08 December 2007

Glenn Ligon on books

In the December "best of 2007" issue of Artforum, Glenn Ligon is one of those who picks books. While he does pick Witness to her art, edited by Rhea Anastas with Michael Brenson, he starts his column with a paragraph on making art:

"In a monograph on Felix Gonzalez-Torres published by A.R.T. Press in 1994, there is an interview between Gonzalez-Torres and the artist Tim Rollins. I reread it every year or so to remind myself that artists don't only talk about the market, their fame, or their latest commercial sponsors. Some of them even talk about why they make art. Following a tradition started by Art Resources Transfer founder Bill Bartman with the book Between artists: twelve contemporary American artists interview twelve contemporary American artists (1996), A.R.T. Press editor and artist Alejandro Cesarco has begun publishing a series of must-have books called Between Artists. Each volume is a record of two artists talking to each other, and the pairings have been inspired: Liam Gillick and Lawrence Weiner, Paul Chan and Martha Rosler, Silvia Kolbowski and Walid Raad. Forthcoming volumes feature conversations between Andrea Bowers and Catherine Opie, Maria Eichhorn and John Miller, and James Benning and Julie Ault. In the conversation between Amy Sillman and Gregg Bordowitz (published this year), there is an amazing discussion of ambivalence; at one point, Bordowitz says, 'I'm interested in art that provokes an objectless yearning. There's a feeling of want in the work but I can't fully identify what's wanted by the work .... I'm very much interested in queer things. Queer things don't yield easily to comprehension. They refuse to recognize, or be recognized. They work from, or occupy, a place of shame or embarrassment. Those are the kind of artwokrs that attract me, regardless of their medium.' In that brief passage, Bordowitz perfectly sums up what makes me keep going back to a Gonzalez-Torres sculpture or a Willem de Kooning 'Woman' painting I have seen dozens of times: a feeling of want that travels between viewer and artwork and is both real and resitstant ot quantification. That feeling is also what makes me make art." -- Artforum, v. 46, no. 4 (Dec. 2007), p. 111

06 December 2007

good and beautiful

When I first noticed the headline that Brad Pitt was commissioning house designs for New Orleans, I was impressed and figured it was similar to what Habitat for Humanity does. Habitat has been criticized by some in the architecture and preservation communities for being unimaginative or insensitive. Brad Pitt's project is especially wonderful because he has commissioned thoughtful architects to do something imaginative, something particularly relevant to New Orleans. In the small pictures in The New York Times, the results look pretty interesting. They will certainly cost more than Habitat's plain Jane houses but they may have more community value. I really don't have anything against Habitat (even send them money regularly) and think that simple houses can serve well. In Jane Jacobs disciple speak, we are thankful for the diversity on the street. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/03/arts/design/03pitt.html (or search "brad pitt designs" at nytimes.com)

27 November 2007

salt water and moonlight

Sometimes NACO work is just so rewarding. This evening, I had a Bill Wilson without a NAR so I wrote him a note and asked for birthdate. After I sent the note, I was still working on the catalog record and noticed that his essay in the form of email on page 47 had a picturesque version of his birth information. He was conceived in Ocean City, Md. in August 1931. His mother was seeing the ocean for the first time and his parents made love on the beach. His father told him later that salt water and moonlight always had that effect. Wilson goes on to say he was born on Billie Holiday's birthday, also William Wordsworth's, in the time of Herbert Hoover. The book, by the by, is Wenk/Wilson: replyreply allforwarddeletepreviousnextclose (end construction 1) which records a project by Daniel Wenk to send a postcard of the Eiffel Tower every day to Bill Wilson, from November 18, 1999 to July 26, 2000.

25 November 2007

wind power & darjeeling

As I listened to WQXR a while ago, the announcer described the program as energy-conscious because he'd just played a work for wind instruments by Gounod. I find it energizing! Lynn Harrell on the cello.

On Friday night, I went to see "The Darjeeling Limited" which is set in India and involves a journey by three brothers. Only the older brother knows it's a journey to Mom who abandoned them for a nunnery in the Himalayas. The movie is visually rich, partly because the landscape is inherently exotic (to my western eyes) but also because the director, cinematographer, and editor have done some fine work. The story is quirky and enigmatic, wordy. The mother is played by Anjelica Huston and she carries around, unexplained, a book with a portrait of Thomas Jefferson. I guess everyone should carry around a book on Jefferson. The ending is the beginning, just like life and death and life. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0838221/

And then in today's New York Times was the article entitled "Rumbling Across India Toward a New Life in the City" about folks from "India's bleak heartland" emigrating for work to Mumbai on the Pushpak Express. Life and new life and yet again.

20 November 2007

classified and labeled but not computerized

"Collections: I collect books, and not only that, I do something unbelievably geeky with them, which is, I put little labels on the spines with Library of Congress numbers, and keep all the books in Library of Congress order. Oddly, I have never computerized the collection." -- from an interview with Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, in The New York Times Magazine, Nov. 18, 2007, p. 31. One of the illustrations for the interview is a shelf of books. The legible titles are, from left to right: Ayn Rand ...; CQB (close quarter battle); Ayn Rand, Anthem; Atlas shrugged; Who is Ayn Rand?; The tactical shotgun; The pregnancy book for today's woman; No fear ... King Lear [???]; The university wine course; The zone; Kasser's wine-food index. I can't read the spine labels but that doesn't seem like LCC order to me.

28 October 2007

music, modern, jazz

Joshua Bell played Barber's Violin Concerto with the Orchestra of St Luke's this afternoon at Carnegie Hall. It was sublime. I am quite familiar with the concerto. It was preceded on the program by "In memory" by Joan Tower, started not long before 9/11 in memory of a friend who had died. As they were playing "In memory," a man and a young girl exited silently and respectfully. Their exit put me in mind of my mother and her love of music. We did have music in our lives as I was growing up but it was largely sacred or rock. I'm not sure how I became mostly a listener of classical music. All over the classical board. Certainly, Alex Wisniewski, Bill Connor, and Bob Scrimale increased my knowledge and appreciation of classical music, along with others. At the moment, Dawn Upshaw's "Voices of light" is in the CD player on my computer.

Before I went to Carnegie Hall, I spent a half hour or so at MoMA. The Martin Puryear works were being installed in the high hall at the center of the museum and, wow, they looked great. It had only been a few hours since I'd been with the Kelleys (Sherry and Woody) at the Bar Room of the Modern (restaurant), for supper last night. The food was very good and the Modern martini with cilantro-infused gin (strong yet subtle) was special. We talked about all sorts of things, including the trip Sherry'd gone on to the Grand Canyon with her daughter Jennifer and her partner Steph. Jennifer, Sherry, Bob and I went, very memorably, to an amusement park in the late 1980s. Repeated rides on the roller coaster, Flip-A-Chick.

On Saturday afternoon, I went to see "Control" even though I was feeling very out of control. The movie is about Ian Curtis of Joy Division who committed suicide in the midst of great torment trying to be both a good husband and father and rock musician and lover of the rock journalist. It sounds trite or at least stereotypical, but the story is told grippingly, acted amazingly. One of the blurbs in the ad is a quote along the lines of "you don't see the movie, you live it." It really is worth seeing. The film is based on a book by Deborah Curtis, Ian's widow.

My out-of-control feelings were brought on largely by a visit from my nemesis on Saturday morning. He says he is due a settlement for the injured tendon. I believe the story, I don't. And I'm caught in the dilemma of near bankruptcy and his asking me to "watch" part of his money. Is it money laundering? What if I'm only watching part of it? Can morality be relative?

Being Gemini, it's always up and down. And this weekend has been more up/down than sometimes. Friday night had started musically too. I have season tickets to the "Composer Portraits" series at Miller Theatre at Columbia. Friday was David Sanford. I don't think of myself as much of a jazz buff but this was an incredible concert. A cello solo with Matt Haimovitz and he also played in the "Scherzo grosso." I particularly liked "Link chapel" with the building instrumentation.

16 October 2007

the analogy of the urban park

The Metropolitan New York Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians co-sponsored a lecture by Lynden Miller this evening with the Department of Art History at NYU. Lynden Miller is a painter and gardener who has worked on a number of the good places in NYC. She started out at the Conservatory Garden at Fifth Avenue and 105th Street. It had become overgrown and graffiti-marred (marked). They said the people would trash it if they fixed it up. With a lot of pluck and work, she and her colleagues recreated a place where people wanted to be and bring their family and friends. The last time I was there, in mid-late summer this year, a colorful West African wedding party was gathering, chatting, taking pictures at the gates which come from some Vanderbilt House. She also worked on Bryant Park, Madison Square Park, Battery Park City, Union Square, the Red Hook waterfront, the SUNY Stony Brook campus, the 68th Street subway station entrance, and a small park on East 97th Street near her home in Spanish Harlem. As she talked, I got a growing sense of how a civil and civic place can engender life among its community, immediate and further afield. I drew an analogy with my office. We are doing the things that makes a park no fun to be in: too crowded, defacing the public face, no views, no interaction of people in a manner that is conducive to getting its business done. Now an office is not a park but it can be similar in its life or deadliness. One of her primary points is that reconstruction isn't enough, you have to maintain the new face. Yesterday's New York times had an article about the man who is retiring as chief of the New York City subway system. He is the one that determined that the subway cars and environment needed to be maintained. Now of course the analogy is getting overdrawn as I imagine the card catalog that is not maintained. Ms Miller's talk was very encouraging about the effect of aesthetics, personal and physical, on behavior.

15 October 2007

today's bumpersticker

After reading yesterday's New York Times, I decided my bumpersticker should probably read: Living under Bush is an act of torture.

Caravaggio & Dewey

Sunday was a splendid theater day: "Caravaggio chiaroscuro" at La MaMa Theater and "Dewey's Nightmare" at Gene Frankel.

"Caravaggio" was an opera based on the life of Caravaggio with a handsome, compelling actor as the painter and a lovely young man with curly hair as Mario. Rannuccio was not hard to look at either and the rest of the cast was solid. The singing was good. They used plain white canvases and when the first painting is being shown, the passion of the description of the painting was heartbreaking. Beautifully described. Occasionally, the director used a tableau vivante but lightly. For someone familiar with Caravaggio's paintings, the tableaux were delightful and added to the enjoyment, my favorite was probably the bit of Narcissus on the part of Mario as he sat on the upper level of the set. The opera, mostly in English with lovely bits in Italian, was written and conceived by Gian Marco Lo Forte, the music was composed by Duane Boutte, and it was directed by George Drance. You can find out more by seaching the archives of performances at http://www.lamama.org.

"Dewey's Nightmare" was a library play challenge with seven playwrights, seven random library books, seven days to write a 10-minute play, a director and two actors with an hour's rehearsal. It could have been stupid or banal or ... well, it was wonderful. None of the plays was horrible. The acting was overall really strong. The evening ended with a song by Sameer Tolani, based on yet another book. The playwrights picked a book, blindfolded, from the shelves of the Reanimation Library, a project by Andrew Beccone with a collection development policy that picks the books for their pictorial qualities, pictorial in the broadest sense. http://reanimationlibrary.org/ "Dewey's Nightmare" was probably that the books had been reclassified to LCC.

I didn't get to the galleries this weekend because I was putting together the Queer Caucus for Art Newsletters and taking them to the 24/7 post office (I love it!). Last weekend, I did get to some shows between stops for Open House New York. I went to the Modulightor store and owner's apartment on East 58th Street, designed by Paul Rudolph. Wow!! Judith Newman (of Spaced Gallery for Architecture) told me I shouldn't miss it. It was incredible. If you go to the "about us" button at http://www.modulightor.com/, you can get a bit of feel of the building. After a lecture a couple weeks ago about Albert Ledner, I finally joined Docomomo which I've been thinking of doing for years. I need another membership like a hole in the head. Oh, I did hit my head on the ceiling of the stairwell at the Paul Rudolph apartment and got to "wear" a Rudolph blemish for a few days. Be proud, support architecture. After seeing the Modulightor building, I walked across Midtown and stopped at a few galleries in 724 Fifth Avenue. Davidson Contemporary had a show of works by Darren Lago entitled "Inappropriations." Great stuff: felt Frank Stellas, tin-can Judds, pipe-cleaner LeWitts, Lego Mondrians.

On Sunday, Daniel met me for breakfast at Silver Spurs and then we went to Governors Island (also part of Open House New York). It was a lovely day to be out on the island in New York Harbor. We also went to see the Prince George Ballroom and World Monuments Fund Gallery on East 27th Street, ran into Sara Roemer and her mother. Sara works at both the Met and NYU so it was fun to be with Daniel when we ran into Sara. The ballroom is a splendid Beaux-arts interior designed by Howard Greenley, 1904-1911, and recently restored by Beyer Blinder Belle. The gallery had photos of monuments from Croatia and brochures from the Croatian national tourist office. Lots of wonderful Mediterranean architecture with some mountains thrown in ... which brings us back to Italy and Caravaggio. I actually know three (American) people who are currently in Italy. Sigh. I wouldn't mind being there myself but I've got Aleph training to do tomorrow and Wednesday.

(from the OHNY site)

01 October 2007

magritte and uncle dighton

Now that the online New York Times is "free" to all, I thought I'd pass on a couple recent readings you might enjoy:

* "The replacement" by Sanford J. Ungar, in the magazine on September 2nd
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/02/magazine/02lives-t.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
It's about the younger son who was born after the first son died in World War II. It sounds like my Uncle Dighton who was (is) missing in action in the South Pacific. My childhood was full of stories about Uncle Dighton who stirred the stiff cookie dough for my mother and her sisters, who sang with a fine bass voice, who was the star of his high school football team, etc etc, you get the picture. Here I was, the nerdy sissy who almost got named Dighton, embarrassing my folks in the eyes of my mother's family. It all turned out alright, I guess, but at times it was tough.

* "Belgians, adrift and split, sense their nation fading" by Elaine Sciolino, Sept. 21, 2007, p. A4 (I've got the clipping in front of me and darned if I can get the online version to find this article)
The article ends with a quote from Baudouin Bruggeman (wonderful French and Flemish name): "Belgium has survived on compromise since 1830. Everyone puffs himself up in this banana republic. You have to remember that this is Magritte country, the country of surrealism. Anything can happen."

25 September 2007

the art & architecture has been pretty exciting

There have been several good art/architecture adventures over the past few days. This evening, I went to a lecture sponsored by Docomomo and given by Albert Ledner, the architect of three National Maritime Union buildings in New York City. Though born in the Bronx, he has spent most of his career based in New Orleans. The buildings in New York are famously shaped: the headquarters now part of St Vincent's Hospital (and threatened by their development plans), the former seamen's hotel now the Maritime, and the annex building behind the hotel. Each is a tell-tale example of Jetson's modernism (and I mean that in a complimentary way). There was an article on Ledner recently in The New York Times. cf http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/21/garden/21nola.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss The article notes that Mayor Nagin of New Orleans lives in Ledner's Ashtray House. The union hall that was most striking to me was the one in Norfolk, looking rather like the new Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston combined with the Villa Savoie.

On Sunday, I went to Long Island City (the part of Queens across the East River from Midtown Manhattan) for some art viewing and a walking tour of daylight factory buildings. At Dorsky Gallery was "Seeing things" curated by Trevor Richardson: not very many works but examples by some favorites (Nina Katchadourian's "Austria" and a paperback still-life by Thomas Allen) as well as the beautiful "Two books" by Abelardo Morell and still life by Zachary Zavisak. From there to the Sculpture Center: four benches in the garden by Jeppe Hein and a big rotating mirror in the main space; in the basement a work by Willoughby Sharp who is also at Mitchell Algus Gallery and other works. I love the basement spaces at the Sculpture Center. P.S. 1 also had some interesting stuff.

The walking tour by Jack Eichenbaum was quite fine. Though I'd ridden the path before, part of the tour was on the elevated number 7 train from Court House Square to 33rd Street with some time on the platform at Queensborough Plaza. The view over L.I.C. as well as toward Manhattan is splendid. We went into three buildings: one that is now quite upscale studio space, two that attempted to be vigorous retail spaces but are mostly small operations and offices. The third building, the former Gimbel's warehouse, used to be occupied by three guys who built sculptures, one of which remains. The remaining sculpture is crafted from an old schoolbus.

Saturday's gallery hopping in Soho and Chelsea was a relatively normal day of hits and misses. Orchard seemed to be closed but I guess they're under construction and the current show is in Midtown. Among the hits: David Stephenson's vaults at Julie Saul Gallery; Collier Schorr at 303 (Spencer Tunick had just signed the guestbook); Jackie Ferrara at Frederieke Taylor (I love her "furniture" and the wall works were good too); Robert Adams photos of leaves of Matthew Marks; small Ugo Rondinone "paintings" (pencil in white paint) also at Matthew Marks (the sculptures dominating the space did nothing for me but the paintings were lovely); Reuben Cox's photos of log cabins by architect Joe Webb at Bespoke, up in the attic at 547 West 27th; Aperture had photos by Bruce Cratsley and Peter Hujar among "Lisette Model and her successors."

Now if the rest of life could just be as nourishing. I'm working on getting perspective on the work bureaucracy and somehow it's seeming to work ... I think.

Oh, go see "Helvetica" if you can. It's a documentary film about, duh, Helvetica font, how the ubiquitous sans serif font talks when it's used. It's really funny at times though you might have to be a font hound to really dig it. cf http://www.helveticafilm.com/

17 September 2007

the perfect amalgam

"I am the perfect amalgam! I dated the Chinese Communist Youth leader and a West Point cadet within a year's period. I was born of a strange stability and chaos. I have seen nothing and everything. I am 26 but feel 100 years old. I am emboldened by youth, unfettered and hopeful, though I am inextricably tied to the past where I saw youth erased in a moment's time. I will be sad and hopeful. I am a conduit of narcissism who struggles on a daily basis to be an ambassador of altruism. There is no assuming logic which rules my life." Steve Scheno's "About me" from Facebook. He asked me to be his friend though I don't know him. He is also a gemini and this "about me" description of the two streams running through his life is provocative for me. The details are different but the basic dichotomy feels familiar.

scream at the librarian, look at the art

While gallery hopping on Saturday, I stopped at Printed Matter. Scream at the librarian by Joel J. Rane was on the front desk. It's issue 3 of the Another Brooklyn chapbook series published by Brooklyn Artists Alliance and includes illustrations by Raymond Pettibon and Christin Sheehan Sullivan. I wanted to add it to my Facebook iRead selections but it doesn't have an ISBN. Sigh.

The Pettibon installation at Zwirner on 19th Street was pretty interesting: drawings like you'd expect with anti-war and other wrenching text. The Kitchen street fair was happening in the street and the big gallery doors were open so there was rather a blend of gallery and street. I kept going North and the street fair was still going on several hours later.

The Sol LeWitt installation at Paula Cooper was great: a beautiful print in the office/entrance area, solid series of drawings in the small gallery, and a great box in the big space. The edges of the box were especially wonderful. The graphite of the drawings was different blacks, depending on the light.

Ann Barham had three pieces in the "Like leaves" show at Tanya Bonakdar: a framed postcard with columns (I love architecture), a DVD with jumbled words and letters changing rapidly sometimes with meaning and well juxtaposed, a model of Leptis Magna constructed of pieces of drinking straws and water bucket handles. The Leptis Magna was wonderful and played well with the postcard.

Metro Pictures was showing a few T.J. Wilcox films and had some large films from the films on the gallery walls. "A fair tale" was about the Puyallup Country Fair and how the Indian chief saved the narrator after the sky diver's parachute covered them all when he landed. You really don't need to know more, just imagine it.

During a visit to George Billis Gallery in the early spring, I noticed a wonderful Kenny Harris painting in the back area and asked George if they planned to have a Kenny Harris show and he said one just ended. I'm really sorry I missed it. Again this Saturday, there was a Kenny Harris in the back area that really caught my eye. He does beautiful reflective floors among other things.

When I got the card from Mitchell Algus about the Willoughby Sharp show, I had a strong memory of issues of Avalanche and other 1960s/1970s art. Mr Sharp was at Algus when I got there and Mitchell introduced me as someone who worked at the NYU Libraries and he said he needed a photocopy. A tad surreal, or maybe it was performance.

The front room at Mixed Greens had some photos by Adia Millett that were ok. I almost left but noticed the curtain into the back room. There were the model rooms that were the inspirations for the photos: a wonderland dark room with constructions, windows into the spaces that were photographed. Quite magical.

The Arsen Savadov paintings at Daneyal Mahmood Gallery were pretty interesting and there was a wonderful photo in the office area. The same aesthetic was evident with colors and shapes spread across the surface but the first impression was very different. The landscape in the photo was picturesque with cliffs over the Black Sea in the Crimea. The foreground was occupied by five of six largely undressed men.

On Sunday, I joined some friends (Heidi, Dan, John, Jacquelyn) for an expedition to Sailor's Haven and the Sunken Forest on Fire Island. It was very pleasant and several times over the course of the day's conversation, art from one of the Saturday shows came to mind. Tucker Nichols's large photos with stick trees were reminiscent of John's hobo logo.

02 September 2007

social networking

Interesting juxtaposition on the front page of the "Metro" section of The New York times today. One story is about a drive-in theater in Buffalo that's closing after being around for 58 years. Right next to that story is one about the increasing numbers of block parties. I guess folks want to watch movies in the privacy of their own homes but they still want to dance, sing and talk in person. I just finished reading Population: 485 by Mike Perry and he mentions once singing at the top of his lungs while cleaning, only to find a neighbor at the door. When Perry apologizes, the neighbor says he always sings pretty loud. Sometimes the privacy of our own homes is not so solo.

01 September 2007

summer of love?

As I thought about what to do this weekend, Elizabeth's expedition last week to Dia:Beacon was resonating so I may do something like that. Maybe Tottenville, way down at the southern end of Staten Island. But yesterday as I read the weekend arts section, I noted that "Summer of love" is closing soon at the Whitney and "The abstract impulse" is newly at the National Academy so off to Museum Mile this morning. First, I stopped at the bank and deposited the small check from my dad's life insurance. I think I'd partly been avoiding depositing it because it was a sure sign that he wasn't coming back, at least in that body.

The "Summer of love" show is art from the 1960s, much of it psychedelic and much accompanied by music. As I looked at the stuff and watched some of the films, I was contemplating the good spirits of that era. No, it wasn't all flowers and peace but there was hope in the air, a feeling that the world could indeed be a better place. Here we are forty years later and it feels like a downhill slide (perhaps even a rush). I've been contemplating the injustice of "poor" Senator Craig losing his seat while the hate- and warmongerers are sitting pretty. Doesn't seem fair. In "Eyetoon" by Jerry Abrams, there's a quick flash of "F*** for peace" and that contrast was common back in the groovy hippie days. No more, or not enough any more. But I am reminded of the irony of seeing one of Nan Goldin's photo installations of lovemaking at Matthew Marks Gallery in 2003, just as we were invading Iraq. Thinking about making love versus making war.

After two floors of "Summer of love," I went up to the Rudolf Stingel show which was rather a trip but without the soundtrack. The gold paintings in the mirrored floor gallery was glorious. The lobby installation was called "Profiling" and showed us gallery goers in multiple and lapse images, sometimes with a caption. My first caption was "nervous" and then "resolute." I stepped out of the gallery and back in and the caption was "captivated." Was it really registering MY return?

"The shapes of space" at the Guggenheim had some wonderful pieces, several by Roni Horn. One of the Horns was called "Untitled (Flannery)" and of course I thought of Flannery O'Connor who is a favorite of Deb Kruse. The blue glass boxes were quite enigmatic and a girl peered down into one, her nose just about touching the surface. And I had to play a pun on Flannery: flânerie. The curators did a wonderful job of juxtaposing works: Carl Andre metal ribbon circling below a Kandinsky with circles, Liam Gillick's "Trajectory platform" with shapes and red so appropriate for the Guggenheim building.

From the crowds of the Whitney and Guggenheim to the nearly empty galleries of the National Academy. Lots of good works in the abstract show: William Crovello's "Granite drawing (OK Bonito)"; beautiful Motherwell print looking almost like Chinese plums; Frankenthaler print; Pat Adams's "Des clefs" looking almost like a Kandinsky collage (yes, I'd just been enthralled by the Kandinsky's at the Guggenheim so the idea was ready to be there); Olitski's "Salome rock" in thick acrylic. Upstairs a bunch of paintings by Asher B. Durand and friends, most from the Berkshire Museum. And then in the front galleries upstairs "American impressions" including the great "Two idlers" by Robert Blum, the man and lady lazing on the porch, she in the hammock, he puffing on a cigarette.

As I left the National Academy, I decided to take the bus to 43rd Street to see if the new Walter Pfeiffer book was at the International Center for Photography bookshop yet. No, I don't have money. Yes, I really enjoy Pfeiffer's pictures, partly for the narrative, partly for the titillation. Yes, the book was there.

I finished Blessed unrest by Paul Hawken a couple days ago and picked up Population: 485 by Michael Perry. The former is about the environmental movement and is told in a mostly heartening way. The latter is about living in a small town and being a volunteer fireman. It happens that the town is New Auburn, Wisconsin where we lived in the early 1950s. I don't remember New Auburn well but enough that I keep getting pictures in my mind. And since my brother is a volunteer fireman (and Michael Perry's brothers are also), the resonance of brotherly love is significant. My brother wasn't born until after we left New Auburn and moved to Boulder, Colorado. The Perry brothers are not ones to scream and yell, not ones to be involved in every detail of each other's life but really close when together. It really resonates. My siblings and I had some blessed times this summer, partly because of the significance of the death of our father but also because, deep down, we share so much basic stuff. And, there, I don't happen to be talking about all the stuff that still hangs out at 33 South Main Street where my dad and Mom and Gram and Aunt Dora and their parents and grandparents lived.

20 August 2007

she could have danced all night ... with librarians?

Mrs. Brooke Astor, great patron of the New York Public Library and other ventures, died last week. In the "Sunday styles" section of Sunday's New York Times, Bill Cunningham has a nice tribute entitled "She could have danced all night." When Mrs. Astor was asked whom she wanted as guests for her 100th-birthday luncheon, "she replied without hesitation: 'One hundred librarians'." And the potpourri of pictures was a collection of Mrs. Astor photos.

I finished Michael Tolliver lives, the latest novel by Armistead Maupin, on Sunday morning. It was good to be back in the company of Mouse, Anna Madrigal, and the crew from Tales of the city. It was especially poignant for me as it deals with death of parents (blood and "logical"), aging (I love Tolliver/Maupin's comment about the pursuit of boyfriends getting so "old" and undesirable though if one falls in your lap, no problem), memory, growing apart and coming together.

Mac and I went to "Los Jornaleros" at Cinemarosa yesterday. It's about Mexican day laborers in southern California. The characterizations are pretty stereotypical and the three "brothers" (actually cousins) end up fine. One moves in with a gallery owner, gets his green card, and accepts (more or less) his homosexuality. The other two get a truck and do some sort of work that involves them helping new day laborers. "Welcome to America." Despite the fairy tale ending, the overall impression is positive. If you google "jornaleros," the Amazon entry (a few hits down the first Google page) has a decent overview of the film.

17 August 2007

John Cage has a secret

A colleague -- thanks, Tom -- passed on this clip from an episode of "I've got a secret" with John Cage as guest. I've been trying to imagine John Cage on a reality show. It just doesn't compute, to use some old jargon. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSulycqZH-U

10 August 2007

deb said "buy the bookstore"

It's been a bucolic week in Alfred. Maybe "bucolic" isn't really the right word for the week following my father's memorial service. Dad's memorial was very rich with memory and perspective. Doug gave a magnificent tribute along with music (hymns; musical tribute by nephew Michael Baumgarten; duet of "Eili, Eili" by Michael and his mother, my sister Cathy; organ version of Lord's Prayer played by Larry Philbrick whose partner is a colleague of sister-in-law Jeanette) and words (tribute by ministerial colleague of my father Tim Bancroft; presiding by Rev Pat Bancroft, current pastor at Alfred SDB Church; printed memories by Becky Prophet and by Hongyu & Xiaojie Wang).

After the reception and supper for family, most of us gathered at Doug and Jeanette's house on Hemlock Hill for a memorial bonfire. A whole bunch of cousins (two generations and more) circled around us and the fire. A friend of Doug's took some pictures and I'll put the link here when I get it (that's for you, Deb).
http://www.flickr.com/photos/seton-droppers/ [the David S. Clarke memorial set under "the rest of the sets"]

Since my siblings left on Sunday or Monday, Doug, Jeanette, Ian and I have been enjoying each other's company, figuring out accounts, celebrating Jeanette's birthday, looking at the bookstore in Wellsville, and a variety of other things.

I guess I should explain about the title of this entry. I had mentioned glancingly to Deb that my brother has been talking to a woman who owns a used book store in Wellsville, about 10 miles from Alfred. She would like to retire and Doug has been thinking of buying the business (stock and lease on space). The last time he mentioned it, I was feeling the weight of a dysfunctional office and not high hopes of getting out of the gully, along with the perspective of Dad's death and thinking about what matters. I whined to Deb about something and her simple response was "buy the bookstore." Well, Doug and I have been thinking a lot about it. It's not now where we'd want it to be, e.g., hardly any non-fiction, no name beyond "Used Book Store," no space that could be used for readings or signings (put wheels on those cases, silly). It will be interesting to see how the dreaminess of a rural week will play out when I return to the City tomorrow. Lots to think about but there's hope in my spirit.

31 July 2007

David Stillman Clarke

Here is a link to the obituary for my dad as released by Alfred University: http://www.alfred.edu/pressreleases/viewrelease.cfm?ID=4092 His death continues to reverberate. I was talking to Christie last night. Her mother died in mid-June. Our sorting processes for our folks are not the same. She had to clear out her mother's residence with her brother and his wife. My dad's stuff is mixed in at 33 South Main in Alfred, the family homestead built by my great-grandfather and his father in the 1870s. It's still got stuff from earlier generations though mainly my folks and my dad's mother. And of course there's my stuff: mostly books and files. No great rush to clear out the house but no house should be just left for too long. Still, sorting the accumulation of a life or multiple lives is not straightforward, especially with the memories wrapped around the tangible stuff.

29 July 2007

great expedition, partly thwarted


On July 15th, Dorthy Spears wrote in The New York times about an installation by Karen Kilimnik at the Powel House in Philadelphia. It seemed intriguing and I was embarrassed not to recognize Kilimnik's name or artwork. So yesterday seemed like a good day for an expedition. I really enjoyed a trip to Eastern State for the Janet Cargill/George Bures installation a couple years ago so I figured I could go see the Kilimnik installation and the related show at the Institute of Contemporary Art and fit in a visit to Eastern State if it worked out that way. It didn't work out quite like I expected. I hadn't checked the times for NJ Transit, the Powel House, ICA, or Eastern State until Saturday morning. I just missed the 10:14 train to Philadelphia and then it was late getting to Trenton so I missed the connection. Finally got to Philadelphia and the Powel House at about 3 pm to find a sign on the door that said "closed for special event, sorry for the inconvenience, please come back." Sigh. Off to the ICA. The red room with derivative works was vaguely amusing, not as much as the "Museo de Reproducciones Fotográficas" at Triple Candie in June. The Ramp Project by Phoebe Washburn was however splendid, with a barrel vault. The walls were slabs and chunks of leftover wood, something like shingles, with the occasional aquarium many with golf balls. I wasn't finding much of Kilimnik's work familiar until I got to the gazebo with the ballerinas superimposed on a constructed landscape with the bird sounds over the ballet music. Also at the ICA was the project space with "Crimes of omission" -- one was a certificate on the stolen chewing gum, photographed at WalMart with the photos developed in the photo center there, by Michael Linares. http://www.icaphila.org/ Rather than spending my time at a restaurant getting something to eat, I took off for Eastern State and found it just closing. Oh, well. I walked back to the center of town and had something to eat. Stopped off at a favorite dive bar The Post to find they no longer had dancers and were about to be replaced by Tomboi. Yet again "oh well" and off to 30th Street Station for the ride home. I'm reading Name of the rose and enjoying it more.

On Thursday, we had a department managers meeting. Carol announced that the head of info technology was investigating an organizational climate assessment software package. I was horrified. Most everyone seemed to be nodding. To paraphrase Bob Dylan, you don't need a weatherman to see which way the wind blows.

While cruising the internet for this year's SAA Visual Materials Section t-shirt, I came across the t-shirt designed by a library school student for the SAA student chapter at the University of Wisconsin. It pays hommage to the paper clip and the caption is "intelligent design." http://www.cafepress.com/cp/tf.aspx?tf=379199 I rather wish it was just the paper clip on the front; the back has several drawings that seem to me to explain the "joke" that doesn't need explaining.

21 July 2007

"Art of memory"


Just got back from "Art of memory" which was conceived and directed by Tanya Calamoneri, and presented as part of Ontological-Hysteric Incubator at St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery. Sherry had sent an email saying that I had to go to this play that was reviewed in The New York times on Wednesday. The caption on the article included the words "when librarians go bad" and the picture here is "borrowed" from the Times review. cf http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/18/arts/dance/18memo.html The caption should probably have been "when librarians go mad" (in both senses of the word). It was genuinely spooky and wonderful, referring to librarian characteristics, Borges, the Brontes, Butoh. There's a poetical droning sequence about "red books" but I started to hear "read books." The stage setting included stacks of books gone awry, the balcony for the crazy lady/chorus, a screen which turned into a curtained window and exit for the three sisters. Books, librarians, memory. You probably had to be there (but tonight was the last night, according to the program). As I was being swept away by the theater and thought, I wondered if Dad would have enjoyed it. When he visited me in NYC with enough time to do something, he'd pick theater from the possibilities but his tastes were probably more traditional.

61 88

What a month this has been. The last entry was posted on my 61st birthday. It is now ten days since my father died at the age of 88. He had been failing rather quickly since returning to Alfred, New York, the return precipitated by the move of his second wife Ethel (widow of Harmon Dickinson, a seminary buddy) to a nursing home. He just wasn't ready to be a burden. He fell in early July and broke his femur just below the hip. With his congestive heart failure, he was a risky candidate for hip replacement but since his hip and leg weren't attached, a partial hip replacement was successfully performed on July 6th. Four of us kids, with assorted family members, encircled Dad at Packer Hospital in Sayre, Pa. His heart and soul were not fully in the recovery, or perhaps he realized he didn't have the strength to recover enough to make it worthwhile. Having been wished "Godspeed" by phone by his middle daughter, Dad sped away. We kids had a memorial service in the woods near my sister Carol's farmhouse, the farmhouse she shares with Barb Crumb, in Branchport, New York. Branchport is near Penn Yan at the northern end of Keuka Lake.

My dad and mom provided the ethical foundation for my life, along with Lois Smith and others I've met on the way. Still, I had lived away from my folks for decades. We loved each other but our daily lives were not much entangled. My brother Doug who lives in Alfred has been the rock of our family life as Dad's health failed, partly due to proximity, partly due to temperament and familiarity with Alfred and SDB ways.

19 June 2007

reproductions as a creative principle

Sorting through ancient unread emails, I came across a listing for an artist presentation and discussion on February 21st at Location One: "Artists and images: reproduction as a creative principle" with Pierre-Lin Renié and Allan McCollum. Darn, sorry I missed it. It would have fit with my reading of Benjamin's essay on The work of art in an age of mechanical reproduction.

11 June 2007

ode to nina and rick

* synthetic mastery, or, potorg gigi - post-cannibalism
* Sable Island - roll cloud, only occurs in two places, "morning glory"
* parthenogenesis and the Blessed Virgin Mary
* "my ego was bruised by a semiotician"
* whistling languages
* the pillow won't come dry
* Pierre Fauchard
* LaMonte Young - recording ocean waves in the Hamptons
* bird mimickry - British Library website
* Murmurs of earth - songs set to words by Jimmy Carter - probes to outer space
* amphibrach - emphasis on the middle syllable

= on the occasion of a performance by Nina Katchadourian and Rick Moody at Proteus Gowanus, they sang, he talked, they sang, she talked, they sang, he or she talked, challenging each other with a word or a phrase. Maybe you had to be there.

08 June 2007

2+2 & steven holl

When you're looking for someone's contact information, it can be very frustrating when the staff list for an organization is totally behind firewalls or the information is so general that you can't get an email or mail address. At the same time, none of us needs any more spam and I guess the crawlers can get addresses from easily available sites. I was looking at the webpage of the Faculty of Theology at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and they ask a simple question and then you get a helpful profile of affiliates. The simple question stops the crawlers but not those who know what 2 + 2 is. Go to http://organigram.kuleuven.be/8/50000102.htm and click on one of the names. The page will ask you to give a simple sum (last night, 2 + 2; this morning, 7 + 7) before it gives you any profile page. You only have to do it once, per session.

Wednesday's Times had a paean by Nicolai Ouroussoff to the Bloch Building. It's the new wing of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. When we were there for VRA in March, it was possible to visit the library even though the rest of the building wasn't ready for the public yet. The Bloch Building, designed by Steven Holl, has now opened. To get to the library, you went through some of the main circulation space and it was magnificent: layers of building and space, light, angles. The picture in the Times looks magical with the building glowing and being reflected in the pool along with the original neoclassical building. http://www.nelson-atkins.org/

And then yesterday's paper had an article on Philip Johnson's Glass House (complex) in New Canaan which opens this month. Most of the article is comments from art world folks. I went there on an SAH tour in the early 1980s and it is surprising even if you've seen a million pictures of it. I guess that's the genius loci.

02 June 2007

back from the swiss circuit

Mac and I had a good trip to Switzerland, making a circuit from Zurich (3 nights) to Sankt Gallen (2) to Chur (1) to Lugano (3) to Basel (4) and back to Zurich (1). Architectural highlights: villas all around (especially Zurich and Sankt Gallen); Shavian pile on Zurich lakefront; Stiftskirche and Stiftsbibliothek in Sankt Gallen (one of the great mss sites of the early Middle Ages so just being there was exciting); Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein in Vaduz; the Castello in Lugano (have to check and see if it's by the Coppedè; my Coppedè book is in the Alfred annex); the ex-Casa del Fascio by Giuseppe Terragni in Como; the cathedral in Como; Kunstmuseum Basel; Le Corbusier's Maison Blanche for his parents; Schaulager Basel by Herzog + de Meuron; Vitra Design Museum and complex. Lots of interesting art too. The mountains are, of course, spectacular. We took the Bernina Express from Chur to Lugano (train from Chur to Tirano and post bus on to Lugano). Not many stamps in the passport even though I was in four countries over the two weeks (the Liechtenstein stamp is 2 CHF at the tourist stand). Only the Italians stamped the passport when we got to Tirano. Languages lots of fun: we passed from German to French to German to French between Basel and La Chaux-de-Fonds. I'll be working on a travelogue as soon as the email pile gets a bit smaller.

05 May 2007

gingras in circles


Just got out of a performance of "CYP17" at Danspace at St. Mark's. Wow. It was incredible dancing. André Gingras, choreographer; Kenneth Flak, dancer. That, on top of interesting conversations with Sueyoung earlier today and finding the Dave Hickey essay. Somehow, Sueyoung and I were discussing Benjamin and my thesis that he prefigured social computing in The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction. The distance between the author and the reader lessened. Now, with blogging, we are all authors. We are all readers. Sueyoung said I was post-poststructuralist. She said that she'd been mulling over the distance of author and reader, the return and ubiquity of the author, the post-Benjamin rebirth of the author, going in circles. And then I happened upon the Dave Hickey essay in Harvard design magazine, number 25, fall 2006/winter 2007.

One of my most memorable theatrical experiences was "In circles" by Al Carmines, set to words of Gertrude Stein. I thought he'd largely constructed the script/score from her essays but then found much of it in a collection of her plays. I saw "In circles" when I was in college. Dorothy and I saw it with Richard Barons. We bought the recording and, gradually, the recorded version overtook the memory. The words still reverberate. When anyone says "Messages are received," I hear the singing. It's a little like the reverberations of the words in the work of Nina Katchadourian: "that's amazing" or "in Beirut."

01 May 2007

jenny holzer

Just got home from the ARLIS/NA conference in Atlanta. The programs in general were full of information and interesting. During the convocation reception at the High Museum of Art, I happened upon Jenny Holzer's bench with the slogan that's been on my list of favorite quotes for many years. I scribbled down the text 20 years ago, give or take, from a wall installation at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. For years, I didn't know the author but, not so long ago, someone referred to it, or part of it, in conjunction with Jenny Holzer. I googled some of the less common words and the attribution was confirmed. As I was standing near the bench, I mentioned to some friends who were standing nearby that I was excited to find the text that was in my commonplace book and they said that they'd just been discussing commonplace books. And earlier in the conference, Kitty Chibnik was telling me about her fascination with The tipping point by Malcolm Gladwell. He talks about connecting and links between sources of information.

The quote:
More than once I've awakened with tears running down my cheeks,
I have had to think whether I was crying
or whether it was involuntary like drooling.

22 April 2007

129 to 100

Friday evening we were at Blind Tiger Ale House on Bleecker at Jones. Elizabeth and I were trying to figure out the demographics: lots of men but not the high proportion of visibly gay men that you might have expected in the West Village. Today's paper had an article about the ratio of men to women in downtown NYC: 129 men to 100 women. So it's all of those Wall Street guys! It seems that women are looking for neighborhood amenities and men are looking for a good commute.

Our reason for being at Blind Tiger was to wish Emily a good next stage. She is leaving NYU and will be sorely missed. She has brought humanity with good management skills. She brought life to our dysfunctional work "family." And she was a fine colleague in so many ways.

It's a gorgeous day. I got up early -- arrived at Silver Spurs at 7 a.m. When I woke up, the thoughts about the introduction to my ARLIS/NA session swirling in my head. I'll throw off the slides and just talk for a while. I figured out how to work Benjamin into those introductory words; that's my private joke for Sharon. When I told her that I had found some inspiration in Benjamin, she wondered if she had time to whip out the introductory issue of Not Walter, our faux journal of critical theory dreamed up when we were at the symposium honoring Angela Giral on the occasion of her retirement at Avery Librarian. The journal issue didn't happen but then it would probably be Not Not Walter.

13 April 2007

melancholy in the work of bosch

Just reading through email, I came across the notice for the grad student art history symposium sponsored by IFA and the Frick. One of the papers is "The Delusion of Delight: Melancholy in the Work of Bosch" by Anna Ratner, Columbia University. Both "melancholy" and "Bosch" trigger my interest. I'll have to watch for her dissertation or articles.

It's been a while since I've put anything here. My brother called a bit ago to say there's a northeaster coming this way. If I don't go to Alfred this weekend, it will be June before I could easily get there again so we'll face the weather. The bus is usually pretty stalwart.

Bill Connor visited last weekend and we went to the Met to see the Barcelona and Venice shows. The Venice and Islam show was interesting and there were some nice works; more Islam in Venice than otherwise. The Barcelona show was fantabulous! Lots of architecture, including a wonderful model of the Spanish Republican pavilion at the Paris 1937 expo. Robert and Andrew had both talked to me about Spanish Civil War stuff in the past week, partly the authority work for the various Spanish armies of the mid-late 1930s. So I was ready to be intrigued. And "Guernica" was in the pavilion, as well as big Miro stuff. The Barcelona show was a nice mix of painting, architecture, dec arts, objects (as Roberto said, it's strange that the Met has multiple big shows at the moment that are more material culture than fine arts).

Bill and I also went to his uncle's opening at Andre Zarre Gallery on West 20th where we ran into Carol and Bob Krinsky. Carol had been a camp counselor with Adele who is now Uncle Russell's wife. Small world. Bill spent the afternoon gallery hopping while I saw the Robert Moses show at Columbia with Francie, Liza and John, and then went for pizza at V&T on Amsterdam. The Moses show was fun with such avid New Yorkers who know intimately one or more of the neighborhoods where projects were proposed and/or built (Washington Square and Pratt, principally).

01 April 2007

ohmygod, it's walter!

On the flight back from Kansas City, I was reading "The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction" by Walter Benjamin. I was struck by his comments (chapter X in the Schocken paperback edition) about how printing blurred the line between writer and reader. That set me to musing about how blogging and other social computing really blurs those edges, almost to the point of extinction. We are all writers, we are all readers!

Before I started reading the Benjamin essay, I was finishing An unquiet mind by Kay Redfield Jamison. When in a manic state, she couldn't read. My moods or racing thoughts do sometimes get in the way of reading but I haven't been debilitatingly devastated for long. If you haven't read the Jamison book, I recommend it highly.

VRA in Kansas City

VRA was a fabulous conference. Kansas City was really good to us: mostly good weather, warm with thundershowers and hard rain (but not for long). A few of my favorite things: Jonathan Furner on FRBR (I was part of that panel and my paper was misdirected but the discussion after the presentations was splendid); Megan Winget on Flickr; walking back and forth between the conference hotel and my guesthouse (about 20 minutes walk); driving about with Nancy Green and her husband Scott through the fancy suburbs old and new and then supper at Blue Koi; lots of good meals with friends old and new; Country Club Plaza; the wonderful symmetrical brick building at the foot of Baltimore Street; walking from my guesthouse to downtown and finding the city market; the Caravaggio at the Nelson-Atkins; running into Brian at the Nelson-Atkins and talking about a couple Indian sculptures and other stuff; getting into the new library reading room at NAMA, designed by Steven Holl and filled with diffuse light (the galleries open in June but you could get in to see the reading room if someone was available to guide you); the wind so strong it tried to steal my Birkenstock; LattéLand's medium latté; going dancing at Missie B's with Elaine, Lia and Pep (and, mentioning Lia, getting my own "Don't ask me about metadata ... ask Murtha" t-shirt!). Though that list is more about stuff around the meetings than about the meetings, I did hear many good papers and discussions. Once I've studied my notes, I might even do up a summary.

25 March 2007

powers & the power of art

This month's bookclub selection is Three farmers on their way to a dance by Richard Powers, published about 20 years ago but suggested by Daniel who is reading Powers's newest novel. Three farmers has been occasionally confusing but wonderful. The section on Sarah Bernhardt, directly on Bernhardt, was especially great as have been several sections as I near the end. Here's a quote for you:

"I prefer walking to any other means of getting from A to B. It's a perversity on my part, pure and simple, but I enjoy the feeling of even the smallest, ten-cent errand taking up twenty dollars of my prorated time." (p. 261)

Talk about a different way to say "stop and smell the roses." Of course in New York City it is sometimes faster to walk but then that's just a bit more perversity that NYC spreads about.

That quote is from a section entitled "The cheap and accessible print" which is really a post-Walter essay on the photograph and whether it is more or less real than life. I might just have to take Illuminations with me to Kansas City so I can finally read the "mechanical reproduction" essay by Benjamin. Peter's trip to the catacombs with the bums of Paris is also extraordinarily good.

It wasn't the day I thought I'd have. After an expensive grocery shopping trip in the Bronx (the answer to the unasked question is "yes"), I decided I needed some art and went to the Guggenheim to see the Spanish show. It closes before I get back from Kansas City. It really had some wonderful paintings and not as many dogs as I'd been warned about. There were at least three still life paintings by Juan van der Hamen (signature: Banderamen), a couple of which had "sweets." In one, the cubic sweets looked suspiciously like Rice Krispie Treats. Who knew that RKTs were around in the early 17th century? Great portraits by El Greco, Velázquez, Zurbarán (St Isabel of Portugal), Sánchez Coello (is that Meryl Streep?), Goya. Some of the formulaic portraits had a strangely surrealist look, e.g., the Pantoja de la Cruz portrait of Don Felipe and Doña Ana. I remember having discussions in high school art class about what was Spanish in Spanish art. One of the Sánchez Cotán vegetable still lifes had little wings on the cardoon that Bosch could have painted. And a really wonderful early Picasso "Green bowl and black bottle" (1908, in the Hermitage) that was painted as the shapes were beginning to break up in the cubist melée. The last (or first) painting was the wonderful "Agnus Dei" by Zurbarán from the Prado. The painting was as alone on its wall as the shackled lamb is in the painting.

24 March 2007

jankowski, opton, levy, harris, morell

Lots of good art out there. After a few hours in the office working on various things and not finetuning my VRA paper, I went out to do the galleries. One of the emails I got was from Lynda Bunting about a Terence Koh article and the footer mentioned that Maccarone was now at 630 Greenwich Street and that they had a Christian Jankowski show. Since that was the destination furthest South, I went there first. They've been in their new space for less than four weeks. After a grubby (but groovy) Canal Street space, they are now in a swanky and quite fine southern West Village space. The Jankowski pieces didn't move as many I've seen but the paintings in back were good. The female sculpture in the front was special too, lovely drapery.

Next up were several galleries at 511 West 25th, probably my current favorite building. The Suzanne Opton photos at Peter Hay Halpert are extraordinary. I'd seen pictures and read about them, most compellingly by Thomas Micchelli in The Brooklyn rail. The photos on display were the larger size. The faces are like wax or plastic at that dimension. I hadn't expected that transformation. The serenity is such a contrast with their soldiering, I guess. On to A.I.R. with its 7th Biennial. There was Mary Ann Ramer, friend of Charles and Don who, as it happens, said she, are about to arrive in NYC for a bit of opera. Since I'm leaving on Monday for VRA, it's not likely that I'll see them. Sigh. The last time Don was down I was just leaving for somewhere. They're pretty intense with their opera viewing but I did run into them once at the Whitney.

Then the Carrie Levy photos at Daniel Cooney Fine Art. Wow. One of her bigger projects, including a book, was 51 months about her father and his prison term. Since prison is too hot a term with me, that made the photos which were from other series even more compelling. For some words about Levy and her photos, including a reproduction of the wonderful "Untitled, (Impaired)" (2005-06), go to http://dcfa.blogspot.com/2007_03_01_archive.html. The subjects of the photos are always facing away or have their head buried in something. When I went to find you the reader something about Levy's show, I happened on Cooney's blog which is quite fine and has a lovely list of art and other blogs that look pretty interesting.

Next up, photos of mudcaked Bibles by Terri Garland at Klotz. Also some of the Bibles found in waterlogged churches in New Orleans. Mitchell Algus had a show of op art paintings by Roy Colmer (horizontal stripes with hazy vertical color fields adding to the OPtical effect), described as TV interference in the press release. Downstairs, George Billis was showing Richard Orient beach scapes: lovely. In the back room was the muddy-colored painting of a room with the corner of a bed and a red-striped pillow by Kenny Harris. Only $1250. Seeing something like that, and I've seen it before and dreamed of owning it, almost makes me cry since I stupidly have been back in Sonny's grip and probably spent almost that much as his ATM in the past 5 or 6 weeks. No painting by Harris, no new laptop. Just tears and regret. The Sonny saga does, of course, however intensify the relevance of Levy's 51 months.

Down the street a ways to Clamp Art. The show in front didn't do much for me but there were some lovely photos by George Daniell and others in the back space. Florence Lynch had works by Carol Ferraris, including an interesting video "Osamu." Cuningham had Joan Snyder; the drawings and other works on paper at Alexandre Gallery in late 2004 is still my favorite Snyder show.

The Dotty Attie show at P.P.O.W. was delightful.

Getting sated but the Abelardo Morell show was still on the list. His camera obscura works at Danziger Projects are extraordinary. The camera obscura image is superimposed on an interior so you get a sort of double exposure with the interior right side up and the camera obscura image upside down ... though of course right side and upside down are relative terms. When I talked to Rachel a couple hours later, she mentioned that "Abe" had done a work at the Eastman House: an installation from the garden into a darkened room with the people walking around in the garden upside down.

I figured it was worth going on to the 600 block of West 27th and I was rewarded by the Althea Thauberger show at John Connelly Presents. It's pictures of young men, not totally sexy but going there. Each photo is accompanied by a story about how the young man is having trouble with life and either is or isn't getting it together. The video, in glorious black-and-white, was a melancholy exploration of suicide and stopping it, reaching consensus and not. The characters in the video are called protagonists which increases the drama. With the Sonny crap at a peak, the getting together of life is especially poignant.

So here I am at the office, trying to avoid being home so that I can't hear the phone ring with "pick up, pick up, I know you're there." So my Gemini life continues: part delightful, part not so.

Friday night was a magical concert of Steve Reich's "Music for 18 musicians" and "Music for pieces of wood" at Columbia's Miller Theatre by So Percussion and guests. Wow. Wonderful.

And I didn't even mention -- yet -- that last weekend was spent in Los Angeles. I went for a meeting on Monday at the Getty about Cataloging cultural objects. The meeting was good, appropriately mountaintop-ish. I stayed with Steve Ong (Ed Armstrong's "widow") in Silver Lake. We had a good visit and it was good to speak of Ed who died about a couple months ago. We also had fish tacos at Sharky's in Redondo Beach and drove through Culver City though the galleries were closed on Sunday. I did meander a bit around the gallery district in Chinatown and went to the American West show at LACMA. Unfortunately, the "Wack!" show at the Geffen was closed on Tuesday. And Steve took me to Disney Concert Hall for a Paul Jacobs concert. The hall is fantastic. Jacobs is pretty wonderful, flashy. And I got to sit in "Ed's" seat which would have made Ed happy according to Steve.

And Monday morning I leave for Kansas City for VRA.

13 March 2007

3rd & 3rd

Another of "my" buildings has been sighted. Some years ago in one of my early wanderings of the territory between Park Slope and Red Hook, I happened across a wonderful building standing rather solo in a sea of lower industrial buildings. It stands at the corner of Third Avenue and 3rd Street in (what?) Gowanus. It is almost like a pattern book for neoclassical ornament. Now, Laura Raskin explains it in "Birth of the concrete jungle" in the March 2007 issue of The Brooklyn rail. The building was the headquarters of the New York and Long Island Coignet Stone Company Building and may represent the earliest extant example of concrete construction in the U.S. The concrete has been faced with brick but there is talk of restoring it. Unfortunately (or not), the rest of the block is owned by Whole Foods Market which tells you something about the neighborhood. Raskin starts her article in a wonderful way: To love New York City is to fall for concrete and steel.

The same issue of The Brooklyn rail had a review of Suzanne Opton's "Soldier" show at Peter Hay Halpert Fine Art. I have seen other stuff about the show or her work but haven't seen the show. The illustrations are very compelling though: head shots of young soldiers, with the head resting on a plain hard surface. Yes, rather like on the guillotine or scene of martyrdom. The expression on the face of "Claxton, 120 days in Afghanistan" is still. As Thomas Micchelli says in his review: These are the same soft, warm cheeks that are shredded into bloody rags, the same eyes and skulls that are pierced by snipers' bullets and lacerated by shrapnel day after hellish day of Bush's criminal war. Add context, and this exhibition is stomach churning. http://brooklynrail.org/ (current issue not yet on site)

04 March 2007

booklovers unite!

Booklovers unite! You have nothing to (ab)use but your books! Today's essay at the back of the New York times book review is "Confessions of a book abuser" by Ben Schott. He talks about how he (ab)uses his own modern books. The illustration is eight stages in laundering Lady Chatterley's lover by D.H. Lawrence. He talks about marginalia and how valuable it is when it is. He doesn't however condone highlighting and tells an amusing story of someone who used a toxic highlighter and lost the important sentences, leaving only the irrelevant stuff.

Page 98 bookclub -- http://artcataloging.net/page98/page98cover.html -- is getting back together next week. We've not been meeting since last March because .... well, we just ran out of steam. Now we're regathering because we like each other and we like talking about books, sometimes the same one, sometimes not. Strangely, it was last March 5th when we last met. No assignment this time: we'll just talk about the book we most enjoyed in the last few months. We'll meet on the first Mondays of the month until it gets back into our thought-streams. My most memorable book was probably The story of the night by Colm Toibin. It's set in Buenos Aires and has a real sense of place.

26 February 2007

all that i will ever be

Yesterday the marathon but not the Oscars. Before I went out to breakfast, I finished reading Tania Katan's My one-night stand with cancer. It's a compelling story of a woman who had mastectomies at the age of 21 and 31. The part about the cold of the surgery room was one of the most compelling moments for me -- the very live memories of that feeling -- but there were lots of resonations throughout. She ran one 10K topless, evoking my sister's getting arrested for topless behavior. I talked to Tania after the CAA panel she was on. She checked the law in California before she ran topless and the state law about topless women involved exposing the areola. Since her mastectomies took those away, she was within the law.

Breakfast was the normal paper and pancakes at Silver Spurs. Actually, not the normal since I had to eat and read pretty promptly in order to go to the Jože Plečnik lecture at the church of Saint Cyril on St Mark's Place. I arrived about ten minutes before eleven and there was still a service going on. I stood out front. A woman walked up, finishing her cigarette. I asked if she was here for the Plečnik lecture and she said yes. She was a Slovene, here to do a short-term job at the U.N. We talked a bit about Slovenia and being in the U.S., currency. She mentioned that getting used to U.S. coins is made more difficulty because there are no numerals on the coins. I hadn't thought about that but it's true: one cent, five cents, one dime, quarter dollar. Those words are cognate with other romance or germanic words but it's not as easy as 1, 5, 10, and 25 for a non-anglophone.

As 11 neared, others arrived that appeared to be lecture types. Then some musicians arrived. Eventually we went into the sanctuary after the church service seemed to be over. The musicians finished setting up, no screen for an architectural lecture. The musical group started to play Slovenian jazzy music. Annice, Jay and I were getting a little nervous that perhaps the lecture was not happening or happening in some other room in the rowhouse church building. I tried to relax and enjoy the music, chalking it up to chance. The group stepped aside, a guy read a poem in Slovenian and English, a lady sang three traditional songs, the group came back and did another number or two, the poet returned for another poem. Then there was a bit more of the M.C. The Slovene woman that I talked to beforehand was sitting in front of me. She turned to say that the lecture would begin soon downstairs in the social hall. Phew. I told Annice and Jay, they phewed.

The lecture by William Singer (Fulbright in Ljubljana in the early 1990s) was wonderful, just right for the group. Not much talk, lots of pictures. I fell in love with Ljubljana. It had been on my radar but it looks really wonderful. Plečnik lived from 1872 to 1957 and was a student of Otto Wagner in Vienna. He started out as a Wagnerian late Jugenstil architect and drifted through various modernisms and revivalisms. One church is like a stretched Semper opera house but the ramp up the bell tower was trying to out Corbusier Corbusier, according to Singer.

After the lecture, I went down to Fourth Street to join Mac at New York Theatre Workshop. Actually first I stopped at St Mark's Books to get something on Plečnik but ended up with the Lonely Planet guide to Ljubljana. Also stopped at Pageant which reminded me of grad student trips to print shops. In those days, Pageant was huge and dusty; now it's a small shop but still with some worthwhile prints and pages from books, Harper's, etc. (yes, it's sad that the books have been taken apart). Then Mac appears in the window and we head off to NYTW. The play was "All that I will ever be" by Alan Ball. It was really fine overall and there were some passages about facing life and living that were really wonderful. Perhaps the strongest scene was Raymond and Omar. Raymond is an older gay man who hires the hustler. We don't see them doing whatever they did but they are talking about life, truth, fear, fearlessness, growing old, falling in love/lust. You know, the great themes but well-written and -delivered.

After the play, we ran a couple errands and dropped stuff off at Mac's before going off to the Rawhide, aka the "Palais du danse" as we call it. Imagine our delight that the dancers were our two favorites: Michele and Craig. It was really special. The bartenders had the red carpet programs and Oscars on the TV but the competition was not very serious ... well, wasn't until the Oscars really started but even then Craig and Michele beat out Ellen DeGeneres ten to one. Craig joined us for dinner again and even gave us a ride home since the snow had fallen and it had gotten rather slushy underfoot.

Quite a Sunday and that had followed a pleasant Saturday evening at Andy and Garth's on East 50th Street. Mark and Charlie were up from Houston. Roberto was there with his friends Matt and Gerry. Gerry is Gerald Mocarsky who did the wonderful b&w photos in Reed Massengill's Self-exposure. Gerry's are the guy in the wet pajamas and in the alcove with all the pictures. http://www.geraldmocarsky.com/

And that had followed a lovely Thursday evening with Sharon, Nancy and Lee. Sharon was in the City for the week between caring for her mother in L.A. and going to Venice for classes in Italian (poor thing). It was great to spend the evening with them (but between Andy and Garth's on 50th and Nancy and Lee's on 52nd, it was quite a bit of Sutton/Beekman Place).

18 February 2007

college art

Most of the last few days has been consumed by the annual conference of the College Art Association, held this year in NYC. Consumption is, of course, one of those words one hears at the conference, usually combined with culture or cultural.

I was googling "allen frame" to find a picture of the photo he had in the "Mother, May I?" show sponsored by the Queer Caucus for Art but didn't find that. What I did find was a mention of the "Blow Both of Us" show at Participant, Inc. Damn, I missed it, closed in January. To paraphrase Virginia Woolf, how will I find all of the shows in the vast pile of New York art?

The "Mother, May I?" is very good, probably the best installation I've seen in the Campbell Soady Gallery at the Center. Sheila Pepe did a fine job of laying out a curatorial question and hanging the show. Another pair I really liked was Blaine Anderson's drawing and Ernesto Pujol's photo. It didn't hurt, of course, that Blaine Anderson (that's handsome B.A.) was standing there live, in front of the drawing and Ernesto's photo is from the shower series I saw years ago at Priska Juschka Gallery when it was on Driggs in Williamsburg. Allen Frame's photo too was good. The pairing of Laurie Toby Edison's photo of the naked and regal Tee Corinne (like Paolina Borghese) with a Tee self-portrait with Beverly from the cancer series. Sad and beautiful. I'm not sure but the Tee photo may have been "The saddest picture I ever saw."

The "Mother" reception on Thursday evening was lively and crowded. When I arrived, the crowd was mostly male. As the evening progressed, the crowd became mostly female. Strange. I noted that to Sheila and we just kinda did a "hmmm, curious, that." When I went back to the Center on Friday night to pick up the HX, Next, etc., the gallery had returned to its normal meeting-room style: table in the middle, three people chatting on one side. A queerart list conversation circulated a bit around the idea of having our caucus exhibitions in community centers. Clearly, it has its ups and downs.

11 February 2007

Bloomingdale's [heart] Gertrude Stein

Bloomingdale's is using a Gertrude Stein quote in their ads for Valentine's Day:

Very fine is my
Valentine.
Very mine and very fine.

I love Gertrude Stein too. And, so far, the performances this weekend have been marvelous. "Marat/Sade" on Friday night at Classical Theatre of Harlem (reviewed in The New York Times in the Arts & Leisure section today) and "Death in Venice" (Hamburg Ballet, at BAM) on Saturday night (after a fabulous supper with Christie at Scopello). Cruising along, as it were.

09 February 2007

reexamining appropriation

College Art starts next Wednesday and this session looks really interesting:

SATURDAY, FEB. 17, 2:30 - 5:00 PM:
"Reexamining Appropriation: The Copy, the Law, and Beyond, Part II"
Beekman Parlor, 2nd floor, Hilton New York
Chairs: Martha Buskirk, Montserrat College of Art; Virginia Rutledge, Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP
With:
"Stopped Making Sense: Appropriation as a 1970s Social Phenomenon," Sarah Evans, Cornell University
"The Problematic of the Signature: Reexamining Appropriation in Contemporary Indigenous Art and Cultural Heritage," Tressa Berman, San Francisco Art Institute
"Art Appropriation and Identity," Sharon Matt Atkins, Currier Museum of Art
"Art and Activism: The Xingwei of Wang Hai and Zhao Bandi," Winnie Wong, Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyDiscussant: Arindam Dutta

cf http://collegeart.org/

georgia rockabilly & pecorino

I stopped at the grocery store on the way home from working at the Morgan last night. A Georgia rockabilly song was on the muzak as I approached the cashier and it was just fine. A guy at the end of the cashout slot was moving and groovin'. He was getting ready to go back into the cold night and the cashier said to me: whenever people come by with this cheese (pecorino romano), I can smell it from the far end of the roller belt. And she wondered what I did with it. I said "pasta" and the groovin' guy asked if that was all. Well, these pieces of pecorino all of a sudden looked pretty exciting. It was probably the music.

07 February 2007

aitken from the street

On Monday night, art librarians gathered in the MoMA Library to see the Doug Aitken video installation over the garden. http://www.moma.org/exhibitions/2007/aitken/ And to chat of course. The installation was pretty interesting but the chatter was even more so. Our daily lives, I guess. It was pretty cold so one didn't want to be out on the balcony for long. It was definitely worth being out there for a bit though as the screens on the older parts of the building were only partly visible from inside the reading room on the sixth floor.

Last night (Tuesday) however I was working at MoMA and as I left the cataloging area, Tilda Swinton was "sleepwalking" right at me as I walked through the reading room. I stood down on 54th Street for a while and then meandered in the garden. The Aitken screens are way more interesting from the street. It's probably the flâneurability mostly (credit to Jenny Tobias for mentioning the flâneur part). From the 6th floor, it is diminished somehow; from the street, you must turn your head, look up, look across, be in the space. Cold or no, I'll take it from the street. Aesthetics beats body comfort almost every time.

03 February 2007

darkness and light

The February 2007 exhibition from Visual AIDS and The Body is especially good. All of the exhibits are available at http://www.thebody.com/visualaids/web_gallery/index.html. Maybe it's the darkness in general or from the Rilke quotation in the curator's statement. I am a fan of Sunil Gupta and enjoyed the Tim Greathouse photos in this portfolio ... though they're pretty bleak. It's my melancholy side -- being Gemini, I have sides you know. As a kid, I was moody and probably relish the melancholy at the same time a coworker asked for some of my speed the other day. You know, the speed (aka adrenalin) that usually keeps me running too fast, accepting too many assignments, wanting to see and do too much. But hey, as someone said: I can sleep when I die.

Christie had asked me to find the negatives of the photos from our 1999 trip to the gardens North of Rome. I was somewhat horrified to see that a couple of the photos (one shot of Orvieto cathedral and one of the Pozzo di San Patrizio) had started to deteriorate. The photos are in sheets in an album I got from one of the archival suppliers but of course the container cannot compensate for endangered objects. Still, it was wonderful to see the photos and think again of that trip. Christie and I are probably doing birthday dinner tonight with Janet so we'll dream and try to scheme.

I knew I shouldn't have picked up the phone when Sonny called to ask for help with his résumé. Even though I said "no money," that means "not cash for my pocket" in Sonny-speak. No wonder I'm in a bleak mood. And he knows how to work the weak side: he asked if I didn't want to go see the new show at the Bronx Museum of Art when more importantly he wanted me to get the camera and violin out of the pawn shop on 149th Street. And art does make me weak: the new building of the Bronx Museum of Art, by Arquitectonica, is quite fine. The outside is more distinctive than the inside but it's pretty good and they integrated the older spaces rather well with the new part.

There's been a really interesting conversation on the MARC and arlis-cpdg lists about buildings as names. More precisely, buildings as something other than subjects. I started the conversation when I was thinking about the German/Austrian proposal for an added entry for place of conference/event, publication/distribution, or thesis conferral. When we use place in 710 in MARC, it is usually the place as a stand-in for the jurisdiction. The German/Austrian proposal is for place as venue. This was parallel to the art cataloger's desire to use a building as venue. The conversation has veered over relationships (bibliographical and beyond), FRBR objects, comparisons of AACR/RDA/MARC and other schema, parks as venues, and CPSO's ruling on parks and agencies.

So I'm trying to look for the light ... but someone recently reminded me about the joke that the light at the end of tunnel may be the train coming your way.

29 January 2007

you pick a few and there's always more

Gallery hopping in West Chelsea used to be easy. Ten years ago, there were a handful of galleries on the far West Side in the 20s and you could reasonably visit most of them on a Saturday. Now there are several hundred galleries in the area. Instead of just going now, I usually have a handful of shows of interest and then fill in the gaps as I find them or go to the galleries where I usually find something worth seeing. Saturday, I had a couple shows on the list: Bidgood at ClampArt, Brent Green at Bellwether, Michael Petry at Sundaram Tagore.

The day started in Soho with "Boy bordello" at Leslie/Lohman. The drawings were sexy and the cardboard frames were, um, fabulous. Then "Womanizer" at Deitch Projects. You probably shouldn't miss that one. The Vaginal Davis room was rather amusing as were several other pieces. On to "Elephant cemetery" at Artists Space, curated by Christian Rattemeyer. His shows are always interesting and my favorite one at this show may have been the "New monuments for new neighborhoods" by Pedro Reyes and Terence Gower or the film by Mario Garcia Torres. The show included several slide installations and no video. Hmm.

Then Carrie Moyer's show at Canada and a group show at the Educational Alliance with Carrie as one of the artists. I preferred the pieces at the Education Alliance but Canada is one of those galleries that just makes you feel good.

On the way North, I stopped at the Polish socialist conceptualism show at Orchard. The Pawel Althamer video was a real upper; he worked with the residents of a socialist apartment block to get "2000" in window lights for New Year's. He said he just thought people needed some happiness in their lives. It was a tad corny but the faces of the participants were bright. At the B/D Grand Street station, there were musicians on both sides of the tracks, both playing Asian instruments. There had been a piece on NPR about duelling banjos and that came to mind.

On to West Chelsea. I ran into Mike Gaffney of Bobst on the way West and he recommended the African show at Sean Kelly. I started my Chelsea swing at the Santi Moix travel drawings at the Kasmin annex. They were nice and the installation was very beneficial. Sundaram Tagore is in 547 West 27th, a whole new building for me. I rediscovered Priska Juschka (I'd lost them after they left 9th Street in Williamsburg) and the Tim Doud show was quite fine. The Michael Petry show was pretty interesting though the picture in HX was deceptive. I continued on down 27th Street and found a good Joe Ovelman show at Oliver Kamm 5BE. Time was running out, it was about 6 pm but White Box was still letting people in. Their show was "Nuevo arte: colección Tequila Don Julio." It included a couple pieces by Franco Mondini Ruiz from San Antonio whose quattrocento show and pink book were delightful.

So, I had three things on the West Chelsea list and only got to one of them, and it was some of the interstices that made it such a good romp in galleryland.

On Saturday evening, I was reading the Friday Times and noticed the erasure show at Dorsky Gallery Curatorial Programs listed in the "last chance" section. I hadn't been there and decided I could fit in a visit before going to the Carrère & Hastings lecture at Woodlawn Cemetery. When I got to the Dorsky space in Long Island City, they were setting up for an afternoon panel. I really enjoyed the show: Bidlo, Yoko Ono, Christian Holstad, Robin Clark's erased dollars, Oscar Muñoz's fabulous water drawing on hot stone (the drawing disappears as he draws and he keeps repeating on the looped video), Joanne Stamerra Hendricks's "Erase sexism at MoMA" Pink Pearl, and even Rose Mary Woods and her tape from Time.

Since it was two hours until the panel, I went over to P.S. 1. I'd been there two weeks ago so it was a revisit to most of the stuff. One of the big shows was "Altered, stitched & gathered" which was good after erased at Dorsky. Favorite moments at P.S. 1: Vija Celmins's stones, Guillermo Kuitca's "Everything" map (the Oregon portion stopped just North of Sunny Valley where Tee lived and the map included Kansas City, Fort Worth, Topeka, Calgary and lots of other places of relevance in one way or another). Still an hour and a half so I went over to Fisher Landau Center for Art where I found a good James Brown show -- the whole 2nd floor. His titles are not unique so I couldn't help but think about the trouble one would have inventing uniform titles for them. Oh, I did LOOK at them but the five entitled "Mexico," done the same year, same size, same collection. One would presumably end up with "Mexico [teal and red]. 1982" as the uniform title. This is when you need universal identifiers; let's hope the Fisher Landau uses accession numbers. And it also reinforces that little adage (thanks, Linda Barnhart) that a thumbnail is part of the descriptive metadata for a work of art, to confirm that you are indeed talking about the same thing. The "erasure" panel was interesting and included a performance piece by Peter Cramer and Jack Waters. The dichotomies: permanence / impermanence; ephemeral / durability; conserve / not conserve (the play of conservation and conservative); fragility. As Lorriane O'Grady said "I don't know many performance artists who have allowed their work to disappear."

27 January 2007

gerome, raidpere ... et al.

It's been a while. Yesterday afternoon, I went to a lecture on Jean-Léon Gérôme by Marc Gotlieb at the Institute of Fine Arts. He talked about how we viewers are looking at the narrative from a space outside the picture and how the moment of highest emotion has passed. For example, the line of people are returning to Jerusalem in "Golgotha" (Musée d'Orsay) and the shadows of the crosses are underplayed in the right foreground. We probably read the background and come forward to the shadows.

After the lecture, I went up and looked at magazines before meeting Christie at the Josef Hoffmann show at the Neue Galerie. While perusing the magazines, I came across a review/notice of a recent exhibition by Mark Raidpere. I don't know why he wasn't in my consciousness but he is now. He has been doing art photography for about 10 years after working as a fashion photographer. He was the Estonian entry at the Biennale di Venezia in 2005. He mixes traumatic self-portraits, prisoners, family, social rejection, and other rather bleak themes, with a "guarded gay-identity."

"The guarded gay-identity in his oeuvre is simply the reality that he shapes into art as direct experience, into works that are not aggressive or political but instead make you feel and think at the same time." -- Maria-Kristiina Soomre
http://www.kontakt.erstebankgroup.net/events/2006-11_CAC+Mark+Reidpere/en

I also liked this quote [this is for my sister Carol]:
For many, nakedness is humiliating and intimidating (--). For some this satisfies their need for exposure (E. Cooper). To remain clothed means to stay in safety, to keep the anonymous shields of social agreement around yourself.
Hanno Soans and Elo-Liis Parmas: Raidpere's Self-Image
http://www.einst.ee/Ea/2/TEXT/raidp.htm

Anyway, I've been enjoying traversing the net (aka googling) on Raidpere and reading about his work. The prison theme is especially poignant because of my own guarded personal business, but also because I just put Fish: a memoir of a boy in a man's prison by T.J. Parsell in my bag as my next book. It's too close, it's too foreign. We are all guarded in some of the business of our life though ...

I just finished reading The intimate life of Abraham Lincoln by C.A. Tripp and he speaks of Lincoln as a guileless truth-speaking pragmatist.

Now, the Hoffmann show was an unqualified delight. The show reconstructs four rooms by Hoffmann with supporting documentation and objects. The rooms are beautifully set in the beaux-arts galleries of the Neue Galerie. Seeing it with Christie was especially right since we both respond vigorously to the Vienna 1900 style but have varying personal preferences. There were a couple boxes of galuchat and neither of us recognized that material. (AAT: Leather made from the skin of a ray fish and characterized by a covering of pearl-like papillae usually ground flat leaving a pattern of tiny contiguous circles which are further emphasized by dyeing.) On one of the galuchat boxes, the tiny circles were darkened for emphasis. Alas, the top was on a high shelf and I hesitated to hoist Christie up so that she could see the emphasis.

After the Hoffmann show, we went to Serafina at 79th and Madison and had a very nice arugula salad and napolitana pizza, with Montepulciano d'Abruzzo house red.

Last week was ALA Midwinter in Seattle. The conference was good and I'll eventually get my report done on http://artcataloging.net/alagen.html. Lots of good discussions at MARBI and I attended most of CC:DA this time. While I am somewhat discouraged by the "progress" on RDA, the CC:DA discussions were mostly interesting. FAST is also moving forward, not with as much revolution as I might like but it is promising. There was also the usual complement of talking with friends over food and not. I got to Seattle about mid-day on Thursday and meandered through the new Seattle Public Library building by Rem Koolhaas. It is really wonderful to walk about in but one has read of staff dissatisfaction. There was a man in a green shirt on the green-lit escalator and he positively glowed. http://www.arcspace.com/architects/koolhaas/Seattle/

08 January 2007

antagonism & victimization

"The next day, though, [Jane] Addams and [John] Dewey got into an argument. It was an argument about argument. Addams said she believed that antagonism was always unnecessary. It never arose from real, objective differences, she told Dewey, 'but from a person's mixing in his own personal reactions -- the extra emphasis he gave the truth, the enjoyment he took in doing a thing because it was unpalatable to others, or the feeling that one must show his own colors.' If Christ drove the moneychangers out of the temple, she said, so much the worse for Christianity. The Civil War, too, showed the futulity of antagonism: 'we freed the slaves by war & and [sic] had now to free them all over again individually, & pay the costs of the war & reckon with the added bitterness of the Southerner beside'." -- The Metaphysical Club by Louis Menand, p. 313.

Thoughts of Iraq and how the antagonism there just worsens life for everyone, or at least for those that aren't dead yet.

And how desire to avoid antagonism can lead to exploitation ... and, here, it gets personal, way too personal.

06 January 2007

words, numbers, cities

There were a few things on the list before the Kara Walker meets Roberta Smith lecture at 4 pm, part of the Times Arts & Leisure arts weekend.

I started out at Tracy Williams Gallery (313 West 4th) for the Simryn Gill show that Roberta Smith reviewed in the N.Y. times a few days ago. The review was mainly about the books (!!) project but the show started with some photographs of Run Island in Malaysia. It's the island that the British traded to the Dutch for Manhattan (aka New Amsterdam). The photos were good, especially one with the prow of the small boat that Gill took over to the island. The prow stops our eyes as well as propelling us toward the destination. It almost appeared solarized but the gallery person said it was just the photo and printing. Most were b&w but a couple were color. A couple photos were of nutmeg trees, one near a banyan tree. We had a bit of banyan love, she'd grown up in Florida and I remember fondly the great banyan trees at Ca D'Zan in Sarasota, Florida.

On to the book project. Gill tore words out of books and put them in little plastic bags. The ragged books, a few dozen of them, were on tables. The plastic bags of words were in archival boxes on a third table, with two to four bags in each box. There were two bags of "always," three bags of "now," a bag with one "brink" (the gallery person said there was also a singleton bag of "gingerly" but I didn't see it). Sometimes, there was one or more scraps where the primary word was hidden and the word from the verso of the scrap was visible. In the "simply" bag was "inert"; in one of the "now" bags, a "think"; one "man" in the "outside" bag. One box had two bags of "home" and one bag each of "vessel" and "apple." Another box had "quite," "quiet" and "common." Yet another had "veranda/verandah," "enough" and "slow." The words against and with each other were intriguing. I started looking at one of the ragged books and then realized that I wanted to look at the scraps before I looked at more books. After looking at the scraps, I looked through a bunch of the books and was thrilled to find the words that read through the holes. Want more (including some pictures):
http://www.tate.org.uk/modern/exhibitions/gill/default.shtm
http://www.roslynoxley9.com.au/artists/16/Simryn_Gill/profile/
http://www.artnet.com/Galleries/Exhibitions.asp?gid=423899383&cid=109832

On the way to Tracy Williams, I passed a corner with Les Deux Gamins and I Tre Merli on opposite corners. It was on West Fourth Street. Don't know where the One was. Among the books, there was a sequence from 21 days to Twenty-two Malaysian stories to Nine Dayak nights to Three dances of Oceania.

From there, on to the Pratt Manhattan gallery for another part of the "shrinking cities" project. Last night, john and I went to the Center for Architecture to see a couple films: first an interview with long-time Detroiter Lee Burns about the Detroit Agriculture Network ("I am farming humanity" by Annette Weisser and Ingo Vetter); the second jumped between segments set in Detroit and Saint Petersburg ("Garden stories" by Boris Gerrets).
http://shrinkingcities.com/

The exhibition was pretty interesting. They had copies of the two volumes that serve as a sort of catalog but are much fuller about the various projects than what was on the walls. They also had the wonderful Atlas of shrinking cities published recently by Hatje Cantz. I was sorely tempted by the books but resisted buying them for the moment.

On to Murray Guy where the group show with Matthew Buckingham, Alejandro Cesarco, Louise Lawler, and Allen Ruppersberg. Since I'd already seen the works, I talked for a while with Murray and Guy about shows they'd seen and enjoyed. My next stop was going to be Feigen for the last day of the extended Ray Johnson show. On the way I found Willie Doherty videos at Alexander and Bonin as well as Adi Nes photos at Shainman. One of the Doherty videos ("Passage" 2006) is two men walking toward each other, passing, and then it repeats. Like his last round of videos, it's homoerotic to these eyes but Doherty is heterosexual.
http://alexanderandbonin.com/exhibitions/doherty/2007/passage.html

The Ray Johnson show at Feigen was very interesting and they were playing "How to draw a bunny," the documentary about Johnson which starts with the discovery of his body in Sag Harbor. The movie is 90 minutes long and I would have loved to stay longer but I needed to move on toward the CUNY Grad Center for the Walker/Smith conversation. Since Detroit seemed to be one of the themes of the day, it was interesting that Ray Johnson grew up there but escaped to NYC after going to Cass Tech in downtown Detroit.

Looking at the pictures of Detroit reminded me of my visit there with Christie in 2000 or so. She was living in Ann Arbor then. We went to Detroit for the day, visiting Eastern Market, Pewabic Potter, the Iroquois building downtown, and drove around a bit. Driving around is heartbreaking because there are so many gaps in the urban fabric, houses gone. The aerial views in the shrinking cities show and catalogs are beautiful but horrible. The population of Detroit has shrunk almost as much over the last 30 years or so as the post-Katrina population of New Orleans.

On the way, I stopped at Tanya Bonakdar (one of the shows mentioned by Janice Guy) to see the show of "Slave city" by Atelier van Lieshout. Very interesting. One of the books on the gallery desk was Franchise, a 2002 catalog which has a quonset hut-like building on the cover. More round-topped buildings.
http://shermaniablog.blogspot.com/2006_04_01_archive.html

Upstairs from "Slave city" were some photos and screens by Sabine Hornig, yet more good stuff.

I guess the shrinking cities theme returned as Walker talked about the show she did at the Met entitled "Kara Walker at the Met: after the deluge." There is much about water in Walker's work and she was selecting the pieces for the Met show when Katrina struck.

The conversation overall wasn't as magnificent as I'd dreamed of. Smith isn't glib in interviewing (for which I'm probably thankful) and Walker is rather shy. The conversation was preceded by a fast trip through a bunch of Walker works and that was compelling. They also showed a bit of one of Walker's films.