Thursday, February 28, 2013

Tiny Waists

Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity at the Metropolitan Museum is going to be a blockbuster, so I suggest that you get up or down there ASAP. I went today and although it had a hefty crowd it was manageable, but no doubt it will be getting really busy as word of mouth gets out and the tourists start arriving.  It’s a stunning show, actually its spectacular,  spectacular as only the Met sometimes does of art and fashion with some magnificent works by great painters including Manet, Monet, Renoir, Degas and my new friend James Tissot, who has the most works (10) in the show. I was not really familiar with his paintings, maybe he’s the one that got away, under my radar, but I really loved his stuff no matter if a critic thinks that his paintings “are fit for chocolate box covers”.  Pass those chocolates over to me honey.  Scattered about here and there are the real fashions, 14 dresses, a few of which are the exact ones that appear in some of the paintings.  There are black dresses, white dresses and tiny waists, tiny shoes, tiny feet, tiny gloves and tiny hands, along with hats (tiny heads) and smashing fans. Adding to the exhibit was the smell of perfumes and colognes drifting around my nose that many of the women viewing the show were wearing, sort of like arty Smell O Vision. This is a nice touch unplanned by the curators but still this can be seen as appropriate since so many of the paintings were very large and cinematic, especially in the final gallery where the great “Paris Street Rainy Day” by Gustave Caillebotte reigns supreme. There is also a gallery devoted to men’s fashions, again more tiny waists, tiny hats and tiny heads and it is in this gallery that my toes curled and my knees got weak looking at Whistler’s “Arrangement in Flesh Color & Black, Portrait of Theodore Duret”.  Comments overheard mainly concerned what relative or movie star the subjects in the paintings looked like, she looks “like my aunt” someone said and that one looks like Selma Hyake and come to think of it Tissot’s portrait of The Marquse de Miramon sort of looked like John Kelly in drag.

Postcards From The Edge

I was just notified that my postcard that I contributed to the Postcards From The Edge was bought. Postcards is a yearly benefit where artists (over 1,000 of us)  contribute handmade postcards to benefit  the mission of Visual AIDS: utilizing art to fight AIDS by provoking dialog, supporting HIV+ artists, and preserving a legacy -- because AIDS IS NOT OVER! The postcards are not identified so people who buy them have no idea who did them. They are priced very low $85.00 and I was told over $90,000 was raised. I'm delighted to have helped.

Dale Robertson. 1923-2013. A favorite hubba hubba from my youth

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Van Cliburn. 1934-2013

me and shirley go gallery hopping

So after viewing the dismal Dine show, I took myself and Shirley Bassey who was still singing Goldfinger in my head across the street to the Betty Cuningham Gallery to see the latest show of Philip Pearlstein, hoping that he didn't go all experimental at the age of 89 and start to paint dots and murky abstractions. Happily he hasn't and his show of nude models posing and cropped in his usual fashion and set among objects and toys makes for a very beautiful exhibition. They appear somewhat loser but only in his paint application otherwise they are still severe and sharp as ever. The other shows that I also liked were Gayleen Aiken at Luise Ross who is an outsider artist and is dead, you can't get more outsider than that. These are sweet and marvelous color drawings that look like they were done by a talented but untrained teen, you know the guy or gal who would sit in their classes and draw and sketch in and on their notebooks instead of listening to their teachers. You are greeted at the gallery by these large full figure portraits made of cardboard that are quite startling and are a nice introduction to the goodies that await you inside this small and intimate gallery. Also small and intimate are the paintings of Jennifer Wynn Reeves at the bravinlee gallery. These are mainly lonely, moody surreal like landscapes with touches of mixed media added like wire and molding paste. The edges of her dreams are torn and tattered which only add to the magical effect they have and all of them are enticing they really pull you in. And finally check out the bawdy show of Robert Arneson's big bold busts at George Adams, I wouldn't want to be in the way when these heads start to roll. The show covers three decades of his work and includes some nice zany colorful drawings. So all in all me and Shirley had a fine day looking at art in the galleries of Chelsea in New York City.

Tenement Block Review

Tenement Block Review has just published their first issue of their magazine and has used one of my photographs for the cover. Thank you Tenement Block Review. You can buy the issue for cheap at the link below.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Last postcard of February 2013. Paint on blank postcard


The Jim Dine show at Pace gallery is terrible and a big disappointment for me. I was hoping to see how this older gent had developed his representational language and potent imagery but instead we get these Large and bland abstract paintings that I think are totally unnecessary. They are muddy and ugly. However also at Pace is a beautiful show of Thomas Nozkowski's small complex and compact paintings that make up for the lousiness of the Dine show. Also abstract these are anything but lousy, I really loved his show. The images here are older works. The Dine is one of his current paintings in the exhibit.

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry.

I could only take about a hour of this documentary that was shown on PBS the other night before extreme boredom set in. I should say right off the bat, that I've never cared for his work, I find it uninteresting and dull, and it doesn't help that he's another emperor who has many maybe 100's of helpers doing his art for him, he is far away from connecting on a physical level with his work. I'm just tired of this sort of factory like large scale over stated productions that are on the level of a big budget Hollywood blockbusters. Of course I can connect with his protests against the Chinese dictatorship, but I trust this guy as far as I could throw him, and judging by his girth it wouldn't be very far. He doesn't go to bed hungry thats for sure. Living in the lap of luxury in his elegant and big compound and directing his career carefully with everything he does photographed and documented for the many slick fashion and art magazines that he appears in. At one point his mother looking at one such rag says that he looks like he is a member of the mafia. I find this kind of self serving celebrity machine scary and dangerous, and just how far is this guy from his own dictatorship. He is shown with his small son born out of wedlock, parading around the world with his Acolytes in tow, giving interviews and making sure his career is front and center. Anyone who wants him can have him, I prefer my activists to be a little less noisy and and a little less camera ready. The day I look to him as a moral compass will indeed be a cold day in hell.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Hauser and Wirth Gallery From Hell

I went to see the Dieter Rot show today at the new Hauser and Wirth space in Chelsea and I can't tell you how much I hate this gallery space. Huge, dank and dark, the only thing that would look good in it is a small Bulgarian traveling three ring circus, and then maybe not even that. Its big enough to house comfortably every Syrian refugee and then some. I am really sick of these oversized gallery spaces pushing their riches in my face with their over hyped over done over rated artists, and this is a good example of why the small galleries are being priced out of Chelsea. How can you compete with this kind of monstrosity?  This whole gallery is like being in hell. I think it was the roxy disco at one point in time. It actually looks like some expensive tacky catering hall in Long Island, There is a steep staircase leading up to the second floor that greets you when you enter though these huge doors, and at the very top you can make out the head of some poor hapless receptionist, sitting there guarding this overdone Valhalla. Colorful and boring wallpaper (its art) covers the walls on either side of the staircase, giving the whole place the look of a as I said a cheap catering hall or a cheesy finished basement. The day I climb those steps it will surely be a cold day in this hell. There is also an elevator which I of course took and when I got off I found myself in a bar, yes they actually have a bar that I thought was some hip artist"s installation and maybe it was. There was a big round table and on it were markers and bad children's drawings, or bad artist's drawings, I couldn't figure out what the point was. Many of them had thank you written on them, so maybe they were left over from the birthday parties, but if I was Hauser & Wirth I wouldn't be celebrating so soon.


Unbelievable. A literary magazine whose name I won't mention got all hot over my postcard collages and asked to publish them in their forthcoming in print and on line issue . Today I got the proof and they took it upon themselves to print them vertically even though they should be horizontal. They looked ridiculous and horrible and I immediately sent the editor emails that I want my art withdrawn. I was appalled and asked him does he expect people to look at them standing on their heads. I find this really amazing that they could be so stupid and rude to do this. I'm posting one of the images the right way it should be looked at, and the way they were going to publish them. Needless to say I hit the roof.

Donald Richie 1924-2013

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Captain’s Courageous 1937

It’s hard to believe that Spencer Tracy actually won a best actor Oscar for this film, but he did, and when they delivered it to him they had inscribed it to Dick Tracy who probably would have been just as good in this role. Tracy who has dark Harpo Marx curls and a Portuguese accent that comes and comes with the tide, was all wrong for this part. He’s too stark, hard and urban to be playing the soft spoken and gentle Portuguese fisherman and it’s almost painful to watch him struggle with this role. In later films, especially some of the ones he did with Hepburn and some of his late career comedies like “Father Of The Bride” he would show that softer gentler side of himself but at this point in his career he was not capable of showing these emotions without a fight and this shows in his performance. This was a big prestige M.G.M. production directed by the competent but overrated house director Victor Fleming and based on the classic Rudyard Kipling novel about a spoiled rich brat played by the very good child actor Freddie Bartholomew. Bartholomew’s character is generally awful and impossible for much of the early part of the film and his extensive problems are acerbated by his neglectful and self-involved rich business tycoon dad played by Melvyn Douglas. Then one day on a luxury liner voyage with Douglas little Freddie falls overboard and is fished out of the ocean by Tracy. And here for me things start to get dicey and uncomfortable. Freddie is stuck on the fishing boat for three months (there are no scenes that show Douglas even worried about the fate of his son) and at first Freddie is difficult and not liked by the captain played by the crusty Lionel Barrymore or any of the other fishermen except for Tracy who takes him under his wing and slowly teaches him how to fish and how to take care of himself. It was impossible for me not to see this relationship between Tracy and Freddie as a man boy love story. Tracy is very touchy feely with the kid and calls him his little fish over and over in tender and affectionate ways, and Bartholomew obviously has a big time crush (I should just come out and say that he’s in love with him) on Tracy and there are several scenes that show this rather clearly. Freddy even has a fit of jealousy when Tracy talks about finding some women when he gets back to shore and when he sees how upset Freddy gets over this, tells him no there are no women and not to worry. I can’t recall another child actor in this period of Hollywood filmmaking that is as sexualized as Bartholomew is in this film. I suppose you can take this movie as just a good old fashioned adventure story but I simply can’t accept this common and naive reading of the movie after seeing what I saw. SPOILER ALERT! Bartholomew’s grief and sorrow over the death of Tracy is so deep that it comes across as that of a loved one mourning over the loss of a lover. I never read the book so I have no idea if this homoerotic overlay is in the novel, but you would have to be asleep at the wheel not to pick up on it in the movie. The production values are ok for the period, but the process shots are glaring and the rubber fish are laughable. Also in the cast are the terrific John Carradine and a young Mickey Rooney in a small supporting role, one year away from becoming a big star. Besides Tracy’s best actor Oscar it was also nominated for best picture, screenplay and editing.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Postcard. Wax, paint and ink on blank postcard. February 2013

Moma or The Musuem Of Modern Farts

went to the museum of modern farts to renew my artist membership and to see the member's preview of the Dieter Roth show. Its all his printed and handmade books going back to the early 60's and its a very likable show, especially since I was the only one in the galleries, can you imagine such a thing. Of course once I stepped outside the space it was New Years eve in Times Sq. but I held my breath and looked at the Wolfgang Laib yellow thing, I have never been so underwhelmed, another one of the moma's European emperors in need of some clothes. Unclean unclean. I took lots of pictures which maybe I'll post down the road.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Notebook drawing. February 2013. Paint, beads, ink and collage on notebook paper

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

El Anatsui at the Brooklyn Museum

Spectacular spectacular. Saw this show today at the comfy cozy Brooklyn Museum, the museum of my youth, and they are beautiful, large and imposing. These great big wall pieces are real crowd pleaser's, and there's nothing wrong with that, and yet am I already tired of El Anatsui and his bottle caps? Are they too pretty for me, too easy, too OMG, I don't know, but I kind of sleep walked through the exhibition my visual senses on remote. Then there is the problem (for me anyway) of them being made by many many assistants and lets hope that they are being well paid for their intensive labor that these pieces demand. These works are like taking a trip to see some fantastic scenic wonders, maybe a national park and you get out of your car go wow and snap some pictures, get back in your car and move on to the next spectacular view for some more picture taking, some more wows. Maybe I've had my fill of wows. The show is on until August 4th so there is plenty of time for you to make up your own mind.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Basquiat and Kuhn

Simply put the Basquiat show at the Gagosian Gallery is extraordinary. It's jaw dropping and eye popping and if you've never seen a show of his, I suggest you make sure to take this one in. It's lavish in scale and scope filling that huge space beautifully with over fifty of his paintings. There were maybe two that I didn't care for, but his imagery and sense of color was special. A shame to have lost this wonderful artist so young. Also extraordinary for me was the beautiful Walt Kuhn show at DC Moore. I've always loved his portraits of entertainers and circus people that I've seen here and there, and this is a great and rare opportunity to take in this wonderful painter's life work. These are museum quality exhibitions.
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