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5/19/14 01:22 am - LIKE NOW

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5/13/14 03:51 pm - thOze

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3/25/13 05:57 pm - The Unforgiving Minute

I’ve just returned to California and people are asking how New York went.
In a word: good.  The show looks sharp, and while the hours were limited,
I had a great time with the few people I saw.

For details, read on.


As you may or may not know, I had an exhibition scheduled to open in New York last November.
A hurricane however had its priorities.  As was the case for many a Chelsea space, Derek Eller Gallery was hard hit:
the basement storage completely flooded, many artworks destroyed, and the floorboards damaged
beyond repair.  Derek rolled up his sleeves to begin reconstruction
and to sift through waterlogged archives.  In January the gallery reopened
and we rescheduled The Unforgiving Minute for March. 


What an apt title!  Those cruel and speedy minutes ruled each day.
In this new time slot, my stay in New York was cut in half, because of work demands
waiting for me in California.  Having only one week in town,
the work period was twice as intense, and the social time ripped to nearly nothing. 


Because I lived in New York, I have a good deal of friends there,
so it’s expected that no matter how much time I have in town,
there will always be a few peeps I cannot find a good hour to hang out with.
This visit however was even more truncated.  I didn’t have the luxury to return even most text messages.
Buried in work: I woke at 8, and was immediately on the computer plotting out my trip to the gallery that day
and what stops I needed to make on the way to meet the crew by 11. 


I should explain that in every solo show I’ve ever installed there's a percentage
of work that comes together for the first time right there in the exhibition space.
So it’s not as simple as hanging a bunch of framed works on the wall
—though there's a good degree of that as well.  During the install
I make a series of creative decisions and buck up against the voices in my head;
voices on the verge of telling me to abandon ship.  They ride on waves of panic,
seeing every flaw as unfixable and screaming at me to either start from scratch,
or trash all hopes.  It’s like a reality show competition,
where creativity is forced to happen with insane deadlines
with the threat of being judged unworthy at the end
... except, in this case, I bring it onto myself. 


Why? 
I’m not masochistic. 
I swear. 

I think part of me sets up these situations because for the show to be interesting for me,
there has to be an element of risk.  Though this time the voices tried their best
to make me promise to give up that game.  After all, why does it have to be interesting for me?
“You are getting too old for this shit.  You need to resign to being an artist
whose work happens in the studio.  Ship it in and let someone else hang it.
Your tightrope days are OVER!”

In my fatigue I hear that voice loud and clear.


But it’s not as if I do these works because I’ve decided ahead of time
it will be a fun challenge to create under a metaphorical blindfold.
The reason for it is born more out of poor organizational skills.
I’m not as anal as my drawing style makes me appear.
The sculptural work I assemble on sight is planned ahead, somewhat,
but it finds a million divergences and unforeseeable obstacles in the course of being constructed.


The good news is, for The Unforgiving Minute, I’m happy with the ends.
That happens more and more.  It's true I'm not up to the sort of stress
I could once take; toiling away in the gallery day and night.
These days I absolutely need a minimal of seven hours sleep a night.
But what else is true is I’ve gotten more skilled at trouble shooting,
as well as better at not succumbing to the panic. 


It doesn’t help however that the biggest champion of my doubt is Derek, my gallerist.
But during this install we realized this year marks our 15th anniversary.  In that stretch
I have learned how to take his extremely valuable off-the-cuff suggestions,
which are delivered with an honest concern that the work embodies exactly what I want of it,
without being riddled with insecurities by the tone and phrasing of those suggestions.
“It looks pretty lousy, frankly.  But, you know, maybe that’s what you’re going for?”

My insecurities are still there, but I see them for what they are
and move forward.  “Yes, it does look bad,” says my more rational inner-voice,
“but I think I see how to fix that.”


I really could have used that extra week in NY though.
I’ll be immodest and repeat it: the show looks great.  It’s not 100% boasting anyway,
because it was a group effort, and I have many to thank.
But I could have used that week after the install
just to BE in New York.  I left the East Coast yesterday with no decent photographs of my work,
not having seen some of the friends I really wanted to connect with, and
having seen a few others so minimally that it was like licking the crumbs of a cake
without being allowed to take a bite. 


I would have liked to have been able to visit the show again after a couple of days off from it.
It would have been great to have tea with Nao and a beer with Patrick, to cook a meal with Anthony,
to invite a few friends to meet me somewhere for an impromptu party, to go gallery hopping with Nayland,
to eat some Ukrainian food, or Indian food, or soul food ... to buy a new shirt or pair of shoes,
to attend some reading or performance or even a movie ... you know?  I was physically in New York,
but it all happened so fast the only spaces I really spent any time in
was Derek Eller Gallery and Betty and Patrick’s home. 


Don’t get me wrong, the trip was good.  Josh came with me,
and that together with Betty and Patrick’s hospitality was a godsend.
No matter how stressed I got during work, at the end of the day I would meet up with Josh
who would hug me warmly and we would go home to make dinner at the apartment.
Betty usually got home a short while afterwards and would have such hilarious stories.
Laughter really is great medicine, and because of that daily dose I slept peacefully.


We did get a few fun side trips in, as well.  On our first day there,
the gallery workers were busy with de-installing the previous show, so we took in MOMA
and met up later with my NY bestie, Anthony Viti.  We met up one night
after an exhausting workday with Jennifer Locke, Tad Beck, and Grant Wahlguist.
I probably wasn’t ideal company, but their company was invaluable to me.
Thursday I gave a lecture at Brooklyn College, and got to finally meet a long-time Internet pal,
the extraordinarily talented, intelligent, and charming, Mitch Patrick.
Mitch, a student at Brooklyn College, was the one to set up the event.

I honestly did not have time for that excursion, but am happy for it. 


Then there was the opening madness on Friday.  I saw so many good people,
most of them less than three minutes each.  We had fun, but it made me sad, too.
The most asked question was “How long are you in town?”  I had to say again and again,
that I was leaving Sunday and my Saturday was booked.
Derek ordered some Mediterranean takeout and we hung out in the gallery after closing.
After that a handful of us went to one of the last days at the Rawhide.

The Rawhide was nuts!
Jorge Cortiñas, his former student Joshua Javier Guzmán,
Christian Huygen, Mitch Patrick, Anthony Viti, my Josh, Nao Bustamante,
and a crowd of rowdy strangers.  One ridiculous and handsome man came by at one point
and undressed a few of us (top halves).  The bar was packed with people
there to give the bar a found farewell, and we were saying our own hello/goodbyes
with beer and catch-up stories.


Because my working needs had dominated the week,
I let Josh pick all our Saturday destinations.
It was a nice relaxing last day: a few rooms at the Met,
a walk through the park, a rest in La Monte Young’s Dream House...

I did duck into the gallery
to take a few installation shots, but I suck at photography, so not many pictures turned out.
Hopefully Derek can step up to the bat (again) and correct that.  It felt odd,
having put so much work into that show, just to leave it.  Likewise,
this was the first time I ever installed something for Derek without spending any down time with him.
Ironically, though I had been in his gallery the whole week,
he was one of the friends I didn’t get to have any social time with. 


Sunday morning I said goodbye to New York.  Sad to not have more time there,
but feeling at least the work shines bright, thanks to the wealth of talent behind it:
Kevin Killian’s great script, the wonderful Poets Theater actors, and a damn sharp crew.
Their performances (acting and tech alike) have been given a fun and handsome installation
to frame and highlight their skills.  And now it’s there for NY to enjoy.


I’ll be back New York.  Maybe next time we can just skip to the pajama party.

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12/21/12 12:08 pm - two wrongs

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"In a race to the bottom, many conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate, and offend every standard of civilized society, by bringing an even more toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty right into our homes," LaPierre (pictured) said.

The Race to the bottom is a capitalist race for the consumer dollar, and LaPierre is a front-runner.  The NRA might have the word “Association” in their title, leading you to believe these are citizens arguing issues of rights, but a more honest acronym would be the NRI, the National Rifle Industry.  Guns and ammunition are big business and they stand to loose a lot in the face of weapons bans.  Like the cigarette industry, another industry that profits through knowingly peddling lethal weapons, they are willing to invest a lot to get you to believe that it is somehow not their product that is harmful but its misuse. 

If LaPierre seems to be pointing the blame at his best advertisers, it’s because he knows the film and the video game industries will receive no more than the sort of verbal slap on the wrist he himself is dolling out, and in times of crises one needs a scapegoat. 

His solution to solving school gun shooting sprees is unsurprising; he says we should place more guns in schools, in the hands of the “good guys” (his words).  By “we,” he means taxpayers.  That’s the greatest irony in this; LaPierre says “...can’t we afford to put a police officer in every school?”  This from a man whose political party has put into question the expense of teachers, textbooks, and educational television.  Obviously they (the NRA and the GOP) have a very altered view of the function of schools, since they think we waste money invested in improving education, but that investing in increased security is a no-brainer. 

The real scapegoat here is our schools.  In spite of how little is invested in education on a government level, schools are pictured as a drain on the economy in hard times.  While military spending (the largest investor in the NRI) balloons larger and larger regardless of the jobless rate.  And now LaPierre wants to ask that school budgets be divided even more to dole out for full-time police presence in every school?  If he believes that is an answer, and that it is a small price to pay for our children’s safety, why doesn’t he and the NRA/NRI foot the bill from the huge profits made off guns? 

Why?  Because he wants cops in schools so that there is more people to sell guns to (SELL not GIVE).  They will sell guns to the cops, and then to the parents and teachers who see the cops and think, “Is one armed policeman really enough?”  And then they will sell guns to the students, who learn from the cops, teachers, and their parents that guns are good in the right hands.  So then there are even more guns being sold, and if a few fall into the wrong hands, well, all the better to test the theory that an armed public is a safe public.

The truth is glorifying the gun’s power to solve the problem, will only make guns more present and increase the problem.  The problem being not only that guns are weapons that could murder you versus the notion they could defend you from murder; the problem being that the people profiting off of gun sales really don’t care who buys guns, only that they are bought, and in great numbers. 

LaPierre could have made any statement he wanted to today, including simply expressing sympathy to the victims and their families.  Instead he gave his first pitch in a plan to sell more guns.  This is capitalism at its ugliest: a man capitalizing on the fears that his very product is largely responsible for, and showing no remorse

9/24/12 02:54 pm - SILENCE





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One Year Performance 1978–1979 (Cage Piece)

In this performance, which lasted from September 29, 1978 through September 30, 1979, the artist locked himself in a 11′6″ × 9′ × 8' wooden cage, furnished only with a wash basin, lights, a pail, and a single bed. During the year, he was not allowed to talk, to read, to write, or to listen to radio and TV. A lawyer, Robert Projansky, notarized the entire process and made sure the artist never left the cage during that one year. A friend came daily to deliver food, remove the artist's waste, and take a single photograph to document the project. In addition, this performance was open to be viewed once or twice a month from 11am to 5pm.












Jennie C. Jones

With Absorb / Diffuse, her fall exhibition at The Kitchen in New York City, Jones uses actual sound and brings it into the physical realm with an arresting composition that is accompanied by a series of so-called acoustic paintings. From the Low is a powerful, affecting, and, at times, discomforting sound piece that emphasizes low-frequency samples gathered and appropriated from a number of sources from jazz, contemporary minimalism, and orchestral compositions to modern electronica. The low end in a song generally refers to the sonic space filled by a bass guitar or synthesizer. It is often the glue that joins the various instruments and voices together. The low end can be a subtle bed of warmth. When pushed to higher volumes, those same frequencies can tap into darker (i.e., foreboding) territory, subtly or not so subtly affecting the listener’s emotional state, and even his or her breathing. As I write this, an unseen car passes by, leaving a low throbbing bass line in its wake. The walls rattle, as do my inner organs. Bass frequencies are pervasive and potentially invasive.

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Bruce Nauman, Mapping the Studio I (Fat Chance John Cage) 2001

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Meshes of the Afternoon   (1943), Maya Deren
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