Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Blogger Show

Is there some common thread to the work of the kind of artist who blogs? That's the first question that ran through my head when I first heard of the "The Blogger Show," the four-venue (5 really, if you count the internet), 34-artist exhibition of work by artists with popular blogs.

Then I read the staggeringly insightful essay on the experimental grouping by the talented Mr. Gusky and realized how limited my initial thoughts on the idea were. Here's a snippet of Bill's piece:
Our entire understanding of Western art is largely the result of a discourse that has taken place over the past decades across a variety of locations and media: artists’ studios, galleries, museums, newspapers, arts journals and bars. Within the past five years another medium has entered this discourse: online weblogs, or blogs.

Bloggers rarely if ever subject themselves to outside editors. The resultant flouting of decorum can lend a kind of expressionistic style to the writing, in which the author’s personal impressions are paramount. At times and in the hands of some authors the invective-seasoned entries almost come off as a new breed of punk: anarchic, iconoclastic, even petty and vicious.

A number of artists have entered the blog arena, writing about art and the art world as they participate in it through their visual work. There have always been artists who write about art, and at times their writing has been highly influential; Donald Judd is one name that leaps to mind. As a new art narrative emerges, writers of all stripes - critics, historians, curators and even art bloggers — will play a large part in shaping, interpreting and defining it.

This exhibition focuses on the work of artists who are active art blog writers. The work you see here emerged in the studio in near-simultaneity with the artist’s written expressions. These twin efforts - art making and blog writing — sometimes appear to flow together and intertwine beautifully, and at other times almost seem to be in diametric opposition.
In case it's not obvious, I love artists who write. Actually, despite how great many of them are, I find artists who don't like to write incredibly frustrating. Yes, I know the "visual art is a different language" arguments, but I guess my attraction to the minds of polyglots (Bambino's fluent in 4 languages, no less) is tied into my admiration for visual artists who can verbalize some of what they're doing in their work. But that's enough about me (see, Wilde was right, every single review of anything is merely an excuse to talk about oneself)...check out the online version of the show, check out its blog, or better yet, make it to one of the four galleries participating:
  • Agni Gallery, 170 East 2nd Street, Storefront #3, New York, NY 10009
  • Digging Pitt Gallery, 4417 Butler St., Pittsburgh, PA 15201
  • Digging Pitt Too, 45th and Plummer, Pittsburgh PA 15201
  • Panza Gallery, 115 Sedgwick Street, Millvale, PA 15209
Congratulations to the artists and organizers!

Labels: The Blogger Show


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I apologize for the self promotion. I recently blogged about the shark thing at:

I totally agree with you with regards to artists and writing. It is really great when an artist can articulate their feelings about art in general or their own art using the written word. Must they do this? Of course not. What artist doesn't love to read Paul Klee's diaries and theory, Matisse's thoughts about painting and drawing, Leonardo's notebooks? This is thrilling stuff, wonderful supplements and artistic accomplishments, especially if you can't afford to own and live with an original art work by any of these geniuses. Owning art works by living artists who also write must be great as well because you can enjoy the work on so many different levels when you are simultaneously privy to the artist's thinking process and the concrete results of it.

10/17/2007 08:54:00 AM  
Blogger nathaniel said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10/17/2007 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger nathaniel said...

Sorry for the delete and repost - it was a quick mouse finger.

I'm also all for artists who can articulate with the written word what they are trying to accomplish in other forms; right that it's never a replacement for the work, but it can certainly be another invitation for us to be invested in them and their practice: the idiosyncratic fact that my mother loves Pollack, but only after seeing a short documentary about how and why he produced his work, comes to mind. Nothing sparks dialogue like, well, dialogue.

And my "bambino" is similarly brilliant - lucky man that I am - so good on you :)
Sorry to miss the shows, but that commute would kill me.

10/17/2007 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

I sometimes wonder if all the writing doesn't take away from the art in some way; that maybe if I, at least, put less effort into writing and more into painting, I'd be a better artist.

For me, though, I think writing uses an entirely different part of my brain. The left side/right side dichotomy is a gross over simplification, but certainly I can say that I can sing along with music while I paint or carry on a conversation and not even notice; whereas I can't, for example, carry on a conversation and watch TV at the same time. The verbal part of my brain can operate independently but it can't do two things at once, and it seems to have nothing to do with my painting.

So maybe it doesn't matter whether I spend time writing or not; maybe my painting is as good as it could be for now. Which I guess is pretty sad.

I don't understand why people want to know so much about their favorite artists, but I have the same problem. When I hear a song I like, or read a book I like, or see a painting, or whatever, suddenly I want to know everything about the musician or author or whoever. Do they like the stuff that I like? Are they married? Are they physically attractive? What's their favorite ice cream? It's dumb, and I don't understand it, but I do it myself.

10/17/2007 10:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you are interested in how we construct images and how it is just as complicated as the speech act you should read "Visual Intelligence: How We Create What We See" by Donald David Hoffman. I think all of the different human activities you are talking about fall under the umbrella of "human intelligence" and even though brain mapping has made it clear that certain activities take place in specific parts of the brain, their are constructive acts behind everything we see or say or write.

10/17/2007 11:10:00 AM  
Anonymous David said...

The show looks great! Congratulations to all the artist/bloggers.

10/17/2007 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger nathaniel said...

Chris says:

I sometimes wonder if all the writing doesn't take away from the art in some way; that maybe if I, at least, put less effort into writing and more into painting, I'd be a better artist. For me, though, I think writing uses an entirely different part of my brain. ... The verbal part of my brain can operate independently but it can't do two things at once, and it seems to have nothing to do with my painting.

Yeh, writing and art-making are different modes of thinking/being for me, too. But I also find that in a similar way to how I can discover new processes and materials and methods while in the thick of producing new work, I also sometimes find new ways of engaging that work when writing or talking about it; and these are often things I didn't think of before, might not have ever reached without having to articulate it in language. Sometimes, when I’m away from the studio for a long-ish period of time and writing (I'm a PhD student at present), I come back with techniques or ideas I didn't know were in me; these must have, somehow, been influenced by the writing, however indirectly - and it's wonderful.

10/17/2007 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger john said...

Thanks a lot for the post Ed. I kind of want to apologize, since this show as it is won't come close to scratching the surface in terms of showing the different ways artists are using blogs.

I think blogging is an important reflection of a trend in the art world in which artists are trying to gain more control of the dialog about their work, and how it's seen and talked about.

Hopefully, we can pull this off without to much disgrace and push the concept again on a much larger scale.

10/17/2007 02:09:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Personally, I'm not trying to gain control of the dialog about my work, I'm trying to start the dialog about my work. Hell, I'm just trying to get noticed.

And also make friends. My experience so far is it's very important to have a group of people who accept that you're an artist in order to be one. Blogs are a great way to meet those people.

10/17/2007 03:04:00 PM  
Blogger Susan Constanse said...

Thanks for posting about the Blogger Show, Ed.

I agree with John that this exhibit will just scratch the surface of artist/bloggers and their myriad reasons for participating in this platform.

10/17/2007 03:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm in this show... john and susan are amazing. you would not believe the amount of effort.

codename: bluebird

10/17/2007 03:47:00 PM  
Blogger Bill Gusky said...

Thank you for your kind words, Edward. Hope to see you at the event!
cheers - B

10/17/2007 04:19:00 PM  
Blogger Sunil said...

I liked the words by Bill. Enjoyed reading the perspective.

At the end of the day, what I have noticed is that many of the artist run blogs are really self-portraits. Sometimes deeply touching, sometimes troubled – many times, they give you a pathway into the motivations behind their thoughts, expressions and most importantly – their works of art. In fact, many years from now, I am sure art historians and aficionados will be working hard to peruse and dissect the art based proclamations on the blogs of those few artists who may have gotten famous by then.

10/17/2007 04:39:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

I often find myself -- egotist that I am -- wondering how things I've done or am doing will look in biography form. You know, like "In late 2007, Pittsburgh gallerist John Morris visited Rywalt in his temporary studio in New York City. This led to Rywalt's putting a painting in the groundbreaking Blogger Show, which was to launch the careers of several early 21st century artists."

I think like this. Mostly not seriously, because I'm not actually that much of an egotist. But I'm always wondering what events looked like to the people living through them. Like the first time Picasso met Matisse -- do you think there was a loud orchestral flourish? Of course not. They were just two guys who bumped into each other. But in their biographies, BA-DAH! It's an Important Moment!

So I wonder what qualifies as the Important Moments in my life. The Blogger Show! BA-DAH!

10/17/2007 04:49:00 PM  
Blogger john said...

Does anybody think there is a strong relationship between the style of an artist's blog and their work? I kind of see that. Artist's with very formal work often have that same character in their blogs. Of course, the most anal type would never want any dialog at all.

We are by the way hoping to extend the show online and feature or at least link to interesting web projects as the show goes on.

10/17/2007 04:52:00 PM  
Blogger john said...

Hi Chris,

One of the problems with an online life is that one can wake up to find it was deleted. I think, a large part of this shows existense will it's ephemeral existence online.

10/17/2007 04:58:00 PM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

Ed: Thanks for mentioning The Blogger Show.

John and Susan: Thanks for conceiving, organizing and installing it in its various venues.

As an artist who writes and occasionally curates, it seems to me that some folks in the art biz--present company excluded, of course--don't like to see this kind of crossover. As if an artist who writes would be less serious about her painting, or a critic less objective if she curated, or a curator less curatorial if she also made art or wrote outside the expected parameters.

Chris R has it right: we're engaging different parts of our brains with these various activities. Frankly, I think that writing makes me a better painter because it makes me a stronger thinker and viewer. Visiting an exhibition or an art fair with the idea of perhaps writing about it makes me really look at the work, because if I'm going to consider writing about a particular show, I can't just eyeball it from the doorway. I've become a much better gallery goer whether or not I write about the work.

I made my living for 20 years as an editor, so writing is part of my daily practice (even if I post only once a week). I've embraced blogging. The only thing that kills me is waiting for the damn pics to upload. (Now I multi-multi-task.)

Kudos to all. I'm thrilled to be involved.

10/17/2007 06:05:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

One of the problems with an online life is that one can wake up to find it was deleted.

This can happen with an off-line life too (minus the waking up part), which seems to me a much bigger problem :)

10/17/2007 06:31:00 PM  
Blogger prettylady said...

Or you can wake up to find that it wasn't deleted, and now people you've never met hate you because of something you wrote in 1998 and no longer have access to. The Internet As Agent of Eternal Karma.

10/17/2007 06:46:00 PM  
Blogger prettylady said...

And I second everything that Joanna said. Everything except about uploading pics. Cable rules.

10/17/2007 06:47:00 PM  
Blogger Marc Snyder said...

Another element of this show that I hope will be exciting is the access that the viewer will have to the artists, not only through what the artists have already written on their blogs, but through the possibility of creating a dialogue with the artists through the "comments". Unlike the relative formality of the gallery talk, with all of its conventions, or the quick note in the gallery book, the viewer's ability to leave a lengthy comment on any of the artists' blogs seems rather unique. To leave the gallery, fire up the computer, and respond to the artist with the knowledge that he or show will definitely, and rather immediately, get that feedback, puts the viewer in a pretty uncommon situation. We'll see if it works out that way. . .

10/17/2007 10:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Ben said...

as an artist who's built a practice on the connection between writing and the body i feel like i would be a bit of a fraud if i wasn't able to write about my work and the issues surrounding it.

I think this makes me a little unforgiving when it comes to the "visual art is a different language" arguments. I don't think you have to look very far to find the influence of literature and philosophy in the development of 'the language of visual art' (and vice versa).

critical reflective writing as part of a broader creative practice gives the artist the great advantage of being able to work directly into the spaces of influence between not only philosophy, literature and art but also other areas that rely on the linguistic transfer of knowledge (just about any area really).

This is an advantage not only because it expands the reach of all fields involved, but also because it helps as to realize new (and old) specificities in respective fields.

in this case writing about your work, far from diminishing its value, is about increasing its specificity while simultaneously broadening its connections.

10/17/2007 11:12:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

I'm thinking about getting WOrld of Warcraft tatooes in chinese on my andkle with a butterfly. I told god I'd do it if I can get 25 an hour. Thanks god!

10/18/2007 02:24:00 AM  
Blogger Dale Anthony said...

Im not sure if I have a blog in order to clarify my ideas or publicise them. At least with notes you have permanence and dont risk being plagarised. But I agree ,the blog thing is interesting because it hasnt been interpreted yet. Its still ambiguous.

10/18/2007 02:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

zip, did you get a good job?

10/18/2007 08:15:00 AM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

John sez:
One of the problems with an online life is that one can wake up to find it was deleted.

One of the huge, huge, enormous problems I have with blog comments is that there's no way for me to grab all the comments I've made on every blog. For a completist like me -- I keep just about everything I draw, paint, or write, and have complete e-mail archives going back nearly 20 years -- this is very painful. Especially when I've found, a couple of times, that the entire conversation was deleted by the blog author.

I've made it a point, with the content I control on the Web, to leave it where it is for as long as possible. And I've made backups of all of it, too. Because I hate ephemerality. Just recently I bought a 500 gigabyte external hard drive to which I can back up all my data and then put it in a firebox in my basement.

My bits will go on!

10/18/2007 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Chris you are a web veteran you should know you can program a personal web spider to search for Chris Rywalt or whatever.

Program me one. I need to write the I Ching.

Data mining. Its a concept.

Don't jinx the job.

10/18/2007 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Zip suggests:
Chris you are a web veteran you should know you can program a personal web spider to search for Chris Rywalt or whatever.

I've been around long enough to know that's a lot harder than it looks, too. I use Google to search for myself every so often -- having a wacky name like Rywalt makes vanity searches so much easier -- but of course that doesn't catch everything. Nor does a Blogger search.

Really, given that Blogger is almost certainly database driven -- probably Oracle or MySQL back there -- it'd be a simple matter to construct a query on comment author and pull up every comment I've ever made on a Blogger-based blog (which is most of them). But if the database isn't optimized for such queries -- the way it certainly is for blog author queries, say -- it could take a really, really, really long time. Which may be why Blogger doesn't offer a front-end for it.

What I've been doing is using to tag bookmarks to any conversation I enter into. So I've got a map to follow from December 10, 2006 to today. I'm sad about losing anything earlier than that, though, and also anything that's been deleted since then.

One day I'd like to scribble up a script that goes out and grabs all those conversations and saves them for me somewhere. I'm sure I'll get to it eventually.

10/18/2007 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger John Morris said...

Ok, Chris-- I think you finally have the project that will get you in Ed's gallery --an obsessive record of every word, you have put online. The whole idea of making the attempt is pretty absurd, but really interesting.

10/18/2007 12:43:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

In my case it's not entirely impossible. My old Usenet posts are available through Google, including one joke I posted to rec.humor.funny back in the day. I'm still running every site I've ever put up myself. And nothing I've ever done professionally has really made it to the Web.

The only things likely to be missing are a handful of live chats and any deleted blog comments.

And, of course, the my month in the 1999 Big Hairy Naked Guy Online Calendar, which was condemned as a war crime by a tribunal in the Hague and removed from all archives.

10/18/2007 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger w said...

One point I didn't see above - blogs aren't just writing, they're also image delivery systems, and many blogs I "read" aren't text at all.

Thanks for the mention of the show E.

10/19/2007 02:55:00 PM  
Blogger Eva said...

When I lived in NYC, I went to a lot of shows alone. I wrote about them once home, but rarely shared my views and often, felt kind of lonely there. I think this reality would have been completely different if I lived there now, with all the blogs. At least I can read what others think. It has made a big difference. It's not like it's all "good" but I don't care.
Thanks for mention, Edward.

10/19/2007 03:36:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

I'll do you one better, Eva: If it weren't for my blog, I wouldn't go. Having to write about visiting galleries, having the guilt of a blog without updates hanging over my head -- that keeps me going to openings and seeing what's out there. And that's led to my meeting people, making friends, and finding opportunities I wouldn't have otherwise.

I knew this would happen. It's why I started the blog. Because I can keep up with something if I set it as an assignment and put it out for people to see. Then my fear of letting people down kicks in -- and that fear, that guilt, is one of the most powerful motivators in my life. That's what comes of being raised Catholic, I suppose. Catholic and lazy: I need deadlines and I need to feel bad about missing them.

10/19/2007 04:41:00 PM  
Blogger John Morris said...

James Kalm also wrote a nice piece on this subject a few months ago in the Brooklyn Rail which included a nice talk with Barry and James and Painter from PaintersNYC.

10/19/2007 04:55:00 PM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

I like the way our personal networks expand as a result of what we blog.

An example: Sharon Butler of Two Coats of Paint mentioned my blog to her colleagues with regard to the spam they were receiving in their university inboxes. I had the same problem and turned the stuff into "Poetry from Cyberspace."(If you're interested:

Here's another: When I was in Montana last month for a teaching residency, an artist from the community, who had read my blog and with whom I'd chatted online, came to my talk and introduced himself.

The ways we're able to communicate as a result of our blogs--farther into cyberspace, or back into bricks-and-mortar real time--are amazing and wonderful.

BTW, if you're interested, I just posed a piece, "Skeleton Crew," on the critical mass of skull-and-bone shows in Chelsea this month.

10/19/2007 07:35:00 PM  
Blogger John Morris said...

I just want to put in a little memorial here for Detroit Arts. Ann Gordon is moving on and her blog will be going to a "better place", I guess.

I never, ever, ever, wanted to go to Detroit, until I found her blog.

10/19/2007 07:59:00 PM  
Blogger S.L. Butler said...

Back in the day, I used to smoke cigarettes when I stepped back from a painting. Now I make posts to Two Coats of Paint and read the other bloggers' daily posts. Perhaps blogging will help me live longer...?

10/21/2007 11:17:00 AM  

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