March 30, 2005

Goya:The Cartoons

(Click this link for Googled info on "The Parasol".)

I think there is an intimacy and empathy in these paintings that reveal a characteristic trait I see in all his work. What is nice is as cartoons, these are a means to an end, an instruction for the objective of creating tapestries, (much like contemporary architectural sketches on trace, much of which are lost to history) and as such have a measure of guilessness. Sweetness. Selflessness.

An explanatory text, ripped from this fine website:

Philip V ordered the creation of the Real F?brica de Tapices de Santa B?rbara1 in 1720 in order to provide tapestries for the Court after the loss of the Spanish territories in Flanders and the interruption of supplies from Brussels to the Spanish Crown.

In theory Goya painted for the F?brica from 1775 to 1800, although his final work was completed in 1793 and he did no work from 1780 to 1786. For twelve years he produced no less than sixty three cartoons as models for the Royal Family's tapestries.


Here, an elevation describing how a tapestry would be hung on site. I know little about the actual tapestries, I would love to see them someday... if they still exist.

Further mining the Info*96*Goya website, I found a description of his sketchbooks, eight albums. What is striking is that he kept discipline in grouping subject matter: in one album duels, another of hunters and fishermen... but always a chronicle of life around him. It is remarkable not only that he was akeen observer but also that he organized his observations with an apparent systematic ease.

Check it out.

Also in Info*96*Goya as I upload this blogpost, and I come across this wonderful page link: Thumbnails of the edition Caprichos... it's a shame that we can't either enlarge teh thumbnails or download a larger file of them.

Every portrait, a self portrait.


One of favorites, this one.

What a nice it was then before the upheaval.

The first link in this post is to a strange website, there's plenty of them. But check it out anyway, a little sifting can be rewarding there.

Posted by Dennis at 2:35 PM | Comments (0)



The Prado presents Goya's work in distinct sections: the years at the court, the religious paintings, the work for the tapestries (cartoons), his documentary work after the courtly years and his final black paintings.

Tracking his work from year to year, I see an artist who was not necessarily an iconoclast, a political actor, best known as he is for his apparent critique and protest in his Caprishos, in paintings -such as the 2nd of May above- and ultimately in his Black Paintings... after this visit to the Prado, I see Goya as a passionate observer caught in a rip tide of political upheaval.

In other words, I see this as his self protrait:

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

March 29, 2005


I got to spend three days at the Prado and two at the Reina Sophia. I could do it again and again, no problem. My minor dread of sabotoging a memory in a former blogpost was unfounded, thankfully. Mom opted out and Stephanie was with me for the first two visits. The last one was a meandering, lingering and unmolested by the distortions given naturally by anticipation.

Our intiial entry in to the Prado was through the D?rer show and because of this, we came in through the main entrance. I get specific here because my memory of the Prado was not of the classical plan. But because my entrance as a thirteen year old was into the lower level secondary rear entrance, my memory was more labyrnthian. Then as well, I saw the Caprichos, now in storage, alas. Seeing the Prado first through a focused viewing of what are probably the finest prints (drawings, really) ever made... especially for a kid who had personally matriculated through several levels of drawing skills by then. Now I see the difference and I am glad it happened that way.

Thinking of this and realising that after almost fifty years, the Prado is maintaining the same exhibition program (a temporary show of incomparable master prints coupled with several galleries of titanic paintings)...


Even the Reina Sophia, as substantial as it is, seems just a wee bit fluffy by comparison.

My strategy for taking pictures was to impulse shoot, to shoot a lot and edit later, and not to worry about the glare that washed out the colors in the camera. Unlike the Reina Sophia, the Prado didn't care if you shot pictures, just as long as one didn't use a flash. So I shot a load of them unsystematically. And post facto, I apply a light system as I serve them up to you, dear blogreader. Generally, I looked for new things, I wanted to be filled up with painting, I wanted to upset my applecart by looking at five hundred years of painting and seeing something that could change me... or not. So my camera usually pointed at anomolies.

For example, paintings like this Greco... sans glistening eyes locked heavenward.
This is a good example, an atypical Greco.

This painting (the reference data, I didn't record, alas) reminded me that the common notion of the evolution of verisimilitude from the kouros thru the renaissance through the dissolution of representation instigated by mechanical reproduction is a cliche. Verisimilitude waxed and waned over the ages and the idea of representation melting into abstraction doesn't seem to have been such an alien idea to painters thru the centuries. This painting, for example was painted in the early 1600's, for example. And if you can get closer to it, the marks dissolve into a frenzy of colors and textures.

Get loose.

It would be nice to figure out in which season when the crowds ebb and I could get a little more privacy with these works. But as long as the crowds were there, it seemed only right to shoot them too.

Closer still.

The crowds surged in the last day I was there, closer to the height of Semana Santa. I heard a lot of Yanqui accents, a welcome sound. But on this last day, the mass of people were pretty onerous. It was impossible to get near the "Saturn..."

Coming in the next few blogposts: Bosch, Goya: Court/Black/Cartoons, some sculpture, and the Reina Sophia.

Posted by Dennis at 3:39 PM | Comments (2)

Urban Madrid

I think of Madrid as a thick city. A tiramizu*1 of eight to ten plantas full of pisos*2. The only exception to this layered density is a monumental lack, an urban exception, which are the immense public parks that frame the city. I used to think of Madrid as Los Angeles but not now. I had heard of the legendary sprawl and I reached for what I believed was the gold standard for a metastisizing urban/suburban polyglot megalopolis that is LA. The big difference that I could detect in this short trip is that Madrid is less a melange. There is more of a tiramizu-like stratification that defines all parts of the city that we visited last weekend: the outdoor living rooms of the street with the commercial foundation and apartments stacked to ten floors above... and that is it. Todo. It is a sameness in section that differs from LA's running jumble.

The subway system there is wonderful: new, clean, reasonably priced, fast. You can fly in and take the subway from the airport into the center of the city with two connections. Our pension is located in the heart, a short few blocks to the Prado and the Reina Sophia, an easy walk into the older Southern side (Rastro) and the hipper shopping North of Puerto del Sol.

It might be inevitable that I would compare Madrid with Barcelona. There's more of a hippy edge to Barcelona, probably due to what I view as an essential earthyness of the Catalan people. Urbanistically, Barcelona has a fantastic history of formal evolutions. And there is the Mediterranean Sea, so fabulous. And then there is a mark that onlty a Gaudi could make on a major city like Barcelona.

Plaza Mayor. Notable features:
-It's a place wehre people are comfortable in sitting on the bare ground languidly in the sun.
-The downspouts extend away from the roofline for two meters, the effect of which must be fantastic when it rains, a perimeter of fountains in the huge square.
-Ordering too many tapas will break your bank. It's far better to keep the order to one or two and save your appetite for dinner elsewhere in the city.
-The regularity of the square is penetrated irregularly to the surrounding streets. I like to see the tubed passageways that burrow into the surrounding rectilinear mass in three dimensions.

*1: Tiramizu, an Italian dessert involving expresso, cream and cookies, all in layers. But, to apply an Italian dessert to a Spanish City? My bad. But flan just wouldn't do.

*2: A planta is a floor of a building, a piso is an apartment.

Posted by Dennis at 12:27 PM | Comments (0)

Fin de Cycle, Semana Santa

It's the wee hours of the morning and I've just seen mom off to the Barcelona Airport. It's been touch and go with her health during this trip. Thinking that her recent cold cycle (caught on a plane to the Philippines recently) was winding down enough to make this trip, mom's chest cold consolidated into something that was beginning to resemble pneumonia. So we returned early from Madrid, Googling over the weekend for info, making amateur diagnosis, hoping that she would get better day for day.

Finally, she did.

This, marking the end of the Grand Madrid Natal Tour of 2005. Much of what happened was chatter, stories told, what was said between us... and the topic of the conversation centered about family of course. I think that most family stories are rich and I seek your pardon for thinking with temerity that perhaps our family has enough twist and drama for a good story to be told.

But alas, It shouldn't be told just yet, too much is not yet known anyway and more importantly, too many people could get hurt. For now, teh story should be incognito. In time, in time it will be told. It's a great story. Maybe I'll blog it before 2050.

I think now of the first lines of a book I haven't yet read (Stephanie did, and she told me all about it), Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina":

All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

I think too, that:
1. All families are both unhappy and happy in varying proportions.
2. And since unhappiness is generally less memorable over time...
3. While unhappiness is the grist for the storyteller's mill...
4. Therefore we are thus compelled to monumentalize our unhappy families and these stories become history, some more than others in ways that change over time.

And boy, did we monumentalize the unhappy while we dusted off the happy in our family during this vacation. It reminded me of the Day of the Dead festivities in Guanajuato, Mexico so many years ago (another vacation trip in the late 80's). There, the town assembled in a big procession and then all had a party on the graves of their loved ones. There, weeds were pulled while children played and widows repainted gold into the incised letters of tombstones as delicious food bar-b-qued nearby and music wafted likewise.

We had our own All Saint's Day over Easter.

Here in this blogpost are pictures from a Semana Santa procession. (Pardon me whilst I ignore the proper names for the features of this ritual event.) We had just finished dinner and as we exited the restaurant into wet streets, we heard a commotion. It was a procession of penitants, complete with an icon engine driven by a squad of men on their knees, escorted by cone headed incognitos, (whose visage can only remind a yanqui of the KKK unfortunately) and a fantastically blaring brass band.


Posted by Dennis at 4:56 AM | Comments (1)

March 28, 2005



The past couple of days have been kind of strange. So much has gone by in the past few weeks, all of this traveling Colonge and now Madrid. We've decided not to travel a third time -once a plan to go to Paris and East of there on rails, another to travel South of Madrid, perhaps as far as Morrocco... and I'm thankful that we are not doing this, too much of a good thing. Already my mind is a swirl and the Didion Colophon (margin to the left) kicks in and the task this weekend of laying a narrative line onto all this shifting phantasmagoria seems a bit onerous. But I will freeze it soon in the coming blogposts, no worries... I just have this inane capacity to hold off until the crystals form, inane becuase it is all so just-in-time.

But while I'm jelling, I wanted to say:

Happy Easter, everyone!

or Semana Santa, as they call it here in Spain.

Posted by Dennis at 3:04 AM | Comments (0)

March 26, 2005


Standby for blabbermouthicus...

-gottado lists
-return emails
-sort thru blogsac
-deSpamming: over five thousand to clean out... keystroking mania
-lotsa pics to come

Posted by Dennis at 2:38 PM | Comments (2)

March 25, 2005


We're Back!

Posted by Dennis at 4:10 PM | Comments (3)



Posted by Dennis at 3:51 PM | Comments (1)

March 20, 2005

Anticipating Madrid

Caution: Moderate sentiment ahead.

A return to Madrid, to where I was born, to the Prado, where I stood before Goya's "Saturn..." and first felt the impulse to paint.

In the book on this Mexican master's architecture, Emiliio Ambaz interviews Barragan and discovers that his archtiectural vocabulary comes from the town in which he was raised, Oaxaca. Barragan describes how a water system comes into the town from high overhead the buildings and spills into courtyards along it's course... the description which serves his architecture. Finally, Emilio asks Luis if he went back home to see the source of inspiration and Barragan said no. No, because he did not want to be dissapointed.

I think the dissapointment would be a shift in scale. I remember Panama in epic terms, a child's eye monumentalizes everything, and for that reason, I don't want to return to Panama for fear of ruining my memories of it as well. But somehow, Madrid is different.

In the picture above, my father and mother plus their friends were invited to visit a house of a wealthy family that had burned, a fire that was put out by the AirForce firemen stationed at Torrejon AirBase. At that time, Torrejon was the opening of the Fascist State of Spain. The servicemen that were stationed there, my father, was lucky to be the first to experience a country preserved in the amber of the past, the way I imagine Prague was like at the end of the 80's.

That was six years after my dad's company was wiped out in an ambush at Pusan, Korea. He and fourteen others were the only survivors. The years in Spain were halcyon days.

Papa (A texas boy raised in Missouri) and his friends had stumbled into the Filippine community there in Madrid. They met, courted and married (in Tanjiers) against my grandfather's wishes.

My grandfather sent his family of nine children to Madrid to study. The house they lived in was then in the outskirts of the city, "in the country" as mom describes. Today, it is a block away from the Moncloa, Spain's White House.

Papa, sharing a cigarette with the driver.

It would be nice to have a memory of that day.

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

For Sale by Owner

Mom buys her fabrics from Sylvie. Sylvie and her husband are interested in selling their house and moving to Albee, a nearby city. Sylvie was amused when I told her that I could advertize her house for sale in this blog.

A house, outbuildings, fenced and gated... all for $400,000 Euros.
I'll leave the fee for the connection to your discretion.

Any takers?

Standing in the center of their first floor, the first shot to the left, a kitchen.

Second shot, pan right in to the living area.

About face, a shot over the dining table.

I walk out into the field and shoot from afar.

Turn right and shoot the sheep.

And a very fine tree.

Posted by Dennis at 9:24 PM | Comments (1)

Day Trip

My mother needed an escort as she goes into SouthWestern France on one of her buying trips. She buys antique fabrics in Europe and sells them in the States. I snapped a few pics along the way.

First, a stop at the farmer's market in Ravel.

Early Saturday morning.

You can't build this anew... and there's the rub.

A view from the other side.


Eggs, Quail...

Rabbits for dinner...

Posted by Dennis at 8:59 PM | Comments (0)

A Tossa Primavera

Returning from Cologne, the temperature rose by ten degrees. We can feel the Spring coming. On the bus returning from the airport, we met Mariselle, a woman who works at a bakery in Tossa. Her return is a sign of Spring, too. Teh merchants are coming back for a new season. As we walked into town, the place was a hive of activity, people were opening up storefronts and sweeping dirt out the doorways as we walked past with our luggage.

The city is bringing natural gas into town, street after street is being torn up to lay the pipes in. Next year, our street will get the installation. The workers are hustling to put the infrastructure in before the Easter holidays to come. Diggers, pipe guys, paver guys, one after the other. People are freshening up, repainting storefronts and crosswalks and patching plaster.

Coming from Los Angeles, we didn't see Spring as clearly as this.

And it's so wonderful to begin taking off the many layers of clothes, looking forward to a time to come when we will forget about shoes and our toes will be tanned.

Posted by Dennis at 8:35 PM | Comments (0)


Kiko is working on a house a couple of doors down from ours. We visit and we got up to the roof to snap this picture.

Posted by Dennis at 6:49 PM | Comments (1)

Bar Story

The other night, Kiko and I go out for a drink. I hadn't hung out with him since we left for Cologne and with this upcoming week of ours in Madrid, it was high time to toast a few drinks with the nicest guy in Tossa de Mar.

Stephanie begged off, wanting to sleep in a little before our drive into France in the morning, knowing as well that it is good for me to spend man time with men.

(Beat, one, two, three....)

We decide on Bar Josep and there we found Josep (another Josep, they abound by that name here... the Catalans have an antique saying: "In every home you will find a Josep, a Joan and a donkey." ... or now, a scooter), Josep the builder. This is the guy I described in a recent blogpost as "Kiko's childhood friend". We met Josep again after that episode ("Last Lap") and we talked a great deal and even danced a crazy dance together. After that night, Stephanie and I bumped into him again the next morning and Josep was as jubilant as ever, still dressed in his red and blue warm up outfit with super white Addidas that made a funny pattern when he danced his crazy dance. That morning, he assured us that he only drinks alcohol... no drugs, nothing else, just alcohol. What fidelity!

So on this "man's night out", Josep is happy to see us. He was tickled to know us, his friends the Californians. "California, eeees all right!" And then another toast with bottles clanking so hard I think they're going to break.

Josep and Kiko are builders, both of them work in the old part of town, theJosep rustic buildings. Josep is hard on a deadline rebuilding a bar interior across the street. He's studied Gaudi and he wants to apply a few such licks in his new project. He's very proud of his work and he wants me to visit the jobsite very soon. I've been able to peek into the doorway and I saw columns twisting upward, clad in broken tile. ?Muy bien! More toasts to Antonio Gaudi.

Josep asked me: "Do you like Tossa, Dennis?" Yes of course, Josep. Josep looks at Kiko. I'm sure they've met many people who have left this vacation town over the years. "Do you want to stay here for always, Dennis?" Yes, of course Josep. We all toast and laugh. Then I explain in the most economical manner as I could, the idea that we want to live both in Los Angeles and Tossa de Mar. I'm not sure how much of this they understood, I'm not sure how much of this Stephanie and I understand... just how we will manage this feat. This is our big brass ring. With that, the conversation shifted to another topic.

Kiko said that his business is hard on people, in his words: "People are destroyed." It is a hard life, very physical, it eats up life forces very fast. Kiko verifies this with Josep, who confirms the assertion: yes, people get destroyed. It is the same in construction in the States, I said. It's a life for the very young and we can only hope that they find a trade and matriculate up the career ladder somehow. Most of the workers are young and bohemian. They like to live outside the lines of society. They make a little money and spend it all as soon as they can. I knew a few guys like that in the Navy. I know a couple in the artworld.

Then, Kiko nodded in the direction of Joan, one of his workers who was watching a movie in the corner of the bar. Joan is in his late seventies, and he is a laborer who has decided apparently to camp out on the first rung of the ladder of the construction industry. Kiko is afraid of finding him dead of a heart attack on a jobsite one day. It's hard physical work and Joan seems to have no other ambition, except the ladies. Joan is a ladies man in Tossa de Mar. His prowess was described with an obscene hand/arm gesture (I shant describer here further). Stephanie and I see him in the streets after work, very well dressed and walking with a dancer's walk, a perpetual smile on his face, no doubt to rendezvous with a lover. Kiko told me that joan has only a rented room to call his own, no house, no property. "Can you imagine, Dennis, coming home every night to only one room and awaking to the same job every morning? Only one room, that is rented?" No, I can't, Kiko. But look at him. Well dressed, legs crossed urbanely, a cortado nursed at the table and a movie playing on a high definition screen. Bar Josep is his living room. He seems very happy, very content!

Then, an acquantance of theirs comes into the bar. I am not introduced. A guy in his late thirties, hair in a Seventies to the shoulder style, baseball cap. He asked Josep for a job. Kiko felt free to fill me in on the situation in English as the scene developed. Kiko looked at me in the eye steadily as he mouthed the words: "He can get you anything you want." Now, obviously this is a further encryption but I am both thick headed enough and perverse enough to want a little more explication. What kind of things? Drugs? What kind of drugs? No reply was offered, just a "Yes.". Then, the word "...mafia..." comes up and we all knew to modulate the subject.

Kiko told me that this lad "...has had a bad past but now he is changed and he is making his life a better one...". "He has discovered where North is, Dennis." "Before he did not know this, but now he has discovered where North is." Ah, that is good, Kiko. His request for construction work is more evidence for that. Kiko notes that he himself is not asked for work since he was burned long ago by the lad. But nevermore, and the young man knows not to ask Kiko for anything. Kiko is generous with him in other ways, smiling, shaking hands with encouraging remarks.

About this time, a group of young men file in and sit the corner of the bar. Heads shaved, cammo pants, some with suspenders, tight black t-shirts and black boots. It is a mark of my na?vet? that I don't add them all up, I thought they were latter day Punkers. Josep leans over and in careful Castellano, says: "The boys in the corner are Fascists, Nazis. I don't like them. They are very bad." Kiko confirms the testimony. I then notice the "SS" on their t-shirts. Josep continues: "But there are only a few of them here, maybe six or seven." I wanted to snap a foto, but there wasn't a chance. Maybe they are still only latter day Punks? Rebellion is soooooooo complicated nowadays. Kiko adds: "Maybe one day they will discover where North is, too."

The night proceeded like this and in time, people drift out as midnight approached. Josep had work to do, a hard deadline. Stephanie and I had to drive my mother to France in the morning. And Kiko had to get up early for a paintball event, an opportunity that will pass me by, unfortunately. I like the martial arts.

Right about this time, a young lad enters the bar, locking his eyes on mine. Dressed like a Goth, all in black and leather... he was skinny with a beak nose and sunken eyes and black hair long and tied in a pony tail. He walked straight for me and he pulled up the chair next to mine and with his nose inches away and eyes wide began to sing in Calsellano/Catalan. I wish I could replicate his verse for you: "NO PUEDO ROMPAR?/ SIGNIFICAR?...." blah blah blah, you had to be there. He sung like this for quite a long time, his front teeth broken, his voice harsh and raspy. He held a music CD in his hands, smeared with greasy fingerprints. I looked around while sustaining the assault and in time, Josep leaned over to me and said: "He is a music-radical."

Ah yes, he's an artist! ?Muy Bien!

Then the kid launched in to another song, inches from my face.

Maybe I can introduce the lad to my friends at PruessPress one day?

Posted by Dennis at 6:42 PM | Comments (0)

March 19, 2005


We designed our life between two places.

So we are...

Posted by Dennis at 6:29 PM | Comments (5)

March 18, 2005

The River War

I've been reading Churchill's "The River War" recently (I love online libraries).

All great movements, every vigorous impulse that a community
may feel, become perverted and distorted as time passes, and the
atmosphere of the earth seems fatal to the noble aspirations of
its peoples. A wide humanitarian sympathy in a nation easily
degenerates into hysteria. A military spirit tends towards brutality.
Liberty leads to licence, restraint to tyranny. The pride of race is
distended to blustering arrogance. The fear of God produces bigotry
and superstition. There appears no exception to the mournful rule,
and the best efforts of men, however glorious their early results,
have dismal endings, like plants which shoot and bud and put forth
beautiful flowers, and then grow rank and coarse and are withered by
the winter. It is only when we reflect that the decay gives birth to
fresh life, and that new enthusiasms spring up to take the places of
those that die, as the acorn is nourished by the dead leaves of the oak,
the hope strengthens that the rise and fall of men and their movements
are only the changing foliage of the ever-growing tree of life, while
underneath a greater evolution goes on continually.

I love his writing.

I think of the decay in our artworld and I look for signs of new life. New enthusiasms indeed.

?Por favor, hombre!

Posted by Dennis at 11:14 AM | Comments (1)


Admin and show notes:

There's a little lag in the return form Cologne blog posting. My mother has arrived from Sacramento and we're hanging out a bit, sapping the time for blog maintenance (comment spam levels are clicking past 3,200) and blogposting.

The "Timeline" blopost will take a little while since I've decided to avoid a conventional biographical narrative and opt for the bullet point epiphany method. And you know epiphanies, you can't rush them. You'll knowthat I'm done with it once the "IN PROGRESS" sign is removed. Other blogposts are queueing up, so I'll clear them for landing while I continue work on "Timeline".

Travel notes: we'll be flying to Madrid next week to see the city in which I was born with my mother as tour guide. I'll do my best to keep the sentiment under control in the blogposts that result from that. Also, tomorrow, we are day tripping into France for another of my mother's buying trips to her secret source. pics to come of French farmer's markets and country life. Also, we are talking of driving down towards Seville and the Alhambra... perhaps taking the ferry into Morroco. All plans are in flux and the itinerary changes moment to moment. All this, to be blogged soon... and since I plan to take this laptop along the way, I'll try to blog on the run whereever wifi lets me.

In the midst of all this, we are wrangling with taxes before the April deadline. I've given Ramon the dimensions for the next group of paintings (96-97 x 80 cm) and so I should be ready to rock in the studio once we return from this flurry of travels.

All of this to say: blogposting will likely be freaky for the rest of the month.

Posted by Dennis at 11:06 AM | Comments (1)

March 16, 2005


Just who is Dennis Hollingsworth, asked Trevor of K'aleb?l Blog?

I figured it's about time for a bio. So I thought I would draw it out.


To Elementary School
1. First memory: Darkness, I was upset, exercised. Vertical bars of light, a figure opens a doorway, comes closer and a big hand rubs my belly.

2. Grandmother's Ticonderoga pencils.

3. Winner, drawing contest. A clown with one shoe larger than the other. Yet I felt jaded. I sat on the TV celebrity clown's lap and ate cake for that.

4. Colors of coral forever. Underwater was a natural.

5. Huge Coca Cola skyline neon sign at dusk on arrival to Manila, soon to Papang's house. Adobo and pancit. One day, a lechón for the whole family, uncles and aunts and cousins everywhere.

6. Papa teaches my brother Michael and I the meaning of life.

7. Wore a bow tie one time.

8. Papang looked like a laughing Bhudda. And he would task you, get in your face. Philippine history after dinner until bed and holes in his Ban-Lon.

9. Scootch into the back of the new Impala station wagon -New Mexico to Panama-, blazing Aztec history and singing "Cielito Lindo" with Momma and Mike on narrow sheer mountainside winding roads in Nicaragua.

10. Playing in jungle trails, playing under mango trees with fruit rotting on the ground, archaic fotos of Egypt in dusty textbooks, "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", Drawing class at the YMCA, spilling off the bike down steep hills, shark nets at Kobe Beach, huge groupers at the market in Panama City, camping at Gatún / bee stinging inside my sock, lobsters from the surf for a dollar, a pet toucan for a couple of weeks, block parties.

To High School
1. I thought Vegas was going to look like the Ponderosa. Imagine my surprise shortly after we crossed the Hoover Dam.

2. Pop music and figure drawing books, fused.

3. Papa returns from a firefighting contract at Quan Tri, furtive stories of pot smoking GI's at the sentry on point, crashed Cobra helicopters and sleeping with a pistol under the pillow.

4. Building a house in the Florida panhandle and one day Papa says we're immigrating to Australia, so we bum rides on Air Force flights through Europe to get there... that's when I saw "Saturn, Devouring His Children".

5. So one day, Papa comes home shortly before noon and says: "We're taking the 3pm Embassy flight, pack your bags!" Food on the stovetop, the uncles dispose of the apartment. Twelve hours later, we were sitting on our suitcases on a Honolulu tarmack, plotting our next move.

6. Nevada desert, forever.

Thru the Navy Days
1. "Make a hole!"

2. We said "Aye!" and meant it.

3. The sea to the horizon, the horizon all around you. As far and farther than you can see, the sea. To be a tiny speck in the vast Pacific, a universe of water where the closest land is directly below the ship.

4. Dark rooms and colored lights and urgent numbers and nautical miles and grease pencil and squawk boxes barking orders and funny stories.

5. Liberty and beer and pockets full of money and girls and "Me So Horny!" and bars and museums and taxis and buses and snorkeling and Coppertone and civillian clothes that never seemed to fit well.

6. I saw "The Last Detail" a month before I enlisted and discovered later that it was a faithful and nuanced representation of life in the Navy.

To Architecture School
1. Sliding parallel bars, pencil + paper, pillow erasers, making models.

2. Middle of Old California: San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay, Pismo Beach, Big Sur, Santa Barbara, before the wine country.

3. All nighters in Arch studio, bronze casting, life drawing, art history in cozy slide projected auditoriums.

4. Life in the Arc, next best thing to a commune.

5. Stephanie Hurley, then and forever.

Through Early Los Angeles
1. Cross town by car in 40 minutes, the freeway was a ballet. NWA on the radio.

2. The best Mexican food in the world.

3. Echo Park!

4. "Los Angeles, give me some of you! Los Angeles come to me the way I came to you, my feet over your streets, you pretty town I loved you so much, you sad flower in the sand, you pretty town!" ― John Fante

5. Tower Records, El Coyote Restaurant, Griffith Observatory, LACMA & MoCA & Getty, you could see all the art openings in town in one night.

6. Finally got my Arch license, rang the bell, time to look for an art school.

Through Art School

1. Roland painted in secret, Michael's wry smile, skylit studios, new faces and friends for life.

2. Lots of baggage to shed, lots of pressure not to shed it.

3. The Wall fell and few understood what that would mean.

4. Crash course in contemporary art theory, so delicious.

5. There was only time for an inkling.

6. In an obscure corner of campus, a library for Frances Bacon.

1. Years of searching for my voice in painting, invoking Darwin: "Survival of the Fittest" paired with "Proliferation of the Fattest".

2. Life on a hillside in Elysian Heights. Humming birds, raccoons and coyotes.

3. Studios started in a bedroom, then down the street, then I did a chin-up to a window in a derelict ballroom... the best studio I've ever had.

4. Hop Louie, late nights in front of Sinky and Sean, watching a scene before it became one.

5. The AHA! moment. Lasting a lifetime.

6. Dealing with dealers.

The Turn of the Century
1. Surge.

2. Can Marcelino, pan y vino.

3. Planes here and there. People everywhere.

4. Little did I realize, arcs jumping all around me. Something seen clearer in retrospect.

Looking Back, All Drawn Out.

'nuff said?

Maybe this more:
This is not who I am, but where I was... unless we are... where we were.


Posted by Dennis at 2:20 AM | Comments (13)

March 15, 2005

Hiroshi and Yoshitomo at K21

We (my wife Stephanie and my cousing Margaret) ventured forth to attend Hiroshi Sugito's and Yoshitomo Nara's collaboration at K21... this, a contemporary museum in Dusseldorf, we found it on a wet and cold Saturday night.

Here, the ArtNet link in German.

Somehow, the interior gave me the impression of an art school. It felt like a seminar would begin at any moment.

Also, the bar was a Jorge Pardo? production, very Pop, very stylish, thrown together by the most talented fruit of the artworld.

Group shot: I'm the one who looks like I ate a bug. Margaret is beaming, Hiroshi is patient and Yoshitomo offers one of his comic guises (or is it the other way around?).

Four faces for a camera.

We all look better than this.

I wished I took better shots. I should have over cruised the gallery, shooting too many pics. The few images of the show here do little justice to the show, which was luminous and haunting.

Hiroshi and Yoshitomo collaborated for three, three week periods last summer in a studio in Austria. Fueled by endlesss cups of coffee and discs of music, Hiroshi said they mess around for the first two segments and fevered through the last to pull all the threads of the show together in time.

I think they were better threaded than that.

K21 published a fine catalog for the show. The narrative armature of the collaboration: The Wizard of Oz's "Over the Rainbow" was a title given by the duo eighteen years ago when they met at art school. The writers for the catalog thrashed the theme in a heavy handed way, not realizing how lightly Hiroshi and Yoshitomo treated such things. Give these writers a handle and they swing it round and round.

Even so, we should be so lucky as to have such a book published on our work.

Yes, some wore shoes, Nara stylin'. A group of Japanese girls flew in, in adoration. Some had to telephone their parents who didn't know that their daughters flew half way around the world to be near Yoshitomo Nara (and Hiroshi? I'm not sure, but Yoshitomo is a rock star in Japan).

Some notes taken from the show's catalog:

Doris Krystof, Bernhart Schwenk
"If You are Lucky, You are Hit by the Window"

Another element in Nara and Sugito's paiting that is always present, but has not been mentioned here, now becomes clearer. This is melancholy. When artistic production involves self-reflection, it refers to a lived childhood, individual and collective, to which there is natually no return. There is a poem by Yoshitomo Nara on the inexorable nature of passing time: "Time passes by/ Before it fades and vanishes. I want to make it last... Imagination doesn't stop for the past or the future. And that makes me both happy and sad."



Shonen Knife
Mary Hopkins "Those were the days"
Die goldenen Zitronen (Porsche, Genscher, Hallo HSV)

Flaming Lips (Oklahoma City)
Jet (Aussie Guuitar Band)
There was also an account of the collaboration:
"...working together often remained a challenge for both artists. The coordination of two ultimately completely different temperments demmanded great stamina. Nara plans his work as units, implementing a picture in one go before moving on to start a new one. A picture he sees as failed is never revised, but rather destroyed and started afresh. Sugito on the other hand works much more slowly and on several ideas at once. He paints over previous attempts and changes individual parts..."

Stamina or no, I bet they loved all three, three weeks of it.

My 'cuz and the misses.

I still look like I ate a bug.



Michael Zink (not pictured), of Galerie Zink and Gegner, a munich gallery was with Hiroshi and Yoshitomo. A very nice guy, affable and open. Rare.

Afterwards, we ate at a nearby Greek restaurant, the place was packed. Yoshitomo went to art school here in Dusseldorf, so it was a homecoming for him. We talked of color and Austria and the studios these guys have built/are building in Japan. Hiroshi's place looks like a NASA lauch pad, blue steel raming the interior into three stories, clad in concrete panels... Yoshitomo is building his place near the Emperor's summer retreat, tatami proportions and wood structure.

Hiroshi was worried about Yoshitomo's diet, saying that Yoshi needs a wife so that he would eat better (he was probably thinking of Stephanie's effect on me). I ordered rump steak and potatoes (what's Greek about that?). Yoshitomo ate two of my potatoes, that was all he ate that night.

Lots of beer.

Posted by Dennis at 10:02 AM | Comments (2)

The Opening

A series of events flowed one into another, bringing us to the main, the opening of the show. Alas, my camera stayed in my coat pocket during the whole time! Chalk it up to a variety of factors: the meet and greet of an opening gave no time for the reach for the documentary camera, or that I didn't want to induce a flash of self consciousness (worse than the blinding of a camera's flash) as I was shaking hands of aacquaintences new and old, or maybe it was a small measure of belligerent and stubborn self-effacement...

Somehow, I don't think my writing skills will be able to render a sufficient word picture that can substitute effectively for a few candid shots of that night. I can only hope that what follows might suffice.

I have to report at the outset that I shared the opening with Sean Dawson, a British painter new to the gallery. He installed three large paintings in the gallery below. It was nice to see his work, meet him and his wife, Jo, a painter as well. I will blogpost a few pics of his work very soon.

Andr? was kind enough to encourage me to arrive a little late, as Cologne openings have a reputation for slow start ups. The crowd count was small but I was busy all night with people, one after the other, so I didn't notice at the time. A curator from Leverkusen was in earlier, very good. I was able to reunite with longtime collectors of mine and it was wonderful to talk to them and listen to their generous stories of how they have hung my works in their homes. One family had a son who took avid interest in this, a lad who wants to design and build hotels one day (he will be working in Miami soon, in the hotel industry), a smart kid.

To my utter surprise, Hiroshi Sugito and Yoshitomo Nara dropped in! We were all taken by surprise. They told me that Yoshitomo stomped on the brakes as their car drove by (and he wasn't driving!), both of them accompanied by Munich gallerist Michael Zink. They were in Germany for their joint show at the museum K21 in Dusseldorf (next post). These guys are golden. It was sooooooooo great to see them again, and so wonderful to see them in such good form, enjoying such recognition. Together, we sung praises of Tomio Koyama. And to add to my good fortune, their museum show was scheduled to open the very next day.

How perfect is that?

My gallerist in Haarlem (next to Amsterdam), Tanya Rumpff drove over three hours to attend the opening! She was interested of course to see the show and together, we scheduled the date for our first show together in Haarlem: October of this year. It is quite a good feeling to show the currrent paintings to her and talk about the upcoming show. Tanya is fantastic. She has no qualms about sharing her critique, she delivers it so sweetly: "I like this very much...I don't like this at all." Tanya is fabulous. More stories about her to come.

As a matter of fact, the whole night, a constant succession of people came up to me to cheerfully share their critique in a subdued, but very much in the same way "I like this...I don't like that." I attribute this to the fact that I painted contrapuntally: each painting gave way to the "other hand", one after another. What kept me tranquil was that everyone liked what every other person didn't like. More often than not, immediately after a person shared with me their orchid and lemon picks, another would (contrapuntally) share with me the complete opposite opinion. After a short while, the inevitable small irritation gave way to a small amusement. I was glad they cared enough to share their opinions.

Later in the evening, we went into the snowy night to a local restaurant for schnitzel and beer. A plate heaped with potatoes and this giant breaded veal flesh, I tried not to think of the doe-eyed calf as we raised our glasses in a toasts. (It was delicious, though.) Tanya was across from me and I introduced her to my cousin Margaret (with whom we stayed there, she has recently moved to Cologne, now working as a telcom guru for T-Systems/Deutch Telcom), she wants to steer into art collecting, now as her beautiful daughter Paola matriculates through univerisity (media studies at Goldsmiths) in London. It was a good opportunity to introduce her to Tanya and Andr? and the art world in general.

We made our way home after midnight, and Tanya had a long drive back to the Netherlands through snow flurries. And for all of this, she was upbeat, careless that she will arrive home closer to four, all this with a smile on her face. Cautions and kisses for luck were heaped, one atop the other.

A good night.

Posted by Dennis at 9:15 AM | Comments (0)

March 14, 2005


We're back from a great week in Colonge.

Let's see what made it into the Coolpix memory:

As we arrived, the paintings were being hauled in.

Across the street.

A street with heavy traffic.

What timing.

Andr? was getting over a flu.

Despite this, we spent the day installing the show.

It's an unusual gallery, the spaces telescope larger as you enter it, each getting larger and larger until onje encounters an apparent rear wall... and then there are a slip of stairs to yet a larger space below Andr?'s office.

The installers were interesting guys. The one one the immediate right of Andr? (I've lost his name) is a writer of screenplays who will be studying soon in Israel, the other (Andreas) is writing a book on Peckinpah. He was telling me that there is very little written about this director in German literary media, and none of the films are translated very well at all. I drew him out on the topic and I enjoyed the conversation a great deal.
My philosophy on installations:

Let the gallerist drive the decisions, a light hand. Once the paintings leave the studio they are arranged and hopefully, rearranged by many other agendas than mine.

In this case, hanging a rythmn of works that increase in scale as you proceed is a natural. Everyone will have a different idea about the synchopation (ojala). It's important to me that the gallerist owns the show.

The paintings should be able to survive that.


Posted by Dennis at 9:45 PM | Comments (6)

Noon Today


In our week in K?ln, weather systems passed overhead one after the other in an atmospheric parade. A series of short bursts. A kaliedescope of rain and wind and hail and sun and drizzle and big fat snowflakes falling in sudden flurries only to melt on contact with the earth's surface and then to be washed away with mists that cling to your clothes like crystal beads.

All of this, as if we fell through clouds. Similarly, we met a succession of people and cycled through events as if we plunged through the heavens.

I am writing this in the morning after K?ln and before Madrid. I'm typing this in the morning after our social freefall.

I'm looking back into foreshortened recent memories.

Chutes of reflection.

And a proximate travel to Madrid (the last time I was there, It was 1969), a subsequent travel that will surely scatter the record of what had happened here in K?ln. The ground is rushing up, a blur.

Posted by Dennis at 9:30 PM | Comments (0)

March 7, 2005


In reference to Teresa's claim of Catalan variants, reading Trevor's recent blogpost helps me remember that variations in language are ubiquitious (a function of a cultural isolation that is perhaps now vanishing in modernity's wake?):

In Barcelona varieties of Catalan and Spanish live side by side, so that it?s not unusual to hear a couple talking, one using urban Catalan and the other Castilianised Andalusian. As you go south along the coast, there?s a large zone of German/English domination, with only the state apparatus and old men using Catalan. Into Valencia community, and there?s virtually no public use of Catalan/Valencian, although old men talk it in bars in some villages, many of them using characteristic Lleida-style hybrids. (A random favourite: the use of the Spanish jabal? instead of the ?standard? Catalan senglar for ?wild boar?, commencing with an English ?jab? instead of a spot of Spanish throat-clearing. No coincidence, surely, that the church built in the Ruzafa barrio of Valencia at the spot where Jaime/Jaume of Aragon accepted the surrender of the Moors in 1238 is dedicated to San Blas, patron saint of throat conditions. Do speakers of sweet gutturalects like northern Castilian and Arabic suffer from a higher rate of throat cancer than Catalans?)

One of my most interesting conversations on The Trip was with the guy with the 270 sheep near model farmworkers? village, San Miguel, as one comes down from the hills along the southern end of Albacete province and head towards Ja?n. The area where he was born and has lived is roughly 300km from the last pockets of Valencian speakers, and I don?t think was subject to Aragonese or western Catalan settlement during the reconquista, but I was struck by the similarities between some aspects of his speech and Catalan. For example, in many areas of Andalusia the final ?s? gets replaced by an aspirant (las vacas => lahbakah), and, slightly less frequently, you lose other final consonants, particularly, I think, the ?n? (like the standard Catalan naci? in relation to the Castilian naci?n), but this guy was using radical $hit like tamb? for the Spanish tambi?n/Catalan tamb?, and ost? for the Spanish usted/Catalan vost?. Another example: inflection of the unstressed ?o", giving curtiju instead of cortijo, a characteristic of eastern Catalan variants. I was going to tie him up and bring him along to enable further study of Murcian-Andalusian hinterland speech, but a bike can only take so much.
Posted by Dennis at 12:24 PM | Comments (3)

March 6, 2005

Artist on the Run

Roger Simon posted a reference (a good pic of artwork there) to the Telegraph's obit for Peter Malkin, the painter who captured Adolph Eichmann. Here, a few notes on studio arrangements for the typical artist/spy:

On one level, Malkin's background and history would seem far removed from the typical artist who works everyday in the studio. During his years as a
member of the Mossad, he did not have the luxury or time to live the life of the
artist. He was either on the run or preparing himself to leave. His paintings
had to be small and his paints and materials, including guide books and maps
on which he painted, had to be functional, economical, and practical. He used
pigments that would dry quickly and materials that could be rapidly cleaned
and packed in a moment's notice.
Given the kind of surveillance he was doing in Buenos Aires in 1960, during the time he was stalking the war criminal Adolf Eichmann (whom he eventually caught), there was no time to hesitate. (1) He learned to act quickly -- to move fast. If he delayed for an instant, he might miss the opportunity to bring the SS Obersturmfuhrer to justice.

(emphasis mine)

This, from the Telegraph obit:

"Evil does not exist in isolation," he said. "It is a product of amorality by consensus."
Posted by Dennis at 7:31 PM | Comments (0)

A Heretic via Marc Cooper

I was going to post a link to the Heretic's Blog, but Marc Cooper beat me to it. Marc's blogpost is perfect as is, so by all means, go there now. Here's the first few lines:

The Road Out Of Damascus

A Syrian blogger? Having spent 20 years in Syria one weekend, that?s a calling I think I would gladly forego.

Not so for Damascus writer Ammar Abdulhamid who?s stuck his neck way out there with his own Heretic?s Blog.

It feels almost prurient to read ? from the comfort of my suburban home?the real-time anguishing of this American-educated Syrian liberal. His talent as both writer and analyst are
immediately self-evident and quite impressive. But the burning angst he and his wife Khawla are currently experiencing can only be described as wrenching.

The political earthquake in Lebanon is reverberating across the border in Syria and the regime of the Assad clan is shaking. Problem is, it?s likely to fall right on the heads of the Syrian people...
Posted by Dennis at 6:15 PM | Comments (0)

March 5, 2005

On the Road

The shippers left at midnight.

I met Klosa last year when he picked up paintings for Andr? at the beginning of summer. It was good to see him again. It was late, dark and the paintings looked interesting to me in the moonlight. I had stuffed my camera into my pocket for these furvitive shots.

Klosa is a funny guy. Fifty-ish, snow white sparsing hair, practical dresser, small and spry. I wasn't able to get a shot of him, it was night and I don't like flash camerawork. Just imagine a small relative of Kirk Douglas. He's the kind of guy who seems very serious until you see the humor seep out of the edges. He told me that they had recieved a request to drive from Madrid to Marbella only to find that the painter who was to release a painting, refused to do it. It seems that the painter lent the painting to a friend instead.

What 'tude, huh?

The guys called me from the center of town. I walked over and found them. A big truck, the trick was to conduct them close as possible to the studio without jamming then truck in the tight pueblo streets. I persuaded them to go via the beach. We could shuttle the paintings to the truck from there. The interior of their cab was thrashed with road warrior debris, a makeshift shelf atop the dash was astrewn with cigarettes, food wrappers and in the middle, a laptop for navigation. Klosa is a freak for driving into Spain into Germany. That's his edge. He'll go when no else will, anytime, on average every month. So he has plenty of business. He's been at it for twenty five years.

The tempo of work was funny. We would take a smoke break after every two shuttles. Klosa would pull out a couple of Coca Colas. I don't smoke, but I puffed a cigarette with them and listen to their stories.

This time, Klosa's driving partner was an older, hulking guy by the name of Eckhart. He was kind of strange, a running sore at the corner of his mouth so much so that he was always cocking his head away from you to diminish the aspect -which only added to the strangeness because his head was constantly tweeked in unnatural positions. Wierd. He was not that art smart, I had to pull his jacket away from the surface of my painting a couple of times.

Klosa hinted very strongly (a comic moment) that I assist instead of Eckhart. Eckhart stayed with the truck while we shuttled. The police stopped and checked us out. The police here like painters, this is true. The officer admired the work in the moonlight, compliments, and he was off. Just make sure you don't scrape the buildings in the outbound turn.

These guys are headed for Monte Carlo for a delivery, and from there, North to K?ln. Twenty five years.

I like the blurs:

They make me think of the great BACON.

Posted by Dennis at 8:15 PM | Comments (3)

March 4, 2005


Ramon delivered the rest of the frames by noon, Friday.
Finished installing all the paintings into the traveling frames by 6:45pm.
Klossa, the shipper/art handler should arrive by 7pm as he promised yesterday...

It's time for a coffee.

Update: Klossa has just called (7pm), he's in Barcelona... it looks like a late night.

Coffee and dinner.

Posted by Dennis at 6:51 PM | Comments (3)



Posted by Dennis at 12:46 AM | Comments (2)

March 3, 2005



Posted by Dennis at 3:12 PM | Comments (2)

March 2, 2005

Neighborhood Bully

I hear that there's aNeighborhood Bully in town.

via PruessPress:

DON'T BELIEVE WHAT YOU SEE. This widely-circulating image, purporting to depict Mesler and Rogel outside the old pruesspress studios, at the time they were recording Neighborhood Bully, has also been recently debunked.

Posted by Dennis at 11:05 AM | Comments (0)

March 1, 2005

Progress Report

Today's progress reoprt will probably be the last one, our neighbors are buttoning up the exterior of their place after nearly a year of construction. And they have a ton of work to do yet in the interior. Notice here the drastic revisions to the design, compare it to the last post.

What is interesting about this manner of construction is twofold: one, it is composed of a handful of materials, unlike modern technics that assemble a multitude of products, so bewildering... and two, so much of this is so hand made, shaped in mortar-mud and terracotta, a sculptural thing, sculpture closer to Rodin than Alice Aycock.

I point my camera into the courtyard:


And I see a guy working a chainsaw:


He's using a chainsaw to trim a door jamb. ?Que Rustica!

As an aside, I fantasize about an architecture where you get a construction crew working for months, all the while changing the design and generally driving tehm nuts... and then stopping them three quarters of the way through and sending them home. Then, you bring in another set of fabricators to custom install glass -windows and doors and stuff:


A wild hare (hair). Actually, it's something that's occured to me a long time ago, while watching highrises under construction. Buildings are so beautiful in the process of construction. I thought at the time that you could simply change the spec on the curtain walls and make the whole surface transparent glass, revealing all the weld scorches, measurements, notes and roughedges of construction... all the good stuff they try to scrub off for a "good finish" Our neighbors' project makes me realise that you can make more hay if you mess with the construction process, changing the design along the way... more rough stuff.

Another thought farther back was the idea of a construction site where no material or fabrication would be taken off in the finishing of the building. For example, the safety nets, scaffolding, and even the construction trailers would become the final design... not "incorporated into the final design", but it would be a building designed in a way that incorporates the construction process into the final design. Any takers?

Just a thought.

Posted by Dennis at 3:30 PM | Comments (0)

Breakfast with Ramon

The other day, Ramon invited us for breakfast at his favorite bodega. Every time Ramon comes over to coordinate the fabrication of my panels, we open up a bottle of wine. We aren't experts on wine by any measure, but we think the wiine here is pretty good. Ramon provided the metrics: "Good wine goes down the throat without complications." ?Muy bien, hombre! We can find a three to four dollar bottles at the local grocery stores that will conform to Ramon's criteria. But we could tell that Ramon didn't entirely agree. So he decided to school us with a visit to his favorite tienda that sells five liters of very good wine for six Euros.

?Que Guay!

It was early morning and no one wanted me to shoot their picture, so here you have oblique shots. We knew this wouldn't be an American country breakfast, but lingering memories of a heaping stack of pancakes and (mmmmmm) eggs and bacon danced in our heads even still. Here you have a country b-fast, Catalonia style: Stephanie ordered what turned out to be an assortment of sausages, and for Ramon and me: what Ramon described as "...the meat from the cheek of the pig...", he said, patting his own cheek, smiling sweetly.

Now I didn't do this easily, but if I eat buttifara (a pork sausage popular here) with relish, why stop at the meat of Porky's cheek?

A close up on the cheek:


At least I didn't see teeth. There's not much meat on the jawbone... but boy was it delicious!


Imagine eating this under this visage:


Posted by Dennis at 3:12 PM | Comments (0)


I'm collecting today's image of freedom:


This one, from Lebanon. How exciting this all is! Memories of 1989's fall of the Berlin Wall come to mind, mine and others.


This, from Iraq recently. When I first saw this, I thought it was commercially manufactured... but it was spontaneous.

I'm looking around for Afganistan's image. And I look forward to a few more to come. I think women are the critical factor in this story, the beginning of the end of atavistic patriarchy (the kind that leads to honor killings, for example).

The NYTimes' Editorial Board is getting on Freedom's side of history:

Over the past two decades, as democracies replaced police states across Central and Eastern Europe and Latin America, and a new economic dynamism lifted hundreds of millions of eastern and southern Asia out of poverty and into the middle class, the Middle East stagnated in a perverse time warp that reduced its brightest people to hopelessness or barely contained rage. The wonder is less that a new political restlessness is finally visible, but that it took so long to break through the ice.

(Ahem) Success has a new father.

Posted by Dennis at 2:51 PM | Comments (0)



(This is a screenshot of the great unsung John Boorman movie, Zardoz. A film as loved as much as it is mocked. By all means, see it for yourself and choose which side you're on.

I thought I had lost this and many other shots when my digital camera went nutty and swallowed them all up without a trace. And then one day, they inexplicably reappeared. And I took this as a sign to post them online.... on occasion. Someday, I'll post some kind of text and explicate... someday.)

Posted by Dennis at 8:29 AM | Comments (0)

Bart Exposito


My good friend Bart Exposito has just had a show at Black Dragon Society, Roger Herman and Hubert Schmalix's gallery in the heart of Chinatown Los Angeles. Bart sent me a few pics of the show.

I miss being a coffee break away from my friends in ChinaTown! For a while, it was a habit, the rendezvous where the morning paper and the occasional magazine would form the armature for a strong discussion. I'll paint in a closet if I have to to get back into that very urban space again.


I asked Bart to hammer out a few thoughts to accompany this post:

So, the paintings in the show are basically new
paintings that have some connection to a drawing I did
three or so years ago. I started looking at the
drawing again and began to get interested in
elaborating on it. Six months later I had produced
alot of new work based on it. It's strange to visit
the past like that. I used to bury the early work,
but now I find myself wanting to take the early work
and improve it or something like that. I guess it has
to do with some sort of self sufficiency or autonomy
in that the practice is becoming more and more self
referrential. Make sense?

Yea, perfect sense to me. I think that to be an artist is to have your antenna up, alert to the little twitch, the "spidey sense"... paying attention. Not every twitch leads you to the promised land, and sometimes they run dry, and sometimes it leads right to the sweet spot, where you are swinging in territory that is all your own. That's where Bart is.


I think it's interesting that Bart renders these hard edges by hand, without relying on edge hardening assists like tape or the like. Also, he revises on canvas, altering lines, erasing along the way. That's why you see a little wobbliness in the line work, all in the midst of all that straightness.

We share a propensity to make painted forms that react to the edge of the canvas, a nod to the pictorial universe created by the boundaries of the physical painting (as opposed to visual forms that suggest that the formal universe extends outside of the painting, that the painting in this case is a window to another independant visual world. For me, a visual world dependent -and in fact created by the boundaries of the support- flies against an idea of a purely visual and therefore bodiless expression of paint(ing). Not a window, a world.

Posted by Dennis at 1:34 AM | Comments (0)