Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Cheer

I love this short film by Guilherme Marcondes. I've seen it before, and posted it several places, but I thought it'd make a nice re-entry into the world of blogging...that I seemingly uncermoniously left last month.

While that wasn't/isn't the case (I was traveling) I do have some writings to post. Especially my thoughts on the recent Winter Selctions over at J.Johnson...better late than never. Maybe?

Until then, enjoy this:




www.guilherme.tv

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Heartbreak



“Picasso stirred. Picasso screamed. A genius came to life. His first breath must have entered on a rush of smoke, searing the throat, scorching to the lungs, and laced with the sitmulants of nicotine. It is not unfair to say that the harsh spirit of tobacco is seldom absent from his work." --from "Portrait of Picasso as a Young Man."

I still remember the first Mailer book I ever read, "Tough Guys Don't Dance," a brilliant potboiler that alternately titillated, shocked and disgusted. This was before I even realized “who” he was, and where in the Pantheon of writers he stood. And long before I became exhausted with the relentless macho posing of the writers of his generation (I still can’t stomach Henry Miller).

But the prose in “Tough Guys” made me seek out his other writings, and though I have yet to make it through his entire oeuvre, his passing still marks the end of an era. The NY Times says it better than I can:

“Mailer built and nurtured an image over the years as pugnacious, streetwise and high-living. He drank, fought, smoked pot, married six times and stabbed his second wife, almost fatally, during a drunken party.

He had nine children, made a quixotic bid to become mayor of New York, produced five forgettable films, dabbled in journalism, flew gliders, challenged professional boxers, was banned from a Manhattan YWHA for reciting obscene poetry, feuded publicly with writer Gore Vidal and crusaded against women's lib.”

But as Newsweek reviewer Raymond Sokolov said in 1968, “in the end it is the writing that will count.”

So let’s end this rumination with an answered question, instead of posing a new one:

Q. Who stole the Mona Lisa?

A. In 1911, a mad Italian housepainter—Vincenzo Peruggia—stole the painting to return it to his native country. It was found in 1913 in Florence.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The King is Dead, Long Live the King





When I was a kid, I was absolutely obsessed with Egypt. I've followed the discovery of various treasures and tombs in Egypt my entire life. And more than one Saturday night has been passed on the sofa in sweats, watching an Egypt or pyramids marathon with bated breath.

So when I read that King Tutankhamen was being unmasked and placed on display, it was simultaneously exciting and disheartening. Recently, King Tut has been the focus of renewed scientific inquiry. His face has been reconstructed (which was itself the cause for controversy as he was represented with lighter skin) and somehow I suspect it really satisfies no-one as each person associated with the pharaoh must’ve had his or her own idea of what he looked like.

Now, Zawi Hawass and the Egyptian Antiquities Board have decided to put the head and feet of the boy king on display in his underground tomb in the Valley of the Kings. The move is designed to help preserve the mummy, which has been damaged by the thousands of visitors that come to gaze on the king each year.

The display, while macabrely interesting, raises questions of the respect for human remains and the appropriateness of ogling one who has made that long journey into the afterworld.

On that same track, if one takes the ancient Egyptians’ own views into consideration, then King Tut is truly living and being worshiped forever. It also probably helps that he’s been dead for 3,200 thousand years and now looks more like a sculpture, less like a man.

Nonetheless, its easy to imagine that it is a humbling experience to gaze upon Egypt’s golden boy; to wonder what his life was like, and what remains to be discovered about the immortal 18th Dynasty.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

“Seriousness” as a form of infectious stupidity



From the recent (amazing) article/interview with Dave Hickey by Sheila Heti over at the Believer (many thanks to Mark Creegan for bringing it to light).

"And you must want to win. I don’t want to be rich, but I want to win. I want my enemies to fall in shambles. I do not want to be fair. I want the art I hate to go away. If you want your art to stay around, and I hate it, get your own fucking critic! So I am not in favor of art—I’m in favor of the art I like."

Hell to the yes.

He also gave us that lovely line (co-opted from Alec Waugh): “Seriousness” as a form of infectious stupidity.

www.believermag.com/issues/200711/?read=interview_hickey

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Consider the Source





In the current issue of ArtNews, the magazine takes a look back at their critics’ pronouncements. “Some were prescient, others were clunkers,” the magazine admits with the kind of savage gleefulness usually reserved for the perusal of personal pictures from, say, the 7th grade.

For example, Picasso’s (obvious, yes, but succinct) works were decried as figures made by children with blocks. But in 1958, Rothko’s work got different treatment: “The effect was both of a limitless splendor and of the tenderest and most realistic precision, like the one drop of blood that feel when Snow White’s mother pricked her finger.

And because I can’t resist, a 1994 review of Hirst’s work, “…Only 28, Hirst is maturing into a serious artist who understands that art is not about the show, but rather what goes on behind the stage.”

More than anything, besides a good-natured look into its archives, the ArtNews flashback poses the question of the importance of the (art) critic, and more broadly the importance of being “right.”

So, in looking at Brittni Wood’s recent work at the Jane Gray gallery, one is forced to consider her work not just under her statement that the work examines “social issues of today, with an emphasis on ideas of religion, sexuality, and gender roles,” but also to consider the possibility for evolution.

Wood’s works examine big-ticket issues notably tackled by artists like Kiki Smith, Eva Hesse, Judy Chicago, and Miriam Shapiro. And indeed there are overt references to these artists in her works from gingham-ish fabric to glossy spills, and icons that resemble vaginas.

However, at a certain point, the artist seemingly departs from her mission and begins exploring Clyfford Still-like fields of color. Juxtaposed with gingham strips of fabric glued to the canvas, they are neither a wholesale enough rejection of aesthetic values, or a carefully considered and composed composition.

On the whole, the artist’s smaller works were more successful than the larger pieces. In the petite ones, she managed to control the entire surface, while some of the larger paintings seemed to run away with her.

Right now, it seems Wood is in a transitional phase and it remains to be seen how she will choose to marshal her talent.

More of her work can be viewed at:
www.janegraygallery.com or www.brittniwood.com

Monday, November 5, 2007

Without Shame




Let she who is without shame cast the first stone.

So, a big thank you for the shout out over on Mile Marshall Lewis’s site: Furthermucker.com. Miles is a writer, critic, and expatriate b-boy living in France and writing about the past and future of hip hop. I’ve read his books and in addition to being funny and smart, I use them as a kind of writer’s roadmap.

Above, you can see a couple of images I’ve been working on lately. Very different from my unsolicited but graciously accepted Bronx Biannual idea (visible on his site), but look closely, similarities exist.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Yellow Handed




Over drinks tonight, a friend (check out his work here: jiffyfeet.com and here: www.urbanartwarfare.com) mentioned that Banksy had been caught. Not caught and cuffed, caught on film/digital in the act of wheatpasting.

According to londonist.com, “Reader Chloe sends us these images of what is surely a new Banksy piece in Bethnal Green. And she seems to have captured the face of the artist, hitherto unseen. (However, we've seen that flower shape before, around Shoreditch—perhaps Banksy is here teaming up with someone else).
The work seems to be some kind of riposte to Tower Hamlets council, which recently declared it would erase all of Banksy's graffiti in the borough.”

In an interesting sidebar, because this isn’t a city-sanctioned sign: “It is a requirement of the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 that yellow lines must be correctly terminated with a T-Bar. If the T-Bar is missing or incorrectly marked then it is not legal. This double yellow in Bethnal Green is not correctly terminated.

So, if you have received a ticket at this location http://www.parkingappeals.co.uk/ will handle your defence and prepare your case for you free of charge,” reports neilherron.blogspot.com.”

But, back to Banksy caught in the act, after looking at the artist’s set-up-- visible in the images--its entirely possible that this was an event structured by the artist himself. The genius here is that Banksy has established such a mystery around himself and his identity, that it could be a case of “we are Banksy, or I am Banksy.” Either way it’s a moot point. Which further lends itself to the artist’s or artists’ success. And ultimately it doesn’t matter.

Though personally, I prefer my Banksy masked. I really don’t want to find out that he’s just another (hugely talented) sneaker nerd or worse, a prick.

It's also interesting to note that the photographed image is very similar to the wheatpasted one. Coincidence?

*UPDATE*

In response to Tonya Lee’s comment, I was forced to think about my role as a blogger and therefore disseminator of media. Initially my response was that of a journalist: as a successful artist with a personae that plays with the media, he brought this on himself…its all a part of the game, and it makes for an interesting and timely discussion.

But then, in a later conversation Tonya made the point that she likes what Banksy does and thinks it’s important but, it’s still illegal. I thought about that point and agreed…so in the spirit of not contributing to his possible apprehension by the authorities (and because I am the boss-lady of this tiny sub-corner of the interweb), I’ve fuzzed out his face. The interesting thing for me is not, in fact, unmasking him, it’s in considering that he stage-managed this whole thing.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Carry On!



Jacksonville is not necessarily a visionary city. It’s trying, but like an addict, the city stumbles and falls in its attempts to become more cosmopolitan…again and again reaching for the crack-pipe of conservatism.

But as tempting as it is to rail angrily against the powers-that-be, I’ve decided to “above all, keep calm and carry on.” No, it’s not an original idea—it originates in WWII Briton where signs, bearing that admonishment were posted around the city.

Now, the company, keep-calm.com, has printed an homage to that delightfully stiff-upper-lip-ish maxim. The print comes in several colors, is a limited edition, created by an independent shop that supports artists.

Thus tying neatly into artisntrocketscience’s latest pronouncement to shop responsibly. Perhaps this is the gift I’ll give myself this winter.

www.keep-calm.com

Baby-step subversiveness



Supporting my need to be (a least a little) subversive in a time of overwhelming blandness, I’ve stolen a cue from the kids over at Flufflife and taken the handmade pledge. I also take this pledge to mean supporting unpretentious small local businesses and (equally unpretentious) artists.

Hopefully I’ll get through the majority of the season sticking to my ideology and not buckling to the pressure to shop at Target and its ilk. If, as a community in a capitalist culture we were to use our discretionary income more thoughtfully, think of the changes that could occur! Okay, now I’m sounding dangerously utopian and socialist, so I’ll sign off with a simple thought from Jacques Cousteau, “If we go on the way we have, the fault is our greed [and] if we are not willing [to change], we will disappear from the face of the globe, to be replaced by the insect.”

So no, I’m not saying that shopping is route to saving the world, (though most of the stores in 5 Points will be open late tonight followed by a 9:15 showing of "Goonies" at the old 5 Points Theatre) I’m simply saying conscious consumerism is a great way to put community-centric ethics into action.

Now the horse is dead, ’nuff said.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Boo Anyway



I can’t help but feel that I should post a musing or two on the theme of the day. How it is a modern-baccanalia, a pagan rite (complete with sacred whores) revisited--as Camille Paglia might argue, or just a day to escape oneself. But I don’t think I’m quite up to it.

Halloween, falling mid-week as it does this year, somehow seems like more work than fun this time around. So I’m planning a visit to the museum--sans costume--for the Dracula movie with the new Phillip Glass score. Boo anyway.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sadness Like Water





Sitting here, listening to Elvis Presley croon “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” I am forced to think about the nature of sadness and of memory. Which leads, it seems, to thinking about the work of artist Zhang Huan.

Huan is perhaps most famous for his performance piece, “12 Square Meters” (1994) where the artist, then living next to a garbage dump in Beijing, covered himself in fish oil and honey and sat in a public latrine for an hour as flies crawled over him, into his nose, the corners of his eyes, and into his ears.

I remember seeing an image of the work, shortly after it was made public (ArtForum I think) and it struck me then, and strikes me now. Not least because the image is beautiful in its own way, but also because of the thick thatch of pubic hair visible, lends itself to the disquieting understanding that the flies probably found their way into that most intimate space.

Since then, Huan has steadily been increasing his global presence. And though some of his works have been accused of pandering to a Western audience’s ideas of the East, there is enough mystery to keep collectors and critics looking.

Most recently, the artist has garnered press (if not accolades) for a recent series that at first glance examines Buddhism. But a more prolonged meditation of the work ideologically links it to China’s history as a conquering nation, as well as it’s (more recent) Maoist past, and the ways in which the country is emerging in the 21st Century.

The works are large disembodied heads made of the ash from incense sticks burned at Buddhist monasteries that the artist sweeps up. The heads, with elongated earlobes (traditionally sign of spiritual development and superior status) are not beautiful, often sprouting hairy warts that look rather masticated, and reference, like the welded hands he creates, the broken Buddhist figures he found in Tibet. Tibet, which has its share of China-generated woes.

Simple and direct the sculptures communicate sadness, loss, and displacement in different layers and with varying intensity. Feelings that are surely not the sole provenance of a Chinese artist. They are also profound comments on impermanence...the inevitable decline into decay and then nothingness.

*Of interest: the NY Times reports that Huan recently joined PaceWildenstein’s blue-chip stable.

Friday, October 26, 2007

A Note From the Editor



After getting a phone call from my mother (pictured, blue shirt), complaining about how difficult it is to read this, then having my brother back it up (not pictured), I have decided (as you can see) to change the look up a bit. I might like it 'cause its less pretentious...then again, maybe not. Either way, I hope this makes your perusal easier.

But, in an effort to bolster my lost sense of pretention, I'm thinking (we're thinking) about using the "royal we" in future posts. Ridiculous.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

8 BIT




I love documentaries. Give me a narrator with a well-modulated voice, thoughtful and nostalgic shots, and I'm in heaven. Of course, I realize that this Discovery Channel model isn't exactly revolutionary and even as I nod off midway through many of the shows I attempt to watch, that's not a ringing endorsement.

So, when I went to see "8 BIT," the movie about video game and video game art, I didn't really know what to expect. Its garnered accolades from around the world (which alone suggests it won't be constructed a la Discovery or A&E), and indeed, it is an interesting look into a subculture. But really, that's about all it amounted to.

The premise of the film is simple, it looks at old, outdated technology like 8 bit computers and the ways in which the code can be broken and forced to do new things. And its pretty interesting, as one artist in the film says, "graffiti for the computer nerd set."

Here's what Moca Jax had to say about the film: "By weaving together arcane histories of digital subterfuge, candid interviews with cutting edge artists and theorists, wild videogame concerts, and highlights from the best digital artwork being made today, 8 BIT exposes the cultural ramifications of video games and proposes that Generation X’s coming to grips with its digital heritage signals the beginning of a new social and artistic reality."

And its true, the art/music/performances being made by some of these artists is quite interesting with overtones of nostalgia and innocence. Perhaps the most compelling work being made are the chip tunes, musical compositions created using the audio signatures of early video games.

However, the discussion of chip tunes is also where the film becomes overly indulgent and tedious. Despite interesting and funny interviews, the segments where the audience is treated to selections of chip tune performances is intriguing at first, and then descends into annoyance. Not least because the music closely resembles trance and techno, and a little electronica goes a long way. That's not a wholesale dismissal of the form, just a warning. In fact, I had to leave early because the music triggered a migraine.

Overall, this film was worth the price of admission, just don't plan on watching it if you tend to headaches.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Changing the Landscape



Beauty and impermanence go hand in hand. Capturing a fleeting moment or the attitude of a time can result in startling, wonderful revelations. That’s why, when I stumbled across this program, The Diesel Wall Award, I thought that something similar could be done in Jacksonville, especially with the preponderance of eyesore buildings here.

A juried competition, the Wall Award project invited artists from all over to submit their proposals, and the winners get picked to have their work on the entire side of a building in a globally-oriented city. Of course, this all plays into the branding program of Diesel itself, but I must say it’s a pretty smart way to engage artists in cities and cities with artists. And its inevitable that there are logistics to work out and payment to be met, but really, as an idea, it’s a kind of great one to steal.

And if the city couldn’t step up and do something like this, then perhaps a private enterprise could partner with the city, and say, the museum. It could even be a bi-annual thing...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Inevitable Cascade



P-Jay Fidler's art is a non linear narrative unfolding onto canvas. The viewer is as important to the story as the painting itself. Because his audience brings with them a major part of the story, the results are often surreal, ambiguous yet very much familiar. His work reflects a mixture of adolescent archetypes with dark psychological aspects of the human condition. These images juxtaposed against a silent landscapes combine to create a piece of art work that is truly awe inspiring and thought provoking, while leaving the audience with more insight and questions about the work as well as themselves.

Studying illustration at Art Center College of Design, Fidler learned to tell stories effectively through imagery. Raised in a small farm community in central California, he was very influenced by his childhood surroundings. With animal imagery, landscapes, religious iconography, combined with his love of Flemish paintings, vintage children's books and contemporary graphic design, he creates a non-linear storyline of Life, Love and Death that is disturbing yet beautiful.

Fidler lives and works in Los Angeles. His work can be seen in galleries and national publications and is an active member of the Broken Wrist Project.

Mr. Fidler will be in attendance at the opening.

You may visit P-Jay at his website: http://pjfidler.com

Friday November 2, 2007 - 6pm - Midnight. Live DJs will be spinning music for the duration. Refreshments to appease the American palate will be served. The show will run thru November 30, 2007.

The Gallery at Screen Arts is conveniently located at 228 W. King Street, 2 blks west of US Hwy 1 in Beautiful West St. Augustine

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Once More, Into the Breach--Over the Pond



Above image from Ad Reinhardt's 1966 series of "Black Paintings"

It seems that I’ve been spending an awful lot of time over at “The Guardian.” I just stumbled across this piece, “Is Lazy Reporting Harming the Visual Arts?” by Jonathan Jones.

Normally, I read Jones’ work with real pleasure (see earlier post) but this I read with a mixture of boredom and incredulity. Can he really be asking questions about why record-setting auction prices, graffiti, and artistic plagiarism get printed?

Despite the fact that this is a society that thrives on extremes and competition, there’s also a perceived dearth of interest in real, critical, thinking (most American reporters are told to write for an audience of 9th graders). Combine that with the fact that newspapers are reporting record losses (the N. Y. Times just made its previously subscriber-based webpage free in an effort to attract readers), and that many reporters are being asked to juggle several beats, Jones’ call to “to take a hard look at the conventions by which newspapers and online news outlets cover visual art stories,” ignores the reality of the current state of print media.

The question isn’t “What are our arts reporters doing wrong?” It is, “What are our reporters being asked to do?”

Speaking from personal experience, sometimes you have no other choice than to tackle the assigned task-at-hand. And sometimes, that means reporting on insincere bullshit. Like the fellow at the fair making potato-chip "art," or the girl sewing monkey puppets for a Guiness book record (thanks to Mssrs. Sedaris and Green for lovely examples).

Good v. Great


Zarina Bhimji’s “Your Sadness is Drunk,” 2001-2006

I love to read “The Guardian.” Not least because I never fail to imagine that the articles are being read to me in clipped British tones that are simultaneously measured and pugnacious. The British, or at least their writers, seem to have better, smarter, slang than we Americans do, and a knack for putting it together seamlessly.

So, today, while perusing the online version of the august institution, an article by Jonathan Jones discussing the upcoming Turner Prize and those artists who are ‘also-rans’ posed a really great question: the distinction between good and great art.

The crux was society’s capability to recognize good art, while often overlooking that which would/will later be considered great. It’s an interesting—if not wholly original premise—but nonetheless makes for interesting pondering.

It’s also a good article since it provides a link to this year’s 4 finalists, and images of their works. Hoo-ray for artistic voyeurism.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Boobies and Art (like something out of de Kooning’s dreams…)




The Gallery at Screen Arts has a reputation for exhibiting some of the most interesting, well-known, and not-so-well-known artists in America. With an aesthetic that’s largely West-Coast, Rob DiPiazza (owner/director/dj) nonetheless shows and supports selected Florida artists.

The Current Show, “Breast Defense, Glamour Girls For Early Detection” is a fundraiser designed to raise awareness for, that’s right: breast cancer. The premise is simple and kind of genius in that it combines celebrity-watching and artists. How?

Plaster casts of famous burlesque bust-lines (including Dita Von Teese, Kitten Natividad, and Julie Atlas Muz) have been distributed to artists to customize as they see fit. The roster includes a list of names familiar to those who read magazines like Juxtapoz and Fecal Face, including Derek Hess, Mark Mothersbaugh and Iggy Pop. Plus, Jacksonville-based artists, Tonya Lee, Mark George, Tony Rodrigues and Ian Chase are participating.

The opening, held at the Casa Monica Hotel is free. The after-party, at the Gallery at Screen Arts is $20.00 at the door–with half of the proceeds going to breast cancer organizations.

Casa Monica Hotel, 95 Cordova St., St. Augustine
The Gallery at Screen Arts, 228 W. King St., St. Augustine

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

My name is Peter, and I'm an Aesthete





The "Village Voice" just wrote a really good profile on Peter Schjeldahl. I can still remember the first time I read his work. It was shortly after my mother had given me a subscription to the "New Yorker" for Christmas.

Since I like to leaf through magazines backwards, I ran into his piece first, and was immediately absorbed. Thereafter I would look forward to his pieces with excitement. And though anyone who has ever subscribed the "New Yorker" knows that the magazines inevitably pile up in a "to-read" pile that never sees a real dent (until one summons the force of character to be honest enough to say to oneself, "You are never going to read all of those; get rid of at least half")...I still hoard the magazine and devour his work first.

It's worth noting that my reading of the magazine didn't start at adulthood. When I was little, I used to look through the “New Yorker” for the cartoons. I didn’t understand all of them, but I loved the fact that so many ideas could be expressed through the right combination of pen strokes and verbs. In fact, some of my best memories of growing up are of leafing through a compendium of “New Yorker” cartoons, with my brother, on the daybed in my grandfather’s house.

The never-quite-comfortable itch of the red and black L.L. Bean Hudson’s Bay Point wool blanket that grandfather covered the daybed with, the sun going down across the lake, and the grown-ups talking about interminably boring things like taxes, bills, and health, heightened the sense that my brother and I were doing something that was somehow subversive (not to mention incredibly entertaining).

In the cartoon compendium, there was a marriage of wit, style and occasionally, a bit of grown-up naughtiness that I understood. And it wasn’t until I began reading Schjeldahl that I experienced that feeling on being “on the inside” of the “New Yorker” again.

So it was with real pleasure that I read the “Voice’s” piece. My only complaint? That it wasn’t longer.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Dreaming of Black Mountain



This weekend I spent some time with a friend of mine, he’s an artist and a professor, and where I tend to be didactic, he sees the humanity in just about everyone. It’s a good lesson to remember; it is easy to slide down a slippery slope into absolutism…especially when dealing with art and artists.

Also this weekend, Dreaming of Black Mountain opened at the Jane Gray gallery in Riverside/Brooklyn. Featuring the work of Kurt Polkey and Morrison Pierce, the name alone raised questions of what it means to be a part of an artistic community. So, I eagerly anticipated the work…and I was curious about the place where the artists’ work would intersect, as they are friends, and in the past have been studio-mates.

Both artists are making work that addresses the art scene in Jacksonville, and both artists have invested in a curiously precious sort of anti-art aesthetic. Pierce’s works, in paint and sculpture share an ethos with that former “bad-boy” of Jacksonville: Lee Harvey. Using crafty materials—a play-do-esque clay, bacon bags, and children’s guns, Pierce’s work made the kind of glaringly obvious points that Harvey once sought to make with his work.

Two pieces leap to mind, “Jacksonville Art Prison,” and another work (whose name I can’t recall) that featured a tiny graveyard outside of an office. The work was about the grinding numbness that office workers inevitably experience. When asked if he is, in fact, an office worker, Pierce answered with a kind of über cool hauteur, that no, he wasn’t. And offered no further illumination.

Polkey’s works vacillated between paired-down, oversized paintings and tiny, tiny, drawings. The larger works, especially those of horses, draw heavily on Susan Rothenburg’s works, and, closer to home—the works of Tod Murphy that were recently exhibited at MOCA.

His landscape, with the word “landscape” stencilled across the sky, recalls Ruscha’s series, “Course of an Empire” which were themselves, related to Tomas Cole’s “Course of Empire.” Cole was the founder of the Hudson River School, and perhaps that is why Polkey chose to paint his landscape with a blue-yellow sky and tobacco/sepia earth. Perhaps too, it explains the decision to shoot the video installation accompanying the show in tones and tints of high yellow as well.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Earthworks for your ring finger


Christine J. Brandt ring

A year or so ago, I was reading one of Village Voice writer Lynn Yeager's articles. In it, she talked about the role that that art plays in fashion, and fashion plays in art. She also made the observation that often; she will prefer a couture gown, or a design from an "outsider designer" to contemporary art. Now, while I don't necessarily agree wholeheartedly, I do think that there is veracity in the idea that sometimes the craftsmanship of fashion trumps that of its artistic counterparts.

So when I saw the jewelry from Christine J. Brandt, in addition to taking my breath away, it struck me as really authentic (authentic meaning thoughtful, articulate and true to a vision) work that balances on the line between fashion and art. The raw material contrasting with the highly realized wood base is (to my mind) reminiscent of earthworks and other installation pieces that can normally only be enjoyed in situ or in a photograph, while this, one can wear. That being said, with prices in the low thousands, it might be the photographs that get enjoyed yet.

And in a delightful coincidence, Lynn Yeager just wrote a piece about a photography show of rockers cum photographers, curated by Lou Reed. I tend to be suspicious of these shows, as its hard to celebrate the artistic vision of someone whose technical skill might be good, but whose vision, is, for lack of a better description: as trite as freshmen college students'.

However, what these shows might lack in artistic merit, they more than make up for in prurience. Unlike the paparazzi shots, or TMZ videos, these shots are composed and intimate, the subjects in a relaxed and informal setting. In this respect they are reminiscent of a suite of images that Warhol shot in the late 70s. They were shown at J. Johnson, and the fact that they were celebrity snapshots, by a celebrity artist made them of passing interest, but not necessarily art...more like artifacts.

http://www.villagevoice.com/nyclife/0738,yaeger,77843,15.html

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Rent a Negro


Kara Walker at La Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine, (the City of Architecture and Heritage)


Interior of La Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine


Damali Ayo on Bill O'Reilly

I was just in Miami visiting a friend of mine, Russ. We've been friends since like, the second week of college freshman year. Now he's a NYC police officer. I say this because the school we went to (Clark University) is a bastion of liberal thought, with a small student body and overlapping social groups; nevertheless there was a fair amount of self-segregation between the innermost circles of students (everybody partied together, but didn't necessarily study together).

At Clark, while there were organized discussions of race, class, and gender, there wasn't a whole lot of discussion outside of the classroom...though in a few memorable instances there were fights. Sometimes over racial issues, sometimes over a boyfriend or girlfriend where race and ego played factors.

So it startled me one day when we were out drinking, that he began to talk--in a very candid way--about the inherent societal advantages that I, as a white woman, had over him. It was an uncomfortable and heartbreaking conversation; I was forced to confront my own assumptions and biases, including my never-really-articulated ideas about what his life was like, coming from an upper-middle-class family and having a prep school education.

Since then, we've talked on and off about race and gender, how they've affected our lives, how our own ideas have changed. Then this weekend, he told me about a book he'd read "How to Rent a Negro" by the artist Damali Ayo. In short it talks about the cultural cache of having a black friend, and in fact, how to rent a negro.

The book is satire, but raises intriguing questions about the perceptions of race in America, and the expectations between races: i.e. a white woman making the assumption that is okay, appropriate even, to call a black woman she has just met, "sister," or "girl" when in fact, they are not even friends.

So it was a coincidence that while reading the blog, bronxbiannual.blogspot.com, I stumbled across a short recording of a conversation with Kara Walker about her work which was installed at La Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine museum in Paris.

Walker's work is projected onto a screen and slowly moves over the walls and architectural elements in the room, it's a simple use of technology, but very effective. Though unlike Ayo's work, it does not force the viewer to cast a light on his or her own (racist or not) ideologies. Her work, while jarring and graphic is also startlingly beautiful and because of that beauty, it is initially more palatable.

However, the success of both these artists does imply the question: Where are Jacksonville's black artists? I know that once a year, the Ritz Theatre mounts the show, "Through Our Eyes" --a group show designed to spotlight some of Jacksonville's African American talent, but really, save for one or two people, I can't think of any artists of color participating in the Jacksonville scene.

I wonder what that means.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Je ne sais quois



I’ll be out of town for a few days, but I thought I’d leave this snippet of the most recent Deitch-sponsored art parade for people to ogle over.

The parade, which seems to be equal parts (male and female) nudity and performance work I think espouses a certain overarching NYC aesthetic. I say this, because it isn’t the first time I’ve had this thought…and it seems to manifest itself again and again.

The first time it struck me was the first time I visited NYC, I was eighteen and prepared for a world of blaring black, of arched-eyebrow sophistication combined with a certain gritty je ne sais quois. I was wrong, the NYC of 1993 was filled with glittering club-boys and girls, tromping through the streets in impossible platform sneakers and boots, puffy-jacketed thugs in Timberland boots with insane grills, and neo-hippy, vegan, piercing aficionados.

In short: less sophistications, more neon colors and outré-ness for its own sake. (It might also bear mentioning that as I was taking in these sites my hair was cropped close to my head a la George Clooney, I wore tight boy’s tee-shirts, big jeans, and shoes that looked like Frankenstein’s cast-offs).

Even now though, that hallucinatory ethos seems pervasive: a certain lack of subtlety, an embracement of fake fur in faker colors, glitter, and general carelessness. I see it too in the art, jewelry, and clothing being made, as if every voice is screaming to be heard. And, succinctly: I see it in this video.

Or perhaps I’ve lived in the comparative peace and quiet of Jacksonville for too long now.

That being said, the general absurdity and temporal nature of the parade reminded me of the heyday of the Limelight, the Tunnel, other ridiculous clubs of the day, and of a drag performer I once knew named Soigne; it made me smile.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Your Momma's Fat


(pictured) Mark Creegan installation

The other day, I ran into Kurt Polkey. Kurt has always been one of my favorite people to talk to…he’s hilarious in a very low-key kind of way and he’s thoughtful and humble too. We got to talking about blogs and in particular the post here about the Dan Colen, Dash Snow *NEST* project Deitch.

I had pretty much lambasted it as a folly, transfigured by a voyeuristic youth-worshipping culture into something both greater and lesser than the original premise (tear up a bunch of phone books, take a bunch of drugs, try to be a hamster). But I’d also acknowledged that I hadn’t seen in person--admittedly not the most ideal circumstances under which to review artwork.

Kurt had actually just returned from a trip to NYC. Here’s what he had to say about the work “I read the blog about *NEST*, the show at Deitch. I saw that show! I tried to post a comment, but it didn’t seem to want to work for me today. The show was impressive in person, but not as impressive as others I’ve seen. The word I used on the blog was neat […] The idea I found more interesting was the class of the artists swaying the way the work was seen or understood. This is a topic I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. What if the artist was a woman or a black man? Class, gender, and race in art is a great topic for discussion.”

So I got to thinking about the cultural construct of the artist and how that ideal has changed over the past, say 30 years….but from my in-situ perspective about 10 years. If one uses Jacksonville as a microcosm of the art world, it’s interesting to see how the “players” have constructed and reconfigured themselves. This also falls neatly into place in the wake of *Portent, I said Portent* over at Pedestrian Projects and Kurt's call to arms.

Kurt decried the Jax., scene for being to “nice.” He wants to see blood drawn and he’s even got his own champion, local filmmaker Morrison.

So after a weekend to ponder *Portent* here’s are a couple of things to consider in looking at work (and not just this show):

a. Is the work new? Some of it (I’m fairly sure) has been shown before, or given pretty hefty web exposure. This isn’t a bad thing per se, as the interweb is a great way to connect people, and gain exposure, but in a show that purports to look forward, in a market this small, why exhibit previously shown works?...If all the work is new, maybe the artist(s) should consider the cost of churning out work for the sake of art shows, not for the sake of creative exploration.

b. Self-editing. I believe this is a problem many artists suffer from, and I don’t think it’s entirely their fault—I think the myths and monsters of art history have a great bit to do with this. Auction houses that regularly post sales in the hundreds of thousands for a great master’s sketch feed the myth that everything from an artist’s hand is worth saving and that’s simply not true. Back to self editing, while Kurt’s smaller drawn works were very successful in that they articulate his aesthetic within a finite framework, the paintings were disjunctive in that they were neither the overly simplified, quasi-political pieces of yore, nor a more full articulation of an evolved idea.

BTW Kurt, my champ vs. yours any day.

...Not Pass This Way Again



you will be missed

Monday, September 3, 2007

Elephant Walk



Topiary is quirky; reminiscent of fussy English garden-parties and arch witticisms exchanged over glasses of Pims.

Located on the corner of Osceola and Ernest, there’s an elephant sprouting from the ground. At first glance it seems like a fortuitous mishap; yard trash piled together and with a trick of light, an elephant appears. However, after close observation, it’s obvious that this is a deliberate project on the part of the homeowner.

Subtle, and one assumes somewhat spontaneous, this expression of whimsy and care might begin to capture the spirit of an age that is (hopefully) looking forward to a more responsible stewardship of natural resources and the environment. Crafted of renewable resources, and requiring minimal tending, the topiary elephant is more than a nod to centuries of British tea-parties. It obliquely exemplifies the ways in which humanity can work against the earth and with it—and whether this is a conscious or unconscious gesture, it doesn’t really matter. Plus, the elephant is so out-of-context as to be delightful.

Monday, August 27, 2007

What is Painting?


Beatriz Milhazes


Cindy Sherman


Nikki S. Lee

*What is Painting* “is the fourth in a series of installations designed to show off the embarrassment of riches populating MoMA’s well-fed storage racks, a mythical utopia of hidden treasures,” writes the Village Voice. According to the Voice, it is also an exhibition that falls flat at the union of edgy and academic.

The article doesn’t just raise questions about the role of painting, the canon of painting and simple application of paint to canvas, but more specifically to the role of curators and the responsibility of museums with vast holdings under their stewardship. And though it might seem incredibly predictable, chronological organization of exhibits as championed by Alfred Barr is a tool that allows both the casual observer and the historian to have a more complete understanding of the work at hand...a little explanation might be in order here: According to the Voice, the exhibit was organized not according to chronology (perhaps because the works are created on within recent recollection?) but topic and approach.

*What is Painting* includes a Cindy Sherman photograph (pictured) and that alone raises the question of Sherman’s continued relevance: if her work will truly stand the test of time, let alone to include her in an exhibit ostensibly about painting. Of course Sherman is responsible for a generation of artists who don the trappings of cultures outside their own, like Nikki S. Lee (pictured). Though its not clear if these works are interesting as anthropological essays of subcultures, or truly function as art.

Either way, the Voice piece makes it glaringly clear that MoMA curator Anne Umland didn’t just drop the ball, but bounced it away with deliberate force…perhaps in a bid for her own art-historical footnote?

http://www.villagevoice.com/art/0734,viverosfaune,77542,13.html

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Luxury at the Times


Luxury goods and the arts are not dissimilar. Both are ostensibly one-of-a-kind, or limited run objects catering to an exclusive clientele, or one (at least) with refined tastes, and distilled ideologies. So, I found this NY Times article on the demise of luxury goods/industry quite interesting.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/21/books/21kaku.html?em&ex=1187928000&en=790d67d55c3b21d6&ei=5087%0A

That being said, though they're pretty ostentatious symbols of consumerism, given half a chance I'd rock a knock-off Birkin bag almost as hard as an original. The difference? I'd probably want to be cremated with the original...leave the knock-off to the kids...I jest, but it's true.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

[hamster]NEST




Photo credit: Kristy Leibowitz (boys)

I thought that it would be appropriate to comment on the recent installation piece, “Nest” at Deitch Projects by Dan Colen and Dash Snow, on the day it closes.

The press release accompanying the work, declared it “[a] contemporary answer to a ‘happening’” and an affirmation of freedom of expression,” while the participants themselves see it as a tribute to counterculture heroics.

Indeed, the organized shredding and installation within gallery walls of 2,500 NYC city phone books is incredibility subversive…or is it?

The “Hamster Nest,” which is the culmination of “performances” in various hotel rooms across the world by Snow, Colen, photographer Ryan McGinley (who is not listed as a creative on this installation but runs with their crew) and their friends, started out as little more than the juvenile trashing of hotel rooms, while high on various drug cocktails.

The premise is simple: get a bunch of people together, shred some phone books, and then, “you do as many drugs as you can do within the Hamster’s Nest and you really try to be a hamster […] and then you get naked,” says Snow.

The work (which I admittedly haven’t seen except in pictures), seems like an interesting premise. In execution and display however, it seems to exist somewhere between a snuff-film-lite (hinting at violence and tragedy, but never really delivering) and an annual frat-house party for the art-set; staged for the still shots.

Perhaps more than that though, it really comments on the need to occupy oneself when fucked up. Because when looking at the pictures, that is what it really looks like: the obsessive need to move whilst on a mélange of mind-altering substances. And tearing up phone books and decorating walls with numbingly boring graffiti like “I might not go down in history, but I’ll go down on your sister,” is probably as much fun as anything else. Sprinkle it with a smattering of fame, and the legitimacy of an art pedigree (Colen and Dash both show with Saatchi; Colen has sold work for $500,000) and voila: sublime degradation. While exhibiting a “Nest” in a gallery space is nothing more than the articulation of a collective lust for the excesses of youth and the thrill of voyeurism.

It also bears mentioning that Dash Snow is genuine art-world royalty. His maternal grandmother is a De Menil. His mother made headlines a few years ago for charging what was then the highest rent ever asked on a house in the Hamptons: $750,000 a season. And his brother, Maxwell Snow, is a budding member of New York society who has dated Mary-Kate Olsen. Plus his aunt, founded the Dia Art Foundation…and his family endowed the Rothko Chapel in Texas.

That being said, it forces one to truly consider the context. Not to mention the underpaid gallery bitch that’ll be bagging up the “Nest,” or casting it in resin as artifacts of a lost age or some other delightful bullshit that will surely be available for aquisition.

But perhaps Snow says it best: “The point of the Hamster’s Nest...”“It’s not like you break anything. It’s just really a task.”

For more info on these artists follow these links:

Saatchi Interview with Dan Colen: http://www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk/blogon/2006/07/dan_colen_interviewed_and_in_t.php

NY Magazine article about Dash Snow: http://nymag.com/arts/art/profiles/26288/

Slate article about Ryan McGinley: http://www.slate.com/id/2168746/slideshow/2168780/fs/0//entry/2168781/

Friday, August 17, 2007

Sunday Southern Arts Revival


Rob DePiazza down at Screen Arts mounts smart, funny shows that are a reflection of his personal taste. They're usually pretty great, complete with a glorious assortment of ghetto-snacks and good music.

This show: Vs. is a collaborative show of Jesse Cregar, Scott Pethia, George Long, Mario Schambon, and Tindel Michi. According to Rob, the gallery is pleased as punch to welcome all these fine young Atlantian omnivores to our fair state.

The artists will be in attendance at the opening to harrass the guests.

Friday September 7, 2007 - 6pm - Midnight
228 W. King Street,829-2838.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

E=MC D’Avignon?



Marian Anderson performing "Casta Diva"

I’ve been listening to a lot of opera lately. It started out with a few re-listens to Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” and since then has blossomed into an all out *iTunes hunt for the best recordings. It has been exhilarating and rewarding; and in my arrogance I imagine that I’m resurrecting these works for a younger ear.

It has also kept me thinking about Jame’s Green’s recent post over at JaxCAL, as well as his recent post on his own site, both of which deal with the role of the artist in society, as well as the intellectual (or lack thereof) ramifications of making art.

Ostensibly, opera is an outmoded art form, one where vocal acrobatics result in a series of unintelligible shrieks and growls aurally accessible to a comparatively elitist few. Yet it persists. Why? One might argue because of because of Western traditions that delight in the rarified atmosphere of the opera, or simply because it is beautiful.

Beauty as it’s own reward isn’t an original idea, but one that has gained recent purchase (with this writer anyway) as a result of the Charles Landry lecture I attended several months ago. Landry is often called upon by cities to help them re-imagine themselves. To capitalize on those assets that they have in an effort to make the city a more habitable place—often beauty plays a large role in his reconfigurations (for a more complete discussion of his ideas, check out my article in the September issue of Arbus). Of course for artists, the lure of aesthetization is one that must be balanced against the intent of the work.

Sharla Valeski’s recent post about artists as tastemakers also struck a chord, recalling “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” a play written in 1993 by Steve Martin. The premise of the play is simple, but with a sort of resounding elegance that enjoys an endlessly faceted imagining within the mind’s eye.

It features Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso, who meet at a bar called the Lapin Agile (Nimble Rabbit) in Montmartre Paris. Set on October 8, 1904 when both men are on the verge of a transformational idea (Einstein will publish his special theory of relativity in 1905 and Picasso will paint “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” in 1907) they find themselves at the Lapin Agile, where a lengthy debate about the value of genius and talent ensues--while interacting with a host of other characters (who represent various things i.e. commercialism, savant-ism etc…).

It’s a piece that hints at Jung’s theory of a collective unconscious--when ideas are salient and ripe, they are shared by prescient few. It also addresses the idea of artist as tastemaker (scientist as ideamaker), while obliquely suggesting that the theory of relativity and “Les Demoiselles,” address the same thing: relative realities, and multiple points of view from the same perspective (this idea is more fully explored in a collection of short stories by Alan Lightman, entitled “Enstein’s Dreams”).

The prevailing idea though, is that the entire 20th century was shaped by these two geniuses who looked not to the fashionable ideas of the times, but to their own sense of curiosity and revolution. That is what makes art and ideas great, what helps them to transcend their own times and create a lasting dialogue, because in the long run, ideas seem to trump aesthetics.

*iTunes’ inherent insidiousness notwithstanding, there are few things more satisfying than finding an incredible piece of music and being able to listen to it in, say, 30 seconds at 3:00 a.m. Hoo-ray for immediate gratification.

Links:

James Green: http://jaxcal.blogspot.com/2007/08/back-to-school-for-jaxcal.html and

http://backtosavetheuniverse.blogspot.com/

Sharla Valeski: http://jaxcal.blogspot.com

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Persistence of Memory



"Leave the Capital"
Shaun Odell

My family owns a cabin in northern Michigan. We’ve owned it for about 100 years. In that time the cabin, has fallen into and been pulled out of various stages of disrepair and neglect.

Currently it is in need of updating and a little remodel--that plaid rug that was the height of cottage sophistication in the 50s just looks ugly and sad in the light of the 21st Century--not unlike Jacksonville’s art scene.

For the past several months, on various blogs and in various outlets, the state of Jacksonville’s art scene has been viciously, sometimes personally attacked. Several of the newer artists on the scene are loudly (and generally not without justification) proclaiming the need for a revolution, an upheaval, in short: drastic change. And they are right. The state of Jacksonville’s local art scene is often lamentable. Consistently we see our best and brightest leave for more fertile grounds.

However, that does not mean that there was nothing here before the current crop, and to consistently denigrate those how have held on for twenty-five years and more is an embarrassing tactic that serves no-one.

Recently, I got together with George Kinghorn to talk about how Jacksonville’s contemporary scene can evolve, as well as MOCA’s role in that evolution. First off, we talked about the perception that the museum doesn’t support local artists (expounded upon by commentators on Folio Weekly’s blog on June 12, 2007).

George said that the charge that MOCA--and by implication, Kinghorn himself--doesn’t support local artists simply isn’t true. He points to the uppermost gallery in the museum that primarily shows the works of emerging local artists. That is not to say that the museum space should be considered a venue that everyone is entitled to, however, it is a dedicated space. And the artists who have showed there do not include the so-called Jacksonville standards (and that changes depending on who you talk to); Tonya Lee, Ian Chase, Jay Shoots and currently, the works of five University of Florida MFA students have/are showing there.

In addition, George pointed to past workshops and portfolio reviews he’s coordinated “..teaching artists how to get their foot in the door, marketing essentials for artists; the nuts and bolts of it—the essential tools one needs to present to galleries and museums.”

He also said that in regards to submissions “the museum expects that things come in a unified theme, with a cohesive concept, and that it is polished.” Then George showed me a project that was left for him: a painted fruit crate, with a tacked together construction in the middle and a torn out sheet of notebook paper. Not exactly the stuff of art-historical legend.

Then we talked about the city’s need for a Contemporary Arts Center and the role that he is willing to, and excited about, playing.

“I am available for people to come an talk to. If a group has a unified theme, a mission…I will be happy to help them, to sit on a board, to offer practical advise,” he said. He also talked about the practical uses of a non-profit space, and how a group of 10 artists could band together and after one year, the group would be eligible for non-profit status.

George said that spaces like Eyedrum (in Atl.) the Dallas Center of Contemporary Art, serve as stepping-stones. Also a place to have classes and hold lectures…and mount juried shows, with an invited juror who could then explain his decision-making process. The “best in show” award could be a solo show in the space.

Lastly, we touched upon the recently stated urgent need for an MFA program here (an idea introduced over at JaxCal ). Which he wholeheartedly supported, echoing many of the thoughts expressed on JaxCal (i.e. intellectual growth, professionals vs. hobbiests…etc.).

All in all, it would seem that Jacksonville has been an “emerging art scene” for decades now. The question is how to move beyond our perennially fledgling stage. Maybe we should band together like my family is trying to…and at least paint the ideological walls white.

Links:

Times Union: www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/080507/lif_188861168.shtml

Flog: http://www.folioweekly.com/folioblog/?p=301

JaxCal: http://jaxcal.blogspot.com/2007/07/i-see-you.html

Thursday, July 19, 2007

It Was Only A Matter of Time



As posted by woostercollective.com: "[This was] Placed outside of the White Cube Gallery Masons yard at 3.30 am on Sunday night in response to the Damien Hirst's "For The Love of God" diamond skull exhibition.

The "For the Love of God" prank was created using 6522 Swarovski crystals and took Laura, the artist, a month to create."

Now I'm just waiting for a line of jewelry to come out. Wait, it already has. Just hit up Target or Hot Topic for the very shiniest in glam-punk gear.

So, the prank has mos def started an inevitable riffing/commenting trend that will see death objects be-blinged, or perhaps Hirst-ified...if nothing else, this work is easier to ape than a floating shark.

But, that off-the-cuff comment raises larger issues (no, not of the commidification of art, that ship has certainly sailed) but of where one draws the line between a precious, singular object, and an object for replification.

I am certainly not the introducing an original idea here, but it does raise questions of the ramifications of comodifying the minutiae of life. In a larger sense, it taps into a universal desire to see, and be seen as intelligent, erudite, and witty (I am no exception).

In an age of instant gratification, where knockoffs of knockoffs abound and “group identification” is as simple as the right pair of limited-edition Nikes, I posit that we are nearing a time where there will be greater and greater stratification between high and low, between fine and craft. That might not be a bad thing per se, but the unintentional fall out will be a war of ideologies (according to Jacksonville artist, James Green this is already occurring). Which in blind striving for the winning argument will be reductivist to the point of redundancy. As the shades of theoretical grey fall by the wayside, absolutism will take hold, and then we'll be left with a bunch of brittle, flat, art...that serves no purpose save for to shriek it's own validity from gallery walls.

So, does this mean that the Hirst skull points to the downfall of civilization? No. It is merely that my observation that the furor created by this piece should be a jumping off point for discussion. Hopefully, not further stratification.

Either side you choose though, rest assured there will be a logo and a t-shirt not too far behind.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Unresolved Genius




It’s been a while since I posted, and I apologize…the last few weeks have been hectic: between traveling and writing for my paying gig, I haven’t had a minute to think.

However, I do feel that there are several things that need to be addressed and so this week, I’m going to take the time to go down the line.

Damien Hirst’s skull. More specifically, “For the Love of God,” as the work is entitled, is, as most of you know, the diamond-encrusted skull of an 18th century man. It is completely covered in diamonds, except for the teeth, which have been polished to a high, ivory sheen—heightening the contrast between the perfect facets of the diamonds and the, well, humanity of the piece.

“For the Love of God,” is beautiful in and of itself. The workmanship is flawless, and the more one looks at it, the more one is tempted to agree with Hirst’s comment that he wouldn’t mind something similar being done to his skull, post-mortem of course. But it does raise a lot of questions, not just about life and death, art and craft; but too of British colonialism, oppression, and insular cleverness. Of course, its also interesting to ponder the piece’s meaning if the stones were to be revealed as fakes…

The article linked below makes a good case for artists who are called geniuses during their own lifetimes—in addition to a pretty sharp review of the Hirst Skull--but then again, Picasso was (called a genius in his lifetime), and his “Demoiselles” is still largely considered to be the most influential painting of the 20th Century. Go figure.

http://www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/article_details.php?id=9656

Friday, June 29, 2007

Hunny, what’d you do with my Munny?



The upcoming show, “The Color of Munny,” organized by Urban Jacksonville’s Joey Marchy, taps into a curiosity and fascination with vinyl toys and readymade products that traces its lineage back to Pop and Dada art.

Munnys, all of one shape and size--unless modified--will join in other shows that take an iconic object, and hand it over to various artists. Sometimes, having such a disparate group showing together can lead to an incoherent mess.

However, the unifying link of shows like this is less the lure of the object itself, instead its the desire to see how Munny gets reimagined. It’s doubtful that there will be a shortage of opinions, i.e. “How-I-would’ve-done-it” let’s just hope they don’t run amok.

For an example of a similar show, skip over here to read about a Darth Vader exhibit in conjunction with the “Star Wars” 30th anniversary: http://blogging.la/archives/2007/05/darth_vader_gets_a_makeover.phtml.

Because he is a figure, Munny is ripe for the riffing: suited up as Captain America, flattened as a sly nod to Barry McGee or just deconstructed. Perhaps Munny becomes a shell of himself (literally or figuratively) à la Eva Hess...or maybe Munny makes an appearance, as one of the monsters of art history would’ve presented him.

It would seem that Munny is less about personal exploration, and more about personal iconography and wit; as such, he/she/it provides a glimpse into an artist’s personality...not just their dogma.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Dictionary Definition



This might be the dictionary definition of irony: “The Splasher” a so-called revolutionary in the battle against artistic commodification of street art. His or her m.o? Unceremoniously splashing (hence the comic-esque moniker) existing street art pieces, especially those by Swoon, Banksy, and Shepard Fairey…artists that have not only attained a level of ‘street cred’ but who also have successful careers.

It is worth noting that in Streetsy’s (www.streetsy.com or nymag.com/news/features/32388/index8.html) images, the splashes are clearly not in any way an aesthetic statement…they are meant to deface the image in question.

Read the article here: nymag.com/news/features/32388/

Thursday, June 21, 2007

“It’s mathematics…you don’t to more with less, you do more with more.”




In a conversation I had yesterday with Robert White, of the Cultural Council, he made the cost of the Property Tax Relief blindingly clear: the cost of a gallon of gas, or a Starbucks latte-a-day. Over the course of a year, that sum amounts to little over one-thousand dollars.

Indeed, I am in no position to shake a casual stick at a cool grand, but when I think of what that money will really cost; in terms not only of my cultural leanings, but too the beliefs I spout so frequently to anyone within earshot, I know that it is time to take a stand. I oppose the property tax relief and have already badgered the mayor’s office, and my city council rep (for those of you living in Riverside, that’s District 9, Warren A. Jones, 630-1395, WAJones@coj.net).

But the thing that bears noting is this: the tax relief won’t just affect Jacksonville’s cultural scene, will impact non-profits across the city and those resources like the police and firefighters. The mayor is presenting his budget to City Council on Monday, July 16, at 10:00 a.m., and in it, he has to reduce the budget by 10%. Judging from experience, those entities deemed non-essential will be the first to go.

What can we do? Now would be a good time to call or write city hall, or your council person, and tell them how you feel…what you are thinking.

But for those of you that aren’t sure what got passed and what is up for grabs, here’s an excerpt from a Florida Times Union Article:

The Legislature passed a multi-part property tax reduction plan: An immediate, one-year rollback of local governments’ 2007-08 fiscal-year property tax revenue to their 2006-07 levels, a mandatory cut of 3 percent to 9 percent in local governments’ property tax revenue; a cap on future tax growth, tied to personal income growth, and a constitutional amendment election offering Floridians an expanded homestead exemption. The rollback, cuts and caps were done through legislative action; the constitutional amendment will go before voters January 29. However, in three counties (including Duval), governing bodies can override the rollback. In Duval the approval of 15 of the Jacksonville City Council's 19 members would be needed.

The constitutional amendment:

The amendment would establish a new homestead exemption of 75 percent off the first $200,000 of a property’s value, 15 percent off the next $300,000 in value, and a maximum exemption of $195,000 for homes worth more than $500,000. The maximum exemption will rise according to per-capita personal income each year. There also are benefits for low-income seniors, those with affordable-housing status and waterfront properties. If the amendment fails, the Save Our Homes benefit would stay as is, as would the tax rollbacks, cuts and caps. Homeowners whose homes are valued below $200,000 would receive a minimum $50,000 exemption.

So really, there are several hurdles to clear, or at least stay in front of. But for now, just weigh in with the city government. According to White, only about 20% of the people contacting their reps are currently opposing the tax relief. And remember, you don’t need to be a homeowner for this to affect you. What happens when you go to the library and it’s closed, or the park is over-run with weeds, or, the beach is closed, what then?

If you don’t know what district you live in (I wasn’t sure), you can call 630-CITY or go online to coj.net.

Because as White noted, “It’s mathematics…you don’t to more with less, you do more with more.”

Mayor Peyton
630-1776

Jacksonville City Council
117 West Duval St.,
Suite 425
Jacksonville, FL 32202
630-CITY

District 1
Lake Ray
630-1389
LRay@coj.net

District 2
Lynette Self
630-1392
LSelf@coj.net

District 3
Richard Clark
630-1386
RClark@coj.net

District 4
Suzanne Jenkins
630-1394
SuzanneJ@coj.net

District 5
Art Shad
630-1382
AShad@coj.net

District 6
Sharon Copeland
630-1388
SCopelan@coj.net

District 7
Pat Lockett-Felder
630-1384
PFelder@coj.net

District 8
Gwen Yates
630-1385
GYates@coj.net

District 9
Warren A. Jones
630-1395
WAJones@coj.net

District 10
Mia Jones
630-1684
MJones@coj.net

District 11
Warren Alvarez
630-1383
WAlvarez@coj.net

District 12
Vice President
Daniel Davis
630-1380
Email:

District 13
Arthur Graham
Phone: (904) 630-1397
Email: ArtG@coj.net

District 14
President
Michael L. Corrigan, Jr.,
630-1390
Corrigan@coj.net

Monday, June 18, 2007

Taxation Without Representation …wait? What’s Happening?



Though it seems that the dream of owning a house has been undermined by skyrocketing taxes, or the desire for a multi-faceted city dashed by economic realities, I refuse to believe that there isn’t a happy medium. Rushing to a decision can’t be the answer.

The property tax cuts that were passed in Tallahassee last week will affect just about everyone in the state. From small arts-organizations to special events and parks, the rollback in taxes might put a little money back in pockets, but the services that our community has come to count on will be reduced, some gone all together.

Tomorrow, for my “day job” I’ll be talking to Robert White, Executive Director of the Cultural Council, about how these cuts will affect our community, and what we, as citizens can do. I’ll post some of that information.

Until tomorrow then.

In the meantime, call or write your (Duval) representatives:

Anthony C. Hill Sr. (Dem)-hill.anthony.web@flsenate.gov
5600 New Kings Road, Suite 5, Jacksonville, FL 32209-2146, 924-646.

Stephen R. Wise (Rep)-wise.stephen.web@flsenate.gov
1460 Cassat Avenue, Suite B, Jacksonville, FL 32205, 381-6000.

James E. King Jr. (Rep)- king.james.web@flsenate.gov
9485 Regency Square Boulevard, Suite 108, Jacksonville, FL, 32225-8145, 727-3600.

The above information was taken from the website, www.flsenate.gov.

Here’s a link to a T.U. article on the tax cuts: http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/061807/met_178256184.shtml.