September 25, 2005

Day and Night

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By day, I'm wrangling the house. We have until the end of the month of November to move in and there's a studio to refit that will take some effort too. Some of the hardest work is to figure out the echelon of tasks: when do I bring in the tree people, the yard clean up guys, the floor people, when do I pull the trigger on tiling the bathroom, when do I start prepping the interior for painting (should I do that myself or should we find a house painter- we have to keep a lid on the overall expenses somehow), and should I do the same with the shingles too?

There are things I have to do in the yard myself because I don't want to trust contractors to be as sensitive as I would be as to which and what to cut and prune. There had been little of that done while we were away, so now the yard is a jungle. There is also a significant amount of debris left by our former tenants and inside the house, there is a nasty crust of grime to scrub off... all this before I have to prep the interior for painting.

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(PreChop)

Meanwhile, I'm calling the trades for bids. We have a row of eucalyptus trees that were planted at our East property line as in a wind break. They do provide an early morning shade that keep our yard cool and wet as the sun swings the West and finally shines after noon. But our houses are too close to them and they grow bushy and thick, shaggy and dirty. I don't mind that the trees are a squirrel highway, I kind of like hearing them scamper like monkeys overhead. But finally we don't want to merge with nature and blur the boundary between animal and human habitats. All of our overgrowth threatens to do just that. Therefore it is time to carve nature back a bit.

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(PostChop)

Tree people are the VIP's of the jardinero world, it seems to me. They are so in demmand so they don't always return telephone calls. They tend to sort into those who sculpt and those who chop. Sculptors are the sesitivos, they look into the soul of the tree, they try to rebalance the weight of the trunk and limbs, they want to thin out the mass so that the wind blows thru without hazard, they want to see the tree in its' natural elegant beauty.

Choppers chop and go. Choppers sever limbs and trunks mercilessly but the trouble is (beyond the aesthetic violation) that the trees sprout new limbs that tend to grow at right angles, projecting out over the house and yard. Eventually they are weak at the joint and with time they will likely break and fall. Finally, it's just plain wrong.

And the floor. We recieved two estimates high and low. Since its between four and five figures, the sticker shock prompted me to choose the lower priced option. The floor people are lightning fast and by Friday, they had two guys delivering the oak to the house so that it can acclimate prior to installation. We live in a hilly part of LA, and our house was built on a street that was too steep for cars, so our street is a cascade of stairs. A stair street. The upside: we live without cars, surrounded by vegetation blowing gently in the omnipresent breeze, truely this is why this part of town is called Elysian Heights. The downside: everything gets hauled in by hand, goodies in and trash out... fifty steps up to the car and more thatn eighty down to the street below. People tend to remark how lucky we are that we have a natural exercise option with the stairs... uh, yea... exercise, right.

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So as the flooring guys dropped off the last box of prefinished blond oak, I began to feel terrible. The place will look like a high school gymnasium! I tried to reconceptualize it but it was all wrong. I flipped open my cell phone and made the call: "I'm so sorry, but I have second thoughts about this." These people are muy exigente (fastidiously professional) so I wasn't suprised when I heard that there was no problem, that they would send their people back to pick up the load. I decide to work off my culpabilty by shouldering the load back up the stairs. Forty five boxes of solid wood, each weighing about as much as a sack of concrete (for those of you who haven't hefted such a sack, it feels about a hundred pounds, but it was probably about seventy five or so), this weight was cantilevered from the shoulder about four feet at each end, tricky to maneuver. The whole fiasco ate the day. And toward the end, I conjured memories of boot camp and the movie "The Hill" (a highly recommended rental, folks).

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(image source)
Grunt, pant, wheeze.

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By night, ChinaTown. I have no energy left to refit the studio, that will have to wait until the house is in hand. I'm hoping that when the floors are being installed, I can swing over and wrestle with the ChinaTown space. But ChinaTown is still a wealth of an art community. I get to hang out and talk... about lots of stuff, but mostly about art of course.

So much of what is said is so rich and so much of it would want to recount for you all. But the trouble is that the act of trying to preserve the moment tends to destroy it too. Forget scribbling notes, and even if it were as simple as reaching over to switch on a tape recorder, that too would kill the open mood with self consciousness. So many times, I had reached for a camera, onlly to stop the momentum as the people around me focused on the prospect of being featured in this blog. Deers, headlights.

(I'm still working on using the cell phone camera to steal an image from the flow. Expect more of this later as I get the system figured out.)

Oh, but so much good stuff has trafficked already in this first week back. Late nights, talking into the wee hours, living like Spanairds, they are.

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In Phil's studio, I get to see his recent brace of work, new paintings using canvas itself in a painterly manner, collaging cotton duck shards in a way that reminds me of Ryman in that the support is brought to the surface as the site and substance of painting too. Phil wanted to make work that would arrest, that would have an definite presence, that would command our attention (I don't know if he would agree to these descriptive terms)... and I thought, "...don't we all?", but Phil meant this in a personal achievement way... as well as in a specific datum of realizatioin as well. I ask for clarification. He recalled Stella's early sixties work, how it was a moment when an artist had realized a work of such presence and power that it had eclipsed everything he would do subsequently. I first wondered why anyone would want to blow a wad like that, then I wondered if indeed he had actually prematurely ejaculated realized a bildungsroman?

Personally, I view Stella's achievement as a watershed, a decisive turn away from Abstract Expressionism and as a harbinger of minimalism in that they are reduced paintings-as-objects and conceptualism in that those early paintings were a formulation and execution of a set of routines (that could be executed by others). It was nice to reconsider my assumptions... I'm still turning it over in my head. I wonder how other artists think of him, if there are other variations of how they would interpret Stella's early work?

(The following pics were taken after the late night chat sessions.)

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The other night, I visited Bart's studio, a spacious palace of a studio on Chung King Road, across from his gallery, Black Dragon Society. The rents here have shot up and the prices are squeezing us (artists), but Bart took the gamble in taking on the space. He's painting larger, like Phil. Both of these guys could paint giagantic, bigger paintings, no problem.

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His work bears on design in that he prepares the paintings first as drawings. The drawings are provisional as design in terms of line and field and color are reevaluated at every turn. I forget what word he used to describe each compostion, but I immediately thought of them as figurations, images in arrangements that change with every new context. For example, check out these two paintings here and closer, here. See what I mean?

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Across the street, I saw Monique van Genderen's show at the Happy Lion Gallery. She popped into Bart's studio as we talked, I didn't want to scare her away with camera, so no pic of her here. She was headed out to the Wexner Center where she has a few murals to install as they complete the refurbishment of that Eisenman icon of deconstructive architecture.

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I should have shot the other side. Pues...

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I can relate to her work in that I dealt in similar strategies in my glaze paintings so many years ago. Xacto blades, color films, sheets of transparent materials. Her work has a much lighter hand than mine did and I wished I had moved into what seems to be water color kind of sensibilities as she did. It seems to be a great avenue for her. Maybe you can see this in this detail and this one too.

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Here is a shot of more recent work from Monique hanging in the back room of the gallery. A furtive pic. It had to be oblique because I think I was freaking out the gallerist, Lexi at the time.

Posted by Dennis at 8:14 PM | Comments (0)

September 22, 2005

Jardinero

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Before the trees get chopped, I had to clear a path to the backyard. Bougainvealla and a neighbor's mint vine ground cover are about to overwhelm the house. It's time to chop it back, a lilttle hair cut.

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So I had to jump up atop the trellis to carve this monster and back it off the house. It's a beast.

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As the sun was setting, I try to shake out the mat of dead flowers. I should have closed the kitchen door I guess (sure looks good though).

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Later, back in ChinaTown, I shook Duke's hand (owner of Via Cafe, they've got wireless, thank G-d) and was pleased to find that he was eager to learn how to make cortados. ?Muy bien, Tio!

Posted by Dennis at 5:21 PM | Comments (0)

September 20, 2005

CatchUp

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This is our backyard, early Spring 2003.

Here it is today:

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Here's another shot.

We've got our hands full here.

1. Chainsaw, hoes, rakes, shovels, pruners, handsaws, gloves, hats, boots, many phone calls to tree trimming services, many calls not returned... this yard needs two big moves: the big eucalypti on the east ridge get sculpted radically ($) and I get to hardcore prune the rest of the yard (can't hire this job out, I don't trust anyone else to do it correctly) while hired trash haulers move the debris off the the property.

2. The house finally gets a new wood floor. We've got a crack contractor on the job, she's like lightning, so professional. The bathroom needs something like tile and new fixtures (sink and toilet)... I might do this (to save $)... how hard can tiling be? I'll find out soon.

3. Studio: the place is tiny. But it is in a community I treasure. I figure that I can deal with it but again, the work to prep the place is nearly monumental. I've got to pull down a drop ceiling (easy) and a Alfred Jarry style half floor (Do you know the story of where Jarry lived? Very funny. And then there's a shaping of a service block (bathroom,utility sink,a place to store stuff, a place to have a table for an office of sorts.). Lots of work there too.

It is all on the borderline of ""Is it worth it?". Dirty work at first. Lots of debris, more trash hauling.

The clincher: this studio is the same price as my last one in Chinatown, but at a third of the size. LA is crazy expensive, real estate wise.

Posted by Dennis at 11:29 PM | Comments (0)

September 19, 2005

More Admin

Little by little, poco a poco, poc a poc...

All hurdles are being surmounted.

I've just untangled my email problem and now I'm good to go. There's no way to untangle the lost address book, a Gordian knot sliced and diced and laid to the side. It will have to be reconstructed. So for this reason, I will need your help people.

For all my friends, acquantances, business contacts and combinations thereof: could you do me a favor and send me your contact information so I can fold you into my new Apple Tiger? Address Book? (my email address is to the left margin of the blog) Thankyouverymuch!

Sorry about the furvtive and fragmented blogposting... but more hablaba is sure to come soon.

Posted by Dennis at 6:49 PM | Comments (0)

September 18, 2005

Admin

Things are a little crazy here, people.

1. After "fixing" (erase and reinstall) a severely fragmented hard drive (probably stemming from a spike from a thunder storm in Tossa last Spring), I lost a lot of important information despite my efforts at archiving information. I did a double back-up but for some reason, certain important imports won't function for me right now (address book, web mail, bookmarks....). I'm cobbling it all back together very slowly.

2. We've just taken a hard look at our house in Echo Park and the work load to refurbish it again is immense.

3. My studio in ChinaTown will need a big overhaul too.

Pics and hablaba to come soon.

Posted by Dennis at 4:31 PM | Comments (0)

September 16, 2005

In Flight

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Back home again in our home away from home.

And again, a flood of abundance, lots to tell you all about... more later...

Please stand by....


(BLOGPOST IN PROGRESS)

Posted by Dennis at 7:26 PM | Comments (0)

September 15, 2005

Pan Right

Mark Van Neste writes:


Hi Dennis,

Mark Van Neste from the UK here and, as you may recall, sometime follower of the Hollingsworth blog!

I had originally hoped to travel to Tossa in June/July this year, but with one thing and another the trip ended up being pushed back several times. Finally I'll be washing up in town on Sept 25th, but tragically it sounds as if that'll be too late to say hello as I see you are already packing bags and getting set for the off.

If convenient, I had hoped to inviting you for lunch or dinner. Perhaps there will be another occasion down the line. I hope so.

Have a safe journey old chap and, as ever, thanks for all the excellent and thought-provoking stuff you post.

All the best,

Mark Van Neste

I'm sure our schedules will mesh sometime soon! And thanks for the encouragement, it comes in handy. Handshakes and a toast! PanRightHorizBLACK.jpg PanRight1.jpg PanRightHorizBLACK.jpg PanRight2.jpg PanRightHorizBLACK.jpg PanRight3.jpg PanRightHorizBLACK.jpg
Posted by Dennis at 1:24 AM | Comments (0)

CloseUp

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Sherie' Writes:


Hey Dennis,
Nice painting. Any time for closeups? Just want to thank you for all
your blogs, great adventures and most of all the generosity of sharing
your work. Seeing the work and thinking about painting as it relates to
life is wonderful. Safe travels to you.
Sherie'

?A Usted, Sherie'!

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Posted by Dennis at 1:19 AM | Comments (0)

September 14, 2005

Lessons Learned

Computer problems: I learned that there was nothing that I could do right now.

Which is probably a cosmic truth... or somesuchthing.

Posted by Dennis at 11:03 PM | Comments (0)

September 13, 2005

Luego (Pasado Viernes)

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Posted by Dennis at 4:40 PM | Comments (0)

Admin: Update

Saturday Morning:
-Finished the painting bound for Miguel Marcos Gallery. -Cat nap for the sleep deprived. -The house is thrashed.
Saturday night:
-Bus to Barcelona a little early, walked the streets that were packed with people ( a holiday, Catalan independance day). -Business at the gallery. -Dinner with Miguel Marcos and Maria Mirentxu in Barcelona. -Unable to find a room for the night on short notice, so I take a taxi back to Tossa (roughly the same cost as a room anyway).
Sunday all day:
-Sleep, beautiful sleep. -Fiddled with the computer like a monkey flipping switches in the cockpit of a spaceship. This took most of the day. The upshot: I should wait until I get to LA for the solution (upgrade to OSX Tiger). I could tell you all why, but I don't want to get technical here/now. -Inexplicably, I discover 4 megabytes free on my abused hardrive. Woo hoo (yes, like a monkey... try it yourself and remember to clap your hands too), but there's too little time to exploit it.
Monday
-House clean up/ prep for departure/ have-to-do's... first floor. -A drink with Alberto to plan our October rendezvous in LA.
Tuesday
-House clean up/ prep for departure/ have-to-do's... second/third floor. -I'll give Kiko a call to see what he's up to.
Tomorrow
-Meet up with my cousin Joe, Kiko for a toast, take care of too many little important things and have the bags packed and ready for a 3:30 am (Thursday) rendezvous with Se?or Bartolo, the taxi driver.
Posted by Dennis at 4:30 PM | Comments (0)

September 9, 2005

Trouble Shooter

Schedule tightens!
An exhausted hard drive...
Ice and Knockando.

Posted by Dennis at 9:41 AM | Comments (0)

September 8, 2005

Dang

I've just tried to download Louis Armstrong's "Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?", but there's no room on my hard drive.

That's harsh.

Hard.

Pretty soon, I will be limited to bloposting haiku.

Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans And miss it each night and day I know I'm not wrong... this feeling's gettin' stronger The longer, I stay away Miss them moss covered vines...the tall sugar pines Where mockin' birds used to sing And I'd like to see that lazy Mississippi...hurryin' into spring

The moonlight on the bayou.......a Creole tune.... that fills the air
I dream... about Magnolias in bloom......and I'm wishin' I was there

Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans
When that's where you left your heart
And there's one thing more...I miss the one I care for
More than I miss New Orleans

(instrumental break)

The moonlight on the bayou.......a Creole tune.... that fills the air
I dream... about Magnolias in bloom......and I'm wishin' I was there

Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans
When that's where you left your heart
And there's one thing more...I miss the one I care for
More.....more than I miss.......New Orleans

Posted by Dennis at 7:01 AM | Comments (0)

Admin: Raining, Pouring.

I'm not surprised.

"Your startup disk is almost full."

Just as things are about to go pop here, I begin to have some computer problems. It seems I have a severely fragmented hard drive. One by one, my computer is diminishing in capacity. Now, I can't use my Photoshop Elements, and therefore I can't process images to upload into a blogpost. As you probably know, such events are time suckers, and I have no time that's suckable.

Already, current events are spilling over my capacity to blog:
-a day trip into France as I escorted my mother on one of her buying missions,
-Katrina in general,
-Ahora posts on this current painting,
-The recent decision of Tossa's young artist Alberto to visit us in Los Angeles and subsequently move to Berlin... an alternative approach to art school, big news this...
-a return of Klossa as he delivers a few paintings that didn't sell ("suckers!" -just kidding) from the back room of one of my galleries (...it's good to see the old work again, from '98 thereabouts)
-Kiko's new, old house, one that he's restoring,
-lots of ideas, of this and that, including one for a New New Orleans, my studio in ChinaTown, and more...
-not to mention old events/ideas like finishing the "Where Am I" blogpost, the entry into Berlin (can you see the Ensor ref here?)...

I should have this painting in hand by the weekend and if there's a margin for it, I will be able to get under the hood of this laptop and replace the engine. But there is so much that's ramping up on the to-do list already...

Posted by Dennis at 4:51 AM | Comments (0)

September 7, 2005

Art and Urbanism

I came across this tidbit via artsjournal.com:

Given that struggle to survive, surely Sydney's art scene is likely to be hardest hit.

For a start, it is an outrageously expensive city. "In dollar terms, Sydney is still way, way more expensive than anywhere else in Australia," the Reserve Bank governor, Ian Macfarlane, told a parliamentary committee last month. "I think it's so expensive that, particularly for a lot of young people, it's in their interests to go elsewhere, where the lifestyle is more affordable."


The article is interesting but a bit twisted. But I have no time to Fisk it.

I should note that I think that artists need cheap rent to have the time to think about art, to make art, to incubate so that art has intrinsic reasons for being. Art and business are two separate worlds. More than a tool of gentrification- the prescence of artists in a city is a sure sign of grass roots urban renewal -at any rate. Worlds separate but symbiotic perhaps.

Too bad that we get edged out eventually.
Too bad that cities don't try to conserve this vital resource... although I'm not sure what can sensibly be done.

Paris at the turn of the century. Post war New York. Post New York Los Angeles. Now, (post Cold War) Berlin. Are there any other major metropoli left in the world as a site where artists can incubate? Is it unreasonable to anticipate the day when Berlin becomes too expensive for artsts too? Perhaps then our connectedness (DSL plus affordable airfare) will help. Mexico City? Athens? Buenos Aires?

Posted by Dennis at 8:21 AM | Comments (0)

Leaps

Now we know. (After Katrina)
Or do we?

What lessons can we learn from what happened?

How can we feel so certain about what is to come?
Maybe we don't really think about tomorrow, but we have an illusion that we do.

It gets me when people argue from positions of certitude about catastrophic events that catch us by surprise. Could have, would have, should have.

We were caught flat footed more than twice (in the states). Now we know, but we don't really know about tomorow, do we?

Maybe we don't try to.

We get suprised by a loony shoe bomber and for years, we take off our shoes at the gate.
Back Seat drivers we are.
Eyes riveted on the rear view mirror, oblivious to the windshield surround.

The thing is... the challenge is... to be able to think about the unthinkable,
to imagine in a way that incorporates surprise... and not surprise for its' own sake.

...but a narrow surprise

Not. Random.

Posted by Dennis at 7:55 AM | Comments (0)

The Deadliest Force in the Universe.

Stephanie sent me this jpeg of some shenanigans in LA's Silver Lake:

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Interesting.

Something to look forward to.

Posted by Dennis at 7:45 AM | Comments (0)

September 6, 2005

ONLY A FOOL WOULD SAY THAT

ONLY A FOOL WOULD SAY THAT
(Becker / Fagen)
Steely Dan


A world become one
Of salads and sun
Only a fool would say that
A boy with a plan
A natural man
Wearing a white stetson hat
Unhand that gun begone
There's no one to fire upon
If he's holding it high
He's telling a lie

CHORUS:
I heard it was you
Talkin' 'bout a world
Where all is free
It just couldn't be
And only a fool would say that

The man in the street
Draggin' his feet
Don't wanna hear the bad news
Imagine your face
There is his place
Standing inside his brown shoes
You do his nine to five
Drag yourself home half alive
And there on the screen
A man with a dream

CHORUS

Anybody on the street
Has murder in his eyes
You feel no pain
And you're younger
Then you realize

Posted by Dennis at 6:56 AM | Comments (0)

September 5, 2005

Monads via Pixy Misa

Pixy Misa teaches Metaphysics 101:

While occasionally looking back at the two sister-ships, our eyes are now drawn to an amazing spectacle a little further along the shore. This great ship seems to be made entirely of ivory and gold. Its masts reach so high they are lost in the clouds. A hundred silken sails are carefully furled; a thousand flags and pennants flutter gaily from rigging.

Up on the shining deck, inlaid with jewels and precious metals, hundreds of people are arguing and waving their arms. Each is dressed in the uniform of an Admiral of a navy of a different country or a different time; no two are exactly alike. The effect is startling and oddly beautiful.

This is the great and famous Idealism. Idealism is a slightly odd ship compared to those we've seen before; it is more easily defined by what it is not than by what it is.


So far, so good. Then, I run into this:

Leibniz is perhaps the most consistent, since he said that all physical things are actually made up of little bundles of consciousness he called 'monads', an idea that is a kind of panpsychism

Very good.

Posted by Dennis at 7:44 PM | Comments (0)

Miradas

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We got a review.

Click here for a larger view.

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Posted by Dennis at 6:01 PM | Comments (0)

Admin

Things are going to be pretty crazy for the next week and a half as I process out of Tossa and fly back to Los Angeles on the fifteenth of September. So if you read hasty and incoherent blogposts chock full of misspellings and ramblings... well there you go.

The previous "Where Was I?" is going deep as I try to re-member last week. There is so much that fell through my blogging fingers, an embarassment of riches. There are so many people, great conversations, special moments that have passed without any record. This, another reminder of however a blog might seem to offer transparency, it isn't. Material for later memiors, I guess.

So strap on your seatbelts. It's going to be a rough but fun ride!

Posted by Dennis at 5:19 PM | Comments (0)

September 2, 2005

Where Was I?

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Oh yea.

The worked arrived in perfect shape, no split seams of the new crate design, no fork lift tines skewering holes, no broken fixtures within that would allow the paintings inside to bang and smash the delicacies that are core values for my work. This, a first sign of a great week.

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(BLOGPOST IN PROGRESS)

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These shots were taken in the backroom of Tanya's gallery. I really liked these spaces, the light, the brick. There's a character to Dutch techtonics (the way people put things together) that was particularly vivid after a time spent in Spanish Catalunya. There is a completeness and purposefulness that is present in the built environment everywhere, where people usually see and even where they can't. I see this in every course of bricks, as roofs hang into eaves, as walls meet floors, as floors become urban infrastructure.

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Up against the wall was the work of Koen Vermeule. I loved seeing this sort of show after his show (the previous June). Poking around, I note how he is super loose within the schema of representations that are probably video projected onto canvas. Check out the details here, here and closer still, here.

Another kind of painting by Rachid Ben Ali was leaning against the walls. Unfortunately, I only caught this blurred shot:
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Here's the same image, large despite my shakey camera hand. I should have shot more of his canvases to show you more of this resurgent neoexpressionism filtered through what I take to be the Dutch son of assimilating Muslim immigrants. Both artists are getting attention there. (I saw a large R.Ben Ali at the Stedelijk Museum.)

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Gerard Polhuis installed the show.
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An artist too, Gerard makes these hand drawn, laser cut painted steel Calder meets Miro mobiles-but-not with sprites of Pittman and Kara Walker as art nudges into design in terms of fixtures of lighting and near chandeliers.
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...!

Where was I?
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Long and linear, Tanya's space is cool because it links the room of the street with an internal roofed and screened light and air filled volume inside. Just inside this little redwood decked courtyard, sliding doors open the back room seen earlier here in this post.
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The install of a show is always interesting. For example, Miguel Marcos and his number one Alberto sweated suble dynamic cross relational arrangements for days. Seriously, Alberto would move a painting two inches because as he said: "One will have to live with this for two months, after all."

Muy bien, Tio.

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Tanya asked me for my thoughts about the installation. Earlier I had explained how I thought that as artwork leaves the studio, it is in constant motion either towards the landfill or the museum. In such a state, the dominion of total artistic control and intention diminishes radically and subsequently hazards the interpretation and intentions of others in the world. Over time, if the nature of the work shines and the caprice of fate allows, people will work to recover and re-member the original nature of those intentions and visions.

Ojala.

Therefore, I welcome the direction of the gallery in the installation for the sake of the implications of this "constant motion" theory (landfill/museum). One implication is that the enlargement of the imagination and fire of creativity is not the sole province of the artist but extensive throughout including all the people who encounter the original artwork. We are not mere witnesses but active participants. When we see a Mona Lisa, for example, the fire that burned in the figure of Leonardo burns in us too.

In a wider definition of artmaking, art is choosing. A painter choosing among colors on a pallette is the same as a collector choosing artwork to live with, as is a gallery in choosing what artists to represent... this definition is extendable to everyone in all stations of life.

So it was good news to see Tanya making invested choices in the installation. interestingly, it was Gerard who was extrapolating several variations as we positioned work against the wall over and over again. A strong idea was deposed for a stronger one and then after that, a different strategy would be proposed and off we would go in choosing among another set of good and better options.

Tanya still asked me what I thought. What is important to me is that there is a story that can be told in the sequence between paintings. Often, I would tack like a sailboat, going from one direction to the opposite to challenge assumptions and to confirm over and over agian that "consciousness comes from an awareness of contrast".

As the afternoon grew long, one particular installation persisted and we were all satisfied. Tanya wanted to jump into the car to see a museum and have dinner with collectors. Time was tight. I was beginning to learn firsthand how Tanya likes to pack her schedule with lots of experiences. If we hurried, we might have an hour in the Kr?ller-M?ller museum. Gerard stayed behind to hang the work.

Cool.

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***

Kr?ller-M?ller Museum

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After about an hour's drive East of Amsterdam, we arrived at the gates of the Hoge Veluwe National Park and the Kr?ller-M?ller museum. I had no idea how fabulous this place was. A great museum with a wonderful collection that has an interesting history, situated in the center of a huge and multifaceted park.

My use of the camera is too pathetic to try to do any justice in describing this place. A proper appreciation would require at least a weekend there: a day for the museum and a day for the park. I wonderful place for a family outing.

From the website:

National Park De Hoge Veluwe is one of the Netherlands' oldest and largest national parks. It consists of no less than 5,500 hectares of woodland, heathland, lakes and driftsand. Together with the Kroller-Muller Museum and the sculpture garden it offers a unique combination of nature, art and architecture.

De Hoge Veluwe is a park where visitors can still find plenty of space and peace. Where you can walk undisturbed for hours, or cycle using one of the free white bicycle. It is home to many endangered plant and animal species. Have you ever come face to face with a red deer, moufflon or roe deer? It can happen at De Hoge Veluwe!

Alongside peace and space, there is also a lot to do in the Park. To protect the peacefulness, the activities are concentrated in the central area of the park. A wide range of sporting, cultural and educational activities are regularly organised for young and old.

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The free bikes are fantastic. A backpack and a picnic with friends would make for a great day.

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As for the museum:

The Kroller-Muller Museum is world-famous for its large collection of paintings by Vincent van Gogh: it features a magnificent selection of his work. The museum also houses impressive works by George Seurat, Pablo Picasso, Fernand Leger, Piet Mondriaan and many other leading artists.

Temporary exhibitions are regularly staged featuring works from the 20th century and contemporary art, and retrospectives are staged. These are devoted to important artists, with works from the Museum's own collection on display. Works from the Museum's sculpture collection are also regularly displayed in rooms in the new wing of the Museum. These include works by Donald Judd, Alberto Giacometti, Sol LeWitt, Bruce Nauman and others.

Another famous feature of the Kroller-Muller Museum is the sculpture garden - the largest such garden in Europe. A magnificent collection of sculpture is displayed in an unusual setting, surrounded by nature. Various artists from the end of the 19th century to the present day are presented: Auguste Rodin, Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Richard Serra, Mario Merz, Jean Dubuffet and Claes Oldenburg.

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And then I turned the corner and I was stopped by a few Ensor paintings. I google:


The Germanic spirit that so violently separated the self and the material world had a profound effect on its artists: witness the tortuously emotional lives of Vincent van Gogh and Edvard Munch. A third to suffer a similar fate was the Belgian, James Ensor, who wrote, "I was born at Ostend, On April 13, 1860, on a Friday, the day of Venus. At my birth, Venus came toward me, smiling, and we looked into each other's eyes. She smelled pleasantly of salt water." The mysteries of the sea were to continue to influence Ensor's art but his conceptions of the world around him would not remain so pleasant. His parents ran four souvenir-curio shops in the seaside resort of Ostend catering to the English Channel-crossers as well as to the continental Europeans and peasants from the countryside. Ensor's childhood was spent idling away his time, roaming the dunes of the old port. His childhood was crammed full of strange objects. "In my parent's shop, I had seen the wavy lines and the serpentine forms of beautiful seashells; the iridescent lights of mother-of-pearl, the rich tones of delicate chinoiseries." In the attic in which Ensor made his studio is where his parents kept damaged and unsold objects from the shop. These objects, along with the masks Ensor's parents sold at religious carnivals, became the sources for his art. In 1877 Ensor entered the Brussels academy where he stayed for three years, drawing and painting. He returned to Ostend, and by 1884 was painting the masks and skeletons which made him famous, and which more and more evidenced a profoundly morbid turn in his personality.

Masks, ghosts and demons people his art in canvases that otherwise are bathed in gentle light and vibrant colors. Although the objects of Ensor's canvases are, for the most part, inanimate, they give the impression of having been somehow surprised in the midst of some diabolical activity. From his early twenties Ensor's work evokes the suspicion with which he seemed to regard both his fellow man and the inanimate objects that surrounded him. Ensor was completely isolated in the hallucinatory world of his creation, an isolation that is revealed in his portrayal of the human figure behind a mask, which revealed all of his baser and more destructive aspects. His art is filled with images in which men exist only as phantoms or ghosts, eroded by death or contained in a peculiar experience of space-imaginary, shriveling into shallow areas, rushing again at a great distance as something new and monstrous. These themes are not artistic exaggerations, as they would be in the later surrealistic paintings of such artists as Salvador Dali, but are devised, rather, to clarify a real situation, compulsive projections of mental states.


***

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I was snapping pictures on the fly, making mental notes to return again one day. Then we turned the corner and we stumbled into a room of Van Gogh's.
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I snapped pics, feeling a little foolish for rushing by so many wonders. (A detail here.)

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And as the museum personnel began to herd us out, some sculptures caught my eye. There is a sculpture garden of some note thereabouts. More here, here, and here.

That evening, we had dinner with collectors. I was surprised to find an old painting of mine on their walls, I hadn't focused onthe possibility that they would have been a collector of my work. it was nice to see it again. The evening was very interesting and it was great to see their collection, a giant room full of the history of Dutch and international art hanging in three large racks over anti static floors, state of the art security and climate control equipment.

I came away blinking in wonder at the historical depth of quality of Dutch painting.

***

Where was I, indeed.

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The next day, I wa able to kick out and see a little of Haarlem before the opening that evening. These shots were taken just around the corner from the gallery.
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There wasn't much time before the opening, but luckily the oldest museum in the Netherlands was nearby, the Teyler museum.

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The link above is in Dutch, so I Wiki for more:


Teylers Museum is a natural history museum in Haarlem, the Netherlands, and the oldest public museum in the country. The museum hosts a collection of fossils, minerals, historical scientific instruments and works of art.

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The combination of artifacts and art... very interesting. The Teyler is a museum of the history of museums too.

I wonder if we could mix the contents of the L.A. County art museum and the George C. Page Museum next door?

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This, Hokusai's "In the Hollow of a Wave off the Coast at Kanagawa" was included in an exhibit in the history of volcanology. Art was mixed with geologic samples, models and ancient journals documenting volcanic eruptions.

I took my time there until shortly before the opening.

***

Where was I?

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Ah yes, the opening.

I had my camera in my pocket but... I just can't pull it out and flash it around as I am meeting and greeting at an opening. It draws a pall of self consciousness over the ocassion, just at the critical moment when I am either encountering new people or tuning into a conversation to handle the issues people bring up in reference to the painting.

Plus, there is a fair amount of business happening therein and while I am a little nutty, I'm not so crazy as to broadcast the delicate innards of the transactions, people and commercially related chit chat that goes on in an opening.

Plus, there's a thing about converting life into art, a kind of thing that drove Dave Hickey to leave fiction for art criticism in the first place. The problem is that if you are constantly digging life for art material, life starts to feel like an open pit mine.

But I can and should write that I met some very wonderful people that night.


***

Where was I?

Oh yes, Amsterdam.

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My favorite activity especially in this part of Europe is to simply walk the streets. And in the height of summer, these Dutch streets are one big party day and night. This location at Museum Plein is one such site of many. Sitting atop a Emilio Ambasz type of subcutaneous incision and insertion of a grocery store chain, it was a perfect combination of mixed uses: buy your picnic below and camp out on a grassy knoll to watch the city trickle in for the big party.

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Getting into town via rail from Haarlem takes about fifteen to twenty minutes. After doing this and that at the gallery in the mornings, I had only an afternoon for the pilgramage to the museums. So the salve for the wounds of not soaking in the waters of high culture is a stiff injection of pop culture ( EU rap in this photo). It was pretty damn good. I wanted the CD, no such luck. At another venue, cumbias and Latin Salsa. Muy bien, Tio.

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On this partcular evening, I had a dinner appointment (which turned out to be fascinating) so therefore I had just enough time to visit Theo Van Gogh's murder site and hoof over to the Stedelijk.

The murder of Theo Van Gogh should be the Pearl Harbor for the creative community, although for me, the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas crossed the line long ago.

The Stedelijk is in a temporary space, so I understand, and it reminds me of LA's Temporary Contemporary ...although Frank Ghery's hand was so good when restrained that the temporary became permanent. Best remembered at the Stedelijk: Marlene Dumas (check it out, her site is interesting), a big Rachid Ben Ali, A Peter Saul, an R.B. Kitaj, a big room ful or two of Michael Majerus.

***

Where Was I?

Oh yea, I flew to Berlin to see Andr?'s new space.

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(BLOGPOST IN PROGRESS)

Posted by Dennis at 8:32 AM | Comments (0)

And then, Katrina.

It took some time for the dimensions of the Katrina disaster to register in my head... as a true disaster.

Talking to Stephanie after I returned and she was getting a little irritated with my lingering skepticism regarding the accuracy of the news media reports on hurricane Katrina. After years of disappointment with mainstream news (the hype, a gothic delight in amplifying bad news, the agenda setting, the lack of self consciousness, ... shall I go on?) , I wasn't ready for Chicken Little to really report the news. I thought this would be like all those other times when small events were dressed in Holloween costume to sell the papers and network news.

This time, the sky really fell.

Check out this 2002 report on an analysis of the effect of a catagory five direct hit on New Orleans:

And just across the Mississippi River, Walter Maestri is struggling to help New Orleans prepare. Maestri is the czar of public emergencies in Jefferson Parish (that's the county that sprawls across a third of the metropolitan area). He points to a map of the region on the wall of his command post.

"A couple of days ago," explains Maestri, "We actually had an exercise where we brought a fictitious Category Five Hurricane into the metropolitan area."

The map is covered with arrows and swirls in erasable marker. They show how the fictitious hurricane crossed Key West and then smacked into New Orleans.

When the computer models showed Maestri what would happen next, he wrote big letters on the map, all in capitals.

"KYAGB?kiss your ass good bye," reads Maestri.


And a little further down, a practical solution that probably sounded outlandish three years ago:

The Haven

"It's a lifeboat," explains Suhayda. "And the lifeboat is there because it anticipates, at some point, possibly, the main ship is going to sink."

Some scientists believe that if a huge storm hits New Orleans, the city would have to be abandoned. Bulldoze the rubble, rebuild someplace else. But Suhayda thinks they could save a piece of it. He wants the nation to build a massive wall around the downtown heart of New Orleans. It would be like the giant walls that protected medieval cities. It'd be almost three stories high, and miles around. It would enclose the French Quarter and government buildings, and a hospital and housing. If a monster hurricane comes, at least that part of the city could survive. Suhayda calls it 'the community haven.' He shows me a small example.

"What we're on now is a concrete wall that is of the type that I was suggesting as a community haven," explains Suhayda.

This one's about 20 feet high, with grassy slopes. It shields the nearby houses from the lake, sort of like a gated community. There's a pair of huge solid-steel gates?like a bank vault?at the entrance to the neighborhood.

"So," says Suhayda, "we would have a wall of this type, maybe a little bit higher, that would enclose the community haven. "

Suhayda pictures the scenario unfolding like a disaster movie: the forecast comes in, a giant hurricane's approaching, and government officials sound the alarm: 'Get to the haven, if you can.'

The quote from a resident of the French quarter at the bottom of the article is particularly chilling.

Then I read stuff like this:

New Orleans is not going to be "saved". It's not possible. It's Atlantis. This is a disaster on an unprecedented scale, the kind of comic-book catastrophe like a major shift in the New Madrid, the La Palma tsunami, the Yellowstone caldera, or a significant meteor shattering over a major city and creating a firestorm that no society has the resources to really "shield" a city from and that no society has the technology to magically "fix" in the aftermath. For all intents and purposes, this may as well have been a nuclear meltdown. Nature is history's greatest monster, and when it decides to go on a killing spree, even the most powerful superpower in human history is simply incapable of fighting back. Nothing within the scope of our imagination can make New Orleans a habitable place right now.
Is this true? Are things that bad?

Then, I read this:

And the hospitals are full. The hospitals are turning people away, because they don't have enough food and water to be able to take care of the people who are in the hospitals. So, the boatload of people that came apparently to the hospital this morning or this afternoon, a father, a mother and two little kids came in a boat, and the people at the hospital turned them away, sent them away, because they didn't have room for them. Another 20 people walked up to the parking lot -- parking garage. They had been in the Holiday Inn downtown. That Holiday Inn lost electricity, lost everything. So those people just left, and they have been wandering around the city looking for a place to stay, and the security guards had to turn them away. They sent them back into the flood waters because they didn't have enough food or water or that to even be able to take care of necessarily the people that are here.

So who's left behind in New Orleans right now, you are talking about tens of thousands of people who are left behind, and those are the sickest, the oldest, poorest, the youngest, the people with disabilities and the like, and the plan was that everybody should leave. Well, you can't leave if you're in a hospital. You can't leave if you're a nurse. You can't leave if you are a patient. You can't leave if you're in a nursing home. You can't leave if you don't have a car. All of these things. They didn't have - there was no plan for that.

And so, we are talking about somewhere in the neighborhood, I think, of 100,000 people probably in the metropolitan New Orleans area that are still here. And the suggestions from local officials are, you know, in the suburban parish next to us, they announced on the radio -- we have one radio station, have no TV, have no cell phones. Nothing. The only calls we are able to get are the calls that come in. And the suggestion was that people should take a boat over toward the interstate, and then they would pick them up there.

But, you know, these people don't have a car, people who live in an apartment with their mother, you know, people who are sick. That's why they couldn't leave. They don't have cars. They certainly don't have boats!

And so, there's a huge humanitarian crisis going on here right now.

These are times that transcend cliche:

In a sort of cliche way, this is an edifying experience. One is rapidly focused away from the transient and material to the bare necessities of life. It has been challenging to me to learn how to be a primary care physician. We are under martial law so return to our homes is impossible. I don?t know how long it will be and this is my greatest fear. Despite it all, this is a soul-edifying experience. The greatest pain is to think about the loss. And how long the rebuild will take. And the horror of so many dead people.

PLEASE SEND THIS DISPATCH TO ALL YOU THINK MAY BE INTERESTED IN A DISPATCH from the front. I will send more according to your interest. Hopefully their collective prayers will be answered. By the way, suture packs, sterile gloves and stethoscopes will be needed as the Ritz turns into a MASH.

Posted by Dennis at 8:30 AM | Comments (0)

September 1, 2005

Ahora, Sort of.

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This was a shot taken last night, a couple of hours past midnight.

Coming back from my travels, I arrived home to be a little bewildered as to how to proceed, there is so much to do, a lot of details. I needed to absorb what had happened, what is about to happen. One last painting is set to go, our house has to be sealed up, things put away, a few repairs have to be made, various services have to be taken care of, banking and telephone/DSL for example. Which things should I take back with me? Boioks, for example, or records such as my painting files, and how much of my studio tools do I leave behind? Winter clothes have to packed for sure. Dinners and goodbyes and special toasts between friends have to happen. I want to take fotos of everyone I know and want to remember.

I was flexing my fingers, gelling an idea of how to tell the story of the past week. And then the door bell rang. It was Kiko. Did I want to go get a drink and talk about life and stuff? Sure, Kiko.

So off we went to a bar that Kiko built fifteen years ago. Nacho. Leslie, Jordi (who I had met at San Grau festival last year) and a couple of vacationing Italian guys who own a hotel in Costa Rica. Nacho was telling the story of a night dive that he and Kiko had made when I was traveling. Nacho bought three "torpedos", submersible handheld scooters. Nacho's life is built around motorcycles, so this kind of thing is a natural for him. Kiko and I used the scooters in a night dive several weeks ago and therefore I can vouch for the dexterity needed to juggle this array. It was freaky fun to be be out dangling in the darkness of a vast sea. I swung my light around a lot, swimming in more of a mental model of what I remember of the underwater rocks, constantly verifying features with the flashlight. Fish were abundant and dreamy, sluggish, terribly vulnerable. But then we felt terribly vulnerable too.

After that night swim, Kiko was keen to do it again and harpoon the sleeping fishes below the rocks. "Pobrecitos" he lamented, still keen to fill a bag full of them. "Delicioso" chimed Nacho as he detailed the manner in which he had cooked the catch: cut them into fillets and slice potatoes arranged in a baking dish with slices of lemon and spices and after a half an hour in the oven, the meat falls from the bones in big steaming chunks. He talked as if it was hard to keep the anticipatory saliva from spilling over his chin, hands pinching invisible savory bits in the air. Jordi was smiling but he was winding up.

Jordi lit into Kiko: "I castigate you!" (my rough translation here) standing out of his chair, finger wagging. "You take advantage of sleeping fishes, you have no shame! What kind of sportsman are you? You sneak up on them as they sleep peaceably in the depths and then you surprise and bewilder them with a flashlight and spear them in the gut! You disgust me!" Jordi was having a field day. Smiles hid behind a shield of mock disgust.

Kiko would have none of this. "You! You are the one who fished one hundred and fourteen squid from the sea... illegally, out of season!" You fished more than you can eat! You lured them up to the surface with lights, what skill does that take? We had to manage a torpedo, a harpoon and a flashlight in cold water and to catch a fish, you have to dive deeply and pin a fish up against a rock, CLACK!" Catalans I've met like to use "clack" and "pim, pam,poom!" as the sounds of making-things-happen. They also like to use "Ostea"they way we use "Sh-t" or Damn" (referring to the Catholic host, symbol of Jesus' body, very bad apparently. They use "Joder", which is F-ck" and "Puta de Madre" which sounds vile but is used to describe good and great things or events. Try it yourself. Say "Ho-dare"(phonetic) with your eyes a little bugged out. As for the latter term, I've even heard eighty year old Catalan grannies use it, so it can't be as terrible as what it directly transliterates to.

At this point, Kiko is pantomiming the spearing of the fish. "Only the big ones, eh?" But Jordi is running game and he taunted Kiko all night long. Such was the evening.

***

Pues...

But...

Where was I?
(This is one of my favorite blogpost titles.)

Oh yea, I was about to tell you all about last week. A good week it was.

Posted by Dennis at 6:33 PM | Comments (0)