Monday, May 26, 2014

In My Life

Florine Stettheimer

The Beatles are not my favorite band, I don’t have things like ‘favorite bands,’ but today, as I have been cleaning and getting summer clothes out in place of winter ones, their song “In My Life” from 1965 has been looping in my head.  This is a very short song, heard in all sorts of tucked memory places like cars, grocery stores, background noise in someone’s home.  The song is about memories, about people and places and things and it is a just a whim on remembrance of those things.  Maybe because it is Memorial Day, maybe because summer feels ‘here’, maybe it’s the rush of moments stopping long enough so there is time for reflection and pivots of decisions to be made that is making this song buzz in my head, I’m not sure but it is and maybe that means something.

I’ve written and said this many times before, how to me, life, art, this thing that is this ‘thing,’ is all about the personal.  In this city, New York, City, it sometimes can feel a certain way.  A certain distance between you and people, you and goals, you and places, you and yourself.  Through this you/one can expand, consider and plan, but at times it can also isolate, and distort maybe a bigger picture.  I write this because of late this is something that has been dominating my life and it has affected the way in which I spend time and the way that I interact with art and the art world.  This happens, this is obviously normal and fine, but today, it feels like things are resolved in a way because certain things have been decided.  Those decisions may not lessen things but it allows for movement and possible change. 

The summer always makes me more energetic.  I feel focused and I am excited to see so much art in this city and its near bys.

I know this is more personal than most posts, even in a vague way, but this is what is I’m thinking about right now and that’s as honest as I can get.  On this amazingly sunny day, make sure to spend time with loved ones, and/or those that enrich your life in the most important ways.  Memory building is not a strategy of life, it just is.  And although you/one cannot control it many times, or in many ways, the dailiness of who you spend time with and what you do with your time is yours to invent and to nourish.

In My Life

There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I've loved them all

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more

Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more

In my life I love you more

Monday, May 19, 2014

If You’re Going to San Francisco

(Sorry for weird formatting, can't get things to work in the SF :( will change back in NYC)

I’ve been in San Francisco for one week and I’ve been on site for work so much that I barely got to see this city.  There are a few things that I smushed in but overall I saw so little of SF that I have nothing of substance to remark upon.  I did see some things and liked many things and below are a few things I liked enough or actually experienced enough of take note of.  Sorry this is phoned in, working ~12+ hours a day for 8 days makes even the busiest bee pooped.

Animals - On this trip I saw lots of animal friends but I really loved seeing the seals in the bay.  Seals are the cutest thing ever! I wish I could hug them.  I also saw a skunk.  It was fun to see a skunk.  They are cute and shy.

Wind - Yo, but seriously, this city is super windy. Seems like… overwhelming.

Blue Barn - I love the salads here.  Nearly perfect food for me.

Architecture - The buildings are mostly short and have so much charm.  Art Deco mixed with casual Spanish recall and ornamentation on windowsills and rooftops that are to die for. 

Rent - Everyone says how rent here is like rent in NYC.  I don’t know why that seemed like such a statement to make.

Mission - Went there for a wee bit.  I get it, young people hang out there.

Food - SF brings it in the food department.  Lots of produce and this city is so left of center that they have banned foie gras in the entire city.

Rich People - There are a lot of them and they like living right next to each other.

Art - I didn’t get to see any museums or galleries sadly but I want to come back in 2016 for when SFMOMA unveils its new home. 

Friends - I got to see some friends and special people and that made this trip worth it.

Uber - The one and only way to get from A to B with any ease.

Nature - You can just feel it more all over here then in NYC.  Makes you realize how much that it changes you, the feeling of a place. 

Provincial - Not in a bad way per se, there is total charm to it in some regards but yeah, the levels of engagement, criticism, taste making seems firmly rooted in a way that seems content in the status quo. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

“The art world today is full of zombies”

Takashi Murakami, Tan Tan Bo Puking -aka Gero Tan, 2002, acrylic on canvas mounted on board

I would never have thought that I would be quoting Takashi Murakami and agreeing with him so completely but at the moment I am.  He is quoted to have said at an Asia Society Dinner that, “the art world today is full of zombies.”  After this past week I can’t agree more.  The state of the art world is just so far gone that it seems indomitably doomed.  But as always, one person’s doom is another’s dream and the state of things as they stand in the art market to many is ideal and enticing.

This state I am referring to is the total corporatization and monopoly of the art world by business interests, marketing agendas and the totality of the moneyed elite’s influence on not only the art market but art itself.  This has been going on from the beginning of art and money changing hands but as it currently stands, it has evolved into a force that has overarching effect.  The effect that most concerns me is how it determines what/how art is being produced, shown and talked about.  This was seen thoroughly this past art fair week in New York but it wasn’t about this past week per se as now almost every week is ‘art fair week’ in some country or city. 

This circuit of art fairs has been created from an evolution of supply and demand.  The collectors are wanting and able to buy so the dealers follow and enable this.  I’m sure some research paper out there has the statistics of the growth of art fairs but just to my plain old observing eyes, this has tripled within the last decade.  There is a sense that this is natural, the evolution of things that are responding to a need, but this seems at minimum a passive survival excuse. 

What is happening because of this is most of the times not too damaging.  Artists making money, galleries making money, thus supporting jobs, industries and a large web of supportive industries like shippers, designers, contractors and so many more.  This is in itself an incredible thing, how one industry flourishes and how it supports so many people, lives, dreams is truly incredible.  The part that has me in such a state of despair is how the market is so evidently affecting any criticality, weirdness, or outsiderness.  Even when something is vaguely so, like Pussy Riot, it gets swooped and crafted into a marketing event, a PR campaign, or a branding inducement.

Who is shown in museums, who is selected as curators, directors, who can raise the most money through gala’s, benefits, fundraising events, development outreach via their rolodex is a primary determining factor on who is in the greatest positions of authority.  This is necessary, but the absorption of the creative with the monetary seems more then compromised and something that reduces the brain and time power of these individuals. 

Art criticism is nearly dead because it is either totally preservationist of a past form that serves a insular but moneyed audience and thus survives or it is chopped and tag lined to be like stats pages, accumulators of keywords that mostly reflect what people have already been talking about.  There are a few that are in a strata mingling with this but not determined by this.  They are mostly a part of a generation where old print models were the standard form and they had enough time and talent to make their writing voice and name have weight.  It is a tricky thing, art criticism today because it is so in flux but it is no excuse to keep circling back and speaking of such a small group of galleries and artists over and over again. 

I used to say that the art world (art industrial complex) and ‘art’ were two very different things, somehow separate albeit overlapping.  Now, after another art fair week, another confluence of money and art and seeing yet again how they merged and determined each other, I have to just let go of that belief. 

There is so much good art being made.  I have met some incredibly talented, smart, inspiring artists in the past few months, years and this I hope/know this will continue but things are too far-gone now to say they are separate.  People think that the state of this art world is not sustainable, that something has to give and in that ‘give’ there will be some sort of change.  I don’t think it will give, not soon, probably not ever.  Is that doom and gloom?  No, it’s just honest.  It will be interesting to see who stays in all this, that, in many ways will reveal many things.

Monday, May 5, 2014

To All You Art Fair Out of Towners


Ya’ll ready for art fair week? What is basically Frieze NY Week?  You all siked for all the hoopla?  I’m not in some ways, and I am in others but one thing is for sure, I will only make it by the skin of my teeth.  To brace myself for this absurdity I am basically doing two things to maintain my sanity.  1) Not drinking a drop of the alcohol 2) Not going out unless I absolutely have to.  That means work, zone out and then work some more.  This isn’t and shouldn’t be for those coming in from lands far and near for this week though.  They, you, everyone else, will be canoodling and schmoozing till you actually believe everything you are saying.  This is fun to do, it is necessary for good business and when you are only in beloved NYC for a week or less you have to cram it all in like the world might end at 6pm Sunday. 

Already there has been out of towners that have asked me for recommendations for this that and the other thing.  There is too much to even begin to recommend but below are some top picks for eating, chilling, art viewing and general culture temperature gazing for this that or other. Have fun and remember, relax, its just art baby.


Go to Chelsea - Pick a few shows, trying to do a lot here will make you tired and resentful of the whole thing.

See Sigmar Polke at MoMA - I have had no time to myself but I am drooling too.

Pass on - the Whitney Biennial - Bor-ing. (Besides Stuart Comer's floor), really not worth it just to say you saw it.

Go see Urs Fisher at Gagosian - I’ve said it once and I’ll say it over and over again.  Fisher is a poor man's/frat boy's Martin Kippenberger but damn he just doesn’t give a crap if he is and THAT is something to see.

Go to LES - It’s easy breezy while at times repetitive.  But it is worth it and there are lots of good places to eat and shop in between.

Go to openings - As many as possible and be prepared to not see anything on view.


I eat at like ~15 places in the city over and over again, I like what I like and most places are overrated but below are some nice picks for intimate dinner meetings or a grander affair.

Café Pastico - Near the East Broadway F, it is passably good Middle Eastern food but it is nice and cozy and slow which makes it very easy to spend hours in.

Peasant - Italian in Soho because somehow you always end up in Soho.

Sel De Mer - If you are in Williamsburg near the Graham Ave L, this is a good quaint fish place to have actually some very yummy food.

Barrio Chino - Always packed Mexican place in LES, good place to bring people that want to experience that trendy LES packed feeling.

Pho Pasteur - On Baxter street.  I always get the Pho places mixed up.  I think this is it, it has larger windows in front.  Super cheap, super yummy, super for when you want food -now-steamy-hot.


Forlini’s - On Baxter as well, a forgotten Italian dive-esq bar.  Never very full.  Sometimes they have good mozzarella sticks, sometimes they don’t.

Beverly’s - I keep going here but I’m not sure why.

Café Dancer - I stopped going here but art people still like it.

Swat Bar - Overpriced drinks but hell, they have karaoke.

Daddy’s - My true, blue bar in Williamsburg.


Go to - Central Park.  I know it’s a park but it’s actually nice to walk through for a bit.

Go to - Any restaurant that is crowded.  Lots of turnover means good food most times.

Go to - Essex Street Market. I wish I lived above this place.

Eat - Oysters, this city has been loving oysters for a few seasons now.  You can get them cheap and they are usually very fresh.

Get drunk at your hotel - Hotel bars are super fun.  Live the life and enjoy your panoramic city view.

Don’t go to hotel after parties - You probably will end up at more then you can count but I have three words for you.  Hotel. After. Party.

Go to a friends, clients, collectors, artist’s homes - For food, for drinks, for a general hello, go to as many of these as possible.  This is what the city and life are about.  The people and the time you get to spend with them in intimate, open ways.