Simple idea, poor selection of artists and a big space makes for a not very stunning show but it is obvious if the formula changed in regards to the artist(s) that it would be very cool to see art here.

Carnegie Museum of Art: 4400 Forbes Avenue Pittsburgh, PA

Oh my, talk about just getting things done. To the point, the Carnegie has a solid collection of whose who in art history. It is a check box of the hits within modern, contemporary and also earlier American art. It is a bit boring really but I guess that’s as good as any formula (?). Walking through the galleries, which are very densely installed is like walking through an actual timeline. Also, for goodness sakes a fresh coat of paint or at least wall stain removal would be beneficial. All the selections are perfect minor examples. Textbook is boring but it is educational and I think that’s the point of it all. For those that want to know “what is art” is the most suburban of ways, go here. You can win in the Trivial Pursuit section marked “Fine Art” after your visit.

Andy Warhol’s Grave: Saint John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Cemetery, Bethel Park, PA 15102

To go to anyone’s grave is solemn, even to Andy’s grave. Surprisingly it is mildly difficult to find. He is buried in a very small cemetery that is not marked well nor is it very google-able. You turn off a road from a small neighborhood and there is a hill, a small building and a paved road that leads you to a sprinkling of graves. Andy is near the beginning, in front of his mother and father’s graves. His grave is very simple, black stone with reverse etching. People have left some silver balloons, Campbell’s soup cans, buttons, flowers, notes and other things. I left a peach, the sweetest thing I had on hand, I read he had a sweet tooth. It was sad to see. You can sort of see where the coffin is, a slight depression in the ground. Although it is obvious that people have come to pay respects, this is no Jim Morrison grave. It is peaceful, sort of lonely and very unglamorous on this little hill. He has a nice view though, of a simple town. It is quiet there and his folks are behind him and it seems a good place to have your final rest. There is calm there, a matter of fact-ness that is not sad but honest.

That wraps up the bulk of the art seen in Pittsburgh. It is a great city that fortunately does not have any complexes to be like any other place. They have great sports; great colors and they are very nice drivers. All should go and also go to Kennywood! Go at night if you can. It is really superb.

Monday, August 8, 2011

James Purdy, Out With The Stars, 1992, Peter Owen Publishers

James Purdy is the ultimate modern American. His life and his writing are fascinating and wholly seeded, potted and bloomed in what was the bulk of America’s twentieth century. Born in 1914 in the tragically named Hicksville Ohio, he went on to do the regular things that white males of that time did; go to school, go to war, go to school again and then teach. Things shook up though as Purdy was not a regular bee and he became a part of the artistic, music, and cultural scene of Chicago and New York. Fortunately he also possessed a gift for writing and was able to transform his experiences and characters of his life into novels, short stories and plays. His first book, 63 Dream Palace is a stunner. It is an absolute must read if literature has any meaning to you, it will make you gag with its brilliance.

Now to focus on Purdy’s 1992 Out With The Stars (he was in his 70s for god’s sake!) which is perfectly Purdy but admittedly has a few loose strings. What is most fabulous about this book is that it is set in New York City in the late 1950s and it focuses on a few characters that are composers, photographers and their various lovers and binds. The novel begins with Val (Valentine) Sturgis, a gifted, quick to cry young composer who is from Kentucky and has been taken under the wing of Abner Blossom, the venerate highly acclaimed composer who is old but not age-ed. The story is based around Val having found an anonymously written libretto in a night club one goes to have sexual orgies, he accidently leaves this at Abner’s apartment in the Hotel Enrique, which is most probably Hotel Chelsea in its location and iron wrought balconied description. Abner, who was made famous by his early works on operas using African American actors and themes, did not think that he had any more masterpieces in him but after viewing the libretto he is propelled with inspiration to write a new opera, this one to be based on Cyril Vane.

Cyril Vane is a world famous photographer who photographs only the cultural elite and also Adonis’s. He has been at it for a long time and is known for his preference for males and also for men of color. His studio is in his home and is the private sanctuary for many photographic sessions as well as hedonistic forays. This studio is off limits to his wife, Olga Petrovna, a plumped up past star of the silent screen era. She is his “beard” as some would say, he is infamously bi-sexual but in a way that seems almost bygone in today’s comprehension of it. The element of grandiose homosexuality in this book is astounding in its overtness and also in its subtle matter-of-factness. Almost all of the leading male characters are gay but it is never outright stated or talked about as an issue. This is utterly refreshing in its non-discourse. The novel is not about being gay but about the characters and the tales to tell of each person.

This is Purdy’s forte, the characters, his ability to express their inner monologues and also the hints of their psychology through a twitch or a quiver. He also gives his characters fascinating names that propels them to the person he sculpts them to be. This is of course done by others, but he is truly a master of this game.

The story unfolds at first tightly; Val meets Cyril, meets Olga, and is guided by Abner throughout. He loses his old “roommate” and friend Hugh who came with him from his hometown and then meets a new lover, Luigi, in dramatic fashion in the pouring rain on a street corner. Then it gets a bit noodly. The book goes into detail about Luigi and his past and his love affair with the reclusive but famous actor Francis X. Beauregard who has a mansion in the dangerous, straw strewn streets of distant Williamsburg that is a secret palais of young boys and men that serve and have served Beauregard in his many years. This tale continues for many pages and is a bit dramatic; levitation, Jesus in burning bushes and Chinese acupuncture is involved. In the end Luigi commits suicide out of Val’s window after Francis X.’s death. It gets even loopier from here. The focus at the beginning was about Val and then it shifts to other characters in the book in spasmodic focus at times.

Although convoluted, the book doesn’t unravel completely since it holds itself tight with Purdy’s distinct pacing. This pacing is quick, precise, drenched with personality and has perfect word choice. Thankfully in the end there is the cumulative scene of the completion and presentation of Abner’s opera about Cyril Vane and Olga Petrovna, the Cock Crow, which uses all black singers and is a cultural coup d'etat. The premiere is in Brooklyn and has the Brooklyn Bridge in a stand still. Abner, Val and others walk the bridge to the theater and it is a booming success. The issues of color and sexual preference are the themes of the opera but through the lens of art and through the characters Abner dresses it in, the opera becomes transcendent of anything as complicated as the politics of those things. The real Olga has been plotting to stop the play and to stop Abner and causes a scene with a loaded pistol on stage but people take that as a part of the opera and they celebrate it even more.

The story in itself is a vehicle for Purdy’s life and art. The characters are all manifestations of Purdy in some way or another. He wears these characters as hats and in wearing them he pulls out recollections and memories past. The interchangeability of this is wonderful as it is schizophrenic. The world and the characters that Purdy unfolds in the novel are inspiring in their uniqueness and it seems a shame that characters like these are no longer around anymore. Purdy himself reflects on this loss by the age of Blossom and the deaths of, Vane and Beauregard. Their speakeasy, Parisian, silent screen times are all past and the New York in this novel is also of the past. There was a glory to those times that seems so distant yet it was not that long ago, not really. There is hope given to the continuation of this cultural promise and drama in Val, the character Purdy begins with. Val is like those that were of the 1920s, 30s and 40s and his eccentricities and proclivities will hold the flame of this time for at least a bit longer.

This novel is dear say not the best of Purdy but it is still a damn good morsel of a type of writing that reflects a time that seems sadly too far gone for resuscitation.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Stream of Consciousness (An Exercise in Narcissism)

Some visual artists have a wonderful tool that they employ to explain certain ways of making art. This tool is that of unfiltered artistic impulse, necessity, action, gesture, exorcism, expression and whatever else. This type of artist had their peak from the early 20th century till about the 1970s but even after this time there was and still is freshly ordained gestural geniuses that bless us ordinaries with their gifts. Most of these geniuses are men. Go figure. The few that are women are brutally disqualified because they have the biology to actually incubate life, which is just too easy compared to creating something like art. Am I being overly acerbic about this? Maybe a touch.

It is true there are actual geniuses that operate as artists. There are those that are born with certain talents, certain ways of seeing, imagining, creating ideas and translating that to form that does or can interact with space and time and perhaps audience. Being in the face of such work is moving. Rare, but moving. Art is not as easy as non-art people think it is. It is like anything else that requires absolutely no guidelines yet is simultaneously dictated by a history, rhetoric, power structure and economy that insists on knowing better. I always liken being an artist to choosing to be a monk: the shit is brutal but liberating. Very few should take the calling because it’s not about wanting to be an artist it’s about being one and willing to be holed up all alone with your thoughts and neurosis. Maybe that is overly romantic, yes true, but anyone who is slogging it as an artist knows it’s not all galas and smoochy smooch and sleeping with this someone to get you to some where. Well it is, sometimes, but those who practice that will be minor courtesies in the big art book in the sky.

So what’s the point of this nonsensical rant? I don’t know. It’s just something that’s been latching onto my brain from time to time. As an exercise in commemoration, disgruntled disregard and all around grasping for something to write about this week I will use this platform to purge some demons of my sub-conscious (wait isn’t that what I’m already doing?) No but honestly, I will endeavor to “free my mind” and “release” all the prattling marbles clicking in my head for but a bit. Writers, poets mostly, exercise the same tool as visual artists in this regard. It’s all a farce, it’s all a guffaw, it’s just for shits and giggles and a make out sessions with ones own vanities but this is okay since this is the nature of things sometimes.

Please forgive any misspellings, vulgarity, name-calling or grammar. The below will remain unedited.

Typed on July 30, 2011 at 10:48am Eastern Time:

Forget it got it okay now what. Feel like a pickle. Makybe it will get better tofay. I hope that the sun is out I think that the fan is dirty.

Where should I go noew?

I am missing a cat she is gone. That’s okay

Its’ not as bad as I thought it would be

Nothing is as bad as you think it will be.

Perhaps war. Perhaps things like that

Drones. They talked of drones on the radio. I am hating this radio.

Talky talk. Why do people own birds? Seems so meaningless to have a bird

Why not just get a cat? Or a small bog? Birds are weird

Marclay won the things at Venice. Her is good. I think that he has a nice look. Skinny and his hair is stil okay and he wears black. I wonder if he has a gf or a wife or a bf or a lover or what his sexual deal is.

There is nothing like cartoons. Must control this auto correct. Fuck it. Found jesus. Jo

At the time it seemed like a good idea. Will I ever get a drink with you? Will we ever hold hands? Time time time is the things that makes this better.


Before it goes. . eoe. I don’t know what to say today. It’s a ll a lie. Made fore the ben


Jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjamie saorry

It is blank. I feel sad.


Oh well

Going to go to the beach. The ocean will make me feel better. The waves are okay. Something makes the waves go. It is weird that people like the sun and the moon. Hey id the moon a women? Wheny wo they day man on the moon ?? it is a girl.

Something about bloof. I don’t fucking care.

Time to ofo go teo. There it is. Alf. He was a ghitng. I loke cartoons. I wish that Garfield was still on tv. HATE #D oj. Bagels bagesl. Bacon and eggs. Pigs are cute. Why do people eat pigs? It’s like eating a very smart dog. Crazy people. We are making everything bad. I wish I would eat icecream. I get ick when I eat ice cream. I can eat yogurt though. Goats are werid.

Thank you for coming. Fuck off. Godd day. Pelaseure was all mince. Toodles.