Tuesday, September 30, 2008

part deux: the auction that wasn't

Saturday night I rode my trusty three-speed up to Flux Gallery to check out Kurt Polkey’s auction. I admit, there was a drawing or two that I’d seen, and I was hoping that the prices would accommodate my severely curtailed budget (recession=fewer hours).

I got there a little early, and the crowd was thin, but I just figured it’d flesh itself out as the night went on. I was wrong, except for a few people who wandered in then muttered among themselves “this isn’t art,” and a few friends and supporters, the auction didn’t ever get of the ground.

In addition to feeling badly for Kurt, I also felt that to a certain extent his/our community had betrayed him. This post certainly does not need to devolve into a lecture about support, but on some level I just want to say c’mon people. Even if no-one had bid on a thing, a crowd of tipsy well-wishers would’ve made a bitter pill easier to swallow.

And now that I have had a couple of days to ponder it, I think that in the future, a "studio-clearing" event like this might work more effectively with a few more artists, and even a preview of some of the works available (say online), and not on a football night...but I could be wrong. We might just be in the wrong financial place to be going all Sotheby's (even if it is the keg-in-the-corner 5pts version) on our own asses.

On the plus side, I got to chat with Morrison, and he was right about at the six-beer point, so his drawl came out, his talking points were a little murky, and he folded his skinny self into a chair and held forth of a myriad of topics...including his KFC (maybe he said Popeye's) chicken dinner.

The point being: the overall tone was fun...it could’ve been a great night.

*the image pictured is the one I took home.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Instruction in not overthinking....

This weekend proved instructive, not only was I given a lesson on irony, but also on tenacity.

First, the Partisan the Sea Show was good, and lots of fun. I scooted down just before the great debate was beginning and was pleased with the turnout as well as the content. Everyone seemed to be having a good time and the posters themselves were really strong.

Except for the part where Levi Ratliff had to explain to me that the posters that said, “All we’re saying is, give war a chance,” and “Peace is not the answer,” were in fact, meant to be ironic. To illustrate his proof, he pointed to the above postcard image.

I thought about trying to explain to him that I have an arch-conservative uncle, with whom I'd had a long conversation that morning, who believes things like:

“The only way to maintain peace is with an army at the ready.”

“The market sorts everything out.”

“Obama is a Socialist.”
{which I don’t think is a bad thing, then my uncle likes to point to the biggest Socialist government ever, the former U.S.S.R}

So it did not seem too far off the mark that some clever, conservative, designer might’ve taken a cue from the Heritage Foundation's positions, and then co-opted a couple favorite catch-phrases of the “left,” to make a political point.

But yeah, I read too much into it.

Next up? A reflection of Kurt Polkey’s auction that was not.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

NEXT@Flux: a closer look

I finally managed to get over to the Next show over at Flux (put together by Brian Grey). And while overall I was/am glad to have a gallery within bicycling distance of my house, the show was a bit of a hodgepodge (I say that in the full realization that I too share the hodgepodge label in my recent effort).

In the show there were some really witty and whimsical pieces, however, there were also works that seemed like watered-down versions of other Jacksonville artists.

But first: there were two artists whose works, though clearly heavily design-influenced, were pretty solid. First off, the heavily commented-upon Karen Kurycki. The elegant, and seeming-lack-of-control luminosity of her mixed-media-ish watercolors have a really satisfying quality--that I suspect many of us have striven for, only to get a muddy, murple mess for our efforts.

Kurycki’s works are especially interesting because of their size. Small-ish they neither proclaim preciousness by virtue of fitting into one’s palm, nor do they obtrusively take up half of a wall.

Ashley Hazen’s works, also graphically influenced, evinced a kind of pleasing nostalgia, though I am not sure that these paintings wouldn’t be just as appropriate on a stylishly distressed t-shirt. Despite myself, I tend to be drawn to works that merge text with rendering, and have a semi-homespun feel to them. It is entirely possible that my admiration of these works stems from a purely self-referential place.

There were also a few smaller pieces in the show that deserved a closer look: Martin Moore’s Resurrection made me think of Tom Robbins’s Another Roadside Attraction. Though usually I pretty readily write-off work that is too overtly religious in reference, this small piece was, well, funny. Plus literary allusions (conscious or unconscious) are like catnip.

Yvonne Lozano’s piece, In the Trash Can, which shows a young child immersed in a bubble-bath filled trash can, raises questions of story-telling and memory, memoir and veracity. As a child, Lozano and her family struggled, so I wonder if this is a depiction of an actual memory--as are some of her works--or if it is a symbolic piece: trash to transformation.

Lozano herself says, “Nope, no symbolism. We actually did have a field day with Mr bubbles in the trash cans. The dog would sometimes join us."

Several artists in the show had works on display that recall the work of others:

It seems that Alexis (one name only) owes a visual debt to Jason Wright, Josh Hoye to Sean Thurston, and Shane Douberly to Mactruque. Often similarities in work are unintentional, and even unconsciously made by the artist-at-hand. Personally, I too have had to have the uncomfortable “derivative” conversation. And though it is never easy-to-hear, it is often necessary.

*pictured, the {newly} ubiquitous BoomFox and Hazen’s piece, The Dream.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

And this is worth seeing too

Richard Anuszkiewicz is considered one of the original founders of the Op Art movement, the style of painting in the second half of the twentieth century that explored the nature of color and visual perception through the use of simple linear forms and geometric shapes.

Anuszkiewicz’s (pronounced Ah-nuhss-KAY-vitch) print series Inward Eye consists of eleven serigraphs or silk-screened images on paper, each with individual folios. This series offers an interesting complement to art typically regarded as rational and scientific. Each image is accompanied by the words of the 1800s visionary poet and artist William Blake, whose imaginative views were counter to the rationalists of his day. In these selections, Blake’s principal argument is that divinity is humanity released from the limitations of reason. The process for doing this intensifies the bodily senses, allowing the physical world to be transfigured.

*On a personal note, I took a look at these works the other day, and they are really quite surprisingly lovely. Usually I tend to consign Op Art to the same pile I place psychedelic art in. But these works are kind of expansive, and though they clearly took a certain kind of rigor to compose and complete, they are not exhausting in any kind of way. Worth the $3.00 admission or whatever it is to get to the 3rd(?) floor during Artwalk.

Incidentally, this edition of the Inward Eye is a recent acquisition to its permanent collection. It was a gift from Lu Ann Bear in memory of Jack and Marcelle Bear.

Lots and Lots

There are quite a few events happening this weekend. And though they've already been widely commented/blogged about, I thought I'd make sure that I noted them here.

I am super-curious to see what people came up with for Partisan the Sea, especially those in our community who are known for their wit.

And then, the next day (night) Kurt Polkey is holding an auction of some of his earlier works. He said he initially conceived it as a sort of experiment, but yesterday over coffee and politics, he admitted he was/is nervous. "I am curious to see what happens....but also nervous, if I can't sell something for $25.00 then I am going to feel really bad."

Also, I plan to post a review of the Next show at Flux, and look at the new Astronautalis album, Pomegranate...I'll give you a hint: good sh*t.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Make sure you can vote

At the Obama rally on Sat., one interesting fact came to light: if you have not voted in 4 years, then chances are, your voter eligibility has lapsed. Bullsh*t I know, I feel like there is some sort of Constitutional conflict here, but that is not what this post is about.

If you want to vote, make sure you can vote by clicking here to check your eligibility. You have until October 6, to update your status. Because it doesn't matter how many supporters he has if they don't/can't vote.

If you aren't on the "active" list, register here. But it might just be easier to head to the office of elections on Monroe Street in Downtown. They are super-nice and helpful.

We can do it, but we need to do it together.

Monday, September 22, 2008

truth and change?

“When our lives and corporate profits clash, we will overturn the corporation.
When our lives and the government’s thinking clash, we will overturn the government.”

--Yasuji Hanamori

If only...

Instead, I draw and write. Maybe it changes something.

*image courtesy postsecret.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Hope Grows in Jacksonville: 20,000 strong

My grandfather has always told the story of how as a little girl, his grandmother, waited for hours in southern Ohio to see Lincoln's funerary procession.

I hope that one day, I'll tell the story to younger generations of my family, of how I stood for hours to see Barack Obama speak...how it foretold of his election and successful presidency...and how the number of people waiting outside to get in, outnumbered the number of McCain supports that attended the McCain rally last week.

I am sure I will reflect upon it more, later, but for now it was enough to be there.

*he's the blurry figure in white at the podium
*Times Union coverage here.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Things Learned

So, the Marking Marks opening is over, I think it went well, and people seemed pleased. That being said (and I promise this is the last I’ll post about this particular project--I am beinging to bore even myself), I learned a few things...listed in no particular order:

1. Wearing knock-off designer shoes is never a good idea, no matter how “architectural” they may or may not be. Blisters on the tops of toes is too high a price to pay.

2. Social anxiety makes it nigh impossible to put together cohesive sentences with people one has known for years and years. It does however, dictate a stint at the table inside Nola where the catering staff is happy to stop by each and every time with tasty num nums.

3. People never cease to surprise, from those who are gracious, funny and witty, to those who make an (ahem) abbreviated appearance. Good show kids.

4. Creepy sculptures add a certain je ne sais quoi to events...plus the fact that they (the sculptures) had to get they hairs did, is a subtle little detail, with plenty of ewww factor, worth pondering.

5. Curators are funny (and not just because I was headed towards the end of my second very-stiff-drink).

6. Ultimately I prefer process to finality. I will miss the rigour of thinking about art in a specific context, and I will miss seeing the show develop. I will not miss openings, or high heels.

NEXT up: we're going to take a look at the show over at Flux, and hopefully post a little 'bout the big rally.

*note: pictured shoes weren't actually worn.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My own ego

Making Marks opens tomorrow, and I hope that people get a chance to go see it; and not just because I was involved.

And though there were some people left out that probably should've been included, the process was imperfect and a little rushed as we took it over from George Kinghorn as he departed for colder climes, I think overall, the show is multifaceted and interesting. It is also the first, the museum plans to mount local show on (perhaps) a semi-annual basis.

Here's a little about how we thought about the show, and approaching it:

Making Marks: Jacksonville Creates is an invitational survey that takes a closer look at the ways in which art is being made locally, and how these creative individuals are making their mark in the art scene today.

Many of the artists featured in Making Marks are nationally recognized and are exhibiting on a national level, yet remain relatively unknown in their own city. Displaying their work in a survey allows their creative efforts to be seen side-by-side, invites comparison with their contemporaries, and presents motives and methods that are open for question. This survey also allows the viewer to trace the evolution of the local scene, from more figurative and painterly approaches to more conceptual and atypical works.

So, whether you think we did a great job, or bungled the entire thing, hopefully it (the show) will provoke conversation and reflection...maybe.

*pictured: two of Dustin Harewood's fat belly paintings.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

ideas beget ideas, work begets work

Sometimes, when I talk to people about art, about what I like, as well as what I find valid, I bump into (and I am pretty sure every artist has run up against a version of what I am talking about) that person who can’t see past technique to understand why abstract/modern/conceptual/performance art is valid. To which I usually explain that for anyone immersed in a field, the foundations of that field, while important, often cease to be of interest after a certain amount of time; Einstein didn’t stop at the Pythagorean Theorem.

As a nascent art historian, I respect Ad Reinhardt not just for his strict adherence to a rigid set of his own rules, but for the absurdity he acknowledged (in his writings) therein.

So when this list made by Sol Lewitt in 1969 floated my way—two years after Reinhardt died--I thought it’d make a fun, (and funny) post:

Sentences on Conceptual Art

by Sol Lewitt

Conceptual artists are mystics rather than rationalists. They leap to conclusions that logic cannot reach.

Rational judgements repeat rational judgements.

Irrational judgements lead to new experience.

Formal art is essentially rational.

Irrational thoughts should be followed absolutely and logically.

If the artist changes his mind midway through the execution of the piece he compromises the result and repeats past results.

The artist's will is secondary to the process he initiates from idea to completion. His wilfulness may only be ego.

When words such as painting and sculpture are used, they connote a whole tradition and imply a consequent acceptance of this tradition, thus placing limitations on the artist who would be reluctant to make art that goes beyond the limitations.

The concept and idea are different. The former implies a general direction while the latter is the component. Ideas implement the concept.

Ideas can be works of art; they are in a chain of development that may eventually find some form. All ideas need not be made physical.

Ideas do not necessarily proceed in logical order. They may set one off in unexpected directions, but an idea must necessarily be completed in the mind before the next one is formed.

For each work of art that becomes physical there are many variations that do not.

A work of art may be understood as a conductor from the artist's mind to the viewer's. But it may never reach the viewer, or it may never leave the artist's mind.

The words of one artist to another may induce an idea chain, if they share the same concept.

Since no form is intrinsically superior to another, the artist may use any form, from an expression of words (written or spoken) to physical reality, equally.

If words are used, and they proceed from ideas about art, then they are art and not literature; numbers are not mathematics.

All ideas are art if they are concerned with art and fall within the conventions of art.

One usually understands the art of the past by applying the convention of the present, thus misunderstanding the art of the past.

The conventions of art are altered by works of art.

Successful art changes our understanding of the conventions by altering our perceptions.

Perception of ideas leads to new ideas.

The artist cannot imagine his art, and cannot perceive it until it is complete.

The artist may misperceive (understand it differently from the artist) a work of art but still be set off in his own chain of thought by that misconstrual.

Perception is subjective.

The artist may not necessarily understand his own art. His perception is neither better nor worse than that of others.

An artist may perceive the art of others better than his own.

The concept of a work of art may involve the matter of the piece or the process in which it is made.

Once the idea of the piece is established in the artist's mind and the final form is decided, the process is carried out blindly.

There are many side effects that the artist cannot imagine. These may be used as ideas for new works.

The process is mechanical and should not be tampered with. It should run its course.

There are many elements involved in a work of art. The most important are the most obvious.

If an artist uses the same form in a group of works, and changes the material, one would assume the artist's concept involved the material.

Banal ideas cannot be rescued by beautiful execution.

It is difficult to bungle a good idea.

When an artist learns his craft too well he makes slick art.

These sentences comment on art, but are not art

*pictured: Reinhardt’s rules for a new academy and Lewitt’s Sploch #15, 2000

Monday, September 15, 2008

Your brain on Republicans...

I stumbled across this article while I was supposed to be doing other things. I thought it was fascinating (if a bit long):

By Jonathan Haidt

What makes people vote Republican? Why in particular do working class and rural Americans usually vote for pro-business Republicans when their economic interests would seem better served by Democratic policies? We psychologists have been examining the origins of ideology ever since Hitler sent us Germany's best psychologists, and we long ago reported that strict parenting and a variety of personal insecurities work together to turn people against liberalism, diversity, and progress. But now that we can map the brains, genes, and unconscious attitudes of conservatives, we have refined our diagnosis: conservatism is a partially heritable personality trait that predisposes some people to be cognitively inflexible, fond of hierarchy, and inordinately afraid of uncertainty, change, and death. People vote Republican because Republicans offer "moral clarity"—a simple vision of good and evil that activates deep seated fears in much of the electorate. Democrats, in contrast, appeal to reason with their long-winded explorations of policy options for a complex world.

When Republicans say that Democrats "just don't get it," this is the "it" to which they refer. Conservative positions on gays, guns, god, and immigration must be understood as means to achieve one kind of morally ordered society. When Democrats try to explain away these positions using pop psychology they err, they alienate, and they earn the label "elitist." But how can Democrats learn to see—let alone respect—a moral order they regard as narrow-minded, racist, and dumb?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Nathanial Hörnblowér and Oscilloscope Pictures

“What I really liked about indie record labels — the indie record labels that I liked, anyway — is that things were done in-house,” said Adam Yauch. Unlike most independent film distributors, which outsource nonglamorous aspects of moviemaking like poster design, marketing and DVD production, Oscilloscope’s employees — a tour revealed 10 young guys in skate shoes and headphones bent over laptops — will handle everything themselves, including handpicking which theaters their films will end up at.

His newest movie, Flow, which examines the looming global water shortage, calls out Nestlé's commodification of water.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Back to School

When I was growing up, I remember dreading back-to-school. It wasn’t just a return to stuffy classes with kids that scared me. It meant that the summer was over...the next thing worth looking forward to: Christmas...and that was over four months away.

In my family, my brother and I got a few back-to-school clothes, a new bookback, and some fresh notebooks. That was about it. Of course, this was when kids still spent exhaustive amounts of time outside, down the street, or just playing in the street.

So when I saw this faux registration form, it made me laugh, and think about how ridiculously seriously childhood is taken now.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Green, Greener, Greenest

In this climate of ever-increasing gas, food, and energy prices, more and more people are looking to “go green.” Two Aprils ago, speaker Charles Landry espoused a ton of ideas that could be used to turn Jacksonville into a really thriving, vibrant city. One of his ideas counseled that artists are a completely underutilized resource; that artists, by virtue of their/our problem-solving abilities, are used to finding unexpected applicable and somewhat practical solutions to problems.

So today, when this notice from the Tampa Museum of Art rolled across my desk, I thought, especially in the context of quite a bit of the work being made in Jacksonville, that it was/is an appropriate suggestion:

It’s Not Easy being Green, thru September 23

In late March of this year, artists, designers, architects, and developers interested in making a positive difference in both their lives and their communities were invited to submit design schemes, art works, or commercial products that provided real solutions for people to live better, healthier lives with less impact on the environment for display in It’s Not Easy Being Green. The resulting exhibition showcases not only conceptual drawings and sketches, but actual artwork and design products that offer community members information, ideas, solutions, and motivation to live sustainably.

The exhibition is divided into three subdivisions. The first portion explores urban design issues such as housing, energy, transportation, and land use, while the second section exhibits environmentally friendly products ranging from custom eco furniture to commercial objects made from recycled/salvaged materials. The final section features fine art created by artists who address issues of sustainability, activism and/or environmental concerns in their work. 

Other works in It’s Not Easy Being Green include models and conceptual drawings that explore modern prefabrication techniques for multi-family housing in Tampa, landscape designs for a proposed museum of contemporary art linked to the historic water pump building in Tampa, and a planned mixed-use community that ties sustainable design with mass transit.

As a side note, Amtrak journeys from Jax to Tampa for about $40.00. Of course, that still leaves the challenge of getting all the way out to the MLK to the station…

Tampa Museum of Art
2306 N. Howard Avenue
Tampa, FL 33607
(813) 274-8130

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Jerstin Crosby/Team Lump (2007)

Byron King/Jaxcal (2008)

"I think we all should define what we believe in yearly or quarterly. Especially artists. If you aren’t then it’s really hard for some folks to take your art seriously."
--Globotron, 4 June 2008 at 1:14 p

Friday, September 5, 2008

Water babies? Swamp Monsters? Puddle Love?

In addition to being equal parts absurd and brave, the above image of Paul Ladnier and Jim Draper got me thinking about the public construct of the artist.

I touched on it lightly in the previous post about Andres Serrano, and I am certainly not the first person to ponder the presentation of the self, public face vs. private face, (Banksy has made an entire career out of being unidentifiable) but there is so much information to be gleaned from the way a person presents themselves, that I often find myself scouring artists’ interviews for an image, not just of the work but of the artist him or herself.

Of course, this practice isn’t limited to artists by any stretch of the imagination (drive by any high school, or TSI for that matter, and you’ll see a parade the highly costumed as indicators for beliefs/social status/class/etc...).

However, it is a curious phenomenon among artists, there are those who see fashion as a way to both further question the status quo, and a way to celebrate unexpected and unorthodox beauty. There are those who belong to a larger social group and dress accordingly--pegged jeans, vans, and sleeveless tight tees--though this is just one example of a subset of a subset.

And then there are those, who blast into a restaurant/party/gallery, hair wild, covered in paint, and so ‘swept away by their own creativity’ i.e. “So sorry I am late, I just got lost in my work,” that they make a production out of it. Though by and large, artists are not members of the status quo, (I think) that the artist’s image of him or herself, is best constructed within a framework of personal values and experiences. Not, with a showboating, green-paint covered face.

So, I am especially amused by the Ladnier/Draper flier, if for no other reason than it is vulnerable, funny, and references (obliquely) Ladnier’s misadventure with a canoe

*Swamped opens Thurs, Sept., 11, 5-8p.m., Gallery L in the Modis building.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Change 08

I ran across this picture over at Heart as Arena, and couldn't not steal it and post it here.

drinking and drawing

This crossed my desk this morning: it seems that Paul Kerrigan is starting up a Jacksonville chapter of Dr. Sketchy's, the burlesque-ish drawing club started by Molly Crabapple in 2005 in NYC. It was developed as an entertaining party that incorporates live models, drawing, and drinking; the first gathering will be held October 1st at Artwalk.

Interested? dr.sketchysjacksonville@yahoo.com.

I will be curious to see what comes out of the effort. Ms. Crabapple certainly has taken off...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

the tipping point is when the cops show up

A while ago I read this NY Times review of the movie Beautiful Losers, in it, the Times completely pans-and-makes-fun-of the movie, the artists, and the director.

Normally (as readers of this blog certainly know), I take the Times as my Bible. But in this instance, (granted only after watching an 8 minute preview) I think the review is less about the movie and the art, and more a snarky comment on people who’ve been able to function outside of the NYC art machine.

That’s not to say it’s a conscious decision on the part of reviewer, Nathan Lee. But its easy to imagine that as a writer in the NYC milieu, Lee has struggled for years with deadlines, editors, and younger writers nipping at his heels in order to secure a contributing post over at the Times (though according to his bio, his work has also appeared in Esquire, Slate, Salon, Filmmaker, and Out among other publications), he might view with umbrage, exasperation, and a soupçon of jealousy, the achievements of skaters and graffiti writers--and the fun they seem to have while doing it.

Judging from the tone of the trailer, it seems that the movie, is less a diatribe or highly romanticized dreck (Modigliani, the movie leaps to mind), and more of an honest look into working artists’ lives. As a trope, honesty works...and if in the process, people are “super-nice,” that works too.

Here’s hoping the movie comes within driving distance of Jacksonville.