June 2007 Archives

untitled (skyline) 2007

in this case an objective clearly worth a monstrous sacrifice

Was the sacrifice of our right to assemble and speak just a matter of "taking one for the team"? And if it was, what will there be left to win if the team makes the finals?

I sent an email out to a few friends last night after picking up a copy of this week's Gay City News. I had hoped to find an article on Chris Quinn which might explain to her larger core community why I and so many others are upset with her these days.

There was an article, but I left wondering how anyone not familiar with the subject of her collaboration and authorization of what is euphemistically referred to as the Police "Parade Rules" might be able to figure what the fuss is about.

I wrote, in part:

We can see that our most prominent community newspaper isn't really interested in the interests of its community, but rather, in its designated hero's ability [in the words of one person quoted in the article] "to take a stand on issues she believes in that aren't always popular among different constituent groups", or, to excerpt another quote from a member of the community used in the article, "any elected official's need to balance the concerns of many groups".
I received an interesting reply from Andy Podell, one of my addressees, and he agreed to be quoted. It's the best explanation I've come across for what looks like a totally baffling decision from a former community street acitivist, but although I don't consider myself politically naive its implications disturb me:
One of the unspoken rules in American politics is that politicians who come from minority communities must show the big boys that they can be tough on their own constituency. Chuck Schumer and George Bush are not required to slap the community around that elected them to show that they're impartial. But Hilary Clinton and Christine Quinn are required to reassure those in power that they no longer represent their voting base. The battle for representative democracy is over before it begins.
So, does this suggest we're better off not supporting minority politicians? I'm throwing this out mostly as a provocation; I'm depressed, but maybe not yet that depressed.

[image from perfectduluthday]

just another day on the street

Last time it was the MTA, and now the Mayor of New York City wants to keep us from taking its picture.

The Transit Authority eventually gave up on its proposed photography ban, but now the same kind of primitive fears and territorial claims have spawned another threat. The gothamist has the story:

The Mayor's Office of Theater, Film, and Broadcasting, which coordinates film and television production and issues permits around the five boroughs, is considering rules that could potentially severely restrict the ability of even amateur photographers and filmmakers to operate in New York City. The NY Times reports that the city's tentative rules include requiring any group of two or more people who want to use a camera in a single public location for more than a half hour to get a city permit and $1 million in liability insurance. The regulation would also apply to any group of five or more people who would be using a tripod for more than ten minutes, including the time to set up the tripod.
And are we going to learn next month that if two or more people want to leave a building at the same time (including their own homes) they'll have to get a police permit? And don't forget your papers. The city's government and police are totally out of control!

This is New York CIty, damn it, not Moscow or Beijing!

My shock at this latest assault on urban spontaneity, creativity, the simple rights of assembly and expression, and of course what our leader has called "the internets" doesn't mean I've forgotten that for years the police have already been stopping people all over the City, even individual amateur photographers, for using their cameras. The officers ask questions, sometimes telling them they weren't allowed to shoot pictures in public places, and then asking for their identification and making them wait while their information and the detainment is recorded on the officer's day record. I'm sure this will continue to go on regardless of whether the proposed new police authority is effected (as usual, without hearings or a City Council vote).

I hope I'm not the only private citizen in New York who is also thinking of the impact the rule would have on our ability to document police abuses themselves, but I'm sure since taxpayers have been shelling out a fortune in awards to those falsely-arrested, injured or killed by an unrestrained constabulary, both the Mayor's office and One Police Plaza understand the proposal's ramifications perfectly.

These proposed new police rules follow another civil liberties abomination, one recently initiated by the NYPD itself, with the collaboration and actual authorization of former Leftist-activist Council Speaker Chistine Quinn.

Neither notions about swift vehicle traffic flow nor the mantra of "9/11" should be allowed to transcend our proper concern with strengthening an increasingly-precarious civilization.

Many of us thought our system of law enforcement was already arbitrary, but apparently we ain't seen nothing yet. Be very careful the next time you question an officer of the law; he made it.

[image by Mason Resnick via adorama]


I had almost forgotten that I had this image. It's been on my computer for a week. Once you get past its nightmare-come-alive reference, I think this Shepard Fairey* piece is very beautiful, not least for the color and quality of the faux-dollar bill printing. And then there's also the ambiance of its immediate surroundings on this Lower East Side wall - and the late afternoon sun.

if I'm wrong about the attribution, somebody let me know

untitled (blue construction tarp) 2007

With New York temperatures in the 90's and the humidity not so far behind, I thought a cool blue image might feel good today. I grabbed this shot on the move, while walking with friends last Friday.

And yes, I have been keeping an eye on the temperatures in Berlin this week: 40's at night, high 50's during the day. Ahhhhh.

Kuhl and Leyton Just Like Heaven 2007 acrylic tape on paper 60" x 54" [installation view]

Lee Tusman Have a Nice Millenium 2006 quilt - mixed media, t-shirts, found fabric 56" x 54" [installation view]

Renee Riccardo
is the curator of a group show, "Homegrown", currently at David Krut Projects, which draws artists and collaboratives from five corners of the country. The threads running through the project include thread, itself in the case of several pieces, and a number of other homegrown materials and practices including tape, plastics, ribbon, foam, shells, refashioned found objects, glitter and collage.

There's much fun to be found here, but it's not all as playful as the materials might suggest.

The artists represented are Scott Andresen, Karen Azoulay, Bethany Bristow, Orly Cogan, Robin Dash, Misaki Kawai, Kuhl & Leyton, Greg Lamarche, Cristina Lei Rodriguez, Margaret Lee, LoVid, Adia Millett, Doug Morris, Anne-Francoise Potterat, Jon Rosenbaum, Erika Somogyi, Lee Tusman, and Jasmine Zimmerman.

Tom Meacham Untitled 2007 tape and acrylic on canvas 90" x 60" [installation view]

Tom Meacham Untitled, Diptych 2007 tape on canvas 60" x 72" [installation view]

Tom Meacham's work is always about much more than what first meets the eye, and his current show at 5BE is only the latest demonstration of his subtlety and intelligence.

The patterns on the canvases are sometimes ink jet and sometimes tape, and only two of them are actually painted. That stack of stretched canvases isn't just a stack of stretched canvases, and the seemingly-unrelated sculpture in the center of the gallery does not reveal much of its story to the casual visitor.

Sometimes an installation's instruction sheet really is a welcome collaborator, and its necessity not an indictment of the strength of the work itself. Of course it helps if the stuff is beautiful to begin with.

David Noonan Untitled 2007 silkscreen on stretched linen 84" x 120" [installation view]

David Noonan Untitled 2007 silkscreen on linen, plywood, dimensions variable (80" tall) [installation view]

David Noonan returns to Foxy Production with a dreamy (each definition) show of silkscreens and collaged paper work surrounding one large sculpture installation, all incorporating found photographic images in his own rich sepia-like monotone.


While looking at this shot on my screen I was trying to decide whether to post what would just be another Lower East Side cloud picture. Then I thought of an excuse: I would say something about how if clouds were alive and sang they might have a chance of displacing birds in my personal hierarchy of the divine. At that moment I noticed my simple cloud scene included the tiny fuzzy shape of a bird in flight and my question about its banality vanished.

For me it's still all about the birds.


Still there, a monstrous abomination where not only its prisoners have been sent to rot, but its jailors as well, meaning every single one of us on the other side of the wire.

[image, otherwise unattributed, via salvationinc]


We were colorful, loud, beautiful and cute, joyful and fierce, and we never really stopped moving, even when the march did. One of the group described himself today, after eleven hours of sleep, as a survivor of "the anarcho-queer olympics that was our participation in the parade.

The crowd was crazy about this "unpermitted" band of RHA and Queer Justice League activists, even if the serious message of their visuals and their chants might initially have escaped some of the people shrieking with glee behind the barriers on each side of the street. I walked down Fifth Avenue from somewhere in the 50's and all the way to the river, and I never heard a single discouraging word.

In any event, on Sunday thousands of people saw the pink and white flyers we handed out and should be able to understand today that this group and its reason for being there on the streets related more closely to the original Stonewall than anything else in this 38th anniversary march.

I've uploaded some additional (thumbnail) images of these animated street lobbyists below [click to enlarge]:

















Geeeesh. Lawyering while black. Well, maybe that's a bit harsh, since there's no way to demonstrate that the New York police officers who beat a civil rights attorney and his wife yesterday would have behaved any differently had the citizens not been black and had they known one was an attorney. More likely it was just business as usual for a force which too often seems to be out of control.

And Speaker Quinn tells us we should trust these guys to decide who can be on the streets?

From Newsday:

City and state officials are denouncing the arrests of a civil rights attorney and his wife after the couple intervened when, they said, police beat a handcuffed teen in central Brooklyn. Protesters returned to a police station yesterday to rally against the arrests and alleged brutality.

Michael Warren, who once represented Tupac Shakur and the teens charged in the Central Park jogger case, and his wife, Evelyn, said a police supervisor also beat them Thursday after kicking the subdued teen during his arrest on suspicion of car theft.

"They tackled him to the ground," Warren told reporters yesterday at a news conference outside City Hall. "They handcuffed him right away. He was not a threat."

The couple said that six officers beat the teen "like a rag doll." A sergeant turned on the couple when they stopped their car to ask police what they were doing, Warren said. He then arrested the couple.

This story was not in our edition of the NYTimes this morning, but here's the link to the report in Newsday.

[image from dennisflood]

Friday night's NYC Dyke March

In the middle of everything else he was balancing this weekend Tim Doody of The Radical Homosexual Agenda [RHA] forwarded this I-Witness Video item to me on on Saturday, when I only read it very quickly. It seemed so fantastical that I wanted to check out the story before I repeated it, but no one I talked to outside of the RHA this weekend seemed to have heard anything about it. Actually of course, I should never have had any doubts about it since the byline is that of Eileen Clancy, the video activist who was instrumental, along with many others, in exposing the lies and political arbitrariness of the NYPD arrest sweeps and citizen lockdowns during the RNC.

This is only an excerpt, from a story which only gets more interesting in a public transcript included in the remainder of the full text:

Saturday, 23 Jun 2007

by Eileen Clancy

Through the spring and summer months, the New York City Police Department has continued its campaign to shut down, suppress and contain political demonstrations, often in a completely unreasonable, ill-informed and even insulting manner. Recently, the Police Department has outright refused or stalled permits for events organized by the African Diaspora Education Society, Gays and Lesbians of Bushwick Empowered, the PrideFest and the Audre Lorde Project's Trans Day of Action.

Yet, even as many groups scramble to assemble pro-bono teams of attorneys to fight for permission to hold events, the NYPD has secretly issued a parade permit to the largest annual unauthorized political gathering on a Manhattan street, the 15th annual New York City Dyke March. Later today, tens of thousands of lesbians and their supporters will sally forth onto Fifth Avenue in a parade of lesbian visibility without knowing that their display has received the seal of government approval.

That's right, unrequested by and unbeknownst to the organizers, the NYPD has granted legally permitted status to the Dyke March and has done so for years.

How do we know this? Because Assistant Chief Thomas Graham, the commander of the Disorder Control Unit and the NYPD's expert on managing political demonstrations, says so in sworn testimony.

When I first read this story I felt like I was having a through-the-looking-glass moment. Then I got really mad. For years an alert and dedicated citizenry has been working very hard, putting their energy, time, jobs and money on the line, to exercise Constitutional rights which the police and their political allies refuse to recognize, but all along the constabulary has been justifying their occasional and apparently random passivity internally, and protecting their own rights and freedom of movement, by officially granting permits not requested.

It's incredibly patronizing, of course, but much more is going on here. Nothing may better illustrate the arbitrariness of police power in New York City, where not only does the NYPD make law on its own, but it can [appear to] violate those laws whenever it so chooses.

[image from Nicole Marti's Flckr page]

scene early today at the support truck bike for an "unpermitted" march RHA/Queer Justice League contingent

[more tomorrow]

untitled (Lambda) 2007

the view from the parlor today

It's not the pedestrian street we had in mind.

We awakened this morning to the sweet refrain of amplified hawkers of corporately-manufactured goods, and the stench of greasy food. Yes it's another so-called "neighborhood street fair" in Chelsea. We get at least half a dozen each year below our windows and on the blocks radiating from the intersection one hundred feet to the west.

The city authorities seem to love these things; the neighborhoods don't. These regular floods of open stalls have absolutely nothing to do with the people or small businesses whose apartments and storefronts they engulf: New Yorkers really don't knit tubesocks in home workshops and we don't shuck corn on our fire escapes.

My real point in writing this is to point out the hypocrisy of a multi-ethnic City like this one continuing to permit these abominations, which corrupt the concept of a genuine neighborhood fair, while at the same time refusing to permit the queer community to hold their Pride Festival tomorrow, which happens only once a year, in the very queer (okay, mostly only "gay") community of Chelsea.

The content of that last paragraph comes from Barry, who made the deliciously-derisive juxtaposition immediately after I told him what I had seen outside our front windows.

One of our sources tell us that tonight's Trans March was phenomenal!

Donald Grove commented on Bloggy's post about the Audre Lord Project's experience trying to secure a permit for a transgender march tonight. This is the text of this queer supporter's brief report:

I just finished the Trans March, and I am a bit too footsore to do the Drag
March. But I am thrilled to say that the Trans March was very VERY big. I
would guess around 500 people. Lots of trans folks with a strong mix of
gender non-conforming and queer support. It was excellent!

We got to march in the street most of the way, which was smart, because the
march was so big. But we were preceded almost the entire way by a paddy
wagon, with smiling cops holding their bundles of plastic handcuffs. I
suppose they could make some screwy stupid statement about protecting the
march from bashers, but who would buy that? They were their with the paddy
wagon first because they wanted to send a message to that uppity Audre
Lorde Project for taking them to court.

Well screw the cops! The march was huge, and all the police accomplished
was to look puffy, pasty and pointless in the company of so many awesome,
sexy, spirited gender-self-defining folks, both young and old, of many

I wasn't there, but I have to add my own wee commnent:
This has got to stop! A happy group of peaceful marchers who have been brutalized by the police for millenia were forced to accept the deliberately-confrontational imposition of an NYPD police wagon, together with its armed and restraint-laden crew, as their very visible "grand marshal" when they chose to parade through their own neighborhoods.

Were there police snipers on the roof, like during the Puerto Rico Day Parade? I'm also surprised that our guardians of public order don't seem to have swept up spectators who were wearing their pink or lavender gang colors.


While we're on the subject of marches and marshals, does anyone else find it problematic, if no longer surprising, that both of the grand marshals in the really big queer march on Sunday, Sharon Kleinbaum and Troy Perry, are members of the clergy?

[image of NYC police at the 2004 RNC from Theoria via Daily Kos]

John Pearson Daylight Landscape 2001 video [large detail still from installation]

John Pearson Untitled with Commercial 2005 video [large detail still from installation]

John Pearson Untitled (white light) 2005 [large detail still from installation]

I've been a little distracted with the aftermath of the drama inside City Council Chambers on Wednesday evening, so I haven't had much time for some art posts I've wanted to do. The reverb continues even now [more on that eventually], so this and other entries may for a while be more brief than I would prefer.

But they will be no less enthusiastic. I was really taken recently with the videos Jeff Bailey is showing in his gallery's office space, and I think they really deserve a larger exposure. The artist is John Pearson, and the small show of videos and photographs was curated by Julian Pozzi, the artist whose beautiful paintings on paper are being shown in the main space. It's a wonderful idea for any gallery, and an especially happy one in this case.

There is much sweetness and some humor in these short videos, but for all that they are more than sophisticated enough at managing the not-so-simple effect of child-like, wide-eyed wonder, of looking at the world for the very first time.

In addition to his work as a painter, Pozzi is the organizer for Youth and Anti-Youth, which is presenting John Pearson's work at the gallery. The gallery describes the group as "a nomadic curatorial enterprise begun in Brooklyn in 1997". Images of Pozzi's own paintings can be found on the Jeff Bailey web site, but the work really has to be experienced in person.

ACT UP demonstration for access to clean needles, seventeen years ago

After yesterday's post, which was totally connected to current political activism, I'm going to turn back and examine what the territory looked like in the 80's and 90's.

Although many of us are still busy working on some of the very same issues which engaged New York activists, writers, artists, and residents in the previous two decades, it would make no sense at all if we were to ignore a radical activist history which can still inform what we do today.

On Tuesday, June 26, the New York Book Club at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum and the Gotham Center for New York City History at CUNY are hosting a panel discussion in the Museum. Called "Resistance: A Radical History of the Lower East Side", the event's participants will be Jay Blotcher, Al Orensanz and Michael Rosen. The moderator will be Clayton Patterson.

I think all of these people (with very interesting but quite different backgrounds in the same neighborhood) are contributors to a new book with the same title, a collection of writings and images. Okay, it sounds like it's also a book signing, but on Tuesday it seems both oral and written history will be shared with those who stop by.

I know Jay well, originally through ACT UP, where he directed media relations, but in addition to his AIDS activism he has also worked as a collage artist, documentary filmmaker, journalist and publicist. If he's involved in something like this, it's likely to be at least worth a detour.

The address is 108 Orchard Street, near Delancey, and the time is from 6 to 8 pm.

[image from the film "Clean Needles Save Lives: Drug Users Doing It For Ourselves" via Creative Time]


balcony left

balcony center

and balcony right

Tonight The Radical Homosexual Agenda struck once again, dramatically zapping Chris Quinn deep inside City Hall during her presentation at the the "Celebration of LGBT Pride" hosted annually by the City Council Speaker.

Why did these homosexuals interrupt the homosexual Speaker while she was addressing her core homosexual constituency in this historic room, the Council Chamber on the second floor of our two-hundred-year-old seat of government? Because Quinn was the civilian agent for a secretly-negotiated agreement (there were no public hearings) with the NYPD which gives the police full authority to restrict public assembly and public speech (if more than 49 people get together anywhere, under any circumstances, they are all subject to arrest - unless they have applied to the police for a permit ahead of time and have received the department's approval). This policy was never submitted to the Council for consideration; no statute supports this agreement and practice; it is the creation of the Speaker herself.

Why did they do so in the midst of what was planned as a celebration of LGBT accomplishments and not incidentally also an evening honoring Quinn's personal and political success? Because she has made herself inaccessible to those who have sought to meet with her on this issue.

Is she the only proper target for those outraged by the permit rule? Certainly not, but she is at once the one with the greatest power to do something about this abomination and, because of a background which included street activism, the one who should have been the least likely politician to endorse it in the first place.

Incidentally, the parade permit "law" which Quinn has approved trusts the police to do the right thing, even in our clear memory of the appalling history of the department so often demonstrating the contrary and continuing to do so up to the present moment. It's a record which screams to the powerless and to all minorities of the danger and absurdity of such misplaced faith. Tonight even the Speaker herself couldn't prevent the police protection assigned to the her own hosted reception from ousting in front of her eyes the guests who wanted to address her on this issue, and this was after she had said they should be allowed to speak.

I think it's important to note that in her remarks after they were removed from the balcony she did not deny that the so-called "Parade Laws" were very much her doing, her own policy, and she has said as much when she has been asked about them before. She is the right target.

After her critics had been summarily removed from the Chambers, Quinn told the remaining invitees that she was willing to meet with anyone who disagreed with her on the question of Police rules for assembly. For the record, I have been assured several times by those who know groups that have tried to engage her that she has repeatedly refused to do this in the past.

The fundamental issue remains that in New York City the NYPD totally controls what we used to call the Constitutional (First Amendment) right of assembly and speech, and our first woman, first lesbian, and first [former] activist Council Speaker thinks that's just fine.

As usual, Barry was able to cut through all the muck with a comment which defines the issue perfectly: "This development, along with what we have seen happening over at least the last six years, seems to make it clear that New York has given up even on the principle of civilian control of the police."

Peter Pezzimenti Untitled 2007 oil and latex on wood and cardboard 31" x 36" [installation view]

Peter Pezzimenti Untitled 2007 oil and latex on wood and cardboard 24" x 34" [installation view]

Peter Pezzimenti Untitled 2007 oil and latex on wood and cardboard 23.5" x 22.5" [installation view]

The sculptures by Peter Pezzimenti being shown at Monya Rowe through this Saturday are as much about painting as they are about space. In fact, I was slightly surprised when I went to the gallery site just now and saw the work described as "sculptures", even though I was there precisely because I was wondering about what noun I should use, and I wanted to know how the press release was categorizing these beautiful pieces.

Pezzimenti's assemblages of roughly-cut blocks of wood are totally alive inside their mat-black shrouds, even when the wooden shapes themselves have been painted black, as is the case with two of the fifteen being shown. Once they have engaged the viewer, they don't seem to want to leave the eye alone. I like both their boldness and their obvious playfulness (even today I'm not entirely weaned from an early and profound passion for building blocks).

Another disclosure, and, I confess, this one is a modest boast: Barry and I picked out a Pezzimenti work at the recent Momenta Art benefit. It was one of a number of works generously donated by Monya Rowe and the artists. This sculpture now hangs on (holds up, sits on or from?) one of our walls.



Sarah Peters Being American 2007 pen and pencil on paper 42" x 240" [details of installation]

I was going to post about some very good shows we had seen earlier, but this show got in my way. I suppose it's because we ended up buying a drawing ten minutes after walking into the opening reception for Sarah Peters's first solo show at Winkleman Gallery on Saturday. I couldn't wait, and I thought I shouldn't, to explain.

This body of work by Peters may have struck a chord in me, but it's more than a personal connection that drew me to the drawings. The work is wonderful. It's very strong and I'd be charmed by it even without a very particular relationship to its subject.

I lived in New England for twenty years before moving to New York and during that time I grew totally comfortable with, no, I fell in love with the history and the aesthetic of one of this country's most idiosyncratic areas, a distinct region which played an extremely important role in the creation of a national culture and its mythology.

Peters draws from an eighteenth (and early nineteenth) -century America mostly settled by Europeans who were interested in establishing, to the best of their knowledge and abilities, what they understood as a European culture, but one built on a new, idyllic continent they believed to be largely their own creation.

Art, many would be surprised to hear then and now, was always a part of the experience of New England and the Atlantic seaboard, even if most early Americans would have to wait one or two hundred years before they even had access to anything like the semi-provincial academy represented by William Rush or the Peale family, both of whom appear in Peters's work at Winkleman.

There was always folk art, including examples produced by the genteel occupation of young women, by the genius of local and itinerant artisans, and by the enthusiasms of just about anyone with the luxury of a little time and the passion to create. Needlework, stencils, drawings, wall, floor, and furniture painting, frakturs, quilts, rugs, wood or stone carvings, reverse-paintings on glass, collages and decorated pottery are just some of the forms which can stil delight us today.

I grew to love the charming and often very eccentric examples of this naive art when I came across it in friends' homes, in house museums, old antique shops and even barns and yard sales (this was now decades ago), but I have to confess my taste in furnishing the home I restored as something of a house museum ran more toward the minimal, and my partner and I led an artist friend to any folk art finds we might come across. I had decided early on (with further inducement provided by a probate record which listed the deceased owner's meager possessions) that the fictional inhabitants of this modest 1760 clapboard house just wouldn't have had the time or the wealth to accumulate much treasure. For their sake I hope I was wrong.

Sarah Peters work addresses the imagery with which the people filling up this new continent described their ideals. She begins with a few stunning and quite haunting (anonymous?) portraits and continues with still lifes and fantastic landscapes populated by smaller noble heads and clothed and unclothed bodies in classical poses, both sober and quite silly, magnificent trees and lofty mountains, broken columns and covered urns, flower arrangements and Greek vases. While she's doing this she introduces an extravagance which only an intervening two centuries could have made possible. Think William Blake and maybe Alfred Stieglitz and Francis Bacon.

There is something definitely more than a bit off about these images with their art or historical references. Peters is no copyist. The show's title (also the title of the largest piece in the show, a monumental twenty-foot-long drawing after the nineteenth-century fashion for panorama paintings) is "Being American". It's about a world now long gone, but which in fact never existed as it was imagined at the time. I'd also say that the idea of this preposterous world impacts us today perhaps even more than it ever did in the past.

In the end however Peters gives us a very original Elysium, and for that we can be grateful, as Elysiums are as necessary as they are agreeable. I will quote part of the press release:

Through her ongoing exploration of the earnestness with which early American artists strived, but often failed, to match the formal achievement of their European counterparts, Peters presents a spellbinding vision of an imagined paradise where the artworks of 18th Century America that missed the mark (often due to their creator's misreading of an ideal that never really was) went to spend eternity.

Oh yes, here's an image, with a detail, of the drawing which we picked out for ourselves:

Sarah Peters Séance 2005 pen, pencil and charcoal on paper 18" x 24"


untitled (tawny brick) 2007



I was stunned when I first heard about the "settlement" of the Brooklyn College MFA students' cases against the City of New York, the NYC Parks Department and Brooklyn College, cases which had cited First Amendment violations and property damages. I haven't even been able to bring myself to write about it until now, more than ten days later.

The eighteen students whose Master of Fine Arts thesis show was summarily shut down on May 4, 2006 by a Parks official, had their work removed from the gallery and damaged by their own College shortly thereafter.

After a full year of spent filing complex suits and presenting arguments, including negotiations between the students' lawyers and lawyers representing New York City the entire affair has ended with something like a squeak or a whimper.

The students (and one professor) each received $750 from the City, and the head of the Brooklyn Parks Department, the self-appointed public censor, issued a written statement which some have described as an "apology". Neither Brooklyn College itself nor any official connected with the school has had to do anything. In fact no one has lost her or his position in the City or the College. Oh yes, the settlement also required the City to pay the fees of the students' lawyers the amount of $42,500.

The students had decided not to file a separate suit against Brooklyn College after being told that they would have to secure other lawyers, and after being persuaded that a suit against the school which asked for compensation for the physical damage to their art works would have been ugly. In any event they weren't interested as a group in the cost and distraction of pursuing any further suit; they also don't appear to have ever regarded their case as simply a matter of compensation for material damages.

Of course it was never about money, so it seems to me that makes the piddling $750 figure ridiculous on the face of it.

I'm concerned about the fact that there really is no apology in the Parks chief's statement (it's more like the familiar "if anyone was offended . . ."), and that no institution has had to admit error, no official has been sacked, and none has fallen on his or her sword.

No principle has been upheld except that of the authority of the authorities.

Oh, yes, the "apology", issued on city of New York Parks & Recreation letterhead, reads as follows:

Statement of defendant Julius Spiegel, Brooklyn Borough commissioner of New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, in connection with the Settlement of Cohen, et. al. v. City of New York, et. al., 06-cv-2975 (CBA) (SMG).

"While I had no role in the removal and subsequent damage to Plaintiffs' artwork by others, I acknowledge my responsibility for ordering the closing of the Plaintiffs' art exhibit at the Brooklyn War Memorial, and for thereby setting in motion actions that led to the damage of Plaintiffs' artwork, which a reviewing court might find constituted a violation of the student-exhibitors' First amendment rights. Whatever the outcome in court might have been, I apologize to the Brooklyn College art students who spent long hours and considerable effort in creating their artwork and in mounting their exhibition at the Brooklyn Memorial site."
Now I know I wasn't one of the victims in this case (except in the sense we are all victims of censorship and the violation of intellectual and artistic property), and I wasn't privy to the discussions which preceded the announced settlement, but I mourn what has happened, or what has not happened, and I want to make a very few more general observations:
  • A city which thinks of itself as cultured and sophisticated doesn't let its functionaries shut down art exhibitions because of personal hang-ups about their nasty bits.
  • No art school is worthy of the name if it fails to defend its students' rights of expression and in fact callously destroys the creative work they produce in its shelter.
  • Constant artists, and constant art institutions, artists and institutions with real integrity, do no look the other way when their colleagues or those they serve are attacked or humiliated for their art.*

Of the entire local and national arts community, aside from some good words from a few bloggers, these students received written or vocal support only from their own College faculty, the CUNY faculty, the College Art Association and the President of the School of Visual Arts. The Brooklyn Museum was approached directly, because of its own struggle with censorship (when it had received an enormous amount of outside support), and its reply was something to the effect that the institution would no longer be getting involved in anything of this sort.

[image from timesonline]


Are any of our grasping, dissembling politicians even thinking about it?

[image, otherwise unattributed, via salvationinc]


Otto Muehl Wehretüchtigung 1967 film [two stills from installation video]


Nathalie Djurberg Dumstrut 2006 DVD [two stills from installation video]

Joao Ribas and Becky Smith have together curated a third, and unfortunately the final, show at Smith's gallery Bellwether (the complete series was titled "The Mallarmé Propositions"). The exhibition is as original and compelling as each of their earlier outings, last October and this past February. "In Defense of Ardor" presents work by Julieta Aranda, Johanna Billing, Colby Bird, Nathalie Djurberg, Dana Frankfort, Jutta Koether, Jonathan Meese, Otto Muehl, Michael Queenland, Jacob Robichaux, Jessica Stockholder and Kirsten Stoltmann.

If I were to make anything of the fact that I singled out images of the Muehl and Djurberg's videos for this post, I'd have to say I had some kind of affinity with what the curators describe as their "transgressive states of Dionysian or 'id-ridden' intensity", but actually my shots of these two videos merely happened to be more successful technically than any of the others I attempted.

Almost any of the other works alone might have been worth a visit to a show heroically designed to "contrast the corrosive, enervation effect of cynical reason" [from the last line of an intense press release which describes these pieces as serious alternatives to irony, cynicism and detachment].







Barry and I had to see what Austin Thomas was up to now, so we headed out to further Williamsburg (the Morgan stop on the L) for Jonathan VanDyke's installation/homage to the abandoned hair salon which has/will become Pocket Utopia. This rather ephemeral set-up, "The Salon of the Covered Bride," was inspired at least in part by a press image of "the runaway bride," Jennifer Wilbanks (who staged her own kidnapping in 2005 to prevent her wedding).

The exhibition represented phase one in the storefront's transition to full gallery mode, and it was granted barely ten days of life. The end came at sundown today, but I think I was able to capture and preserve a hint of VanDyke's weird genius in these photographs.

I have to admit that when I first walked into the space I had more than a little difficulty distinguishing the relics from the art, since so much of the hair salon environment remained, but by the time we had to leave I was finding dynamite subjects everywhere my eye would rest.

I'm very sorry it's all gone now, but on its evidence alone I wouldn't want to miss anything else Thomas might invite into this terrific new space.

tHe FinaL rUn iNs [detail of installation, including a bit of "unique miscellany"]

Kalup Linzy The Pursuit of Gay (Happyness) 2007 digital black and white video with sound [still from installation]

We were at Taxter & Spengemann this afternoon, but we had totally missed the excitement of the opening, a performance by the random hardcore band "tHe FinaL rUn iNs" (Ben Brantley, Nathan Carter and Matthew Ronay), whose sets, instruments, glitter and ragged concert remnants (including the semi-trashed fish tank above) now line the walls of the main space at the gallery. After a look around at this very site-specific installation we headed upstairs, where currently there's a lineup of four artist films in the gallery's self-described "Blockbuster Summer" exhibition.

Confession: We picked out one of these four shorts on the remote mounted on the wall, Kalup Linzy's "The Pursuit of Gay (Happyness)". I glued myself to the screen all the way to the end of this delicious little love story, starring the artist and Joshua Seidner (pictured). My favorite line was Seidner's woebegone response, as 'hero', correcting 'lady in distress' (Linzy) when she refers to important parts of her lover's anatomy, " . . . our cottontail . . . our peter!", while the voice of Bernice Edwards sings "Butcher Shop Blues" in the background. But in spite of their serious temptations it was a bit too warm inside to stay for the others* today. Absolutely must return.

For the first quarter of Linzy's piece, see this one-minute-plus excerpt on YouTube:

including two 1964 films by Lance Richbeurg and Pete Broadrick


And waiting.

[image, otherwise unattributed, via salvationinc]






I've always loved bikes and bikers, perhaps almost obsessively (excepting the fiends who ride on sidewalks or yelp at pedestrians), and so on a recent Saturday afternoon I was determined to investigate the 3rd Annual "Bicycle Fetish Day", an all-day bike fair on Havemeyer Street in Williamsburg, sponsored by the City Reliquary Brooklyn Civic Riders B.C., in loose association with the esteemed Board members and fans of the City Reliquary Museum.

I was not disappointed with the photo opportunities. I was sorry that I hadn't ridden over the bridge on my own two wheels, and sorry also that our gallery-visiting schedule kept Barry and I from hanging out longer with these beautiful mounts and riders.

untitled (arrows) 2007

Most people were looking at the big hole (the site of the once and future World Trade Center) when we walked through the World Financial Center Winter Garden yesterday afternoon with visiting family members, but this is a quirky view of a part of the construction site below the east windows at the top of the stairs.

Peter Fox SOME WORLD 2007 acrylic on canvas 34" x 54"


[oblique detail]

Williamsburg's The Hogar Collection, which was located on lower Grand Street, west of Bedford for several years, has moved a number of blocks up-island, to new quarters on the other side of the street*, just west of the BQE. It's a neat space, and on our first visit there last weekend we walked into a beautiful two-person show, a collaboration with eyewash.

I had seen the work of both Peter Fox and Jeanne Tremel before, and both of them are looking more interesting than ever.

Hmm. More abstractions showing up on this site: Is it me, or is this a trend?

luckily it's on the south side, which means work can be hung (to great advantage here) on a secondary white wall facing the street, just inside the large and handsome four-square front window

Jasper Johns Green Target 1955 encaustic on newspaper and cloth over canvas 60" x 60"

What can I say?

Ad Hunt The Ambassador 2007 oil on canvas

Beth Letain Every knee shall bow 2007 oil on canvas

A show called "Place Setting", of work by students at the MFA program at SUNY Purchase College was installed at Williamsburg's Supreme Trading, for only one week unfortunately (apparently an academic tradition for graduate shows). It closed this evening.

The paintings of AD Hunt and Beth Letain stood out in particular, but the larger group would have done any number of schools proud. The other artists, going down the checklist, were Chris Kaczmarek, Andrew Small, Parsley Steinweiss, Jeff Pash, Paul Bernhardt, Melissa Skluzacek, Kristen Gavin, Alec Spangler, Ali Dell Bitta and Sarah Sharp.

The show, of works in many media, was curated by Thom Collins, Director of the Neuberger Museum of Art at the college.

large detail of a fragment of a Byzantine floor mosaic (circa 500-550) with a representation of Ktisis, "a personification of generous donation or foundation", according to the plaque which accompanies this piece in the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Sharp viewer/readers will have noticed by now that an advert has appeared on my site for the first time, on the upper left corner of each page.

I thought that if I were ever to start this sort of thing, this would be the perfect time to break a five-year tradition of private publishing.

The spot is for NURTUREart's benefit tomorrow evening, and yes, Barry and I are being honored at the occasion. It's all a bit embarassing, and to mention it again would be even more embarrassing if the institution wasn't such a great cause.

There are still tickets available, starting at $75, and the event is conveniently located in the Chelsea gallery district (although I imagine many Williamsburgers will argue about the convenience of Chelsea).

Hope to see you there.

Ron Davis Ring 1968 polyester resin and fiberglass 11.25" x 56.5" [installation view]

On Friday I saw this piece by Ron Davis hovering over the information/members desk at the Museum of Modern Art. Delicious. Looking like nothing so much as a shiny, candy-colored flying saucer, it was love at first sight, and I completely forgot what we had come up to ask for. Fortunately Barry was much more focused, and we quickly got the day passes we wanted for our three guests.

Patrick Armstrong Virgo and Libra 2007 epoxy and gesso on paper 22" x 30" [installation view]

[view from one side]

Dorothea Rockburne Gravity Wave (Direction Painting #2) 1993 Lascaux Aquacryl, Beryl Artistic and Flasche on gessoed wood panel 40" x 24" [installation view]

Steve Keister Frieze I 2007 earthenware with acrylic 5" x 56" x 3" [installation view]

Galeria Janet Kurnatowski
is showing a bright sunny show of contemporary abstractions with a dark-ish title, "Corpse of Time", curated by the artist Ben La Rocco. The art however is anything but cadaverous, and the works actually seem to talk to each other, quite animatedly in fact.

The oldest piece is from 1993, but most of the work is quite recent, produced by a group eight men and women representing perhaps a half century of age difference.

The Greenpoint show includes painting and sculpture by Patrick Armstrong, Morgan Croney, Linda Francis, Steve Keister, Dorothea Rockburne, Carol Salmonson, Don Voisine and Chuck Webster.

Serra_Richard_rust.jpg Richard Serra Intersection II 1992 [detail of installation]

Serra_Richard_inside.jpg Richard Serra Intersection II 1992 [detail of installation]

Serra_Richard_tree.jpg Richard Serra Torqued Ellipse IV 1998 [detail of installation]

This isn't really a review of Richard Serra's show, which tomorrow opens to the public at the Museum of Modern Art. He's been around long enough to be familiar to anyone reading this blog, and the work doesn't change enough to provoke eyes which normally delight in emerging art.

Unfortunately, because of MoMA's photography prohibitions on work the museum does not own, I can't show images of the large installations inside, on the second and sixth floors. I was only able to to take shots of these two pieces installed in the sculpture garden. They're details only, because in still photography that's how this stuff looks best; Serra's sculpture is essentially about the experience of moving through it.

A few thoughts on the show:

  • It's about sculpture alone, so it doesn't seem to be a true retrospective (I think my first Serra love object was a black paint stick drawing).
  • Oddly, the exhibition doesn't include still or moving images of important work missing here, and this is an artist who makes much of the importance of specific sites for his sculpture.
  • There's not much really new; Serra is doing what he knows and what the public has finally come to like.
  • Don't miss looking straight up when you first enter the gallery rooms on the sixth floor.
  • I haven't decided whether the bird mess [white flecks on the third image above] on the pieces outside is a net plus or minus.
  • The latest work, installed on the second floor, is very, very big. I worry about filling our flat files, and we can't afford to rotate work hanging on our walls; don't I covet just a corner of his storage space!
  • This sculpture is very photogenic; I would love to be let loose with my camera in the interior galleries: minimal sculpture for minimal photography.
  • Favorites? "Sequence", from 2006 is great fun, because the course through its inside circuit seems endless (the piece looks great in the overhead shot printed in the show's brochure), but I really love the lead pieces from 1969-1970, and then there's the mid-70's "Delineator", which almost makes me swoon.




four details of Dan Perjovschi's drawings, the third taken through an opening in the wall on MoMA's third floor

In spite of their seriousness and the pain they evoke, the humor and compassion of Dan Perjovschi's delicate childlike drawings in the atrium at the Museum of Modern Art are totally infectious and, perhaps surprisingly, a great use of this huge space. It's interesting that the gargantuan works of Richard Serra are installed elsewhere in the building.

Barry loves the "no smoking" symbol on the tank turret.

Perjovschi's entire piece is titled, "What Happened to US?", touching on responsibilities both personal and corporate. I'm very sorry we missed the two-week performance, his installation of the work.

Fiona Banner Nude Standing 2006 pencil on paper 106.25" x 69.25" [installation view]


I spotted this drawing by Fiona Banner from the floor of the atrium space at MoMA yesterday. It's hanging on the third floor and part of it can be seen through a cutout in the wall. It's a very beautiful thing, a new acquisition for the Museum, but I'm not surprised that I was attracted to it, because of what I had seen the last time I saw the artist's work. Here is a 2006 post.

Please excuse the imperfect image (although MoMA's own is even less adequate, and the reflections on the plexiglas here do seem to add another level of mystery to the work).


Before today I don't think I'd ever seen an attempt to combine 50's Madras and 60's tie-dyed traditions as a single concept. I have no idea whether a conscious irony was involved, but this beautiful young man lit up the atrium space at the Museum of Modern Art this afternoon.

untitled (skewed) 2007

This page is an archive of entries from June 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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