Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Utility and Absurdity

The style section of The Times just ran an article, Change We Could Live With, and in it, writer Guy Trebay admonishes everyone from Madonna to the Zagat guide to find real, meaningful (and fashionable) change in the new year.

He ends the article saying, “Let’s ditch what the fashion commentator, stylist and gadfly Robert Verdi calls the ‘the gloss and veneer of fabulosity’ and offload at least some of the giddy wealth and ostentation, the label dressing and It-bag consumption of a minute ago. All that nonsense feels dowdier, more clunky and more gross than ever.”

Though most of the artists I know are adept at balancing thrift store finds with haute-er pieces, it is a refreshingly straightforward admonishment to remember and try to apply to oneself...to strike a balance between utility and elegance, the uniform of the self versus the uniform of the crowd, and in so doing, remember that being an artist is not a suit to cloak oneself in, but an avocation, a job, and a calling.

And in my case, a chastisement against endless purchases of heels I do not wear and purses I forget to carry.

American Ruins

The other night I dreamt I was exploring Anasazi (also known as Ancient Puebloan) ruins that went on forever. The catch? In my dream they were a combination of the utility of Bill Morgan’s Dune House, with the startling beauty and efficiency of the cliff dwellings themselves. Oh, and they were carpeted.

On my trip out west (which was cut short die to poor engineering on my brother’s part), the one thing I wanted to do more than anything else was explore the cliff dwellings. Exploring the ruins at Bandelier National Monument, I was overcome with the stark beauty of the place, the practical application of the houses, hand-holds, and even the views from the dwellings.

The combination of practicality (it is postulated that in order to cultivate crops, the Ancient Ones lived in the cliff dwellings for maximum use of the river bed) and the beauty of the rock formations made me wish I was a fearless ten year old again instead of a lumbering, cautious adult.

Though the lives of the Anasazi were often short and brutal, these people were not without self-expression. Carved into the exterior walls of canyon were still barely visible pictographs, and one painted image, now protected behind Plexiglass.

Because historians estimate that Bandelier has housed humans for over ten thousand years, it has ruins form different eras, from structures built of mudbrick, to longhouses, to the more recent remains of an Anglo ranch that later became a guesthouse. As a sort of living document of human habitation it speaks volumes about the way that humans think about and use the land. Even the path it took to becoming a national monument, along with other ancient sites, is a story that illuminates specific aspects of Anglo-American views: both unsavory and those that recognize the wonder of these places.

Really though, it was an experience that made me want to look more closely at the ancient history of America. It was an experience that made the past tangible in a way museums can’t. It was an experience where I climbed to the top of a 140 foot ladder.

On my next trip out, we’re trekking to Mesa Verde.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I will always love you

the well-crafted line.

more Lister here.

Monday, December 22, 2008


Kara Walker's op ed from the Times. It is an interpretation of Winter.

Seriously, I am a huge Walker fan and this just looks like she phoned it in.

BBB Show

Saturday night's BBB Show can, I think, be summed up in the words of a friend of mine: "Dude, I just smoked a bong made from a bike frame."

'nuff said.

*image courtesy Jaxscene.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of An Artist Living?

The feeling is that the Hirst market has been stretched a bit too far, almost as if it snapped and backfired.

New York art dealer Christoph Van de Weghe had eight works by Damien Hirst in his booth at the Art Basel Miami Beach fair earlier this month. He sold only two.

“The timing is not so good,” Van de Weghe said. “Today I’m telling my clients that it’s better to buy established artists who are dead and won’t produce.”

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

found image

This picture is by photographer Dana Lauren Goldstein, whose works clearly owe a debt of gratitude to Ryan McGinley, but are addictive to look at in the same manner as Vice Magazine’s (where she interned) Dos & Don’ts.

I especially like this image because of the combination of sweetness and gross-outness.

Monday, December 15, 2008


I heard about this a couple of days ago, but now it is official, the wheel just keeps on turin' over at the museum. Per MOCA's press release:

The Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville announces that Cathy Fitzpatrick has been promoted to the position of Associate Director of Education replacing J. Marshall Adams who leaves the museum December 19 to take a position with the Vero Beach Museum of Art in Vero Beach, Florida.

Fitzpatrick, currently a Museum Educator and Director of Tours and Adult Programs began her career at MOCA through the museum’s docent program. Her decision to work at MOCA was driven by her passion for modern and contemporary art. Her volunteer expertise and knowledge of the Museum will allow her to assume leadership of MOCA’s Education Department. Fitzpatrick has a BFA and NCATE Temporary Teaching Certificate from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame.

“Cathy is an excellent person to take on this role having not only earned the respect of museum members and colleagues, but also as a representative of our mission to the community,” said Deborah Broder, Director of MOCA

The End and the Beginning

In addition to the cross country trip that took me away from Jacksonville, there have also been some personal events that have taken my attention away from this blog. Though I often use this forum to work out my thoughts/test new narratives/vent, in this/these instances, I cannot.

The issues are too tangled and too laden with about 100 years of history, lore, and tradition.

However, good things came out of my trip as well:
Ancient ruins
Impossible skies
Delicious black beans
My brother

I will be back to posting this week.

*pictured: my brother with his strip-built kayak, and the fuselage to the two-seater plane he’s working on. One day, we’ll fly it into Rodin Crater (or at least the nearby landing strip).

** yes, I have a new camera, yes, I am a horrid photographer. Apparently I have not yet learned about backlighting...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

road trip

So, I've been out of town and the loop for a while. I was in northern Michigan visiting family, and now I am on the road to Santa Fe.

My brother and I are trucking his (unfinished) plane across the country and the trip has encountered some unexpected delays.

The above image is from the Christmas parade in Indian River Michigan which featured heavy equipment adorned with seasonal lights, a garge bluegrass band, and the above log reindeer.

My brother and I agreed that the event was one of the most uncynical, heartfelt events we'd ever attended.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


On Thanksgiving Day, MOCA Jacksonville is offering an alternative to the post-turkey binge, pre-coma football game, “Trail of Tears: Cherokee Legacy.” This documentary takes as its subject, America’s most shameful episode of ethnic cleansing. Fueled by literal Gold Fever, the Indian Removal Act of 1830 sent 16,000 Native Americans on an 800 mile forced march where a quarter of the people died.

*pictured: Asa-to-yet, Native American Comanche chief, sitting w. arms crossed & gun in hand.
Photographer: Will Soule
Date taken: 1870

Monday, November 24, 2008


Over at this site, change.gov, President-elect Obama is soliciting ideas for solutions to energy and the environment. Though I suspect it is less a look for answers, and more a straw poll of how Americans are thinking about enery (should we drill? use windpower? hamsters on wheels?), it seems to me to be a great opportunity for the little people to express their views.

Personally, I went on the record for :

solar power
no {oil} drilling in Alaska or Florida

I know that many of you have complex, nuanced views of solutions. Go share them.

*images courtesy Life

Saturday, November 22, 2008


So, a few days ago I mentioned a project that I was/am working on, in that post, I asked for readers to send in their upcoming art shows. Here's why: I am working in a freelance capacity for the Times Union as a sort of art writer/commentator.

Wish me luck and accuracy!

Please send press releases et al to artnotesjax@gmail.com. I do not promise everything will make it in, however, I will look at everything sent to me.

Friday, November 21, 2008

marketing Jacksonville

Last night, at the Contemporary Conversations event at MOCA Jim Draper made a great point, he said that artists are so desperate for exposure, they take just about any deal, no matter how raw. “We just want to be wuvved,” he kidded.

Though Draper’s comment hit a mark—most recently played out in the book: Picturing Florida, From the First Coast to the Space Coast, a pay-to-play tome billed as an art historical treatise, but that would more accurately be described as a catalogue—it wasn’t the take-away message of the night. The real kicker (supported by all four panelists: Sarah Crooks Flair, James Greene, and Tonya Lee) was that artists don’t make livings in Jacksonville. Even Draper, who has known a fair amount of fiscal success said that at the height of his sales, Jacksonville only ever made up for about 20% of his income.

So now its clear, artists: take your work and go forth! Use Jacksonville for those good things about the location/weather/etc…, but place your sites outside of the city limits. That, and be prepared to teach.

After all, as someone snidely commented afterwards, “Do you really want to be known as *the* Jacksonville artist?”

*pictured: an image from artist Anri Sala’s body of work on display at MOCA North Miami (because I liked the awkward incongruity of it), and a tiny round of cheese I snagged from one of my friends at the museum. If sharing snacks is not the core of community spirit, I don’t know what is.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Neophyte failings: the fenceline

Let me begin by saying that I am not a photographer. In fact, it might be accurate to say that I am to photography what I am to surfing: I love it (especially thinking about it in the abstract), but in reality tend to step backwards off the board and end up swallowing a pint of seawater.

So this past winter when I inherited my grandfather’s camera, I enjoyed it for its aesthetic and nostalgic value, placed it on a shelf where I could enjoy it...and promptly ceased to touch it (I also tend to break things).

Then the other day I pulled it out, and curious to see if it still worked, I took it up to Ritz Camera. There, I met the nicest guy who spent about 45 minutes showing me how to work it (in an very rudimentary way).

Thus armed with new knowledge, a sunny day, and my bike, I tootled around, pulling out my light meter, adjusting the lens (the camera is entirely mechanical), and generally feeling very competent and tied to a larger tradition, one of art rather than science.

Then I got my film back.

*Ahem* it would seem that my self-important feelings of competence and aesthetic rigor were misplaced. Out of a roll of 24, 7 images came out...the others were so over/under exposed as to be unprintable. Of the 7, I can identify 3.

Though these 3 look like what they are--the artless, stumbling, trite efforts of a neophyte without even basic focusing skills--I still rather like them.

Now back to Ritz to figure out where/why I went wrong.


Usually I am pretty good at forgetting to post things in a timely manner, however, MOCA Jacksonville is hosting a conversation this Thursday at 7 p.m. that takes a look at making art, and making a living as an artist in Jacksonville.

Contemporary Conversations: Making Marks and the Marketplace

This should be interesting, my intel suggests that people won't be pulling punches. Hope to see you there for an invigorating chat.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Un Peu Insight

from the Telegraph, via Hrag Vartanian: Barak Obama’s favorite painting: Hope by George F. Watts.

A little shmaltzy for my taste...but then again, I am not the president-elect.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

For Tony A

It seems that this thing Tony over at the Urban Core is calling Bikevember fest is coming to pass.

As a staunch supporter of cycling (even as I still drive to work), I hope the evening is a blast for all those involved.

More info (and a little of Tony's rambling) here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

No Boners for Mices

According to a recent Folio weekly story, marine is up in arms about Ronnie Land’s rendering of their icon. According to Folio, Marineland attorney Jill Barger sent the artist a letter accusing him of “trademark infringement and dilution.” She also took a swipe at Land’s aesthetics: “...the same dolphin with bad sculpting of lines...”

Though Land declined to comment, Screen Arts Gallery owner, Rob DiPiazza, did not, “It’s not like we took Micky Mouse and put a boner on him,” he was quoted as (unsurprisingly) saying.

For the full story, click on the above image that Mark George was kind enough to forward on to me.

Incidentally, Land’s show at the Gallery at Screen Arts opens December 5 and runs through January 31.

228 West King Street, St. Augustine.


I rarely post images of my work here because usually all I see are the flaws.

But this one I am fairly ok with.

Plus, I finally got a new camera. Now I just need to remember to take it with me...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Something in the Works...

Hi there, today I am posting a request for upcoming and ongoing art/music/cultural events. Currently I am working on a project that will act as a sort of edited aggregation of cultural events that are of interest to the community. I can make no absolute promises of inclusion in the new project, but I welcome submissions.

For consideration, please send events to artnotesjax@gmail.com.

I will be clearer about the project when I am at liberty to do so. Thank you for your help!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Remembering Glamour

Getting ready for the Blaze Ball’s afterparty on Saturday evening, I couldn’t decide between two equally acceptable little black dresses: everything else would remain the same (heels, necklace, wrap, etc). One wass a slightly architectural a-line dress, the other: gathered and slightly Greek (with a wisp of Heidi).

The Blaze Ball (and the accompanying afterparty: NiteOwl) is the bi-annual museum fundraiser. Produced by MAC (MOCA Art Council), the council retained the services of art director Natalie McCray to reinvent the museum. McCray has previously designed a Cummer Ball and many private events.

The transformation of an entire building, for just one night is a monumental task that requires a kind of legendary vision. When I spoke to McCray about the way she approached the museum, she said that she could picture the finished project in her head. Setting the stage with a kind of Miami-meets-MoMA vibe, she was able to create a space wherein everyone felt beautiful…because McCray believes that if you feel beautiful you are.

At this point, in the spirit of transparency, it probably bears mentioning that Natalie is one of my best friends, and the reason I got to attend the party. Throughout the planning process, she’s been sharing with me some of her ideas for the event, but even though I was privy to some of her explicit ideas; her attention to detail, and ability to transform the mundane into the magical with everyday materials, sourced here in Jacksonville, I could not imagine the transformation that took place. McCray took full advantage of what--to others--might’ve been obstacles and made a monument to the fleeting, ephemeral nature of beauty. To use the old meaning of the word: McCray cast a glamour over the night.

Sorry if this post seems a little gushy…you might be able to guess that not only did I go, but, I had a great time. The only drawback? The music was less progressive than one might expect at an event like this… “Play that Funky Music White Boy.” C’mon now.

And to answer that all-important question that still lingers, I went with the architectural option.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

public sculpture

On the way to the office yesterday, I stopped by the Cummer to check out the new sculpture, The Sea of the Ear Rings, a kinetic sculpture. Installed on the front lawn of the museum, the bright red, minimal piece is in complete opposition to the conservative fa├žade. In this opposition, it recalls the open-air sculpture parks of Britain often housed on private land (like Henry Moore’s).

The kinetic aspect of the sculpture comes in to play at the nexus of the two rings: the upper ring slowly raises and lowers in almost barely noticeable increments. The slowed motion is at once hallucinatory and soothing; and, accomplished through the slow redistribution of a 1,000 pound weight.

Created by artist Takashi Soga, the sculpture was a gift to the Cummer by Dudley D. Johnson in memory of his son Dudley D. Johnson, Jr. Little information was available online about Dudley Johson (Jr or Sr), save that Sr gives fairly generously to NYC charities.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

...it isn't just that we (as Americans) have lived up to our promise, it that we have done that thing that makes us uniquely American...we have chosen risk over safety, listened to our hearts and done the thing we thought right and true. We are willing to give a first-term senator a try...because though less experienced, he captured and embodies the American dream.

It's not a dream of 2.5 kids and a suburban house (though he falls into that demographic) it is the dream of a better, brighter future with a young vigorous leader at the helm. We are taking the chance on Obama and with him. And though I don't doubt he will stumble here and there, I do not think he will fall.

Yes we did.

Monday, November 3, 2008


I obsessively began looking for other cool racks.