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|Friday, November 1st, 2013|
|The Basic Big Problem With Much Art
The biggest problem with much art these days is that it is either form or thought or identity. Most of the product that would fall in any of these camps is indulged with a lot of rhetoric. This baggage is basically just excuse-making. There is an excuse as to why the art is so shitty - it is some rhetoric as to why the art has barely mustered up enough of one (and only one) element and can rationalize stopping there.
I am not saying this problem needs to be addressed. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I think that this problem may in fact be a solution.
There is a glut of people calling themselves artists. Other than spitting in their faces, slugging them in the stomach and then taking all of their parents' money away, there might not be any way to get rid of them quickly. But the solution might be to let them believe that this embryonic piss they are creating is of a caliber of quality approximating that achieved by the masterpieces of our time. Believing this, these deluded narcissistic assclowns can wander aimlessly in the art world - populating the openings, funding the schools, shaking hands, smiling, buying museum memberships and going to seminars - until they just disappear.
Sure, on occasion, one of these thoroughly talentless anti-visionaries will get a show, maybe even a good review by a sleepwalking art writer and will seemingly be in a position that appears to be rising up through the ranks into that magic art world stratosphere we all seem to understand as an adult high school popularity contest. And that glimmer of possibility keeps the hack-one-liners going.FORM.
The rhetoric cannot hide the fact that no matter how well they have mastered the formal elements, they haven't done diddly squat with those elements and are likely too timid to ever DO
anything with them.THOUGHT.
There are "purity" junkies in every field, from architecture to religion and art is no exception. Your intentions aren't shit. You can come up with convoluted analytics and propositions all day and all night but until you at least fetishize your ideas, they are not art. And you likely have to do something with them even after doing that.IDENTITY.
Nobody will understand (or care about)
your art if it is so steeped in specific issues that it ceases to become art and becomes a platter upon which those issues are served. If you don't care about that, understand how insignificant your efforts are. You probably cannot as you have no developmental consciousness beyond three paragraphs laughably superficial rhetoric about yourself (because you are inherently self-centered)
|Monday, October 28th, 2013|
|Lou Reed – Don’t Settle For Walking
Lou Reed – Don’t Settle For Walking
I was really into Lou Reed. In 1981 you couldn’t just download everything he had ever recorded. I would see him and the Velvet Underground referred to in punk zine interviews with bands when they would talk about their influences. This was exactly how I discovered Charles Bukowski and Lou Reed.
Bukowski was difficult enough – few bookstores carried his books, but there was something out there. In 1983 I got a record store in Dubuque, Iowa to order The Velvet Underground and Nico with payment of $14 and change up front. I remember walking back as the first snow of the winter was falling – I was a California boy in college far from home buying an album by a band that I had never heard and walking a four mile round trip for the privilege.
The album utterly changed my perception of what songs could be. It sounded so far ahead of its time seventeen years after its recording. It kinda still does. My whole year at Clarke College was spent acquiring Velvet Underground albums, books, all ordered from far away, and listening. Listening, listening, listening.
Before I heard Lou Reed, music came in strict categories. After I heard him I realized “OH... there is an epic number of possibilities to make great art that defy pinheaded labels”
. I understood Bob Dylan perfectly because the Velvet Underground made his output make sense. All art after that I have had to laugh at pissant tiny box categories that establishments demand. I never respected a dictionary or encyclopedia since.
Consider the range of Lou Reed. Sure, David Bowie covers his rocking “White Light/White Heat”
and there is no substitute for “I’m Waiting for The Man”
but these were written and composed by the same guy who wrote “Candy Says”
, and “I’ll Be Your Mirror”
, let other people in his band sign them while he lingered on your “Pale Blue Eyes”
. The breadth of just the songs listed above span radically different approaches and yet a Velvets album would pile them in with more and shift gears more smoothly than an Indy car driver.
I listened to the Velvet Underground and some Lou Reed so much that those songs are in a way always going on in my head. Lou Reed to me was like a god of cool who was an impeccable arbiter of what was in and what was out. And the girls who could venture a thought in two parts of their cerebellum who had taste could hold on through his thrashings specifically because he soothed on that macho harsh with his melodies and vulnerable poetry.
So then the weirdest thing that ever happened to me up to that point in my life happened. I’m in a living room in a small town in Minnesota with this girl, my girlfriend then and we are watching television and a commercial comes on and it has all sorts of shots of New York city and music that sounds like Lou’s “Walk on the Wild Side”
Well this is too much; I begin my 20 year-old pontificating about how the media was ripping off Lou Reed and how he was one guy would never sell out to an advertisement as he was the coolest man who had ever lived.
So then just as I paused to pat myself on the back for being cool enough to express how cool Lou was, well, there was Lou, on a goddamned Vespa. “Hey!”
he snarled at the camera, “Don’t settle for walking”
The sinking feeling – like when your team loses a big game – overwhelmed me and it was compounded by that girl howling with laughter, reveling in a moment of my humiliation. What the fuck had just happened.
Lou Reed was too cool for that rigid boundary of art and commerce. And he probably needed the money. But he made me understand that selling out isn’t what I thought it was. He never sold out to his music, his muse, his art, his legacy. If you listen to enough of the sounds he produced on a guitar and the mesmerizing talk-singing he pulled off, you realize he could have sold out in a minute.
That teenage lover of mine rubbed it in and it took a while to digest and I ended up the wiser for it – you can do whatever you want and if you are still you... well then, what’s the problem?
Mighta been a year or two later, back in LA, the redhead in Hokah, MN a tragic memory and it was with a brunette at a trendy bar- as trendy as a suburb would allow, we are talking pink neon 1980s margarita on clear plastic tabletops with nonstop rock videos playing as the substitute jukebox. This girl is buying and so there I must sit, suffering through the slings and arrows of outrageous synthetic garbage when the synthesizer drivel is interrupted by a phone ringing. This is a generation before cellphones and there is just a loud phone ringing and people, the dweebs of the mainstream that I live to be different from in my twenty-something alcoholic desperation to break out of it all, these mulletted camaro dirvers and their sorority dates are looking around, irritated. Up on the video screen Lou Reed is standing in a phone booth – the phone just rings and rings. The song finally starts, “I Love You Suzanne”
, his pop apogee, and a bit of order is restored to the suburban pseudo-debauchery but I enjoyed that kick to the shins he gave every blended strawberry-daquiri in that place with just sound. It was simple, it pissed everyone off and then it was a pop song – now that is great art.This video has edited out the "annoying" beginning of that video so you will just have to believe me.
But the dark side has consequences and the one man to rage negatively against Lou was John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten who saw his friend Sid name himself after Reed’s rocker “Vicious”
. One could not imagine the Sex Pistols without Lou Reed’s innovations, his breakthroughs, his art. But John pointed that Sid bought into the glamor of drugs and played around too terribly deep too quick to even know what was happening to him. Funny that John would be on the same conceptual dais as Tipper Gore but Lou never addressed the karma of making the scabies of a street junkie more fashionable than Versace. He was too loyal too his art to care about consequences, impact or body counts. Maybe we added the glamor and he was just warning us anyway.
If they take my brain out of my body at death and hook it up to a machine to see what is in there, the four Velvet Underground Albums and VU would play incessantly, intertwined with most of my thoughts and perceptions before they just up and blew out the speakers of their contraption at some point. But not before the loop of that girlfriend howling in laughter arose - reliving the time he showed up on teevee to show me he was so far ahead of me that I better not settle for walking if I really ever wanted to be as cool as him.
|Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013|
|...I Found Kim Dingle a Getaway Car...
In case you thought running an art gallery was particularly glamorous...Kim and Her Crew
Kim Dingle and her crew were at the gallery bright and early Sunday morning. Their purpose was to prepare the space for her exhibition that opens on Saturday. The first order of business was to paint the space. The gallery is a former Chinatown market and I had kept some elements of the old establishment. Kim needed to "un-retain" some of these elements. She brought in Augustine, a painter so busy that he could only do the job on his day off. She brought Edgar and Wa, two deaf employees from her restaurant FATTY'S. And of course she brought Aude (pronounced Odie), her partner.
On Sunday they patched, painted, scrubbed, sanded and gave the place a major face lift. Two walls are now painted pink. Parts of walls that had not been painted since the building was built in 1949 - they got three coats of art world white. I deinstalled a pair of bathroom curtains that were hung new in the 1950s. They had a grey stripe in line with the decades-open window that was the history of L.A. smog.
On Monday the work continued. L.A. Packing and crating came by to pick up a large Mark Dutcher painting that had sold and I could breathe easier. Having that around all this turmoil was making me skittish. I learned five ways to say "Valuable, precious painting"
in sign language and was constantly making these gestures to the point where i was getting eyerolls from the duo.Taking Away The Big Painting To The Collector's House
Then the landlord showed up with a plumber. He rented the upstairs to four kids in their 20s in July and the retail first floor to me in November. We are the first tenants the building has ever had. Family owned and operated since 1949. The plumbing ain't going to last much longer and Mister fixit came and looked around. When the landlord opened the basement, though, I seized the opportunity to go down and look around. How about a 1940s cash register for the show? The landlord had no problem lending it.
I had to get Edgar to carry it up. I am useless in these situations. The doctors have said I can only lift eleven pounds. Everyone is running around, exerting themselves and I am just sitting there, watching the ants work, watching life go by. Going to the hospital last year really made me hear the ticking of that mortality clock. No matter how good the prognosis - and it is good - reminders that the merry-go-round stops pop up all the time. All I can do is see them as signs on the highway and open the sun roof. But still, to sit there and feel useless is grating. But come see the cash register in the show this Saturday, a small symbol that I was useful to the process of a major contemporary art installation.
Tuesday the UPS guy dropped off some parts for Kim's installation at a neighbor's. I got there and picked up the box. Too heavy for me to carry and too far to do anything but start carrying it. Kim calls as I am huffing and puffing slow steps with the box on my way toward the gallery. She insists I halt and sends Edgar to find me. He brings a furniture dolly and takes the box at my side, lifts it up and is shocked and confused to find it lighter than a feather. I don't know sign language for "I had heart surgery in December"
so I just point to my chest and make a sick face and he seems to get it.
And so Edgar and Kim begin assembling the installation. It is a contraption of her wicked imagination - chopped and scattered baby crib parts haphazardly assembled into of all things, a wine bar. There is more work to be done in her studio and she leaves before traffic. I lock up and walk out - holding keys is about all I can contribute until there is art to be sold. I pass a film crew shooting a shoe commercial and stop to chat with Jody the Location Cop. She has a company that rents out Chinatown as a locale to filming crews. This stops runaway production that can annoy neighbors and also protects the crews from being shaken down by savvy locals. And Chinatown is nothing if it isn't brimming with savvy locals.
Jody is talking with a furniture dealer about the need to water the plants on Chung King Road. This is the guy who yelled at me about a mural of a topless woman that hung outside my gallery. It was there for a month and a half and one guy voiced his offense by claiming that everyone on earth was offended by it. I just smile at confrontation. It takes way more to wake up the dragon. I do let them both know that I won't be watering any plants on the road, to Mister Furniture's disappointment. Since ideas for making the street more lively are being bandied about I let Jody know that I am interested in a kids ride being installed out in front of my gallery. Mister Furniture says "Oh no, those are bad"
so now I am getting a ride put in one day soon for certain. I sold about $20,000 worth of art in the past three weeks but it is time to focus all my attention onto coin-operated children's rides. Hey, it is up to fifty cents per ride these days. Jody makes a call. She may not be the mayor of Chinatown but she is its rolodex; she may not even be Chinese, but she knows everyone. You hand fifty bucks to a rent-controlled impoverished Chinese grandmother a few times and the goodwill flows around town.
Jody is talking to Tony, the guy who owns all the rides in the Gin Ling Plaza. We're in Chung King Plaza. It is kind of the ghetto plaza. All the security gates are pulled shut and it looks abandoned. Because it kind of is abandoned. Art galleries tend to be internal. The visitors who matter already know we are here and venture forth accordingly. The general public might stumble upon us but they stick mostly to Gin Ling and its tourist gift shops and restaurants. Gin Ling has the kiddie rides. I want a ride in front of my gallery to be antisocial to those who want to walk around Chinatown and tell others what to do, little emperors with no authority beyond their mouths. I also want it in the hopes that maybe Chung King Road would be a little more active. And of course, the irrationality of a kiddie ride in front of an art gallery is irresistible. You will find the pull of irrationality becomes the heartbeat of your existence if you stay in the art world long enough.
Tony told Jody that two guys were in the central plaza cleaning and de-coining the rides. I sprinted over. I explained that Tony had sent me and that I wanted a ride. My landlord had shown me the building's external outlets and we had plugged a band and deejay in there for opening parties. But about a month ago he had told me that he had installed these himself to code in the 1970s specifically for kiddie rides. So within an hour of Dingle leaving I am watching the guy open his truck to show me the rides that he has available. No ID, no discussion of terms, I didn't even open the locked store, it was just "okay, have one"
from the start. I just showed him where i wanted it and he showed me what he had in the truck to pick from. And right there was a pink jeep with yellow flowers.Available for Immediate Delivery
Kim Dingle's art is about girls. Her iconic images are girls dressed in their Easter Sunday best beating the shit out of each other or out of something. To have a pink jeep kiddie ride installed outside of a gallery hosting a Kim Dingle solo show would seem to be an obvious art piece in and of itself. My fellow Chung King Road gallerist Tom Jancar asked me exactly that when he saw the crew with their oversized jackhammer finishing up the simple installation. A hole jackhammered in, a bolt glued into that, a giant locked chain attaching the kiddie ride to the bolt is fastened and then, finally, I am asked to sign a piece of paper.
I dropped fifty cents in and watched the pink jeep bob up and down, empty, for a solid minute. Her show is called "Wine Bar For Children At Mister Ling's Market" (CLICK TO READ THE PRESS RELEASE)
. I am not sure of the narrative of this wild tale of little girls overtaking a wine bar, but I believe that if they need a getaway car, I had it installed this afternoon, in time for Saturday's opening.
I texted Kim and she texted me back that my name oughtta be "Lucky". I was just glad that the case could finally be made to call me "Useful".
|Saturday, July 27th, 2013|
|JJ CALE After Midnight
JJ Cale has died at age 74 from a heart attack. USA TODAY SUMS UP HIS LIFE HERE
He wrote a lot of songs that were hits for a lot of people.
I remember hearing Eric Clapton's version of AFTER MIDNIGHT
on the radio when I was young. I was never allowed to stay up past midnight. The song, with what sounded like a wild party going on in the background, was the most intriguing thing to my young imagination - trying to picture the party where Eric and his band recorded this, mysterious women seemingly dancing on tabletops, my head swirled in visions of desires for things I didn't even know existed.
There was no doubt in my mind that one day I would stay up After Midnight and go to that party. The urge to "find out what it is all about" produced a certainty and resolve inside that I shared with no one. But I pursued it when I got the chance. Intensely.
Years later I heard JJ Cale's original version. By this time I had done plenty of staying up After Midnight. His version is not an advertisement for the glamour of staying up that late but an acknowledgement of that time of the night as a simple, pleasurable reality.
It left me wondering... what if I had heard his version first - whether of not I would have burnt the candle at both ends deep in the nightlife of excess or if I would have appreciated it all some more. The difference between chugging whiskey and sipping bourbon.
Rest In Peace to a musical genius whose work conveys an intuitive truth that his biggest fans might have left out of their versions.
|Wednesday, July 17th, 2013|
|Tim Youd Performs Charles Bukowski's POST OFFICE
Artist Tim Youd is continuing his page turning performances all over the country. Dubbed "regional conceptualism," Youd performs the typing of notable works of literature in locales geographically related to either the author's life or the plot of the novel. Utilizing the same make and model typewriter used by the author in its original creation, Youd types the novel on a single page run through the machine over and over.Charles Bukowski's Post Office - A Performance
Tim Youd will perform the entirety of Charles Bukowski's Post Office
on an Underwood Champion typewriter in the parking lot of the Terminal Annex Post Office where Bukowski sorted mail for fourteen years.
To commemorate the performance, the Coagula Curatorial gallery has created a limited edition print of Youd's self-portrait reading Bukowski's Post Office
. During the performances there will be two ways to acquire a limited edition print:
•via a Bukowski trivia raffle during the run of the performance
•anyone who shows the artist their Bukowski tattoo during there performance will received a print on the spot.
Terminal Annex Post Office Parking Lot
900 N Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Wednesday, July 17th - Saturday, July 27th, 2013
11am to 4pm, Daily
One of the silkscreened+hand-painted monoprints available during the performance:
Come see Bukowski's Post Office
retyped at the site of the post office where Hank worked.
|Monday, July 1st, 2013|
|Art World Bootcamp
If you aspire to be a successful, exhibiting artist in Los Angeles, perhaps it is time to get serious about that goal. It is time for you to understand the CULTURE of the Art World Itself.
This Summer Offers You ART WORLD BOOTCAMP
You are ready to:
* Immerse yourself in the art scene
* Focus your behavior
* Expand your knowledge
* Make great art
The Art World operates under specific rules that go untaught. Learn these rules early and
you will develop simple methods to make the way the game is played work for you.
You can spend years learning these unspoken rules on your own, or you can attend Coagula's Art World Boot Camp and accelerate your comprehension of art, the art business and how the two will ultimately benefit you.
In Six Saturday Mornings you will receive dozens of INSIGHTS including:
* Ten Things Art Colleges Don't Want You to Know.
* The phrase that will get every art dealer to return your phone call.
* The four highest-impact career decisions every artist will make.
* Understanding how ANYONE
in the Art World can be put to work for you!
This class is available IN PERSON
only - there is no DVD, no Book, no website, I tell incriminating stories, pull the curtain back and name names, audio recording is not permitted - you will get the truth about the LA art world, but it is knowledge that will prove valuable in your pursuit of a successful exhibition career.What this is NOT:
This is not a class about how to sign a pretty little contract with a gallery and sell a painting to your rich uncle. This is the lay of the land of what you are up against in the art world and how to keep your eyes on the prize. You will not be burdened with a bunch of outdated xeroxes. I taught this class in 2006 - there have been radical changes to the art world since then and these are incorporated into every lesson. This is not a class about how to do everything on our own - Artists who are successfully exhibiting in Los Angeles have lots of people doing the heavy lifting.
Registration is open now and limited to 25 participants - age 18 and up, please.
Class is taught by Mat Gleason. Do you need my bio? I own an art gallery, I curate art shows, I am a published art critic and essayist. My name is my resumé, google it.
Six weekend classes beginning July 20. Final class is September 14. Class meets at 11:00 Am on Saturday Mornings at Coagula Curatorial Gallery on Chung King Road in Chinatown. Class lasts 90 minutes. The class also includes two OPTIONAL critiques of your art - one arranged with the instructor and one with the entire class.
The Class will cost you $350 - but Early Registration cost is $300 - deadline for that price is July 10
. Enroll today. Email me at 88gallery at GMAIL dot com with the subject BOOTCAMP if you are interested.
|Friday, June 28th, 2013|
I've got all these old magazines, newspapers, pamphlets, fliers, journals in my archives. I dreamt of having all these articles mentioning me when I was a kid. I saved it all. Boxes of yellowing paper, some slick glossies, lots of stuff.
There are five or six boxes in the garage. And I just started throwing it all out. This was not an act of self-destruction, no, but I did have to "check" myself in regards to what I was doing. Why was I doing this? Well the main reason is we just don't have the space for boxes overflowing with print magazines. It is just hoarding trash at this point. That isn't a sign of defeat. That is not giving up on my youthful vision of establishing a legacy. It feels awkward to have lugged some of this shit around for three decades and to then just toss it this late in the game.
But it dawned on me. If this vaunted dream of my youth is to mean anything, shouldn't it mean that it will be worth a researcher's time to track it all down? Either you are worth them doing the research on or all the articles you saved were just a form of flattery. So There it all goes, into the dumpster, you gotta roll the dice with or without the rationalizations.
|Monday, June 10th, 2013|
I wonder if the American Government is spying on the Russian-owned LiveJournal
So glad I disconnected from the political consciousness. But Snowden is a hero, a giant, the antithesis of A. Eichmann.
Is Obama more conservative than Bush? Forget what your reflexes tell you and really consider what that being accurate might mean.
Root for a sports team not a political party or News Channel.
|Saturday, June 8th, 2013|
|Richard Ramirez and Hannah Arendt
I went to see the film HANNAH ARENDT
on the day Richard Ramirez had died. The film had opened in LA that day and I had waited for about two weeks, eager to see it from the minute I read about it. ARENDT has been reduced to her tagline observation "The Banality of Evil"
a line that gets shot out a lot but is misunderstood by many who use it and most who hear it.
Richard Ramirez, a murderous, predatory thug was a loser in life, beneath mediocrity in everything he had tried and so he sought to destroy life itself. The buildup to his arrest was a media frenzy in Los Angeles that whipped up an hysteria not seen since the days of the Charles Manson murders. When "The Night Stalker"
was captured, his use of satanic slogans and imagery put the local media into overload.
Everyone wants assurances that evil is the other. A loser who destroyed was made to be a mythological monster. A legend of folklore, a boogeyman for the ages. Sexy like a forbidden nazi as he rotted on a death row that is funded but never used. We desperately want our mediocrities masked, overlooked and ignored, because Hannah Arrendt was so right, it is our mediocrity that can do the most terrible things.
Mohammad Atta learned to fly a plane because his rigid, ordinary mind saw a binary world with no possibilities beyond pathetic interpretations of scripture perverted into dogma. Richard Ramirez hunted sleeping prey because the world did not bow to his lazy expectations. The monstrous props, wardrobe and makeup were added later, added by a media we insist turn away from the ordinary.
Our dull evil, our banal acceptance of the regular instead of the excellent, our love of testing and meaning instead of learning and wonder, all of it and more and locked up in our attention span self-imprisonment.
To think and to do so deeply and often and freely questioning our assumptions is thwarted. All of the stagnant apostoses against truth have no devil, no führer
, they just have a comfortable structure and multiply the habits we form in returning to that comfort. And THAT
is the banality of evil, the plain old ordinariness of the things that cause death, misery and sadness. We run from thinking, scatter from questioning and shirk ever standing up to an absurdity - and we head right to the evil clutches of comfort, the blandest clutch the devil ever invented, but the tightest grip evil has ever held.
|Wednesday, May 29th, 2013|
|Gallery neighborhoods ...
The foot traffic never seems to justify the added expense. If I had to do it again I might have gone with a place that had five parking spots and no neighbors.
Just a thought.
|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