Friday, February 28, 2014

Italian Futurism. 1909-1944. Reconstructing The Universe The Guggenheim Museum

I saw this extraordinary exhibition today, and I doubt if you will see a more beautiful show this year. It fills the whole museum and although I knew many of the artists there were a few new discoveries for me, notably Fortunato Depero who not only did paintings but also toys, stage sets, costumes, ads and much more. All the famous artists are here also including Balla, Marinetti and Severini but I was very impressed by the lesser known artists. These guys were full of contradictions and some of their beliefs were and still are difficult to deal with including misogyny,(yet they included women in their group) a love of war and their attraction to Italian fascism which is also covered in the exhibition. They also loved machines, speed, movement, the city and the future and boy what art. There are magnificent paintings, drawings, books, furniture, sculptures and more, in fact I could not find one work that I didn't like. Its wonderfully installed and will be at the Gugg until Sept 1, so there is lots of time to see it.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Cigarettes In Chelsea

I was spending the day in Chelsea. It was late spring of last year and it was a warm Saturday. There wasn’t much to see, but an old friend of mine had a show up, and it was the last weekend to see it so I made the trek from Brooklyn. It was very quiet that Saturday, maybe it was the heat, or the end of the season for art shows, but it was nice as I was pretty much alone on the streets. As I was about to go into the exhibition, I noticed across the street a woman sitting outside a gallery on a folding chair smoking a cigarette and looking despondent. I slowly recognized her. It was an artist who I vaguely knew but I didn’t like her or her work so I really wasn’t much interested in taking the easy walk across the street to see what she had been up to. She sat there as if she was the proprietor of some long lost little neighborhood store, maybe she sold fabrics or owned a candy store where she sold penny candies to the neighborhood children in a long lost lower eastside or my old neighborhood in Brooklyn. These old ladies and men would sit outside their little meager stores taking in some sun and air until a customer would walk past them entering into their cool dusty spaces to buy something. That’s what she reminded me of as I silently stood there with the sun glaring down on me watching her smoke her cigarettes. When someone came along and went into the gallery she would toss her cigarette down on the sidewalk and step on it as if in disgust with her dirty habit and follow the person in. I stood there fascinated. When the person would leave she would once again take her place on the chair light up another smoke and just stare. If she saw me watching her she didn’t show any signs of being watched. She was not a very good artist, her ability to get shows now and again came about because she was married to a minor but successful artist who I had a falling out with many years earlier. Because of our falling out, he kept me from getting some grants, prizes and residences and I knew that I would never get these grants, prizes and residences as long as he sat on the panels. I would have to wait until he either left the panels or dropped dead. She had no chin, and I often thought that her overweight husband who had several might give her one, talent he couldn’t share with her, because he had very little of his own to pass around. A couple went into the gallery and once again she took the cigarette from her mouth and tossed it on the sidewalk (there was quite a pile of these butts surrounding the chair) and followed them inside. I couldn’t understand why on this lovely Saturday afternoon she wasn’t in the Hamptons at their big house that his commissions had paid for instead of sitting out in the hot sun glaring and smoking, smoking and glaring. Her name had a stupid rhyme to it, and she had no chin, she was also somewhat overweight a matching pair, this husband and wife, like cheap salt and pepper shakers.  “Oh you should see their house in the Hampton’s” my friend Beverly told me one day as we sat eating sandwiches in Washington Square Park. I turned to her with a look of disgust on my face, which told her what I felt for this art world couple, and that she should drop the subject right away. After looking at my friends work my curiosity got the best of me, and I crossed the street and saw her looking at me, as if she knew who I was, but couldn’t place my face, which was fine with me. The gallery (which by the way is no longer there) was dim and the walls were hung with these lousy little drawings and paintings by her, all of them miserably uninteresting but I looked anyway, and soon I knew she was in the room with me, because of the stench of the cigarettes. I hate that smell especially since I gave up smoking nearly 20 years ago.  When I turned around there she was looking sad and despondent, and even more unattractive up close reeking of cigarettes. I didn’t even sign the guest book, I felt like I shouldn’t even be there, and felt her glaring eyes following me, so finally I had enough and left. The light and sun felt nice after the dark gallery and as I walked back down to 9th avenue I turned to look back and there she was sitting on her wooden chair smoking her cigarette and waiting for the next customer to enter her little shop.    

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Traveling Poet

The Traveling Poet has just posted 7 of my photos. They look good.

Loren Munk You Are Here. Freight + Volume through March 15th

The first thing one notices (or at least I did) is the bright electric colors, and then the scribbles, notes and writings, which are also painted in garish colors on the canvases. They look like posters for carnivals, comic books, board games, an art world candy land A Go To The Head Of The Class, (the small portraits of painters of the 80’s canvas are especially reminiscent of the student board pieces that came with the game). Munk is showing us his take on New York City art world history told through maps and diagrams that chart and list the names of art movements, moments in time and above all thousands of names of artists, critics, curators and other movers and not so shakers that have passed through the art world for many years that flow and climb through these timelines of 20th Century art history.  That these paintings are bright, busy and colorful is obvious, and they are also conceptually dense, daunting and loony. These are zany works that Rube Goldberg and Ad Reinhardt might like (well maybe not Reinhardt) and are also abstract works, patterned and decorative that Munk piles high on his plate. They are so likeable. For all the names & history plopped down in front of our eyes there are of course omissions as Munk so readily admits to. I was a pioneer in loft living in Chelsea for 31 years and this fact is not included in the map for artist’s neighborhoods. However I did see my name painted in white on a lime green background for a list of artists included in the seminal conceptual art show “Information” that was held at the Moma in 1970, and it was an odd moment for me among many odd moments to be found in this show. It was sort of like seeing my name up in lights on a Broadway marquee,”top of the world Ma” as James Cagney screams at the end of “White Heat” as he is about to be blown to smithereens . Also impressive of course is the amount of time and patience it took Munk to do these works that are like a high-pitched beautiful fever dream.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

new notebook drawing. Febraury 2014. ink, paint and collage on notebook paper

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Iron Gall

 Iron Gall Press has just posted one of my photographs

Monday, February 17, 2014

Two movies

Although I don't care much for the movie now, the poster is a favorite of mine from my teen years when I saw it at age 14 at the Palace Theatre in Times Sq. The poster was dramatic and bold and made me think that I was in for something special. The other great poster from that Fall season was for West Side Story which also made this 14 year old drool with anticipation as me and my friends took our seats in the balcony of the long gone Rivoli Theatre smoking our brains out.

New Sculpture. February 2014 with details. 32" x 7" mixed

Judy Rifka. Trestle Projects. Feb. 14th-March 22nd. Brooklyn.

I took in the beautiful and fine show of large black, white and gray collages by Judy Rifka today. These are huge, tactile and stunning and loomed over me in their winter grayness but have much joy and exuberance to them. They are hung on the walls without glass or frames to protect them and I was able to run my hands over their very rough vulnerable and textured surfaces (these pieces are almost tapestries) and the upper walls have instances and spots of graffiti by Victor Ving whose "signature" Rifka found on the roof of her apartment building in Chinatown while working outdoors on some of the smaller works that are also shown here in her workspace and is a generous gesture on her part, but then again these are generous works in themselves. You should try to see this show

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Talk Of The Town 1942

Somewhat lumpy overlong (as only George Stevens can be) romantic comedy with serious topical touches circa 1942 thrown in that still resonate. This is the kind of movie that you would expect to see coming out of the mind of Frank Capra, sentimental, patriotic with quirky characters making cute and a message that hits us over the head. The film opens with an impressive montage showing in swift images Cary Grant being sent to prison for arson and murder, newspaper headlines flash by along with grim shots of Grant, and right away we just know that he has to be innocent, this is Cary for crying out loud. The next sequence takes place on a stormy rainy night and Grant makes an unbelievable escape from prison by overpowering a guard and jumping out of a window. The hounds are soon snapping at his behind as he limps (he hurt his ankle jumping out the window) to the home of the wonderful, the magnificent Jean Arthur who is hanging curtains and getting her house ready for the tenant moving in the next morning. Jean hears a noise outside and sees Grant moving by and soon he’s in the living room, where Jean brandishing a weapon calls him by his first name Leopold and we soon realize that they know each other. It seems that Jean and Cary grew up together in this small back lot town set somewhere in New England, and of course she also believes in his innocence. The plot twists come fast, and soon there is a knock at the door and there stands Ronald Colman a famous law professor and jurist who is a day early and is Jean’s new tenant. This is a triangle of sorts, obtuse but still a triangle in which Jean manages to make the stuffy Colman (who is about to be appointed to the Supreme Court) melt and fall for her, while Jean and Cary melt into a puddle of longing while figuring out how to prove his innocence and give us a happy Hollywood ending. The first thing I noticed was the wonderful voices of all three of the actors, each voice special and unique that helped make these three marvelous movie stars such a pleasure to watch and listen to. This is an attractive trio. There are some funny lines and moments, my favorite being a daffy breakfast scene where Arthur drops some eggs on a newspaper to hide a photo and the real identity of Grant from Colman who has taken a liking to him and has no idea that he is a wanted man hiding in the attic. Jean has passed him off as the gardner. Sounds complicated and it is, and even though Stevens gets preachy  on us in the 2nd half of the film, he still  manages to keep the silliness silly, after all this is the guy who directed many Laurel and Hardy films early in his career and made some of the great classics of  the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s  before he turned serious on us with all those ponderous late career epics. Here he is all jaunty and fun, with a 1940’s dream cast that also includes Edgar Buchanan, Emma Dunn, Glenda Farrell, Charles Dingle, and the great Rex Ingram, dignified and imposing  along with a host of familiar character actors (look for an impossibly young Lloyd Bridges in a bit role as a reporter) whose names might escape us, but never those faces. With a screenplay by Irwin Shaw and Sidney Buchman and no nonsense cinematography by Ted Tetzlaff . Nominated for 7 Oscars including one for best picture.

Dark February. Collage, paint, ink and wax on 11" x 14" paper

Friday, February 14, 2014

House Of Cards. Season 1

See this one, I don't know how season 2 will turn out good or bad, but the first season which I just finished on dvd curled my toes, and made me worry for our country. Set in a present day Washington D.C. the series is full of sharks, jackals, and snakes in other words, the kind of people who run our government. The series is based on the British show, and has been produced by Kevin Spacey who stars and David Fincher who also directed some of the episodes and has his slow, detailed fingerprints all over the place. It plays like one of those good paranoia political thrillers from the 70's you know the ones where no one could be trusted. The major role is played by Kevin Spacey who is the Democratic Majority Whip of the house, a brilliant move to make him a Democrat and not an easy to hate Republican. In fact all the major players are Democrats. Spacey is by the way brilliant, although he could have used a better toupee, and he is matched all the way by his Lady Macbeth, his wife played by Robin Wright who has finally come into her own and is also brilliant. The series is greatly helped by a terrific supporting cast of unknown (to me anyway actors) which helps convince us that these are fleshed out and bloodied characters, You won't find John Goodman or Melissa Leo as wonderful as they are lurking in these halls of congress. The story can get quite convoluted and twisty, and it is dark, pessimistic and totally engrossing, you won't see anything better on t.v. this year. 
paragraphiti magazine has just posted a collaboration between me and the poet Joyelle McSweeney. The art began as one of my postcards which I added some digital additions.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Gabriel Axel 1918-2014

The director of Babette's Feast has passed. It won the Oscar for best foreign film of 1987 and is one of my favorite films of 1987. I can watch it once a year. It stars the great Stéphane Audran as Babette.

Sid Caesar 1922-2014

Postcard. February 2014. Ink, paint and collage on blank postcard

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Crescent Magazine has just published 16 of my photographs along with 2 of my recent collages. You can view them at this link which brings you to the photographs. Click on the arrow on the right side and you will then see the collages. The magazine is very slick and is loaded with photographs of fashion like soft core photos of young women that remind me of the work of Norman Parkinson. How I ever got into this magazine is beyond me and I have no recollection of submitting my work, but here it is. Its also available as a print issue.

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