October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween

Jackolantern master: Jeff Cobb.

Posted by Dennis at 9:28 AM | Comments (0)

October 30, 2006


I think I'm going to live... hmmmmmm... about 400 years or so if we keep going at this rate:

Described as a 'Eureka moment' by the Newcastle University researchers, the tissue was created from blood taken from babies' umbilical cords just a few minutes after birth.

As it stands, the mini organ can be used to test new drugs, preventing disasters such as the recent 'Elephant Man' drug trial. Using lab-grown liver tissue would also reduce the number of animal experiments.

Within five years, pieces of artificial tissue could be used to repair livers damaged by injury, disease, alcohol abuse and paracetamol overdose.

And then, in just 15 years' time, entire liver transplants could take place using organs grown in a lab.

Sometime when I hit 120, they'll be able to change out all the internal organs for a 100 year refit. Arthoscopically. Or maybe stem cell nano submarines introduced by an inhaler.

Posted by Dennis at 11:28 PM | Comments (0)

Something's Happening

Something's happening.

Good stuff.

I'll tell you all about it later.

Blogs are funny that way.

(Left to Right: Ry Rocklen, Nick Lowe and Matt Chambers.)

Posted by Dennis at 2:11 PM | Comments (0)

October 28, 2006


Tom Solomon has been installing his show titled "Material Space", this week at the Rental Gallery. It's great to see him in ChinaTown, the space next door has neer looked better. I remember Tom Solomon's Garage when it was the real garage in an apartment the middle of Los Angeles back in the late 80's. A quixotic gallerist, Tom has been plotting his approach towards a more permanent gallery space in LA, this show being one of the sketches towards that end.

This show is as he describes, a line drawn from Process to PostProcess sculpture, mixing artwork from the late 60's to today.


Alan Saret
Copper and Metal Wires

Fred Sandback
Wire and Chord

Krysten Cunningham
4-D Receiver
Stainless Steel, Gator Board, Latex Paint, PVC, Wool, Powder Coated Aluminum, Cable Ties

Michael Gonzalez
Chinese Shaft Collar Demonstrator

John Chamberlain
Untitled (Couch)
Urathane Foam, Chord

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

Admin: Mail Call

Ahh, the mailblogsac is bulging, straining under the load. Life's a handfull over here as it is for all of you, I'm sure. It's time to answer the mail. So sorry to have the comment function out of whack. I hope to maneuver into a place where I can find someone who can steward me throught he intricacies of the internet to correct the problem.

Until then, let's open the mail:

***September 26th***

Artist blogger Steve LaRose wrote:

Hey, congrats on the hanging! Good luck at the opening. Two quick questions, 1) is the Mandrake owned by a friend? 2) What is the "Zap Book"?
Mandrake is owned by friends, talented artists and overall good people who have installed what I think is an important social component for any art scene: a place to decamp and talk about the art that you've just seen. Culver City is a recent locus of art galleries (funny that they need to cluster/flock together) and the addition of a bar adds a crucial bit of humanity missing in the Wilshire/Fairfax cluster and the Paleolithic Bergamot Station. (I'm perhaps too hard on Bergamot. At least there is a cafe there.) Without such a component, art viewing in Los Angeles would be inhumanly tough, the vast numbers of galleries and museums scattered throughout this traffic congested city already exceed the ability to see them all in a day/week/month. Without a place to throttle back and reflect on what you've just seen, art viewing would be a grind, requiring more stamina than curiousity.

Plus, there is an arc connecting Alfred Jarry's pistol shots in Parisian bars to Alan Kaprow's Happenings to Rikrit Tiravanija's social art-- this line is extended by Mandrake (and artists bars like it, such as the "Mountain Bar" in ChinaTown... including bars not originally designed to do so such as Hop Louie) , rubbing the boundaries between art and life seems to be the way to simultaneously maintain and blur that distinction.

...like a blog does.

And Zap books? Boy, what a close reader of photographs you are! Zap books are a line of sketchbooks available in Europe. Simple, newsprint-paper-cheap, thick like a brick. Good stuff.

It's good to hear from you, Steve!


***September 26th***

Pierre Chardin Wrote:

So true,
Paintings need to react to the real world for some reason.
They must be compared to reality to be fully appreciated.
More so than drawing or photography.
A book of photos/drawings does not need the real world, it's fine on its own.
I guess it's b/c scale, surface, brushstrokes, actual color, etc. are what make paintings paintings. Those are the reasons to make a painting.
Any more thoughts on this?
Pierre, I think we all need to react to the real world for good reasons. The best reason is about health. It seems to me that the successful management between the internal world (imagination= image+nation) and the external world is a critical and not much appreciated problem especially in our information age time. The inability to relate the two leads to the diagnosis of various illnesses such as catatonia, autism... the list can be long. I write this, thinking of my father who succumbed to PTSD six years ago --flashbacks to his experiences in the Korean War-- the boundary between imagination and reality which he could no longer control. After this horror, I came to think of this boundary as the very definition of sanity. I think we are all suffering from stress applied to this boundary in different ways all over the world, a sign of the times.

It's interesting to note (ok, for me at least) that the idea of mimesis came to being in Greece after the Homeric era, coinciding with the emergence of individualism, philosophically. If you can separate the general idea of art (I mean really general, worldwide and into the mists of time) from the what we call art today, then the western separation of the individual from context begins to define the Oedipal condition (each generation that distinguishes itself by critiquing the previous one) that defines art in our time. Given all this, then is seems reasonable to consider that the modern is not a specific epoch in history but a prevailing condition which I prefer to define as: "to be modern is to reconcile the things you are making with the life you are living". Life in an eternal NOW as we have it today seems necessarily bound up with this separation between the self and the world... and the recurring crisis as which NOW is the real NOW... and the problematic tendency to retreat into the self and renounce the world at large.

However you slice it, everything we do is about the real world one way or the other, art or otherwise. In terms of art, mimesis can be defined along a broad spectrum. The Wikipedia entry on mimesis takes us through a train of them. In an earlier blogpost, I referred to nonobjective painting (absraction) as "mimesis unbound". By this, I consider the laws of representation still to be in effect merely because we are formatted to apprehend the world that way. I guess this is what people might mean when they drop the word "Kantian". A long time ago, Charlie Finch jumped me with a request to expound on the philosophy of Immanuel Kant in his radio show. I declined with an aw shucks "We don't talk about Kant here on the west coast." I don't think I came off too well then. I'm not an academic, so I tend not to drop the big names too much. But this notion probably came not from Kant but from my years in the Navy (Operations Specialist, scope dope, the dark room behind the bridge) where the part of the ship called the Combat Informations Center was very much like being lodged inside a cranium, straining to acertain the outside world; and a particularly vivid read of Gombrich's "Art and Illusion" shortly after undergrad school.

But rereading your email... perhaps you are referring to the phenomena that paint has a specific reality in and of itself... or am I projecting with some hope that you are doing so? There's something about simultaneously apprehending the transparency of mimesis and the opacity of the material reality that is used to convey the representation... as you wrote: "scale, surface, brushstrokes, actual color, etc.", something that I like a great deal.

Paint is reality too.

Looking at the next blogpost (I'm writing these two at the same time), I recognise that Tom Solomon's show "Material Space" is lighted the way I like my paintings to be lit. Spotlights. That's the way I see them in my studio when I paint them. I recall the difference I spotted between the Stedelijk and the Van Gogh museums in Amsterdam: clinical institutional flourescents versus tight framing spots. The Rental Gallery looked distinctive this time not only because the gallerist not only took the detailing of the existing space to another cleaner, polished level... but also because this was the first time the lights lit the floor and not washed the walls. I prefer spot lights on my work because of the sculptural qualities in the paint that I ply. What I'm trying to write here is that perhaps this is a turn away from Clement Greenberg's imperative towards flatness (post-painterly abstraction) . The consequence being the urge towards disembodiment in art, a presaging of the conceptually based postmodern era to come.

In an effort to live up to the Lawrence Wiener's sage words while I was in grad school (Something I read somewhere. Mr. Wiener was not a teacher of mine. I remember this from an interview L.W. had with Benjamon Buchlow.): "To question the answers given to me in school.". The problem as I saw it was how to turn away from disembodiment and not make the mistake of finding refuge in the reactionary (resorting to strategies of any previous epoch). So I started by simply paying attention to paint itself: its' reality, the stickyness, the volume, the fact that it dries, that it is liquid stone...

One of the problems with the equation of art and life is that life will eclipse art in a flash. By emulating life's forms, the moth flies extrememly close to the flame and we can forget the function of artifice that creates the bubble that protects and manifests art itself. Picasso's words come to mind: "Art is the lie that tells the truth." Finally, art is not life afterall. Another boundary management problem of the sort mentioned above.

The word multitude comes to mind. Life is the multitude. And art is a captured subset of that... that is... Until the number of pixels become infinite. Cameras don't select and thus their reputation sticks as you had indicated. But cameras are nothing in and of themselves. Tehy are extentions of us, prosthesis. Like handling a cane, one can transmit a sense of touch at the tip of the tool. The word camera in this context is another name for a human extending their senses and the way they interact with the world, much like a commuter is another name for someone who wants to or has to live very far away from thier work. Tires are feet, extended. Humans create tools to apprehend the world via senses/limbs (a word like space/time?). Didn't the Greeks used to think of art in terms of tools?

That's why I like the Didion line in the colophon:
We tell ourselves stories in order to live... we look for the sermon in the suicide, for the social or moral lesson in the murder of five. We interpret what we see, select the most workable of the multiple choices. We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of the narrative line upon disparate images, by the "ideas" with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience." (from "The White Album", Joan Didion)

Stories in order to live. The multitude is the phantasmagoria and every step away is a facet of it's glory.

Thanks for asking Pierre. I hope this answers your question somewhat.

***October 2***

Gary, an old Navy buddy, writes in:


In your recent blogpost, "Ahora (sort of)", I saw the red painting again. It's that ruby red color that really stands out. I was hoping you would give a close up of that one on the blog, but it is probably sold by now.

Welcome back to the good ol' U S of A.


Thanks Gary, I'm happy to oblige:
Its great to be back. And that's something I tend to say now on both sides of the Atlantic.

***October 3***

Howard Sherman wrote:


I'm wondering why you stretch canvas over wood? Is this because you're concerned about stretchers warping over time?



No, unfortunately wood panels can warp as well, although I don't know how much more they do compared to stretcher bars. I suspect that panels don't warp as badly as stretchers, the grain of the stiffeners are probably tempered by the glued plywood luan panel. But warped stretcher bars can be replaced.

Several years ago, a friend poked a finger through a painting of mine, Steve Wynn style. Since then, I provide a hard surface behind the paint.. even though I thoroughly enjoy the trampoline of stretched canvas. But more importanly, since I paint thickly, I wanted to provide a stable and inflexible support. The thick impasto is tricky enough without having to worry about the cracking that would come with flexure.

***October 10***

Longtime blog friend Mark Van Neste wrote:
Dear Dennis,

Just back a couple of days from the annual pilgrimage to Catalunya?were we fortunate and the weather held up, it was an excellent visit all round. Hired a car for 4 days and really got off the beaten track (which of course is so easily done up there), and some of those tracks sure were pretty beaten.

By the way, we were sitting outside Can Pini on our first evening (Sept 30th) and Kiko strolled by looking none the worse for your leaving party. I exclaimed, ?look, there?s the famous Kiko!??and watched him sail off down the road seeming quite happy about life

Anyway over the 700ish kms we racked up I kept seeing a burro?on the rear of vehicles and it did puzzle us ? until (as if by magic) I caught up with your blog and the penny dropped, in fact I felt a slightly thick as I am well aware of Catalunya?s stance in terms of certain mainstream Spanish icons?not least, as my other annual pilgrimage is to Sevilla for the Feria de Abril and now and then the Real Maestranza bullring.

As you say, one of each.

Glad you made the long haul in one piece.

All the best.

Hasta luego!

Mark VN


It's wonderful to hear from you and get a report on your travels in Spain. IT's a small yet knawing irony that for all our travels, my studio practice and exhibition schedule keeps us close to Tossa with no time to "get off the beaten track" as you say. We hope to rectify this someday with a proper road trip to see the rest of Spain.

And Kiko Noguera! I'm glad you spotted him, the finest Catalan who ever lived! For the readers who wouldn't know, "Can Pini" is a restaurant at the base of the castle walls on the road that leads to Codolar Cove, my favorite swimming spot. Kiko's house is around the corner from there, son of Tossa that he is.

And the bull/burro controversy. Catalans don't like bullfighting, for reasons familiar to us here in the states at least. I have only seen one bullfight and it was in Guadalajara back in the late 80's. My wife Stephanie and I travelled with a couple of friends through Mexico City, Guanajuato (a northern silver mining town in mountain country where the auto traffic is diverted underneath the town through the abandoned mine tunnels... we happened to be there for the Day of the Dead, something we didn't plan at the time, and it was magical to arise in the morning and get swept up in the crowded streets, surging toward the town cemetary where families would clean the graves, play and bar-b-que, this was Diego Rivera's birthplace by the way, and his home is a nice little museum now...) and finally to Guanajuato where we bought tickets to our first bullfight. It was an moldering bullring with the seats (sol y sombra) with an old brass band playing oom pa pa oom pa pa like characters in Beckmann painting. Beers and pork sandwiches all around as the ring was swept and raked.

At first, the lightweight bulls and bullfighters came out into the ring and admittedly, our stomachs turned. As time went on, heavier bulls and more experienced bulfighters came out and the beers dulled the pain along the way. Finally, the star bullfighter came out --Miguel-- and he was masterful. Then, with a single blow, he ended the bull's life, slamming the sword into the neck to the hilt and the crowd erupted, us included. It was a mixture of relief for the bull and admiration for the bullfighter. It was the beginning of my understanding of what bullfighting was about.

Imagine what it might have been like in the mists of time, when the village boy was sent out to kill the bull... because it was time to kill the bull. And all you had was a big blade. How would you do it? You would tire the bull out, provoking and diverting the attacks, sapping the strength until you could get into the kill positon. With proper consideration for the bull, the best and most humane work was done in a flash, in the fullness of the animal's intensity. It is not hard to imagine how this would se seen as enobling and fit to remember via ritual.

It would be wonderful to see the Real Maestranza bullring, perhaps with you on your annual Sevilla pilgramage!

All the best,

***October 21***

Artist and friend Doug Henders wrote:

Hey Dennis
I'm having a good NYC art weekend with out of town friends, openings, etc.
Rosmarie Trockel and her husband/my gallery mate Curtis Anderson are
here for her show. Her work remains as enigmatic-provocative as ever,
along-side a city block of galleries with Herman Nitsche, Albert Oehlin,
Peter Saul, Mathew Ritchie, Terry Winters, Barnaby Furnas and Anton Henning.
I think you would like the Oehlin & Winters best. Me too.
Good to see you promoting Kevin's theater on your blog. Go Kev.
I have some new work that is evolving into a powerful whole, keeping it
under wraps before cashing the chips of opportunity.
The postman only rings once around here.
I enjoy checking into your blog, seeing your work and artworld adventures.
Attached is my pic of the day from a series of "hard-core moderns".
Can I be abstract too?
Best Wishes


Hello Doug!

Let's see, that would place you oscilating vertically along the "acculturation" axis with small probing lobes into the "intention" and "relation-to-the-world".


(Winky emoticon --off.)

It's nice to see an artist taking a turn in thier work! I find some pleasure with the brushed line in the bulbous places, comic winks and googoo eyes looking back at you. Mondrian's secret Disney vacation. There's something there in the brevity in the paint application... is there a way to make it more vivid? Thanks for showing me/us the work in progress, especially as you take the tentative first foray into it.

Thanks too for the gallery round up. Would you consider doing a guest blog gallery round up sometime?

I hope to find a spot in the calendar to fly across country and visit NYC soon. Actually, Stephanie and I are going to the Miami/Basel art fair in December. That should be a hoot. Let me know if there is anything you want to see blogged over there (galleries, booths).

Work hard!

***October 24***

Steve LaRose came back from vacation:

I loved the generators of abstraction post. I added a little this morning.

Excellent! We could teach a class with this and this.
And congratulations, Miso is a new member of your family!

Puppy breath, sweet with relentless sharp neddle teeth.
What a great birthday present!

Posted by Dennis at 1:13 PM | Comments (0)

October 26, 2006

Gold Residence/FOCALA

The other week, the Fellows of Contemporary Art toured the studios of ChinaTown. I intended to snap a few pics of the assembled guests in my studio and share them with you all, but the moment flowed too fast for me to archive the experience. Returning from Spain, this first month back has been a fast train of have-to-do's mixed with heavy doses of hang time with my wife Stephanie after a summer apart and therefore I had a bit of apprehension as to what exactly I would present to my guests since my studio was nearly empty. The solution: light the 2003 painting "Present" and show the summer's work via a video projector on the adjacent wall.

The result? Overall: good, but I could have done better. I launched into the prerequisite description of my history and the basic argument for the paintings. The audience bit into the issues of technique and my shorthand version of postmodern art history and most of the session became more of a discussion than a lecture, which I welcome. The projector was weaker than I would have wanted since the daylight washed out the color and resolution of the summer work. And the presentation was another creature than the structure of the discussion that ensued. I'll have to work on that.

Later in the week, FOCALA directors Michael Gold (Long-Range Exhibition Planning) and Sirje Gold (Web Projects) invited us --the ChinaTown artists in the tour-- to their home (recently featured in Interior Design Magazine) to see their collection and hang out a bit.

Here are a few pics....

(Image Source)




The Fellows of Contemporary Art have moved to ChinaTown, the reflection of the sudio tours. As Michael and Sirje have written in a recent email:

There is a great vitality and spirit down here and now that our office has moved to Mandarin Plaza we hope to become an important part of it. We invite you all to come by and visit us. We have a large selection of artist catalogs and videos, a large screen TV, a comfortable couch and cold beer in the fridge.
Already my artist friends and I are plotting to splay out on their couch, flip through the videos, plunder the refrigerator and dog ear all the catalogs...

Posted by Dennis at 12:03 PM | Comments (2)

October 20, 2006

Cirrus Monotypes

Here is a glimpse of a detail from one print of a group that numbers around 100 made at Cirrus Editions. I organized them by color and the formal arguments that compose them: blues, greens, reds, minimal, maximal... and a small remaining pile of golden yellow that I want to finish next week. We wait for dryness and then I'll come in afterwarrds to sign/number them all.

Monotypes for me are like painting but using the big German machine instead of a "brush". Here's a feel for the "brushwork" in action.

Jean Milant was preparing for the Armory Show, selecting and framing prints. I had finished ten of the monotypes early (before I left for Spain this summer) for this purpose. You can see one of Jason Meadows monotypes at the side. I heard that Jason was the kind of artist who would walk in and empty his pockets to burn a screen for the many colorful layers in his prints.

Talk about art material as that which is within easy reach.

I like the frames --flat, beveled, tight and blond.

(...must resist... the... inevitable... rim shot...)

There was a pile of cast offs from the work of Todd Hebert and Rueben Ochoa. I was cutting shards to mask out my monotypes and it was a strange feeling to chop away at the fine work of others, even if they were discards.

Posted by Dennis at 11:08 AM | Comments (0)

Bart's Opening

Bart was invited by David Pagel to show his paintings at the east gallery of Claremont, my old grad school back in '91. I hadn't visited the school since perhaps '93 and I thought that it would be great to see the place again and maybe run into a few of the faculty that might still be there.

Since I am spearheading the scooter revolution in Los Angeles*, I get to bum rides to distant places and who better than Bart himself? Claremont is roughly an hour's drive East on the San Bernadino (10) Freeway. It was a good oportunity to hang out and charlar with the wind in our hair, as they say.

So we got on the road, looking for the freeway entrance and Bart started talking about his drawing class at UCLA. He has brought them through the marvels of the basics of drawing and through the world of the figure. Now they're ready for abstraction. But how should he format the class?

Already on the freeway, we were lost.

We were headed north on the Pasadena (110) Freeway but we forgot that there was no entrance south from there. No matter, we shot up through the arroyo and we looped back around south towards the Golden State (5) Freeway.


We resumed. Where can you start introducing young artists to abstraction? You give them a map. What are the various ways to enter into abstract painting? Is there a limited number of them? Isn't there a kind of wholeness to the various ways to manifest abstraction, like there is in describing a human figure: head, torso, limbs? Is there a pattern to the list?


We missed the left side on ramp to the San Bernardino (10) Freeway. We were hurtling south on the Golden State toward San Diego and we had to get off and turn around again. This time, I promised to stay quiet until the turn. Around Fourth Street, we flipped around and found the San Bernardino freeway.

Now, we are on the road.

Now, we can make the list.

What are the various ways that one can manifest abstraction?

We had a long ride in front of us. It was information dump time:


-As a reduction of the World.
Imagery taken from the world as in the tracings of Ingrid Calame, orEllsworth Kelly:
He began to create pictures abstracted from fragments of the seen world, such as windows, plant forms and shadows falling onto a flight of steps along with composite works, assembled from a number of panels each painted a single, uniform colour...
Like Duchamp dropping a string:
...In the early 20th century, Dada artists advocated chance techniques in the visual arts. A good example is Marcel Duchamp's random string painting, entitled Network Stoppages, which was created by dropping a set of strings from a height of one meter and tracing their outlines. Similarly the father of modern collage, Kurt Schwitters, created his artworks by dropping pieces of colored paper and other materials on a canvas (Hughes, 1991)...

-Laws of Visual Perception
-When the laws of mimesis are unbound, you still have the universe of visual perception which undergirds it: Gombrich, Arnheim, and the rest. Balance, Shape, Form, Color, there is a kind of periodic table for visual perception, a finite number of aspects which frame visuality.

Students could toggle through the categories. You could make that paper folding game that little girls crafted in grade school. Pick a color." "Pick your favorite number." Then, with rythmn, they sung: "My mama told me that you..." The categories would be shape, balance, color, etc. of course.

Muscle twitch stuff, think about heaven. Put a pencil in your hand and spaz out with a sense of purpose. Channel your spirit or somesuch. Pollack's fling, beer dripping down the chin. Paul Klee's Jungian space. Chamberlain's whatever.

Then we ran dry. Any other idea became a hybrid of these four. Was there a pattern here?

Well, yes there was:

We realized that the four generators could be grouped into two: one in terms of mimesis, or some kind of representation of the world and another in terms of intention. It formed an x-y horizontal axis and one could interpolate between them. We had a north and a south... but was there a vertical dimension? Yes --one of culture-- the relation to the history of art. An XYZ axis! Supercool, now the students have a compass. Maybe, if they're smart, they can navigate their way into the non-objective visual world, maybe they can chart where they are and where they might want to go.

Not bad for work done during a commute.

We finally arrived at Claremont. We found David Pagel in a faculty meeting with Connie Zher and Michael Brewster. Michael Brewster! Sculptor of sound, longtime faculty honcho at the school. I hadn't seen him for many moons, it was great to shake hands again. We busted up their meeting and immediately, Michael wanted to steal away towards a local bar for a glass of somesuch and toast the ocassion, to catch up before the opening.

This shot messes with Bart's intentions, but you might get a feel for the installation anyway. Bart said that he didn't anticipate the rigidity of the square plan of the gallery, the leadened symmetry of the room probably weighted his strategy of the jumping compositions.

It was good to catch up with John Millei and David Amico (not pictured, Dave stepped off before the show opened --you're busted, Dave!). The younger students sought Bart out, the older ones stood aloof tot he side, too cool for school.

After the show, we trekked back to LA, a 50 minute debrief on the show. Shooting back past downtown, we detoured towards the Mandrake, the site of Joel's going away party. He's off to NYC, the next chapter in the Mesler saga. Everyone was sad about it, as if a big engine was dropping off the plane... but you know, this world is too small to think that way. Ultimately, I think we will all be bicoastal in one way or the other.

Besides, we will all have to fly to NY more often, won't we?


*I am holding the mental image of Los Angeles becoming like Taipei, a throng of scooters someday soon. (Now you are as well.)

Posted by Dennis at 12:32 AM | Comments (0)

October 19, 2006

Mutiny in Heaven

This reminds me of the time when Monkey jumped into heaven and raided the trees bearing fruit that had the power to endow one with immortality. After gorging on the sacred fruit, Lao Tzu was dispatched to apprehend the heavenly miscreant whereupon the sage trapped Monkey in an incense pot where Monkey's eyes turned red from the smoke (that's why representations of Monkey have him with blazing red bloodshot eyes) and from there the story trailed off to another stream in the rambling style of ancient literature.

I'm planning to attend Kevin O'Sullivan's Pharmakos pocket plays at the Mountain tonight.

Here are the first two minutes of "Calzada de los Muertos", written and directed by Kevin O'Sullivan featuring Eugene Butler and Lara Phillips.

Update: Kevin sent me the script...

(Hotel room, outskirts of Mexico City, near the ruins
of Teotihuacan.)
MARA What then?
MARA What then?
SIMMONS I don?t know. I?m tired.
MARA You didn?t sleep well.
SIMMONS I?m so very tired.
MARA You were up all night.
SIMMONS My prostate.
MARA You should see Doctor Chen when we get back.
SIMMONS Can?t piss.
MARA You worry me.
SIMMONS Nothing to worry about.
MARA I do.
SIMMONS It?s a bitch when you gotta go, and you can?t
MARA You could take an nap if you?d like. A siesta.
MARA I could do some shopping.
SIMMONS Take a little siesta.
MARA It?s not something you enjoy, anyhow ?shopping.
SIMMONS I don?t know what I enjoy anymore.
MARA You should try to relax, That?s what we came for.
SIMMONS You know what? ?I?ve come to this realization.
MARA What?
SIMMONS It doesn?t matter.
MARA Of course you can come if you wish, shopping.
SIMMONS I?m getting old. That?s what I realized.
MARA You?re not old.
SIMMONS I?m old enough to be your father.
MARA I?m not that young.
SIMMONS Young enough.
MARA For what?
SIMMONS For me. But I?m just too goddamned old.
MARA I wish you?d stop saying that.
SIMMONS I don?t understand it.
MARA What?
SIMMONS Any of it?
MARA What don?t you understand.
Why the fuck do you stay with me?
MARA Do I have to say it?
(Simmons responds with vehemence)
SIMMONS No! Don?t say it. Don?t say anything. I don?t
want to hear any of it!
MARA You can say it to me.
MARA But you won?t.
SIMMONS you want me to say it?
MARA I know you won?t.
SIMMONS Jesus Christ, you?re turning my head all
How did we end up in this shit hole?
MARA I think this room is nice.
SIMMONS I mean here, in Mexico.
MARA You wanted to see the pyramids.
SIMMONS Yeah, I wanted that. I always wanted to see
the pyramids.
MARA You made it almost half-way.
SIMMONS Half the way up. Jesus. Pathetic.
MARA Maybe it was a bad idea, in your condition.
SIMMONS All the way down here to see the fucking
pyramids. Climb to the fucking top. Survey the land. A
year ago, no problem. It creeps up on you like that,
then wham!
MARA You?ve been sick.
SIMMONS But I got better. Fuckin? doctors.
MARA It takes time to recover.
SIMMONS You know what happens, I?ve seen it, this is
how it happens
MARA Don?t get yourself all worked up.
SIMMONS Listen, I?m fuckin? telling you. I?ve seen it.
Up close. First it?s one little thing, then another.
MARA It?s one little thing and soon you?ll be all
SIMMONS (cruelly) You sound like a nurse.
MARA I don?t mean to.
SIMMONS A nursery school teacher. Just ?cause I?ve got
these problems doesn?t mean you can talk to me like
I?m a little kid!
MARA Why do you say that?
SIMMONS I don?t know. Jesus.
MARA You?re stressed.
(Simmons sits down in a chair)
SIMMONS I don?t feel right. I thought I?d be alright
for this trip. I thought it?d invigorate me. Last
night I couldn?t stop shitting, now I can?t even piss.
MARA just a mild case of turista.
SIMMONS (gently) Yes, nurse.
MARA That?s why you don?t have all your energy.
SIMMONS I?m just a broken down old car. Maybe they can
break me down for spare parts?
MARA You just need a little attention. Here.
(Mara massages Simmon?s neck and shoulders)
MARA okay?
MARA Better?
SIMMONS Much better. This is not what I planned you
know, how I saw it going. It was going to be? I
thought it?d be nice getting away. You always liked to
MARA I still do.
(Simmons gets up, walks downstage)
SIMMONS I don?t travel much anymore. Not like I used
to. I used to travel quite a bit. I?ve been to
Bogota. That was a weird place. I should have been
scared, I guess. With the cartels and guerrillas. I
knew a guy who?d been kidnapped. He was trying to buy
gems. They just picked him up, these guys, with guns.
He was with them for three days, in the jungle.
Sleeping on the bare ground. I guess they were
guerrillas. I don?t know what kind. Places like that
you can?t always tell. They could have been drug
dealers. They just let him go, walked out of the
jungle then walked back in. I heard other stories like
I?ve been to Venezuela.
I?ve been in jungles so big you don?t know the end of
it. It has a smell. The jungle smell. Like something
damp. Like something rotting.
I?ve been to lot of places in South America. Peru. I
didn?t go to Peru. I could have seen the ruins. You
have to walk up a mountain to get to these ruins. I
could have done that then.
I couldn?t now.
I can?t even make it halfway up the Pyramid of the
fucking Sun.
MARA the Moon.
MARA We hiked up the Pyramid of the Moon.
SIMMONS Which one is larger?
MARA I don?t know. Aren?t they the same?
SIMMONS One is larger than the other. I know that. I
read up on this thing.
MARA You read up on a lot of things.
SIMMONS My stomach feels a little funky.
(Simmons slumps into chair.)
MARA That seems normal.
SIMMONS I?m hungry. Starving. But I don?t know what
will happen. I don?t want a re-run of last night.
MARA Try just a nibble first.
SIMMONS God that was shameful, something you don?t
want anybody to see. It?s like your naked.
MARA I?ve seen you naked before.
SIMMONS I mean exposed. You can?t keep what?s inside
you in. You have no control of your body. No woman
should see a man like this. No one should be that
MARA I?ve seen you exposed.
SIMMONS And it doesn?t disgust you? Doesn?t make you
MARA I?m not like that.
SIMMONS I haven?t always been like this. Remember
that. Remember me how I was. I was tough as they get.
MARA I remember.
SIMMONS Yeah. You do?
MARA I remember how tough you were.
SIMMONS I don?t. I don?t remember anymore.
MARA You could be a real asshole.
SIMMONS Yeah? An asshole? You liked me that way.
MARA Yeah. I did.
SIMMONS An asshole. But tough.
MARA Tough as they get.
(Simmons stands.)
SIMMONS You know I was always the last one to get
sick. On trips. I?d drink water out of the tap. No
problem. I had a strong constitution. I could drink
guys under the table and not get sick. These guys were
crying. People were afraid of me cause they thought I
didn?t feel pain. I could be real intimidating. I was
scared of nothing.
Now I?m scared of everything?
MARA You don?t have to be scared. The doctor gave you
a clean bill of health.
SIMMONS I?m weak.
MARA You?ll get your strength back.
SIMMONS I?ve seen what it?s like you know, when it
starts to get bad.
MARA Stop thinking about it.
SIMMONS It changed me. My perception. I have a
different perspective, see things from a different
MARA why don?t you come with me shopping?
SIMMONS I saw how it?s going to end.
MARA Christ already!
MARA You?re not dying, Simmons!
SIMMONS We all are.
MARA Not anytime soon.
SIMMONS I wanted this to be good. For us. I wanted to
show you the pyramids.
MARA That was great. Really great.
SIMMONS I wanted to walk with you down the calzada de
los muertos.
MARA The what?
SIMMONS We were on it. I meant to buy a card in the
gift shop.
MARA It was closed.
SIMMONS That?s Mexico for you.
MARA I like the pyramids. It doesn?t matter to me that
we didn?t make it to the top.
SIMMONS I wanted you to see the view.
MARA I saw enough.
SIMMONS You stuck with me.
MARA I always have.
SIMMONS I don?t know why.
MARA I don?t know either.
SIMMONS I?m too old.
MARA I know.
SIMMONS I?m weak.
SIMMONS I used to be strong.
MARA I heard.
SIMMONS You know that. It won?t come to a good end.
SIMMONS It never does.
MARA It doesn?t matter.
SIMMONS Not now.
SIMMONS You walked with me.
SIMMONS Down that avenue.
SIMMONS The Avenue of the Dead.
MARA For years now.
SIMMONS Will you keep walking?
MARA I don?t know.
Should I?
SIMMONS I don?t know.
(pause, then quietly:)
Next year we?ll climb the Pyramid of the Sun.

Posted by Dennis at 7:20 AM | Comments (0)

October 17, 2006

"Oh shit, look what I've done..."

The morning news led me here, (writer Nora Ephron's blog in the Huffington Post):

...There, on the wall, were two large Picassos, one of them Le Reve. Steve Wynn launched into a long story about the painting -- he told us that it was a painting of Picasso's mistress, Marie-Therese Walter, that it was extremely erotic, and that if you looked at it carefully (which I did, for the first time, although I'd seen it before at the Bellagio) you could see that the head of Marie-Therese was divided in two sections and that one of them was a penis. This was not a good moment for me vis a vis the painting. In fact, I would have to say that it made me pretty much think I wouldn't pay five dollars for it. Wynn went on to tell us about the provenance of the painting - who'd first bought it and who'd then bought it. This brought us to the famous Victor and Sally Ganz, a New York couple who are a sort of ongoing caution to the sorts of people who currently populate the art world, because the Ganzes managed to accumulate a spectacular art collection in a small New York apartment with no money at all. The Ganz collection went up for auction in 1997, Wynn was saying -- he was standing in front of the painting at this point, facing us. He raised his hand to show us something about the painting -- and at that moment, his elbow crashed backwards right through the canvas.

There was a terrible noise.
Wynn stepped away from the painting, and there, smack in the middle of Marie-Therese Walter's plump and allegedly-erotic forearm, was a black hole the size of a silver dollar - or, to be more exactly, the size of the tip of Steve Wynn's elbow -- with two three-inch long rips coming off it in either direction. Steve Wynn has retinitis pigmentosa, an eye disease that damages peripheral vision, but he could see quite clearly what had happened.

"Oh shit," he said. "Look what I've done."

The rest of us were speechless.

"Thank God it was me," he said.

For sure.

The word "money" was mentioned by someone, or perhaps it was the word "deal."

Wynn said: "This has nothing to do with money. The money means nothing to me. It's that I had this painting in my care and I've damaged it."

I felt that I was in a room where something very private had happened that I had no right to be at. I felt absolutely terrible.

At the same time I was holding my digital camera in my hand - I'd just taken several pictures of the Picasso - and I wanted to take a picture of the Picasso with the hole in it so badly that my camera was literally quivering. But I didn't see how I could take a picture - it seemed to me I'd witnessed a tragedy, and what's more, that my flash would go off if I did and give me away.

Steve Wynn picked up the phone and left a message for his art dealer. Then he called his wife Elaine. "You'll never believe what I just did," he said to her. From where we stood, on the other end of the phone call, Elaine seemed to take the news calmly and did not yell at her husband. This was particularly impressive to my own husband. There was a conversation about whether the painting could be restored - Wynn seemed to think it could be - and of the two people in America who were capable of restoring it. We all promised we would keep the story quiet - not, you understand, to cover it up, but to make sure that Wynn was able to deal with the episode as he wished to until it came out. We all knew it would come out eventually. It would have to. There were too many of us in the room, plus all the people in the art world who were eventually going to hear about it.

Meanwhile, we were not going to tell anyone.

We promised.

I promised.

I wonder if "Le Reve" is more valuable now than before the Wynn touch?

Image Source.

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

October 16, 2006

Gallery Hop

Jean Milant (Cirrus) and I drove across town to see a few shows.

Here are a few pics and a-kind-of-report for you:


Nice show: Guston and De Chirico at the Santa Monica Museum.
It's worth seeing again. It has a difficult (read: slightly lame) title: "Enigma Variations". But the paintings are great to see up close... besides, I should read through the curatorial essay more fully next time.

Moving on...

Whoops... forgot to flag the Mandrake bar in between LAX Art and Blum and Poe.
Delicious finger food and expresso are available in the afternoon.

Ruben Ochoa delivered a nice surprise at LAX Art. Mentored by Daniel Martinez, the time will soon come for him to kill the father (meaning: find the difference between his voice and DJM). Let's see if he can do it.

It makes me think of the fashion in architecture several years ago for the formless blobatecture generated by those theoreticians who fell in love with computer drawing programs. Ochoa seemed to breathe a puff of imagination onto their undulating forms (Form Z drawing programs and all that).

Interesting too, that the street is chosen as a subject for both artists. Ruben seems to be able to give it a face.

Then, as we stepped down the block, the LA river made an appearance. I thought of Mike Kelly when I felt the urge to spelunk into the giant drains. I was happy to see this after an afternoon of gallery art.


What a great word.

Movikng on...

Returning home, Joel and I dropped into Sister Gallery to see the set for "Faustus's Children" (do they need to add the s? Doesn't the apostrophe after an s eliminate the need for an additional s? Oh well.) and maybe to score early on Tom Peter's catered food at the reception.

There's a nice picture of Bettina in the second gallery.


(Both maps are from Art Scene.)

Admin/YouTube Test

I'm testing this post to see if I can upload videos onto the blog.

This video is of the Procession of the Virgins, Corpus Christi in Tossa de Mar, 2004, a shot out of my studio window.

Now let's see if this works....

Update: Alright. It works in FireFox and Internet Explorer, pero no funciona en Safari, que lastima, tio. Pues, nada. If your'e a Safari surfer like I am, it'll be a pain to switch to another browser to see a video... but I'll take that kind of pain over most others that come in life.

Now, lemme see. What kind of stuff lends itself to video treatment?

Posted by Dennis at 3:25 PM | Comments (0)

October 15, 2006



Posted by Dennis at 3:11 PM | Comments (0)

October 14, 2006


The night ended at Mandarake when Stephanie peeled flower petals, licked and pasted them on her fingers, something she learned in elementary school. Chris followed suit and as the petals fell off, the night was over.

It was our/my first visit to Mandrake, the Culver City bar that's the social anchor for the most recent art gallery cluster in Los Angeles. Owners Flora Wegman, Drew Hetzler and Justin Beal created for Culver City what is probably the most important component of an art world: social space, a place to charlar, to talk about things made, a point where one can expose and be exposed to ideas, to push off and towards making things again. A bar, a quasi exhibition space/dance floor, a smoker's patio out back... in other words, a digestive system for ideation. The Cedar Bar in New York, Paris Bar in Berlin, the Four Cats in Barcelona, ...and (yes!) Chinatown's Hop Louie. An art world needs a top a middle and a bottom; the institutional, the strata of galleries, and the bottom -a place for what I call "knuckleheads", where everyone mixes and everything happens.

We stopped by Mandrake to shake off a diverting but all too formal evening event staged for the Fashion Industry Guild at the Beverly Wilshire Regent Hotel in Beverly Hills.

The nice thing is that this was a charity event meant to recognise the huge donations to the Cedar Sinai Hospital Neo-Natal wing. Altruism doesn't have to be exciting. The crew from Guess? performed a kind of diplomatic duty, representing the flag. Everyone performed their duty with aplomb.



Posted by Dennis at 6:44 PM | Comments (0)

Cirrus Monotypes Resumed

Picking up where I left off at the beginning of summer, two days this week working on monotypes at Cirrus Gallery.

Master printer in training, Lino mans the machine.


Posted by Dennis at 10:05 AM | Comments (0)

October 11, 2006

Clark Flood

Clark Flood?

Yesterday, my old friend, artist Aaron Parazette called in to say hello and report an interesting bit of writing by artist/painter Mark Flood, "a key player" in the Houston scene* known more to Aaron than I, but any friend of Aaron is a friend of mine as the saying goes**.

Mark writes for an in house blog for GlassTire, an online art magazine based in Texas, now expanding to the West Coast, California. Aaron flagged posts #5 "Selling Out" and #8 "Press Release", although I tend to like many more of his missives, #11 and counting. An artist who is starting to get long in the tooth (like myself I suppose) whose writing voice is cynical and bitter with a freedom that's another word for nothing left to lose.

In other words, he's in a great place to do this kind of thing.

Here's one slice of pie:

I'm tempted to write art criticism in this column, but I'm afraid of the repercussions. If you tell people what you think of their lame art in print, you make enemies. Some openly lash out at you, in their pain and shame, and that's tolerable, even enjoyable. But others hate you without ever showing any sign. They nurse secret grudges for years, as they smile your way at parties and openings. Like a puff adder on a Kalahari trail, they patiently wait for an opportunity to strike.
Picture yourself mountain climbing with a colleague you think is a buddy. A minor accident leaves you dangling from a rope 1000 feet up, against the face of a cliff. Instead of rushing to help you, your friend hesitates. He sits on the top of the cliff and looks down at you. You call out Buddy! Buddy! Pull me up! He doesn't respond. There's an eerie silence. You hear a hawk in the distance. You look up and he's staring down at you with a strange smile. He says loudly, but conversationally, So my use of collage is pedantic, huh? There's a long moment while his words echo. You slowly realize what he's talking about. The review from 1991! He shouts down, Am I too PEDANTIC to pull you up here, Mr. Art Critic? Maybe I need to DROP ? he shakes the rope ? Maybe I need to DROP my use of collage because it's JUST SO FUCKING PEDANTIC!

Picture yourself falling helplessly to your death as you explain that you meant pedantic in a good way.

Oh yea, and what about the Clark versus Mark? a nom de guerre/plum? Sorry to let slip your veil, Mark. But maybe it was just a typo?

* I swear to G-d that I tried to think of another way to express that thought.

** There I go again. I'm coping with a tough day, folks.

Posted by Dennis at 1:53 PM | Comments (0)

October 9, 2006

Ahora (Sort of)

A few hours ago.

The painting:


Details follow:


Posted by Dennis at 6:50 PM | Comments (0)


Bart has a show at my old school that will open in a week. I invited myeslf into his stuido to see how the paintings are coming along.

Two and three part paintings pulled away with implied compositions that will continue on the wall space in between with vrtural dotted liines. Another way to ply human scaled hand painting against the scale of the instituion/industry. (Perhaps like space/time, these two go together the same way?).

Posted by Dennis at 4:48 PM | Comments (0)

Burro. Bull.


A political statement.

In Catalunya, they've come up with the image of the burro as a counter to the Spanish bull. Stubborn, hybrid, close to the earth, practical, enterprising, hippy... versus... dangerous, sexy, existential, primal, risk prone, Faustian.

I'll take one of each, please.

One on each cheek.

Posted by Dennis at 11:25 AM | Comments (0)

Drive By


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

October 6, 2006

Scooter Go

Hello helmet.

Hello scooter.

Hello LA streets, elbow room, big sky roomy.

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

Please Stand By

I'm cogitating.

More hablaba to come soon.

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

October 3, 2006

Where Was I

(Blogpost in progress)

Posted by Dennis at 6:52 PM | Comments (0)