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.

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