May 30, 2006

Morning Reading: Lists

When ArtForum booted to the list mode years ago, it was yet another indication that a sea change had just taken effect.

About the same time, I noticed that people around me were talking about artists as if they were stock picks: who's hot and who's not. I remember a particular dinner conversation with a gallerist, a collector and a curator where names of artists tumbled out, each life --personally epic gambles with talent gripped in white knuckles, intrepid lunges against the odds that the end might well turn out to be a vainglorious dead end-- each life dispatched in cold blood.

"What do you think about XX?" "He's sh-t, he lost his edge. How about YY?" "I'm surprised to hear that you like her work! Did you see ZZ's show? He's much better." Lives tossed about like baseball cards by people whose lives are padded by 401k's, luxury health plans, annual vacations in exotic resorts, extended sabbaticals and elite health clubs.

The horror.

Permit me to submit for your consideration, this morning's read, courtesy of Arts and Letters Daily of course:

But my heart sank when I saw that the premier egghead journal of the land, Critical Inquiry, published an essay last winter that purported to rank the greatest literary theorists in its pages (and, by implication, the world). Why ? at a time when we distrust megacorporations and any word from high, when we know it only makes sense to suspect the fix is in with any such lists unless they are produced by a klutz like Posner or a clown like Letterman ? would the leading specialized journal in the humanities toss very likely bogus social-science tools into its hitherto beautifully humming engine?

I felt like I had seen the people of Troy open their gates to that huge gift horse. What did the editors hope to gain, and was it worth giving up so much credibility to put pseudoscience where words should have been, to substitute accounting methods for critical judgment? Humanists should know better...

...What chiefly surprised me about last winter's list was its lack of any humor, any irony. The self-styled most important journal of theory was going to inform us ? so it told us ? what an objective method revealed about who the most important theorists were in its pages. How? By counting citations to theorists. Behind the rhetoric about discovering "the identity of our journal" lies an implicit assumption: If you're cited in Critical Inquiry, you're the best of the best.


On the other hand...

A list is also a reflection of reality's bite. For example, take tonight's dinner: Chinese, Thai, Italian, Japanese... what would you like to eat? Attention to one steals from the others. But you can't eat all at once. Eventually, one must choose.

There's the rub.

The saving grace is that the list lives only for the present tense. Top ten lists are valid for the moment of publication but not for much longer than that. Soon, another list is complied and the list made earlier is yesterday's news. All of a sudden, but for the briefest of moments, the universe does become zero sum.

All of which brings me to a blogpost on anxiety in the artworld that I've been considering for some time now. Stay tuned, if you please.

Posted by Dennis at 10:24 AM | Comments (0)

Saturday Night

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(BLOGPOST IN PROGRESS)

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(A closeup of the painting above here.)

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I didn't want to geek out and shoot pics of the show. Links here:
Florian S?smayr at R?diger Sch?ttle Gallery, and Anj Smith at IBID Projects.

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Later, back to the SpeakEasy for the set by Birdman's band.

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Posted by Dennis at 6:02 AM | Comments (0)

May 29, 2006

Night Cap

I knew the night would be unusual when Joel, hunched over at the bar, quaffed his wiskey with a toss and snapped the glass into the corner behind him, eyes steady looking forward half lidded, away from where the Pardo orange interior wall siding laced with special decorative black drips met the diamond pattern ceramic tile fabricated by artisans in Mexico.

It smashed with a characteristic noise that silenced most other sounds in the bar. It was an act that was composed of a combination of "I don't give a flying f--k" and mazletov. It was a manifesto in a gesture, a catechism of art, a mandate that if art is to mean anything, it is sovereign, that art is the embodiment of independence, a physicalization of freedom's blessing.

People resumed their drinks, eyes sliding sidways, smiles curling in the corner of their mouths. It was going to be one of those nights.

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Posted by Dennis at 7:28 PM | Comments (0)

May 24, 2006

Ahora

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I've been helping Joel with his show install, (along with a gang of people here in ChinaTown) for thte past couple of days at Parker Jones' Black Dragon Society.

Joel's show will open this Saturday.

Many more images of the install in progress below the fold.

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Monday, we started work on the "SpeakEasy" in Black Dragon Society's (BDS)Basement. Left to right: Parker Jones sitting atop the stage, Phil Wagner, Adam Janes, Bart Exposito, Joel, and Andrew Hahn, who is having an opening the same Saturday at Sister Gallery across Hill Street in the old plaza.

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Dave Deany designed the bar. Dave was away on Monday, forcing us to imagine what his intentions were. All day, we referred to the Deany brain, guessing Deany moves. Dave's big on working with reclaimed wood. Roughsawn tree trunks, hunks of crosote treated timbers, ancient pallettes grey and furry with raised grain. It's a sawsall revolution because he is able to slice off the nails without having to pull them all out. The bar was shaped in the spirit of Lil' Abner and Dogpatch (my interpretation, not Dave's).

The featured drink on pening night: gin and tonics.

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Joel's show is an over and under affair with the topside composed of four walls (paintings, prints and ephemera) plus a table in the center of the space. The fourth wall is a thank you: the exterior window wall is a vinyl letter tribute to sixty five people Joel feels a measure of gratitude to. Bart is the pro at window vinyl. Monique van Genderen did the honors in producing the material.

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It took Bart two days to stick up the names.

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Space was tight, so we had to make the saw cuts in the alley. Local Chinese neighbors didn't like it too much, but the grumble was not too bad. Eventually, they nose into the gallery and usually smile as they shake thier heads and walk away.

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I've got a lot of favorites in the show, but top of the list is this one. It's an enlargement of photobooth craziness shot at a dinner party one night when joel and Parker snuck off to shoot this shirtless provocation to amuse thier dates. Much later, they considered featuring it in an ArtForum ad, but common sense or timidity prevailed and now the image was reclaimed for posterity as this foto piece.

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And where did they decide to hang it?

Of course. The fifth wall.

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Jeff Cobb joined in . He's sitting against the wall there.

Approaching 11:30pm, we call it a night and repair to Hop Louie for a nightcap.

More to come, stay tuned.

Posted by Dennis at 8:36 PM | Comments (0)

Morning Reading

This, via Artjournal:


What is the next great cultural transformation? And how does it compare with that earlier transformation? The 21st century represents what Henry Jenkins, a media scholar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, calls "a revitalization of folk culture" in an upcoming book we are editing. The new art and art making are participatory: Much of the art can be produced and consumed in the home; many people contribute and learn from each other (without necessarily considering themselves professional artists); and much of what is made is considered community property. Jenkins argues that the 20th century's effort to industrialize and professionalize artistic production, which today we view as normal, may, in fact, represent a strange chapter in the history of creativity ? an aberration. What sets the new participatory culture aside from the older local participatory culture of the 19th century is that amateur art making is taking place in the shadow of giant media. Moreover, there is now an explosion of cultural choice made possible by new technologies and a renewed mingling of high and popular art.

(Be sure to read on to the idea of the "curatorial me".)

Posted by Dennis at 12:22 PM | Comments (0)

May 23, 2006

Ricky & Stuart

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*

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Ricky and Stuart from Gallery Services stopped by to pick up the painting bound for Mark M?ller Gallery and on to the Basel Art Fair.

I titled the painting: "Love Freedom, Hate Slavery."

Posted by Dennis at 10:57 AM | Comments (0)

Have a Nice Day

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(image source)

Posted by Dennis at 8:44 AM | Comments (0)

May 22, 2006

Ahora

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Posted by Dennis at 8:16 AM | Comments (0)

May 18, 2006

Ahora

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I didn't know if I could do it, but I had a hunch that it might be possible, so I scheduled the shippers to come in next week to pick up a painting to be sent to Z?rich.

The first day back, I was exhausted, flat on my back, laid comatose by food and television. The second day was a holiday, first stage denial. The third was the stare-down with the blank canvas. I made big noises to my friends Bart and Phil that I was going to get all freaky and twitch all over with wet tools in my hands. But then in front of the canvas, the idea of a departure from the previous language (the work in the show) seemed ill advised. Better to develop "the twitchy" in a larger group of work, the next show in Barcelona.

(Admin: Big dates on my horizon: solo shows in Barcelona at the end of Summer and Tokyo in the Spring. I'll be flying into Barcelona mid June to paint the show with three months in our place in Tossa de Mar. We won't have DSL at our place, so I'll be roving for a wireless signal over there.... not fun.)

In this canvas: a variant of "Crowds" in a darker green. The image above is a detail. Pics later.

Posted by Dennis at 12:30 PM | Comments (0)

Morning Reading

Love Freedom, Hate Slavery:


When the Cuban novelist Reinaldo Arenas managed to escape to the US in 1980, after years of persecution by the Cuban government for being openly homosexual and a dissident, he said: ?The difference between the communist and capitalist systems is that, although both give you a kick in the ass, in the communist system you have to applaud, while in the capitalist system you can scream. And I came here to scream.?

One of the most vexing things for artists and intellectuals who live under the compulsion to applaud dictators is the spectacle of colleagues from more open societies applauding of their own free will. It adds a peculiarly nasty insult to injury.

Posted by Dennis at 10:00 AM | Comments (0)

Ahora

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Posted by Dennis at 3:55 AM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2006

ArtLies49

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Aaron had flagged this speech delivered by Jerry Saltz recently in Houston. Aaron reported that Mr. Saltz was well recieved, fluid and easy at the podium, appearing almost as a stand up comedian.

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Notes from Saltz's humorous lecture were printed in the Texas publication ArtLies, one of the few art magazines that have gotten better over the years, it seems to me.

Here is an excerpt:


New Yorkers are funny. We think we're "it". And what we are -what we really are- is the trading floor of the art world. Almost no major career happens without partially happening in New York, but that is beginning to change. I'll give you a blatant example -Tracey Emin, a British artist who recently spoke to my class. Her talk was thrilling 'cause it was so empty. She kept saying, "Well, five thousand people come to my openings in London. We have to have special press previews... " I went ot her opening in New York and there were forty people there. So, some art doesn't travel well, but that doesn't make it bad or good; it just says that the biggest artist in London is barely a drip in another city.

New York artists report this all the time. "How was your opening in Cologne?" "I dunno, there were like six people there." So New York is the trading floor; however, it is also the most provincial place in the world- as a Midwesterner, it is easy to see. Provincial is a place that thinks other places are provincial. You're deffining a place as you. You cna't see a paradigm you think is the only paradigm.

Returning to California, my wife and friends asked anxiously if I liked my stay in New York last week. On some level, they didn't want me to say yes, afraid that I would have developed a New York state of mind and want to move there.

Well, of course I would like to move to Manhattan.

But such a move would have to match or exceed the immense assets we enjoy here in SoCal. We live in Elysian Heights, aptly named. Particularly here in Echo Park/ ChinaTown, there is an artist's community that is unique... comparing as I can the other communities that I have seen around the world: New York certainly, but also Houston, Dallas, San Fransisco, Seattle... then Barcelona, Paris, Haarlem/Amsterdam is a little better, Cologne is not so bad, and Berlin would give us a run for our money.

But for what an artist needs, the life here in EP/CT is firing on a lot of cylinders:

1. In this part of the West Coast, emerging artists and established artists comingle naturally. Several artists out East reported to me the unfortunate reality that once you are pegged as an artist in NYC, your worth is set in stone. I first encountered this idea during a visit to the big apple back in '93. Later, around the year 2000, I had the pleasure of meeting one of the genial superstar figures who confessed his reality that he focused to an extreme degree on the importance of branding himself as an artist. The cure for this ailment (if it can be regarded as one) -whether one is prisoner of their brand or has had their percieved worth involuntarily concretized- is to get a life. And once you are living your life freely, the world at large will accumulate anomolies that will anyway have to be reconciled in some kind of convulsive paradigm shift.

That's life.

The effects of branding and the social ladder on the West Coast is not as severe perhaps because the top end over here isn't so... over the top. We bump into our share of celebrities, surely... and on occasion, success will go to an artist's head. But in this part of Los Angeles, the life that is opening cans of Campbell Soup doesn't rub up very often against the life that's spilling caviar on thousand dollar per square foot floors. Maybe this is different in poulation dense Gotham. New York is New York, after all.

Perhaps the identity of NYC as the art world's trading floor is becoming hardened over time, and therefore it is a durable and unalterable fact of life over there. And what's wrong with that? Being the place that sets the pace for the terms of trading art worldwide can't be a bad thing.

2. New knucklehead low end art happenings occur with a natural regularity (something I didn't see in New York last week); high end art establishment stuff goes on elsewhere in Los Angeles even though not everyone goes out to breathlessly lap it up --and this too, is a good indication to my eyes. Dallas and Barcelona has a top end (institutions like museums and univesities) but no bottom end that I could see: no impromptu exhibits, 'zine production, funky happenings... in a word: experimentation.

The closest thing I saw regarding the experimentalist tip in NYC was Matt Keegan's show (ahem*, the one next to mine), probably because his modus operandi resembles Matt Chambers' TRUDI gallery (ahem*, the one I was in a group show in at the inaugural) and associated highjinks. The fact that New York Matt operates in higher end contexts (established galleries and museums, Keegan's show at Nicole's was in tandem with a simultaneous show at P.S.1) whereas SoCal Matt works in emerging galleries and do-it-yourself impromptu exhibition spaces. Both guys for me represent the spirit of the emerging generation: a fierce focus on curiousity where ever it may be found and preserving that spark (without which art would not exist at all)... all other concerns are disposable in the pursuit of these core values. They seem to let the chips fall where they may and the imperative to manage one's image seems to belong to the older generations.

But would I like to live in NewYork? Hell yea. Someday, who knows? Things change over time and communities move and evolve. And if we could find an opportunity to live in the city that is the art world's trading floor that could match or exceed the Elysian life we are enjoying today in L.A., we would move East in a heartbeat.

Plus, New York is a lot closer to Barcelona and Tossa de Mar, the new Hamptons as far as I can see.


(*Yea, but still.....)

***
Update: I googled to an interview which ended with a quotation appropriate for those who live on or near a trading floor (that is, all serious artists):


I have a quote here that I've lost the context for, but I love the quote and I've taped it near my computer. It was advice for artists. It says, "Professionalism is the enemy."

Posted by Dennis at 10:34 AM | Comments (0)

Heroine

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The news is breaking fast on the kerfluffle about whether Ayaan Hirsi Ali should be depatriated from the Netherlands because of a previously overlooked irregularity in AHA's history as a Dutch citizen.

I've been preparing this blogpost in my notes, and it seems I should truck it out post haste since the story is mutating with every hour.

***

A great human being is moving to the United States. Good for us, too bad for the Netherlands though.

But you know, I see much continuity between the Dutch and North Americans, so maybe the move isn't so far away, anyway.
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But here is the grave and sad news. After being forced into hiding by fascist killers, Ayaan Hirsi Ali found that the Dutch government and people were slightly embarrassed to have such a prominent "Third World" spokeswoman in their midst. She was first kept as a virtual prisoner, which made it almost impossible for her to do her job as an elected representative. When she complained in the press, she was eventually found an apartment in a protected building. Then the other residents of the block filed suit and complained that her presence exposed them to risk. In spite of testimony from the Dutch police, who assured the court that the building was now one of the safest in all Holland, a court has upheld the demand from her neighbors and fellow citizens that she be evicted from her home. In these circumstances, she is considering resigning from parliament and perhaps leaving her adopted country altogether. This is not the only example that I know of a supposedly liberal society collaborating in its own destruction, but I hope at least that it will shame us all into making The Caged Virgin a best seller.

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Come to Los Angeles, Mrs. Ali and be my neighbor.
I've got your back.

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Here's her statement:


You probably are wondering, what is my real name?

I am Ayaan, the daughter of Hirsi, who is the son of a man who took the name of Magan. Magan was the son of Isse, who was the son of Guleid, who was the son of Ali. He was the son of Wai?ays, who was the son of Muhammad. He was the son of Ali, who was the son of Umar. Umar was the son of Osman, who was the son of Mahamud. This is my clan, and therefore, in Somalia, this is my name: Ayaan Hirsi Magan Isse Guleid Ali Wai?ays Muhammad Ali Umar Osman Mahamud.

Following the May 11 television broadcast, legal questions have been raised about my naturalization as a Dutch citizen. Minister Verdonk has written to me saying that my passport will be annulled, because it was issued to a person who does not hold my real name. I am not at liberty to discuss the legal issues in this case.


So what is happening is that the enemies of Ayaan Hirsi Ali have decided to game the system in order to eliminate her. People who game the system are a jaded lot, cynical would one have to be in order to first gain an intimate knowledge of something and then subvert it. I am saying that the effort to eject Ayaan Hirsi Ali from the Dutch Parliament is an insult to freedom loving Europeans everywhere. The current tightening of restrictions on political asylum seekers doesn't make much sense when it is certainly in our interest to further freedom of speech in the world at large. Internecine fighting might be part of the human condition, but when it approaches the level of total war in the midst of mutually lethal dangers.... political infighting is beginning to appear suicidal.

This, from her recent news conference:


Q: What do you think of Rita Verdonk?
A: I am still very fond of Rita. [...] I separate my business and private life.

I will leave, but the questions remain. It is delusional to think that nothing has changed. Because after 9/11 the world has changed.

I feel obligated to help others to live in freedom

***

Latest news is that the Dutch Parliment argued until 2:45am and the conclusion is that Verdonk should open a parallel inquiry into the possibility of granting Ayaan Hirsi Ali an exception for being exceptional.

That would be smart. I hope they do it even though we in the States would welcome her with open arms. Better for her to continue the fight for our free moderrn world -in Europe- for the sake of all of us on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond.

Posted by Dennis at 8:27 AM | Comments (0)

May 16, 2006

BLINK

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BLINK

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May 12, 2006

Opening Night

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The reception was a blur, but I sqeezzed off a few shots after all. A few notables came in but I chose not to exploit their visit with a digital pic and grab. I'm pretty low key with the camera, at least that's my policy. I went over to get a beer and pretty much held that position most of the time in the mode of meet-and-greet.

Above, Aaron Parazette and Tom Moody. It was particularly nice to meet Tom in the flesh for the first time.

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Jason Young and his girlfriend Simone stopped in to say hello.

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Simone's little girl was a fairie pixie, as if she had wings aflutter.

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Then, she grabbed my camera and turned the P.O.V.

Not bad for a pixie.

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As the pixie reached for the paintings, galery director Ruth Phaneuf gently related the hands-off policy for art openings.

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Sharon Englestein and Aaron Parazette flew in to town. So awesome.

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Doug Henders (right), an artist and longtime blog correspondent with his friend Gavin.

Thomas Nowskowski had a show of works on paper next door at Bravin Lee's new space. I wish I had snapped shots of his packed opening.

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And here's a shot of Matt Keegan's project room.

Posted by Dennis at 10:43 AM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2006

How to Make a Portrait

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Matt Keegan has a an installation next to mine in the project room.

Posted by Dennis at 11:04 AM | Comments (0)

Ahora

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The show is up, the opening is tonight.

(!)

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Posted by Dennis at 11:00 AM | Comments (0)

Doug Melini

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Posted by Dennis at 9:33 AM | Comments (0)

May 9, 2006

Ahora

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Install day.

It'll take two days.

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(I'm in the gallery, Nicole Klagsbrun in New York.)

Posted by Dennis at 12:21 PM | Comments (0)

May 6, 2006

Admin

I'm making preparations to fly out to New York for a week for the opening, sending out emails to get together with friends in the city. I realise that there are a few addresses that I have lost in the computer mishap/ data transfer last Fall.

Here's a message in a bottle for friends who haven't heard from me yet: send me a email or send it to the gallery (Nicole Klagsbrun, gallery@nicoleklagsbrun.com).

See you at the opening next Thursday!

Posted by Dennis at 7:24 PM | Comments (0)

May 4, 2006

Timeline: David Von Schlegell

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I love timelines, especially when they add pages to an a winner take all art history that wouldn't be there without Art History 2.0?.

I've read recent stories of how the traditional tomes of art history (Gardner, et al.) have been rewritten and augmented to a point of exhaustion (sorry, I haven't kept the links as should have).

Maybe the time is right for a new medium to rewrite it and tell the stories that couldn't have been told otherwise, thanks to the internet.

(image source)

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Here is the link for the biographical timeline of David Von Schlegell.

Posted by Dennis at 3:49 PM | Comments (0)

May 2, 2006

Monadology

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Posted by Dennis at 9:45 PM | Comments (0)

May 1, 2006

Scooter Go

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I want a scooter revolution to sweep the world.

I want Los Angeles to look like Taipei.

You can park anywhere.

Weekly fill ups cost about three dollars. That's what you call a small carbon footprint.

You can buy one and drive away with a class 3 driver's license (a standard auto license).

You don't have to strap on the macho leather techno cycle garb. You can scooter in a suit.

Someday I might wear a suit. Again.

You can wiggle through traffic jams.

You can get a new scooter for about three grand.

You see the city in a new way (a bigger field of view).

It feels like younger days, a life on a bicycle. A gyroscope betweixt your legs.

Posted by Dennis at 2:29 PM | Comments (0)

Violet Hopkins

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My first intention was to blog these install fotos of Violet Hopkins' show at David Kordansky Gallery... before the show opened. Much of life's blog material spills through my fingers, especially since my fingers are painting most of the time. Lately, I have been getting requests to blog artist's work, since people tend to see what I am doing in this medium as promotional (wrong) instead of charts of my free curiousity (right). Ms. Hopkin's work caught my eye and camera's trigger finger sanpped these shots to share with you, my loyal readership.

On the afternoon of the opening, I was thrashed by a migrane (I used to get them all the time many moons ago, they're rare nowadays) and I scootered home past the show feeling nausea and a throbbing head. (Too much information, I know.) Too bad, I would have liked to have met the artist.

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What was interesting after the initial draw of large format watercolors in giant frames, was the phenomena of David Kordanski (white t-shirt) pouring his attention into the installation. Fastidious, precise, attentive, relentless. He was challenging: "Dennis, what do you think of the work? No, really. What do you really think of it?"

I like it. I wouldn't blog it otherwise.

Here are some pics:

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Abstraction and representation, straight out.

Snakes in the grass. Danger in paradise. I thought of the elegaic futility of Joni Mitchell's song "Woodstock" and a longing for the garden, a return to Eden, a desperate claw back into the womb. I guess we need to be reminded that Mother Nature can cut you too.

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And then, the edges reveal something else other than commercial grade renderings. The non objective and the objective cheek by jowl. I like the physics of flung paint. Fluid dynamics, orbiting centers of gravity, surface tension and the ballistics of globules. Water colors spray in a particular way with long strings and tight spatters, more like blood. Then I noticed other markers of intention: resists and interleafing. There is a lot of watercolor knowledge here. Skills, as the (computer) gamers would call it.

At first, I thought that she was cradling a pallette brimming with tinted colored water and as soon as she rendered the images, she would fling the watery contents against the margins in a passioinate fit.

Then, I noticed that the flings were buried in the base of the images.

So much for the romance of the wild artist. That's okay. I didn't really like Nolte's version of a shirtless passionate rock and roll painter anyway. Too much romance takes us out of art's territory (not enough can't keep us in, though). There is enough wildness there in Violet's hand to sling the medium around like this. Timid people can't fling.

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Across the room, another example.

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I began to see the rendering with an eye that was educated by Marvel Comics.
Looking at this, I expect the next panel to reveal a caped crusader pacing in a bat cave.

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Run, colored water, run!

Posted by Dennis at 1:41 PM | Comments (0)

Homes & Shelter

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While I made an early morning run to the super market the other day, I noticed a "homeless" encampment out in front of it.

Our time living in the EU was generally pleasant, and only on a rare ocassion did we encounter accusations (mostly mild, sometimes not) against the inhumanity of savage capitalism. My general view is that we are all on the same team: modern citizens who believe in freedom and private possessions and a more or less open marketplace. Democracies can exist on a spectrum from parlimentary with highly regulated markets to our tripartite variety (the USA's executive/judicial/legislative) with some vague intention towards a free market. Red shift light frequencies don't make war on blue shifters, and up is not a foe of down necessarily, so I see no need for one side of the Atlantic to demonise the other. My message is simple: we are one, we are in the same family of free democracies. We are brothers. If you want to apply more friction to the marketplace than we do, knock yourselves out.

But still, we feel the bite as when hurricane Katrina hit last year and the European media couldn't resist a dig at a nation who couldn't evvacuate all of the people stranded in the path of the storm. When I was confronted by this fact, my response was to postulate that there were three kinds of people trapped in that dangerous situation:

Category One: Los Pobrecitos.

People who are genuinely in trouble and need our help. For Liberals, it is our mandate to empower the government to help the helpless. I remember when the sea change in our nation's mental health system happened back in the early 80's. All of a sudden, there was surge of homeless people on the streets. It was the Reagan era, and given the president's reputation, this seemed all of a piece, the stark fact of savage capitalism, to be sure. Later, I read that there was another dynamic that discredited the nation's mental health system: the effect of movies like "One Flew Over a Cuckoo's Nest" in changing public attitudes towards mental sickness. I didn't know what to make of it all at the time.

Later, when my father succumbed to clinical depression, I got a first hand view of the world of mental health... and I realised that we as a civilization barely understand what is going on there. Terra incognito, completely. Our scientific sophistication when it comes to such matters is similar to the old world of the flat earth before the time of Columbus. It is easy to get a big head over what we think we know.... but I remember when the shifting of continental plates was a new revelation, (-yes, I'm that old, but still-) it wasn't that long ago.

As a civilazation, we are still babies.

Category Two: Criminals.

The worst kind: criminals who prey on the pobrecitos. In nature, it is.... natural... for predators to eat the weak and infirm. They're an easy catch, a ready meal. In a larger Darwinian frame, this is the dynamic of evolution, the betterment of a species. But then, as inheritors of the Judeo-Christian world, man and animals are decisively separate categories (unless we are speaking of the Spanish Grupo Socialista's effort to give monkeys the same rights status as human beings*... but that's another hot topic).

Free human beings don't predate on one another... they negotiate instead. Criminals are humans who imagine themselves to be animals. Naturally, they must be checked.

Category Three: The Stubborn.

They will always be amongst us, G-d bless them. I tend to like this type, radical freedom seekers. They go their way and take their lumps regardless. Choice and consequence are theirs, all theirs. I remember one particular homeless guy when we once lived in downtown Los Angeles near Pershing Square. He shaved his head in interesting patterns, different every day. He dressed similarly. And he used to cook chicken on the sidewalk on an improvised campfire. The police didn't mind, they had bigger fish to fry. This guy was free to the extreme.

Or crazy.

Or crriminal.

I couldn't really tell. This would be my mandate to our lapsed and fallen Democratic Party (...so bereft of ideas as we are at the moment, it's appalling... I want to rebuild it anew... ) here in the States: to attempt to devise a way to make a distinction between the three... to help the helpless and not waste it on the criminals or force it on the stubborn.

So a morning's run for breakfast groceries brought me these fotos and now this blogpost.

What did you eat today?

Here are some other shots:

HomelessContext.jpg

Here is his neighbor:

homelessshelter2.jpg
These guys are smart in that they have camped out in our neighborhood in Echo Park, far from the maddening (!) crowds in the core of downtown Los Angeles. There, hundred if not thousands have gravitated to the concentration of the many homeless services made available there by the city government. An ambient "outlaw" society has formed there in parallel to our "in-law" regular society, a seemingly permanent presence. This is a repellant for downtown business, and local leaders don't know how to deal with the problem.

A friend visiting from Spain once took issue with us Yanks for such savage conditions, but I had to remind him of the homeless in and around Barcelona's old city. I remember seeing homeless in Tokyo. Only in utopia do they not exist, and utopia is a dream after all. Like Zeno's paradox, the arrow never gets to the target.

homeless2detail.jpg
This guy has skills. Notice how he's more buttoned up, waterproofed. Nice couch cushions and a sleeping bag make for comfortable nights. And he's stylling with a Weber grill. No trash in sight, very clean.

I'd say he's a stubborn one.

*via No Pasaran

Posted by Dennis at 1:03 PM | Comments (0)