Sunday, June 28, 2009

Is Your Life Worth A Painting?

Dana Schutz, The Autopsy of Michael Jackson

Tragically, this was prescient artists week here at HAA. First this. Then, Olympia Lambert over at Oly's Musings posted the above Dana Schutz painting. Hrag Vartanian followed. Now me. On Saturday, I had posted a video of the Minutemen playing their song, Political Song for Michael Jackson to Sing. When I checked the lyrics I realized that D. Boon and company had anticipated Schutz's painting:
"list monitors arrive with petition iron-fisted philosophy is your life worth a painting?"

Bad circle, but a circle nonetheless. Try not to stand in the center of it. But still, nobody beats Slayer for releasing God Hates Us All on September 11, 2001. That's, like, scary locked in.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Keith Edmier, sculpture of Farrah Fawcett

On a trip to Pittsburgh back in 2003 I decided to make an unplanned visit to the Warhol Museum. The night before I went I checked online to see what special exhibitions were up. Turned out to be a collaborative effort by Farrah Fawcett and a then-unknown-to-me artist named Keith Edmier. OK. The last time I had heard "art" and "Farrah Fawcett" in the same sentence was when she did something for the Playboy Channel that involved painting on canvases with her naked body. I wasn't expecting much.

Farrah Fawcett, sculpture of Keith Edmier

But I gotta say, it was a pretty damn delightful show that examined the relationship between idol and fan, muse and artist. In collaboration the lines were constantly blurred in both directions. Each artist did a nude life-size sculpture of the other. There were also smaller sculptures, drawings, and photographs. My favorite piece was a small sculpture of two hands, one open and one closed. There was an absolutely absorbing video about the artists' relationship and the process of their collaboration. The one thing that came through in the film was Fawcett's intelligence, both generally and specifically about what she and Edmier were doing together. On the side of the exhibit was a framed napkin that Fawcett and Ryan O'Neal had signed for Andy. A sweet touch, and a nice twist on the theme of the show.

Coming out of the exhibit I ended up talking with somebody who worked for the museum about what a nice surprise the show was. I've never forgotten a story he told me about picking up Farrah at the airport. Her plane had landed and then deboarded, but alas, no Farrah. Uh oh. Turns out that she was refusing to get off the plane until somebody could confirm for her that security was there to escort her. Not too long before this, Diane Keaton had come to town for the opening of her collection of clown paintings at The Warhol. Let's just say that there was some difficulty involved and leave it at that. This experience was fresh in their minds when Farrah was very much not getting off the plane. Things were not looking good. Well, security arrived, Farrah got off the plane, and guess what. As soon as she hit the public space, she was completely mobbed. She knew how this worked. Later, at the opening, she was nothing but generous and accessible with the staff and the other attendees. It's one thing to be an icon. It's another thing to understand exactly what that means to yourself and others. Farrah Fawcett did that until the very end. I can only imagine that Andy would have approved.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Karen Heagle, Beverly Semme, Robert Melee (l to the r)

I was walking over to the East Village after I left Lisa Cooley on Sunday, and I looked across Orchard Street and saw the word "LOVER" in the window of what looked like a gallery. I looked a little closer, and thought I saw a Marilyn Minter piece. Wheels started to turn (Slowly, but turning nevertheless.). Hey. Wait. This might be the show that Kate Gilmore curated. I got an email about that. So, I walked into the gallery and asked the woman at the desk (Later finding out that she was gallery owner and Kate's co-curator, Candice Madey.), "Is this the show that Kate curated?" Yeah. I thought so. Awesome. About two minutes later, Kate walked in. Sometimes, that's just the way it works here. And HELLO most poetically named gallery in the history of gallerydom: On Stellar Rays. Indeed.

Luis Gispert

And the art? Oh, man. From Franklin Evans' worshipful tree piece to a luscious Suzanne McClelland to Luis Gispert's hilariously happy sculpture with its handful of dark undertones, and all this with Marilyn Minter's glittered tongue down your throat . . . this show totally fucking RULES! An amazing feat to have 32 artists on the walls and floor without the space feeling even remotely crowded. All these lines of passion, crossing but not crossing out. This show is a small town on the 4th of July. Everyone's watching the same sky, all their voices going up in the air at the same time. The heart is bursting on this one, kids. Do not miss it. It opens Wednesday night at 6 o'clock. Hold on.

Franklin Evans (foreground), Daniel Bozhkov (background) [Sorry about my nonfabulous cropping techniques.]

Nancy Davidson

Oh. And THE best press release ever! Here it is, in it's entirety . . .

Kiss today goodbye,
The sweetness and the sorrow.
Wish me luck, the same to you.
But I can't regret
What I did for love, what I did for love.
Look my eyes are dry.
The gift was ours to borrow.
It's as if we always knew,
And I won't forget what I did for love,
What I did for love.
Love is never gone.
As we travel on,
Love's what we'll remember.
Kiss today goodbye,
And point me t'ward tomorrow.
We did what we had to do.
Won't forget, can't regret
What I did for
What I did for...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Shouting At The Ground.

Screaming At The Economy, a project by the Washington, DC art crew Floating Lab Collective landed on Wall Street this morning. I happened by them on my way to work when they were on the steps of Federal Hall. Their mad red jump suits and the huge sound horns strapped to their backs gave them away as something not stock brokery. Here's the deal. People call a number and scream at the economy. The recording gets processed by FLB, and then played back in front of financial institutions across the country. If you'd like to scream, call 646.402.5686, extension 90514 . Or, just scream.

Bonus points if you caught the :zoviet-france: reference.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Steal This Title.

Cheezy conceptualist curators of the world, you are welcome. Remember a couple weeks ago when I was going OFF on the greatness of Randy Grief's amazing sonic loopfest, The Barnacles Inside? Well, I was just listening to it again, and I noticed a song title I had forgotten about. Cheezy conceptualist curators of the world get your pens out, because this will be the title of your next show. Ready? OK.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

We, In Our Easy Hell.

Georgia Sagri, Do Jaguar from Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is and If Approaching Pain Gives You a Way of Recovering the Memory of Flesh Then Go Elsewhere, (screengrab, HAA)

I wasn't sure if I should post this, but it's what we do here. Look at art. Tell you about it. Connect the sometimes horrible dots, outlining the gulf between us. In this case, the one that stretches between Georgia Sagri's performance last month and the recent murder of Neda Soltani.

We Are Family.

Blanko & Noiry performing as part of BLOOD TRANSFUSION FOR A GHOST at PS1.

Dear Frank Haines' brain,

Thank you.


PS: Going to check out what rolled off your synapses at Lisa Cooley right now.

PPS: Good to see some prog rock back in the institution. I've been listening to Mastermind all day.

PPPS: Dude. When you dropped the glitter I realized a universal truth: Glitter makes everything better. Still cracking up.

PPPPS: Stopped by your show this afternoon. Nobody confuses me like you do. But I mean that in a good way.

PPPPPS: Now I own a Frank Haines. Bought one of the cassettes. 8 dollars. Best art deal in town. Gothic swooping. I can hear the glitter.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Adding An "O".

It's so nice to be talking about the space between an "M" and an "O", and to not be talking about kerning. Here are two pics of Lawrence Weiner's At The Same Moment in the process of being made for Creative Time's Governor's Island project, This World & Nearer Ones. This piece is in the GI Ferry dock on the Manhattan side. The first pic, taken at about 10:15 AM on the ferry out, and the second at about 12:40 PM on the return trip. In between the "M" and and the "O" was a visit to the island filled with magic and surprise courtesy of the ever-amazing Creative Time, and quite specifically the curatorial care and respect given to this space by Mark Beasley. More later, of course, but in the meantime enjoy the space between.

Note that This World & Nearer Ones opens NEXT weekend.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Jake Klotz, Welcome To The Magic Garden

I've said this before . . . I'm a sucker for a good diorama.

Spent a slightly depressed Saturday afternoon on the couch this weekend. Then, when enough was enough I was, like, "What's Artcat have to say about this?" And it said "Crest Hardware Art Fair"! I hopped on the G train, and was lifted quite nicely out of my doldrums. Even in all that rain. It also helped that I ran into Marisa Sage, her tattooed posse, and, quite appropriately, Barry and James.

Rachel Beach

This was my first visit to the the show which has been going strong for 15 years now. For those of you who don't know, it's in a 50 year old hardware store, and the art is placed throughout. Much delicious confusion ensues. Sometimes the art was obvious, as in the case of a beautiful little painting by Felipe Posada. Sometimes, not so much. Judy Thomas' Sexie Duster would be the best example there. She even made tags. Most excellent (And only 19.99!). Rachel Beach had some sweet smaller wooden sculptures hanging above the wood finishing. Perfect.

Judy Thomas, Sexie Duster

And this dude's ass? Totally NOT Carri Skoczek's The Bucket.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

My Dying Bride.

It's fun to step out of my own personal art comfort zone every once in awhile. For that reason I was kind of happy that I didn't make it to Hell's Kitchen last night in time for the latest EXIT Art opening. That way, I had more time to check out Flesh to Canvas at Last Rites Gallery. Tatoo artists move onto the canvas. The kick for me was the affinity so much of the work had with Heavy Metal album covers and Sci-Fi. And it was cool to see two of the artists creating an original on the spot. And kids, totally trippy environs. A truly alternative universe far west on 33rd Street. Rare, really, that anyone would go to this length to create such a space. Click here to see the main rooms. Absolute immersion in the world of Paul Booth. A dark thing, that. I listened to My Dying Bride's towering classic, Turn Loose The Swans all the way home. Righteous.

Plus, I still can't believe I got to see the original art for Pig Destroyer's Prowler in the Yard , and that I took such a bad picture of it.

Twitter Noticed.

Glad to see I wasn't the only one who noticed the near abscence of the Iran story for which I've been waiting about 15 years on the cable news networks yesterday. Twitter noticed. A number of online news sources, from the NYTimes to Joy Garnett on facebook, were appropriately all over it. While CNN was bad, MSNBC was absolutely fucking useless, replaying prison and rural murder mystery "documentaries". Both networks, especially MSNBC, should spend Monday apologizing for their negligence. (Although I'm sure that MSNBC will instead spend Monday the same way they've spent the last 3 weeks: Selling the new puff-chested book by Clutch Cargo/Kewpie Doll hybrid, Joe Scarborough.)

UPDATE: 10:36 pm. CNN is suddenly paying attention to the Iran story. They keep mentioning that they're going to be covering it for the next two hours. They KNOW they blew it.



Thursday, June 11, 2009

I Kiss You. You're Beautiful.

This is a song, but it looks like art.

Hugh Hopper, RIP.

Hugh Hopper, 1945-2009.

As a rule I pretty much hate jazz, so it was a huge surprise when I walked into Downtown Music Gallery one Saturday afternoon several years ago and found myself completely entranced by the music of Soft Machine. Maybe it was the fusion of rock and jazz that opened it up for me. I can tell you this: part of the charm was the fffbuzzy tone of the bass player Hugh Hopper. He's known for that tone, but as a player he could play as tight or as open the as song the needed. Engines full-on, he followed the song, although it was Soft Machine so sometimes the song followed him. No matter the tune, Hugh Hopper was always right where he needed to be. Luckily for those listening, it was never where we expected.

Soft Machine in action in 1970.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Line Up.

The High Line is online, and it's pretty damn exceptional. The architects do a masterful job of marrying the previous to the present. The tracks and overgrowth comfortably share their space with newly manufactured lines and resting places. The future even gets a nod if only in the hope one can find in the competence, thoughtfulness, and vision exhibited on this elevated plane. Yes, this town has more to offer to its inhabitants than the Nets Arena. Nicolai Ourousoff has had two amazing pieces in the Times this week. The first, about how architecture can cheat us was about the aforementioned arena. The second, about the High Line, examines how work like the High Line can elevate both the city and its inhabitants. Besides the exceedingly pleasurable aesthetic experience the High Line provides, it also offers a fresh view of the everything around it, especially the architecture, both new and old. It doesn't get a lot better than this, but I'm betting that it will when I visit again and again and again. Brilliant.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Never The Same River Twice.

The Hudson is in never far from view on the newly opened High Line. One of the places where the view drops out, Spencer Finch brings the river closer in his first project for Creative Time, The River That Flows Both Ways. This is a slow one. Spend some time with it. It changes with the light while it changes the light. Notice what comes through the glass and what gets reflected. And don't miss what comes through and then gets reflected. Just keep looking. It gently opens up through the 700 colors, some of them unexpected. 700 colors from the river captured in time, and yet here it's still changing, never becoming the same river twice.

The High Line.

Oh, man. The goodness. More pics to come . . .

Monday, June 08, 2009

Don't Call Me Bruce.

Call me The Bag Of Shit That'll Be Lighting And Leaving Itself On Your Your Doorstep. So . . . BIG SHOCKER!!! The new Nets Arena design looks like my high school gym when it was built in, like, 1960. Bruce Ratner has gone and pulled a predictable post-Gehry low-budget move, and he gets the beatdown he deserves by Nicolai Ourousoff* in the Times today. Remember when the Brooklyn Museum was all on their knees for this tasteless cad last year? This is what they were celebrating. Awesome. These people don't need encouragement. They need the word "No." shoved at them until they and their lawyers are bankrupt (On the money front, that is. Already got the idea front covered.).

*Ourousoff isn't completely innocent himself, having supported this yahoo project when Gehry was involved. To have even an ounce of trust that Ratner--the guy who built the worst piece of architecture in the entire city, The Atlantic Mall--would do this right scores you a lot of points on the naive dreamer scale. Ourousoff even says, "I suppose we should have seen this coming." Yeah. No shit, Sherlock.

PS: Bonus points going out to any of you who caught the reference in the title of this post to the funniest song Rick Springfield ever wrote.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Closed. Joy.

God, she's good. You know the drill. Zoe Strauss. Kicking worlds of ass.


Came across an old copy of Music from the Empty Quarter while I was moving some boxes the other day. Browsing through it I came across a review of Randy Grief's The Barnacles Inside, so of course I had to get it out to give it it's 1000th spin. Man. Such a good record. This is sound art at its very best. Overwhelming waves of loops scrape off whatever might be attached to the hull of your ship. The ever-underrated Grief has a subtle hand that knows when to pull the back the current and when to let the listener in on a swell that's going down a 1000 miles away. The distance leads the listener home, clinging.

Also, a high recommendation for Grief's hard-to-find-but-worth-it Alice in Wonderland series. Carroll's work gets the acid bath it deserves across five CDs worth of spoken word floating above Grief's bed of sonic memories.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Give Love. Give Love. Give Love. Give Love . . .

As reported by Roberta & Libby at The Artblog, the PEW Fellowships and relatively new (But really, not TOO new.) Philadelphia resident Ryan Trecartin snagged one. This is excellent. It's also called knowing whatcha got and giving it some love, kids. Congrats to Trecartin AND to the The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Houses In The Field.

David Brumbach (1948-1992), acrylic on paper

Not if some Old Order Amish in Lancaster County have anything to say about it. They just won a game-changer in the Pennsylvania courts, gaining extra protection for their land. This is excellent. It's also an excuse to post some paintings by the late Lancaster painter, David Brumbach. Always loved his light. I was especially thrilled this time around because I was able to find a couple from his Star Barn series.

Oh, and John Gorka: Houses In The Field. A great song. And Shawn Colvin lays down one of the most perfect harmonies ever recorded.

Agnes Of God.

"I'm very careful not to have ideas, because . . . they're inaccurate."
--Agnes Martin

I came in just after the halfway point on Mary Lance's documentary, Agnes Martin: With My Back To The World, on IFC tonight. It was like being in church with a preacher who was filled with the Spirit, truth after truth spilling out. The only thing that could have made it better would have been if Eliane Radigue had done the soundtrack. Which made me think, somebody out there in Academyland needs to do a comparative analysis of those two, about the the long home they found in the straight line.