September 2007 Archives

drum corps section

the vanguard

past the Stonewall site

the campaign theme

not as bad as it looks

the curious gather on the sidewalks

We're saying the First Amendment isn't just for the homos.

It was a fabulous party. First, it was safe (no assaults and no arrests), but it was really fun, it was beautiful, it broadcast the issue, and on top of another event earlier this week, it looks like that issue now has real momentum.

Last night's Parade Without A Permit, put together by The Radical Homosexual Agenda [RHA] and its allies, was the second in what is likely to be a continuing series.

Progressing through streets filled with surprised and delighted diners and party goers enjoying the warm evening air of a Saturday in autumn, somewhere between 150 and 200 colorful and energetic activists broadcast the word about City Council Speaker Christine Quinn's support of new NYPD rules restricting free assembly. The group started inside Washington Square Park, accompanied by signs and outrunners with informative pink paper flyers and led by banners and a snappy percussion section. The party wound its way through the West Village, Quinn's own district, for more than two and a half hours before dispersing from Pier 45 at Christopher Street.

Surprisingly the "unpermitted" assembly, was neither broken up nor even seriously provoked by the police. In fact the few uniformed people visible last night performed the kind of martial duties which groups like ACT UP have historically assigned to themselves, halting vehicle traffic for the protest's passage across streets and then, most remarkable of all, letting it take most of the width of Eighth Avenue all the way to 15th Street. At that point the parade turned left and then left again to head back into the Village. The police disappeared at about the same time.

Did the NYPD get the word from Quinn's office to see that nothing untoward would happen to the queers and their friends, or was the Department's low-key handling of the event just part of its historical and notorious pattern of arbitrary enforcement of the law? Also, "good cop" one day, "bad cop" the next, was something we experienced throughout the years of ACT UP's biggest actions. You never knew when you were safe, and you don't today, especially if no one is watching.

One of the most striking images of the evening was presented early on, when the ragtag (I mean that in the very best sense) procession passed the site of Stonewall Inn, where the modern homosexual movement began.

The pictures above and on Flickr and on other sites show the diversity of the protesters, in age, gender, sexuality, race and mobility, one of the most satisfactory elements of a evening of empowerment.

Not only is the First Amendment, and freedom from an arbitrary police force in general, not just for homos, these rights must not be secured only for a queer elite and "decent citizens" of other descriptions. Reflecting today on what was accomplished last night, Andy Podell, a member of RHA, warns:

We have used our position as relatively-privileged queer activists to advocate for freedom of assembly and against police harrassement of queers and activists. At some point our rallying cry of last night, "We don't need a permit", becomes a little easy and self-indulgent. We don't need a permit because at this time a city councilperson doesn't want to fuck with us because we're queer and have connections and it would be bad publicity for her.

Like the well-connected SRLP [Silvia Rivera Law Project], the intervention of Quinn in getting the charges dropped against Wed's night's arrestees does not mean that the NYPD will stop harrassing trans people or people of color or queers. I'd like to see the RHA up the ante in connecting with people who get picked on by Quinn or the NYPD outside of the eye of the queer media (it might not even be queers).

It's probably just a (very minor) fantasy of my own, and it will probably stay that way, but for the next parade I'd love to see a pink and black fife player added to the excellent drum corps: For me it's the original Revolution image, but this second one might just be led by queers - of every description.

I've put more images of the evening on Flickr.

Sylvia at New York City Hall, with the community she helped create, in an undated photo

"Hell hath no fury like a drag queen scorned" [Sylvia Rivera, 1995].

At the Sylvia Rivera Law Project's after-party following its fifth anniversary celebration and fundraising event Wednesday night, two members of the community were violently arrested and others were pepper sprayed by police without warning or cause.

I'm betting the cops were frightened.

The Project, named for the fierce and indomitable queer and trans rights pioneer, provides free legal services, advocacy and other support for low-income people of color who are transgender, gender non-conforming, or intersex. For details on the incident and continuing updates, see the SLRP site.

When will the savagery stop? How long will we have to put up with this stupidity and this thuggery?

Especially in a city as dynamic and sophisticated as this one is, no one should have to fear assault and arrest by the police simply because of who she or he may be.

I don't expect most members of the NYPD to understand New York, since their ranks are drawn from a fairly-narrow pool of communities, each of which tends to fear the heterogeneity and eccentricities which are the lifeblood of this metropolis, and because increasingly neither officers nor their bosses even live inside the city they patrol and monitor.

Incidentally, in spite of what some people may think and say, including officials who should know better, the police are not supposed to "control" us or our "situations". The police are public servants, entrusted and paid to keep us safe, not to tell us what we may or may not do.

I cannot imagine why sad stories like this one, and especially the even more dramatic and deadly episodes of police violence which litter our recent history, would not be an incredible embarrassment to the force itself, to the politicians to whom its leaders must report, and ultimately to every New Yorker. Who is responsible for making the NYPD look so damn stupid? Do they want us to be like Los Angeles, a city with a police force better known for its ruthlessness than for its skills?

There's no way to assign the precise proportions of the blame various people share for the continuing shame of this Police Department, but our mayors, commissioners and chiefs, and at least one council member and speaker, would all have long rap sheets if we were to try for a real accounting.

But each time there's another incident of brutality I think about how little we actually pay the police we send into the streets. I'm not suggesting we reward incompetence, unnecessary violence or arbitrary enforcement more generously, but rather that we should generate greater competence, more appropriate physical restraint and responsible enforcement by attracting better people with better pay, and then training and educating them better. With as many billionaires as we harbor in these boroughs we can certainly afford a truly professional force, at every level.

Also, this isn't about throwing money at NYPD executives. It hasn't served the officers on the beat or the citizens who rely on them to have those who occupy the top desk jobs in the Department routinely negotiate the terms of their own compensation at the expense of rookies and the lower ranks.

It's probably unreasonable to hope that anything might change in the hottest real estate markets in the city, but can I at least dream that a pay scale proportionate to a demand for real professionalism (and appropriate to the extraordinary physical risks) might mean that most of our neighborhoods at least could be watched over by officers who actually live in those neighborhoods - and who wouldn't be parking their SUVs and Pickups on our sidewalks?

[some of the points made above originated with Barry in a conversation today; image from Miami Dade College]

the RHA visits Speaker Quinn at the Stonewall Democratic Club open meeting

Yesterday the junta in Burma invoked a colonial-era section of the nation's criminal code under which the government can use police or military force against any group of people who have not been granted a permit to assemble. The rule's threshold is any assembly of more than five. Burma and the world is once again witness to the open violence with which undemocratic authority will inevitably try to maintain itself. At this hour fourteen people are known to have been killed by soldiers and police.

Back in New York people are starting to make connections. Tim Doody is a member of the Radical Homosexual Agenda [RHA] and a constituent of Council Member Christine Quinn, who this year promulgated a New York City rule making illegal any "unpermitted" assembly of 50 or more people. Responding to news of Burma's emergency proclamation restricting citizen assembly, or what most of the media is referring to as Burma's "curfew", today Doody asked,

Does Speaker Quinn really believe the difference between a junta and a democracy is 45 people?

Last night members of the RHA attended an open meeting of the Stonewall Democratic Club, held in the LGBT Community Center, where Speaker Quinn had been asked to speak. The RHA held up two banners on the sides of the room calling attention to the First Amendment issue of arbitrarily-formulated Parade Rules which will inevitably be arbitrarily enforced. When the Q&A session was closed, and the host had not called on anyone who might have asked the Club's distinguished visitor about the elephant in the room, one of the guests who was not a member of the RHA asked that the question be solicited, adding that it would reflect very badly on the people in the room if the signs displayed so prominently went unexplained.

Quinn now graciously sought out a raised hand and the question came from the floor, 'Would you explain to the constituency in this room your support of and your role in the promulgation of the unconstitutional, so-called Police 'Parade Rules'?"

There was nothing new or revealing in her response, and I myself still honestly have no idea why she got herself into a law-and-order posture so contrary to anything she ever stood for. Her argument remains rather circular and her logic vague or obsfucatory, but in this venue there was no way to carry on a discussion or venture an appeal to reason, something thus far lacking in her defense of the police rules.

She never lost her composure and she even offered to "come back here [the Stonewall Democratic Club or the LGBT Center?] any time" to specifically discuss the issue. There were two real surprises, I think, each possibly suggesting a chink in the blue wall to which she seems to have attached herself. One was the fact that at least twice she said that the assembly rules were "an ongoing conversation", and the other was an interesting throwaway line something to the effect, "If in the future legislation is produced . . . .", suggesting that the Council might still get involved in the issue and hold open public hearings, as it surely ought to.

In the meantime the conversation will continue on the only stage the powerless have available to them: that constructed on free assembly and speech. On Saturday at 7 o'clock, a second "Parade Without A Permit", a joyous party celebrating those fundamental rights, will assemble at the fountain in Washington Square Park and progress through the West Village, the streets of the Speaker's own district.

[the small sign on the right reads, "1st Amendment not for sale"]


Mark Stillwell Super Defense Force [two details of the installation]

The current show at Front Room, Mark Stillwell's "Super Defense Force", seems like a perfect fit for the post 9/11 U.S. mindset. The theme runs something like terror as escapism (incorporating "escape" in every sense), except that the diorama inside the Williamsburg gallery space is both comical and thought-provoking; there is no comedy and no thinking inside the continuing fantasy world of "the war on terror".

The gallery describes the installation, which marks the artist's first solo show in its Williamsburg space, in this excerpt from the press release:

Stillwell, known for his room-sized installations of urban landscapes under figurative and literal siege, converts the gallery into an overwhelming cityscape installation overrun by gargantuan monsters. Stillwell uses painted and reclaimed packaging, byproducts of the over-consuming society he portrays, in this scene of terror. Crowds of paper cut-out citizens run screaming from the devastation and hostile creatures that are overtaking the city.

. . . . The Coney Island-like setting in "The Super Defense Force" is used to contrast apocalyptic anxieties, militarism, and the proliferation of luxury condos against a backdrop of carnival escapism.

On the gallery site itself there are a number of more helpful and seductive still images, and a video with a moving, monster's-eye view of the set.



It seems everybody loves a banner, these days probably more than ever, and the Williamsburg gallery Front Room has been inspired by their popularity to commission works by a number of artists over the years. The current installation is by Andrew MacDonald.

I saw only the more minimal side of the piece as I entered the gallery to see the Mark Stillwell show, but I loved it. It suggested the warmth and elegance of a thick white heirloom quilt, but at the same time it obviously wasn't taking itself too seriously. Only on my way out did I see the other face, and in the late-afternoon light the colored curves of the grommeted squares seemed to be dancing inside the fringe of pom-poms they shared with the surface I had seen first.

It made me smile.

George Horner Skull 2006 acrylic, gesso, silkscreen ink and whiskey on canvas 35" x 29" [installation view]

Valaire Van Slick
Stop making eyes at me,
I'll stop making eyes at you
And what it is that surprises me
is that I don't really want you to

2006 acrylic, industrial enamel, clear-coat and glitter on canvas 30" x 40"

TABOO! Stephen Tashjian Skull #2 and Skull #1 each 2007 acrylic and iridescent glitter on handmade paper from India 12" x 9" [installation view]

Tomas Lopez-Rocha La Flaca 2007 mixed media on canvas 14" x 11"

Tomas Lopez-Rocha Dia de Muertos 2007 mixed media on canvas 14" x 11"

Under normal circumstances things skull-like hold absolutely no fascination for me, but Dinter Fine Art's current show, "Death & Love in Modern Times", manages to totally transcend the dry calcium props which enliven its macabre theme. The press release suggests I may be in the minority when it comes to interest in the subject of skeletons, so I should thank a lot of people besides Ingrid Dinter, the curator, for the mounting of this exciting collection.

The intense, more-or-less salon-hung exhibition is assembled from work by an extraordinary company of artists:

Michael Byron, Billy Copley, David Dupuis, Dan Fischer, Rico Gatson, Tomoo Gokita, Leon Golub, George Horner, Peter Hujar, Daniel Johnston, Dan McCleary, Kelly McCormick, Ana Mendieta, Tomas Lopez Rocha James Romberger, Julie Ryan, Phil Sims, Aaron Sinift, TABBOO! Stephen Tashjian, Marguerite Van Cook, Valaire Van Slyck, Mike Walton, Andy Warhol and Rob Wynne


The Radical Homosexual Agenda [RHA] logo incorporates the group's Regulation Pink Gasmaskģ, which has been donned by members since 2006 while they pursue their perilous mission fighting the American mainstream - an environment which they argue, and few would dispute, is presently toxic for queers.

They're back. The RHA loves a parade - for a good cause. Even if they may be more sensitive than some folks about the Lesbian author of the outrage against which they've been protesting, being queers themselves, the RHA has been fighting for all of America on this one.

Five months ago this young, spirited New York civil rights group stepped off from City Hall Park on a sunny afternoon in a colorful un-permitted parade of fellow citizens (both homosexual and otherwise engaged) to protest New York City's new and totally-unconstitutional police rule restricting freedom of assembly and speech. On Saturday, in another "Parade Without a Permit", they take their costumes, props and merry bands, bicycles and carts and strong legs on a more ambitious, a more public tour. This time the neighborhood will be the dense residential and commercial blocks of the West Village, the district represented by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Quinn is the main target of the RHA's anger because of her prominent role in the promulgation, without review, discussion or vote, of draconian rules which cede dangerous arbitrary power to the police.

This hot new band of activists and its growing numbers of allies will together be doing their best to broadcast that Quinn's position as an out queer with a progressive, largely queer constituency on which she has built her career up to now is totally at odds with her position on a principle of law so fundamental to the political life of a free society. The RHA and its friends have other serious complaints about our ambitious Speaker's positions and agenda, but this issue trumps everything else: The right to speak and to demonstrate about any subject is on the line in this city today.

The parade assembles in Washington Square Park at 7 pm this Saturday, September 29, at the edge of the central fountain. The event is absolutely not envisioned as an arrest scenario by any of its organizers, so everyone is encouraged to join the serious merriment.

For more information, see the RHA's new, James Wentzy-built website. I have it on good authority that there will be no speeches on Saturday, so maybe a visit to the site is an even better idea than it would be prior to most demos; everyone should be ready with a good sound bite at these things.

NEWS FLASH: It's just been confirmed that the Stonewall Veterans are going to be a part of this parade, front and center. Now I'm thinking, pink-and-black-draped pedicab chariots conveying our noble ur-rebels through the streets past the sites which were the scenes of their triumphs almost forty years ago. Take that, all you soft, smug folk who ever imagined you could even be the cuttings of the giants who opened the doors you pass through so easily today.

[image from the RHA]

hanging out in a park and free bike repair station on 7th Avenue at Charles yesterday

Park(ing) Day, it's about serious greenstreets

See Jim Dwyer's column for a word picture of the larger footprint of New York's part in the event, organized by the Trust for Public Land.

Another piece in the NYTimes reported:

The city’s Transportation Department does not know the total number of parking spaces in the city, but according to Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group, 45 percent of public land in Manhattan is dedicated to moving and storing cars.
That's a pretty impressive figure, especially since the total area of "public land" would include Central Park and every other square foot of park and sidewalk.

NOTES: I found the wonderful Barbara Ross photograph [earlier credited on the flickr site to Mike Pidell, who is actually in the photo instead] at the top of this entry while looking for pictures of yesterday's events. The unremarkable image of the sign is mine. Finally, before I was told that the photo had mistakenly been credited to Pidell, while I was searching for a way I could link to him I located this delightful five-minute bike clown video from last year, "Bike Lane Liberation".

[with thanks to Tim Doody, image by Barbara Ross from flickr]

untitled (pink line) 2007

I still wouldn't set anything down on it, but sometimes there's a bit of beauty in the lowly subway platform. Of course it doesn't show up if you bring something along to read while you wait for the train.

Jason Lujan Selections from the Native American Handbook 2005 paper, ink T-pins, variable dimensions [detail of installation]

Carlos Motta SOA: Black and White Pain-tings I 2005-2006 book, 2 audio CDs, headphones, shelf 9" x 77" [detail of installation]

Bocchino_A_J_State_of_the_Union.jpgA. J. Bocchino State of the Union (1878-2006) 2007 marker on archival ink jet print 30" x 40" [detail of installation]

Julia Page Waiting for ( ) 2006 video installation, variable dimensions [installation view]

Mike Estabrook yllier'O lliB 2005 DVD [large detail of installation]

I only had to see the the announcement for this show to know that I had to get out to Bushwick this month. I would normally try to see any show mounted by the folks at Nurture Art*, but the description of "Quote Unquote", which was curated by Yaelle Amir, made this one an absolute must. So last week Barry and I found ourselves at the opening itself, where it became almost immediately clear that I'd have to go back on a slow day - to listen to the audio that didn't make it over the noisy energy of the crowd.

The shiny illustrated color brochure which accompanies the show and addresses each piece separately is a terrific innovation [I'm told that a generous gift insures this will be a regular thing] and its text represents one of the best arguments I've ever seen for the convention of the gallery handout.

I've copied the leaflet's general lines on the installation, two introductory paragraphs and a concluding statement:

Language is an undoubtedly powerful medium that is utilized to both shape and manipulate our perception of reality. Stemming from this acknowledgment, "Quote Unquote" presents works by seven artists who deconstruct and re-contextualize text and speech originally employed to form a social-political statement. The foundation of these works is appropriated from various sources - newscast, popular literature, military records, newspaper- and molded into a new form with an intentional message.

As Language articulates our conception, opinion, and memory of our culture, a process of reevaluation necessarily unfolds as it is disassembled. Thus, by re-sampling text with social significance, and introducing their own interpretation into its rigid structure, the artists of Quote Unquote provide a window to new understandings of our social contract.

. . . .

Rather than rearranging the original language to the point of abstraction, these artists have strived [sic] to subvert its context while keeping its source evident. In so doing, they expose the manipulative tactics that are routinely employed via language by the media, politicians, military personnel, and cultural entrepreneurs. With a diligent methodical approach, humor, metaphor, and irony, they raise awareness to the underlying structure of the language that sculpts and embodies the essence of our very own collective identity.

I won't try to describe the meaning of any of the selection of images I've uploaded, and I don't pretend that without a visit to the gallery they can tell you anything more than that each the artists have an aesthetic which survives the intelligence of the work.

All right, I'll copy the gallery's description of just one of my favorite pieces:

Julia Page's Waiting for ( ) (2006) combines the script from the final act of Samuel Beckett's play "Waiting for Godot," in which two vagrants sit by a skeletal tree talking, eating, arguing, making up, sleeping, and contemplating suicide, as they await the elusive Godot. In the final act, they decide to leave, yet neither one takes action. In her video, Page constructs the final sentences of the play from C-Span coverage of senate debates on the war in Iraq. Through this juxtaposition, she alludes to the futility of these debates, and the politicians' lack of initiative to resolve the Iraqi predicament.

At the opening someone from the gallery quipped about our making the show a recommended opening on ArtCal during the week before, "You give these two an award and you're friends for life!" We all chuckled at the trope, but in fact the two of us have been big fans of Nurture Art's program for years.






We wandered through Hudson River Park along the West 20's and 30's on Sunday afternoon, intermittently dodging the distractions of speedy human-powered wheeled traffic (much of the pedestrian path remains to be built), construction equipment, the banshee screams of jet helicopters alighting and flying off only feet from the path, and the monstrous hulks of deteriorating piers, including one still used by the city as a towed-vehicle pound.

It will be a magnificent park when it's completed, as long as we are able to maintain its beauty and its comforts, but under the present circumstances our Sunday walk had to be mostly about checking on its progress since our last venture so far west.

Yet we were still able to enjoy the richness of the small life forms and still-life forms installed where the harbor's waters wash or beat the shore of our narrow urban world. We checked the odometer on Paul Ramirez-Jonas's installation, "Long Time", but were disappointed to find the wheel itself was quite still at the moment, poised somewhere between the force of the rising tide and the current of the river.

At the edge of a blocks-long reserve composed of a landscaped thicket designed to reintroduce the rich natural history of the Hudson estuary, we watched a Monarch butterfly and two dancing white moths. We saw and heard many birds but it was the tiny female or immature male Painted Bunting* which I'll remember most. No turkeys, deer or coyotes that day. We also heard and watched the surf throw spray up through a long grate on the edge of the walkway. I captured an image of a bit of the spume washing over the outstretched branches of two hardy plants eager to reach more of the light of the afternoon sun, but the animal life on the edge of the river was even less willing to wait for my camera.

in the low afternoon sun of September the little guy didn't look at all like most of the images I found on line, but instead was more like a wren-size fluffy ball of chartreuse and, if I might exaggerate a bit, nearly as bright as Sweetpea

Matthew Northridge Memorial to the Great Western Expo September 11 - October 20, 2007
[no other information available for this piece, shown here in an installation view]

I have to admit that among the changing installations in the Chelsea gallery area I look forward to most, with something like the same childish delight with which I once welcomed Tooth Fairy or Easter Bunny visits, are those to be found in Zach Feuer's window on 10th Avenue (the west side, between 25th and 26th Street). This modest space, which has been carved out of a former entryway, is currently occupied by a single wonderful piece by Matthew Northridge.

Travis Lindquist [image protected here from viewers]

In Williamsburg last Friday evening Barry and I had just come from a reception and we had a little time to kill before the 7 o'clock hour when the galleries we had planned to visit would be opening their doors for this month's "Williamsburg Every Second".

We were in a festive mood.

We walked over to Capla Kesting to take a look at their Travis Lindquist show. I wasn't very interested in most of the work, but the relatively arcane historical references in some of the drawings arranged in an interesting way on the center wall induced me to take a closer look. I decided to capture a few images for consideration later. I had already taken several photographs when I was told by a woman who was apparently connected to the gallery that they had their own shots of the work and most of them were available on their own site. I started to explain that I liked to capture my own images for my artblog and I would have gone on to try to explain exactly why, but I was interrupted by some words to the effect that they have to "protect the copyright", and I was told that I would not be allowed to photograph the art.

I tried to at least explain what I had been doing and I reached for a card to introduce myself and my site, but neither she nor David Kesting, the Proprietor, would have any of it. Neither wanted to know who I was, but they definitely wanted me out. I told Barry, who had not been a part of any of this exchange, that I wanted to leave. As we turned to go Kesting yelled after us, "Don't come back, you hear?!"

I wouldn't think of it.

Also, to avoid some questions in the future, I should add here that since ArtCal is "The Opinionated New York Art Guide" and as it is the opinion of its editors that Capla Kesting Fine Art has chosen to restrict the public's visual access to visual art, the gallery will not be included in its listings from this date.

Manfred Fuchs Untitled 2002 12" x 16" mixed media on paper [installation view]

Michelle Marozik Office Cubicle 2004 8.5" x11" [installation view]

Bethany Bristow Blue and Orange Drawing 2002 ink on vellum [installation view]

Bill Gerhard Four Day Exposure 2006 black paper 12" x 18" [installation view]

My last post was about a show at Pierogi; this one is about a show called "The Pierogi Show" and it's a very different thing.

The pioneering artist-run Williamsburg gallery currently devoted to a solo show of work by Jim Turok is known around the world as much for what is not hanging on its walls (meaning its extraordinary flat files) as for its ability to turn up, show and support great work while continuously serving as the vital heart of a community of artists. While most of Pierogi's files are still stowed on North 7 Street, Austin Thomas's "Pocket Utopia" has mounted a tribute to what Joe Amrhein, its founder, has accomplished and continues to accomplish. For the first official show in her space on Flushing Avenue, just five stops east of the Bedford stop on the L line, she has borrowed and hung pieces by 20 artists whose works on paper normally hang out in Amrhein's drawers.

On her lively gallery blog Thomas describes a selection process which had to somehow eliminate 98% of the material available:

The file has 900 artists in it, maybe more. I had to come up with some sort of structure to review it. Mike (husband) entered all 900 names into a spreadsheet, then we determined that 88 artists was a representative sample, so he had a computer program select 88 artists randomly. With a list containing the 88 artists in hand, I went looking through the files and guess what? I was still overwhelmed. I sat immobilized for weeks as the opening date of Pocket Utopia approached. Finally, I selected 20 artists from the 88 randomly selected artists because that's the number of artists that Pierogi showed in their first show at Four Walls.

My process might seem random, but I think that's how the art world works. Funny, the computer didn't select my name. I've had work in the Flatfile for about 10 years. I always try to put new and my best work in, and maybe that's why the 20 artists I chose are consistently good.

I'm amused that the presence of both random and curatorial elements in the story of how these particular works were drawn to Bushwick doesn't seem to me to be so different from that which artists also experience in the larger world, where some capricious combination of chance and merit determines whether work gets to be shown.

Thomas is right when she writes that the work is good, and some of it is very good indeed.

The complete list of artists in the exhibition:

Hildur √Āsgeirsd√≥ttir J√≥nsson
Clement Bagot
Claudia Barthoi
Lee Boroson
Bethany Bristow
David Brody
Tamar Cohen
Guy Corriero
Peggy Cyphers
Kate Drendel
Miriam Dym
Bruce Edelstein
clyde forth
Manfred Fuchs
Bill Gerhard
Fred Gutzeit
Michelle Ha
Theresa Hackett
Michelle Marozik
Mike Miga
Team Lump
Mika Yokobori

I'd like to add a couple more images, and a few words, on Bill Gerhard's work, on the excuse that one of the two pieces of his in the show presents the drama of an evolving site-specific installation. "Four Day Exposure" from 2006, and shown above, hangs on the left wall of the gallery, but "Window Aperture", is both a 2007 installation and a work in progress.

Gerhard uses the sun as a drawing tool, exposing black construction paper to form minimal shapes, in these cases simple rectangles The two thumbnail images below show the second work, first the face of the paper as it appeared at night from the sidewalk in front of the south-facing building and then the reverse side as visible from inside the gallery.



Jim Torok Don't Forget Who You Are 2007 acrylic on panel 12" x 14"

Jim Torok Do Not Be Too Afraid 2007 acrylic on panel 48" x 60"

Jim Torok You Are Wrong 2007 acrylic on panel 48" x 37"

The image at the top is of the first painting you come to as you walk into the door of Jim Torok's show at Pierogi. Is it talking to its creator or to us? This small panel and the larger one I show below it relate to the artist's now very familiar style, work which has drawn in and seriously (or not so terribly seriously) amused many people for years.

I like the third image very much as well, but to find Torok working in abstraction was a total surprise to me.

There is a third chapter in this show with the simple title, "Recent Work". Apparently Torok had been doing similar work for some time, so I don't know why the almost photo-realist drawings and paintings in the gallery's smaller room were the biggest surprise of all, so much so that until I went back to the entrance and picked up a checklist I had assumed it represented a separate show by another artist.

These small face essays (oil on panel or graphite on paper) are pretty amazing, for their skill, their extremely light touch and for including a degree of expression not usually found in formally-posed portraits. I can't really say why my camera and I didn't try to capture any of them. Maybe we were both a little intimidated.

Below is an image of one of those pieces, borrowed from the gallery site and uploaded to appear more or less life-size (on my laptop's screen at least).

Jim Torok Mary Carlson 2007 oil on panel 2.5" x 2"

The artist and the gallery have prepared a bonus event for anyone who visits tonight, during WIlliamsburg's monthly party, "Art After Hours":


["Mary Carlson" image from Pierogi; final image, uncredited otherwise, via Meredith Allen]


the Realpolitiker's very favorite Tracht

UPDATE: For concerned citizens of the world who might find the information useful, I've learned that Kissinger is expected to speak at the Parade Gala Benefit Banquet scheduled for 7 o'clock tonight, Friday, at the New York Hilton & Towers, 1335 Sixth Avenue, between 53rd and 54th Streets.

Would somebody please tell the folks behind New York's German American Steuben Parade that having Henry Kissinger as a grand marshal is not cool at all. The kind of war crimes for which this man is wanted by governments in a number countries all over the world may be very American these days, but that doesn't mean any ethnic group should be proud to be associated with their author, even if it has a tenuous relationship with the land of his birth.

I'm an American of unmixed German ancestry going back generations, I've studied U.S. and German history, and I've studied and lived here and in Deutschland, so I might be given some leave to say that I suspect the folks living in what the chairman of Saturday's event calls the "alte Heimat" would not be so thick as some of their cousins over here seem to be. German Germans also generally know their history pretty well - for significant historical and moral reasons.

The big event is scheduled for this Saturday. I have to be in Greenpoint that afternoon, or I'd be there physically to remind him that not all of us have forgotten what he's done. The parade starts at noon, and runs uptown on Fifth Avenue, starting at 63 Street and ending at 86 Street. I'm not sure how these thing work, that is, I don't know where a so-called Grand Marshal might best be spotted, but there is a reviewing stand somewhere along the route of the march.


[David Levine image from The Corsair]

supernal music between the altar and the first pew

Barry and I are big fans of the two-year-old Chelsea Symphony. It has little to do with allegiance to a home team, even if that's what got us into the little German Church around the corner the first time. There were also at least two other connections: One of our neighbors, Blair Lawhead, is a superb violinist who plays with the group and Louise Fishman, who also lives across the hall and had beaten us to a performance, has since lent an image of one of her magnificent paintings to animate the orchestra's posters. It seemed like everyone in the building, including the doormen and porters, knew about our local band of players before Barry and I heard them for the first time.

This summer, through the generosity of another neighbor, David Shear, a string quartet composed of musicians from the Orchestra was engaged to play as part of our annual garden party. Wow. Now that's a home team.

Since first attending a concert last summer, we've found it almost impossible to miss any of their appearances. Yes, they're that good; they're very good - but there's even more to like.

I started out in the Midwest a long time ago with a passion for serious music almost from the very beginning. I've now lived and traveled over much of the world, during which time I've enjoyed some magnificent orchestras I've attended (with pleasure, but often with too much wincing) more than most people's share of performances by smaller, less professional ensembles. When I'm home I'm surrounded by thousands of LPs and CDs, for the most part "classical" recordings of music stretching from ancient Greece to the day before yesterday. They are mostly professional ensembles and the majority are on commercial labels.

But to be in a modest-sized hall with this Mozart-sized company of well-rehearsed, enthusiastic and gifted young artists lifts the spirit in ways an orchestra like the New York Philharmonic never can. Yes, tears will happen. And perhaps to top it off, there's at least one piece of new music in each program - take that, Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall programmers!

If New York has more living composers than there are music programs open to them, there are also far more great musicians and conductors than there are seats or podiums available in the orchestras. Some of these composers and performers still believe in symphonic music and some of them are stubborn enough and creative enough to take things into their own hands and do something about it. Some of them have founded, or found a home in, the Chelsea Symphony.

I highly recommend this concert experience, regardless of what your previous commitment to classical music may be, even if doing so might make it harder for me to ever find a seat again only a dozen feet from the conductor.

This is an excerpt from the Wikipedia entry for the Chelsea Symphony:

The Chelsea Symphony is an orchestra noted for its uniquely fluid hierarchy. Based in New York City, The Chelsea Symphony's members rotate as the ensemble’s own conductors, composers, and soloists. Each season, every conductor conducts a complete symphonic program with the group; each composer has a new work performed by the full orchestra; and every soloist performs a featured piece with the entire ensemble. The Chelsea Symphony gives most of its concerts at the German Church of St. Paul's.

There will be performances this Saturday at 8 and Sunday at 3, in St. Paul's Church at 315 W 22 Street (just west of 8 Avenue).

Saturday at 8:
Debussy Prelude to the Afternoon of the Faun (Don Lawhead conducting)
Haydn Cello Concerto in D Major (Mark Seto conducting, Michael Haas, cello)
Wagner Siegfried Idyll (Geoff Robson conducting)
Mozart Symphony 29 (Geoff Robson conducting)

Sunday at 3:
Strauss Concerto No. 1 for Horn (Mark Seto conducting, Katherine Smith, horn)
Wieniawski Fantasia on themes from Gounod's Faust (Mark Seto conducting, Hanna Lachert, violin)
Wagner Siegfried Idyll (Geoff Robson conducting)
Mozart Symphony 29 (Geoff Robson conducting)

[image from Wikipedia]


I'm going to end up skimming the features and skipping the "news" pages altogether. Is anybody else noticing this stuff?

It's looking like the NYTimes is out of control. This is the way one of the paper's teasers read on today's print front page:

In Iraq, the report from General Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker to Congress was viewed favorably because it portrayed the situation accurately [my italics]. While many said they preferred a quick withdrawal of troops, several seemed to accept that sectarian violence would keep American forces in Iraq for some time to come.
Inside the paper, on page A10, the article itself made it clear that the glowing opinion of the account given by the pair Maureen Dowd calls the "Surge Twins" was actually one held by the very few Iraqis the reporter either bothered to or was able to ask (perhaps in telephone interviews):
More than 20 Iraqis of different sects and ethnicities said in interviews across the country that they viewed the report favorably because it ¬ó or, at least the parts shown on television in Iraq ¬ó portrayed the situation accurately.
Does this sound like objective reporting? Most readers probably never made it to the tenth page, and so were left [deliberately?] with an impression of this historical encounter that had been created by a totally misleading marketing blurb/preview.

[image of 1888 Puck cartoon from]

"Del Baldwin, Tence Massey and Anna Pope are preparing library books for circulation."

Barry and I will be participating with Leah Stuhltrager as jurors in a benefit for the Greenpoint branch of the Brooklyn Public Library on Saturday. The event is being organized by Aileen Tat with the generous help of many others, including the artists donating work.

We love Greenpoint, and we love libraries. And I love this photograph.

Barry and I think the three of us will be awarding a prize or prizes to some of the artists represented in the sale. As Barry writes on his own site, "Show up and be shocked to see us outside before 2pm!"

In a totally baffling development which seems designed to frustrate all the volunteers involved in this project, the BPL central marketing department has told us that as bloggers the following information is all we are permitted to post:

The Greenpoint 100: Friends of the Greenpoint Library Artists' Benefit

Saturday, September 15, 2007
11:00 am to 2:30 pm

At the Greenpoint Library
107 Norman Ave. @ Leonard St.
Brooklyn, NY 11222

For more information please call the library at 718-349-8504 or
email [email protected]

[1878 image by unknown photographer, along with supplied caption, from]

"Thinking about animals"

He was probably already my favorite member of the paper's staff, but a short piece by Verlyn Klinkenborg in today's NYTimes was worth far more than the price of admission. He is writing about Alex, the extraordinary African Grey parrot who died last week ["Brainy Parrot Dies, Emotive to the End"], and this is much of what he concludes, about Alex - and ourselves:

A truly dispassionate observer might argue that most Grey parrots could probably learn what Alex had learned, but only a microscopic minority of humans could have learned what Alex had to teach. Most humans are not truly dispassionate observers. We’re too invested in the idea of our superiority to understand what an inferior quality it really is. I always wonder how the experiments would go if they were reversed — if, instead of us trying to teach Alex how to use the English language, Alex were to try teaching us to understand the world as it appears to parrots.

These are bottomless questions, of course. For us, language is everything because we know ourselves in it. Alex¬ís final words were: ¬ďI love you.¬Ē

There is no doubt that Alex had a keen awareness of the situations in which that sentence is appropriate — that is, at the end of a message at the end of the day. But to say whether Alex loved the human who taught him, we’d have to know if he had a separate conceptual grasp of what love is, which is different from understanding the context in which the word occurs. By any performative standard — knowing how to use the word properly — Alex loved Dr. Pepperberg [Dr. Irene Pepperberg, Alex's companion and student].

Beyond that, only our intuitions, our sense of who that bird might really be, are useful. And in some ways this is also a judgment we make about loving each other.

To wonder what Alex recognized when he recognized words is also to wonder what humans recognize when we recognize words. It was indeed surprising to realize how quickly Alex could take in words and concepts.

Scientifically speaking, the value of this research lies in its specific details about patterns of learning and cognition. Ethically speaking, the value lies in our surprise, our renewed awareness of how little we allow ourselves to expect from the animals around us


[image by Mike Lovett from NYTimes]

Michael Jones McKean The Astronomers' Ecstasy As They See Solidarity Between Forms 2007 100" x 108" x 44" [large detail of installation]


Michael Jones McKean The Allegory of Rule and the Geometry of Wind 2007 36" x 49" x 15" [large detail of installation]


Michael Jones McKean The Freeing of Cosmonaut Volynov and Pitcher Gooden's Song 2007 42" x 36" x 12" [installation view]


Michael Jones McKean Our Age of Brass and Ghosts 2007 53" x64" x16" [installation view]


Michael Jones McKean The Ancients 2007 52" x42" x 13" [installation view]


Stephen Lichty was the first to introduce Barry and me to Michael Jones McKean's art. I was excited by the images the artist/curator was able to show to us this summer, and later I did a little more internet searching on my own. I read a bit (but, deliberately, not much) about what McKean was doing, and I listened to an interview on line. Now I was really anxious to see the work in person.

We heard that Clayton Sean Horton's gallery Sunday was going to have an exhibition of his work first thing this fall, and I couldn't wait to see it, although I knew I'd miss the opening. I even thought to myself that the scheduling conflict might not be so unfortunate, since I could assume the reception would be crowded and I was familiar with both the modest size of the gallery and the grand scale of much of McKean's work.

In fact I wondered how Sunday was going to be able to show anything at all substantial of the artist's work, even without the additional squeeze threat of an opening night, in the show which came to be called, "The Discipline of Astronomy and Wind".

We visited the gallery and met McKean himself a few days after the exhibition opened. I needn't have worried about my chances of seeing full installations, and remarkably everything there is from 2007. After entering the space we introduced ourselves and then for a while we just walked around and between the five large-ish pieces Horton and McKean had placed so cunningly in two beautiful white rooms.

At the beginning I was certain that I would shortly want some kind of briefing from the artist, since both the materials and their arrangements seemed so alien and abstract, but within a few minutes, I turned to McKean with a wide grin and said, "I don't think I have to ask you anything." So much had already been communicated by the pieces themselves, with a little help from their titles, a rich, evocative list of their materials*, and my own pocket full of history, that no more guidance was necessary. Throughout the nearly 80 minutes [yes!] we spent with it, and even to this moment, the work has continued to speak for itself.

These pieces, each of them mounted on an integral platform resting on the ground or projecting from the wall, are gorgeous, full-dimensional "collage sculptures" in a lavish tapestry of shapes, colors and textures incorporating materials both found and fabricated by the artist. The superb craftsmanship (in all kinds of materials and skills) with which he realizes the incredibly-elegant contours of many of their elements distinguishes McKean's work from much of the sculpture being shown today which may also incorporate ordinary, found materials.

But it's ultimately his aesthetic, combined with a humanism which enables each of his projects to serve as something like an avatar of our relationship to the hopes, dreams and failures of our freaky civilization and the wonderful and mad heroes it regularly churns out, that makes this art so honest, so brilliant, and so unforgettable.

I hope my posting of all these images doesn't look a bit excessive, but not everyone who sees this entry is going to be able to visit Eldridge Street in the next month. Also, I can't recommend McKean's own site enough, for those who want to see more.

There's also this from Grand Arts in Kansas City, and an interview with Public Radio KUHF.

see the checklist, available at the gallery, but not on line


It's the eleventh of September again. Yes, it happens once a year. But I'm not interested in adding to the revanchisme stoked by every mention of the terrible events which occurred in my city six years ago. I am interested in the fact that even if we wanted to we would be unable to read a list of the names of the hundreds of thousands of people we have killed in the name of our own dead (many of whom were from countries other than the U.S.).

Moreover, the continuing shame of our concentration camps at Guantanamo and elsewhere in the world doesn't seem to be worthy of the attention of many who actually do oppose the war in Iraq.

We are letting ourselves be ridden by fools, fanatics, politicians and arms suppliers - and those who profit from the evil mischief done in our name. The killing could stop, the camps could be closed and the terror could be defused, but not if we refuse to look at the world outside - and continue to let others exploit us.

[fabric color swatch, otherwise unrelated to Guantanamo, from froggtoggs]

D-L ALvarez Occasion to be Denounced 2007 crepe paper installation, dimensions variable [large detail of installation]

D-L ALvarez Something to Cry About 2007 children's clothing, dimensions variable [large detail of installation, with detail of "The Closet" behind]

D-L Alvarez is showing five very dissimilar new works in the Berlin-based American's latest solo show at Derek Eller, "Parents' Day".

It's an elegant installation of beautiful objects. At the opening reception they each managed to evoke for this visitor personal memories independent of the artist's own allusions: My imagination couldn't wait to run with the show's title, and with the nearly-total abstractions of a large series of pencil drawings with the title, "The Closet". An excerpt from the press release however, read after seeing the work, sheds some light on where the artist himself is on the two pieces which dominate the images seen above:

Beginning with the show's title and the piece, Occasion to be Denounced (2007), Alvarez sets the tone of celebrating a special occasion. Made entirely of crepe paper, Occasion to be Denounced (2007) underlines the fragility of such situations. Celebration in the genre of slasher films is a common motif, implemented in the titles of films such as Happy Birthday to Me, Mother's Day, and Silent Night Deadly Night. The later was controversial for depicting a killer in a Santa suit, which brings to light another common theme of the genre: that the killer's identity, including often his or her gender, is almost always disguised.

The costumes that Alvarez provides in Something to Cry About (2007) might well belong to the Mom and Dad of Parents' Day. They are cheery in appearance, but also completely concealing: each of the two uniforms having been sewn from several of children's clothes.

The statement ends with a reference to the artist's inspiration for the show:
Alvarez is less interested in the spectacle of crime as in the cultural history crime forges. A truly American genre, slasher films of the 70s and 80s connected to already existing cultural drifts. They reflect the violation of innocence exemplified by the transition that took place at the end of the sixties when paranoia replaced free love
I've come this far with absolutely no interest in slasher films (I'm not even sure I ever really enjoyed (is that the right word?) Hitchcock's textbook classic, "Psycho", but if I would hope to learn more about the genre, I now know to whom I would turn. I've always had a great respect for Alvarez's intelligence and imaginative insight, so I also know I could learn much from the artist who could create this show about an era, and a "transition", which was very much my own.

detail of Thomas Lendvai's site-specific sculpture, "Between Pain and Boredom"

I doubt that any gallery installation in the city rewarded visitors with as much fun on Thursday night as that of Thomas Lendvai at Winkleman.

It was a hit opening night. Everyone left smiling, and there were images all over the blogosphere the next day. To understand what we're all talking about, you really had to be in the gallery, but not only that, you had to enter into the construction itself. Of course the production continues for another month, so there are still plenty of chances to check it out. Bring friends; the performance is even better with a crowd.

And make sure you let you eye and your head follow all the artist's elegant swoopy planes through and beyond the gallery walls themselves.

Jules de Balincourt Untitled 2007 oil and enamel on panel 27 ¬Ē x 34 ¬Ē

Jules de Balincourt Cycles of Morning and Dyeing 2007 oil on panel 32" x 38"

Jules de Balincourt Remembering Our Great Dead Heroes 2007 oil on panel 36" x 48"

The huge crowds at the fall gallery opening receptions will make my comments about the work being shown somewhat equivocal at times, and Jules de Balincourt's exhibition at Zach Feuer, "Unknowing Man's Nature", is the first example. I've really liked the artist's work since first seeing it in the gallery's early, rudimentary office space not long before the artist's first show, and Barry and I are delighted we were once able to afford the painting we saw then. We brought it home to enjoy and it's provoked us every day since.

I suppose that since I'd already seen so much of his work I thought I should be prepared for a surprise this time. Maybe it's just me, but I was expecting, well, that I'd see work I hadn't expected. So once I got into the gallery I guess I may have been slightly disappointed not to have to stretch a bit more. Still, it was a packed opening, and subtlety always has a hard time competing with a general merriment, so I'm definitely going to have to approach these paintings again, this time with the distraction of fewer friends and strangers.

But as I going over the several images I'd gathered last night I have to say that they look very good on their own terms, and I'm thinking: They're going to grow.

I confess I'm already very fond of the first painting I show at the top.

NOTE: I woke up this morning, Saturday, thinking about one of the images I had uploaded above; I've now substituted "Remembering Our Great Dead Heroes" for "Not Yet Titled" because I was unhappy with the quality of my photograph of the latter]

Cheryl Donegan The Hard Night 2007 water-based oil on cardboard 20" x 16"

Cheryl Donegan Greatness is 1/3 2007 water-based oil on cardboard 24" x 18"

Cheryl Donegan Luxury Dust (Gold) 2007 gold tape on cardboard 25" x 18"

Oliver Kamm opened his fall lineup of shows with "Luxury Dust", an exhibition of paintings by Cheryl Donegan.

I was really looking forward to this show, and I loved it. [sorry for the brevity, but I'm going to try to be very economical with my time and texts for a while if I'm to even begin posting as many images as I would like during the current frenzy of openings, especially since even on the busiest weekend of the art year I still can't keep from doing angry political posts]

another site found to be invaluable as a ruin (the Reichstag burning, 1933)

"U.S. builds for future at Guantanamo"

GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) - The U.S. military is building a mobile courtroom complex on an unused runway at the Guantanamo Bay naval base and plans to be ready by March to conduct as many as three terrorism trials at a time.

I saw this horrific headline and its story early yesterday and I'll confess that my imagination immediately ran out of control. The first thing that came into my head was an association of these traveling units with the Nazi regime's Einsatzgruppen ("task forces"), the official euphemism used for the mobile killing units which followed its armies as they advanced into Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union during World War II.

I immediately checked the historical facts however and I was reminded that the Wehrmacht's portable units did not even pretend to have a judicial element. Still, the idea of the heroic conquerors of Fascism and Communism creating mobile courtrooms to hand out extra-judicial judgments against a group of people whom we've been concentrating together for years in an inaccessible extra-territorial prison camp drives me absolutely crazy! Don't these political villains and idiots have any sense of what this looks like? Or do they even care?

Of course to be fair to myself in my original call on this Reuters story, it's not as if we haven't been guilty of extra-judicial killing ourselves throughout the entire course of our war in Iraq, and much of it stinks of racism. I don't even have to talk about the crimes committed by frightened young soldiers introduced into an alien land without appropriate numbers or equipment and without a proper mission.

Sometimes we actually boast about our official bloodletting. This is from a July 29, 2003 post on Jurist:

Last week the US military assassinated Uday and Qusai Hussein in a villa in Mosul, Iraq. Hundreds of troops armed with automatic weapons, rockets, rocket-propelled grenades, and tow missiles, and dozens of vehicles and aircraft, attacked four people armed with AK-47 automatic rifles. Mustapha, the 14-year old son of Qusai, was also killed in the operation, along with another individual who was apparently a bodyguard.

. . . .

The assassinations prompted chest-thumping and back-slapping all around. Even Senator Ted Kennedy joined British Prime Minister Tony Blair, The New York Times and the Washington Post, in congratulating Bush on the good news.

Except for the distinct difference between their initial senses of judicial urgency, a more appropriate reference for the quickie tribunals we are finally planning to set up in Guantanamo after all this time would be a court we ourselves destroyed sixty years ago: The Nazi Volksgerichtshof ("People's Court") was also set up outside the operations of any constitutional frame of law and the record of its hideous procedures illustrates some of the same perversions of justice. The excuse for the establishment of this Nazi political court was what the government insisted was the danger its sworn enemies posed to the health and security of the population. The Reichstag fire, the destruction of a very visible national symbol, was described as an act of terror, and its partisans were supposedly everywhere.

The "People's Court" dispensed with ordinary juristic procedures and its indictments, its verdicts and its sentences were all determined by political dictate. Our own wheeled Cuban courtrooms will represent an ad hoc legal system that follows neither civilian nor military law, and it is outside the international laws of war established under any number of valid treaties, some in effect for well over a century. We know what it does follow, and that image should frighten us as much as it does its designated targets.

No, I'm not claiming that the contemporary U.S. is Nazi Germany, but at the current rate at which we are giving up our rights and our principles, I have to wonder what it is that we are we going to hold onto in order to be able to distinguish our system from the evil we once recognized in another?

[image from wikimedia]

Shane Hope Chromosome More Clipped Graphite on Atomolecularly Manufactured Cell-ecular Unfolded Docking Decoy Proteins vs. Microbially Scribbled Scriptable Ornamentally Challenged Secondary Structures and Superstring Art, molecules, 2030

Shane Hope Infomorphic Animolecular Flowchart Food Chain of Event Horizons "cause whatís the pointing the Anywayfinding Thanatophiliacamouflage Decoy Decay Rights in a Switchable Habitat that is an Untitled Molecular Assemblage No. -1/3.33"Ö, molecules, year 203_ [detail]

[full view]

Shane Hope Folk Computronium Laptop No. n+2.22¬Ö, paint and salvage, actual size, 1776 [large detail of installation]

Shane Hope Goo(f) Ball No π, dark matter demarcations on lesser dimensional bits of tree, year wheneverafter


Shane Hope Kate Kompatronium Kiddies (study) So glowing-growign up in metaprogrammiable mindsplaces thinkin' on nueral interfackes like explosions of fractal phaser phalange-paintings in tiny canonical crystilline light-wave strokes of perv'd-predictive meshes of manchild-in-the-middle hacks. They've lived throuhg loads oí simmable/searchable/switchable Compile-A-Childô packages. Most rarely bother trying to build presingularity earthy ergodynamic profiles of neural scatter-state vectors that which canít fit inside a skull anymore. xNeural-R-Usô brand add-on pluggend hairports disperse thought bubble halo-dust of morningstar memory-ghosts of exerternalized brane-brains

Hack-hopping proxy teleport servers, there ainít no traciní three-year-olds anymore ícause they leave-take blanks into public panopticon powder & lace little blobjects of Kill-Fill-Flow-Followô to unfold inexplicable malfunction peripheries. Commuication wití them requires cautiously accepting location-cached coordinate content advertisments/indicators that have been rumored to induce halting states. Oh, and they can stop ďUnaugsĒ from doing things at will and also tend to draw/build thingamajigs, morph-feral-fog-fabbed into ominous skinless things, all broken angelic-like bio-beastie battlebots.

And better beware of the Biot Babies. Any sufficiently advanced baby talk is indistingquishable from incantations.

outsourced oil on canvas, 72″ X 72″, Posted Two Thousand Sixty Whenever After [large detail of installation]

They're beautiful. But I'm thinking right now, maybe I can get away with not being able to come up with any intelligent comments on these works on the argument that their titles already occupy so much screen space. Naw, I'm just going to have to admit that my real reticence comes from having been totally humbled by the awesome intelligence and fertile imagination of the artist himself.

We visited Shane Hope's studio last month at the suggestion of Stephen Lichty, who has been appointed director of Project Gentili, a new Italian Kunsthalle opening this fall in Prato, outside Florence. The artist will be the space's featured artist in November. I'm going to be very sorry to miss that show.

His art is described by Hope himself as "outsider biotech", and I suppose the lengthy titles shown above (up to 13 lines) might be more useful to those who weren't as stuck in the liberal arts at school as I was. It's a pretty intense body of work, exhibited in a number of mediums, and the artist's passion suggests a mind and a way of life off of any grid of which I'm aware (I was told by Lichty that Hope has mastered his personal off-road BC wheel). I noticed a more conventional [?] model leaning near the door on our way out of his studio.

Although their images are significantly computer-generated, many of the more striking pieces are directed with a hand and a mind inspired by fictive extensions of extraordinarily-complicated scientific concepts. Hope's work is describing a future married to his own imagination, and I'm staggered by the beauty - and the terror - of both the design and its implications.

ADDENDA: This description of the molecular drawings is from Marisa Olson, who was writing about Hope's representation in Rhizome's installation at Scope NY in the spring of last year:

Shane Hope's drawings involve molecular modeling systemsócollections of techniques to model or mimic the behavior of moleculesóin a process whereby the three-dimensional architecture of molecules is interpreted (or predicted), visually represented, and manipulated.

[first and fifth images from outsider biotech]

a very rewarding friendship (Blessed Teresa greeting friend Charles Keating)

On this tenth anniversary of the demise of Mother Teresa, the acclaimed world-champion of suffering and death [whose lifer inmates were refused even aspirin, but who died only after availing herself of the very finest and most expensive medical treatment available in the West], I can no longer stay silent.

I've written at some length about the mutha before, and I was going to ignore the outrageous outpouring of memorials which have attended this happy date until just now, when I came upon an editorial in today's NYTimes with the oddly-equivocal headline, "A Saint of Darkness". This is ostensibly a secular journal, but it's a sappy paean and it ends with an extraordinary reference to the grotesque Catholic cult figure's supposed struggles against religious disbelief. These gilded lines would almost certainly embarrass even the National Catholic Reporter:

Mother Teresa, sick with longing for a sense of the divine, kept faith with the sick of Calcutta. And now, dead for 10 years, she is poised to reach those who can at last recognize, in her, something of their own doubting, conflicted selves.

And now, as we're told by the Church, her agent, she herself belongs to the gods.

But not so fast. There is another, less fictive take on this wretched creature than that so successfully hyped around the Western world. The Times editorial board itself may be of more than one mind on the subject of the "just-say-no-to-drugs-and-yes-to-Jesus nunnery fund-raiser and baptism zealot. On this same holy day, on the opposite page from the editorial they also publish an OP-ED piece by Chitrita Banerji, "Poor Calcutta", which delivers a very different slant on the story of the woman with the current Vatican title, "Blessed Teresa of Calcutta". Banerji is speaking first for the dignity of her hometown Calcutta [I share her love for that magnificent city], which she argues the scary nun and her fanatical acolytes have savaged in the public mind, but her defense requires some bluntness about the fundamental error of the campaign. Here are two excerpts:

[The worldwide condemnation of Calcutta over other cities] was an instance of spin in which the news media colluded — voluntarily or not — with a religious figure who was as shrewd as any fund-raising politician, as is evident from the global expansion of her organization. For Calcutta natives like me, however, Mother Teresa’s charity also evoked the colonial past — she felt she knew what was best for the third world masses, whether it was condemning abortion or offering to convert those who were on the verge of death.

. . . .

[Banerji writes that she had hoped that after the nun's death the balance of perception might be restored to her beloved city] Ten years and one beatification later, however, the relentless hagiography of the Catholic Church and the peculiar tunnel vision of the news media continue to equate Calcutta with the twinned entities of destitution and succor publicized by Mother Teresa. With cultish fervor, her organization, the Missionaries of Charity, promotes her as an icon of mercy. Meanwhile, countless unheralded local organizations work for the needy without the glamour of a Nobel Prize or of impending sainthood.

Once again, on the true nature of Mother Superior Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity: No medical care was given to any of the people to whom members of her oder "ministered"; the Mother had a creepy lust for suffering; even by its founder's own admission she was only interested in racking up the maximum numbers of "souls" for the next life; to that end any friendship, any kind of transaction was appropriate; and finally, the earthly Church she represented was not the compassionate institution imagined by many of her patrons, but rather one whose elements would be unrecognizable to even the most conservative of Catholics.

This sounds like they would want to create hell everywhere on earth; it would hardly seem to be a good advertisement for their regime in heaven, but what do I know about the attraction of marketing, fads, bandwagons or cults?

[image from]

untitled (seams) 2007

homage to Dan

pride-of-ownership emblem, or NYC-traffic-defense gizmo?

(but right, even laudable, if I paid women for quickies)

The Republicans have trashed and now unceremoniously sacked one of their very own worthy gentlemen for soliciting consensual, uncompensated sex with another person. Senator Craig was forced to resign only days after his sensational misstep (with another man) was reported in the media.

A year ago another model Republican, Representative Mark Foley, was hounded out of office for a peccadillo even less "awful" than that committed by the married-with-three-children Senator from Idaho. Foley, an unmarried man, sent suggestive emails and sexually explicit instant messages to young adult men who had formerly served or were at the time serving as Congressional pages.

A third Republican luminary, Senator David Vitter, admitted early in July to regularly soliciting the services of a female prostitute. There has been no investigation and no movement to oust Vitter from his elected position or party responsibilities, and in fact on his return to the senate floor later in the month Vitter was greeted with a standing ovation by his Republican peers.

Why is there such a difference in the way their colleagues treated these three members of Congress? Craig and Foley happened to be of what their former friends would call the homosexual "persuasion" but Vitter seems to be fixated on the role of lusty heterosexual.

Oh, there is the thing about the toilet venue of Craig's ruinous flirtation (Americans are obsessed with potties - all potties) and also the extraordinarily-significant fact that should Vitter resign his seat it would be filled by a Democrat named by the Democratic governor of Louisiana. Unfortunately for Craig the Governor of Idaho is a Republican. Foley's was an interesting case: It suggests that here the Republicans' sincere bigotry might have gotten the better of them since their hand-picked candidate to replace the homo failed to make it in the election which followed his resignation. Of course it could also have been the product of an excessive self-confidence, one which wouldn't have survived the last year of spiraling Republican disasters.

Of course I'm not going to contrast any of this with the Democrat's treatment of Jerry Studds and Barney Frank [neither lost his job], the Republican attitude toward Presidential sex, or toward Congressional corruption involving real crimes with real victims. And while I'm not speaking of real victims, I'm not going to speak about the real, countless, world-wide victims of the first eight and one half years of this Republican administration.

"Hypocrisy" is far too mild a word for this stuff.

[image by Tom Toles via Washington Post]

National Guardsmen firing into demonstrators during the 1894 Chicago Pullman strike* [contemporary Harpers Weekly drawing]

[Exactly five years ago today (I see now that it was almost to the minute) I did a post, "the real meaning of Labor Day". I think it's time to do it again. My own brief text was augmented with quotes from the site of Jim Lehrer's PBS show, NewsHour, a page which had appeared the year before. This year I've added an image.]

It's not the barbeque, and it's certainly not the traffic. It was born as an attempt to appease the working people of America. [Remember the Pullman strike in history class?] Unfortunately it seems to have worked too well.

The observance of Labor Day began over 100 years ago. Conceived by America's labor unions as a testament to their cause, the legislation sanctioning the holiday was shepherded through Congress amid labor unrest and signed by President Grover Cleveland as a reluctant election-year compromise.
Soon after, when the entire nation became thoroughly frightened by the bugbear of socialism and communism, the movement was de-radicalized. The real Left was gradually marginalized and almost totally eliminated from American culture and society. The workers' movement itself became middle class, before it acquired the material benefits and political power which that adjustment should have delivered. And there it languishes.
In 1898, Samuel Gompers, head of the American Federation of Labor, called it "the day for which the toilers in past centuries looked forward, when their rights and their wrongs would be discussed...that the workers of our day may not only lay down their tools of labor for a holiday, but upon which they may touch shoulders in marching phalanx and feel the stronger for it."

Almost a century since Gompers spoke those words, though, Labor Day is seen as the last long weekend of summer rather than a day for political organizing. In 1995, less than 15 percent of American workers belonged to unions, down from a high in the 1950's of nearly 50 percent, though nearly all have benefited from the victories of the Labor movement.

Happy Labor Day, but don't forget.

I haven't been able to find a really good compact summary of the strike anywhere on line, although there is this setting of the broader context in a discussion from Howard Zinn. I would definitely welcome any other suggestions. I can however offer information on some of the numbers involved in the physical conflict itself, quoted here from the Kansas Heritage Group:

The total forces of the strikebreakers both government and private were [against 100,000 strikers]: 1,936 federal troops, 4,000 national guardsmen, about 5,000 extra deputy marshals, 250 extra deputy sheriffs, and the 3,000 policemen in Chicago for a total of 14,186 strikebreakers. In addition to these figures there were also twelve people shot and killed, and 71 people who were arrested and sentenced on the federal indictment.
No picnic.

[image from Wikimedia Commons}

untitled (14 Mourning Doves) 2007

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