Sunday, June 30, 2013

Petrichor Review

Petrichor Review has just posted this collage of mine from 1975 in their latest issue. You can view the entire issue at the link below and you can see the collage along with the poem that goes with it by clicking on my name in the table of contents.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Nu Mu

I went to the Bowery with a friend the other evening for the New Museum’s free night to see the exhibitions of Llyn Foulkes (very good) and Ellen Gallager (good but flawed) This was my first visit to this pile on the Bowery, and to me it looks and feels like another corporate museum, hell even the very large elevator as big as my living room has a donors plaque on it. It’s also a rather bland and sterile place with some awkward spaces and galleries. Some of Ms. Gallager’s very lovely “Watery Ecstatic” embossed and delicately color small works are installed in a tight claustrophobic alcove off a dollhouse like staircase going from the 3rd to the 4th floor, and if one decided instead to take the donor elevator instead of the toy like staircase you would miss seeing these pieces. Now since it was a free night there was a longish line full of mostly hip and cool good looking young New Yorkers out for some free culture, but it moved fast once they opened the doors, and I love being the oldest person in a large crowd of pretty pretties. The Llyn Foulkes show is robust, eccentric, hilarious, inventive, angry and charming tracing a 50 year span of output from this much loved L.A. artist who has remained pretty much unknown on this coast, but I’m sure this will change now that he is the subject of “the long-overdue career retrospective” as the New Museum puts it in the intro to the show. Loaded with about 100 works by this wild and wooly artist it includes very early small black and white drawings that have an underground comic book feel to them, (of course they were done way before these kind of comics appeared) some strong early large assemblages and constructions along with pop like paintings based on postcards and photographs that incorporate both words and images. The layout of the exhibit is somewhat cramped and confused, in fact as we were about to enter a room that had black curtains hanging down the entrance and seemed like the next logical space to enter a guard stopped us and said that we should see this room last as it contained his most recent works. In another gallery on one wall are lots of different size strange painted portraits some of them quite harsh and violent with blood running down the faces, eyes blocked out and small collaged additions glued to parts of some of the faces all elaborately framed. Foulkes who is an old fashioned good old lefty goes back and forth in his work from the very personal (there are several self-portraits) to the very political. He especially has it in for Ronald Reagan (who can blame him), Walt Disney, Mickey Mouse, art critics (again who can blame him) and the destroyers of our environment all of whom are pictured and torn apart in many works. Probably the strongest later work in the show is titled “The Lost Frontier which is a large tableau like almost 3-D work that is set in its own dark private gallery that is vivid and disturbing. One would have to say it was both beautifully constructed and painted. It’s an almost breathing tableau of an apocalyptic nightmarish scene, a dead Landscape with a city (Los Angles) dying in a sickly yellow smog in the background while a Buddha like blackened figure sits on the side with an empty bowl and a mummified cat or some kind of animal lies on the other side while a man (Foulkes?) sits in front of a TV or a computer screen or a microwave oven surrounded by mounds of garbage and craggy hills. Cars on an elevated highway move by in the distance and a creature in a dress with a Mickey Mouse head stands guard on one of the craggy hills a rifle in its hand. Other pop figures from Superman to the Lone Ranger also make cameo appearances and even Jesus Christ drops in for a visit. One would never accuse Foulkes of being a subtle artist that’s not what he’s about, his long career is full of art that is emotional and deeply felt, colorful, harsh, tactile and lush and sometimes brilliant. The Ellen Gallager show consists of some very beautiful large abstract paintings that are also tactile and engrossing in her use of color and texture, these are the best works in the show. Sadly a much stronger curatorial hand was needed because there is no clear direction that the show takes. It has a little of this and a little of that, and the few small collaged works of hers that examine her life as a young African American woman while mildly humorous, sarcastic and artistically attractive should have been left out or many more of them shown. They just don’t work well with the large abstract paintings, and are confusing. I guess the idea was to show how eccentric, eclectic and experimental she is but it didn’t work for me. On the 4th floor in a dark dimly lit gallery is a jarring very large cube like dark sculpture with some kind of designs and markings all over it that takes up most of the gallery and is pretentiously titled “Osedax” which is Latin for "bone-eating" and looks like it should be in a dumb 3-D sci fi summer blockbuster movie or sitting in some park or public space. It’s opened on one side where viewers are encouraged stoop down and enter this fun house attraction and view something I’m sure is visually groovy. I can’t report on what this entertainment was because my days of entering small dark claustrophobic spaces came to an end around 1980 when I had my pocket picked in the dark back room of the Anvil but according to the laughable description on the museum’s web page it “is an immersive environment consisting of 16mm film and painted slide projections inspired by a species of undersea worm that buries into the bones of whale carcasses.” On the walls surrounding “Osedax” are smallish not very compelling red and black paintings of swirling twisty shapes with touches of silver added that look like something you might see under a microscope or in a textbook on creatures that live in the sea or maybe they are of those damn undersea worms.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Bert Stern 1929-2013

Ken Price at the Metropolitan Museum

Before falling down a flight of subway steps the other day I had been at the Met viewing the wonderful Ken Price retrospective. The beautifully installed show (designed by Frank Gehry no less) is a loopy and loony tactile beach blanket bingo of Price’s colorful California dreaming abstract ceramic sculptures most of them small but there are some larger pieces also included. But it’s the compact smaller works including his early marvelous cups that drew me in. I’ve always liked his work with their sci-fi creatures from another planet soft looking oozing and foaming yet hard to the touch pieces. I had to keep my hands in my pockets through most of the exhibit because I had such an urge to touch and caress these works, craggy and smooth with mysterious pock marked surfaces and glow in the dark like colors, really as I said very sci-fi. Also some of his smaller works especially his “eggs” have creepy crawling like small things hatching out of them that are lovely and disgusting at the same time. The pieces have a nature like quality to them like something you might find out in the woods on a misty rainy early morning walk or on a beautiful beach sticking out of the sand but they are also very artificial looking , like props for some cheap sci-fi movie with sets made of paper mache and cellophane (see for instance the wonderful1959 film “Journey To The Center Of The Earth” to see what I mean). Also included are a healthy dose of his small brightly colored "architectural" pieces which refer back to the Art Deco and Constructionist movements that he did early in his career. And then of course there is his touch how he used his medium his clay to make these fantastic ceramic objects and sculptures , a touch that is quite amazing and frankly is beyond my comprehension.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Notebook drawing Late June 2013

Symmetry Pebbles

Symmetry Pebbles has just posted two of my recent notebook pages. The notebook page posted here is not one of the ones posted, because if I posted the ones used you wouldn't need to go to the website to see them.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

childrens books and Lorca

Saw this charming show "The ABC of It: Why Children's Books Matter" today at the 42st. Library. Very nicely done and installed, elaborate settings and displays which is usual for their shows. I love children's books (who doesn't) and have a small collection of vintage stuff. I stopped buying because of financial consideration, but one can always find nice children's books at reasonable prices. I also have a lot of them for sale on my book website

I also took in the very nice smaller exhibition Back Tomorrow: A Poet In New York/Federico Garcia Lorca, and finally his homosexuality is discussed. There were lots of his drawings which I didn't know about (I don't know that much about him) and seeing the show makes me want to read his book poet in New York, so I'll have to keep an eye out for a used copy somewhere on my housing works trips. I love this building to bits, and spent time there also taking lots of pictures and just browsing through the rooms and corridors of the place with the marble keeping me cool. I picked up a brochure on the coming renovation, and I'm trying to be positive about it, the great spaces of the building will not be touched so I'm ok with it.

The Photographs used here were taken by me a few years ago. I haven't looked at what I took today and it will be some time before I get them up.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Olentangy Review

  Olentangy Review has just posted two of my photographs. You can view them and the entire issue at     the link below. But I have posted the two of them here, so you don't have to go to the link, but you might want to so you can view the entire issue. Whatever.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Lonely Girl. Collage, ink, paint and wax on blank postcard. June 2013

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

James Gandolfini 1961-2013

This is a great loss. I consider his performance on The Sopranos to be one of the greatest acting achievements in the history of television and indeed film. I met him once when I was working one of my shit jobs and he was shy and modest about his acting. He signed a card for me, which I sold down the road.  Most tragic.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Manhandled. 1924.

I saw this silent movie yesterday at the Moma. It was directed by Allan Dwan and stared Gloria Swanson. Its not much of movie running about 77 minutes, but it was interesting to see just how marvelous Swanson was. Today she's probably best known for her great performance in Sunset Boulevard, but she was a huge star of silent films making her first film in 1914 she was also the mistress of Joseph P. Kennedy and was married many times . The best part of the film comes early as Swanson as a poor working girl slaving away in the bargain basement of a department store, makes her way home on the subway. There was also live musical accompaniment by some guy playing a small organ, very nice. As much as I bitch the Moma, having an artist pass for $50.00 a year is great, and I really get my money's worth.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Notebook drawing. Collage and Paint on Notebook Paper June 2013

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Hopper Drawing At The Whitney Museum

I just saw this magnificent exhibition at the Whitney today and I can't tell you how much I loved it, well actually I can tell you how much I loved it, I loved it a lot. Hopper has been one of my favorite artists for as long as I can recall and in this beautifully installed exhibition we get to see via a couple of hundred of his drawings and sketches just how he thought, and worked. Many of the drawings easily stand on their own as drawings, finished intimate and superb and there are also loose working sketches of details and ideas. I was surprised by how many of the drawings looked like storyboards for movies, especially Noir movies but then again many of his New York paintings are indeed“noirish in mood and light. The show also has a lot of his very early work including student work and pieces that he did in Paris when he was a young man. I especially love the wonderful large Soir Bleu from 1914 with smart Parisians sitting at a long table with a woman hovering over them and Japanese lanterns hanging over their heads and what is that scary clown doing there? Some of my favorite paintings of his are also in the show including "Early Sunday Morning" that always makes me feel melancholy (it must be the light) and is exhibited without a frame on his original easel so startling that at first I thought it was a reproduction, "New York Movie" finally I now know what movie theatre in New York City Hopper based the work on, its the Palace also the great "Night Hawks" which is probably the most parodied painting second only to "American Gothic" and "Gas" with his amazing dusk light falling on the trees and the lone figure at the gas pump. This is a breathtaking show that almost moved me to tears several times. One of the best exhibitions of the year.
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