December 31, 2007

Happy New Year Everyone!

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All the best to you and us in 2008!

Posted by Dennis at 9:08 PM | Comments (0)

Asociaci?n de Numeros

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These are alternativess for the announcement for my upcoming show at Galerie Miguel Marcos in Barcelona. The title came from the archives of this weblog, a practice I have maintained for several years now.

I love hyperlinked indexical titles.

Miguel's graphic designer wanted to show me the variations of her design for approval, and it was the right moment to air some thoughts I have had about it.

She wrote:

Hola Dennis,

Soy la dise?adora de la Galer?a Miguel Marcos. Tal como me pide Miguel, te env?o las propuestas para la tarjeta de tu pr?xima exposici?n para ver que te parecen.


Un cordial saludo y feliz 2008!


My reply:
Hola In?s:

?Y una feliz 2008 a ti!
And a happy new year to you!

Pienso que el primer dise?o es el mejor. El t?tulo se toma de mi weblog que documente una zambullida de la noche en Tossa de Mar
I think that the first design is the best. The title is taken from my weblog that documents a night dive at Tossa de Mar.

Tengo dos pensamientos:
I have two thoughts:

-quiz?s el t?tulo debe estar en espa?ol:
-perhaps the title should be in spanish:

03:11 Una Huelga de Rel?mpago Muy Agradable

-Quisiera que 03:11 reflejara la ?poca del v?deo en el blogpost y no de marcha la 11, el bombardeo infame del tren en Madrid. ?Ideas?
-I would like 03:11 to reflect the time of the video in the blogpost and not March 11, the infamous train bombing in Madrid. Any ideas?

-Si el tiempo es una problema, podemos utilizar el t?tulo original sin problema.
If time is an issue, we can use the original title with no problem.


-Dennis


Googling 03:11 to see how many hits associates those numbers with the infamous dates, a Wikipedia entry was the top of the search of 100 hits, the only one that I could see in a quick scan of the list. The Wikipedia entry has around 52 identifications of that date in history. I then searched for 05:11 to see if May 11 would have a similar product but there was no result.

Strange, how some dates accrue significance while others do not.

I might be over-thinking this issue. But while the terrible bombing was like a lightning strike, it was not very nice at all. But was this or any terror bombing something of nature, like a flash of lightning? Only with some strain could one make such an assertion... or if it is, it is something one would want to change or temper or otherwise avoid. Is there the element of danger common to all elements in this discussion: lightning, night swimming at sea, the flash of a samurai sword... backpacks of C-4 on a train seat? With a beat of hesitation, the answer must be "yes", but then the danger levels swing wildly from one to the other.

Could insisting upon the significance of the numbers as a time marker in a video in a blogpost fortify the integrity of signification and intended meaning of this snippet of information that was transformed into a title for a show of paintings? Probably, yes. Would it help dislocate any ambient attachment of significance to the infamous March 11? This, I don't know. Would I want to do this? Yes... maybe... unless I was doing harm to Spanish historical memory. Would I want to glean any patina of horrible glamour from such an association? Hell no. Could I run with it and shrug off errant associations? Probably. (This very blog entry will help me do this. Glory be to blogs in the highest.)

I guess I could call the show "Tres Minutos y Once Segundos: Una Huelga de Rel?mpago Muy Agradable" but what a ungainly title that would be!

Posted by Dennis at 12:23 PM | Comments (0)

December 29, 2007

KZKZ


This video is best introduced by the final paragraph of its description in the YouTube summary:

We will DEFEAT this Anti-human and Anti-Iranian regime, but we need the world's freed-thinking people's moral support. Are you free-thinking? does Human Rights matter to you?

The call in this video is for youth, but the repression from the Iranian government against their youth has an ultimate or ulterior object: to limit the freedom of women.

The real revolution will be led by women.

Our "War on Terror", however badly named, is part of a wider resistance from a dying patriarchy (our tribalist legacy) against the autonomy of women. I witnessed my mother struggle against the control of men as I grew up (My father counseled me to find a house-mouse for a wife, bless his soul... the mask of liberal sophistication that my step father wore did not correspond to his actions let us say... and my grandfather was the true tribal chief, period.). Stories of honor killings still haunt the news. The hijab has become a symbol of defiance where it once was simply a scarf.

Still, I find it astonishing that female autonomy is a recent development historically.

Patriarchy will not go down easily.

Here's the summary:

About This Video

Iranian Rap Music against the Islamic Republic and what it stands for. Iranian youth are rebeling against the violence that is imposed on them by the Islamic rule. The world is silent, LOOKING THE OTHER WAY, BECAUSE POLITICIANS IN THE WEST ARE AFRAID OF THESE THUGS, but as Iranians, we will stand up to this EVIL. If you have any respect for Human Rights, Freedom of Thought and want to spread Democratic values, PLEASE Help us.

At the begining of the footage, the idiot Ahmadinejad in his pre-election speeches lies about his credentials as a preson who seeks to promote individual freedom and how he will restore economic prosperity. Just another BIG LIE from these professional Islamic criminals who take advantage of honest people.

On Ahmadinejad's watch, thousands of Iranian youth have been arrested, fined, beaten up, and tortured by the Islamic Moral Police. See for yourself how a young woman cries refusing to go along with their stupid dress codes and the so called officers who are her.

We will DEFEAT this Anti-human and Anti-Iranian regime, but we need the world's freed-thinking people's moral support. Are you free-thinking? does Human Rights matter to you?

And the music is awesome. It doesn't even start until 1:40 into the video. Gravitas unforced. Message and Art, seamless. Righteousness, the good kind.

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More here and here. The artist Hichkas seems to be a force behind the music I've linked to here.

Jacques de Beaufort seems to have a few comments regarding patriarchy:

It's important to make categorical distinctions between the patriarchal tribalism of neolithic civilization and the pre-agricultural tribalism of the paleolithic.

It seems this distinction tells the story of how property rights made men bossy, the upshot of the mountain of info linked at a website called Dhushara, the author of which, a Chris King, is invested in a Gaia hypothesis. The information is interesting nonetheless.

Additionally it would be intellectually reckless to lay patriarchal cultural belief systems solely at the feet of Islam.

I didn't. "...wider resistance from a dying patriarchy..." But Islam in the fundamentalist sense is rooted in a tribalist mentality minted in the Arabian peninsula in the same mists of time as when our own civilization emerged. Those doods are super bossy.

But intellectually reckless?

I wouldn't call myself an intellectual.


Remember that all Abrahamic religions have gendered God as male. In this regard Patriarchal belief systems are not a product of spiritual ideologies, but grow out of political institutions that have more to do with the acquisition of land and the maintenance of sovereign borders.

I understand the significance of Abraham as the context of monotheism and not much else. Abraham points toward the Torah wherein the central aspect of the story is about G-d's endowment of freedom upon mankind. This, I believe, is the polestar for what we evolved civilizationally into today: individual freedom, property rights, the marketplace, art (as we know it), science and technology, and restless change.

Although contemporary Western Civilization seems somewhat liberated from the virulent misogyny of Islamic Theocracies, it would be inaccurate to describe Western material civilization as being built upon gender neutral non-dualistic philisophical constructs.

Indeed the story of mankind isn't simple, and it surely isn't about a golden age of benign matriarchy dashed asunder by... capitalistic patriarchs. Applying both sides of Darwin's Law (a proliferation of types in plentitude and then a cultivation of the best types in scarcity) I would guess that the golden ages probably occurred in the times of plentitude and when the game turned zero sum, the bigger bossier guys tried to rule the roost.

Like they always do.

UPDATE II:

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I remember this book, it was in my library many moons ago. It took me a while to understand, the kernel was wrapped pretty tight.

UPDATE III:

Evidence abounds.

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

03:11 A Very Nice Lightning Strike


My gallery in Barcelona, Miguel Marcos, wants to put a show together with what I had painted over the summer and the last painting I recently sent, Kikuchiyo.

Miguel asked what I would name such a show, so I flipped through the blog archives and arrived at August 14th's Niight Dive Round Cap Tossa. My virtual divining rod pointed at the second video, time 03:11 A Very Nice Lightning Strike, it seemed to fit both the feel of that summer and the allusions to Toshirō Mifune's Kikuchiyo in Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, which for me resonates with that moment Kiko, Alberto and I shared out at sea in the middle of the night as lightning illuminated the sea bottom like the flash of a Japanese blade.

There it is, the title for the show at Galeria Miguel Marcos, 10 Jonqueras Barcelona Spain:

03:11 A Very Nice Lightning Strike

Posted by Dennis at 7:00 AM | Comments (0)

December 28, 2007

Rivera: Classroom

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Enginimal.

Diego Rivera had a touch of magical realism in him, didn't he?* Animation seems to be what we as artists do to the world.

I've always liked the vocabulary of forms found under the hoods of automobiles. I went into my attic and snapped these photos (here and a close up here) of what was the last in a line of investigation into a lexicon of form I found in engines.

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A brief note:

Coming out of school, in order to paint in affirmation (contra the death of painting narrative urged by my critical theory soaked faculty), I started by inventing a kind of "battery" by sandwiching a freewheeling underpainting with a tightened and abstracted formalism that was derived from letter forms. Eventually, the two layers found sympathy with each other, kind of like Ed Ruscha's operation but in reverse.

Applying both sides of Darwin's Law (a proliferation of types in plentitude and then a cultivation of the best types in scarcity), I evolved what became three independent investigations: Leaf Blower Paintings, images taken first from the gasoline powered leaf blowing gardeners ubiquitous here in Southern California (I loved the connection to Rivera and the worker-as-subject); Glaze Paintings, that were painting with successive glazes of alkyd resin (it reminded me of watching the radar, images emerging from the process, grease pencil marks on a glass screed) and Wet into Wet paintings, the predecessor to what I am painting today.

It was 1996 when I steered away from the sandwich conceit and let the Wet into Wet dictate it's own terms. Lil' Louisiana, 1999 was the last point of contact in the Leaf Blower paintings. Like my architectural background in which I hold a hard-fought-for license to practice architecture in the state of California; I never say never either to architecture or to a resumption of the other roads in painting I've trod in the past. The trouble is, I only have time to do the kind of work I'm doing now!

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*I admit, I must be misusing the term magical realism here...

Posted by Dennis at 11:07 AM | Comments (0)

Rivera: Engineers

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

Rivera: We Want

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Posted by Dennis at 8:25 AM | Comments (0)

Rivera: Goggles

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

Eye Candy

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Nice Stuff.

Image culled via (lots of copyrightness, got to give super credits) Boing Boing:

Rankin, photographer and founder of Dazed and Confused magazine, created an incredible photographic series of more than a dozen decontextualized irises. Scrolling horizontally back and forth across these images is quite trance-inducing. The project is called Eyescapes.

Posted by Dennis at 7:49 AM | Comments (0)

December 27, 2007

Novi

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Michigan.

Posted by Dennis at 3:28 PM | Comments (0)

Terri Phillips: Testimony: Jan. 12th

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Posted by Dennis at 3:21 PM | Comments (0)

Rivera: Workers

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Posted by Dennis at 1:35 PM | Comments (0)

Rivera: Red Star

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Posted by Dennis at 1:32 PM | Comments (0)

Rivera: Steel Worker

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Posted by Dennis at 1:31 PM | Comments (0)

Rivera: Captain of Industry

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Posted by Dennis at 1:15 PM | Comments (0)

Detroit Institute of the Arts

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A highlight of our holiday trip to Michigan (second of course to having kids crawl all over you like monkey bars) was a visit to the Detroit Institute of the Arts (DIA) in the heart of Detroit's city center. Newly renovated and recently reopened, the architecture both in the restoration and addition was wonderful and the collection is impressive. Here's a blurb from the DIA website:

The DIA has been a beacon of culture for the Detroit area for well over a century. Founded in 1885, the museum was originally located on Jefferson Avenue, but, due to its rapidly expanding collection, moved to a larger site on Woodward Avenue in 1927. The new Beaux-Arts building, designed by Paul Cret, was immediately referred to as the ?temple of art.? Two wings were added in the 1960s and 1970s, and a major renovation and expansion that began in 1999 is scheduled for completion in 2007.

The museum covers 600,000 square feet that includes more than 100 galleries, an 1,150-seat auditorium, a 380-seat lecture/recital hall, an art reference library, and a state-of-the-art conservation services laboratory. The current renovation and expansion will add 77,000 square feet.

This is definite must see and I look forward to returning and studying the collection in depth next year.

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The primary draw for me was the Detroit Industry murals by Diego Rivera. Here are a panoply of images culled from our trip...

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Posted by Dennis at 8:11 AM | Comments (0)

December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Posted by Dennis at 6:46 PM | Comments (0)

December 23, 2007

More from Putumayo


Here's another selection from Putumayo World Music's, WAYNE GORBEA : COGELE EL GUSTO.

Check out the action on the dance floor. Hot, hot stuff.

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

BETECE


We're in the outskirts of Detroit, a town called Novi. It's another family Christmas with all the trimmings. We arrived with about 18" of snow in the streets and since then the rain has washed it all away. They say that the temperature has risen but the wind chill tells me otherwise. Winds have dried the wet ground and as the sun sets, delicate flurries of snow have appeared, whipping little zephyrs into tiny whirls of snow on the sidewalk. As Californians, we look at this sight with a mixture of wonder and relief that we are returning soon to (relatively) sunny California.

I'm shaking up a few blogposts, trying to respond to several overdue emails with lots of nephew and niece action running interference. They're so cute, the little buggers.

Today: a day in the DIA to see the Rivera murals and bumping into one wonderful surprise after the other, a blogpost about that to come soon of course. For now, a musical selection from something we found in the museum bookstore, Putumayo World Music's African-Latin Party, AFRICANDO - "BETECE".

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Posted by Dennis at 7:35 PM | Comments (0)

December 21, 2007

Monomaniac Mea Culpa

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My name is Dennis and I'm a monomaniac.

I've been on the high wire since Saturday, working on another horizontal painting before the holidays hit. Every day has ended with a question mark, I wasn't sure that it would work out (typical for my practice) until the last touch at the last minute. Saucer-eyed, fixated; I have neglected the many important distractions of regular life: I've missed appointments (SORRY CHRIS!!!!), piled up paperwork and bills, put off seeing several friends, sidelined great blogging along the way. And I'm looking forward to the next few days as a real vacation, to pick up a few pieces and end this taciturn monkishness and get all hablabbery with this blog.

Please Stay Tuned...

Posted by Dennis at 4:47 AM | Comments (0)

Ahora

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Posted by Dennis at 4:34 AM | Comments (0)

December 18, 2007

Ahora

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It's cats n' dogs outside.

Posted by Dennis at 6:47 PM | Comments (0)

December 17, 2007

Dengue Fever


At the last opening, people kept ducking and backing away every time I pulled out the camera. So I chilled out and relaxed into conversation, eventually drilling down into some interesting stuff with Jacques de Beaufort. By the bye, Bart Exposito would walk past and mutter loudly under his breath:

"NERDS.".

After a couple of times, the message was clear: too much analytics, not enough pop culture goofery.

Right. He's right.

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Here's the latest from the pop music front in the Hollingsworth household:

Dengue Fever

A recommendation from the supercool Cambodian girl that tends the cash register at Echo Park's "House of Spirits".

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(photo: PHOPLOG)

Posted by Dennis at 5:07 PM | Comments (0)

LA DriveBy

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(Figueroa at Sixth or Seventh.)

Posted by Dennis at 3:14 PM | Comments (0)

December 14, 2007

Automatons and Others

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There will be a few openings in ChinaTown, Saturday evening:

Black Dragon Society will open "Automatons", a group show of drawings including local friends Bart Exposito, Phil Wagner and Nick Lowe; distinguished with my good friend Joanne Greenbaum and remote acquaintance Jonathan Lasker (we shook hands twice). It is remarkable that Lasker still commands awe and respect among the young painters. Both Lasker and Greenbaum fine tuned their selections when they learned of the idea for the show. Artist Adrian Paules was a last minute addition to the lineup, and I'm curious to hear the logic behind it from El Jefe Maximo, Parker Jones.

Sister Gallery will open with Amy Sarkasian "So In Your Face". People seem to be keen on what she will hang up on the walls there.

David Kordansky Gallery presents Anthony Pearson, his second show in ChinaTown. When I see his work, I get this Matt Mullican / Allan McCollum feeling.

Sam Lee Gallery is new on Hill Street, a couple doors down from the strangely-named-yet-interesting/cool High Energy Constructs Gallery. The word on the street is that Lee was once a curator at LACMA. Brooklyn based artist Chris Doyle will open photo-realismo watercolors of just slept in beds. Doyle arrived to what he's doing now via architecture (he has a grad degree from Harvard), and I'm interested to compare our experiences if we get to meet up at the opening.

Here are some shots of the set up at Black Dragon:

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(Some details leveled by my camera.)

Posted by Dennis at 2:37 PM | Comments (0)

Raster Haircut

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I met the Raster guys when they did a stint at Rental Gallery LA. They're from Warsaw, Poland and my friends who have been there tell me that it's supercool city. Funny, edgy and comfortable in their own shoes; they've been going strong showing at too many art fairs and generally working as if their lives depended on it. Here's what they have to say about their "Haircut" that opened at Joel Mesler's Rental Gallery NY this week:

"Raster Haircut" is the first presentation in New York City of the Warsaw-based Raster Gallery.

In contradiction to the Polish saying, "Don't split hairs in four", the exhibition is composed of works by four artists: Rafal Bujnowski, Aneta Grzeszykowska, Przemek Matecki and Jan Smaga. Most of them are recent works, created or selected especially for this exhibition. The exhibition does not have a subject - instead it has a main motif: hair. Hair as a characteristic, organic structure (often difficult to disentangle!), but also hair as a coiffure, a stylized form, a carefully designed shape, and also a sign of identity. "Raster Haircut", though, is not a proposalof yet another style or fashion, but rather an attempt to describe our artistic identity. "RasterHaircut" is not only a specific "hair-do", but above all it is our special way of seeing, which sometimes requires respectfully stooping down to examine every single "hair", whatever seems marginal and petty, and which at first glance is not always visible, even though - as with hair - we live with it every day. Thus "Raster Haircut" is simply a hair stylist's mirror, in which, as on the palm of the hand, one sees an unfolding process: sense slowly emerging from chaos, the promise of a new order.

Posted by Dennis at 2:15 PM | Comments (0)

December 13, 2007

Barcelona Bound

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This painting ("Kikuchiyo" ww#283) is bound for Barcelona to be bundled into a show at Miguel Marcos Gallery, together with other paintings that I had painted this summer.

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Posted by Dennis at 12:36 PM | Comments (0)

Kikuchiyo

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"Kikuchiyo"
ww# 283
2007
44" x 96", 112x224 cm

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Posted by Dennis at 12:26 PM | Comments (0)

December 10, 2007

ArtBasel Interlude: Silvana Mangano

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As I gather my scattered wits to assemble the final blogpost on ArtBasel Miami 2007, here is a little Silvana Mangano along the way...

Posted by Dennis at 7:49 AM | Comments (0)

December 7, 2007

ArtBasel Thursday, Friday and Saturday

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First up: how was the fair?

It was like last years fair, but a little bit better.

And bigger.

What are the top five most memorable art works that you saw there?

I didn't see the artwork in any comprehensive way. That was impossible for all the people, the ones you don't know (the thick crowds) and the ones you did (great reunions with rapid cheek kissing, brazos all round and shoulder clapping).

Each fair was substantial enough to require at least a minimum of a day to see the work, and there were something like 23 or 24 fairs in Miami that week. Many times, I would be diving in and out with a specific mission (trying to make time to see other fairs) to be pulled back in several times with a pleasantly surprising rendezvous, usually leading to introductions to cool new people.

I love to kiss cheeks. It's such a lovely moment.

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Glimpses.

That's how I saw the artwork in the fair, in glimpses. I saw a lot of details. I looked for anything that made me want to get back in the studio. I love that feeling. I was mercenary. I looked for artwork that would buzz saw me with both the desire to devour it and the need to get my hands on some art material asap.

Otherwise, I saw a lot of cleverness, and much insight. Lots of universes. I like to say that there are many art worlds... (That should be an aphorism! And so it now is.) If to be an artist is to recognize one's affinities and make them vivid, then there was a measure of vividness in the fair, or at least what I saw last week. However, most of it was of a personal nature, there was little of anything that addressed the public at large either by critique or proclamation or prescriptively. For example there was an installation by Buchel, but the ambitious ?Training Ground for Training Ground for Democracy? seemed absurdly small tucked away in the back of Hauser and Wirth's booth.

Art, its presentation, the business that transacts, this is one aspect... the other aspect were the parties. There were so many parties that it was impossible to visit them all, even to know how many there were at any one time. And the formal programmed party arrangements played a minor role, the most fun I had was bumping into old and new pals and goofing along the way. It was the endless hook ups with friends where fragments of information flowed, a treasure of intoxicating social nectar, threads to weave a picture of the art world at large.

I should pause and salute my compadres who were manning the gallery booths in the fairs. They were not able to cruise as freely as I, having to stay on station for long hours each day not only during the fair, but also before and after it for set up and strike down. Every night, they had to mind their time, else a rip tide of festivities would steal their sleep, blunting the jet pilot-like mercantile skills needed to run a successful venture there. Even when they were able to tag team to get out to see the art at large, the combination of long hours of logistical coordination, negotiations with clients, networking and finally the sheer density of artwork to view... all this would result in a kind of stunned shell shock look to their faces. The only saving grace is that their stress seemed to be at least one step back from the debilitating type that would turn the experience towards tragedy. Finally, the fair was successful enough to make it all worthwhile.

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HOT TIP: (to be read as a hoarse & low whisper) Rent a scooter!!! Forget about the danger in the street, it's not so bad! And they have no helmet laws in Florida! How wonderful! After you get a hang for it, you are supremely safe out on the road. On a scooter, you are much more aware of your surroundings that the folks in the cars around you... and for that you have to lean into the traffic and take charge a bit. But that's fun! Go slow and be prudent and all will be well. And then once in a while when the coast is clear, you can throttle fast and lusty, but just for a moment or two.

C'mon, you've got to live a little.

On a scooter, you are so free. You can see more of the fair and the city too. And urbanistically, Miami is very comprehensible with the beach on one side and the urban core across the bay, the port to the south. Distances are far enough to discourage walking (I felt as if I walked more there than I did in NYC with much less to see along the way compared to Manhattan), and far enough to make the taxi fares irritating. The weather was so warm in this December that even at midnight, a t-shirt and sandals are sufficient as you split lanes in a traffic jam on Collins Avenue. And without a scooter, you are either walking way too much or paying too much for taxis the whole week.

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Glamour.

Miami is all about the vavoom. Sexy, sexy. Well or badly done, the folks that usually spill out onto Collins Avenue are usually trying to dress to the nines. Hot sexy women are regularly stepping across your path (sorry, I didn't notice the men in this regard... my sensory and limbic systems were distracted or overloaded). Most certainly this is because Miami is uniquely Latinized with the upper crust of the Caribbean, Central and South America.

I think of Miami as the most European or international of American (USA) cities. I heard Italian, French and German regularly. Spanish and English mix everywhere in the city. Occasionally, I would encounter Latinos who would not speak English either because of inability or stubborn preference. It was normal to hear both and among the locals, English and Spanish would swap back and forth freely. And I love Cuban Spanish, so clear and well formed it is.

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Bidness, so much bidness.

The sheer scale of money is mind bending. Private jets are all the mode among the elite collecting class, better to ferry cargo in and out without question. Single hand held objects are selling for prices that are in increments of the value of my house. And in more than a few galleries, art objects are blowing out, most everything is selling. There were no dealers singing sad songs last week. (That's all I can write about this topic at the moment. Most that can be said over a beer shouldn't be written in a blog. If you have any questions, you will just have to go to an art fair and see for yourself. Or maybe you could buy me a beer. Maybe.)

It seems the expected subprime meltdown hasn't yet dampened what many in our art world call a massive bubble of speculation in art-as-investment. Sitting on the train returning from Micha?l Amy's Quirky show in Westport Connecticut last month, I had the pleasure of chatting with a NY dealer who in passing mentioned something I have been hearing from several others in the art world (most or all are art dealers ...not any of my own by the way). It was memorable because she expressed it with such an exasperated force: they want the speculative bubble to pop, that the art world needs a correction and soon. Today.

I came across sage words from our financial wizard:

After more than a half-century observing numerous price bubbles evolve and deflate, I have reluctantly concluded that bubbles cannot be safely defused by monetary policy or other policy initiatives before the speculative fever breaks on its own. There was clearly little the world's central banks could do to temper this most recent surge in human euphoria, in some ways reminiscent of the Dutch Tulip craze of the 17th century and South Sea Bubble of the 18th century.
(jump to the last paragraph)
The current credit crisis will come to an end when the overhang of inventories of newly built homes is largely liquidated, and home price deflation comes to an end. That will stabilize the now-uncertain value of the home equity that acts as a buffer for all home mortgages, but most importantly for those held as collateral for residential mortgage-backed securities. Very large losses will, no doubt, be taken as a consequence of the crisis. But after a period of protracted adjustment, the U.S. economy, and the world economy more generally, will be able to get back to business.

-Alan Greenspan on The Roots of the Mortgage Crisis

Real estate bubbles don't pop (or so it seems), they deflate for a time and then they reinflate again. And it seems that for this time, the art market will go the same way, if it deflates at all. At this fair, there was positive momentum for sure, the bubble was as turgid as a Jeff Koons shiny bunny. It is interesting that after our last bubble burst in the end of the 80's (many galleries evaporated and art got real again --or so everyone says) investments went into real estate then to stocks (again) and after a time to more real estate and then to art.

It appears that private wealth found some kind of grounding in the combination of real estate and stocks and from this, the current enthusiasm in art collecting. It also seems that art collecting has become popular because it is the second or third career for the retired CEO type. It also serves as a marriage bonding activity for couples in their mid to late careers, art collecting seems to serve either a maritally reparative function or a way to intensify the relationship. Think about it: a couple who has the assets and the time can immerse themselves into art history, participate in the dialog and the social circles that compete for honors in the museum/gallery world, travel and sightsee, meet interesting new people, and the Vegas style bonus: invest $$ along the way that sometimes just might outperform the original investments that gave them the position to play in the art world in the first place, all of this happening in field of endeavor that is as yet unstructured by laws or regulation, a vast Wild West of boomtowns and highway robbers and gold in them thar hills, a primordial marketplace grounded in the hands of earnest artists and flying aloft in altitudes of profits that makes double compound interest look like sardines.

The art world has changed from a previous epoch where the chain of gallery exhibitions/critical reviews/curatorial play/museum collection has been disrupted. Most transactions have been collated more into the art fairs and less in the opening show of the gallery. The high wire vertigo of owning a gallery comes now from having to mount expensive trips to a fairs (shipping, hotels, food, parties, fees) in the hopes of making enough of a profit to do it again in the next financial quarter or so. Some do better than others, most do better and better every year.

And what of the rich and poor? The poor have become richer in that they are better off more now than at any time in human history... and the bite seems to be that the rich not only seem to get richer... but sometimes insanely, ridiculously richer. It's a red cape flashed before envy and common sense. Say what you want about the disgust of it all, but this is in the same matrix that has brought India and China out of poverty, where the central problem for old age is how to extend it, where obesity has replaced starvation and all of this is a product of the growing global marketplace.

Lucre, filthy lucre.

Meanwhile in grad schools across the country, there is no word of any of this. In what amounts to an intellectual boot camp, conceptual theory has nothing to say about the context of the marketplace, its history, the philosophy that undergirds it, the subtlety of negotiation and of property rights both physical and virtual. There was some chatter of the upcoming Whitney Biennial, of how it is a survey of conceptual art, and how it seems to be a separable world from the galavanting global merchant caravan. And don't get me wrong, boot camp was a good and memorable experience for me both in my Navy days or in grad school: the in-your-face existential challenges, the rites of extreme exertion, the regime of close attention (either by cleaning your barracks toilet or close reading text selected by others) and the feeling of initiation into an elite group (however questionable or noble).

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Everyone in our multiple art world is vying for position as the center of the argument, the top of the list, the one art world that is most relevant to the turn of history. That's fair and human, as is the case that it is both granted and denied for all of us simultaneously and in turn. It bugs me that there has to be such separable worlds, this apparent division between academic conceptual theory and the marketplace. Both have to move towards the other: the art fairs providing a better forum for the dialogue and academia opening up the canon to consider Hayek as well as Marx, for example.

It is strange to consider that while most art schools are preoccupied with providing some kind of metric of career placement (successful graduates becoming artists, dealers and otherwise variously employed in institutions) as proof of validation, they do little or nothing to prepare students for the marketplace past hoary cliches such as broadcasting slide sheets (now antique), wrangling the jargon of artist's statements and press releases or teaching the unteachable such as how to network. Students paddle out into the marketplace like baby turtles who just figured out how to wriggle out of a pile of eggs on the beach.

It would be interesting for example to take a semester of grad students to anthropologically analyse the art fair: as a business, who the principal actors are, their histories, what kind of art is shown and why, the nature of the marketplace, how value dynamically manifests through multiple self interested transactions, the dimension of information and hype, the emotional aspect of the marketplace, stuff like that. And then, at the end of a fall semester, the class would fly to Miami (and all would be on scooters, naturally) and unleash a tsunami of party field "research" that could be documented and represented at the school that sent them when they get back.

Just a thought.

(But then again, all this street smart world weariness should be held in check. This type of knowledge won't help anyone make better artwork, in fact it might hurt. Remember: intrinsic value generates extrinsic value in art.)

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People were chattering about how Chris' show had sold so successfully early in the fair. He had reproduced the painting output of Basquiat for 1984. You can pop up a detail here. NY Mag has a spicy blog entry about it here.
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Chris has a piece of sculpture, chocolate house with some kind of interior video projected life within at KARMA International, the Z?rich based project-oriented gallery created by Marina Leuenberger (right, arm around friend John) and Karolina Dankow. Marina used to work for my gallery in Z?rich, Mark M?ller. We used to joke about how she was destined to open a gallery in Miami, and boom here we are a few years later with something of a close facsimile.

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After shooting four composite shots of Chris Lipomi, he showed up the very next day with a new haircut, thus this attempt at a glamour shot. I instructed him in the fine points of the Tony Cu?ha? head shot: head down in a three quarter turn and look at the lens under your eyebrows, thinking all the while like a perpetrator, like you're going to take my lunch money.

GREAT JOB, CHRIS!


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It was good to see so much of Thomas Zipp and Andr? B?tzer in the Gallerie Guido W. Baudach Rubell Family Collection.

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Walking through the main gallery into the courtyard, it at first looked as if Zipp had prepared breakfast for us. His slender Alice Aycock-like folly that had people climb a drum (people occluded the structure in this shot) Later I learned that is was Rubell's daughter who served up something that looked more like art and less like life. Eggs and mozzarella and ham.

I wouldn't touch it.

Hygiene is inversely proportional to scale.

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Rondo: Stations of ArtBasel 2007.

Taking a break at the central lounge at ArtBasel Miami Beach, I set up the camera on a plastic cocktail cup and rotated it round for a slice of the life in the fair.

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**Scooter Interlude**


Don't watch this, it's boring and the camera dangle will induce motion sickness.

(I just love scooters and I wanted to see how this looked.)

**End Scooter Interlude**

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Back to NADA: as you step in, there's a Statue of Jesus mounted in the rafters to bless the enterprise.


(I'm learning that the text font size that I have been using shrinks with the format... oh well.)

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Scootering over the Venetian Way Bridge was much fun. Once into the mainland above the downtown center the design district contains NADA, Pulse Scope and many other venues. Scope is set into the base of a Hatian neighborhood, or so my taxi driver told me. What seems to be a light industrial zone that is in transition into a community for the various arts, the Design District is where much of the available real estate is located. There were many for sale signs around.

For venues like Scope or Positions (by the beach), I think that it is important to redesign the festival structures every two years or so. Temporary low budget strategies don't age well.

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While I was hanging out with Jean Milant (Cirrus Gallery), a cute couple of girls walked by with bags of product, sporting t-shirts with "FUCK ART" printed on them in red. Eyes roll into the sockets, vintage 80's irony.

Shortly after that, a celebrity spotted: Todd Oldham. I quickly made my exit as he turned into Jean's booth.


All week I promised myself to find live Cuban music. I queried every Latin that crossed my path. Calle Ocho in Lil' Havana seemed to be the place to go. But time was running out and finally I got a fix on a club in Miami Beach: Mang? Tropical Cafe. The whole trip was an insistent overturning of my expectations. My anticipation was that the major issue would be the burgeoning scale. But even though everyone was fried from partying and goggle eyed from sensory overload, they were after all, happy about it. Satisfied. It seems as if everyone found what they wanted from that week. By the time Saturday night rolled by, my expectation of sipping a cocktail in a Desi Arnaz style club scene (like the Silvana Mangano video, forget it. What I found was closer to Disney and not in a good way. So I booted to plan B, the ARTFORUM party at the Wolfsonian Museum of Art Deco... something I had low expectations for. And I was definitely wrong. The party was fun and low key, dancing on a crowded floor to boot. And the Wolfsonian is something I will return to someday for a closer look. The wall plaques seem to promise an alternative narrative for the emergence of the modern, and that is something I find intriguing. Few really know how to define what it is to be modern.

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Posted by Dennis at 4:37 PM | Comments (0)

December 6, 2007

The Big Fair

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Posted by Dennis at 6:07 AM | Comments (0)

Ahora

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Got into Miami yesterday afternoon. I went into the big fair opening last night and the after dinner lasted past Iggy Pop's famed beach party, too bad we missed it. Lots of walking and the weather is so warm that by midnight I could still work up a sweat walking the mean streets of Miami Beach.

There are a lot of Europeans here. Vignette: as I waited for the elevator to my hotel room, two German young men walked up, both of their hands loaded with shopping bags (at least five bags per hand). With a slight embarassed astonishment, they said: "There are so many bargains here! The dollar is so low!"

Posted by Dennis at 6:03 AM | Comments (0)

December 5, 2007

Ahora

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I've been deadheading in the studio for the past week or so, the scrape off made things dramatic. Long hours here. I can taste the linseed oil, it feels like it's oozing out of my pores.

The wall: an early morning flight to Miami for the Basel Art Fair. I've got my cameras and sandals packed. I'm ready to kick back and talk art for a week with multiple universes of friends.

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

December 4, 2007

Detail

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Posted by Dennis at 4:21 PM | Comments (0)

Studio Visit: Jacques de Beaufort

Posted by Dennis at 9:09 AM | Comments (0)

December 2, 2007

Scrape Off

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Once again the studio is on a razor's edge.

Posted by Dennis at 8:47 AM | Comments (0)

December 1, 2007

Mario Correa at Redling

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There's a ton of stuff going on tonight in LA, but one of the highlights for me will be Mario's show at the new Redling Gallery in ChinaTown tonight.

Posted by Dennis at 1:44 PM | Comments (0)