Friday, September 30, 2005

American Values Now in Question at Ground Zero

Alright, I'm done playing nice. Let's get this out there once and for all.

First, anyone lame enough to involve themselves with a "cultural" institution in New York City called the International Freedom Center deserves what they get. It was a moronic (not to mention redundant) idea from the get-go, and, although I'm repulsed by the rhetoric some family members of 9/11 vicitms have used to argue against it, I'm in no way sorry to see it gone. We have Disneyland to fill our need for that sort of sentiment.

Secondly, as I noted here, I never thought it was a good idea for the Drawing Center to consider moving to Ground Zero either. There was no way family members of victims were not going insist that anything exhibited there first consider the location, so there was no way the Drawing Center wouldn't be constantly fighting or curbing their curation. Believe me when I say there is nothing cited among the examples of "anti-American" work already exhibited by the Drawing Center that I would agree was offensive to the victims, but there's just not enough time to educate those who would find offense in anything that challenges their worldview, so it was, again, never a good idea.

Thirdly, I full expect the Joyce and the Signature Theaters to have their programs examined under a red-white-and-blue microscope, and editorials in the tabloids to decry them as unpatriotic, as plans to build the performing arts center there progress too. Despite what Gretchen Dykstra, president of the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, said about the commitment to the performing arts center being "strong and deep," it's clear that from Pataki and Hillary on down, the "commitment" to culture at Ground Zero takes an immediate back seat to political aspirations. In New York City, no less.

As I noted in my previous posts on this topic, my visceral response to the complaints of 9/11 victims' families is "Hey, leave those folks alone. Whatever has prompted them to speak out, they deserve to be heard."

HOW-fucking-EVER, I will rant and rave against them like a banshee on acid if they don't demonstrate the same passion and united front against the other plans being rolled out for that location:

A day after evicting the International Freedom Center museum from the memorial area at ground zero for being too controversial, officials described a plan yesterday for a half-million square feet of retail space elsewhere on the World Trade Center site. [...]

Speaking at a breakfast sponsored by Crain's New York Business, [John P. Cahill, Gov. George E. Pataki's chief of staff and the top-ranking downtown development official] said: "I have met with many business and community leaders, and they have told me firsthand about the need to expeditiously restore retail at the World Trade Center site. I could not agree more."

A table full of Wal-Mart executives also seemed to agree. "It would be a wonderful opportunity for any retailer to have that access to all those potential customers," said Mia Masten, Wal-Mart's director of corporate affairs, after listening to Mr. Cahill's speech.

But Ms. Masten said that she and her colleagues were at the breakfast simply to meet other executives and demonstrate their commitment to building in New York City, where Wal-Mart has faced a great deal of opposition.
That's right. Pataki and his culturally bankrupt cronies won't fight for an independent celebration of art at Ground Zero, but they will climb in bed with Wal-Mart to develop it for retail (so help me God, if they build a Wal-Mart at Ground Zero, I'll never shop south of Canal Street again). I expect the families of 9/11 victims to write and call and visit the Governor, en masse, to prevent this desecration of that sacred ground. I'm serious. If they don't, I'll consider all their complaints thus far mere hollow prattle and as such an insult to their loved ones' memories.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Art as an Investment: Evidence of Corrections?

Disclaimer: I am NOT a financial adviser. Most of these thoughts represent only my opinions. Don't invest based on them.

Not so long ago the "art as investment" crowd was very excited. Things were looking up. Art funds were blossoming. A fund of art funds was even lauched by the Dutch bank ABN-AMRO. In fact, things were so rosy, Christies hosted a one-day symposium titled "Art: An Alternative Asset Class" on April 7, 2005, where reports suggest the attitude approached giddy (well, as "giddy" as financial types ever get). See artnet.com's report
here.

At that symposium, ABN-AMRO's Global Head of Private Banks Ariel Salama predicted that as much as $30 billion of private equity capital would move into art funds as an alternative investment over the next ten years. That may still prove to be true, but it won't happen through ABN's fund. As
Forbes (and others) have reported, ABN has pulled out of the art funds market. In fact, of the eight or so best known art funds, only one is reportedly actively buying art, the London-based Fine Art Fund:

"We are spending about $2 million a month, having started in July 2004," says Chief Executive Phillip Hoffman. "We have bought many million-dollar paintings and have sold some, most recently two works, which we bought privately and resold within 25 weeks, which gave us an 80% mark-up."
But they are the exception it seems. Other art funds, including the China Fund, the Fernwood Sector Allocation Fund, the Fernwood Opportunity Fund, the Artist Pension Trust's Art Dealers Fund, Graham Arader's fund, the Irvine Collection Fund, and the Art Collectors Fund, are all reportedly struggling to get the ball rolling, purchasing-wise at least. Of course, as some of these fall outside the jurisdiction of the Securities Exchange Commission, my guess is what anyone (including reporters) truly knows about them is not really up-to-the-minute.

But what does this really mean for the art market? Is it an indication that long-expected corrections are coming?

Not necessarily. It can take years for investment firms/groups to raise their target capital, so we may simply be witnessing the spurts of that naturally uneven process. On the other hand, institutions like ABN know this, so their decision to pull their fund of art funds suggests they don't think the market is ready for such a product. But that needn't spell doom: as the Forbes article suggests, the smaller "niche" funds are perhaps a better solution for the highly unregulated art market:
These smaller and more flexible funds are often set up by dealers and seek investors from a small group of friends and clients, an example is Daniella Luxembourg's Swiss-based ArtVest. By remaining informal, such funds avoid the straitjacket of financial regulations in the U.S. and the U.K.

One thing is sure though, if any of this scares off the more cynical figures within the art-as-investment crowd, I won't cry about it. As art adviser Thea Westreich noted, there are growing numbers of investors calling themselves collectors with the most vulgar of intentions to flip artwork solely for profit:

"Collectors/art investors are putting together small syndicates, and they increase in number daily. You see them at fairs; they're wearing baseball caps and sneakers; they act covertly, but dealers are starting to recognize them," she says, adding, "All these new financial ventures will ultimately skew the marketplace."
Those folks I'll encourage to invest in something else.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Slightly Used "Agnostics Anonymous" Membership Card 4 Sale

What I Did for Rent: Open Thread

I am unfortunately swamped today. I did try to write something on this article in ArtNews about what artists do to pay their rent and came close to arguing that it's not just rents that have risen and made it harder to be a full-time artist in NYC, but also expecations for quality of life...but then I realized that needs more thought than I have to give it. Rather than whip something half-assed out, I'll open up a thread with this question:

Do you think artists today are as willing to sacrifice their quality of life to work on their art career as artists of previous generations?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

God Is Great...the Tate Britain, Somewhat Less So

Terrorism experts say the greatest threat posed by guerilla-type strikes and acts of terrorism (the very rationale behind them, in fact) is that the people attacked will over-react and in doing so help escalate the confusion and chaos in which terrorists can thrive. Indeed, given the numbers represented by the opposing sides, there's only one way the Islamist terrorists can actually "win" the "war on terror," and that's if they can shake things up enough that we voluntarily begin to behave more like they would have us behave. If we end up radically changing our way of life. If we ourselves change our values and in doing so become less "free."

That's why I find the decision of the Tate Britain to remove a piece they had on exhibit so damnable.
Artinfo has the story:

The Tate Britain museum has removed a work made up of sacred texts from Christianity, Judaism and Islam torn and mounted on glass to avoid offending religious sensibilities following the July transit bombings in London, the museum said Sunday.

The museum said it was particularly concerned that John Latham's piece
God Is Great could upset Muslims. It pulled the work from an exhibition of Latham's art despite his objection.

"Having sought wide-ranging advice, Tate feels that to exhibit the work in London in the current sensitive climate, post July 7, would not be appropriate," the museum said in a statement.
The Tate Britain is 100% wrong.

In the current climate what the people of London, including its Muslims, need more than anything is more dialog, more connection, more common ground, not less. Leave the freakin' piece where it is. If it upsets Muslims, so be it. They're no more entitled to be offended by the piece than Jews or Christians are. The Tate's displaying a disturbing blend of cowardice and short-sightedness here. If there was ever a means to unite the three major religions, this piece might be it.

Seriously, what would happen should Muslims demand that the piece be taken down because their holy text was not to be "disrepsected" in this way? Would London's devout Jews and Christians rise to the challenge and defend their holy texts as well? If not, why the hell not? Might not a resulting fracas demonstrate how much more they all have in common? It certainly should. That is most certainly one of the messages one could take away from such a piece.

Oh, I know, the fear isn't a debate. The fear is the nutjob jihadists will use the piece to justify further violence. Newsflash: they don't need prompting. They're so disconnected from reality they'll kill innocent women and children, including Muslims, to supposedly advance God's will. The appropriate response to them is not to cave in, tip-toe around, or walk on eggshells. That response will only encourage them to strike again, even harder. The appropriate response is a public defiance so loud and so clear it shows them what cowards they really are in comparison.

Latham requested that the Tate, who bought the piece, return it to him:

"Tate Britain have shown cowardice over this," he told The Observer newspaper. "I think it's a daft thing to do because, if they want to help the militants, this is the way to do it."

Latham is 100% right.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Artist of the Week (09/26/05)

The hardest of all arts (to create and appreciate) in my opinion is poetry. The poet must acquire a near supernatural proficiency in what I consider the most important aspect of artmaking: perception. In addition to being perceptive, however, the poet must possess the rarest of human gifts, the ability to connect, to see, and then of course to translate so that we can. This makes true poetry ridiculously difficult and explains why most of what's offered up as poetry really sucks. When it doesn't suck, however, poetry has the potential to surpass all other efforts mankind dares attempt in creating something sublime.

Jimbo Blachly is the kind of visual artist I consider also a poet. His media vary, from painted blocks to sheets of ink-lined paper to all kinds of other humble materials, but his constructions (usually dealing with landscapes and nature) are invariably poetic. In fact, his work is often described in terms normally associated with poetry. Consider this example from the press release for a group exhibition, titled "Sprawl," that he was in:

Using landscape as an allegory for the mind, Jimbo Blachly creates fragile, meditative environments on the brink of collapse, using humble materials like cardboard, felt and paper. Elements from nature coexist on the same scale as rudimentary forms of architecture–like a mountain sheltered under a tarp–creating curiously intimate, humanized relationships between natural and manmade environments.
Here's an image of the piece Jimbo included in that exhibition:


Image from Hudson Clearing website.

I first met Jimbo when he was exhibiting with Elizabeth Harris Gallery. Former gallery director Bill Carroll explained to me that it wouldn't matter what type of objects he chose to work with, he would recognize the final composition as one of Jimbo's. I've done a few studio visits with Jimbo since then, and I won't go so far as to say I'd recognize his work regardless of the medium (again, for me at least, poetry is hard), but I have gained a profound respect for his ability to perceive and then translate.

Jimbo was awared the 2002 SculptureCenter Prize, which included the inaugural exhibition in their new massive space. Even the biggest fans of Jimbo's work admitted to being a bit baffled by the installation he offered ("About 86 Springs"). As poetry often will in its own time, the exhibition did seem a bit esoteric, referencing an amatuer scientific study of all the natural springs and wells in Manhattan and the Bronx at the end of the 19th Century. From the Art in America review of that exhibition:

Dozens of small balsa-wood structures were scattered on the cement floor, both within and outside the ambit of a crude wooden sluice system that carried a fitfully circulating trickle of water. At stations along the way, jury-rigged supports, made of wooden boards, two-by-fours and plastic buckets, held a series of salvaged and roughly mended terrariums. By contrast, the balsa structures, each of which centered on a small dark spot of what seemed to be inky water (actually black Plexiglas), were made with a hobbyist's care.

From the vantage of these Lilliputian pools, sheds and wellhouses, many accessorized with decks and trellises, the surrounding space seemed all the more vast. The terrariums, similarly, turned little hummocks of moss and weed into microlandscapes that further amplified the room's scale. Against this evidence, two larger structures--a wooden footbridge truncated midspan and a nearly life-size octagonal shed--were neatly confounding.
Here are two installation shots of "About 86 Springs" (both from the SculptureCenter's website)



A year or two ago now, Jimbo was also awarded the highly coveted Rockefeller Bellagio residency (who wouldn't want to spend a month on Lake Como?), which gathers reportedly amazing groups of scholars, artists, writers and composers. When he returned (reluctantly, he told me) he had begun a series of watercolor and ink drawings the combined the elements of his humble material landscape sculptures with the images of ancient ruins he had seen in Italy. At the same time I believe, but referencing his earlier installations of ink-on-paper drawings, he began one of my favorite bodies of his work, table-top paper sculptures that look like bark. This was the only image of these I could find. In real-life, they're, well, sublime.


From artist Peter Dudek's website.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Olafur and the Hot New Beemer

From the Art Newspaper comes news that one of my favorite artists, Olafur Eliasson, has been selected to produce BMW’s 16th “art car.” Other artists who have been asked to spruce up a Beemer include Roy Lichenstein, Andy Warhol, Robert Rauchenberg and David Hockney.

Eliasson, who's known for his environmental installations (including the highly lauded
"Weather Project" at Tate Modern in London) is expected to take a different approach from those previous artists though. They all painted their "art car," and Olafur's not particularly known for his paintings.

Eliasson will be asked to begin with the new, eco-friendly hydrogen-powered BMW H2R (see above).

From the exhibitions I've seen of Olafur's at his gallery in Chelsea (
Tanya Bonakdar) and the Danish Pavillion at the previous Venice Biennale, it's clear he's not opposed to knocking out some walls and ceilings and rearranging things, so I'll be surprised if the H2R is recognizable as such. But then again, for his mini-retrospective at Madrid's Crystal Palace (see image below), I thought the limitations posed by the venue (I doubt Spain was gonna let him move any of the glass walls, and the show felt a bit lifeless) cramped his style a bit. Each of those pieces deserved much more space.



In other words, I wonder if he'll have the license to respond to the car in the same way he does a white cube. The Art Newspaper notes that "BMW do not stipulate that the vehicle must be in working order after Eliasson has finished it" so perhaps the sky's the limit.

Can't wait to see.

Here are some images of previous BMW art cars:

Alexander Calder 1975


Andy Warhol 1979


Robert Rauschenberg 1986


Jenny Holzer 1999 (Text includes: "Protect me from what I want" and "You are so complex you don't respond to danger")


More
here.

UPDATE: I didn't want to comment on the H2R itself, as my interest in this project is what Eliasson's going to do with it, not the car itself, but, as Folding Chair notes, it may not matter.... (via MAN).

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Shhh...No One Knows I'm Blogging

GEEK ALERT! (don't say you weren't warned)

You have to read this
awesome publication (pdf file) put out by Reporters Without Borders helping folks set up anonymous weblogs and avoid censors in places where blogging can be dangerous to one's employment or even health. There's lots of info about how or why to blog, but a chapter titled "HOW TO BLOG ANONYMOUSLY" by Ethan Zuckerman (fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School), outlines the following 6 steps:

Step 1 - Pseudonyms

Essentially, this involves setting up an anonymous email account with Hotmail, Yahoo, or Hushmail (which is new to me, but looks very good). Note: Yahoo (and maybe some others) will ask you for an alternative email address, however, so be sure not to give them one if anonymity is your goal. After that, you'll want an anonymous blog service. Ethan recommends Blogsome (free WordPress blogs), Blogger, and Seo Blog (can't find a good link for this...anyone?)

Step 2 - Public computers

Rather self-explanatory: use internet cafe's and other computers that many people use, so authorities can't trace the IP address back to you personally. Not fool-proof obviously, and certainly not convenient, so...

Step 3 - Anonymous proxies

Ethan explains that this way, when you use your webmail and weblog services, you'll leave behind the IP address of the proxy server, not the address of your home machine... which will make it very hard for anyone to find you. You might need some geek help to do this, but here's Ethan's list of reliable public proxies:

This will also slow down your browsing speed. But once you're up and running (you really need to read the document for the technical details), you can test where the internet thinks you're coming from at noreply.org. More oppressive governments block the popular proxies too, so you might have to search for a while to find one they don't know about. Ethan also recommends bloggers switch proxies regularly.

Step 4 - This time it's personal!

Rather than using a public proxy though, you can use a personal approach, otherwise known as a friend's computer (preferably a friend outside the reach of the oppressive government) as a proxy. They need some tricky software (Ethan recommends Circumventor from Peacefire.org), but, of course there are potential problems with this as well, including the friend's computer changing IP addresses, or the oppressive government realizing the blogger is spending all their time at one IP address and getting suspicious anyway. And so, the plot thickens, as does the technology...

Step 5 - Onion Routing through Tor

I'll just let Ethan explain this one:

Tor, a relatively new system...provides a high degree of anonymity for websurfing. Onion routing takes the idea of proxy servers – a computer that acts on your behalf – to a new level of complexity. Each request made through an onion routing network goes through two to 20 additional computers, making it hard to trace what computer originated a request. Each step of the Onion Routing chain is encrypted, making it harder for the [oppressive] government...to trace...posts.

At this point, however, you're virtually into hacker territory. Oddly, though, this "cloaking" technology is reported easy to install: Tor. Downsides include some sites, like Wikipedia, recognizing cloaked visitors and not letting them add comments, as well as, expectedly, slower browsing.

Step 6 - MixMaster, Invisiblog and GPG

If all that's not anonymous enough for you, enter the world of spook (aka paranoid) blogging:

[There's a] new option: Invisiblog (http://www.invisiblog.com/ [note, this URL returns an XML error message,]). Run by an anonymous group of Australians called vigilant.tv, it’s a site designed for and by the truly paranoid. You can't post to Invisiblog via the web, as you do with most blog servers. You post to it using specially formatted email, sent through the MixMaster remailer system, signed cryptographically. [...]

GPG (http://www.gnupg.org/) - the GNU implementation of Pretty Good Privacy, a public-key encryption system (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public-key_cryptography). In two sentences: Public-key encryption is a technique that allows [you] to send messages to a person that only [you] can read, without...needing to share a secret key with you that would let you read messages other people send..... Public key encryption also allows people to “sign” documents with a digital signature that is almost impossible to forge.

[and] MixMaster, a mailing system designed to obscure the origins of an email message. MixMaster uses a chain of anonymous remailers – computer programs that strip all identifying information off an email and send it to its destination – to send email messages with a high degree of anonymity.

Again, all this is much slower, but obviously untraceable. Technically, setting this up involves more details than make sense to simply copy here...see the document, pp. 60-61. But you're safe to say what you want/need to this way.

Ethan ends his text with perhaps the most important advice for the would-be-anonymous blogger:

And remember not to sign your blog posts with your real name!

You might want to step away from your computer. This post will self-destruct in 30 seconds....

The Case of the Fur-Collared Servant

The NYTimes (yes, I started buying it again, after I heard they are so strapped for cash they're laying off 500 workers, I can't really begrudge them for charging for their columnists...I still think it's a mistake, but ...) offers a delightful mystery about a painting. Here's what the painting looked like when it came to the attention of the story's detectives:


"Portrait of an Elderly Woman in a White Bonnet"

The owners of the painting had been told it was by Rembrandt, but even though it had been included in earlier versions, authors of the master's catalogues raisonné had excluded it after the 1939 printing. Why exclude it? That's where the fun begins. Look at the painting again. There are tell-tale signs that something is amiss (not being an expert in the time-period, I'm relying on the article for the following "facts").

First and foremost is the fur collar. The face of this woman reportedly bears the hallmarks of a servant. Her white bonnet is another indication of her class. So why does a servant have a luxury item like a fur collar? Moreover, why was a woman of her class painted at all in such a manner?


But wait, there's more. Look at the light reflected off the collar onto her face. It's bright, even though the light hitting the dark collar should have been absorbed.

The owners of the painting, anxious to know exactly what they had, sent it to experts in Amsterdam. During their studies of it, they discovered that the wood panel the painting was on came from the same tree three other known paintings' panels come from: "the same tree as Rembrandt's "Self-Portrait With a Hat" (1633), which is in the Louvre, as well as "Portrait of Willem Burggraaff," also for 1633, in the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen in Dresden, Germany , which has been attributed to the artist's workshop, and a landscape in the Wallace Collection in London that is thought to be from 1640 and was painted by a student of Rembrandt."


So that was inconclusive. Our fur-wearing servant may have been painted by anyone in that workshop. The detectives looked more closely.

By examining the work carefully, Mr. [Ernst] van der Wetering [head of the Rembrandt Research Project] said he and Mr. [Martin]Bijl [a former head of conservation for the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam] could see seams where wood panel had been added to the original painting. The dark background had been painted over so old and new would look as one.

X-rays and pigment tests confirmed their suspicions that in an attempt to make it more salable, someone had transformed the painting into a formal portrait, changing its shape from arched to rectangular and adding a fur collar to make the sitter look more like a lady. [...]

X-rays showed many layers to the painting. Around the woman's neck was the fur collar, but under it there was a black layer of paint, and under that what Rembrandt had originally intended: a whitish collar. That explained the reflections, since light could well reflect off a white collar, but not off dark, fur.

After two years of debate, they decided to remove the fur collar (rather risky indeed), and discovered a whitish-yellow collar painted underneath. The original painting looks like this:



"The collar, unlike the whiter bonnet, has a yellowish cast because, a textile expert confirmed, that "poorer people used a kind of starch for their collars that had a tendency to turn yellow, but they used a better type of starch for their caps," Mr. van der Wetering said. "And Rembrandt was very aware of the difference of these tones." [...]

Only after the fur collar was removed, he said, could he see the reflections of light on the jaw, the cheek and the chin. Another Rembrandt touch: a small spot on the woman's cheek. In a number of self-portraits the artist added a blemish to his own skin.

In the end, they concluded it was indeed a work by Rembrandt, making the owners very happy indeed, I'm sure. The piece is headed for Sotheby's auction block this January, where, even unsigned and apparently a study, it's estimated to sell for $3 million to $4 million.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

HB2T & BHB2O

Quick shout out to Tyler, whose Modern Art Notes just turned 4. Precocious little tyke, isn't it?

And belated shout out to Oliver, who doesn't look a day past fabulous.

What Ever Happened to the Art of Understatement?

The Eden Project (the world's biggest plant Biome, located in Cornwall, England) has a new center. Er, make that centre.... Nah, they're right, call it "The Core" and avoid the silly transAtlantic obstinacy over spellings. What is it? Well, Eden Chief Executive Tim Smit is very happy to tell you:
"I hate exaggeration so I’ll tell you the simple truth. This is the finest modern building in the world, and anyone who says they can show me a better looking one is either a liar or clairvoyant. I could give you a lot of guff about inspirational education and the success of the Eden project, the genius of the architects and the artists involved, but it boils down to one thing. This building is a cathedral and it moves you and fills you with awe."
Not sure what he's on about? Perhaps the Guardian's assessment will clear it up:

Its design, inspired by the plant "architecture" of sunflower heads, follows the famous mathematical sequence, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34 and so on, discovered by Leonardo da Pisa, and called Fibonacci, in the 13th century. This is better known today as a plotting device in Dan Brown's bestseller The Da Vinci Code.
Still not sure what the f*** they're talking about? It's a building. A building inspired by the shape of a sunflower. Get it? It's earthy...goes along with the whole Garden motif they've got going on over there.

Why the venom? I don't know...wrong side of the bed, perhaps. Lack of caffeine? Hype intolerance? Bad commute? Satan? Who knows? (What you want from me, eternal sunshine?) Here's more



Architecturally, the building’s focus is the sweeping roof: a timber-structured, copper-clad form that emanates from the centre of the building and spirals outwards and down, touching the ground in three places.

Characteristically of a Grimshaw building, the primary expression of the building comes from its structural solution, but here the structure has an unusually organic form. This is because the roof’s geometry derives from nature’s recurring ratio that drives nearly all plant growth (a process called phyllotaxis). This is why its form seems so appropriate both to man’s innate sense of beauty and proportion and, more specifically, to Eden’s commitment to fostering man’s appreciation of the plant kingdom.


The Core will host scientific exhibitions as well as art exhibitions. No, wait, I got that wrong. They're saying the building IS art: "The Core is a piece of artwork as much as a building." Where's Clement Greenberg when you need him?

I actually have some opinions on whether this building is as new or interesting as they're saying it is, but I think I really should get some coffee first. Here's one more photo:

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Babylon Rising? Bring It On!

Tyler and Dennis have already commented on Jerry's annual SOTU address, but even arriving late to the party, I'd like to add a few comments. [I link to artnet.com's version rather than the Voice's, because, well, artnet adds pictures...including a few of Andrew's new space, which I covet in nearly Biblical terms (the space, jftr).] And if all this first-name-only-dropping business strikes you as obnoxious, well...that's sort of the point.

From Saltz's rant:


Everyone maintains there's new content. If so, there should be new forms to house this content. We need to reimagine what a gallery is. Galleries shouldn't be seen primarily as shops or salesrooms but as test sites and arks. Few gallerists are flesh-eating zombies who only want to sell art; most want to shape culture. Many are disgruntled with only being managers of the trading floor. Galleries should have attitude. Most already have positions. These positions have to be heightened and emphasized, which is where attitude begins.

Other not-for-profit and profit-making models need to be considered. Alternatives need to be tested. Nonjoiners and lone wolves can take private stands. Galleries might band together. After losing his lease, Andrew Kreps has opened a three-floor temporary space in which much of the programming is being carried out by artists. Meanwhile, alternative spaces could really step up. A few are. In Chelsea, the Kitchen has sprung to life under Debra Singer, while the dynamic director of White Columns, Matthew Higgs, fires a shot across everyone's bow, asserting, "I want to change the New York art world in 24 months." That's attitude. So is gallerist Michelle Maccarone beginning her latest press release, "Maccarone is fuckin' psyched to announce its Anthony Burdin exhibition."


Sigh...we spent a year in my gallery mocking the standard art gallery press release with similar openings (one actually even used "psyched" [see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here]). Did Jerry notice? If that's what passes for a revolution in the art world these days, all I can say is don't...yawn...bother televising it...yawn... been there, done that (no offense to Michelle, her program is bleeding edge...it's just that Jerry's pointing out the most superficial/nonimportant aspect of it, and in that way misrepresenting it).

Now I agree that the NYC art world could use a jolt. I was truly exhilarated to see what Andrew's done with his new space, but as is widely known (and he confirmed to me) it's only temporary. More than that though, IMO, what's needed is obvious in Jerry's first observance, if one backs up and puts things in perspective: "Everyone maintains there's new content. If so, there should be new forms to house this content."

In this part of his rant, I think Jerry's misguided. Why focus on how gallerists and such should seek out new forms to house it? If there's new content, let it speak for itself. Better yet, let it dictate the form and/or exhibition space. The problem isn't a lack of "attitude" among gallerists (are we on MTV here?), the problem is a lack of context within the wider art world...and I don't mean new exhibition models...I mean a critique. As Jerry notes himself:

In private many say most of the shows they see are safe or conservative. Yet most reviews are enthusiastic or merely descriptive. Too many critics act like cheerleaders, reporters or hip metaphysicians. Amid art fair frenzy, auction madness, money lust and market hype; between galleries turning into selling machines, gossip passing as criticism and art becoming a good job; the system, while efficient, feels faulty, even false.
But rather than critiquing the system, Mr. Saltz, why not critique the art? You're absolutely right that most reviews are enthusiastic or merely descriptive. Even as a dealer, who wants enthusiasm in reviews of our exhibitions, I'm bored to tears by the overall critique of contemporary art. You want a rebellion? Start one! Seriously, I could not agree more that "Disagreement and criticism are ways of showing art respect." The disrespect stems from merely descriptive reporting, as if art criticism were akin to covering a trade show.

In other words, you do your part, and you'll see the galleries rise to the challenge and do theirs. Guarantee it. So long as you and your colleagues are cheerleading them on, why would you expect them to change what they're doing?

Am I asking for trouble here? Damn right I am. Bring it on. My God, but we could use a more challenging critique in this city.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Artist of the Week 09/19/05

Although the press release for his most recent exhibition suggests he's revealed his process to at least one other artist, most artists I've asked tell me that William Wood (represented in New York by Jack Shainman Gallery) keeps the secret process he employs to create his remarkable, loopy, photographic-looking canvases closely guarded. There are a few clues though. First is the medium: "Oil and wax." Next is the description of the work as "automatist" abstractions made with a "simple homemade object as a surrogate for the artist’s hand."

What I've concluded from these details, combined with his gallery's declaration that he begins with a carefully prepared canvas and then works very quickly, is that some combination of oil paint and wax will spread when moved in such a fashion that it results in highly gradated gestures. What I still can't figure out is how these gestures remain so crisp on top of one another. Here's another example:


William Wood, For What It's Worth, 2004, Oil and wax on canvas (diptych), 108" X 72" [image from artnet.com's page for Jack Shaniman Gallery)

For me, even more enigmatic, until I realized they were photogravure aquatints, was how he managed the same technique in his works on paper. Represented in New York by Pace Prints, Wood's aquatints are mysterious and gorgeous. Here's one:


William Wood, Untitled I, 1998, Photogravure Aquatint, 11" x 8.5", Published By Pace Editions, Inc, edition of 30

When I heard Wood was working in color as well, my first reaction was disappointment, thinking it wouldn't look as photographic...I thought he'd probably lose that stunning range of tonality. But as you can see in this diptych, I was wrong to doubt him. Here's an example of what I mean (although, as I always say, you can't judge subtlety in a jpg too well):


William Wood, Untitled, 2003, Oil and wax on canvas, 24" x 36" [image from Jack Shainman Gallery's website]

I started thinking about Wood's paintings recently while reading up on the transdisciplinary dialog developing between architecture and the visual arts since the emergence of the Fold as an important advance in architectural exploration. As Mark Linder argues in his book (Nothing Less than Literal) on a similar dialog between architects and the "Minimalists" in the 1960s, awarenesses in one discipline often have a fascinating (unstoppable) effect on those working in another discipline that eventually ends up influencing those working in the original discipline, despite themselves. Usually, this reflects a sociological awareness or fascination with a style, which is symbolic of a philosophical discovery...in this case, a model to deal with how complex our world is becoming, but at this point, I tend to start nodding off.

But in thinking about all this I remembered how compelling I've always found Wood's work. As I was contemplating which visual artists have been exploring the Fold in their work, I realized William's been doing it for years. I've always found the way his paint is "dragged, twisted, turned and folded into a multifaceted space that disguises the effort of its creation behind a mask of complexity" (as his gallery described it) mesmerizing. Now I'm beginning to think, whether intentionally so or not, it's much more than that.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

To the Old Gray Whore: Anti-MSM Open Thread

To the Editors of The New York Times,

With all due respect to the fact that yours is a business and like all businesses must make money, the "Times Select" program strikes me as about as classy a move on your part as the two-bit local thug who offers crack for free to build up his client base and then starts gouging his dupes once they're hooked.

I mention this in particular because it's clear, even without having access to your page view statistics (needing only your "Most E-mailed" list), that you're "Selecting" to charge for the items your online readers most value. You already charge for archived articles, as well, so pretending that you're offering added value with this program is embarrassingly disingenuous of you. Yes, you're going back further...wahoo...but you could still earn money off that without charging for the columns.

It's quite a gamble you're taking here actually. Surely you realize the rise in popularity of your columnists over the past 4 years is due in large part to how easily bloggers can cite them while they're free. Take away that option, and the number of times they're referenced in the blogosphere is most certainly going to plummet.

I, for example, will not direct readers from any of my blogs to a site they'll have to pay to read.

The irony here is that I buy your paper, at full price, from my local vendor every day. I often turn to the editorial pages first, read all the columns, and often they become a source for my blog posts.

Because, again, I won't direct my readers to a site they'll be charged to read, though, you've just convinced me to start picking up the Washington Post each morning instead.

Good luck with your new program. Do let me know when it's been scrapped.

Sincerely,

Edward Winkleman
http://obsidianwings.blogs.com
http://edwardwinkleman.blogspot.com
http://liberalstreetfighter.com/ee/index.php

Friday, September 16, 2005

No Wonder He's Disconnected

At a certain point, I think, you have to wonder if the blame for the President's obvious disconnect from reality shouldn't be placed at the feet of his handlers. I mean, often I've imagined that on the morning of 9/11, W was simply picked up and thrown over the shoulder of a Secret Service agent who packed him into that plane destined for the bunker. Whether his first instinct was to get back to DC, in order to see what he could do to comfort his people, didn't really matter. He could only actually "run the show" if those around him let him. He could only know what was really going on, if his handlers didn't actively stand between him and reality.

I think of this in response to a post on Brian Williams' blog:

I am duty-bound to report the talk of the New Orleans warehouse district last night: there was rejoicing (well, there would have been without the curfew, but the few people I saw on the streets were excited) when the power came back on for blocks on end. Kevin Tibbles was positively jubilant on the live update edition of Nightly News that we fed to the West Coast. The mini-mart, long ago cleaned out by looters, was nonetheless bathed in light, including the empty, roped-off gas pumps. The motorcade route through the district was partially lit no more than 30 minutes before POTUS drove through. And yet last night, no more than an hour after the President departed, the lights went out. The entire area was plunged into total darkness again, to audible groans. It's enough to make some of the folks here who witnessed it... jump to certain conclusions.

The kindest conclusion one can jump to it seems is that the Secret Service lit up the streets for security reasons, so they could guarantee the President's safe passage. Assuming that's the reason for the short-lived rejuicing of the Warehouse District, then, it's unkind to assert this cruel teasing of the district's residents was Bush's fault. He probably wasn't even looking out the window while his limo cruised these streets, he was probably still practicing how to pronounce "debris." But if he had, it wouldn't have occurred to him that the illumination had been arranged, at what must have been considerable trouble, just for him. Why would it?

The less kind assumption is that Bush's handlers arranged the lit streets to convince the POTUS things were better than they actually are. To keep his spirits up, so he could smile reassuringly and project that patriarchal confidence his pollsters need him to right now. Had he journeyed through a heart of darkness, he may have had doubts himself, and those might have revealed themselves as he spoke to the nation in the form of a crinkle across his brow or a twitch in the corner of his mouth. No, only the sort of inner peace known to those who've seen the light would do for this career-salvaging performance.

What's really cruel about all this is how freakin' hard the writers at The Onion need to work to parody it.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Bill Bartman

I'm shocked and saddened to read on James Wagner's blog that Bill Bartman passed away today. I don't know many people in the NYC art world who don't have a story about the inspiring, if baffling, dichotomy Bill embodied. Here's mine.

When I was still curating, I started up a dialog with Bill. We never became very close friends, but he honored me by coming to the opening of one of my earliest efforts, even though he was traveling via his wheelchair in those days. Like most people, I had more than a few chances to see the curmudegeon in Bill. My God could he be grouchy. But I still list him among the folks I most aspire to be like when I consider how I want to work with artists.

Once while I was poring over his files on emerging artists in the Art Resources Transfer office, Bill was tearing someone on the phone a new one. He was a fiery mix of Evangelical preacher and drunken sailor. From what I could gather the poor schmuck on the other end was involved in a distribution mix-up of a new publication, but you would have thought he had single handedly burnt down the Metropolitan Museum or something the way Bill badgered the guy. Smoke was virtually pouring out his ears.

Eventually, Bill showed mercy by putting the recipient of his anger on hold to take another call. It was an artist who had an upcoming exhibition in the gallery. Bill did the fastest 180 in attitude I've ever witnessed. He gave the artist his undivided attention, and offered a string of reassuring, comforting bits of advice. I was so surprised I just stood there with my mouth wide open, looking like I was missing a chromosome or something.

I decided then and there to never forget how much respect he obviously had for artists...how generous he could be to someone worried about an upcoming exhibition, despite what he had going on himself.

Bill, we will miss you. May you rest in peace, sir.

The Perils of Sloppy Juxtapositions

Now I've done it. Through a careless bit of editing, I've gone and offended the emperor of art listings. Today I got an email from the original art lister extraordinaire, Mr. Douglas Kelley. I have an immense respect for Douglas as a writer, journalist, TV host, art world insider, bon vivant, and person. And I knew there was a chance he'd respond the way he did to my careless editing in the "It Begins..." post, but I never took the time to fix it...and now, my world has turned all Shakespearian...

In an email with the subject header, Et tu Winkleman, Mr. Kelley writes:

According to Douglas Kelley's list, there are at least 84 openings this evening to choose from. Barry Hoggard and James Wagner's ArtCal offers a more selective list, providing suggested PICKS (it's simply the most useful source of gallery info available online). Still, no matter how you measure it, there's art, and lots of it, to be seen starting tonight.

Oh thanks brother! I can retire now that I am so passe. Et tu Winkleman. What did I do to you to deserve this?
Passe? I can't fathom anything would ever make Mr. Kelley or his efforts passe. I wrote him back:

Dear Douglas,

You'll never know how many times I considered re-editing that. Honestly. For the very reason you've now written. I guess I was hoping you wouldn't see it, because, well, my editing was sloppy, but...it all got so complicated for me...

Here's the chronology. I originally directed folks to your list (first) and then James and Barry's, but told them to be careful with James and Barry's because the listings were not sorted by date. Barry then corrected that problem and mentioned it in the comments. I felt bad that I had criticized what was clearly a labor of love and since they had fixed it, I felt compelled to correct my text. I never meant to suggest folks should compare yours and theirs [I forgot the golden rule of editing...re-read the whole thing to ensure you're not fucking up the context]...they're useful for different reasons. Yours is the most exhaustive list, and I still print it out to take it along when heading to openings. I suspect I always will. It's like an old friend and I love having it with me.

But, to be honest, why ArtCal is more helpful than yours is the way it's organized and the way the listings stay up until the show is over. In otherwords, your list is better for openings, but theirs is better for post-opening gallery hopping. [I'm not sure I was helping much here, I now realize...]

Obviously, I should be more careful in juxtaposing my recommendations, as unintended consequences are bound to happen.

But here...let me tend to that knife wound in your back...it appears a mere flesh wound, me thinks...surely for a man of your strength and constitution it's virtually undetectable, no?

Sorry Douglas...never meant it to be read that way. I promise to be more careful moving forward.

all the best,
Edward
And I promised to make this a public apology. Mr. Kelley's list is also a labor of love and I do, myself, love it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Pop Will Find a Way

"Bambino," my partner, as many who know him understand, grew up in the USSR. I note this only to explain why his response to watching "Goodbye Lenin" was delightful for me. The movie's central character is a very pro-Communist, anti-West East German mother who wakes from a long-lasting coma. Her children are told that any shock (like the fact that while she was unconscious, the Berlin Wall fell, and that they now live in a very materialistic united Germany) could be fatal, so they arrange her life and what she sees in such a manner as to convince her that East Germany is still her home. There's a great scene where her children try to stock-up on all the Soviet-era labeled food their mother loves and end up having to fake most of them with old labels and such. While we watched this, Bambino was in stitches, reliving how good or how bad the various products were.

The fact that particular brands were as beloved and as much a part of everyday life under the umbrella of the Soviet Union as they were in the capitalistic West was a revelation for me. Wasn't part of the point of Communism to protect the populace from the evils of consumerism? Apparently it's all relative.


Alexander Kosolapov, The History, 1985, Acrylic, canvas. 50" x 80"


As the current exhibition ("Russian Pop Art") at the New Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow shows, not only was consumerism very much a part of the USSR, but it was so much so that Soviet artists had responded to it in much the way Western artists had, with Pop Art:

Warhol never suspected that his Russian contemporaries were finding beauty in the plain props of Soviet life and giving them the same adulatory treatment that he gave cans of Campbell's soup. Those works are featured in "Russian Pop Art," an exhibit organized by the Tretyakov Gallery's department for new currents in art, that opens Wednesday. On display will be over 250 works from the holdings of the Tretyakov, private collectors and Moscow galleries.

"Pop art is a certain set of ideas," Andrei Yerofeyev, head of the Tretyakov department behind the exhibition, said in an interview last week, dispelling the notion that Pop art is specific to American culture. Yerofeyev said that in order to be considered Pop art, a work must be figurative -- it must show an object -- and it must "speak the language of the masses." Russian Pop artists depicted doors, windows and appliances that were the stuff of domestic life in the Soviet Union.

Ironically, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the artist getting all the images in the press for this exhibition (Alexander Kosolapov [both images above are his]) uses mainly Western icons, but that may be more just an editorial choice by those doing the reporting. Here's one of his earlier pieces using a Soviet product:


Alexander Kosolapov, The Woman Bathing, 1975

As one report on this exhibition noted, there's lots of matchbox and bra brands represented among the 250 works in the exhibition. There's a pun somewhere in there about feminism, but I'm too loopy from allergies to find it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

From Chelsea to Madison Avenue in 0.4 Seconds Flat

Advisory: this post is a bit of an exercise in stream of consciousness...I'll try to tie it all together, but these are ideas I'm just formulating. You've been warned.

Making the rounds of openings in Chelsea this past weekend, I was very pleasantly surprised to see the new Monique Prieto paintings at Cheim and Reid. They're awesome and totally unexpected, which is rare and thrilling itself, and, in my opinion, one of the highlights among the new crop of exhibitions.

The more I studied them, the more connection I saw with her earlier works, but unfortunately, the more I studied them, the more I also realized their art context shelflife (i.e., how long it will be before this vocabularly is co-opted by advertising or other commercial ends) is probably much shorter than that of her older work. It's partly the inclusion of text (always a short cut over to Madison Avenue), but it's also how incredibly well this vocabulary lends itself to design.

So I'm walking around with that idea wandering the echoey corridors of my mind the past few days and then this morning I read this aricle on architecture exhibitions in the Times. One passage jumped out at me:
[S]hows of the last several years have focused on standard historical fare - like the two Mies van der Rohe exhibitions jointly organized in 2001 by the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney, both invaluable works of scholarship. But the Mies aesthetic, sleek and functional, is today about as threatening to the status quo as, say, a show on the Baroque master Borromini - and less relevant to current debates.
The status quo's accelerating ability to absorb the new vocabulary it takes artists ages to develop is a growing interest of mine. I think architecture has bought itself a few years of breathing space with its current exploration of the fold (i.e., I can't see the public truly absorbing what many architects are barely able to get their minds around), but fine art is looking more and more like the music industry, where bootleg versions of new songs are widely available via the internet before the artists' CDs are even unpacked at the stores.

A few years back, some enterprising soul printed up t-shirts of art stars and had folks hawking them throughout Miami Beach during Basel. I later saw the same t-shirts in Venice. I haven't seen them since, so I'm guessing the market wasn't as big as the entreprenuers had hoped it was, but a few of the t-shirt images were actually quite up to the second with regards to the art star's imagery (perhaps suggesting nothing more sinister than that the t-shirt printers knew their stuff). I was happy to see that effort fade away, but what if it catches on?

I suspect there's little fine artists can do to stop folks from stealing their vocabularies (hell, they can't even stop other artists), but I wonder if this doesn't mean that the fine art community could use a bit of new territory to explore? Some wide-open space where, like in contemporary architecture, it will be years before they can fully understand what it is they're working with, what its limitations are, and further down the road, what its symbolic significances are. Otherwise, the day is likely to come when a painter will see folks wearing t-shirts of his/her new work at their solo show opening.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Tabloid Editors on Auto-Pilot

Note to the editorial staffs of New York Daily News and New York Post: The "editorials" you've offered in response to "A Knock at the Door" ---an exhibition dealing with 9/11 and the Patriot Act (see a review in a real newspaper here)---would be beneath mention had they not, surprisingly for you, set a new low for lameness. I know with the New York baseball teams faring so poorly this season, you need some other hook to flog your meager wares, but aren't you just a bit bored yourselves by these tiresome rants against art? I mean this is New York, the art capital of the world. Can't you see that you're embarassing your readers?

Seriously, I'm trying to help you out here. Perhaps you could manufacture a controversy in some other arena, something not beaten to death already? You're clearly so ambivalent about these exhibitions, you can't even muster up a decent zinger for entertainment value. I'm sure that collective groan I heard was in response to duds like:

This is not a demand to cancel the exhibit. Artistic freedom, you know.
or the sort of sweeping generalizations you'd expect a 5th Grade English teacher to deduct points for:

Artists do not like self-control.
If you can't be bothered to even make an effort, you can always predict the next Vice Presidential candidate or something else you're better at:



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
NOTE: There's an excellent commentary by Jonathan Mandell on this made-up controversy in the
Gotham Gazette.

Artist of the Week 09/12/05

Peter Fend is the quintessential political artist. As soon as I say that, however, he would probably disagree. More often than not, his work is discussed as being about the intersection of art and science, not politics, per se. But for me, his approach is in and of itself a political gesture.

In 1980, Peter founded the Ocean Earth Construction and Development Corporation, which includes artists, architects, and scientists and which, according to
one source, "uses satellite imaging to monitor and analyze global ecological and geopolitical hot-spots, largely for media clients." Every time I run into Peter, he'll have some new development within the OECDC's range of projects that he's anxious to talk about. If he has documents or images with him, he'll spread them out and spin a tale of intrigue and optimism that becomes overwhelming, but thrilling all the same.


Peter Fend, Installation view of "Parallelprojekte. Vorschläge für Condoleezza Rice" at Galerie Christian Nagel, 2005


Peter was also the quintessential American Fine Arts artist, representing better than anyone the passion and commitment of that now gone gallery and its iconic founder, the late great Colin De Land, to what critic Charlie Finch dubbed "a communal spirit left over from the hippie 1960s with a cutting-edge 21st-century attitude toward materials and an existential love of everyday life." The last exhibition of Peter's I caught at AMA (when they were still on Wooster Street [sorry I know you had an exhibition after the move to Chelsea, Peter...but I didn't catch that one]) demonstrated the ambivalence to commercial concerns but passion for ideas about how to live better and more honestly that AMA was known for.

Peter is currently represented by Georg Kargl Fine Arts in Vienna, Gallery Marta Cervera in Madrid and Galerie Christian Nagel of Cologne/Berlin.


His rapid delivery and overwhelming enthusiasm has always led me to suspect that Peter's a bit of a dreamer (some might even say unrealistic), but he's so sincere about his projects, not to mention convincing, that he was recently awarded a Science and Art Research Fellowship at the University of Plymouth's Plymouth Marine Sciences Partnership to organize the Ocean Earth Construction and Development Corporation's efforts to show how renewable energy sources (like algae) can reverse global warming. You can read more about this ambitious project on the website Global Feed.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

September 11, 2005

It is, once again, a stunningly beautiful day here in New York City, this September 11th. Folks are making their way through the streets, Sunday paper and a coffee in hand, walking their dogs, pushing strollers, riding bikes, holding hands, and turning their faces upward to soak up the rays of the glorious September sun.

September is arguably New York's best month. The air is more breathable, the sky more clear, the heat less oppressive, and every industry is back in motion after their summer vacations...there's new art, theater, sports, music...life.

The New York Times printed this today:

Spalding Gray, the actor and monologuist, died in 2004. The following letter, which he wrote in the aftermath of 9/11, will appear in "Life Interrupted," a published version of the monologue he was working on at the time of his death.

For 34 years I lived with you and came to love you. I came to you because I loved theater and found theater everywhere I looked. I fled New England and came to Manhattan, that island off the coast of America, where human nature was king and everyone exuded character and had big attitude. You gave me a sense of humor because you are so absurd.

When we were kids, my mom hung a poster over our bed. It had a picture of a bumblebee, and under the picture the caption read:

"According to all aerodynamic laws, the bumblebee cannot fly because its body weight is not in the right proportion to its wingspan. But ignoring these laws, the bee flies anyway."

That is still New York City for me.

God Bless New York City. God Bless the United States. God comfort the families of those we lost four years ago. Our thoughts are with them today.

And now, I've gotta fly...

Consider this an open thread.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Tossing Your Teddy vs. Rising to Excellence

The Guardian has a story about the rather transparent appeal by Italy's architects to halt the number of building projects being awarded to foreign superstar architects. With arguments so lame they might as well have just tossed their teddies and stomped their feet, they called on Italy's government to prevent the "architectural mongrelisation" of Italy.

Their protests are supported by the architectural association Direzione Generale per L'Architettura e L'Arte Contemporanea in Rome, whose director, Pio Baldi, says Italian architects are being usurped in their own country.

"It appears that the use of foreign architects has become a fashion, but they are not always the right choice for the right project," he said.

"Architects like [the Brit, Lord] Foster can make skyscrapers in London, but he is not suited to making them in Siena. Italian architects are more capable of marrying the traditional with the modern in an Italian context."

This one is easy. If Italian architects want to be awarded Italian projects, all they have to do is submit the most compelling proposals. This extends into all art-related arenas where selection committees choose who gets what. I hear endless bellyaching from artists (and gallerists) who don't get picked for this open-call exhibition or grant (or that art fair), and my first thought is always, "Well, next time submit a more compelling proposal." Imagining that one should get a pass because of one's nationality or any other demographic is insulting to the organization offering the opportunity.

Oh, I know, there are often "political" considerations that can affect such selections, but their existence is no excuse for not submitting a proposal that takes them into account and overcomes them. Most of the time, it's not as if you didn't know they were there.

Excellence is your best defense against any such political considerations, always. Rising to the challenge and submitting the most excellent proposal you possibly can will always be the right approach. It's taken me a few stumbles myself to come to that conclusion, but I know it's correct. Even should the selection committee not be convinced, you'll make an impression. It will register with them. More importantly, you'll elevate your own game through the process.

The more time I spend in the art world, the more I'm convinced: there's only one thing worth striving for and that's excellence. If Italy's architects focussed on that, they wouldn't have time to build Italy's new institutions...they'd be too busy filling the demand for their work in all four corners of the world.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Health Insurance Alternative for Artists

The AP has a story that I hope gets the attention of health care institutions around the country. A bartering system has been created by Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center in Brooklyn whereby artists can trade service for health care:

The exchange is just one aspect of the hospital's effort to promote a plan that provides care on a sliding scale to working people who don't have health insurance but make too much money to be eligible for Medicaid or other government programs.

Artists who sign up for the plan can pay out of pocket based on their income or offer their services.

For every hour an artist volunteers, the hospital puts 40 credits — the equivalent of $40 — into a health care account to be used for medical expenses.

About 150 people have signed up for the plan through a special hot line set up for artists and performers, and roughly 40 have expressed interest in the exchange part of the program.
A cursory search did not turn up that special hot line, but the center's general number is (718) 963-8000.

One of the most frequent reasons I hear from artists who wish they could, but don't, quit their day jobs is they need the health insurance. Until we get a President or Congress that cares about the career-crippling costs of insurance for artists, it's good to know bartering alternatives like this exist. If you know of any other such set-ups, please share. Woodhull medical Director Dr. Edward Fiskin explained that they were motivated to create this program for artists "because they're our neighbors." Here's to good neighbors!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Image via ClampArt Website: Michael Meads: Ryan with broken arm IV, 2003, Cibachrome print, 20" x 16", edition of 10 or 10" x 8", Edition of 10

It Begins...

Tonight is what I like to call "Super Thursday." The Chelsea Art Season begins in earnest and literally thousands of people will descend upon the streets between 9th and 12th Avenues ranging from 13th up to now 30th Streets. The galleries will be muggy and crowded, and the art will be all but unviewable through the hordes. Everyone will continuously shorten their best summer vacation story as the night wears on, eventually insisting they didn't go anywhere out of self-defense, and perfecting their "Oh, I've already talked with you...six times...in six different galleries tonight...and I don't have anything left new to tell you...so let's not even try, OK?" smile.

Ahh...just the thought of it warms the cockles of my heart and brings a tear to my eye.

The few bars in and around Chelsea will be packed as well, meaning those accustomed to (in dire need of) a pre-opening cocktail (or two) had better get there early if you want that oh-so-important seat near the window. If I can force my way through the throngs, I'll be perched at Bongo's. Do say hello if you're about. I'll be the one downing the Manhattans on the rocks and greeting everyone as "Sweetie" or "Darling" as I air-kiss them from three feet away...oh, wait, that won't exactly narrow it down much for you, will it?

Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Speaking of Weddings...

Here's what I don't understand about gay-marriage opponents. If gay marriage comes about via the courts, as in Massachussetts, they're off demanding the heads of those "activist judges" saying that only through legislation can a social contract so significant be changed. But now that the California legislature has approved gay marriage, Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is threatening to veto it. His reason?

After the vote, Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Margita Thompson said: "The people spoke when they passed Proposition 22. The issue subsequently went to the courts. The governor believes the courts are the correct venue for this decision to be made. He will uphold whatever decision the court renders."
Silly me, I thought in a representational government, we assumed the "people spoke" when their elected officials succeeded in passing a law fair and sqaure. For Arnold to rely on those "activist judges" to strike down this clearly legal advance for human rights is so beyond hypocritical, we need a new word for chutzpah.

What a girly man.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Four Fun Sites and a Wedding

I'm still not quite back in the bloggin mode, having just returned from a wedding in DC (it was awesome!...see NYT notice here [it was held in St. Matthew's Cathedral--seen at right]). There's plenty of sorrowful news about, but I'm taking a break just today in order to maximize the potential of the Internet and link to a few light-hearted things I've seen recently:

1. Via The OC Art Blog: I am better than your kids (perhaps the rudest [and one of the funniest] art critics around).
2. Via Thinking About Art: Contemporary magazine recently offered an article about art blogging. Among other bit of fun you can see a [slightly darkish] photo of art blogger extraordinaire, Tyler Green.
3. Via Artinfo.com: a great round-up of art world quotes, including this gem:

""Years ago, you got a little quiet thank-you note [for supporting a museum]. Today, they put your boats outside."— Marie Malaro, author of Museum Governance: Mission, Ethics, Policy.
4. Finally, Via Zeke's Gallery (via The OC Art Blog) comes McSweeny's list of "Things Not Overheard at a Conceptual-Art Gallery Opening," including this one that had me laughing til I snorted:
"Now that you mention it, I have no idea who designed this shirt."
Enjoy! Regular bloggin to resume tomorrow.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

In Praise of the Individual Rescuers and the City of Houston

From my hotel in our nation's capital

In these days when our federal leadership pales in comparison with the Keystone Cops and W guitars while New Orleans drowns, it's beyond comforting to see someone...anyone...step up and make some sacrifice...some display of sincere concern and charity...without being forced to by polls or fear of political fallout. And so, I'm taking this opportunity to shower praise on the individual citizens of New Orleans who stayed behind to help their neighbors, even when they had the means to leave themselves, and the people and the Mayor of the great city of Houston, Texas. As The New York Times Editorial put it today:


Washington's inspiration must now be the individual rescuers in New Orleans, who have labored so bravely and selflessly, as well as the charitable deeds of local and state governments. Houston's offer of shelter at the Astrodome has put self-regarding national politicians to shame.

Congress and the president had better get the message: an extraordinary time is upon the nation. The annihilation in New Orleans is an irrefutable sign that the national tax-cut party is over. So is the idea that American voters cannot be required to accept sacrifice or inconvenience, no matter how great the crisis. This country is better than that.

The record-shattering money sent to the Red Cross in the wake of the crisis demonstrates Americans are better than that. Over 90 million dollars in the first three days (compared with 30 million for December's tsunami in the same time period). But more will be needed. Estimates now suggest $50 billion dollars will be needed to repair the damage. Hundreds of thousands of people need new homes. Via Tacitus, come these two places to learn more about how you can help in this effort:

The refugees from Louisiana and Mississippi cannot all fit in the Astrodome -- nor should they have to. If you have a spare room, please consider donating your space to a person or family in need. It's the right thing to do, and you'll be helping not just an individual, but your country. There are two web resources you should be aware of:

Like the people of the city of New Orleans, we can't wait for the Federal government to get its priorities straight or its act together (yes, I know, yesterday, the "calvary" arrived...but there are still thousands waiting to be rescued and I have little faith the Federal government's attention span will last as long as the need for help will...already, Fox News is spinning the crisis as something Bush has under control and suggesting all the anger should be directed at the looters). Americans will have to step up and and help the survivors long after the adminstration is back hard at work handing out pork and corporate welfare. We're the ones the victims of the disaster will need to be able to count on. It's gonna be a long hard slog for the people of New Orleans...we need to be there for them through the months to come.