December 27, 2003

Relyea in X-Tra

I found Lane Relyea's "All over and At Once" at X-Tra magazine online. Here, an exerpt from an exerpt:

The pervasive sense that artworks rely on chains of explanation residing outside themselves, that they are a sub-species of theory, that they depend for their legibility and legitimacy on discourse, that they are most fully revealed in books and magazines, in the dual-slide-projector lectures of classrooms and artist talks, in informed discussions among artworld insiders, did much to erode conviction in the single, framed, all-there-at-once image. The readymade was made to exemplify this: that meaning in art is contingent, it comes after the fact and from outside in the form of a caption, a framing language, or a framing institution and ideology. But what happens to such meanings, and to discourse itself, when contextual determinants are in turn exploded, when every context reveals itself to be just another text, when framing institutions merge, diversify, cross-merchandize, when all disciplines feather into one another, when every caption is constructed from an information glut that can be endlessly edited, reorganized, manipulated, spun? Captions and contexts have lost all credibility, and the dissolution of these and every other frame has given rise to an infinitely landscaped situation, an awareness of only pure flow. Hence perhaps the popularity of landscaped, interior-d?cor art, big installations and video projections and other types of spread-out work.
I'll look for the rest of the piece.

This is what I meant in the last post:"...where we are in history (a hyperextended postmodernity with no idea at large-anywhere, in how to turn the corner)..."

...or when I refer to shoveling upon the grave of theory...

...or when I refer to Oedipus...

Or what I will mean when I write about:

...the dialtion of scale in modernity (I lost the location of this great article on the ever expanding scale of artwork and museums today, still looking)...

...or my view of the turns of art history from the fiftties to today...

...or of "Parallel Cities", the scale of a Human City versus the Car City (here tangentially)...

...or more.

I've looked for Lane's essay since the fall of the Berlin Wall back when I left grad school. Twelve years later, and Lane is but touching on what has to be ripped open so we can turn art into the 21st century (think of it, we are operating on a PostModern paradigm, one that is now forty three years old! If you are generous and date Modernity to the mid 1800's, this PostModern period has lasted a third of that time!), to reconcile the things we are making with the times we are living... a spreading bifurcation.

Posted by Dennis at 10:16 PM | Comments (0)

Saltz on the WTC

Jerry Saltz unloads on the WTC memorials in the Village Voice, on the new tower design and architects in general:
September 11 is beyond words, buildings, and memorials. The eight finalists and Libeskind's plan are all examples of the corporate sublime. The buildings are bland, the memorials canned. They all sanitize and shrink-wrap our emotions in a fanatically tidy visual security blanket. Each makes us settle for less and turns a blind eye toward the heart. We, the living, deserve more. The dead, much more than that.

The spanking he gives architects is particularly stinging:

At a packed assembly of architects in Cooper Union's Great Hall, professionals from all over the globe met and listened to dozens of their own speak about the tragedy in ways I hadn't heard before or, thankfully, since. I love contemporary architecture, but I was appalled by the breathtaking opinion, expressed by many in attendance, that architects were the only ones who understood the site "in the deepest sense." Several exclaimed that "only Frank Gehry could build here," or extolled Zaha Hadid or Richard Meier. I admire all these people's work, but it seemed a bit premature and more than a little callous to be throwing names around. One expert brandished a bolt he swiped from the site; another griped that he hadn't been allowed to conduct his own "structural analysis." This would have been amusing had it not been so contemptible. These puffed-up professionals and autocratic academics believed that they were the ones who could set things right. Astonishingly, many referred to the attacks with a word I hadn't heard used to describe hell before:opportunity.

As they crowed, I cringed at how stone-blind, self-absorbed, and deluded they were. I thought about how for decades, architects like these have willfully disfigured our cities and eagerly torn down older, better buildings for their newer, lousy ones. Most defend their undertakings with hip theories or disdainful excuses about "uninformed clients" and "limited budgets." All imagined that what they had already ruined once, namely our cities, they could now fix. It was pathetic and unbearable.

He's right. Why is he right? The paucity of responses to the memorial and the tower is an indication of a crisis in architecture. I think it has something to do with the following:

1) ...where we are in history (a hyperextended postmodernity with no idea at large-anywhere, in how to turn the corner)...

2)...a professional identity instilled in the university that on one hand is a neccessity in order to build something as large as a building (temerity being an occupational hazard) and on the other inversely relfects the all too fragile position of power they have in the building process...

3)... an art form whose pallette includes the entire world, which in of itself can induce a possible G-d complex (more temerity)...

The alarm Saltz is pulling is important and neccessary, but artists (Saltz is a former painter) shouldn't indulge in shadenfreud. They-we, are subject to the same hubris and malaise as the architects are.

Posted by Dennis at 5:59 PM | Comments (0)


Snow Angels!

We had a great time up north in Michigan with Albert and Robbie and the kids Kira and Sean. The present we wrapped and boxed for airline checked baggage transport (an electric piano, just the size of a shoulder fired rocket launcher) was opened and inspected by the authorities, which was reassuring. Flying in the midst of this terror alert thing is a little hairy, and I'm relieved it all was so uneventful.

As Californians, a "White Xmas" is a mythic image for us. Awakening on Christmas day in the midst of snowfall was wonderful. Hot coffee, the couch by the window and the kids transfixed in front of the tree laden with presents...
A pretty special day.
Later, we got out into the snow...
And frolicked a bit, as long as we could stand the freezing temperatures. A swing in the back yard. The kids played with their presents. And we got to see the kids sled and ski, the fruit of Albert's surfer history transmitted to the next generation.

Posted by Dennis at 9:55 AM | Comments (0)

December 23, 2003

Happy Holidays, Everyone

tossa civic.jpg
Happy holidays, merry xmas and happy new year everybody!

Stephanie and I are getting ready to fly out to see Her brother's family in Michigan. The weather report says that it might not be a snowy holiday, but we have our fingers crossed for snow angels before we return to Dallas at the end of the week. Christmas is for the kids and this is the big draw, little Sean (2) and Kira (4).

Here's a big shout out to my galleries: Chac Mool, Nicole Klagsbrun, Andr? Buchmann, Tomio Koyama, Brett Shaheen, The Box, Mark M?ller... a huge toast to all of you. Thanks for everything!

And we also have an announcement: Stephanie and I have decided to move to Tossa sooner than later. There's much behind this decision, a complex of issues that point us in this direction, but let it suffice to say that life is too short.

The month of March will be consumed with the move. And I imagine the month of April will be consumed with the move-in. Our new address: No.6 Sant Telm, Tossa de Mar, Girona, Espa?a.
This is a collage of snapshots of the house when we first bought the place three years ago. It's hard to believe we will be living there soon.

For all our new friends in Dallas, our old pals in Texas and all our homies in L.A., no worries, mates! We are not moving away from you, we are moving to Spain instead. With our advancing technology, modernity will shrink the world to the extent that we will not be far. Give us a call, send us an email, check out this blog, send us a letter, or take a plane and say hello! Stephanie's new business venture will require that we will have to live both in the States and in Spain. We will have to travel alot as a result. So, you'll probably see more of us than not.

Stay tuned to this blog and I'll keep you posted. It'll be a non commercial reality show!

Besos y Brazos muy fuerte!

Posted by Dennis at 10:09 AM | Comments (0)

December 22, 2003

Five of Six

Monday night, and I've just completed the fifth of six paintings on the thin panels prepared so long ago. I've been working Satruday and Sunday, scraping the painting off once in the process.

Just in time, too... since we are off to Michigan tommorrow for Christmas holiday with Stephanie's brother and his family. I was sweating this one out, not being happy with it until the last few hours.


Since I've been stressing the time, sleeping in short intervals (fancy name for cat napping) because the very best time to paint is right when it is buttery wet. The trouble is, there are several levels I want to rise to, building the interleafed complexity until I get to the place where I'm finally planting those flower forms at the end. Each level requires strategy, blasting away indiscriminately rarely works, if at all. More later, I'm a little fried.

These pictures save the one at the top, are shot too yellow. So, I'll have to shoot pictures tomorrow morning with better light.

Posted by Dennis at 9:39 PM | Comments (0)

The Trade Center Tower Design

The World Trade Center Tower design was in the papers (this picture from the NYTimes, credit Jack Pottle/Esto), and I have a few thoughts I'd like to share with you in this blog... but not much time for a decent exposition. So, here are a few notes:

Firstly, "Freedom Tower"? 1,776 feet? Libeskind is often described as a literary architect, but I guess this label doesn't ensure quality. Sounds too corny to me and worse, a condescension.

Secondly, The presentation model is misleading. "...a glistening, nine-foot acrylic model..." It looks great, but the building probably won't look so glowingly ethereal. It would be nice though, but it's not possible... er probable.

Thirdly, the only way to save the design form becoming cheeze wiz ersatz office towers is to focus on the detailing and perhaps designing a considered procession of circulation overall. Libeskind might do the latter to some degree (but he doesn't have a free hand), but I don't usually think of his work as particularly accomplished when it comes to detailing, such as when a wall that meets the floor, or what happens when a hand touches a surface.

Fourthly, there is a probability that the design will become a sappy thrill ride in emotive-monument terms. I shudder to think of how badly the new Windows to the World might be designed, with the mishmash of a superstructure, the proposed windmills and cheezy knod to the Statue of Liberty in the spike aloft.

Fifthly, I have too much to say about the Muschamp article to note here. Maybe later. I think he's giving the team too much of a break.

Sixthly, A redesign of the WTC is problematic, bewilderingly so. Yes, a reassertion has to be made and the next design has to respond to what happened to be sure. The original towers were the epitome of the late 20th century and the replacement towers will have to belong to the 21st.


I think it might be best to rebuild the orignal design again (same twin tower forms, but a difference in structural and material detailing), a defiance against the nihilism that would seek to kill us all. The WTC will be a target no matter what the redesign is. The current proposal seems to shrink in fear.

As I understand it, the original WTC had troubles achieving a full occupancy, it was overdesigned in terms of leasable space. But now with the added memorial program and the possibility to refine the structural design, the original tower forms might provide lots of elbow room and a great symbol that you can't knock us down. (The original design was so unique in structural terms, Fosters and Associates was the best match, too bad.)

Posted by Dennis at 1:01 PM | Comments (0)

Ad Reinhardt

I wish I was in New York nowadays to see this show at the Daniel Silverstein Gallery in Chelsea, "How to Look at Ad Reinhardt". I found this article in the NYTimes last weekend.

His visual and verbal assaults took their most lasting form in a series of cartoons and satires, done mainly for the liberal New York newspaper PM in the late 1940's and for ArtNews in the early 1950's...

In "How to Look at Looking," he compares "picture artists" and "abstract painters" with a pair of chickens. The former is a hen that lays eggs of "Ignorance" while the latter produces "Intelligence" and "Progress," a result so laughably crude one can only assume that Reinhardt is razzing the idealism of his employer. It's not surprising that PM soon fired him; as Hess pointed out, it's laudable that they turned him loose in the first place. The art criticism in New York newspapers of the day was stunningly obtuse about contemporary art.

By the 50's, Reinhardt's colleagues were better established, and so he trained his guns on outposts that supported them, including the Museum of Modern Art. In his "Museum Racing Form," a 12-panel work that he did in 1951 for the short-lived magazine "Trans/formation," he handicaps the artists for the coming season and pairs them with their advocates. Clement Greenberg, James Johnson Sweeney and Alfred Barr pick Jackson Pollock, while Hess has his money on Willem de Kooning. He fills a final panel, "From the Horse's Mouth," with a series of dialogue balloons.

"My painting paints me," says one bubble. "I'm a primitive," says another. "I don't know what I'm doing. Please buy my masterpieces anyway."

As examples of the kind of blather that can still be overheard in cafes and galleries and art schools, Reinhardt's cartoons are still timely as satire.
Posted by Dennis at 12:13 PM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2003

Coffee & Blogs

The Economist has an interesting article bridging a 400+ year span from the advent of the coffee house to chatter in the internet:

With a new rationalism abroad in the spheres of both philosophy and commerce, coffee was the ideal drink. Its popularity owed much to the growing middle class of information workers?clerks, merchants and businessmen?who did mental work in offices rather than performing physical labour in the open, and found that coffee sharpened their mental faculties. Such men were not rich enough to entertain lavishly at home, but could afford to spend a few pence a day on coffee. Coffee-houses provided a forum for education, debate and self-improvement. They were nicknamed ?penny universities? in a contemporary English verse which observed: ?So great a Universitie, I think there ne'er was any; In which you may a Scholar be, for spending of a Penny.?

As with modern websites, the coffee-houses you went to depended on your interests, for each coffee-house attracted a particular clientele, usually by virtue of its location. Though coffee-houses were also popular in Paris, Venice and Amsterdam, this characteristic was particularly notable in London, where 82 coffee-houses had been set up by 1663, and more than 500 by 1700. Coffee-houses around the Royal Exchange were frequented by businessmen; those around St James's and Westminster by politicians; those near St Paul's Cathedral by clergymen and theologians. Indeed, so closely were some coffee-houses associated with particular topics that the Tatler, a London newspaper founded in 1709, used the names of coffee-houses as subject headings for its articles. Its first issue declared:

"All accounts of Gallantry, Pleasure, and Entertainment shall be under the Article of White's Chocolate-house; Poetry, under that of Will's Coffee-house; Learning, under...Grecian; Foreign and Domestick News, you will have from St James's Coffee-house."
Posted by Dennis at 6:57 AM | Comments (0)

December 19, 2003


The god of war seems to be a fitting name for these times. Note that the name comes after the painting is done, it's not as if I was conjuring scenes of battle as I was painting. Although it was a struggle to paint.

The images of this painting in the last post was a bit peaked, so this post is meant to do jpeg justice to the work. The image below is interesting to me in that it looks like I'm shooting it from and extreme oblique angle. But it is straight on, perpendicular.

I've done the lunar landing photo series before. I hope it doesn't get too repetative, but I think a composite of images near and far and near and nearer is the best way to present the paintings in reproduction in photo media.
This painting came very near to a second scrape off. It wasn't until I pulled the red field back over the riot in the center that I found a balance and the set up I needed to punch the creamy flower like forms that organize the tangle of smaller marks.
I had to pull the black across the center to drive the tonality one way and by doing this, I could drive back to the lighter forms in the end. I wonder how VanGogh and the impressionists were able to daub so cleanly across the surface of their canvases. They must have cleaned their brushes everytime they touched the canvas.
Here's the red field pullled back and the punches knitting the left side into the tangle again. I like how the punch sucks and depresses the field, pulling the taut surface into an undertow of paint.

Posted by Dennis at 12:39 PM | Comments (1)


Two friends in two different ocassions asked me what kind of music I listened to. That's when my mind goes blank, and I mumble something in response. I guess I don't know how to characterize it. I'm all across the board.

So, I was listening to my iTunes this morning and I wondered if I could copy the playlist and paste it here. What a surprise!

Here's the list, Bart and Steve:

Award Tour 1:19 A Tribe Called Quest Midnight Marauders
Sucka Nigga 4:04 A Tribe Called Quest Midnight Marauders
Electric Relaxation 4:03 A Tribe Called Quest Midnight Marauders
Troubles 4:28 Alicia Keys Songs In A Minor R&B 4
Rock Wit You 5:36 Alicia Keys Songs In A Minor R&B
The Life 5:25 Alicia Keys Songs In A Minor R&B 6
Mr. Man (Duet With Jimmy Cozier) 4:09 Alicia Keys Songs In A Minor
Live Where You Can 4:42 Bob Telson / Lee Breuer Gospel At Colonus
Fair Colonus 1:46 Bob Telson / Lee Breuer Gospel At Colonus
Stop Do Not Go On 4:26 Bob Telson / Lee Breuer Gospel At Colonus
How Shall I See You Through My Tears 4:36 Bob Telson / Lee Breuer
Lift Me Up (Like A Dove) 3:57 Bob Telson / Lee Breuer Gospel At Colonus
Sunlight Of No Light 2:45 Bob Telson / Lee Breuer Gospel At Colonus
Eternal Sleep 3:35 Bob Telson / Lee Breuer Gospel At Colonus
I Want To Be Free 6:50 Ohio Players Boogie Nights 2 Soundtrack
My One And Only Love 3:35 Sting Leaving Las Vegas Soundtrack
Come Rain Or Come Shine 3:40 Don Henley Leaving Las Vegas Soundtrack
A Harvest For The World 3:52 Jewell Murder Was The Case
Come When I Call 4:55 Danny Boy Murder Was The Case
Horny 4:42 B. Rezell Murder Was The Case Hip Hop/Rap
Funny Face 5:02 Various Artists Music From The Films Of Audrey Hepburn
Moon River 2:03 Various Artists Music From The Films Of Audrey Hepburn
Cloudy (Live) 3:25 Average White Band Pickin' Up The Pieces: The Best Of Average White Band (1974-1980) R&B

A Love Of Your Own 5:36 Average White Band Pickin' Up The Pieces: The Best Of Average White Band (1974-1980) R&B

The Very Thought Of You 3:50 Nat King Cole The Unforgettable Nat King Cole Jazz

It's Only A Paper Moon 3:08 Nat King Cole The Unforgettable Nat King Cole Jazz

(Get Your Kicks) On Route 66 3:43 Nat King Cole The Unforgettable Nat King Cole Jazz

Lush Life 3:47 Nat King Cole The Unforgettable Nat King Cole Jazz

That Sunday, That Summer 3:13 Nat King Cole The Unforgettable Nat King Cole Jazz

(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons 3:07 Nat King Cole The Unforgettable Nat King Cole Jazz

Straighten Up And Fly Right 2:38 Nat King Cole The Unforgettable Nat King Cole Jazz

Don't Get Around Much Anymore 3:14 Nat King Cole The Unforgettable Nat King Cole Jazz

Deep Blue Sea 3:56 Brian Eno Trainspotting Alternative & Punk
Trainspotting 10:34 Primal Scream Trainspotting Alternative & Punk
Perfect Day 3:44 Lou Reed Trainspotting Alternative & Punk
A Final Hit 3:15 Leftfield Trainspotting Alternative & Punk
Closet Romantic- damon albarn 3:09 Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Trainspotting Alternative & Punk

here but i?m gone 5:21 Curtis Mayfield New world order R&B

Move On Up 8:54 Curtis MayField & The Impressions The Anthology 1961-1977 (Disc 2) R&B

(Don't Worry) If There's A Hell Below We're All Going To Go 7:52 Curtis MayField & The Impressions The Anthology 1961-1977

On & On 5:25 Erykah Badu Live R&B 100 8

Apple Tree 2:54 Erykah Badu Live R&B

Searching 4:26 Erykah Badu Live R&B

Stay 4:57 Erykah Badu Live R&B

Tyrone 3:55 Erykah Badu Live R&B

Fields Of Gold 4:42 Eva Cassidy Songbird Folk

Gittin' A Little Hipper 2:49 James Brown Soul Pride 1960-1969 (

Go On Now 5:53 James Brown Soul Pride 1960-1969

Tighten Up (Live) 7:19 James Brown Soul Pride 1960-1969

The Popcorn 3:04 James Brown Soul Pride 1960-1969

Lowdown Popcorn 4:32 James Brown Soul Pride 1960-1969

Funky Drummer 9:28 James Brown Soul Pride 1960-1969

Naima 4:22 John Coltrane The Best Of John Coltrane

Equinox 8:34 John Coltrane The Best Of John Coltrane

Cousin Mary 5:49 John Coltrane The Best Of John Coltrane
Wise One 9:06 John Coltrane The Gentle Side Of John Coltrane
Lush Life 5:29 John Coltrane The Gentle Side Of John Coltrane
Alabama 2:27 John Coltrane The Gentle Side Of John Coltrane
My One And Only Love 4:56 John Coltrane The Gentle Side Of John Coltrane
'Cause I Love You 7:06 Lenny Williams Lenny Williams
So Very Hard To Go 3:40 Lenny Williams Lenny Williams
What Is Hip? 5:06 Lenny Williams Lenny Williams

Heart Of Gold 3:07 Neil Young Harvest Rock

Old Man 3:24 Neil Young Harvest Rock

The Needle And The Damage Done 2:03 Neil Young Harvest
Capricho ?rabe 5:08 Pepe Romero Music Of The Spanish Guitar
Goyescas - Intermedio 4:45 Pepe Romero Music Of The Spanish Guitar
Groove Holmes 2:31 The Beastie Boys The In Sound From Way Out!
Sabrosa 3:32 The Beastie Boys The In Sound From Way Out!
Namaste 3:58 The Beastie Boys The In Sound From Way Out!
In 3's 2:19 The Beastie Boys The In Sound From Way Out!
Eugene's Lament 2:11 The Beastie Boys The In Sound From Way Out!
Lighten Up 2:45 The Beastie Boys The In Sound From Way Out!
Transitions 2:35 The Beastie Boys The In Sound From Way Out!
Take Five 5:28 The Dave Brubeck Quartet Time Out Jazz
Three To Get Ready 5:25 The Dave Brubeck Quartet Time Out
That Lady (Part 1 & 2) 5:36 The Isley Brothers Isley's Greatest Hits

Footsteps In The Dark (Part 1 & 2) 5:06 The Isley Brothers Isley's Greatest Hits (Volume One)

Fight The Power (Part 1 & 2) 5:17 The Isley Brothers Isley's Greatest Hits (Volume One) R&B

Ironshirt 3:24 Tom Sachs

Japanesmo I 4:14 Tom Sachs

Japanesmo II 4:09 TomSachs

Japanesmo III 3:25 TomSachs

Intro 0:50 India.Arie Acoustic Soul R&B

Vid?o 4:10 India.Arie Acoustic Soul R&B

Promises 4:37 India.Arie Acoustic Soul R&B

Brown Skin 4:56 India.Arie Acoustic Soul R&B

Strength, Courage, & Wisdom 4:57 India.Arie

Nature 4:24 India.Arie Acoustic Soul R&B

Back To The Middle 5:11 India.Arie Acoustic Soul R&B
Ready For Love 4:28 India.Arie Acoustic Soul R&B
Interlude 1:24 India.Arie Acoustic Soul R&B

Always In My Head 4:40 India.Arie Acoustic Soul R&B
I See God In You 3:17 India.Arie Acoustic Soul R&B
Simple 3:26 India.Arie Acoustic Soul R&B

Part Of My Life 4:03 India.Arie Acoustic Soul R&B
Beautiful 4:05 India.Arie Acoustic Soul R&B

Outro 1:20 India.Arie Acoustic Soul R&B

Wonderful 5:32 India.Arie Acoustic Soul R&B

1nce Again 3:49 A Tribe Called Quest (featuring Tammy Lucas) Beats Rhymes & Life Hip Hop/Rap

Mind Power 3:55 A Tribe Called Quest Beats Rhymes & Life Hip Hop/Rap

Le Pas Due Chat Noir 8:01 Anouar Brahem Le Pas Du Chat Noir
De Tout Ton Coeur 7:41 Anouar Brahem Le Pas Du Chat Noir
Leila Au Pays Du Carrousel 6:37 Anouar Brahem Le Pas Du Chat Noir
Pique-nique ? Nagpur 4:13 Anouar Brahem Le Pas Du Chat Noir
C'est Ailleurs 8:04 Anouar Brahem Le Pas Du Chat Noir
Toi Qui Sait 6:03 Anouar Brahem Le Pas Du Chat Noir
L'arbre Qui Voit 6:13 Anouar Brahem Le Pas Du Chat Noir
Un Point Bleu 1:52 Anouar Brahem Le Pas Du Chat Noir
Les Ailes Due Bourak 4:54 Anouar Brahem Le Pas Du Chat Noir
Rue Du D?part 6:05 Anouar Brahem Le Pas Du Chat Noir
Leila Au Pays Du Carrousel, var. 5:39 Anouar Brahem Le Pas Du Chat Noir
Keep Your Head to the Sky 5:12 Earth, Wind & Fire Head to the Sky
All in Love Is Fair 3:42 Stevie Wonder Innervisions R&B/Soul
He's Misstra Know It All 5:35 Stevie Wonder Innervisions
Visions 5:23 Stevie Wonder Innervisions

Anyone Who Had a Heart 5:46 Luther Vandross Give Me the Reason
A House Is Not a Home 7:07 Luther Vandross Never Too Much
In da Club 3:13 50 Cent Get Rich or Die Tryin' Hip Hop/Rap
The Way You Look Tonight 3:01 Fred Astaire Steppin'Out: Astaire Sings
The Way You Look Tonight 3:49 Rod Stewart

The Way You Look Tonight 4:32 Steve Tyrell A New Standard
California Love 4:47 2Pac, Dr. Dre & Roger Troutman

Sinner Man (Stereo) 10:19 Nina Simone

A Change Is Gonna Come 3:41 Aaron Neville

Hurt 3:36 Johnny Cash American IV - The Man Comes Around
The One On The Right Is On The Left 2:47 Johnny Cash

Girl From The North Country 3:42 Johnny Cash

If I Were A Carpenter 2:59 Johnny Cash

Sunday Morning Coming Down 4:09 Johnny Cash

Flesh And Blood 2:36 Johnny Cash

I Still Miss Someone 2:34 Johnny Cash

Ring Of Fire 2:35 Johnny Cash

Sweethaearts on Parade 1:55 Tony Fernandez Mr. Banjo
Since I met you 3:35 Tony Fernandez Mr. Banjo
CoffeePot 3:06 Tony Fernandez Mr. Banjo

Thief of Love 3:39 Tony Fernandez Mr. Banjo

I Still Miss Someone 3:14 Roseanne Cash

I Walk The Line 4:18 Travis Tritt

Give My Love To Rose 2:55 Bruce Springsteen

Don't Take Your Guns To Town 3:47 Charlie Robison

Flesh And Blood 3:44 Emmylou Harris, Sheryl Crow, Mary ChapinCarpenter

Hardin Wouldn't Run 4:23 Steve Earle

For Luther (I Walk The Line Reprise) 0:48 Johnny Cash Tribute

Mountain Folks 1:56 Ralph Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Boys

Down Where The River Bends 2:56 Ralph Stanley & Dwight Yoakam

I Never Will Marry 2:41 Ralph Stanley & Emmylou Harris

I'll Pass Over Thee 2:16 Ralph Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Boys
Rank Stanger 2:54 Ralph Stanley & Tom T. Hall

Let Me Walk Lord By Your Side 3:26 Ralph Stanley & Vince Gill

Miner's Prayer 3:11 Ralph Stanley & Dwight Yoakam

The Fields Have Turned Brown 2:57 Ralph Stanley & Charlie Waller
Great High Mountain 2:04 Ralph Stanley & Emmylou Harris
Sailing Home 2:07 Ralph Stanley & Patty Loveless & Alison Krauss

Angel Band 2:34 Ralph Stanley & George Jones & Vince Gill

Chega De Saudade 4:16 Yo-Yo Ma Obrigado Brazil

Crazy in Love 3:55 Beyonc? Dangerously in Love

Hot in Herre 3:48 Nelly Nellyville Hip Hop/Rap

It Was a Good Day 4:20 Ice Cube Ice Cube

Jenny from the Block 3:07 feat. Jadakis, Jennifer Lopez, & Styles P.

Always on Time 4:05 Ja Rule Pain Is Love Hip Hop/Rap
Dilemma 4:49 Kelly Rowland & Nelly Simply Deep R&B/Soul
Ngiculela-Es Una Historia-I Am Singing 3:48 Stevie Wonder

You Will Know 5:00 Stevie Wonder

Soldiers 1:15 James Taylor Mud Slide Slim & The Blue Horizon
Sunny Skies 2:21 James Taylor Sweet Baby James Pop
Walking Man 3:35 James Taylor Walking Man Rock
Try a Little Tenderness 3:48 Otis Redding Love Songs R&B/Soul
Suite No. 1 in G Major, S. 1007 - 2:31 I. Prelude The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites

Suite No. 1 in G Major, S. 1007 - 3:47 II. Allemande The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites

Suite No. 1 in G Major, S. 1007 - 2:26 III. Courante The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites

Suite No. 1 in G Major, S. 1007 - 2:56 IV. Sarabande The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites

Suite No. 1 in G Major, S. 1007 - 3:05 V. Menuet The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites

Suite No. 1 in G Major, S. 1007 - 1:49 VI. Gigue The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites

Suite No. 4 in E-flat Major, S. 1010 - 4:50 I. Prelude The 6 Unaccompanied Cello

Suite No. 4 in E-flat Major, S. 1010 - 3:49 II. Allemande The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites

Suite No. 4 in E-flat Major, S. 1010 - 3:42 III. Courante The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites

Suite No. 4 in E-flat Major, S. 1010 - 4:31 IV. Sarabamde The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites

Suite No. 4 in E-flat Major, S. 1010 - 5:04 V. Bourree The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites

Suite No. 4 in E-flat Major, S. 1010 - 2:35 VI. Gigue The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites

Suite No. 5 in C Minor, S. 1011 - 6:18 I. Prelude The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites

Suite No. 5 in C Minor, S. 1011 - 5:22 II. Allemande The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites

Suite No. 5 in C Minor, S. 1011 - 1:56 III. Courante The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites

Suite No. 5 in C Minor, S. 1011 - 3:18 IV. Sarabande The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites

Suite No. 5 in C Minor, S. 1011 - 4:15 V. Gavotte The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites

Suite No. 5 in C Minor, S. 1011 - 2:34 VI. Gigue The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites

Suite No. 2 in D Minor, S. 1008 - 4:03 I. Prelude The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites

Suite No. 2 in D Minor, S. 1008 - 3:10 II. Allemande The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites

Suite No. 2 in D Minor, S. 1008 - 1:48 III. Courante The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites

Suite No. 2 in D Minor, S. 1008 - 4:42 IV. Sarabande The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites

Suite No. 2 in D Minor, S. 1008 - 3:00 V. Menuett The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites

Suite No. 2 in D Minor, S. 1008 - 2:18 VI. Gigue The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites

Suite No. 3 in C Major, S. 1009 - 3:14 I. Prelude The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites

Suite No. 3 in C Major, S. 1009 - 3:35 II. Allemande The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites

Suite No. 3 in C Major, S. 1009 - 2:27 III. Courante The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites

Suite No. 3 in C Major, S. 1009 - 3:43 IV. Sarabande The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites

Suite No. 3 in C Major, S. 1009 - 3:23 V. Bouree The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites

Suite No. 3 in C Major, S. 1009 - 3:07 VI. Gigue The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites

Suite No. 6 in D Major, S. 1012 - 4:12 I. Prelude The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites

Suite No. 6 in D Major, S. 1012 - 7:01 II. Allemande The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites

Suite No. 6 in D Major, S. 1012 - 3:44 III. Courante The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites

Suite No. 6 in D Major, S. 1012 - 4:30 IV. Sarabande The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites

Suite No. 6 in D Major, S. 1012 - 3:28 V. Gavotte The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites (

Suite No. 6 in D Major, S. 1012 - 3:54 VI. Gigue The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites

Coyote 5:01 Joni Mitchell Hejira Rock

Sonata in F major KV 533-494

O Tannenbaum 5:08 Vince Guaraldi Trio A Charlie Brown Christmas Holiday

What Child Is This 2:25 Vince Guaraldi Trio A Charlie Brown Christmas Holiday

Linus And Lucy 3:06 Vince Guaraldi Trio A Charlie Brown Christmas Holiday

Christmas Time Is Here 6:05 Vince Guaraldi Trio A Charlie Brown Christmas Holiday

Christmas Time Is Here (Vocal) 2:47 Vince Guaraldi Trio A Charlie Brown Christmas

Skating 2:27 Vince Guaraldi Trio A Charlie Brown Christmas Holiday

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing 1:55 Vince Guaraldi Trio A Charlie Brown Christmas

Christmas Is Coming 3:25 Vince Guaraldi Trio A Charlie Brown Christmas Holiday

The Christmas Song 3:17 Vince Guaraldi Trio A Charlie Brown Christmas Holiday

Greensleeves 5:26 Vince Guaraldi Trio A Charlie Brown Christmas Holiday

Symphony no. 2: I. Adagio - Allegro con brio 10:21 Ludwig van Beethoven Symphonies Nos. 2 & 7

II. Larghetto 10:01 Ludwig van Beethoven Symphonies Nos. 2 & 7 Classical

III. Scherzo. Allegro 3:43 Ludwig van Beethoven Symphonies Nos. 2 & 7
IV. Allegro molto 6:23 Ludwig van Beethoven Symphonies Nos. 2 & 7
Symphony no. 7: I. Poco sostenuto - Vivace 11:30 Ludwig van Beethoven Symphonies Nos. 2 & 7

II. Allegretto 8:01 Ludwig van Beethoven Symphonies Nos. 2 & 7
III. Presto 7:21 Ludwig van Beethoven Symphonies Nos. 2 & 7

IV. Allegro con brio 6:24 Ludwig van Beethoven Symphonies Nos. 2 & 7
The following unnamed tracks are Algerian Rai music, supercool:
Track 01 6:28
Track 02 7:14
Track 03 4:48
Track 04 6:08
Track 05 4:55
Track 06 3:59
Track 07 4:30
Track 08 4:26
Track 09 3:42
Track 10 5:48
Track 11 6:56
Ya Lemmima 5:29 Cheikha Remitti Musiques Et Chants d'Alg Rie
Track 13 7:30
Track 01 2:30
Track 02 6:06
Track 03 3:45
Track 04 6:03
Track 05 4:52
Track 06 5:07
Track 07 3:38
Track 08 5:11
Track 09 3:29
Track 10 7:43
Track 11 4:12
Track 12 4:52
Track 01 4:51
Track 02 3:29
Track 03 4:19
Track 04 4:12
Track 05 4:18
Track 06 3:53
Track 07 5:46
Track 08 4:08
Track 09 3:53
Track 10 4:05
Track 11 3:50
Track 12 4:54
Fior Di Nha Esperanca 4:16 Cesaria Evora Cafe Atlantico

Vaquinha Mansa 4:49 Cesaria Evora Cafe Atlantico

Amor Di Mundo 4:07 Cesaria Evora Cafe Atlantico

Paraiso Di Atlantico 3:57 Cesaria Evora Cafe Atlantico

Sorte 3:49 Cesaria Evora Cafe Atlantico Latin

Carnaval De Sao Vicente 3:49 Cesaria Evora Cafe Atlantico
Desilusao Dum AmDJer 5:38 Cesaria Evora Cafe Atlantico

Nho Antone Escaraderode 3:47 Cesaria Evora Cafe Atlantico
Beijo De Longe 4:01 Cesaria Evora Cafe Atlantico

Roma Criola 4:11 Cesaria Evora Cafe Atlantico Latin

Perseguida 4:51 Cesaria Evora Cafe Atlantico Latin

Maria Elena 3:31 Cesaria Evora Cafe Atlantico Latin

Cabo Verde Manda Mantenha 4:03 Cesaria Evora Cafe Atlantico
Terezinha 3:25 Cesaria Evora Cafe Atlantico Latin

Black Cow 5:10 Steely Dan Aja Rock

Aja 8:00 Steely Dan Aja Rock
Home At Last 5:35 Steely Dan Aja Rock

I Got The News 5:07 Steely Dan Aja Rock
Josie 4:31 Steely Dan Aja Rock

Lost Ones 5:33 Lauryn Hill The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill
Ex Factor 5:26 Lauryn Hill The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill
To Zion 6:09 Lauryn Hill The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill
Doo Wop (That Thing) 5:20 Lauryn Hill The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill
When It Hurts So Bad 5:42 Lauryn Hill The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill
I Used To Love Him 5:39 Lauryn Hill The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill
Forgive Them Father 5:15 Lauryn Hill The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill
Every Ghetto Every City 5:14 Lauryn Hill The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill
Nothing Even Matters 5:50 Lauryn Hill The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill
Everything Is Everything 4:53 Lauryn Hill The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill
Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill 4:17 Lauryn Hill The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill
This Christmas 4:09 Donny Hathaway A Donny Hathaway Collection

Posted by Dennis at 11:20 AM | Comments (0)

December 18, 2003


I recieved an email from a young artist friend the other day. I didn?t answer it quickly. These thoughts had to jell a bit. I figured that it?s suitable for a blog post herewith:
(names are changed to be discrete)

He asked me:
?Q? What do you think of making paintings based on the following attachments??

Hello Jesse:

Three thoughts have been rattling around in my head.

1. Jesse, the question you pose is one only you can answer. It were otherwise, it wouldn?t... couldn?t be art.

It?s like the act of dowsing. You know, the water witches and all that? I don?t believe in dowsing literally, but I think it's a good simile for a mind going into the world and searching for one?s way as an artist in it. There?s so much smaltz in divination that it's a hot potato, nearly unusable as an evocation of the searching, curious and creative mind. But if you can shield the corn-pone aspect, it's a good way of thinking about how you should move into the world, tuning into your curiosities.

Curiosity is a maxim of mine. ?To be an artist is to discover your curiosity and make it vivid for others.? I like the democracy of curiosity: everyone is born with a unique perspective. When I taught architecture, I struggled against those in the faculty who thought of teaching as a hyper didactic activity. (There were two administrations in the school I taught at, the first was a jewel, the second was... all too human.) They wanted to mold the students specifically, to transmit the contemporary dialog and require that the students read it back in their work. I disagreed, but carefully so. Architecture requires five full years to teach design. Each semester or quarter is an orchestration of carefully designed modules, each demanding mastery of the one previous to it. Teachers had a responsibility to transmit the basics of these modules and check to see if the student understood. The didacticism I was referring to was Theory, the contemporary (although it has the shelf life of milk), intellectual dialog. Success for them was to hear this dialog parroted back at the end of the semester. I disagreed of course. I wanted the students to be exposed to this dialog, that was important. I wanted them to be intimate enough for them to form an opinion about it. Above this, I wanted to know the nature of their curiosity and from this, to seek out the corresponding thinkers to expand on it. Not only would they own their activities, but they would enlarge it in a way deeper and more personal than otherwise. And not only this, but I would learn something too, because they would become explorers and thinkers on their own right. After leading them, they could lead me... a nice bargain.

By telling you all that, I wanted to suggest that curiosity alone is not enough. It must be bound with many other things: with art history, with the art dialog, with the medium itself that exercises the drive to make art, with the machinery of conceptualizations that allows a cerebral reflection on what you are doing, with...

Art is-a-complex and it's organic in it?s binding.

2. I went to an art show nearby. An acquaintance here in Dallas invited me, an artist who's struggling. All artists are brothers and sisters. We are making a mad gamble, risking the worst end of our lives for this curiosity.

It was late at night and the venue was nearby here in downtown Dallas. I decided to walk, the address being only a twenty minutes away from my loft. Along the way, I wondered what it would be like. It was a word of mouth thing. Maybe it was a cool underground party/show. It was near the museum, that was good but it could be pretentious. Strange that they found cheap rent there, but the adjacency signified something.

I had seen this artist?s work online, it was hard to assess it there, but it seemed to need a recognition of the larger contemporary dialog. The work had naive aspects that had to be polished away. For example, he showed his for-money commercial work alongside the high art paintings. Art deco, airbrused commercialized retro cubism. The commercial stuff was not bad as it was executed competently. And surely, nothing succeeds as well in a PostModern world than a self aware use of schmaltz, ironic-winky-winky. But he wasn?t winking and he wasn?t aware that he should be doing so with the paintings he was fronting.

I got to this place, a third floor of a high rise that some artsy organization had commandeered for a come-one come-all art fest. The horror. I lost count of the terrifyingly naive installations, most of it paintings. Sticky labels next to the paintings with scrawled names, titles and prices. The work was so bad it defied description. Exponentially naive. A cash bar was set up, a DJ table spinning records, everyone was dressed up, a very special night ,G-d bless them all. As I wandered mortified, hoping to turn a corner and be surprised and humbled, my revulsion was only confirmed from room to room. Lots of representational work. Horses, humans of all types, fantasy landscapes, unicorns. Lots of abstract paint slapping. That hurt the most. I wandered, thinking about what art was and what this stuff is. And in the middle of it stood my new friend/acquaintance. I could tell on the look on his face he knew he made a mistake by hanging his work there. He, like me, wasn?t a young man anymore. Did he know the depth of his mistake? I began with cordialities.

Then I said to him: ?You know, being an artist trying to make it is like being a shipwreck survivor out at sea, on a raft. You?re thirsty as hell and there?s all this water all around you.? I pointed to the show beyond. ?But you?ll die if you drink the sea water.?

?The only person who can destroy an artist is the artist him/herself. You can degrade yourself by slacking out, placing yourself into a lesser context. You have to pole vault your human limits, using diamond hard idealizations of your work....? (note this thought provoked the blog post of December 15th) ?...You have to judge yourself by a jury of greats you select. You have to be fierce about it. You have to be willing to withstand the possibility that no one might notice in your lifetime. You have to form an artworld inside yourself as intense as mortality itself.?

Then, I struggled to talk about the importance of the art dialog. I struggled because it wasn?t a simple matter of tuning in and flattering it. It?s like this... you have to know it intimately and take the parts of it that feeds your curiosity and damn the rest. Damn the rest to hell because the art dialog is wonderful and sparkling and defining of what we call ?high art?... and yet it is (restraining explicatives)... it falls short. It falls so short sometimes, most times, that it?s sad and comical. And as much as it turns my stomach for all of it?s pretension and hubris and willful ignorance, this lack is actually a hidden opportunity. This lack is the place in history that you can fill, if you are up to it.

He was a gent. He appreciated the advice and I appreciated that I could be candid. Someone cut into the conversation and the artist was engaged in the meet and greet. I got the hell out of there.

3. The other day, a friend reported a recent visit to the Basel Miami Art Fair. She described how a collector friend bought a small Gerhard Richter abstract painting for an investment. It cost her perhaps in the mid-five figures. She said it will pay for her daughter?s university education someday.

What happened to buying art for its? own sake?

Sure, she mentioned that she would enjoy the painting until that day. But I wrapped my head around an immense artworld with all these people investing, translating money into art so that a future translation will make more money. In this world, making art is like making money (images of a Treasury Department printing press in my head).

Now, I am a capitalist. I say this without shame and against the hypocrisy of an artworld that embraces the anticapitalist Left as they simultaneously sustain a virtual stock market. But are we... is our artworld merely capitalistic?

Capitalism, as it is connected to private property, to the free market, to democracy and individualism, to representational self-checking governments; is like an operating system in a computer. It is a basis for the application programs. Culture is like an application program. It rests on the operating system, it depends on it and yet it surmounts it in a specific complexity. Maybe art has a destiny to return to a state of capital in the fullness of a collector?s life. But during that life, what makes is that it levitates over the operating system, defying gravity.


So there it is, Jesse. An answer to your question in three parts.

All the best to you and Merry Xmas, happy holidays!


Posted by Dennis at 10:48 PM | Comments (0)


I shot the jpegs on this one fast at the end of the day, a little rushed. So I have to reshoot for a later post. Here it is in minature so you can read the overall layout.
As I was writing in the previous post, I had a tough time with the proportions. The shapes were slagging off to both sides. There is something like a contraposto that I look for, a proportion of massing and counterbalancing. After slogging away, hoping to turn a corner that rescues virture from vice, I face the facts and scrape it off to try again. This time, I hang a mrrror and hammer in a few guidlines, massing in silhouette.
The trouble is, the literal representation even as wispy as it was, was too constraining. Once I laid it out, I wanted to blow it away with thick paint. Later, once I was rocking and rolling, I sought to discipline the slap happiness back into the schema again. I like the tension between one state where the marks disappear into an image and the other state where the marks are so material it hurts. I'm uncomfortable either in "pure" abstraction or straight ahead representation.

Here are shots of the painting laid horizontal.

A sea of paint.

These shots are glistening too much, such is alla prima.

In a drawing, a tool is pulled, scribing a mark that makes a distinction of one against another. With paint, it's about liquidity. Paint can pool and ooze, one daub almost moves of its' own will, less a distinction and more of a conditionality. Everything is vulnerable, subject to change. A drawing makes things stationary, painting has everything in motion.

Some have said this is like sculpture, but color and its' intermixing tampers with the association.

Posted by Dennis at 10:41 PM | Comments (0)

the wop

I like the ability to lightly handle the paint in a work on paper. Flicks of the wrist and the tools can be held very lightly, rendering impressive effects on the painting. Something changes with a canvas covered big panel. I don't think you can merely increase the size of the tools, either.

my favorite comparison is of a gekko that can walk on a ceiling versus a borontosaurus whose scale is on the other extreme.

Flicks and smears, twists of the wrist.

Posted by Dennis at 10:12 PM | Comments (0)


The past couple of days have been intense. I've been painting the fourth of six panels and a work on paper (wop) simultaneously. Dr. Evil and miniMe. The wop (miniMe) is shown above in a preliminary state.

Red, red, red. Cadmium red, that is... with a little white and ochre to temper it. It's a middle tone, so the tonality is hard to manage because you are starting out having to go light or dark immediately. Here, as for the pupose of the series, is a schema of portrait, an organization that is a favorite of mine. A knot of paintagainst a monochrome field. Monochrome painters I know probably think I'm pooping on an otherwise good painting.

I'm showing the painting below in the same preliminary state to illustrate a point: there's something about massing and proportions that become important very early in the experience. Here in the wop, I like the shapes very much. It has the bones of a good painting. However, the painting below is goofy as all hell. I hit the mark in the wop, but not in the panel.

I started work on this painting Tuesday. I scraped it off Wednesday morning. I almost scraped it again today around three in the afternoon. I finished it around six in the afternoon. Since this is alla prima, I have to make hay whilst it's wet. So, I cat nap along the way, a little sleep deprived. It's fun!
12 18 03 scrapeoff.jpg

Posted by Dennis at 10:02 PM | Comments (0)

December 16, 2003

Ooooh... Yeeeeeaaaaah

I think I've cracked the code today.

The html code, that is.

Before, this stuff seemed like a calculus class I took back in the day.

Simple errors kept me from catching on.

But now, I can do this and this and this.

I can't make them blink.

I can't play with font size yet.

I want to do colors, but it will take too much detective work.

Posted by Dennis at 6:34 PM | Comments (1)

Buddy List

Artists on my mind at the moment:

1. Richter (his "Frozen Spontenaity" a' la Lasker and the abstract Bilds in relation to his representational photo reproductions)

2. David Park (the other end of the spectrum from Richter's Abstract Bilds)

3. Francis Bacon (should be on the top of the list)

4. Picasso (the time when he was travelling outside of Barcelona on vacation from Paris, hammering out the ramifications of the African masks)

Posted by Dennis at 10:06 AM | Comments (2)

December 15, 2003


I had this notion as I was painting that last work on paper this morning, so
I thought I would hammer it out:

What unites my experiences in the Navy and Architecture and Art is a common relation to the conceptual ideal of each profession. Each operates variously in reference to an idealized model of its' practice. But one of these cannot exist without the essential embrace of its? defining conceptual ideal.

In the Navy, there is the legacy of the sailor's world, a heritage that goes back to the dawn of human history. Even the days of Odysseus were long in the tooth for the then ancient seafarer. Unfortunately, the Navy of my era had little use for the customs and form of seafaring and it was at that time in the process of scuttling most if not all of that legacy by eliminating most vestiges of tradition: language and jargon, the uniform, communications such as bells and whistle codes, age old protocol of conduct between sailors aboard ship. I felt it was unfortunate and wasteful.

I remember regarding this, the nature of a tradition lost. I had formed the conviction that there is a specific value to tradition that isn't simplistically anachronistic. There was something special about a wisdom culled from history and preserved in a heritage of imparted form. There must have been a way to avoid the disposal of recieved wisdom. There must have been a way to keep tradition modern, to carry the past into the future and avoid the wholesale discard while fulfilling the mandate of modernity: to reconcile the things you make with the life you are living.

Too often, we throw out the baby with the bath water in our zeal and anticipation of the next and the new. The example of the succession of rail to freeway in Los Angeles is a prime example. Swayed by our dream to live a George Jetson future now, we scuttled what was once an extensive and delightful regional rail system for an automobile based transportation solution which we would soon discover to be not enough to address all our transportation concerns of the near future.

In architecture, there too is an idealized model of the architect as a professional and of architecture as an art form. This model is imparted almost exclusively within the environment of undergraduate architecture school. It takes five years to teach people how to design buildings together with the package of supporting knowledge (engineering, mechanical systems, human factors, etc.), basic undergraduate humanities, and electives. In this world, ideals of creative thought, discipline and conduct are imparted to the neophyte.

Once the student leaves school for apprenticeship and professional licensure, the datum's of design, humanities, and increasingly, professional conduct are increasingly remote as the rip tide of business sucks the architect into a day for day management miasma. It is not unusual to hear architects complain that students who have just graduated are not professionally useable in the office, indicating that a lack of regard for the function of apprenticeship that was once designed to train the young architect in world of professional practice and the set of skills and conceptualizations necessary for the acculturation of the architect's mindset. It is also not unusual to hear the veterano architect wax nostalgic for the halcyon days of design studio, lofty explorations become rare in the maw of professional practice.

I hope that this illustrates well enough how the ideal of architecture is held within the bosom of architecture school. This is a recent development. My mentor, an architect who was initiated into the profession in the seventies was one of the last of the generation that could receive a generous acculturation into the world of architecture through apprenticeship, an education outside of formal schooling. Today, without the university experience, it could be asserted that the ideal of architecture could disappear altogether as the profession dissolves into the commercial dynamics of the building industry.

In the artworld, it can not only be said that there are many artworlds (the set containing the full spectrum including the naive artists in the craft fairs to the seemingly arcane pretzel logic of the international ?high? art scene), but that all artworlds but one are phantoms. All artworlds are cultural constructions and as such, are conditional to the extreme. The one authentic artworld is the one an artist generates within him or herself.

One of the most dangerous hazards to an artist is the misfortune of having his artworld highjacked by another, more aggressive cultural citizen. This may sound funny to people outside this bubble of contemporary art, but it is a palpable hazard that one could actually be persuaded that art is something that exists outside them, somewhere else. In this unfortunate circumstance, the artist begins to chase a fleeting definition of art forever outside of their grasp. Without the ability to possess a personal vision, one is in danger of fulfilling someone else?s vision, inevitably always falling short. More importantly, one needs a vision that burns, a fierce conviction, a grapple that rivals the price of mortality itself. This points to a reality that the artworld must exist within the artist first and foremost. The artist must manifest an artworld, the artist must be in effect, the first audience. All other audiences must be secondary, tertiary, subsequent effects in ever expanding rings. The achievement of the widest rings of audience, the accolade of the world at large, has meaning only if the artist is the first member of the audience. Without this prime condition, art does not really exist, it will become a mere affectation, a cosmetic instrument for the ego, lost.

Therefore, it could be said that this conceptual ideal of the artist does not exist in the mists of history as it does for sailors. I?m writing here of a specific ideal as an artist in our time, here in the West, in what exists in art museums, art schools and what is regarded as art dialog. The art dialog is a special qualifying term in the artworld. It is indicative of what is relevant, what separates it qualitatively from lesser art. This also distinguishes it from art from non Western cultures... for example, the decoration of a Dogon hut entrance. The conceptualization of the persona of the (Western) artist is unique and can be characterized by the Oedipal turn: the the constant questioning by each successive generation of the one previous to it. In short, it is the story line we heard in the darkened slide lecture rooms in art history class, or in the great books of art history. This art is defined by a fundamental condition of freedom. This is an art that does not exist in the ?then?, but in the ?now?.

Nor is this art ideal formed and sustained solely within the cocoon of the university as it does for architects. Here, I am pressing the edge of my argument, as the realm of the architect is not wholly separate from the contemporary artist. The line that separates architecture form art is design, the insistent context of the client, a perpetual out of the body experience that grounds the architect. No such tether leashes the artist to the world.

The ideal that I have been identifying here exists first and foremost within the heart and mind of the artist. As such, the ideal of art is more insistent for artists than it is for sailors and architects. It is a necessary and primal condition. This, a seamless fusion of the evanescent and concrete.

Posted by Dennis at 8:26 AM | Comments (0)

Wild Weasel

Sometimes, like this time, I start painting in my head, forecasting moves like a chess player. After doing this over and over, I derive a way to begin. Then, I find my intentions squashed... I scrape it off and I am left to refigure my path, more chess plotting and I recommence. Then my intentions are squashed again and I am left with a possible scrape off... or a possible new path, an opportunity to stumble into something new. So I devise another possiblity, given the new ordinates and I take the chance. Sometimes it's a success wilder than I could have anticipated. Sometimes, it's too wierd.. meaning that it is different from what I had done before... therefore I wouldn't know up from down, good from bad. Sometimes it's so ugly it's good looking, like that puppy the farmer couldn't kill.

I do't know what I did last night, but I'll keep it and move on.

Posted by Dennis at 8:23 AM | Comments (0)

Winter Tossa

tossa 12 15 03.jpg
I'm painting into the wee hours. Not much to show you yet, but the feeling is good so far. I thought I'd check into Tossa's webcam and see what the weather is like: 48 degrees at shortly before ten in the morning. The same as Dallas. The pic is nice, I thought I'd share it here.

Posted by Dennis at 2:39 AM | Comments (0)


This underlines my position that the role of arttalk/artwriting is to lasso the art experience rather than replace it with text:

"Edvard Munch's famous painting The Scream, depicting a gape-mouthed skeletal figure clutching his hands to his ears against the backdrop of a fiery sky, was inspired by the lurid sunsets visible in Norway in 1883. These unusual sunsets, which could be seen everywhere from Europe to North America, were caused by the eruption of a volcano on the Indonesian island of Krakatoa, hundreds of thousands of miles away.

Well, I'm glad we've got that little mystery cleared up. Here I was thinking that The Scream was fuelled by Munch's extraordinary talent for rendering emotion in paint, and represented both the apogee of expressionist painting and the quintessential statement of human alienation in the industrial age. I am relieved to discover it's just a picture of a geological event."

Posted by Dennis at 1:54 AM | Comments (0)

Dancing on the Grave

another shovelful of soil on the grave of theory:

"In the 1970's and 80's, legions of students and professors in humanities departments embraced the view that the world was a ''text'' -- that the personal and political were shaped by language and that literary and cultural critics possessed tools as powerful as those of, say, political scientists for understanding the world and effecting social change. While outside observers have long inveighed against theory's abstruse argot and political pretensions, this year theory seems to have lost much of its cachet, even among its would-be defenders."

Posted by Dennis at 1:47 AM | Comments (0)

December 12, 2003


I remember the scene in the Wizard of Oz. where Dorothy finds the Tinman in the forest and she has to squirt oil into his joints to get him moving again.

I was just about to shelf this when I paused and doubted whether it had enough density. This was a tough one, I don't know how describe why.

But now, I'm thinking about another work on paper that's in the black framework, similar to the paintings I sent to Z?rich and Cologne recently. I'm also thinking about painting one that's flat out representational. What the heck?

The issue of abstraction and representation is a curious one. I always felt the two were not necessarily mutually exclusive but connected, two halves of the same coin. It is our Western-ness (our proensity to see the world as composed of individuals) that renders us blind to the connection. The mind sees pattern in everything, we are always figuring what we see. (I think Gombrich's "Art and Illusion" is wonderful.) And abstraction is visuality with the lynchpin of representation loosened.

I've always described the use of representation in my work as like the removal of the engine from the representional vehicle to power an abstract project. By this, I mean that I use the codes of representation (bilateral symmetry, diminishing scale, horizontal versus vertical organization) to inflect and loosely shape the material of abstraction. If the coding got too literal, I would contradict it to keep the eyes/mind from coming to rest.

And why were the last two paragraphs necessary? prepare you for what might come later.

Posted by Dennis at 6:30 PM | Comments (0)

Peter Zimmermann

Angstrom gallery featured Peter Zimmermann, and artist from Cologne Germany in an opening and a talk/slide show at the local MAC Center here in Dallas this week.

Going to both events is important in understanding his work. Peter's work straddles two worlds: first, his history that responds to the late 80's, early 90's art theory ("everything is a text") and secondly, the work he is doing now which is presented and "read" as the visualverse of painting. The former is a history I share with him (I came out of grad school in '91). I differ in that I took the Oedipal turn and rejected... or better, as Lawrence Wiener once put it: "...questioned the answers that were given to us in school...". The latter is is a present I share with him, something I prefer to regard as an optical intelligence, or as the unfriendly critics might put it, the problem of eye candy. This was the place his audience seemed to pivot in his presentation the other night. Some questioned the significance of the theory he footnotes in his work. Others commented in ways that implied the work was nothing but visualiciousness.

His paintings are abstracted from source material culled from his oeuvre or what he called images relevant to the art world. He processes these images in the computer and degrades the representation until he arrives at a pleasing image. His early work involved paintings of book covers, texts favored by the artworld intelligencia. They were painted using the same colored resin he uses today, and today, he paints in a manner conforming to the outlines of schema that he did back then.

This is the best proof of continuity in his work, despite the appearance of the abandonment of books for eye candy. He painted books, poster, billboards, installations mimicing commercial storefronts, everytime allowing the visuality to be distorted by circumstances of presentation and mechanical reproduction. In a signal event, a computer rendition of a poster project went awry, scrambling the images he intended into an unregnizeable but gorgeous abstraction. He accepted the serendipty of the moment and never looked back.

Note here, the use of the computer as the equal to a sketch pencil. Note too, the use of this new tool not to describe reality as, say, Picasso did in drawing a still life, but to rough up the recieved description of reality culled from the camera. This is the best way to plot his relation to Richter, whose paintings are subordinated to the camera as well. Indeed, some in his audience at the MAC called out Herr Richter's name. I would say that Peter's work differs in that his paintings are not subordinated to the camera as severely as Richter's, but I guess as long as they are derived from mechanical reproduction, they would be secondary to it. (It is interesting to me that some in our generation has wholly accepted the mediation of visuality by camera optics. A famous monochrome painter asked me why anyone would want to paint representationally. My response: the optics of the camera is not the same as the optics of the eye/brain.) Peter also asked for his work to be understood within the wholeness of a lifetime of production, his future oeuvre... something very similar to Richter's famous catalogue raisonn?. Oh, Oedipus.

There's a lot of glossy, industrial paint in our painting world for more than a decade now, so Peter's work is subject to dismissal by the cruel or careless. But his paintings are vivid and commanding while betraying no effort, not an easy feat. I've used the words "eye candy" twice, and to be sure, Peter's resin material looks every bit as delicious as candy. (He spoke intelligently, so he must be using the proper breathing masks so the fumes won't corrode his brain.) The work is ravishing and the conceptualized preparations give the visual forms he deploys a matrix so that not just anything is possible... and therefore all that you see, even the stuff that flicks your pleasure responses, are necessary and compelling. Occam's razor is still at work here. Good stuff.

Posted by Dennis at 9:53 AM | Comments (0)

December 11, 2003


He who steps on others to reach the top has good balance.
prozac online Be cautious in your daily affairs.

Posted by Dennis at 12:46 PM | Comments (0)


I'm painting and scraping. This is the fourth day since we returned from the trip out West and I'm stretching out this phlegmatic phase a little too long.

I don't like what I've done so far. I've got a little headache that doesn't go away... for days. This must be a mild depression. I've got a circut breaker inside me that flips when I don't feel the thread of a good painting coming this way. I can't paint just because I should or that the clock says so. I refuse to repeat myself. I can't do what I've done before unless I feel I've got hold of something interesting. I'm like a mule sitting flat on his ass, ears back, stubborn and fixated, a little cross. I don't expect every moment of painting to be impassioned and inspired, and most times I can tolerate being lost in the woods because the next turn can be exciting, in fact, I want to be thrown off... but I won't enter the forest without a mission, a quest. I won't just move paint around mechanically just because I'm supposed to be a painter. I've got to have that sense of where to go, call it inspiration, that idea/feeling that enlivens, that makes movement bouyant, that thread of anticipation that overcomes dead gravity.

So I stare. I used to tell my students that you aren't working if it doesn't hurt. It hurts. I paint in my head like a chess player forecasting moves into the game. I've tried distracting myself hoping that the dwell has to broken, but I can't shake the feeling that every moment I don't dwell is progress lost, as if I could split concrete by sheer intention.

I looked for the image of Coppola's "Apocalypse Now", the screenshot of Martin Sheen's Captain Willard, in his hotel room before he goes upriver into Cambodia. That's how I feel now. Broken glass, slobbering, butt naked, tear stained self indulgence, flat on my ass...

...or something like that. Don't worry. It'll get better. It usually does.

Posted by Dennis at 10:41 AM | Comments (0)

December 9, 2003


I haven't been interviewed in a while, but this is still interesting:

'"Coetzee did much the same in a collection of essays called Doubling the Point which includes nine "interviews" conducted by mail with an academic collaborator. In one of them Coetzee explains his resistance to being interviewed. "An interview is not just, as you call it, an ?exchange?: it is, nine times out of ten (this is the tenth case, thank God!), an exchange with a complete stranger, yet a stranger permitted by the conventions of the genre to cross the boundaries of what is proper in conversation between strangers. I don?t regard myself as a public figure, a figure in the public domain. I dislike the violation of propriety, to say nothing of the violation of private space, that occurs in the typical interview."

He goes on to say he does not like to surrender control. "Writers are used to being in control of the text and don?t resign it easily." He derides the notion that in an interview a writer can suddenly reveal his innermost secrets. "In the transports of unrehearsed speech, the subject utters truths unknown to his waking self", as he puts it. "To me," writes Coetzee, "truth is related to silence, to reflection, to the practice of writing. Speech is not a fount of truth but a pale and provisional version of writing." '

I should be so lucky as to be asked to be interviewed. But this provokes a thought about the status of the writing on this blog. I'm not a writer, I have no right to call myself one. I do like to write, though. I like the music words make when you string them together. Whether the music I make is barfly karioke or concert quality, who knows? In another life, writing could be a great adventure, as the one of painting is for me now.

But I think that Coetzee is right in comparing speech to writing, and perhaps my writing in this blog is closer to speech than to the activity that Coetzee refers to as writing.

All of this suggests that there is a fiction to the interviewing art (funny, now that I use the term "art", in this case it suggests invention or the necessary bridge between the islands of tangible rationality in life) and there is a truth to writing. I guess this is measured by a correspondance to an author's intention. But in an interview, there are two authors involved, one under the spotlight, another behind the curtain. Maybe these writers are saying: that's not me.

Posted by Dennis at 10:40 AM | Comments (0)

December 8, 2003

Kimmelman on the WTC

"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: now that everyone agrees that the ground zero memorial finalists are a disappointment, there's only one thing to do.

Throw them all out.

You have the power to do so. Use it. This is in part a memorial to extreme bravery in the face of overwhelming force. Here's a chance to be brave. We know you still haven't presented your winning choice, which will no doubt be modified from the plans we now see. But don't bother. Nothing short of extreme, last-ditch action has a chance of succeeding, because the process has been crucially flawed from the start. Instead of beginning with a firm idea about the meaning of the memorial, we started with a timetable. Instead of guaranteeing that the best artists and architects participated in the process, we pandered to the crowd."


But he goes on to endorse a return to the usual (architect star) suspects:

"But good art, like science, is not democratic. An open competition can produce a Maya Lin Vietnam memorial once in a generation, maybe, but mostly it results in the generic monuments that are now the universal standard: stereotyped images plagiarizing superficial aspects of serious art, mostly minimalism, for watered-down symbols of mourning and loss."

But Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers had a chance to shine in the open competition for the Centre Pompidou (friends, please correct me if I'm wrong here), and with some research, I'm sure I can find a few more examples of this type. Competitions have been closed for many years now, and I don't think the best work arises consistently from the media whore echo chamber that it is. (Lost a little composure there, sorry!)

Remember, the WTC tower competition was limited to the usual suspects and that was a bit of a let down too. I think we rushed that one as well, and look what we got. Maybe we should leave the site be for a decade more to think a little more deeply about it. What's the rush? The vacancy rate of the original towers was high anyway. We are just waking up to a new world. 9-11 is a lot bigger than we think, and our approach should be proportional to its' significance.

Posted by Dennis at 6:01 AM | Comments (1)

December 4, 2003

Goin' back to Cali'

Stephanie and I will be visiting family this weekend, more flying. It's a good thing we like to fly.

What's the pic above? Combat Information Center, C.I.C. Scope Dopes.
We saw "Band of Brothers" recently, and it made me think of my father and his Band of Brothers. I heard him speak in these terms long before this HBO series came out. This is a painful story, told even by a second generation.

And this makes me think of my own band (note the lower case). USS Truxtun, CGN-35, a nuclear powered cruiser in the Pacific. I worked in the dark room behind the bridge with all the colored lights and radio noise. Gary Barnett reads the blog (whazzup, Gazza!). The other guys are scattered, Tom O'Sullivan, Dave Mulkey... ah, er, the names are fogging up in my fried memory. The camaraderie was unique. I wasn't a "dig-it" back in those days. Late in to my enllistment, I was described by some as a rebel. But I did my job as well as I could and soaked up the experience and fellowship. I knew back then that no matter how trying times were, there would be a day in the deep future when I would look back fondly on those days.

The future is here.

Posted by Dennis at 2:51 PM | Comments (2)


Right about now, I'm militating against the original objectives. Thoughts like this arise: "...and now for something completely different."

I use the image of a tacking sailboat to describe this. For example, one thought is to take the tissue of marks to the edges, as opposed to the schema of the portrait (or still life, even) that organizes the clot of marks against a monochrome field. The words " opposed to..." are what I want to highlight here, because even if I take the next three panels into an antithetical direction, I'm stil thinking about how to get closer to what promise I see in the portrait schema.
Over the summer, I painted the series of 44"x48" panels, each seeking alternate directions. It wasn't this or that, but this or that, then this and this and that. I didn't forsake a direction because I returned to it later. I remember an amphorism somewhere that maintained that consciousness arises from contrast or an awareness of opposites.

It is the tension-between that's interesting for me and not necessarily the fufillment of any particlular singular objective. What I'm trying to get at here is a kind of incommensurability, a persistent lack, the difference between a thought and a physical manifestation that will always remain an attempt.

This is something I tried to communicate to my students when I taught architecture. I wanted them to understand that when they imagine a project, they idealize it to a large degree, that it seems whole and complete to their minds when in fact it is a mere suggestion when compared to its' physical manifestation.

For example: Imagine a table. Each of us can hold an image of a table in our minds. Then the questions come. What is it made of and how will this affest the connections? A table has a surface and a way to keep it up, legs. How do the legs attach to the surface? Directly? By a skirt? How will it be stabile? Will you use triangulation to make the structure rigid, or will you rely on connections that resist rotation?

Did you hold these thoughts all in the beginning when you first imaged the table? Haven't we all engaged a project, having to problem solve each of these kind of issues, making things much more difficult than you originally imagined? Initially, the table floats in our minds and we are blind to the cloud it floats within. Then these questions sharpen the mental image, adding facets of detail. The table gets complex.

Hubris persists, and we fall back to thinking that an evolved thought is complete and equal to reality. But because being human is to fall prey to arrogant pride, I vote for the reality check of physical substance. Thoughts tethered to materiality doesn't constrain, it makes both strong. It gives the dispositoin of matter a cause and it gives intentions meat.
The point here is not only that there is a difference between imagination and reality, not only that imagination is gauzy and fuzzy, not only that our imagination has an uncanny ability to fill in the gaps that makes us think we know more than we really do.... but that this can be good, interesting, worth exploring.
This slip betwixt the cup of mind and the lip of physical reality is fascinating to me. In these paintings, I'm pushing the build up of marks over the top in that those flower like whallops smash the spiny monads and flip them into petals of paint. Speed matters more than before, and there's an orchestration that is required to make this happen. While it is the bellyflops or whallops that I'm looking for, they require not only a complex bed of painted marks, but that this bed must have a lack... because I'm editing by cutting out or covering, and the whallops are covering, strengthening weaker spots in the painting.
For example, if you can see the purple impact into the white spiny monad above. I used to deliver this kind of mark by an overhead throw of paint from a loaded pallete knife. But since this method makes a linear form, and i wanted a freaky one, I improvised a different way to make this happen. I took a large brush that was spent, the bristles wasted. I removed the bristles and metal ferrule and I had a sturdy wooden instrument that was fat and shaped at the tip. I dip it into a wad of paint and knock it against the end of another brush handle, standing over the painting surface whilst it was horizontal. This delivers a freaky line and incidental sinews of paint.

One incident was this impact, a blob of purple careening into the monad, you can see the tendril of purple connecting it to the main mass. From the direction of the ejecta, you can see the trajectory of the impact distorting the original spiny sphere, leaving a thin ring around the deformed projectile. Two spikes are flipped back into the crater, you can imagine the form elongating to the right as the spikes rotate into the flattening projectile, then stretching and imprinting itself into the crater. You can see the hole in the center of the ejecta ring as the paint thins into a filmy membrane so much that a void appears in the middle. You can se the lead of the ejecta as it bulldoses into the bed of white, pushing up a dune in front of it.

What's the point of this description? This is the kind of feature I don't want to cover up. And the original intent was that I had to use a method of covering to deliver the coup de grace of the flower whallops... and yet this happens.

What this means I guess is while there are two kinds of marks: careful and reckless.... maybe I should a litle more reckless in the beginning? That's a bit hard to do since every mark I make has aspects I like and aspects I don't. In this more-or-less relation, i'm not sure how to make more than less, or visa versa, with an undesireable artifice to it.

Posted by Dennis at 7:50 AM | Comments (0)

Tossa on the Brain

tossa .jpg
This image is formatted for summmer tourism, but it's still sugar free. The temperature in Tossa right now is in the high fifties, overcast. You can check out the live webcam on the link to the left for a reality check.

Posted by Dennis at 7:06 AM | Comments (0)