February 28, 2009

Home to Roost

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A few more notes on a downturn:

1. We must survive. Even when times were fat, some artists saw fit to take a hiatus, to find security elsewhere, to check out for a while. Now that we have our free fall into the downturn (Recession? Depression?), now I am hearing here and there that some artists are talking about taking a break. This is deadly. Never stop. Even if the thought wafts through the mind, never let anyone know it was there. After all, how can anyone else believe in your dream if you do not at first and for always? Like I've said before: never let them know that you're hungry. Especially when you are. Real artists don't stop, even during depressions or world wars.

2. Contractions and expansions belong together. Rhythm is natural. Singular modalities are dangerous illusions.

3. Certainly, many good things can now bloom now that the noise of the profit motive has subsided. This is good, of course... but not completely so. What does it say for art that the font of creativity is so easily occluded by avarice and speculation? Does art depend on a downturn to renew itself? Is our critical capacity so fragile that a few fat years can decimate it so? Conventional wisdom held that the recent market fever silenced the dialogue, that art became a profit-motive-singularity, that we needed a downturn to proliferate types. Maybe so If my idea about Darwin is true: the idea that the survival of the fittest in lean times narrows the selection of types... this is only half of the story... the other (shadow?) half is a proliferation of types in fat times... is this also true for our art world? At first, it doesn't seem so. Is there something about narrowing the bandwidth of art-making that is naturally superior to the ooze of types in the fat years? I hope not.

Posted by Dennis at 9:16 AM | Comments (0)

February 27, 2009

Mark von Schlegell

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Old friend Mark von Schlegell is in town from Cologne for the month of March, promoting his new sci-fi book. The first event will be tomorrow at Skylight Books in SilverLake:

Time: Saturday, February 28, 2009 3:00 p.m.
Location: Skylight Books
Title of Event: AIMEE BENDER, DAVID SANDNER, MARK VON SCHLEGELL, Moderator CLAIRE PHILLIPS

This short symposium on the science fiction genre will feature a discussion by three writers who will briefly share their own work, followed by a discussion of today?s avant-garde in respect to the genre?s New Wave past. (co-sponsored by UC Irvine and Cal Arts)

Bender is the author of The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, which was a NY Times Notable Book, An Invisible Sign of My Own, which was an L.A. Times pick of the year, and Willful Creatures, which was nominated by The Believer as one of the best books of the year. Her short fiction has been published in Granta, GQ, Harper's, Tin House, McSweeney's, The Paris Review, and many more, as well as heard on PRI's This American Life and Selected Shorts. She's received two Pushcart prizes, and was nominated for the TipTree award in 2005.

Sandner (with the unusual spelling!), is a Professor at Cal State Fullerton who has published in Weird Tales, Asmiov?s and elsewhere. He is the co-editor of The Treasury of the Fantastic and editor of The Fantastic Sublime, A Critical Reader.

Mark von Schlegell first perceived a peculiar fusion of paranormal populism and philosophical enquiry in the writings of Melville and Poe while writing his doctoral thesis on 19th century American literature. These studies led him to unify his own writing in the direction of the pulp science fiction he'd quietly consumed all his life. Since then, his sci-fi stories and essays have appeared internationally in magazines, artist ../books/bookCovers, catalogs and anthologies throughout the world. Venusia (semiotext(e)), is his first novel.

Here is his itinerary: (click for more links, interviews and stuff...)

MVS IN CALIFORNIA AND PACIFIC NORTHWEST FOR MERCURY STATION BOOKSTORE AND LECTURE TOUR:

FEB. 28 SKYLIGHT BOOKS, LOS FELIZ.
MARCH 6 MACHINE PROJECT, ECHO PARK.
MARCH 8 MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART, LOS ANGELES. LECTURE ON DAN GRAHAM.
MARCH 21 BORDERLANDS, SAN FRANCISCO.

Mark also tipped me off on Pettibone and Mike Watt's appearance tonight at SpaceLand, should be good. FYI...

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February 25, 2009

Ahora

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February 23, 2009

Root Chakra

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Andrew Hahn had a brilliant suggestion: to listen to Thomas Brinkmann's B-Day while viewing this gif. Give it a shot, the figure starts becomes animated as if it were dancing to the music, very nice. Try opening up another window or tab in your browser, play the B-Day video (that I could only find in Youtube, no joy for me from the torrents or iTunes) and click back to the gif for 6 minutes and 22 seconds of whirling (dervish?) pleasure. I was trying to mash a movie together... but trying to replicate all of the glitches in the gif would be a fool's errand. I tried shooting a video screenshot but the image was too fuzzy in comparison to the sharpness of the gif. By the time I considered recording the audio into iMovie from the YouTube link, the whole rabbit chase started to seem ludicrous, a natural cue to drop the whole idea and move on.

Just... move on, yo.

Postscript: ...and what's the root chakra all about? Years ago, when asked about the role architecture in my creative life (since I have borne down so single mindedly into painting), I used to respond with: "I've tucked architecture into my lower chakra.". And despite this flip answer I would savor the idea of my architectural capacity in a purgatorial reserve, architecture as a suppository, simmering in a Muladhara reserve, immersed and pressurized like Monkey and the Crucible of the Eight Trigrams:

?Take him at once to the execution block,? said the Jade Emperor. ?Cut him into a thousand pieces!?
?Your Majesty,? said Lord Lao Tzu, ?I?m afraid such a punishment is no longer possible. After eating so many of my Pills of Immortality, his body must be as hard as a diamond. No weapon could pierce or even scratch it.?
?Then what are we to do with him?? asked the Jade Emperor in dismay.
?Perhaps I can be of service,? said Lao Tzu. ?Hand him over to me, and I?ll heat him in my Crucible of the Eight Trigrams. In just an hour his body will be consumed to ash?and at the same time, I can recover my elixir.?
?I accept your kind and considerate offer,? said the Jade Emperor. ?We will return to the palace to await word of your success.?

The Buddha?s Bet

In the alchemy laboratory of the Cinnabar Palace, Lord Lao Tzu, Supreme Patriarch of the Way, dumped Monkey into the Crucible of the Eight Trigrams, clamped down the lid, and lifted the crucible onto the hearth.
?Stoke up the fire as high as you can,? he told his assistant. ?We?ll need the greatest heat possible to refine this villain.?

Posted by Dennis at 6:57 PM | Comments (0)

February 20, 2009

Root Chakra: Evan 1

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February 15, 2009

Music School

(initial conditions, so funky)

When it comes to music, I've always been funky, I'm a soul and rhythm guy. My brother, for a counter example, went into rock... I went the other way. My first album purchase was Santana's Abraxas. By the end of high school, I was early on Earth, Wind & Fire, guided by pure intuition to buy an 8 track of Head to the Sky. That's right: big fat 8 track tapes with a mini machine player that I fitted into the glove box of my baby blue sunroof second/third hand Volkswagon Beetle whose floor board was just flimsy enough to to approximate a crude base drum on the drive. That's just how far back we're going here.


In my Navy days, I watched the mothership descend one night in my old home port of San Diego. Bootsy Collins. P-Funk. Boot camp buddies introduced me to the Ohio Players, "Skin Tight" and all that. Yes. Herbie Hancock's Watermeon Man. Night watches on the ship's bridge at port was easier when I could play some Chaka Kahn. Ain't Nobody Better. George Benson's Masquerade never sounded better than when I was walking off the gangway at Subic after sundown on the way to Olongapo.

Later, in undergrad school, I was climbing the big mountain. A hand made career guidance system, I designed a grandiose educational pyramid with architecture as a substitute for the art undergrad experience. As with my life growing up in in constant movement in a military family, I was out of it socially. Music scenes are social scenes, and socially I was maladroit. I've heard that Punk was a society of misfits... but it was still a meta-society afterall. You had to be threaded into a scene, you had to grow up with the same guys you knew when you were thirteen. Or something like that. I was always out of it. Somewhere else. Punk was already underway and in another place by the time I got out of the Navy. London was a world away from San Luis Obispo where I went to college. But even in that middle-Californian paradise, I remember a faint imprint of Iggy Pop, The Police, MTV's birth and . My friends Jim Brown and Jim Gates were in a band called "The Spurts" and all that. That's how it was, a late bloomer and all that.

Story of my life.

But here's the point of this blog post: Many... (or all of?)... my friends in the art world are avid students of music... true connoisseurs, and not just of any kind of music (as I think of myself, "encyclopedic" is the term I prefer), but of Punk, Indie Music, and variants thereof. Most good people in my art world are fans of this type.

One can't help but notice that there is a value system that these guys are tapping into. A creed. Thoughts like this are commonly expressed: "Yea, man, that's PUNK!" Heads, nodding. "Naw, that's Hippy. That sucks." For most of my life punk was just a word... even though I lived through the years. But now I think that I finally can see some kind of core beneath the shallow period cosmetics of torn t-shirts, mohawks and combat boots.

"Yea, man, that's PUNK!" Big smiles. "Naw, that's Hippy. That sucks." Just what was that creed? Here in our art world, punk informs art as a set of beliefs, a set unexpressed principles, profane articles of faith, an anarchic ideology, a credo to the bone, a vague doctrine, a sub rosa teaching, a halo of dogma, loosely held tenets, passionate canons. Here's an early rough draft of my take on PUNK/hippy: Punk is real. Hippy is surface and pretension, mere lifestyle. Ok. Alright. And yet the question deserves a deeper probe. What does punk really mean? I've come to the place where I want to learn, to turn over the rocks I skipped over so long ago. Remedial lessons. I asked some dumb questions. For this music geek, freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose. I started asking my pals what punk was all about. I want to know more.

My buddies perked up. They started to feed me this stuff.

And I'm loving it.

I think it has something to do with breaking the egg.

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(Jason and Andrew)


I don't know if you've noticed yet, but I can project the web on my studio wall. A handy wireless keyboard and mouse, a name would drop in conversation and we could throw sound and image on the wall. It's great for making vivid the references in our conversations amid cigarettes and beer and stuff. Jason and Andrew went on a spree and I took notes, student that I am:

Minor Threat - Small Man Big Mouth

Minor Threat - "I Don't Wanna Hear It"

Minor Threat-Filler

Bad Brains - Pay To Cum (Live CBGB 1982)

Bad Brains - Daytripper (Beatles song)

They were also dropping Mark Gonzales along the way...

(Bart)

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(Sean)

So, one day, Sean dropped into my studio with a hard drive loaded with 4 megabytes of movies and music:

BLACK FLAG

FUGAZI

H?sker D?

The Germs

The Circle Jerks

But what has impressed me the most so far was the...
Minutemen. It's because of the video documentary WE JAM ECONO that Sean included in his generous offering:


Fantastic.

No. That word is insufficient. The Minutemen are THE SHIT. And what's more: I think there is a significant amount of FUNK in that PUNK stuff of theirs. Check it out: I started to take notes from the video (geek alert: time markers included):

(11:30) A great definition of punk rock: "...immediacy, intensity, honesty expression exploring things that interested them and exploring them really hard..."

A timeline overlay: in 1976: Minutemen graduated high school.. while I had already finished a WestPac cruise as a fleet sailor. Bee Gees and Clapton, that's how impoverished my milieu was. Nothing was hand made, everything was Pop off the commercial shelf.

Mike Wattt: "Those good old days... were really lame..." (limitations of instrument access) "...then.. you were more kept in your place. Nowadays you are kept in your place by your mind, the herd mentality than having the material wherewithall to do things"

(16:30) funk rhythmns hidden inside punk (check it out)

(19:00) "...the point was to get away with whatever you can, you don't have to be part of any manchine, except maybe your own..."

February 1979: Teen Post & the Reactionaries with Black Flag. (I had just got out of the Navy....)

(25:55) "...the songs were appealing because even though they were "political", they weren't didactic, they dealt with politics in a really impressionistic way..."

(28:00) "...the music blew our minds... it was not like any music we ever really listened to.... we couldn't understand how they would have played it... we couldn't get any idea of who they were... we couldn't picture them (the record was just a drawing)... the lyrics were so provocative... reallly like head scratching.. . it was something one could spend some time with..."

He must have seen the tightrope walker image I had posted a while back, of Philip Petit, this was in his hard drive too:

***

But here's the harder question: punk was then, a time frame of history... what is it that survived in the minds of my pals? Iggy Pop does lame commercials now. Henry Rollins too, we see him doing bit parts in shitty movies. "I hope I die before I get old" And then more than a few got old. Now what? The slip of artifice is starting to show. Look back at Mike Watt's good old days/nowadays quote. There's something going on there. A soul has left the body, it's Casper time and the revolutionary spirit survived decrepitude somehow. How?

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Posted by Dennis at 8:15 PM | Comments (0)

Ana Serratosa

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Ana Serratosa hosts what is essentially an in depth salon in her home town of Valencia, Spain. Not only installing artwork in a private space that seems to be a combination of gallery and library, she regulary invites an audience for an extended conversation centered generously on artist's work. We are talking about the art community in Valencia, a city that balances their historic architectural/urbanistic legacy with the likes of Santiago Calatrava, I am profoundly honored to be included in her circle.

Click on to see inside her new brochure documenting my summer's work:

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Posted by Dennis at 5:05 PM | Comments (0)

Linky: ChinaSmack

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fyi: here's an amusing post from chinaSMACK, CCTV Fire: Funny Photoshops By Chinese Netizens, poco de arquitectura, poco de los chinos. chinaSMACK is a site that renders an interesting view inside China... (not always SFW, by the way). It must be said though that this is a tough subject to take lightly: although the number of casualties are low, the event involves a colossal mistake, a brand new Koolhouse design, some degree of government culpability....

As my engineering teacher back in architecture school used to say: "Sleep in your tennis shoes!". Gallows humor.

Posted by Dennis at 3:27 PM | Comments (0)

Henry Taylor at Rental

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Henry Taylor’s work is happening. It is happening on boxes and cigarette packs, beer cases and canvases, too, and if you are reading this in Los Angeles in April, it’s probably happening there now. Conceived in three-parts, this exhibition presents the full compass of Taylor’s practice: in New York, his paintings; in Paris, recent sculptures and painted works on boxes; and in LA, his studio itself, transposed in its brimming, full-functioning entirety to the Melser&Hug gallery space.

If such notions of entirety or, for that matter, full-functioning ateliers seem antiquated, it is perhaps because Taylor has hewn to a practice long considered retrograde, portraiture. Taylor’s subjects are his friends and visitors, kids from the block and guys in the alley as documented by the neighborhood fl?neur, and they are always colored, whether in black-and-white schematics that recall Kerry James Marshall or William Copley, or in Modilgiani-esque brushwork that implies the protean assignations of race. His paintings have a spontaneous, documentary ?lan that might suggest the charm of an outsider artist—and indeed Taylor was late to go to art school and quick to leave it—, were they not so involved with an insider discourse. When his paintings quote Manet or replicate Picasso’s Demoiselles, they do so only to reject aristocratic remove for wry reflexivity (the black face beside an odalisque is just as likely Taylor’s).

In an outpouring of painterly productivity, these gestures find their way to whatever surface is at hand. But boxes and cartons that fall under Taylor’s brush don’t end up baptized by it; they remain comically embedded in a world of consumer comestibles and disposable packaging. A detergent box appropriates the Tide logo to emblazon Henry as the new household name; a box of grits is whited out to read just “ITS,” followed in crude pen by “grits.” Whether on a canvas or in his studio, aesthetic space for Taylor is not an alchemist’s lair or a factory. It is another place where life goes on in all its vibrant havoc, and Taylor will bring its happenings into the white cube, even it means moving in himself.

- Joanna Fiduccia


Henry Taylor has exhibited in solo shows at The Santa Monica Museum of Modern Art, The Studio Museum in Harlem, Cardenas Bellanger, Sister Gallery and Daniel Reich Gallery. Additionally, Taylor has been featured in group exhibitions including the Rubell Family Collection, Peres Projects, Berlin, Jack Hanley Gallery, Los Angeles, Milliken Gallery, Sweden, MOCA North Miami, Samson Projects, Boston, and Ben Kaufman Gallery, Berlin. He will also be included in a forthcoming exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in London. Henry Taylor received his BFA from CalArts, and lives and works in Los Angeles.

Henry Taylor @ RENTAL coincides with upcoming exhibitions of Henry Taylor’s work at Cardenas Bellanger in Paris from March 14 to April 11, 2009, and at Mesler&Hug in Los Angeles from April 4 to May 9th, 2009.


RENTAL Feb. 21 – Mar. 22, 2009

Cardenas Bellanger Mar. 14 – Apr. 11, 2009

Mesler&Hug Apr. 4 – May 9, 2009


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Revolver

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Miguel Marcos ARCO 2009

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Bill Thompson

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I had the pleasure of meeting Boston based painter Bill Thompson and his wife Natalie (an accomplished graphic designer) this week in Madrid, great people. He's a particularly focused person, the type who is self controlled enough to drop the reins from time to time. Impressive. This is what I have seen in our first encounter in Madrid.

He has been spending the past several summers in Cadaqu?s, Dali country... a connection that I am curious about in regards to Bill's work. Something to explore in future conversations, I hope. No doubt this proximity was a factor in his new alliance with Miguel Marcos.

A self described minimalist, he has been winding his practice in the Mondriaan way, dialing down painting until he found himself getting all Ryman-like when his figurative impulse went into the support. I like the way he has found trouble beneath the surface and I am eager to watch his progress in the studio.

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Codolar Minute


One minute of Tossa de Mar's Codolar Cove in February.

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Cal?ots


My friend Kiko treats us to a feast of cal?ots at his house in Tossa de Mar.

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A Drive to ROARK


Henry Taylor and I take a drive to our local art store in downtown LA, ROARK.

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February 6, 2009

2002

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A group of works on paper came back to the studio after being painted and shown in 2002. It's nice to have them back in the studio, an echo of a month in the Bamboo Lane studio back in the day.

Here they are after the fold, click on the images for a closer look:
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CONUS, 2002

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Kaboom, 2002

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XYZ, 2002

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Fencer, 2002

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Skin Diver, 2002

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Va-Voom, 2002

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Quiver, 2002

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Billy Bob

Posted by Dennis at 5:54 PM | Comments (0)

ARCO 2009

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Here we go, yo.

I'm off for Spain, Barcelona to see friends and check out the house in Tossa, then Madrid for ARCO.

Hang in there, more blogging to come.

Posted by Dennis at 5:25 PM | Comments (0)

February 2, 2009

After Deleuze

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