July 2004 Archives




untitled (United baggage carousel, LAX) 2004

Obviously we had some time on our hands after disembarking in L.A. this evening.



We drove around Sauvie Island this afternoon, just outside the city of Portland. These two photographs are of landscapes approximately two miles from the city limits, and only twelve miles fom the very center of town. They are totally representative of an island which has no gas stations and no visible commercial life outside of its pick-them-yourself farms.

Dreamy. Even Gerhard Richter would be impressed.

Actually, much of the island looks like the kind of arcadia which could have inspired Capability Brown. See Bloggy for more beautiful images.


In spite of all reported sightings to the contrary, Ben Franklin is not in Boston this week. Can't say that I blame him.

This image was captured in downtown Portland yesterday. This city was founded by New Yorkers and New Englanders in the mid-nineteenth century, and it remains a very sensible and very liberal society, so maybe there's some logic to Franklin's visit (or move?).

While it looks like he's now in a serious stretch from his sober sartorial habit (his Parisian friends would love it), he still wears the same glasses and he still seems to be interested in journalism.

five businessmen enjoy lunch together this afternoon en plein air, downtown Portland

A beautiful idyllic town, designed to please the biped who enjoys leisure, Portland nevertheless must be paid for. These men however don't think the business has to be endured with hairshirts.

While they were having lunch at 12:30 in the afternoon, I was really enjoying the concept of leisure by making it brunch. The scene was the very pleasant French cafe, Carafe, on shady SW Market St.

on the Oregon coast yesterday afternoon, just north of Otter Rock

We made it to the Pacific, but when we got there everbody was gone.

Actually, Barry and I are staying in Portland this week, where he's attending a tech conference, and after that we'll be in Los Angeles for a week. Yesterday was free, so we drove to the coast, much of the time through an almost abandoned wilderness, to stick our toes in the Pacific.

It's a long drive for one day, so while we didn't have much time to explore, the town of Newport looked like it would worth more than a detour.

We had a great lunch at the Chowder Bowl above Nye Beach: tiny shrimp in a thick clam chowder, followed by oysters and chips (clams and chips for Barry), the crustaceans all from local waters. Yes, they had good beer and wine, but most of the families sitting around us took a pass on the grownup stuff and finished quickly; they must have found the calories which fed their very ample American forms elsewise.

Another thought from a New York innocent abroad: This part of the world is very middle class and white, very clean and very civic. Why is it that away from the East Coast this country seems to be able to provide clean restrooms almost everywhere and such essentials as well-cared for parks or other public amenities, while in the Eastern cities you have to be a sneak or a sleuth to find a bathroom, and even a successful search will rarely uncover a clean, decent-sized facility? And in so far as parks are concerned (at least in New York City), unless you can get corporations to sponsor them, including their maintenance, your neighborhood is just out of luck.

As a nation are we able to provide for the public only if that public is perceived to be composed of a homogenous class and ethnicity?

Of course there are some parts of America which do have homogeneity, but still don't think anything should be provided to the public. If you're from such places, or visited them, you know where they are. Those are the areas from which most decent people flee as soon as they can - sometimes ending up in Oregon or New York.



I couldn't imagine it would come together so well. Hearing or reading about it ahead of time, the concept seemed mad. It is (and I mean that in the very best way), but its execution was absolutely brilliant.

Foxy Production announces The Infinite Fill Show, a group exhibition of dazzling black and white patterns, curated by brother and sister team Cory and Jamie Arcangel. The exhibition includes new and historical, readymade and handcrafted works in a range of media. The curators sent out an open call to artists for found or made objects which had to adhere to two basic rules: they must be black and white, and they must contain repeating patterns. The curatorial concept was inspired by MAC Paint, the 1984 software application with varied 16-bit monochrome patterning that could be picked and dropped into areas of the screen to denote color and depth. For Cory and Jamie Arcangel, this rudimentary precursor to Photoshop's draw and paint functions provides a creative tool to explore multiple perspectives within a unifying aesthetic.
Last night black and white patterns contributed by more than 50 artists danced, inside my head in color and in more than three dimensions, throughout the hot little cool gallery on 27th Street.



I remember now why galleries used to just close altogether in July and August. On Tuesday afternoon I wandered into the Dearraindrop show, "Riddle of the Spinx," in the large Wooster St. space of Deitch Projects [no website!]. It was very warm out, the garage door was open in welcome, and of course there was no air conditioning. Even before I had passed through the door cut into a paper pyramid to enter the exhibition space I had noticed what appeared to be a complementary installation directly across the street, but I was intent on the purpose of my visit.

The multi-media Dearraindrop installation will definitely reward the time I myself was unable to give it that afternoon; there appear to be scores of drawings and collage works hosting the larger constructions, and they are small only in their scale.

I had forgotten to bring my fan with me however, and so, since I'm famously impatient with heat and humidity, I left sooner than I would otherwise have wanted to.

I noticed that there seemed to be only one person babysitting the gallery, a smiling, very young man behind a table at the entrance. But then there was also the interesting more mature man seated just next to him, who was stretched out in his chair and appeared to be dozing. Only after I took the photograph at the top of this post did I suspect that he was the artist I should have engaged that afternoon. I regret I didn't have the nerve to interrupt his rest to ask about the great work he had placed on the sidewalk outside, opposite the sassy pyramid in the garage.

And yes, as if in a salute to the broad talents of the collective installed across the street, there was music coming from his work as well.

Dearraindrop, Deitch Projects installation detail

detail from Julia Scher's video, "Guard"

The third of White Box's planned nine weekly curated (RNC-oriented) shows opened tonight with a video and window installation by Julia Scher curated by Michael Rush.

Everything is on the outside of the gallery for these summer shows. This week the window reveals a real chain link fence topped with the ubiquitous razor wire, but this time everything is in pink, the whole threaded with a blue text welcoming the Republican National Convention to New York. The video installation next to the window is composed of two looped tapes (43 minutes total) each showing a solitary pink-uniformed security guard stationed, presumably, in front of a bank of monitors showing images of the viewer.

Scher has worked with surveillance issues for years. In 1991 she wrote, "The monitors of surveillance are the eyes of a social body gone berserk." Today we cannot even imagine an escape from that insanity.

It's a very good show. It'll be there for only six more days, but the real surveillance is only getting started.


Spotted on the way home from Williamsburg, on the uptown platform of the 14th Street IND station around midnight one rainy evening earlier this week: An attractive and serious young man, comfortably slouched on the bench, reading a copy of Ernst Cassirer's "The Myth of the State," small headphones holding his thoughts in place. At his feet rested a beautiful, wet, Winnie-the-Pooh folding umbrella.

Unfortunately I didn't have the nerve to use my camera; this time I had to just squeeze my eyes and record it without mechanical assistance.

Lovely, New York.

[image from Umbrella-Shoppe.Com]


moving party

The quote is from Bloggy, reference is to the smart Brooklyn gallery we are about to lose to Los Angeles, and the occasion for this post is this Sunday's "moving party" benefit.

Champion Fine Art is nearing the end of the New York half of their two year exhibition series of artist-curated group shows.

Drew and Flora are asking a modest $25 donation for the party, but you can walk home with part of their Williamsburg history if you can spring for another $75. The $100 entitles guests to participate in a drawing of works by artists Champion has exhibited or by the curators who brought them to the space. Since the curators are all artists, it looks like a chance for a double indemnity.

See the gallery site for details.



I had never seen Brian Ulrich's photographs before he sent me an email commenting on my site. He's going to be included in a group show, "Unframed First Look," hosted by Sean Kelly Gallery beginning the 28th of this month. The show is described as "A juried salon for photographers without New York representation." All sales wil benefit ACRIA, and the jurors are Adam Fuss, Jack Person and Cindy Sherman. I'm sure we're now going to be hearing a lot about Ulrich.

His own site includes countless wonderfully-nuanced images related, in his own words, to [the peculiarly American?] "shopping and consumer culture since 2001."

I take photographs with the hope to show how we appear caught within the excesses of a consumer-dominated culture. In 2001, consumer culture was redefined to include larger political and global implications: post 9-11, citizens were admonished to take to the malls to boost our economy through shopping. My photographs of excessive, corporate, and sometimes hyper-real retail spaces document the everyday activities of consumption. By scrutinizing these rituals - ones we often take for granted - I hope to help us evaluate the increasing complexities of our contemporary world. As world events grow beyond our control, is this how we will cope?
Most of the photographs seem to capture the environment centering on his adopted home, Chicago. The technique is stunning, but it's the melancholy beauty of his subjects and the tenderness of his own gaze which holds the eye and the soul of the viewer. In spite of the project's description, this is not a cold social commentary.

Two more previews from notifbutwhen.com, and then you can go look on your own:



[images from notifbutwhen.com]

. . . until, whatever

I wrote these three paragraphs as part of my ruminations on the eve of the last Congressional election, in 2002, prior to the monstrous Iraq War but just in time to see Hussein used as the bogey from which we needed the Republicans to defend us. The post was titled, "rigging the election."

Almost two years ago, in the months after the 2000 elections, I bored or frightened my friends with my prediction that we would never have another Presidential election, and we would very likely be relieved of the messiness of another congressional election as well. I believed that the Republicans would never give up what had been so ill-gotten in the winter of 2000-2001.

I was certain that some pretext would be invented to distort the electoral process, or even entirely suspend the Constitutional niceties providing for the election of a Congress and a President, in order to protect us from enemies at home or aboad.

If they get away with it this fall, a Republican executive, a Republican Congress and a Republican judiciary will virtually guarantee their success with a frightened and gung-ho citizenry in 2004. Dictatorship accomplished.

If some were ever bored by cries about the sky falling, none of us are today, but we are all certainly frightened.

Going forward, I expect to append certain posts with the seven words, "We will never have another Presidential election." I would be delighted to have to admit I was wrong, but it doesn't look like it's going to happen.

[image from ICSC 2001]

Dictatorship will be the answer.

Why of course we can't go on as a constitutional republic if a terrorist act occurs within our borders - or so the Administration would have us believe. Essentially it's what has already happened since September 11, but now the only people who profited politically from the events of that day now want to make it official.

U.S. counterterrorism officials are looking at an emergency proposal on the legal steps needed to postpone the presidential election in case of such an attack, Newsweek reported on Sunday.
The Democrats will probably sign on of course. Perhaps someone should first point out, as Barry did this afternoon, that even during the Civil War there wasn't an interruption in the election process.

Still, one way or another these people will see to it that there is no real election, this November - or ever.

untitled (Grand Ferry Park sunset)

It's just a slip of a thing right now, but some day the site which once saw ferries, loaded with farm produce and passengers, crossing to Manhattan every few minutes from downtown Williamsburg may be a real destination once again. Meanwhile the small park is a modest delight for a neighborhood cut off from its great river and hungry for park

A red brick smokestack rising above a circular pattern of cobblestones was part of a molasses plant that Pfizer Pharmaceuticals used in the early 20th century for work that led, eventually, to the large-scale production of penicillin. The cobblestones were salvaged from the section of Grand Street where the park was constructed.

Julianne Swartz Can You Hear Me (2004) installation view, PVC pipe, mirror, Plexiglas, existing architecture and participants

I like what the New Museum is doing this summer. The plucky, real estate-blessed institution has sold its building and closed its doors while it re-builds itself on the Bowery. Although the images that street name has evoked for more than a century are dissolving rapidly, those blocks still wear their history and the Museum seems to want to slip into the neighborhood with some grace and respect.

Its perambulatory exhibition, "Counter Culture," opened last night in a number of venues on and just off the Bowery. We braved the party, which commandeered a local bar, only long enough to grab the map of the installation locations, and then we were off. Because of another commitment in Williamsburg however, that night we were only able to have a quick look at what two of the artists were doing.

Marion Wilson has set up a snappy little pushcart in front of the Bowery Mission, and in this conception, called "This Store Too," she was showing and selling merchandise that was a collaboration between herself and the men who are served by the Mission's programs.

With "Can You Hear Me," Julianne Swartz has constructed a bright yellow sculptural system of pipes and mirrors outside and entering into the facade of the building which houses the Sunshine Hotel. The result is an opportunity for interaction between residents of the hotel and passersby.

Ivan Navarro You Sit You Die (2000) installation view, fluorescent tubes, electric cables, and list of people executed by electric chair in Florida 33" x 24.5" x 48"

Who still doubts the power or the aesthetic of so-called political art? All art is political by definition, especially in this culture, but when it's as good as what we saw in Brooklyn later last night it should not be scorned - or missed.

We had ended the artier part of the evening in Williamsburg at Roebling Hall, where there was a lively opening reception for their group show, "Bush League." We will have to go back for a better experience of the individual works, even though we had already seen some of them bedfore. I believe most are by artists who have shown in the gallery. Especially if the curators had to work with a limited number of names, the results are pretty impressive.


KING JOSIAH'S is surely the cleanest and most beautiful hot dog cart in the city of New York. Note the condiments. We spotted Josiah, and a few of his friends and customers, parked at the curb on the northwest corner of 8th Avenue and 14th Street tonight at 11 o'clock. Frankfurters on a bun still only $1 each, even with all this style.

Dr. Lakra, detail of installation

Matthew Marks on 24th Street opened its doors Wednesday on night to a gem of a show, "Deliver Us From Evil," curated by Matthew himself. I includes the work of four bodies of artists who seemed to be working out of territory carved a century and a half earlier by their fifth colleague, Honore daumier. It was a masterly selection in every sense.

The contemporary artists include R. Crumb, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Dr. Lakra and Keegan McChargue. The names we recognize right off the bat betray the theme of societal caricature which runs through all the work shown, most of them executed on paper.

In the center of the gallery space are several plinths displaying exquisite small sculptures, including the pieces by the inventive young Mexican artist which are shown in the image above. The Chapman Brothers meanwhile had made a standard McDonalds Happy Meal their very own, as seen in the image below.

Jake and Dinos Chapman, installation view

The crowd was almost as diverting as the art, even aside from our pleasure in running into our friend Hiroshi Sunairi, who introduced us to Yuh-Shioh Wong, whose work we have been excited about for some time, and Yukie Kamiya, newly-appointed as an assistant curator with the New Museum. Here is part of the scene on opening night, standing in front of the one wall which included a mix of the work of all the artists included in the show:


“Good artists borrow; great artists steal”

This Saturday the Public Radio show, "Studio 360," will include a segment by Matthew Schuerman on the "Bootlegs" project of the artist, Eric Doeringer.

“Good artists borrow; great artists steal” – the old saying has been attributed to Picasso but he may have stolen it as well. This week on Studio 360, Kurt Andersen and his guest, the writer and musician Greg Tate, talk about the artistic need to take other people’s work.
We delight in collecting his work and Barry and I have both written about him in the past. It's likely we will be heard in the edited sound picture, and I have the same concern expressed on Bloggy: "I hope I didn't embarass myself too badly."

In New York, the program will air on 93.9 FM at 10 AM Saturday, July 10 and on 820 AM at 7 PM on Sunday, July 11. You can also listen online to WNYC.

To find broadcast times/stations in other areas, you can visit Studio 360. The program will also be archived for one week after the broadcast here (after that you have to pay to listen).

[image from Eric Doeringer's site]

untitled (West 24th Street thus) 2004

untitled (West 24th Street and thus) 2004


I know it's been a while since the shows opened, but I've been busy with I don't know what, and, after all, the stuff is still there. The picture above is from a June 30 reception at the Whitney Museum. The guests are tripping through the pages of 16 of Ed Ruscha's artist books from the 60's and 70's. The show? It bears the quite obvious title, "Cotton Puffs, Q-tips®, Smoke and Mirrors: The Drawings of Ed Ruscha."


A pretty substantial review of the sculpture and performance art of the Cuban artist, Ana Mendieta, from the 70's and early 80's is also been unfolded in the museum's galleries this summer. Called "Ana Mendieta: Earth Body," the installation is an extraordinaryily sensitive presentation of this difficult body of work. I believe the image above is that of a detail from the "Maroya (sculpture) Platform."

Normally I just don't expect to be able to be able to properly register the work itself in the midst of the buzz of an opening, but the Ruscha and Mendieta shows were exceptions. Both exhibitions are superb shows, and I can only now begin to appreciate, on both an intellectual and an aesthetic level, what my artist friends have been talking about for years.

The Ruscha walls smiled, smartly or broadly, and the Mendieta rooms had the feel either of an ancient religious site or of a world from the future which had yet to find its place of rest. Both are terrific shows, and they oddly complement each other, at least from the position of a visitor to the Museum.

on Lafayette Street this afternoon

The image is that of three skateboarders studying videos of skateboarders. They are looking at a number of monitors behind a grill protecting the display window of a skateboarder shop, Supreme, closed for the holiday. The street, normally quite busy, was otherwise virtually empty.

where will your vote go when you leave the booth?

We observed the 4th of July holiday yesterday by watching Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11." [I just can't imagine how anything traditionally celebratory could be appropriate just now.]

Because I haven't been tied up in a cellar for four years, I think I can say I did not learn anything new during those two hours, but when the film's chronological sequence reached the moment that the United States bombed Baghdad I just lost it.

My only thought then was that if we were being watched by a wrathful, Old Testament god he would have instantly crushed our nation for its selfishness, its stupidity and its cruelty. More privileged than any people which has ever enjoyed the bounty of this planet, we have no excuse for the evil we have unleashed upon others. [And no, since we have absolutely chosen ignorance (we have the media we want) there will be no absolution there.]

We are very lucky that old god isn't out there. It now appears that we're waking up and don't like what we have done. I really believe most of us will not vote for Bush in November, but I also firmly believe Bush will be declared winner of the election. They aren't going to let go.

How will this happen? Nothing has been done in Florida to repair the system responsible for that state's abominations in the 2000 election, and meanwhile the possibilities for mischief have expanded elsewhere. But the decisive assault to our voting rights is the introduction in many jurisdictions of electronic voting machines which leave absolutely no paper trail and whose programming remains secret to all but their large Republican-dominated corporate makers. Sophisticated push-button control of the ballot box: the dream of every modern tyranny.

Why are we trying to raise millions of dollars and raise up millions of people, if in the end the election can be fixed? Especially after what happened four years ago, why aren't we hearing about this horrible threat? Even the most energetic opponents of the Administration are not pointing out the danger. Other than to suggest the most cynical of possibilities, I don't have an explanation for that silence.

Because of his film's brilliance and because of its huge popular success, Michael Moore seems to have awakened his audience in time, and he should soon enjoy the highest honors available from a grateful nation. But I'm afraid he has one more job to do, and I say it is his because I cannot imagine anyone else who could get the voters' attention, anyone else who could save us from another, even bigger fix in November.

We're going to have to ask him to help, and we're also going to have to talk it up with anyone else who might make a difference.

Everything depends on it.

It's no longer enough just to pick the right candidate in the voting booth. We have keep our eyes on what happens afterwards.

[image from Dangerous Citizen]


Herds of Republicans in New York?

Can't wait for the excitement of the Republican Convention, still eight long weeks away? Start celebrating this coming Wednesday, and again on each of the next eight Wednesdays, with the people at White Box. They're putting together more than two months' worth of creative events in recognition of the extraordinary significance of this . . . this thing coming to New York. There will be a new curator and a new art installation each week.

The Republicans of course have only one installation, it's hardly art, it's definitely not a hit and the whole set will be struck later this fall.

MAKE NICE will be the theme of the fifth edition of White Box's annual summer series, Six Feet Under. As in previous years, MAKE NICE will consist of exhibitions mounted by critics and curators who will take possession of White Box's exhibition space for the duration of one week each. This year the topic specifically addresses the Republican National Convention, to be staged in New York from August 29 through September 2, 2004. The premise is that the curators, and the artists they select, respond to an ad-campaign featuring Ed Koch in which he tells New Yorkers: "The Republicans are coming, Make Nice."
Meanwhile, it looks like Koch has had real trouble finding New Yorkers to volunteer holding Republican hands. Are we surprised?
Many of the tour guides for this summer's Republican National Convention will be tourists.

The nonprofit committee in charge of making Gotham hospitable to the 4,000-plus delegates has hit its benchmark of recruiting 10,000 volunteers.

But only 42 percent of the unpaid convention guides are New York City residents. The rest are from other areas, including upstate, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Virginia, according to statistics released yesterday by NYC Host Committee 2004.

10,000 guides for only 4,000 delegates? They should be able to spare at least a few of those volunteers for work toward a cause worthy of a human being. I expect that some of those 4,200 or so New Yorkers are in fact spies or moles, so this could get more interesting than the event planners might have imagined.

[image is logo from White Box site]


We went to the Central Park Zoo this afternoon. The animals were delightful, but the people (almost all of them escorted by baby people) were pretty wonderful too. Barry said that he thinks everyone should be required to go to a zoo once a month. It would improve the species.

Actually, even in Manhattan it isn't really necessary to go all the way to a zoo to visit wildlife. I captured the picture above, of two baby field mice, while I was enjoying a small sandwich standing next to the granite wall on the side of the Union Square Greenmarket on Wednesday afternoon.

My attention was first caught by rustling in the underbrush which was followed by the appearance of several of the tiniest birds I had ever seen. The baby wrens were soon joined in their grazing for scraps by these two mice, and for five minutes or so it was touch and go, neither group interested in joining the other for lunch.

They were more afraid of each other than they were of me, so I was unable to include them all in the same viewing screen, even after I had sacrified some breadcrumbs of my own.

Oh yes, about the Zoo. The Rainforest installation was magnificent, especially for someone as crazy about birds as I am, but the penguin room was my absolute favorite, outranking the sunbathing polar bear or even all of the monkeys combined. Somebody in that Zoo has a thing about penguins, and I understand the obsession perfectly: There must have been nearly a hundred there, waddling on the rocks or torpedoing through the cold water, all under a painted Antarctic sky.

Unfortunately the gay male penguin couple was not identified by a plaque, and since Roy and Silo obviously couldn't be distinguished by a superior taste in costuming, we were unable to locate them.

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