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|Sunday, March 3rd, 2013|
|Samuel Bayer at Ace Gallery
Ace Gallery Beverly Hills held a preview exhibition of the Samuel Bayer photography exhibit on Saturday night.
Doug Chrismas explained to me that the reason the public opening for the reception is listed as Sunday night was that the gallery invited the artist's rolodex for the Saturday opening and the gallery's rolodex for the Sunday opening.
Samuel Bayer has a degree in Fine Art form SVA in New York but changed the course of visual culture directing two of the most groundbreaking, distinct, influential music videos in the history of the genre: Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit
(where he famously locked horns with Kurt Cobain over the direction, relenting to Cobain's much darker, anarchic version) and Blind Melon's No Rain
(aka the Bumblebee video).
He subsequently directed commercials and movies at a rarified level of success, but the fine art demon gnawed in his belly all the while, finally landing him in the lap of Los Angeles fine art luxury - a solo show at Ace Beverly Hills.
The exhibit is of models photographed in triptych and enlarged - with shaved pudenda and navel at eye level. The consistency of each pose echoes in the precise consistency of each artwork. In the back room, one of the portraits hangs at normal, life-size (each portrait is available in editions of the life-size and larger than life size).
Using this life-sized portrait as a gauge to test the art minus the artist's use of scale, I found the cool, forward eye contact of each nude model reminiscent of the veiled intimacy Richard Avedon rendered in his portraits, where the desire of the viewer to become more intimate with the subject underscores photography's nature as an illusionary medium.
Having passed the scale test, then, the installation of these massive portraits is a riveting reinterpretation of the gaze... viewer being scrutinized as deeply as one might visually engorge one's self of the flesh.
|Sunday, January 27th, 2013|
|I Always Turn The Station When These Bands Come On The Radio
I flip the station a lot, but ALWAYS flip the station before I have to listen to four bars of music of any of these bands:
Phil Collins (solo)
Huey Lewis and The News
|Friday, December 28th, 2012|
|Lunar Hospital Odyssey
They shaved me in places I had never shaved, taped and bandaged and medicated this body, this earthly shell. They stuck a machine in me to make the whole thing work better. Adam Smith would point out my greed for more days on this earth as the motivation to go thru an ordeal that stretched what was acceptable for my skin bag of sticks, mush and personality.
I was in the passenger seat on the ride home. The full moon was rising over the freeway. It was fat and perfectly round and silver like Eisenhower's face was about to be be embossed on it.
And that was why I did it, why I went thru the stabbing, cutting, poking, prodding and now following up for decades to come. To see that moon rise, to know other worlds while sticking around in this one. The red brake lights were glowing in the dusk of this world and the Moon just grew, assuring me that if the only thing I lived for from here on out was a few encounters with sublime beauty, all of the constipation, blood, maddening uncertainty of medical bills, paramedics certain I am on crystal meth, dances with insurance wolves and all the nausea the endless rhythm of fluid nausea, that they were all worth it because even if there is a heaven there isn't a silver moon there, there isn't one here really, but there is one nearby here, it is out there.
And there it all is.
|Tuesday, December 4th, 2012|
|The Effective Way to Scorn NY Times Critic Ken Johnson
We appreciate you taking the time to submit your most recent post. Unfortunately, we are going to pass on it for publication at this time, and will look forward to your next submission.
Huffington Post blog team
This is the first article of mine that the Huffington Post has declined to publish... There could be one or a few reasons why, read it for yourself and draw your own conclusions...
There are times when figures with cultural clout inadvertently stumble into public discussions about touchy subjects, brandish some garden variety ignorance and find that they suddenly have less capital and fewer, frayed connections.
Do you recall the quick end to the legacy of sports commentator Jimmy the Greek, gloating to a camera and microphone about his knowledge of the upside to the nineteenth century slave trade?
Do you remember the live Nightline appearance of Dodgers General Manager Al Campanis refusing to get out of the hole Ted Koppel let him dig, insisting ever deeper that African Americans were too dumb to work in baseball management? In both these instances, a man of stature sent himself to the village idiot stockade. The outrage was immediate, vocal and effective in challenging outright ignorance delivered as fact. Pipsqueak lamentations of free speech trampling ignored that nothing was silenced in the insistence that responsibility be shackled to that oh-so precious freedom.
And so this week the art world has been handed it's Jimmy the Greek and Al Campanis moments all rolled up into an ongoing parade of ignorance by a prominent art critic. How the art world responds to this will mark a cultural moment in time. Will this be seen as an era where willful and proud ignorance can be paraded by a leading intellectual and left unchallenged? Do we live in a decade where those old, tired strategies of petitions and boycotts allow the bigots equal stature in the popular media's simulated democracy? Or do we live in a time where we force our intellectuals to swallow the poison they secrete?
Ken Johnson, art critic for the New York Times
, trashed two recent exhibitions that dealt with race. Of course a critic should go at it, but in doing so, Ken Johnson channeled Al and Jimmy. In his review of "Now Dig This"
(LINK TO ARTICLE
), a show of what Los Angeles African American artists were making in the 1960s, he shackled the whole identity of black America to its politics and freed the white man to make art for art's sake. A money quote:
(The exhibit) divides viewers between those who, because of their life experiences, will identify with the struggle for black empowerment, and others for whom the black experience remains more a matter of conjecture. Those who identify may tend to respond favorably to what those viewing from a more distanced perspective may regard as social realist clichés, like the defiant fist.
What he is saying is that, for "THEM", art is always political and Ken can't look at their art objectively because... well because they are black.
Maybe he was auditioning for Fox News, but more likely he was earnestly crafting a critique that revealed his contempt for artists outside his true cultural circle. Since Ken Johson vulgarly stereotypes, allow me to return the favor in pointing out that the suffocating insularity of New Yorkers like Ken Johnson long ago unplugged that city's claim to incubating any cultural zeitgeist.
If it were but a one-time thing we could shrug it off as just another cocky New Yorker in daily Vinny Barbarino strut, excited to give us details about how cool Studio 54 was like his city's great disco days are still the high water mark of western civilization.
But the shackled non-white artist is a pattern with Johnson. In 2010, Ken Johnson was scorning La Raza
in his scolding review of "Phantom Sightings"
(LINK TO ARTICLE
), a sprawling museum show of Chicano art that embraced conceptual strategies and presentation methods. His tisk-tisking is predicated on the demonstrably obscene assertion that a few inclusive group shows of minorities in the 1970s solved race relations and ended racial identity association forever. Didn't you get the memo? Some of Ken's best friends danced with black and brown people at Studio 54, these "mod"
New Yorkers are "with-it"
Like the best culture being produced in America today, "Now Dig This" and "Phantom Sightings" were created in Los Angeles and then travelled to New York City. This is a dialogue between the city of the 21st century and the city of the 20th century. An enlightened Los Angeles mines the fertile territory of diversity's present. An ignorant New York City winces when reminded that people the color of their help are delivering their own visions of the world, not some yesteryear disco fantasy of a token minority show in a New York institution way back when Ken Johnson freed the slaves.
And so action is required. What is to be done? Shall we sign a petition? There is an online petition circulating. In 2012, signing a petition is like going to a church and lighting a candle. You get a warm feeling about being a part of something bigger than yourself and then nothing changes but your own self opinion and the distance between you and that original concern.
Is there something to boycott? Should we all boycott the New York Times? Oh dear god it took strength to even write out such a pathetic example of what some would clamor for as a sign of activism and commitment to "the cause". Rhetoric demands such strength of a writer but it reveals the weakness of true options in the face of the power of major media monoliths like Kenny-J's employer.
There is no boycott in the age of occupy. Just as there should be no collegial politeness to an exercise of ignorance riding in the limousine of published raw power.
And so I offer you this simple phrase, to those who care about dignity as much as they do about aesthetics, culture and the transformative power of the creative experience. My only response to the obscene black and white double standard of Ken Johnson's world view is to forevermore call him Klan Johnson. Try it for great results! You cannot have a polite cocktail chat about the Sunday Times with the WASPs at the club if you correct Muffy when she mispronounces his name "Uh, not to interrupt, but I think you mean KLAN Johnson, his pen wears a white hood and his words burn crosses."
Instead of signing a petition, instead of telling history that this decade let shit slide with regressive do-nothing tactics and the politics of acquiescence, stand the fuck up and make this man's name mud. Worse than mud. Put this man in the Klan where he belongs. Make these old, ensconced gatekeepers responsible for the dimwitted parading of their ignorance. Make them stutter on camera like the doddering Mister Campanis still clinging to the Missouri Compromise. Klan Johnson might not even be welcome at the galleries if everyone shamed him. What clan would then have him if the art world stands up and says "not us"?
|Monday, November 19th, 2012|
|Thursday, November 1st, 2012|
|Karen Finley Presents SEXT ME IF YOU CAN
KAREN FINLEY'S SEXT ME IF YOU CAN DEBUTS AT MIAMI PROJECT IN DECEMBER
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Contact COAGULA CURATORIAL at (424) 2-COAGULA for interview opportunities and more images.
KAREN FINLEY will be performing SEXT ME IF YOU CAN at The Miami Project Art Fair, December 7-9 in Coagula Curatorial’s booth (#901).
Exhibitionist art collectors looking for portraits of their privates can discreetly send images to one of America’s most controversial and widely known artists when visiting the Miami art fairs this December. Karen Finley will be painting images that art fair-goers sext to her (“sexting” is sending intimate images from a cellphone camera to a friend via text messaging software).
(is this YOU? Did YOU Sext this pic to Karen? Well WHO did?)
Be it one “big” part of you, a lover on the couch, a hooker on the clock or your birthday suit as nature delivered it, the chance to be an exhibitionist and be memorialized in paint by a living legend of contemporary art has arrived in Karen Finley’s SEXT ME IF YOU CAN.
This interactive painting performance will feature an on-site art studio where Ms Finley will be receiving sexted images on her cellphone from anonymous art collectors looking to transform their most private poses into commissioned fine art paintings. Visitors to the fair can privately purchase a code and phone number to sext Ms Finley at the Coagula Curatorial booth.
In this studio at Coagula Curatorial’s booth in Miami Project, the artist will be painting on canvas her interpretations of the images she receives. The work will be on display at the booth as will her process of revealing what a private exhibitionist wants her (and the denizens of the Miami fairs) to see.
The phenomena of sexting blurs traditional distinctions of intimacy. The exhibitionist urge of the sender challenges the receiver not to show the sent image to anyone else. Or does it? Do those sexting pictures of their privates secretly hope to appear nude to all the world? Traditional definitions of intimacy are obsolete under the specter of technology and power relationships are in flux when freedom and control are stored on a microchip.
Karen Finley’s SEXT ME IF YOU CAN revels in the chaos of new forms of transgression available to the general public reviving the maligned medium of painting as a potent and vital tool of social change and its documentation.
In an era of social intervention dominating the art dialogue, Finley boldly returns the act of painting and the artist’s commitment to studio practice to the center of this technologically-enabled social intervention.
As a pioneer of performance art but schooled in painting, drawing and other fine art mediums, Finley insists on returning the nature of performance out of the traditional theater, away from the purely experiential and into a definite act of art-making. In her fifth decade as a leading performance artist she is determined to bring the art back into performance.
Karen Finley is an artist, performer and author. Born in Chicago she first took life drawing at the Chicago Art Institute as a teen and received her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. She works in a variety of mediums such as installation, video, performance, public art, visual art, music and literature. She has performed and exhibited internationally. Finley is also interested in freedom of expression concerns, visual culture and art education and lectures and gives workshops widely. The author of 8 books including her latest work of creative nonfiction; Reality Shows published by Feminist Press 2011. She is the recipient of many awards and grants including a Guggenheim Fellowship. She is an arts professor in art and public policy at New York University
ABOUT THE GALLERY: Coagula Curatorial is located on the Chung King Road row of contemporary art galleries in Downtown L.A.’s historic Chinatown neighborhood. Founded on the twentieth anniversary of the underground Los Angeles publication Coagula Art Journal, the gallery’s program is an array of new art by emerging and established artists.
ABOUT THE ART FAIR: Miami Project debuts with 65 galleries in a 65,000-square-foot space in Miami proper, a short drive from Art Basel Miami Beach in the Wynward District at NE 1st Ave and NE 30th St, next to Art-Miami.
|Monday, July 30th, 2012|
|410 Boyd - The Curse of Cocola
Living in a city too long can keep you tethered to memories and make the world make less sense than if you had forgotten whole years. The blur of time can be your friend. Sometimes when you have the flu or some other painful condition that puts you in bed but keeps you conscious, just the littlest memory of the way the light came in a window at some place you used to frequent is enough to deaden the physical pain for a minute or two. You can go somewhere else and wonder what might have happened and where you might be now if you had stayed a little longer at the bar or ordered another round or gone to that party you heard about while you were drinking there. And you know the story now of how it all turned out, or at least most of it, so the memories of places in the city at the start of your movie are vivid and magical. And your memories of the people in your life when you encountered them at these places are sometimes the only things that don’t blur in your recollection.So you drive past a storefront and you recall the time you met some famous person right there or maybe it is the spot where some girl who never called you promised to call you or it might be the square of sidewalk where something so private occurred that you would never tell a soul and a tear forms in the corner of your eye as you hope the light ahead turns red so you can wipe it away and wipe the whole recollection away.But some tiny corners of the city take longer to die. You go there and you go back there and you live a little there and maybe you even live it up there but instead of a blurry memory as you are looking for parking two decades later, there it is. And you might go there less often and the adventures you have there might be nowhere near as fantastic years on as they were when the opening credits of your adulthood had just rolled, but the fact that it is still there, that it kind of looks the same, that the echo of all the laughter still bounces around and reminds you of people from the past, people you cannot name and people you might name your children after, that person you hated, you pined for and that one you thought was your friend.The ownership might change and they could even add a patio or lower the lighting, and definitely change the menu every few months, but if some things stay the same then it is still the same moment in time as the time your hand was on a thigh of someone you never thought would allow it there and the people who went on to die years ago are still walking and drinking and giving you the seductive glance to join the widening circle of self destruction and you take the menu from the waiter’s hand realizing that you might not have been good at much in life but you were great at avoiding the complete obliteration that they had found so smoothly and the relief of not having met with the bad luck seems like a blessing until the thought that the bad luck could be a day away intrudes - but you have to tell the server what you want to drink and then you forget what you were thinking about and you call the mood you are suddenly in wistfulness as you stare into space at the person across the table from you who has no idea that the poison of the city has seeped deep into your tissue and pinched your every tendon with regret. You are with this person, in fact, to dilute that regret in a pleasant present and ever-hopeful future. It is just that you wanted to get a drink and dinner and now you are fighting for a breath of fresh optimism.Nothing about it strengthens you. No matter how much you have gone on to win, earn, be given, stolen or lucked upon, when you are back there, there are parts of you that are still nobody, still vulnerable and still unsettled despite all the time and and all your wisdom. And if you have a shred of regret, a wondering of what might have been, a furious agony over losing that opportunity, that decade, that perfect companion, the toxic nostalgia of these time capsules buried in the city and open to the public unaware of the pain they cause after a decade’s use can be fatal to the soul, the spirit; walking in the door can alone kill any reason that you have for going on.And yet, for whatever reason, on whatever whim and usually out of a lost habit and terrible suggestion, you end up back at “this place”, and if you are really stuck in a rut of the town you never left “these places”. Almost the worst case scenario is that the menu or waiter has not changed. The same waitress means you really are in a movie and your agent can get the bit player a buyout if she cramps your Oscar chances. The worst case scenario is that someone from back then is there. Back then should really stay “back then” and there are scores of literary efforts and court cases backing me up here. And the person from your past cannot do anything to make it better. If he or she runs up and genuflects and reminisces about that conversation you two had twenty years ago that changed a life for the better and that your brilliance has created a superior reality for the small segment of the world he or she has subsequently touched, you will still feel robbed for having gone twenty years wondering how to make sense of this world and of course, might feel slightly uncompensated for the great achievement you bequeathed to humanity. But you know that this terrible best-case-scenario is not going to happen. You will see someone form back then and be reminded of a low level misery in the person of this person and the only cure is to not walk through the door. But you did, you are seated, your drink is here, your date might be wondering if he or she did something to make you a little flustered and if you are generally not prone to melancholy you are about to look quite irritable.A person from your past should only be encountered on neutral ground. On the internet. At a convention with lots of foot traffic. In a casino on the Las Vegas strip near the exits. When you are back in the same old place and this person is there too, it is a terrible combination. Neither of you will believe it is a coincidence and will likely stumble to address some unfinished business or relive some past glory, tragedy or incident involving a crime neither of you could have ever committed. You might try to win an old argument and this person might remind you about the insulted honor of someone you disregarded. What good can come from any of this? What temporary warm feeling will not last more than a moment before a cold pall of contempt appears? You are not on your own turf and neither is this person. You are both on a remnant of fate’s turf called “what might have been”. Your date likes the drink, do you?I drank and ate at this one place many times. It was just pricey enough that I didn’t go there often and just great enough that I had to go there often. The food was never bad, the bar was a mirrored altar to leaving this world behind for a friday night buzz to the heavens and there were the people. Three deep at the bar every night in 1988 and waiting an hour to get a table, sauced on two cocktails when they ordered the appetizer, getting two-thirds of their pasta wrapped because four cocktails could have been split between sixteen people and brought each a nice quick high. And the cancerous romance of the cigarette smoke until that was banned, taken outside for an elite that truly was there to announce that they were risking it all. I took almost every second date I had there and held off heading off to there when I knew I could only afford two drinks. That time Maria and I found your wallet in the gutter with $180 in it we both looked at each other and knew there was only one place to go. Cocola. They later changed the name to 410 Boyd but in 1987 it was Cocola and you couldn’t eavesdrop on any other booth as the thunder of conversation created a slapping sound against the minimal white concrete and glass and black slate decor. And the first time you heard about it you wondered why anyone would drink anywhere downtown besides Al’s Bar and the girl who was just out of your league would talk about her love for White Russians and Al’s Bar was a beer bar and two nights later you were showered and wearing something that you thought was mildly stylish but would look hilarious in a stack of polaroids in a shoebox that you know some coked-up goofball was taking of the LA nightlife back then. And if you bought the girl the white russian you never got what you might have dreamed it would get you and it got her a little more used to getting what she wanted.
People who haven’t done a damn thing with their lives will throw around words like “important” and “historic”. Josef Stalin made history. Not many other people have. These civic historians get whiny when you tell the story of one of these poisonous memory vacuums and you leave out telling their story. Well too bad, I have my own stupid stories about dodging responsibility and your stupid story ends up with some illusion of you as a hero and a stud and you are neither and the proof is that you believe in restaurants being important and planting your ass there every night for six months being history. The tequila sunrise that they never charged you for because the bartender forgot after he had to run out after the three guys getting into the limo because they hadn’t paid the bill is not history. It is your own magical moment that made you cope with your mortality a little easier. And you never felt guilty about not paying for that drink but you always wondered if he or someone was going to chase you out of the bar and demand you pay for it. By the middle of 1993 nobody was going anywhere Downtown and there were no distractions and you paid for every drink and there was no hot girl mooching white russians off of any guy in any bar east of Hollywood, I am not going to get into the LA debate of where the westside starts. For me it started at the 110 freeway. I moved near Downtown in 1986 and I refuse to romance its rubble but it beats anywhere else.But after 1993 or so, you went there a lot less. And I went there even less than you did. But a year didn’t go by where I didn’t go there. Somewhere along the line the idea that the sleek minimal decor had to have art hanging up occurred to someone. Actually there was always a little art moving thru the place. Someone would put up some pictures for a month or two. When they were building what they called Library Tower, the tallest skyscraper in Los Angeles, the eighty-plus story white thing that was once the First Interstate Building but now I am not even going to waste my time googling what they call it, some artist had some pleinair landscape oils of the skyline with that thing rising, half constructed, cranes painted on, three quarters finished in a sunset, steel beam skeleton in a sunrise, it was kinda neat. I was an idiot pontificating against extending Impressionism to whatever poor soul would listen and Maria would smoke and listen and years later someone else would put up with whatever rant I would muster against whatever was on the walls there and anywhere else. But late in the 90s they officially defiled the cement walls and tried to have official art shows with pretensions to gallery traditions and artists promoting their shows and there I would be taking pictures of everyone who had gone there years ago going there once again. I have pictures of people there and then pictures of them there five years later and ten years later. People drinking, smoking, laughing, making faces, holding a lover tight, looking suspiciously at the lens of the camera, making a kissy face. There is one picture from not too long ago (unless you weren’t born then) and in this picture are only people who are now dead. There are plenty of dead relationships in their prime and a few where the relationship is dying right in front of the camera.
And so the people might always be there and as my hearing leaves a little bit more each year the place only gets louder no matter if they are not even one deep at the bar. The art on the walls doesn’t muffle anything and never looks good and even if it sells it could have just gone out of the artist’s studio for a hundred percent profit, there was no enjoyment of the pictures like there was of the steaks and the drinks and the green apple tart and the tiramisu and the ahi salad because your date is trying to eat healthy as she excuses herself for a cigarette outside and the art is no match for the girls, were we ever really that young and did we really do all that shit to our bodies that we are paying for so dearly for now? It got so bad that I could never go to the bathroom there. I had a really bad trip there and those hexagonal tiles in the men’s bathroom flew past me and underneath them there was nothingness, real nothingness. Oh it was a bad trip, a real bad trip, a trip to make me only drink and I went back to just drinking after that, drinking heavily, and went back even after I quit drinking and I couldn’t do it, I could not go into the bathroom and then Emmeric painted a mural in there, a distinctive mural of his expressionistic madness and I went in to see it, to see the art, and had to look up up up at the ceiling and see it with the bottom thirty percent of my retinas because seriously, I was laying on that floor when they dragged me out of there back in the summer of 1988, they carried me out the door and three steps into the parking lot and the tall bartender with the ponytail and the girl’s glasses he just pushed me a little in the direction of San Pedro and my little trip went off to Little Tokyo.
So even Emmeric couldn’t save me from those tiles and then I had to piss one time, and this was three liters of gatorade from the late afternoon in there, I had to piss so bad and I peaked into the bathroom and those tiles were waiting to unleash the emptiest nihilism-inducing black hole unreality of nonexistent nothingness and it wasn’t a flashback it was like a memory of a bad dream that had happened, way badder than the $8.50 1987 White Russians that girl downed and then wouldn’t even talk to me. But it was 2002 and I had to piss and they had televisions in there which they did not have in 1988 when Scott the pot dealer actually brought in a TV set to watch his A’s beat the Dodgers until they didn’t and everyone told me people threw food at him after the Kirk Gibson homerun. I was at Seafood Bay on Soto Street with my parents that night. That is long gone too. So I went outside and thought about pissing in the parking lot and that was not going to happen and it was skid row beyond the lot, the 410 Boyd bubble of upper middle class civilization was a tiny bubble and I walked fast down the sidewalk and closer to the cardboard box homes of the crack addicts, the tents with luggage outside and I pissed against a wall. And if it had been a movie a cop would have pulled up and flashed a light on me and hilarity would have ensued. And if it had been a television show I would have met a homeless guy and found a deeper part of my existence and still managed to keep colonial consciousness in place. But the movie in your life doesn’t really happen when you are almost forty and are going back to some old haunt because some friends had an art show there. So nobody saw me piss, I got back into my booth at 410 Boyd before the dessert arrived and avoided the hexagon devil of my mind.You see, every visit became a chore of fighting the past. But the food was always good or even very good and once in a while it was even great. And even if I didn’t drink my dates were always down for a glass of wine or a cocktail and this place impressed them and there is nothing like living in the now and watching her smile after the second sip and it is hindered by that idiot waddling over, putting his hand on my shoulder and slurring some crack about the time they threw food at Steve the pot dealer and I don’t correct him that it was Scott and every dollar I spent here suddenly mocks me for not investing in Apple stock and staying home and drinking Lowenbrau which wasn’t even really Lowenbrau, and I did plenty of that, I didn’t go to Cocola every night, I didn’t go to the Boyd every night, I stayed home and passed out with the sixth Lowenbrau half-drank many times and this idiot chuckling thru his own buzz with his own delusions that necessitate squeezing my shoulder is making me regret ever having had any fun in my life. Is this what being German at an Anselm Keifer exhibit is like?I went to Cocola after I went to the first MOCA press preview I ever crashed, it was for that awful show A FOREST OF SIGNS and there I was, drinking with art people, talking about art, and someone buying drinks and in a way I was kind of born that night. And I could tell you who was there and what was said and how the interesting mix of gossip about the people in the show and at the museum merged with the analysis of the art, how it all just turned me on, made me feel that new level of being alive, how the worst moment of my life, the hexagons, the tiles, the fucking tiles, was two hundred feet away from the greatest moment of my life up to that point, being in a real conversation about art with real art people and being accepted as someone because they had seen me at the press preview and I could make jokes about people who ordered Lowenbrau and expected the real European version of the beer.And that was all five years after I had first set foot in the place. There was a lot more in life ahead and every time I went there I would encounter what was and the more I changed the more it stayed the same and the haunting din of the dead, the subsequently fattened, the grown old-bitter-ugly, the moved-on, the-still-there-and-now-too-judgmental, the drama that possessed people to fight old battles and play outdated games that inspired long-solved riddles. And one night I told this sober guy we should go there for a bite, could he handle being around the booze and he said “yeah” and he had a wife and I had a girlfriend and we could have gone to the Pantry and we went there instead and two kind of hot girls just ran up and hit on us and the waiter said the kitchen was closed and he looked at me and I looked at him and we drove off to the Pantry. How come that never happened in the 1980s? The curse of Cocola. The curse was that Cocola always dangled something there I couldn’t have, the center of the scene when I was broke, a hub of culture when I was stoned, a wild party when I was sober, a nostalgia trip when I was actually doing my own thing and a brothel when I was monogamous.So today, 2012, we got a restaurant recommendation from Scott, not Scott the Pot Dealer, to try the new place that is there. Alright, it had been a while, a long while, despite all the ghosts, the cement walls glowing white and the long bar beckoned with a glimmer of connecting with the magic of the past. And free parking on Sundays. Opening the door was like attending the happiest funeral one could imagine. The afternoon light that had set up many a bizarre drinking story was blocked out. The white walls had wood paneling. WOOD grain? If there is anything that is the opposite of cold minimal glass and black slate tabletops and concrete walls with or without lifeless art, it is wood, recently alive in a forest and got the annual ring to show it. Wood. The whole establishment is wood. Wood floors, wood walls, wood table tops, wood bar, wood bar stools, would wall ornamentation behind the bar. A few hints of the old place are there, the mirror on the back of the bar is still there, yes I know that it replaced the big yellow Bob Zoell painting that replaced the massive John Chamberlain wall piece (and again, this is my story, not yours, so I am not going to get into the lore surrounding how that masterpiece was absconded with, but will admit that it would make a great “New Yorker” article that Anthony Haden Guest could write, get rejected and slip in as a chapter to some book about the art world that is actually cobbled together rejected “New Yorker” articles, oh wait he already did that). The booths still have that pleasant width separating them so you never feel some stranger elbowing you from behind and so some old friend or foe from the past can set his or her drink down but not set it down on your table when the interruption arrives. The black concrete ceiling is still the same and the exposed aluminum air-conditioner vents abound, but the soft wood dulling the conversation and the menu basically existing as a hipster Denny’s is about as far from that Nicoise salad and creme brulee that American cuisine allows for. The bar is the bar, I didn’t go snooping to see if they had the same bottle of Chambord that that short blonde manager with the broken nose hid a bottle of pills behind. Try a Gin and Chambord with soda. That is what Maria and I had with the $180 bucks that was still in your wallet, sorry. Leigh ordered something with tequila called a Diablo today and said it was great. The place is called “The Hideout” now. The theme is self-aware Western. It is dark, cozy and a tick or two above quiet. The infamously long bar is intact. But it is not the same and nobody form the 80s or 90s was there. Can we assign Cocola to the history pile yet?Yes we can. Because, best of all, the hexagon tiles have been removed from the bathroom. I took a piss today standing on cold concrete and knew that the past was an hallucination I could finally lay to rest.
|Friday, July 20th, 2012|
|Preparing for Karen Finley Performance
Lots of prep, never done a serious theater-like presentation in a gallery...
She will be projecting images and then making an image which will be broadcast onto the television while she makes it.
The gallery wall is lined with her art...
It should be a fun night.
|Wednesday, June 27th, 2012|
|MOCA Fires Curator Paul Schimmel
As I blogged about at CoagulaDotCom, the
shuttering of ArtNetDotCom is no longer the top art story of the week.
Paul Schimmel was fired at MOCA - it was the end of the fiscal year and they tightened the belt. It is easier to have a corporate sponsor pay a guest celebrity curator - the curating has been outsourced.
The design department is outsourced to Sheppard Fairey’s design company, the education department gets grants and therefore competes with the Board for power so people there are being hacked away left and right, but the cutting off of Schimmel is a bold move by the Jeffrey Deitch/Eli Broad consortium to advance the outsourced party time event based museum that will not function as a repository of great art but of great parties.
If Moca is downsized into a celebrity-curated kunsthalle style circus, it will give the blue chip Broad across the street more Gravitas. And then of course when MOCA is broke yet again - who will save MOCA by purchasing the best paintings in the collection because the museum is more concerned with event programming? The Broad Museum across the street of course.
Schimmel changed the course of institutional focus with his exhibit HELTER SKELTER which favored the energy of figurative art addressing American abjection. With that one exhibit he rejected the party line of a formalist art history and the floodgates of curatorial freedom opened on the institutional level. For that alone he will have an impact that goes beyond his years.
But he curated some turkeys, too. Richard Serra told me that Schimmel's 1998 Out of Action exhibit would have made a better enyclopedia than an exhibition. Schimmel's cotton candy Takahashi Murakami exhibition was downright suspicious with the close involvement of the artist's American dealers and a high-end commercial boutique in the middle of the museum allegedly functioning as an art piece and yet taking in thousands of dollars a day. The show closed and suddenly MOCA was broke. Schimmel survived the Jeremy Strick departure as he had the plausible deniability of picking the art and not courting the donors. The problem soom became that his "really big shows" did not pack the superficial glitzy wallop of Jeffrey "Showtime" Deitch. Once untouchable he had avoided the intrigue of palace politics too long. They came for him, he was a lone wolf in the court of Pope Eli with no allies except the art world, ever distant from the internal workings of the easy celebrity worship ruling the MOCA board these days.
I wrote about Schimmel for the LA Downtown News and got into trouble for mentioning how fat he was in an article called "Curator Rates the Eats". His wife thaked me a few years later sayin she could never get him to the gym until that came out. MOCA pulled my press credential and I was barred from the Ellsworth Kelly retrospective press preview. That week a trustee who was going to be out of town gave me his invite to the big party. Paul almost crapped his tuxedo when they let me in... Actually MOCA events were always easy to crash with the whispered missive "I've got a delivery of an ounce of pot for Paul Schimmel, I can't just hand it to you and he has GOT to get it for the afterparty." Worked like a charm for many MOCA soirees. After today, though, would-be party crashers will be reduced to sucking-off Sheppard Fairey's douchebag posse for a pass into MOCA's big events - which now kind of blur a Hollywood version of what casting agents might think an art party at a bottle-service Vegas Strip nightclub should look like.
My bet is Schimmel lands on his feet running the Mike Kelley Foundation. What is that? You'll see.
|Saturday, June 16th, 2012|
|ACADEMIA IN THE ARTS
I just wrote this in a discussion FaceBook
and wanted it to exist somewhere else:
Academia once had a stranglehold on information. As that broke down (because of the net primarily)
, the myths that professors helped you out were propped up (they don't, you are their future competition, they might even sabotage you)
as was the "peer networking fallacy" (your colleagues will stab you in the back the first chance they get once they realize they can never thoroughly use you to get ahead of you and all your professors)
. Without a monopoly on access to information and with nothing special about the people you will meet, most colleges are scrambling to add professional practice courses to balance what pretty much always was a two year groupthink summer camp est program with pretend smarty pants seriousness. The only way to get ahead in the creative fields is to burnish your talent and be mentored by those who know which truths are myths, which myths are bullshit and which unspoken truth can be whispered to the deserving instead of sold to the trustafarians.
|Thursday, February 16th, 2012|
|Valentine's Day New Normal
So here was my plan for Valentine's Day... we drive to Union Station. We take the red line train to Hollywood to see THE ARTIST
at the ARC-LIGHT
theater a short walk from the Vine Street station. Then we walk over to a curated art show with Carlos Batts
, Dave Naz
, April Flores
and others in it. Supposed to be a big opening. Then we take the redline BACK to Union Station for dinner reservations at TRAXX
So we drive over, park, get our red line ticket and head to the train platform. It is about 4, we talk that maybe Leigh will get a drink at a cocktail lounge before the 5:10 PM movie...
...But the train platform is a little TOO
crowded. There are three sheriffs and a German Shepherd among the throng of people. Then another sheriff pushing a cart appears. It is loaded with a folding table, traffic cones and reflective signs that say something about a checkpoint and the right to search your car. he is followed by a custodian with an empty trashcan on wheels. They go thru the platform and take the elevator up to another part of Union Station. An announcement comes over the PA apologizing for the delay and includes some indecipherable verbiage that includes the line "other means of transportation"
...groans from the crowd are released like a collective, odorless fart as people stream to the stairs back up to the station. Many stay, though."Baby, we gotta get the fuck out of here and find a different way to Hollywood,"
I tell her and she is not in an arguing mood. We make our way up and pas a digital screen. It is 4:19 PM. We're downtown and we got to get to Hollywood. Knowing there could be some scary bizarre terror problem illustrating the new normal in American society, I take a side exit out of Union Station and walk to Sunset. It is three blocks to the 2 Bus line, Sunset Boulevard. We walk up and a bus is just departing. Leigh doesn't mind, there are open bus benches. We sit and wait. One girl says there was a fire in the tunnel at the Civic Center Stop and the whole red line is shut down. Who knows. What good would it do to know? The bus finally comes. We get seats. It slugs through traffic faster than a snail, slower than a bicycle.
Leigh recalls that THE ARTIST
is playing at The Vista Theater
. We will be by there soon. I check. Nope, we missed the screening. If it had started at the same time as the ARC-LIGHT
we would have made it as we pass the Vista at 5:08 PM. We finally make it Sunset and Vine at 5:25. We walk into the lobby to see if anything is playing. It is kind of a dead-zone of a time. Everyone is home getting ready for the big date or already on the second cocktail of a wild one. The next show is a 5:40 screening of SafeHouse
. This is a film I would never voluntarily go see, but one I can happily sit thru. It is a "guy's film" with Denzel in it to draw in the ladies. There are seven couples in the whole theater. The film is way better than I imagined and Denzel is the best part, just as Leigh predicted. Our Valentine's Day streak of seeing a movie continues. It stretches back a few years. Last year we saw The King's Speech
, one year we saw the Julian Schnabel Diving Bell
Leigh loves to stay for the credits but this time we are both out of there, fast, and we run back to the bus stop - no art show tonight, we gotta eat! Ten people are waiting for the 2 headed downtown. I ask out loud to anyone listening, "Does anyone know if the Red Line is running, it was shut down earlier tonight?!?!"
and one guy answers "Yeah it is running again."
The only way we are going to get to Traxx on time was the subway, but we had to run up Vine two blocks to Hollywood Boulevard. We did this, a fast walk not anywhere near a jog but no one would have said we were dawdling.
The train platform there was crowded but people were sure the train was going to be running. Finally it came, slowly, while the clock ticked at the same fast pace. On the train the guy sitting across from me had a freemason's ring and I asked him about it. He was shocked I could spot the "G" logo from my distance but it was not a tiny ring. He explained to us that the Freemasons are the Jedi Knights of the world. We could have seen Star Wars Episode One in 3-D
but took Denzel instead. We made it to the station and to TRAXX, the 5-Star gourmet paradise at the train station at 8:35 PM and had a wonderful, romantic Valentine's Day dinner, no terror attack, no police search, no masonic conspiracy. That we were able to enjoy the entire thing and laugh the whole way through (well except for the five minutes when leigh's feet started hurting walking to the bus bench)
is a testament to loving every moment we spend together even when a tactical alert spills us out into the streets.
|Monday, January 16th, 2012|