The Paul McCarthy lecture at CCA on Tuesday was 100% better than I expected it to be. It was a talk addressing a show that he curated at Wattis, the theme being all the work that has inspired him over the years. Many of the works in the show were by folks that a lot of us are inspired by, Yoko Ono, Warhol, Beuys, DeFeo, Moore, but in addition to these McCarthy included a handful of artists and a few friends whose work was also influential in his development. I was at first skeptical and a little disappointed that we would be going to hear him talk about other people's work and not his own. In the end his evaluation and analysis on the work of others was fascinating and shed a light on what I already know of McCarthy's own works.
Two of the paintings in the show were by Doyle Strong a teacher of McCarthy's when he resided in SLC, Utah. The paintings were really nice and well executed exhibiting strange lush subject matter for the time and location in which they were created. Strong taught at Weber State which was also my Ma's alma mater. I keep forgetting to ask if she had any classes with him. It was pretty sad to hear that many of Strong's other paintings were destroyed with the exception of the two on display.
The work of Robert Mallary had a similar story although rather than being destroyed by hands the artist's other works are going as a result of time and neglect.
McCarthy's lecture brought up interesting points about influence, development, and the non-linear way that one receives, processes, and acts on visual and intellectual stimulus. He brought up the fact that often times his memory of a work is very different than the work itself despite the work having a deep impact on him. He cited a "recreation" he made of a Henry Moore based on his memory of it and his concerns that the Moore estate would sue him for copyright. Upon seeing the work the Moore estate could find no comparison between the "copy" and any particular work in the Moore catalogue.
There is also the phenomenon of being deeply affected by a work years or decades after it was made. At any given time any one of us making work can be creating under the influence of a rich tapestry of ideas both past present. It's really quite interesting when you think about the intellectual genesis of where what you're looking at comes from. The same can be said of music as well.
To this day I can attribute a large part of my desire to both write and make art to a single passage I read in a fictional novel about 10 years ago. After reading it I knew that I had to do something creative. I didn't know what exactly but I knew that I wanted to be able to communicate with strangers the way that author had communicated with me.
Portrait of a Nerd, photo by Paul McCarthy, camera courtesy of So Choi
Post show I nerded out and asked McCarthy if he would snap my picture. Stoked!
CCA itself was a pretty interesting experience. Maybe it's the Nodac native in me but there was something about my surroundings that evening that smacked of look at me syndrome. The lecture hall was packed(!) which was rad because I have sadly become accustomed to the pathetic turn out at Sac State lectures, however, I was stunned by how many people texted, chatted, and split not long into it.
Afterwards the show was reopened for us to ruminate on the work post-lecture. Upon our re-entry the previously disaffected gallery sitter had sprung to the floor and was convulsing, sweating, and reciting text which was illegible. My buddy So and I were at first concerned that he was ailing and then realized that this was a simply a poorly executed performance piece intended to draw the attention of a captive McCarthy audience. It was funny to me that no one was interested.
Before going home we hit House of Nanking!!!! I love you!!!!! House of Nanking!!!!! It was so fucking, insanely, delicious! We had the most delightful shrimps served with basil, cucumbers, and onions, and noodles tossed in a deep brown delicately flavored sauce, and the creamiest eggplant and tofu the world has ever known. It was absolutely heaven on a plate making for a happy and satisfied drive back to Sac.