October 31, 2012

Where was I?

Where was I?

Right about here in the beginning of last summer. The frequent question I've been getting here in NYC: Will your painting change? There's no way to answer the question other than to live and work it out. Life in painting will get a jump start in a beat or two...

(As yet untitled) WOP (work on paper) 13-12


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October 30, 2012

how slender is the margin

Source, Via
Stephanie and I are safe and sound where we are, high and dry. A brief walk around the block this morning revealed broken tree branches, lots of leaves blown off the treees and some debris scattered in the streets. Sirens have sounded all night into the morning. Listening to the radio, reports have more than 450,000 people without power. There's a huge fire at Breezy Point across from Manhattan Beach and Coney Island. As soon as the sun rises, it will be time to call friends in Lower Manhattan to see if they are alright. The morning news damage assessments will tell us what the near future will be like. There is some speculation that the subway will be out for the rest of the week, a lot of people will not be working in the next few days. No doubt, our economy has had a punch to the solar plexus.

We are waking up to a city and a region with a little bit of complacency rubbed off. Richard Fernandez suggests that this might not be a bad thing, overall:

Storms are a good time to remember how slender is the margin on which civilization is built. Today?s miraculous cities are a going concern. Once they stop working they die. Millions of people are literally totally dependent on the grid and can survive outside it only for brief periods. Most households could not subsist for more than a month without steady deliveries of food, the refrigeration to preserve it and the continuous supply of potable water.

Modern urban civilization is in many respects like a ship of artificial order floating in an ocean of natural entropy. That order is enforced by the availability of energy. Once the energy that keeps entropy from entering its hull fails then disorder begins to flood like water through its arteries and channels like an inrushing flood. The virtual construct that is the 21st century mega-city begins to sink; not just gradually but quickly, terribly and catastrophically.

But unlike the ocean, which constantly reminds seafarers of its omnipresent menace, entropy does not manifest itself so clearly. It is scarcely visible when things ?work?. We only notice it when things stop working. Therefore modern civilized man often forgets the surrounding entropy exists.

He also forgets what keeps it at bay.

Energy, not only of the electrical kind, but of the sort that motivates human society, keeps things going. Energy is constantly pumping chaos out of the hull of civilization. Once it is exhausted then the ship goes dark and begins to settle into the deeps. In recent years it has become fashionable to accuse the West of having an excessive design margin.

Our art world thrives on transgression in a variety of ways*, and the comforts of modernity allow us to become complacent in how we flaunt signals of danger. The problem is that when we carelessly exploit the appearance of risk for a surplus of sexiness, we tend to forget the subtleties of civilization's slender margin. Danger signals have been flashed by those critics who have been marginalized by the art establishment here and there, no doubt they will be further dismissed by many in the cognoscenti, if they are heard from at all. I believe that a recapture of these subtleties is the way forward for art, the only way to write the subsequent chapters of art history that must be written if art itself is to survive.

* (this is no critique, I think this is fundamentally a definition of art, Western Art)

Postscript: Remember this, to keep these events in perspective.

UPDATE: [Liveblog] New York Art World Braces for Hurricane Sandy

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October 28, 2012

Luego, Hace 10 D?as


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Just when I thought I could get back into the studio...


Just when I thought I could get back into the studio and squirt tubes of oil, now comes a hurricane called Sandy. It's hard for me to believe the news hype. Sometimes, I think there should be a law compelling news anchors to wear vampire costumes to remind us of their predilection for overstatement. But every so often, they can inadvertently underestimate as well. I talked to several veteran New Yorkers about the reality of a city crippling storm, most of them shrugged. At the same time, people are mobbing the grocery stores to stock up their pantries. Friends stress buying wine to fortify themselves for the deluge. Subways are cancelled, there's talk of floods. It's a disaster holiday in the big apple, and if it's like other disasters I've heard about here, there should be a lot sex happening in the next few days. Every cloud has a silver lining.

I met Joshua yesterday as he was installing, we had a great conversation that I hope will extend into the future. We talked about his blur of the boundaries between art and life, his first review in Art Forum in the 70's, Smithson, Israel/NYC/Judaism... and just about that time, I was cuing up Fontana in my mind when we had to take a rain check to explore the iceberg beyond this initial conversational tip.

A rain check won't check my scooter ride into the LES tonight.

Joshua Neustein, Boss at UNT/TLED, Opening: Sunday, Oct. 28, 6pm.

The guide for the color codes: NYC Hurricane Evacuation Zones>

October 27, 2012


My mother in law, Peggy Hurley, passed away last week after a summer's struggle with cancer. Her children flew and drove to Massachusetts to attend the memorial at her church, Victory Baptist Church at Brant Rock, MA. Peggy's church was filled with friends and family, many testimonials were spontaneously delivered, the day was sad and full of love.

Peggy went with Stephanie and yours truly to see the Los Angeles production of the Gospel at Colonus back in 1986. Gospel at Colonus by lee Breuer and Bob Telson, was created in 1985. Sophocles' third act of his Theban Plays is a consummation of the tragic, the nature of which had never lent it much leverage with the modern stage since the play was about reconciliation, a limp driver for drama. This was the genius of the Gospel at Colonus: the marriage of black Pentecostal gospel and ancient Greek tragedy, one reinforced the other.
Lyric fragment:
Let every man consider his last day
When youthful pleasures have faded away
Can he look at his life without pain?
Let every child remember how to pray
For the lost of the earth to find the way
And the kingdom of Heaven reign
Live where you can
Be happy as you can
Happier than God has made your father
Live where you can
Be happy as you can
For he may not be here tomorrow

My wife Stephanie, brothers Albert and Richard.


Now let the weeping cease
Let no one mourn again
The love of God will bring you peace
There is no end

Posted by Dennis at 1:56 PM | Comments (1)

October 13, 2012

you think you write the script

Civilization and Its Enemies: The Next Stage of History

From the NYTimes review:
Harris argues, the West has encouraged their ''fantasy ideologies,'' which intoxicate and decivilize them. As a consequence, we face antagonists who, regardless of our attempts to placate them, have made us their enemies for no other reason than that they profoundly wish to be our enemies. Because we do not appreciate this dynamic, we persist in trying to propitiate rather than confront them."

Next: Lara Logan 2012 BGA Annual Luncheon Keynote Speech

Our way of life is under attack, and if you think that's government propaganda, if you think that's nonsense, if you think that's warmongering, [then] you're not listening to what the people who are fighting you say about this fight. In your arrogance, you think you write the script.

If you fail to identify the ideological component to this fight, if you fail to identify what they are fighting for, if you lie about who they really are, I don't see how you can possibly have the right strategy.

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October 10, 2012



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October 8, 2012



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The Dog: Scene of the Opening


I have a show at Cirrus Gallery, of my recent monoprints created at Cirrus Editions with the incomparable Jean Milant.

See more images from the edition here.

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October 5, 2012


The distinction between art and life blurs sometimes in the land of milk and honey...

...which in this case became a pretext for joy, which in turn became a pretext for revenge, which in turn became a pretext for shame, which in turn became a pretext for joy. And so we are all arriving again and again in full circles.

Or gyres.

La mujer de uno de los polic?as de Cerdanyola subi? el v?deo a Youtube
Machine translation follows:

A kind of revenge seems to be the distribution of the controversial video of dancing Cerdanyola agents and committing repeated violations while on patrol with a police car.

The wife of one of them was the one who went to Youtube images, which quickly ran down the network and has earned them the local police opened disciplinary proceedings and suspension without pay, according to program 8 Day .
The couple is in the process of separation and, apparently, she had recorded the computer screen on which the agent had the video saved.

The relevant footage shows two local policemen in the town of Cerdanyola del Vall?s (Barcelona) dancing in the squad car, making obscene gestures and disregarding the wheel at times. The municipal filmed themselves parodying the video clip of the song 'Mama Ljuba', the Russian group Serebro , which runs inside a moving car and is played by the three members of the band.

In the controversial video, three minutes and a half, you can see how two agents are perfectly recognizable having great time with your karaoke performance particularly in not missing a banana erotic gestures and language and jokes with police caps. For this reason, the City Council on Wednesday Cerdanyola suspended without pay to agents and proceeded to sue for reckless driving, in view of all offenses committed while driving: go without a belt, blindfold, eating in the car or half body out the window with the vehicle running . The session had to improvise on Wednesday a press conference in which his lamented HR councilman video broadcasting, considering that "harms the image of the local police and all public employees and the city of Cerdanyola del Vall?s ". "No officials representing the house or the police," said the councilor Montserrat Montiel.

The video was posted on the Internet on Monday under the title 'PL Cerdanyola working and which is falling' to add this text: "As we live in the land of the tambourine, this work where we can do whatever we want! ".

The video caused a huge stir on social media and aroused both sympathy and outrage. In cerdanyola Twitter tags # and # policiasdecerdanyola were smoking and the opinions were for everyone. Some highlighted "the good feeling that these two", others felt that "'Police Academy' is inspired by the local police Cerdanyola" and others simply qualify the attitude of the agents "lamentable and pathetic" and held that they had lost their jobs and wages.


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October 3, 2012



From the archives of the NYTimes:

Brooklyn Legends Thrive On Banks of the Gowanus
Published: October 11, 1993

The Gowanus Canal is the stuff of Brooklyn legend, a murky stream where bodies have been found and suicides attempted and foolhardy children have dipped toes in polluted waters.

"Anything that comes out of there, you better run for the hills," said John Bevins, a car service driver, who grew up playing along the canal, delighting in watching the tugboats and drawbridges. "I didn't leap in there, believe me."

Once the canal was a small creek named for Gouwane, a Canarsee Indian chief. The Dutch found it to be a pristine tidal inlet bordered with rich salt marshes inhabited by fish and beavers. It was said to be the home of foot-long oysters, a far cry from today's abandoned shopping carts and poisonous microorganisms.

In 1774, the Colonial Assembly of New York enacted a law to widen the creek, maintain it and tax those who used it. In addition, the surrounding marshes were drained and filled. Coal Distribution Center

By the end of the 19th century, the canal became Brooklyn's coal distribution center, with 22 coal yards, and centers for sand, brick, stone, gravel, marble and brownstone.

Dirtier uses also developed. In 1885, there were three oil refineries, two machine shops, two chemical plants, two wagon makers, a cement maker, a sulphur producer, a soap maker and a tannery. Residue from these uses still pollutes the ground.

The construction of the Gowanus Expressway and the rise in use of trucks diminished the canal's significance after World War II. Today, the three drawbridges rise only for the passing of the barges supplying one company, Bayside Fuel Oil Depot Corporation, which brings in 600,000 gallons of oil a day in the winter.

But it is the legends of the Gowanus that resonate. The dog that supposedly died after diving in. The ominous nickname of "Lavender Lake." The fact that Al Capone grew up nearby at Garfield Street and Fourth Avenue.

"He learned all there was to know about his business on the banks of the Gowanus," said Bill Balsano, a self-described historian of the underworld.
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October 2, 2012

The Power Broker

This blogpost is only incidentally about Chris Burden, it is actually a place to dog ear the audio book that I'm in the middle of listening to, Robert Caro's The Power Broker, the life of Robert Moses. Below the fold are all the videos from the American Experience: The World that Moses Built, parts 1-7 and a 30 minute documentary by a YouTube user by the name of onecent81 who says that this is was produced by him or her back in college. If that's true, it's well done for a student, the interviews with Caro and his wife are illuminating.

And Chris Burden? There are various competing characterizations about his work in the art world, but I like to shoot through them all and assert mine: that the thread that strings the necklace of his oeuvre is a theme about power.



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October 1, 2012

Schematic Yam

Schematic Yam 3.jpg

(I miss the salad days of Yam.)

(Note: Simultaneous videos won't work on iOS platforms like iPhone or iPad.)

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