Archive for August, 2008


ART EMERGENCY! and the Magic in Kennedy and Michelle O Speeches

August 25, 2008

I’ve always felt that there is no such thing as an emergency in the world of art, but after this weekend I have to wonder. Time is a quality and it is relative. Weekend days differ very little from weekdays for me usually, and the boundaries between things blur when I pick up a paint brush. So where’s the relativity?

Well, I’ve hung a few paintings this week at the University of Vermont’s Davis Center, between their operations department, the bookstore, and the water fountains on the 3rd level. There are some other walls in a conference room upstairs that are apparently in dire need of artworks too. Big walls. I said I could pull some of my big older canvases off my loft, and they were more than agreeable. But I should have left myself more time for the big old things– to work on them–for that is exactly what is happening. Most of them are FIFTEEN years old or more, surprisingly not so juvenile that I can’t stand to look at them (the ones that are don’t exist any more) (this would be a good place to insert an obscure passage on relativity).

click on image to enlarge

Anyway, I am afraid that I inadvertently lead the UVM operations people to believe that I would have something up for them immediately, but these babies are oil, and one can not rework oil with anything but oil, and oil takes time to dry. time. (this would be an almost too obvious place to talk about relativey)

Speaking of relativity, I’ve been interrupting this post to run in to see the televised speeches by Kennedy, and just now Michelle Obama. Unbelievable what we can do with technology today. For example, Kennedy’s niece presented a video tribute to Uncle Ted. The phasing from the end of the tribute, which ended with the image of a sailboat, to the non-filmic world of the convention center, was accomplished by means of a dissolve. So the image of the sail boat dissolved into the shapes on the stage in the convention center, which had the same structure as the sail boat… it was magical; subtle, but magical. Then the videoporting of Obama to us via Denver from Kansas City. now, I’m back here blogging and not painting.


Okay so it’s Biden

August 23, 2008

I’m sad that it’s not either Hillary or John Edwards. Either of those two would have been my preference, but I am assuming that both of them, and many others, are going to be available for Barak to put together his DREAM CABINET. Just imagine…


Doing Time…

August 22, 2008

Hey someone on Air America stole my Burlington VT July art exhibition title! “Doing Time” … oh well, I’ll let it go, since it’s Air America.

Whewwwww… this morning in the correctional ctr we worked on puzzle pieces for the VT Council on the Arts project. I picked up 20 of the wooden cut out pieces a couple of weeks ago, and we have 6 done thus far, with several more in the works. I’m always struck by how diverse the talents are in our classes. Most of the guys have had little to no previous art experience, although there’s no dearth of undeveloped creativity. I’ve gotta get my camera in there again. we had 11 in class this morning, and it was a sight to behold. one guy was wearing the shirt he made in the last couple of classes, drip-painted and colored edges and collar. He started another one this morning. Another guy was wearing the tank top he cut out from an over-sized shirt, over another shirt. It’s a wild looking monoprint he’s calling it his camouflage. There were a couple of folks doing some works on paper, most working on the puzzle pieces, and I was working on a few things myself.


Francesco Clemente on Charlie Rose– Aristocratic Roots Not Enough

August 22, 2008

He’s traveled widely and made friends with many of the greats. He’s a gentle soul, and he’s spent his life searching. With a man who has accomplished the life that Clemente has, it’s hard to find the justification, never mind the heart, to criticize too harshly. But goodness gracious sakes alive, I am not impressed with his work. He wouldn’t be with mine either, I’ll bet a dollar.

Self Portrait — woodcut, 1989, Francesco Clemente

Just the same, his interview on Charlie Rose is very good. He talked about being grateful for the opportunity to create his own narrative (Charlie provides this opportunity for his guests over and over again for decades), and by embracing the light and the shadow in his work, we see how easily the painting becomes metaphor…should become metaphor.

During a discussion about Andy Warhol–a significant figure in Clemente’s life–Clemente said that color is the important quality in Warhol’s work. huh? color???? …weird. sure, there’s color in Warhol’s work, but I can’t imagine seeing it as a defining feature.

Not everyone born with a silver spoon in his or her mouth turns out to be a pretentious bore. Clemente seems so nice, so relaxed with everything on the surface; but I found it hard to trust that surface. He has worked hard, or so he infers, to make himself vulnerable… but I wonder how someone who has never had to worry about the roof over his or her head can be truly vulnerable. And staying up all night to paint a mural does not quite make you a laborer.

However, there are many kinds of vulnerability. We see a genuineness, (dare I use the word “authenticity?”) (no, someone would shoot me) as he makes himself available and shows some vulnerability during this interview. In discussing what sorts of things he fears in life, Charie asked him if he feared the loss of his talent. Clemente reframed, to say he might fear not being able to do the work– “I wouldn’t call it talent, I would call it my language, the privilege of being able to tell my story.” Perhaps he recognizes his own deficiencies? or is it a pseudo-humility.

Dialogue — oil on canvas, 2001, Clemente

Given that he has played on the world’s stage for a considerable time now, it would be useful to say what qualities do emerge in Clemente’s work. I see a certain preciousness, that unless it is couched in the ironic is too much. it is hard to say now, being in a time of irony on steroids. the gentle wry humor may be getting lost as we project our post 911 hopelessness on to all creative work.

We want to take this artist as seriously as he takes himself. Clemente is a bit cryptic. He’s at once fresh out of the 60’s, a searcher who went to India, Japan, came here, and has gone beyond. I was not completely familiar with his work before this broadcast, so maybe I am jumping to judgment too quickly. But he vies with Cy Twombly for last place in talent? skill? on my list of the well-knowns. This is hard to talk about.

Poems to the Sea — oil, crayon, pastel colored pencil on paper, 1959, Cy Twombly

I feel like I’m being duped when I stand in front of a work like this in a museum. So it could be my own paranoia that prevents me from going to a deeper level with it.

Was Charlie more interesting than his guest? He spelled out what is hoped that artists will do, and that is, to capture the idea of a narrative that we all understand.

A recent self portrait by Clemente shows a partial skeletal view of the artist. Meaning: vulnerability is “the ideal state of the artist.”


Piggy-Backing on “Higher Eclectica” (August 16) Post — Authenticity and the Pseudo–Intellectual

August 18, 2008

Let me take you down, ’cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields.
Nothing is real and nothing to get hung about.
Strawberry Fields forever.
Strawberry Fields forever.
Strawberry Fields forever.

I don’t want to sound like I’m condemning our lifestyle as a whole, but I am often wishing we as a population had a better sense of how to choose between the “theme park” experiences and those experiences that are more real or more fundamental to an authentic reality. I’m listening to the radio program “On Point,” and discussion with author Richard Todd is enlivening. The topic is always timely, and never more than now, when so much of our Identity is pre-packaged, awaiting our purchase…; the documentary “The Ad and the Ego” comes to mind: “your happiness is at the end of the next transaction…” and the Gap ad: “YOU”VE GOTTA GET THIS LOOK!” …ughghgh! heaven help us.

What’s real, what matters? how can we tell when we are getting close to what really counts for us?

On Point: “Even the opening ceremony of the Chinese Olympics, with lip syncing and fabricated video…” were we surprised? and how does this relate to our own search for the genuine, for the aesthetically comforting; for what helps us as individuals and as a culture.

We’ve lived under various edicts of how to live for a long time. “The good life” and what that means has been sought after since at least classical times– for Socrates, Plato, Aristotle et al, the subject infused their every thought. One caller refers to Longinus’s “On the Sublime” –suggests we try to find basic values inside ourselves. Are there any? or are we peeling away layers of the self to find it’s only layers all the way down?



The things I SHOULD be doing vs the things I AM doing…life out of balance?

August 17, 2008

Today: weed-wacked and other outdoor maintenance, two hours. Knocked on doors for BT, two hours. Painting outside (art) 3 hours. Well, this doesn’t seem so bad on paper. The thing is, I’ve not finished bill paying for the month, meaning all bookkeeping stuff is spread around my kitchen still; the garden continues to overflow, so any space in the kitchen not colonized by paper is filled with vegetables, and I really don’t kjnow why I am writing a post at 10pm when I still have to go down town to drop off paper work at BT, except that if I am hungry enough when I get down there I can totally justify going to city market to buy a cookie.

me earlier today at a place close to here

Meanwhile, what did not get done this weekend–things that ultimately are going to be better for me to do–is a much longer list: the tee shirt design for BOB, a painting that is so long overdue I’m embarassed to mention it, a pamphlet and web page both devoted to my card biz, and sorting out (finishing) paintings to go to the (UVM) Davis CTR this week. Then there are so many smaller projects awaiting my attention that I can’t list them.

Okay, time to go for that cookie


Higher Eclectica– Past, Present and Always

August 16, 2008

Okay! I’m guilty already… . David Brooks’s theory on the pseud psyndrome sadly accommodates my own failure to keep pace in the one-upsmanship of the day. My problem is I couldn’t care less about whether my iphone will do what yours will do, how many friendsters I have, and in which online communities I ought to be developing my profile.

No techno-media-philic gadgetized reality for me; nope, and I don’t think it’s just sour grapes, although I can’t be sure… if I had an unlimited budget, would I in fact drop out of the social and into the electronic? … and that is how I see it– this phenomenon of living life while constantly being tethered to cell and texting; it’s a life-is-elsewhere life. For example, last night, the very minute Mike Gordon (Phish bassist) thanked us after his final encore on the Burlington waterfront, virtually everyone around us got on their cell phones. Not that they hadn’t been checking them periodically throughout, and many phoning in the concert as it was in progress. So interesting though, the impulse to call someone immediately, and SO VERY DIFFERENT than a concert result from back in the day! Can you imagine phoning in Jethro Tull? The Allman Brothers? Jimi Hendrix? Bob Marley? Well, yes you can, because we’ve come so far.

And you snatch your rattling last breaths
with deep-sea-diver sounds,
and the flowers bloom like
madness in the spring.

My prefered “pseudo-intellectuality” puts me with those throwbacks who make their reverie in havens of obscure cultural involvements, somewhere between what Brooks describes as the Great Age of Snobbery, and the Age of Higher Eclectica. To illustrate, there’s nothing I relish more than telling someone about my latest favorite author, Haldor Laxness, an Icelandic Nobel winner that no one has heard of; or OOIOO a favorite music group that is deliciously and exotically my own. Even as far back as high school, I used to like to drop WBCN into the conversation, back when BCN was truly an underground station, and only a select few of us were tuning in. We’ve got the Radiator here in Burlington, but it’s not so underground really. (define underground?)

MY top ten movie list has no major Hollywood productions on it. My garden features rare, new hybrid and heirloom vegetables, as opposed to the tried and true but everyday varieties of things. Would I rather die than admit that my taste is anywhere close to common? Is there such a thing as being a snob “in the best sense”?

What we are talking about when we talk about what we are talking about…

Our present day pseud painted by David Brooks rings true, as we search for the right ring tone. To be part of the present day intellectual affectation, we are supposed aspire to something like the condition of the Verizon Guy who is always asking if he can be heard, through new and ever more various and multi-colored avenues… . But the poor guy never really has anything to say! (smile)