10/30/2007

220 Artists were Tossed Out on the Street Last Week

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I know nothing about Artsucks.com or about its blogger-in-chief, Cojo. But he's posted a tale of woe that will upset you if you've ever lived in NYC.

Looks like the Department of Buildings gave them half a day's notice that they were going to inspect the building in Queens these artists call home. But instead of an inspection the DOB just started throwing people out.

If you were home at the time you didn't get your door bashed in, your stuff thrown out and your cats let loose.

Get the Kleenex and read all about it at Artsucks.com.

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10/28/2007

50/50 -- Fifty Artists, Fifty Digital Images
at Artwell Gallery, Torrington, CT

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Sue Berg's latest show is a demonstration of Lev Manovich's New Media objects. She invited fifty Connecticut artists to contribute a digital file that is modified from a single common original. It was a challenging exercise, and part of the challenge was dispelling the notion of competition as the work took shape.

From the show's website:

According to Lev Manovich, The Language of New Media, The New Media object has four characteristics:

  1. Numerical Representation: it is the visual result of a digital code, it is programmable and infinitely changeable.
  2. Modularity: It is a collection o fdiscrete samles, made of pixels, polygons, voxels, characters and scripts. These samples are assembled to make larger objects, while they simultaneously maintain separate entities.
  3. Automation: The New Media object is the result of automated software. The manipulation of any given object is limited by the software it is filtered through. In this case we see the 'low level' automation of the program Photoshop. Levels are determined by how much human interaction is reuired for any given result. Photoshop requires a great deal of user input, whereas (for example) a program that will create objects in reaction to ambient sound requires no user input at all, its automation level is "high".
  4. Variability: It is never fixed, its visual representation will never appear the same at any given time. Variations in processing speeds, hardware, monitor resolution, format, bandwidth and the like, make the new media object an ever changing visual apparition.
It is our intent through these works to demonstrate these principles.

50/5o will be showing at Artwell in Torrington, CT, from November 3 until November 25. Then it moves to Artspace Windham in Willimantic from January 28 until February 25.

Artwell Gallery
19 Water Street
Torrington, CT 06790
860-482-5122

Artspace Windham
480 Main Street
Willimantic, Ct 06226-3144
860-423-1283



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Comet Holmes

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Comet Holmes brightened up from magnitude 17 to 3 back when the rain was pouring down up here in the Northeast. It's now an easy naked eye object even in light-saturated city skies, so follow the stars tonight, if you can, and take a look at this fuzzy star.

If you've ever spent time looking at the night sky, you'll have no trouble starting at the big "W" that marks Cassiopeia. One of the V's in it is wider than the other; look down from that V for a formation of stars that clearly points back up to Cassiopeia. Then check down along the left side of that point. The stars on that side form a hook. Comet Holmes will be a fuzzy star someplace within or above the hook.


Click on the map for a better view.

This was the view from my eight-inch reflector last night, in a clear but, unfortunately, moon-lit Connecticut sky:


Keep in mind that this thing's pointed almost straight at you, so you're looking down through its length.

While this keeps us from seeing the big long "broom star" tail usually associated with comets, it accents the outer coma nicely as a slight brightening near the limb.

The nucleus was a tiny hot nugget in the center of it all. The way my eye responded to it made it seem to flicker; it's just small enough to be at the limit of vision but bright enough to insist itself.

That bright blob sitting at about ten o'clock would be the denser part of the tail. I'm told that this has a yellowish cast to it, showing that it's composed at this point entirely of dust. When gases start to spew out of this comet a green and/or blue tail will also emerge. Keep in mind that when looking through a telescope at gaseous and gossamer things like comets, nebulae and galaxies, colors truly are ghostly affairs. They ease themselves into your eyes. You may find yourself realizing you'd seen them only later, when comparing by memory for example the Orion nebula, which has a lime cast, with the Andromeda galaxy, which, to me, comes off as somewhat lemony.

It made no matter last night because the moon burning hot just a few hand-breadths away washed out most of the color and made for some fairly poor seeing of details. I've read of spiky details in the coma that are probably visible now only with a filter that strains out the moonlight.

Comet Holmes is on view in the constellation Perseus until April, 2008.

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10/27/2007

Willing to Do the Jobs Americans Refuse,
Because They Accept Living in Squalor

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There can be no more chilling an indictment of corporations who employ illegal immigrants than the charred bodies turning up in the wildfire-ravaged hills of California.

I explored some of these hills above a park in Los Angeles once, some distance beneath the olympian Getty Center. I was bird watching and went far off trail from a small local park. It wasn't terribly long before I literally stumbled on a group of men living in tall shrubs with cheap tarps draped across the top.

Their camp lay within a ten minute walk from a park that sported a public bathroom and a bus line. When I passed one of them, who was carrying water, it was clear to me that unlike for example the insane homeless who can be found most anywhere, these men were keeping themselves clean and well-groomed.

I realized that they had jobs.

These are the workers the big corporations behind the farming, hotel, meat-packing and construction industries tell us are willing to do the jobs Americans simply can't stomach.

The truth is that these big corporations need grotesquely underpaid labor to keep running and to keep their stockholders at bay. The truth is that illegal immigrants are willing to live in the bushes outside Los Angeles and San Diego for the privilege of being paid wages so low that even their pooled resources can't cover a small apartment in the grimiest slum.

We've been forestalling serious recession for some years now, in spite of many predictions. How much has this large (some suggest 30 million plus) pool of ultra-cheap labor contributed toward keeping our economy afloat?

If this pay level is all that these industries can now afford, what does that say about where America's economy is headed?

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10/26/2007

Seurat, For Example,
and the Insistence of History

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Find some beautiful drawings by Georges Seurat at Roberta Smith's NYTimes.com review of “Georges Seurat: The Drawings,” on view at the Museum of Modern Art until January 7.

Upon glimpsing the link on the front page of the Times my knee-jerk reaction was Why are we still ruminating on a nineteenth century figure like Seurat?

I know: Pointillism, Grand Jatte, bla bla bla. These drawings also provide some solid justification. I realize Seurat's an important figure in the history books. What's more, I genuinely enjoy looking at his paintings. I can spend half a day in the Impressionism and Post-Impressionism galleries at the Met and never so much as peek over the nearby balcony rail at the 20th-century work down below. And I get positively weak in the knees at any show of drawings by fifteenth century masters.

After my knee stopped jerking (what's the deal with knees today?) I wondered if I, and by I I mean we, aren't perhaps too history-conscious.

Then as a mental exercise I tried to compare my impression of the number of art history articles in the Times versus the number of articles about contemporary art. And I realized that, at least to my recollection, they seem to have a nice balance of each.

But it still nags at me that contemporary art isn't much more prominent. In what other area, for example, does the antique carry such weight?

Is there a similar balance of very old cars with new ones on the highways, or written of in newspaper articles? Could I choose to have a tooth extracted using tools popular in the nineteenth century? How do sales of Baroque music CDs compare with sales of Top 40 music?

Can I ruminate on outdated theories of the universe and feel the same depth of awe and devotion as when my eyes pore over every fiber of a Tintoretto drawing?

Old science dies. Entire careers are built on the writing of its epitaphs.
But there's not a vampire slayer alive who can put a stake to the heart of old art, particularly if it's really good old art. The Living Dead walk among us to this day.

I'll be the first to admit I enjoy having them around. But it makes for one hell of a crowded studio.

I can't find the quote right now, but deKooning is recorded somewhere as having said that when you begin a painting the room is filled with old artists. You throw them out one by one, and by the time you're finished there's only you.

Supposedly he also said, "I thought Mondian was phenomenal. He made paintings that were wholly new, that didn’t exist.”

In our contemporary culture where each artist is a separate island art world, is it possible to work as though art history never existed?

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10/16/2007

Damien Hirst's The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living
Now On View at The Met

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After ruminating about how cruel and pointless it was to kill a fabulous shark just to make art, the concept has kind of grown on me. I've built up an idea of the piece that really resonates, based only on the title and on ratty Internet and magazine images.

Now I'm worried that seeing it in person will shred this appealing mental fiction I've generated.

I'm at an existential impasse, people. Someone throw me a rope! I just can't bring myself to face the physical impossibility of Damien Hirst's dead shark piece in my mind.

Hey, wait a minute...

Photo from NYTimes.com

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10/13/2007

Bloody Hell! Frieze Art Fair In London
As Seen in the New York Times

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Terry Thomas voice:

I say, Old Bean, have you seen the Frieze slideshow in the bloody old NYTimes.com, eh what?

Among the many exhibitors in London Towne, seven artists were commissioned by Frieze to create projects that “respond to the social and economic dynamics of the fair,” according to its catalog, and, as far as I can know it without plane fare and a week off from work, according to the New York Times.

I'm guessing this was the reason Rob Pruitt turned the Gavin Brown's Enterprise booth into a flea market. Social and economic dynamics of the art fair --
get it? Funny idea. I hope it endures beyond the quick gag.

There's something appealing to me about selling tzochkes alongside artwork at a gallery, or giving away customized objects of some sort or other. Gallery experiences are so sequestered, such bubbles at times, and these kinds of objects can connect the experience more solidly to ordinary life for the bulk of gallery visitors, which is to say, for non-artists.

Jennifer Dalton did it right; she gave away gray vinyl bracelets at her show at Winkleman Gallery, Are You a Loser or a Pig? You could choose a bracelet with the word Loser or Pig on it, in effect branding yourself with the decision that formed the crux of the show. There's a socio-economic subtext to that aspect and others of her work that comes off to me as very shrewdly observant. Its intelligence is palpable. You realize you're taking away an artifact from someone who's probably smarter than you (well, smarter than me) and its existence in your life and the fact that you selected it has a kind of elevating effect.

Other examples: I'm reminded now of prayer cards handed out at funerals,
yarmulkes that follow you home from a bar mitzvahs, and the pastel candy-covered almonds no one ever eats that come wrapped in a net, tied off with thin white ribbon, that you picked up off the table at a wedding, stuffed in your suit pocket and forgot about until winter.

The more I consider it the more I realize this happens all the time in ordinary life. Maybe it can even be viewed as medium.

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10/09/2007

Swedish Vandals Destroy
Serrano Photographs
To Promote a Healthier Culture

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And what could be healthier than fascism, right, kids? Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all week.

Just think, it wasn't too long ago when people were actually discussing the end of history. Looks like there's never a shortage of people ready to wind 'er up again and cut 'er loose on an unsuspecting and laid-back populous.

Talk about laid-back, this is Sweden, people -- one of the most tolerant nations on Earth. What's the deal? Everything I've ever read and everything I've ever heard from Swedish people themselves suggests they've set the standard worldwide for unflappability. You get the impression they'd rather heat up in a sauna than get all heated up over sexual imagery. Christ on a cracker, there aren't enough warm days in the year in all of Scandinavia to spend any of them plotting a cultural Kristallnacht.

Paula Cooper, Mr. Serrano’s New York dealer, whose gallery in Chelsea exhibited his “History of Sex” photographs in 1997, said she was horrified by the attack in Sweden. “Art inflames people,” she said.
I'd add that art doesn't inflame all people, and not all in the same way. Maybe what really happens is that art unmasks people. Saints and savages are revealed both within the art and by their reactions to it.

Now, I can't stand winter, mountains, placing lit candles on children's heads (hot wax dripping in the hair, people!) or periods of darkness that extend beyond twelve hours. Even so, it was always nice to think that there were a few places in the world where the Bunched-Up Panties Index was substantially lower than everywhere else. Now I suppose there's one less.

In the words of the immortal Michael Corleone, "Tempi cambi."

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10/06/2007

The Blogger Show

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It's a big honor to be included in this highly creative group at this very interesting moment in art history. Congratulations and many, many thanks go out to artist, arts activist and gallerist John Morris, whose imagination, hard work and resources made it possible. Count me as one of many who are greatly in his debt.





Arts bloggers are using this technology to redefine the role of arts in American culture. The interactive aspect of blogging has encouraged the growth of artistic discourse in unexpected ways, with a shift in who and how art is discussed. One of the most significant contributions of artist bloggers to this dialog is an honest appraisal of process and theory. Using the platform of the internet to express these thoughts has included a multitude of elements. Many artists load images onto their blogs. Another aspect of the online community that has yet to make its impact felt is in the arena of regional arts that makes an exhibit in Detroit is accessible as one in New York.

Pittsburgh

Digging Pitt Gallery
4417 Butler Street
Pittsburgh PA 15201

November 10 - January 12
Public Reception:
December 8, 6-9PM

Digging Pitt Too
45th & Plummer Streets
Pittsburgh PA 15201

November 10 - January 12
Public Reception:
December 8, 6-9PM

Panza Gallery
115 Sedgwick Street
Millvale PA 15209

November 10 - January 12
Public Reception:
December15, 6-9PM



New York

Agni Gallery
170 East 2nd Street, Storefront #3
New York NY 10009

November 3 - 30
Public Reception:
November 3, 6-9PM

Hope to see you at Agni Gallery in New York or Digging Pitt Too in Pittsburgh.

Expository text above redacted from essays by Susan Constanse, Tim O'Reilly and Bill Gusky.

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10/04/2007

Comics Writer Kevin Church Continues
Mike Sterling's Project of
Combining Stills from 1960's Batman TV Series with Frank Miller Dialog...

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...from, for example, The Dark Knight Returns (1986).

Entertaining, suggestive of other things. Reminds me of PoMo things I was doing fifteen years ago, only this is low-risk, low-cost, more immediate payoff.

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