January 29, 2010

Guide Los Angeles

A couple of weeks ago, Adam Janes and I recorded a visit in his studio with four cameras rolling. The results were a mixed bag, and we handed this bag off to Fil R?ting, proprietor of Guide Los Angeles.
What is GUIDE?
An online community of Artists particularly from Los Angeles. Guide offers a unique look at artists working in the region focussing on new media art, conversations, lectures and general discourse of the Los Angeles Art community.

He pulled it all together into a great presentation, now available here. Check it out!

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January 27, 2010



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Kindness Shattered

My two little paintings have finally arrived in Berlin, and much to my initial shock and dismay, they were in a much altered condition. Over the years, I have been sending works on paper to my galleries abroad via the US Postal Service, in cardboard box constructions held together with hot glue... all successfully, rarely with damage. This time, the relatively light weight of the small paintings (the supports constructed from heavy paper, wrapped in gessoed canvas) did little to allow the single heavy hot glue spot at the center of each from shearing off and leading to internal collisions to alter them. I was informed that Customs had opened the box, and perhaps the inspectors had been compelled to pull one painting off the mount to see what was underneath it. Whatever the case, my confidence in our postal system is shattered somewhat.


After reviewing the jpegs sent by my gallery, I have decided that the changes to this one aren't all that bad. I like it enough to be inspired to entertain its emulation it in my next painting. As such, I allowed it to be exhibited in the upcoming "Palm Paintings" show at my gallery in Berlin, Andr? Buchmann. As I wrote to my gallery this morning: "... I actually like what happened to the 'Kindness' painting. Such a random insult from the shippers adds a layer of irony to the piece. I hold the memory of Duchamp's large glass* to fortify this decision."

In February, I will be traveling in the EU to visit ARCO Madrid and my other galleries too. I will be bringing two other palm paintings from Tossa (that I had been working on over last summer) to Berlin to add to my offerings for this show.

What a strange feeling, such a mix of disappointment and an odd surprise that is pleasant after all.

*Link (scroll to 1926).

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January 26, 2010


PTG-012610 640x819.gif


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January 21, 2010




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January 17, 2010

Hollywood and the Holocaust: Critical Theory, the Box(ed) Set

One of my favorite studio audio inputs is the BBC Radio 4 program In Our Time with Melvin Bragg. The French Revolution, Camus, The Social Contract, Kierkengaard, Materialism, Newton's Laws of Motion, Godel's Incompleteness Theorems, Simon Bolivar, Thoreau and the American Idyll, Swift's 'A Modest Proposal', The Waste Land and Modernity, The Measurement Problem in Physics, The Sunni-Shia Split, Leibniz vs Newton, Schopenhaur, Sparta, The Dreyfus Affair, The Samurai... this being a short list of my long list of favorites that I cannot bring myself to delete from my iTunes podcast folder.

This week features The Frankfurt School. Oh, so exciting! If you have attended art grad school, you have been introduced to Critical Theory, a longstanding staple of higher education, a state of the art... which seeks to question art and post WWII culture in general. It has grown long in tooth and many generations of artists have cut their teeth on this set of ideas. Critical Theory still is an animating spirit in our capital "D" dialog, and yet there is a sense in which this spirit is becoming a ghost and is evaporating into thin air (a plug for Marshall Berman and his wonderful book that introduced me to Faust when I was a pup).

I stumbled across an amazing set of links that encapsulates Critical Theory in a discrete set of links. This comes from a blog by an American expat living in Japan, Behold My Swarthy Face. Here is the description from their site:
Behold My Swarthy Face。』 is a collaborative web journal founded and edited by Beholdmyswarthyface (aka パパ). It focuses primarily?but not solely?on modern Japanese culture, history, and literature. Of miscegenated and common birth, Beholdmyswarthyface grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, and attended university in California. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Tokyo.

To give you a sample of the blog, here is a recent entry that I found delightful:

Until recently, I was never able to understand the Japanese obsession with makoto(authenticity, truth or genuineness) in the arts. You see, I come from a culture where the concept of sincerity is derided as artless and naive, while its opposites-- irony and artifice-- are regarded as requisites for high art.

However, recently I've come to realize that my prejudice toward makoto was the result of a failure to see how the binary relation between "art" and "life" functions differently in Japan. In Japan, life is what is artificial. It seems, no doubt, that there is at least some truth to the stereotype that Japanese social behavior is ritualistic, and that, in many cases, one's pre-written life-script is simply handed to him. One's social interactions, career choice, political affiliations, even personal relationships seem to involve very little of what we in the western liberal democracies like to call "choice." (Whether our "choices" are any "realer" or more available is, of course, debatable.)

At the risk of overgeneralization, there seems to be a common understanding among the Japanese that life itself is false, or at the very least, a performance; and thus it was perhaps inevitable that art would become a kind of refuge into life's opposite, makoto. This is the exact inversion of our (mis?)perception in the west that lived experience is what is natural and real, and art is what is, by definition, artificial.

Behold My Swarthy Face, aka Ryan, has ostensibly written a letter to his mother in a blogpost: (Or, Crash Course in Modern and Postmodern Literary Theory Using The Most Comprehensive Hyperlinked Glossary Ever Assembled). Here are the complete set of links, bookmark them -if you please- for your (re)reading pleasure:

Cluster 1 through 3.

Cluster 4 through 6.

Cluster 7 through 10.
(see comments for cluster 10)

If you are not a product of art school, imagine rolling into a grad program with only a smattering of philosophy and history courses under your belt and then being presented with a drip-drip-drip of the texts linked above... and then to realize that you would have had to have read a significant amount of background material to contextualize the stream of arguments presented to you... and then, if you had learned -as mentioned in the In Our Time podcast- that these thinkers were emulating art (a Nietzschean turn, apparently), and that their apparent prose was a kind of quasi-poetry... far, far too much for a two year studio program, don't you think? Pardon me please, if EST springs to mind. If your duck is force fed with a funnel, don't be surprised if p?t? de foie gras is on the menu.

You don't hear much about Critical Theory anymore, either in the street or at art openings nowadays. Traffic in these ideas is increasingly becoming restricted to small and smaller coteries, much to the increasingly visible distress of those who have been invested in seeing this becoming the operating system of culture, popular or otherwise. Personally, I think that the gauntlet of Critical Theory is indispensable for art school (see Critical Theory is like boot camp). I also think that it is not the sine qua non of philosophy, and that it has been positioned to be so is the idiot light on our intellectual dashboard that tells us that something is amiss. I believe that art students should be exposed to Critical Theory and a critique of Critical Theory should at least be tolerated, they should judge for themselves if this set of ideas are sufficient for our time and into our immediate future. The idea that Critical Theory should be canon in absolute terms is abhorrent and an insult of the best of the animating spirits of the philosophers who formed this body of thought in the first place.

To temper our presumptive canon, we just might have to dance with the devil ...or as it would appear to our high minded cohorts. I would suggest reading into the ideas that configure the free market such as Adam Smith or Hayek. For a contemporary pop cultural retort, Tom Wolfe's In the land of the rococo Marxists: Why no one is celebrating the second American century (originally published in Harpers), a link that I can find readily in my bookmarks at this moment. These few straws would be only a start, but it might be a good one.

Why not think in stereo?




(ps: You'll have to listen to Melvin Bragg's In Our Time/Frankfurt School to understand why I headed this post with Judy Garland.)

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January 14, 2010


Series of 30 15 second exposures tracking on 2010 AL30 between 07:18:16 and 07:27:29 GMT - Credit: Patrick Wiggins

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January 12, 2010



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January 11, 2010

Breaking News


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January 7, 2010


I'll title this Penny Aphorisms.


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A few details of the painting follow...

There's more life to that blue.

Here's one that has a better representation of color:


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January 6, 2010



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Noland's Gone.

I found this (news item/video link) via Sharon Butler's indispensable Two Coats of Paint.

(I like the awkward pauses. Though I doubt that there are many others without an MFA who would.)

Sands of time... we're all on the same roller coaster.

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Good morning everybody.


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January 4, 2010


These are two tiny paintings bound for my gallery in Berlin, Andr? Buchmann at Charlettonstrasse (13) near checkpoint Charlie. The show, entitled "Palm Paintings" will Open January 29th.

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January 2, 2010

Group Show

I am happy to be included in a group show at my gallery in Haarlem, Netherlands; Tanya Rumpff.

A new year reception Sunday 3rd of January from 4 to 6 pm.

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Been Like That

It's been like that.

Scrape offs.

For the month of December... or most of it anyways.

Click on for a brief tale of woe:

"You're only as happy as your last painting", so I like to say. This kind of happiness only lasts a week, less than two. Then the dissatisfaction creeps back in, especially if too much time elapses as you take care of all of the responsibilities in life that you had neglected during the studio hibernation necessary to complete the painting (I paint alla prima, an old program I undertook to put the tension into the work, wanting to outwit the slack I saw/see in other artists' projects, the problem of accretive sloppiness and meandering strategies in contemporary work). It doesn't take long to lose that creative wave after even the slightest hiatus from the studio, making a restart seem monumentally daunting.

I type all of this here to exorcise the demons, against my usual wariness of revealing weakness, the problem of the confessional blogpost. (Is this why most artists don't blog? Great artists are supposed to be Olympian, and the gods are not weak by definition. Is a blog like Toto, pulling back the curtain?) Don't let them know you're hungry, another chestnut of mine, directed toward artists in relation to their galleries (they've got enough problems of their own, all they want and need to know is something wonderful and new). Once long ago, after posting a blog entry that reported the nausea I felt after repeated scrape offs. I made a private vow to spare you, my dear reader, of such confessionals... so here I type these words a bit carelessly albeit with some restraint. But this blog is supposed to be chronicle of my curiosity, and in squelching myself recently, I also silence the many tracks along the way that I've been relying on to serve up a compost of ideas to trowel back into the garden of my paintings. This blog is a kind of virtual studio visit, and if you had stopped by my studio in the past month, I wouldn't have had much to share except this sad sack of an artist wrestling with doubts, wondering: who am I, where have I been, where am I going? How can I simultaneously open up my project and chart a path that curtails the problem of feckless meandering, all the while cashing in on the virtues of surprise and revelation?

I've preferred to paint in a way that sets up a pattern that seeks it's own destruction, that oblique turn that throws one into new territory, gambling for kismet, throwing down all your cash for the lucky seven or eleven. When it doesn't happen, I pull out the knives and take it all off. It's all or nothing -or failing that, even a little something. I'll take what I can get. With these multiple scrape offs, I've been looking as I feel I always have, for that surprise, that happy bolt from the blue, those unexpected turns that throws one off the habitual game and into new territory, all the while hoping to skirt the danger of careening into the gutter of fecklessness. It's a bit like falling in love, like a traffic accident, something that one cannot force by direct intention. Intentionally unintentional. So here we have it, someone who wants to be lovestruck but nevertheless compelled to drive dangerously.

Click on dear reader, pay no attention to these bleats of frustration. I've been here before. This too shall pass as it always has for me in the past. Just around the corner, I'll open a door and find myself again in that blessed wonderland of artistic happiness...

...even if that spell lasts only for a week or two.

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Good morning everybody, welcome to the new year.

Twenty ten. It has a good ring to it.

It's time to crank up this blog a bit.

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