Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Art world mumblings

Art Fag City has some outstanding and humorous coverage of Art Basel Miami up right now. In my recent travels I've heard the comment from more than one in-the-know-type suggesting that the world of the gallery reception maybe on it's way out. The place to make moola is the fair. While many galleries in bigger metropolitan locations are keeping their showrooms open for the time being, and continuing to host opening receptions many are wondering what the possible benefit is of supporting the overhead of a public space when it's not generating the sales possible at major international fairs. In today's economy I would imagine any opportunity to cut overhead would seem like an all too sweet prospect. This is an interesting concept the more you think about it. If it is in fact true and not idle chit chat the composition of many a regional art community will change significantly in the coming years. Outside of simply making sales, the gallery showroom with it's routine reception nights provides a valuable venue for artists to connect. Without this setting the scene could become increasingly isolated. As many of us can well attest, receptions are also a good place to find an opportunity to chat with curators, gallerists, and fellow artists in the hope of getting our work shown. Ah what the future may hold...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Into the abyss

I had an interesting chat with Renny Pritikin, who is the director of the Nelson Gallery when I went to shoot my show last week mere hours before it closed. He mentioned that often times artists have this misconception that when they leave art school they'll find themselves facing all of this resistance. In reality, once the program is finished most of us find ourselves facing a vast nothing, no resistance at all. No one looking to criticize or challenge, in fact depending on the community, folks may not even be looking at all.

As I approached the end of my masters, I experienced a feeling similar to the one I felt after completing my undergrad degree. In the months leading up to the final curtain I felt anxious and uncertain, dreading the pending job world, and the exit from a life surrounded by individuals making and talking about art.

Since returning my keys, however, I found that each day feels a little lighter than the last. Now I just concentrate on my work. No weird academic drama, or the usual gossip that exists to one degree or another in most college art programs. No push pull with professors who may or may not have any clear idea as to what you are after or pure motives in the criticism they offer up. Nope, right now, it's just me, a giant unfinished studio, masses of tangled synthetic hair, a pile of tchotchkes, and 6 shows to prepare for by X-Mas.

In the meantime here's some pics from my recent move...

Good bye door. As I write this I'm realizing that I think I left that teddy bear card behind. rats!

Giggles looks like it's wearing a giant condom in this photo. I'll let you decide which one's called Giggles.

This little tableaux was 2 sweet.



Why doesn't that Sacramento Art Institute offer any art classes?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Where's the monkey?

I wish the Drunken Monkey would make a new post* on his round the world motorcycle blog. I wonder where he is and how he's doing... more importantly, I wanna know how that 'stache is doin'.

*I recognize that this is not in fact an actual post so much as wondering out loud. A real blog post is forthcoming, as soon as I get up the oompf to skitter up into to the attic to access my recent photos off the ol' man's computer. In the meantime I wanted to freshen up the joint.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

WWBFD-What would bigfoot do?

Ug! Despite all of the yelp craziness that's transpired in recent days it was not until this evening that I wished I could comment on someone's idiotic review. Whilst looking at MM's latest addition I noticed that NPR's star rating had gone down a full star and a half. Upon investigation I discovered that this was thanks to Tom F.'s insightful and well thought observation that NPR doesn't focus enough attention on local news and just wants to talk about the middle east all the time. Hmmmm, ya think it might be because there's a lot to report on over there, or do you suppose it's just a superficial preoccupation? Ya dope. I swear. If Tom were still listening to NPR he'd probably be pretty sick of all this Georgia/Russia coverage right about now. Super power, shmuper power right TF?

Granted last night OMF apparently made a tongue in cheek comment to RC that he could no longer follow the civil unrest in the "other" Georgia when the US has real news breaking in our Georgia. Bigfoot news, duh. OMF has also suggested that he would be more interested in the Olympics if bigfoot were competing and if he were in fact competing Bigfoot would win more gold medals than Michael Phelps.

On a lighter note I just made Kickpleat's banana bread recipe which was yumza! I added chocolate chips to mine making it... AWESOME!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Way to own it

"(After all, reality is nothing other than the passing result of what we do together, as Marx put it.)" - Bourriaud

I'm still diggin' on the Bourriaud and am just about finished which is good as my discussion is this evening. Reading this in the context of everything else I've been doing and hearing in recent weeks has been interesting.

If, as Bourriaud paraphrases above, reality is simply the passing result of what we do together my current reality consists of a series of misunderstandings, misinterpretations, and knee jerks all revolving around different machinations of the same thread; i.e. who does what with whom about what. Who cares.

In following the ongoing cabal saga I was pleased to see the way Jackson owned Kevin Seconds' response to the True Love piece. Although in fairness Mr. Seconds said Jackson looked like a "fucking jerk," not that he in fact was a "fucking jerk." A subtle distinction.

Over and above the surface details of all of these recent dialogues one thing strikes me above all else. I don't envy anyone writing any level of criticism on our local community myself included - although I am spreading my wings the further out of grad school I get. Our local art and music scene is indeed close knit and the risk of offending someone is always high. I'm certainly not saying this should deter anyone but I do think it's why one doesn't see much criticism in our local rags.

Anyhoo, long story short, way to own it Jackson! If the "fucking jerk" is a mint mocha with cardamon what would a spicy jerk be I wonder...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"The escape of the inflatable turd is reminiscent of another event involving the rock group Pink Floyd."

This ladies and gentlemen is why I love Paul McCarthy. For how else would one stumble across the headline,"Up in the sky: is it a turd? Is it a plane?"


I'm in the passionate throws of moving today. So fun! Although at this point I'm in striking distance of being finished. Widows have been abated, work has been sealed in smokey white visqueen, and projects have been sorted and assigned to their proper destinations.

In the meantime my review of Ju Hachi ran in the Capitol Weekly this week. I was slow to mention it I know. My review includes a shout out to Wakano Ura. Still heart broken.

While I'm out toiling in the noon day sun check out STV's latest claim to fame or defame as the case maybe. I wasted many a long moment on it last night. His piece about American Apparel is pretty funny.

Friday, August 8, 2008

New art crush

A few times a year I stumble upon someone whose work or writings reaffirm my feelings about art and encourage me to continue my pursuit knowing that I am in good company. In recent years such individuals have included Tim Hawkinson, Francis Alys, John Dewey, Fatimah Tuggar, Nietzsche, Paddy Johnson at AFC, and the wonderful Interference show I saw at Eyebeam last year. On a local level I have recently been quite inspired by Dr. Elaine O'Brien at Hornet Tech and Mr. Richard Haley.

This morning I have been getting reacquainted with my latest art crush, Nicolas Bourriaud author of "Relational Aesthetics." So dreamy... next week I'm taking part in a discussion of his work which was originally published in 1992. By then I will have digested enough of it to discuss it like a rational human being. In the meantime here's a snippet I found particularly enjoyable this morning:

1. General term describing a set of objects presented as a part of a narrative known as art history. This narrative draws up the critical genealogy and discusses the issues raised by these objects, by way of three sub-sets: painting, sculpture, architecture.
2. Nowadays, the word "art" seems to be no more than a semantic leftover of this narrative, whose more accurate definition would read as follows: Art is an activity consisting in producing relationships with the world with the help of signs, forms, actions and objects.


Blue Shepherd, Digital print, 36”x27”, 2008
Speaking of producing relationships, I'm in two shows tomorrow night should you want to brave the crowds. I'll be at the Axis Gallery on 19th and P streets as well as Design Within Reach at 16th and J. I'm in great company at both so come out!!!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

On criticism and the like

I've been thinking a lot about the nature of criticism lately for various reasons. It all started when I read the short and tart review of the Monthly that was posted on yelp about a week ago. Said review then got mention on Heckasac, got discussed, and since then our modest number of yelp postings have doubled to include one from the Freeport Bakery! Perhaps I should consider it the zenith of my success when one of my favorite bakeries gives me the thumbs up. As all this was going on it was brought to my attention recently that I am also, via my affiliation with the Monthly, the member of a cabal which is quite fine by me. As opposed to the "gang" which was also referenced in the article I suppose I would rather be thought to be part of some secret society with conspiratorial powers as opposed to a group that wants to wangle chains and knife tires.

In addition to this I have recently been embarking upon a project which takes place in my studio or bedroom about once a year. The project I speak of is the methodical and tedious organization of all press, and documentation materials relating to my art career including the comment books from my shows which can make for interesting reading. (something about this post is beginning to make me feel like Andy Rooney)

Anyhoo... overall the comments on my thesis show were pretty positive with the exception of:

"I am embarrassed to say I received an MA from this school" - signed anonymous

Rumor around campus had it that anonymous and her cronies made a complaint to the department about me as well trying to prevent them from awarding me a degree. Nuts to her, my graduation confirmation came back last week. za zing!

Shumbles, stuffed toys, rope, 9’x3’6”x3’6”, 2004
Going further back to when I won best of show at the state fair turns up even better comments. I'm only reprinting some of the better ones here as there were about 40 pages total ALL negative.

ALL negative:

"The piece called shambles was very ugly. I do not see how it could have won over the bull" - Rayanne

"Best of Show was an insult to the other artists in this exhibit. I can't believe you picked THIS for Best of Show." - Mary

"Best of Show - Who judges this? It was awful! How much were you paid? Why is this art?" - anonymous

"Your choice of Best of Show and Juror's Award can only be described as the kind of "art" that gives "art" a bad name! The only thing it translates is the art snob crowd's ability to look down their nose at the casual observer. What tripe! What an offense to the senses. As for the "judges" and the "jurors" did they serve on the O.J. trial?!?!?!?!?!?! That thing is no more art than what my chihuahua produces if I give him a teddy bear to chew! MAYBE I SHOULD ENTER MY DOG'S WORK"- Jessica

"Are you kidding? Your choice for best of show gives a strong message that future entrants need look no further than their garbage cans!!! What an insult to the real artists." - anonymous

"I can't believe the ugly piece hanging in the middle of the exhibit with the polyester oozing from every ragged pore. It looks like a bunch of stuffed animals torn apart and resembled." - Betsy

*****Betsy's astute observation of what the piece actually was made me chuckle when I read it.****

"It's awful to leave an exhibit and feel angry. This makes me sad." - Ann

and finally

"I don't like the lint bag. Looks like a testicle from the drier." - anonymous

Just before I graduated I was asked to give a lecture to a group of sophomore art majors at CSUS. At the end of the lecture the professor who's class it was mentioned working on the installation committee the year I took top honors and brought up the controversy that surrounded my work. We discussed it a bit and when it was time for the Q&A at the end of the lecture a woman in the front row asked me how I have the strength to go on given the swack of insults I received after that show. Her question seriously caught be off guard because though I carefully read and thought about some of the comments in that book it never occurred to me that they would in any way affect my ability to make work. In fact some of the comments had the opposite affect and made me even more resolute in my desire to make work.

In general after mulling over all of these various bits and pieces over the past few days I've come to one small personal conclusion while getting my laps in this morning at the Southside pool ( best place to think ever). I'm truly %100, fine with criticism as long as it's genuine. When I was an undergrad one of my favorite professors of all time told me that there is a fine line between constructive criticism and just plain being hurtful or intentionally or unintentionally, breaking someone's enthusiasm to pursue their ideas. That said, to succeed in her class you were expected to take criticism with an absolutely positive attitude and consider whether it could be useful to your work before dismissing it.

Whenever I find myself confronted with feedback whether it be in a comment book at a show, in a critique, or on the internet in addition to weighing out what possible benefit the criticism may be to me I'm wondering if it's intended to be a sincerely helpful observation or merely a dig. Most of the time when it's a dig it rolls off me like water off a ducks back. Conversely, when I criticize the endeavors of others I try to be as reasoned and fair as possible in my observations.

This is not to say of course that pearls don't occasionally drop from the mouths of total assholes and when that happens their opinion is as valid as anyone else's. Boy the more layers I take off this onion the more complicated it gets. For the sake of argument though lets use the above comments as my examples of comments that aren't particularly constructive.

Bottom line it's easy to say something harsh or snarky or cruel - especially anonymously - it's much more difficult to say something reasoned and insightful measuring the good against the bad. I suppose I'm not so much referring to anything that's been said about my doings in the past few days so much as just my feelings on criticism in general.

As a side note, not that it's ever happened but it would be rad to get a comment accompanied by an email address one of these days. I would have loved to known how I made Ann sad.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Chalk It Up needs you!!!!

In these trying economic times local charities are feeling the hit harder than anyone. Let's face it, if you don't have expendable cash to go out to eat or buy new clothes you're probably not donating to much either. As many well know the arts tend to suffer in our society even when we're in good times. That said Chalk it Up to Sacramento needs your help! This children's art charity works to raise funds that will help return art to public schools. Believe it or not when I was a resident artist at a elementary school back in 2003 one of my 5th grade classes hadn't had any art education before. At this particular school both art and science were considered electives because neither was included in the standardized No Child Left Behind testing. Given that the teachers at the school decided to work in as much science as possible in place of art which I couldn't really blame them for. Anyhoo, long story short follow the link and see what you can do whether it be to sponsor a square, volunteer as an artist, or just volunteer as an average Joe. This Labor Day weekend come help us out with the nuts and bolts of running a three day art festival. There'll be beer...

Good times

Yesterday was quite a day. I went to the Agent Ribbons, Daisy Spot, Art Lessing and the Flower Vato show the night before which left me with a teensy little hangover which was well worth it because the show was so amazing. It was such a super tight line-up! Watching Art Lessing and the Flower Vato reminded me what a talented mofo Dan is. When he and I were in art school together he made the most mesmerizing kinetic installation I've ever experienced. I wish I could remember what all it consisted of... I know that a warped drum cymbal and a fan were involved. It was so great! I could just sit and watch it until I lost track of time.

Anyhoo, after shaking off that pesky hangover, getting some laps in, and having lunch I headed to West Sac to continue the widow abatement and blew a tire in the middle lane of 80 DIRECTLY above the river just before the Jefferson exit. Oof! No fun. Things I learned while standing up there with my sis' trying to figure out a competent plan of attack included:

Surprise at how much an overpass shakes while you're standing on it.

There is a lot of dust on the shoulder that fills up your shoes if you stand there long enough from the draft kicked up by passing semis.

That there are a large number of dickheads that want to hoot at and razz you when you're stranded on the side of the highway. (Especially when they're sporting sideways ball caps and no shirt.)

My truck handles a blow out super well. The noise was mostly what tipped me off to what happened. The truck didn't veer and the ride was only slightly bumpier that normal. Yah! Toyota Tacoma!

You can drive on a shredded tire at 20mph to get yourself off the freeway.

The tires on both of OMF's and I's vehicles are shot.

Ah, good times.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

groin-grabbingly transcendent

Man! I decided to look at the yelps on China Buffet and most of them are pretty standard, although a bit all over the map - the one by msg guy was assish natch - but this one by Eric B. made me laugh out loud:

"I have been here on three separate occasions and never been disappointed, hence 3.5 stars... It's a buffet. That does not mean that it sucks, but it is not exactly groin-grabbingly transcendent either.

I enjoyed the duck and the crab legs very much the last time, and I was impressed that they serve some of the more unusual items as well as the standard fried rice/sweet&sour/fried shrimp/chow mein white folks Chinese food, e.g. fried chicken feet, tripe and a decent variety of dumplings.

Add to this mix that beer is exeptionally reasonable by restaurant standards, and China Buffet is a winner! If you don't know what you want to eat, you can find something here, even if it is cobettes of corn floating in white water, or french fries and chicken nuggets for your cranky children!!

Beware of trying to park in their weird lot, though. People just can't seem to get the hang of it - bizarre really."

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Livin' the wiggle

Today was a pretty good day. Maybe not a great day but it's certainly puttin' me back on top after a long week of bummer town BS.

The new issue of MM came out this morning and after a minor fluff up about delivery times the mag was delivered around noon. This month perhaps for the first time ever if not simply the first time in a long time we had only a small sliver of the route on OMF's and I's plate, as our business partner has hired someone to help us out. Hazaa and kudos to Brian Fischer!

When we were stocking the 21st and Broadway area I was approached by this guy on a bike mumbling stuff and at first I thought oh boy here we go, remembering my little incident from the other day. Instead when he got up to me he enthusiastically said, "hey! is that the new Midtown Monthly?!??!?!" To which I of course said "yes!" He then showered the publication with praise and said he anxiously awaits each months issue. YEAH!!!! Totally stoked! I gave him 2 copies which he stuck in his bike basket and then off he went.

After finishing our small Land Park route today and having a short meeting with our new ad sales person OMF and I ventured to a place we've long been wanting to try.

China Buffet! Featuring "American, Japanese, Italian, Chinese-style and Mongolian BBQ."

I began with hot n' sour soup which was both hot and sour and bomb(!), a green dinner salad with ranch dressing, and three kinds of sushi all of which were fresh tasting and delicious.

This was followed by potstickers, two kinds of shrimp, a tiny little pie, and spicy chicken.

And then I decided on one more trip through the buffet as opposed to dessert getting yet a another variety of shrimp, more sushi, and french fries. Delicious!

Of the many culinary delights on offer I decided against the Mongolian BBQ which sorta looked like cross contamination city. Despite the fact that I normally don't care for buffets and I can feel my insides being preserved by the copious amounts of salt and MSG I've probably ingested tonight, it was still a %100 quality experience. Overall the place is super clean, the service is friendly, and the ambience gets extra stars for the waterfall that greets you when you walk in the door and the bow tied wait staff (ladies and men).

Post meal we were served fortune cookies which filled the void left by my abstention from their dessert area. My fortune was so-so and the cookie was stale but OMF's was great:

"Life is not a struggle, it's a wiggle."

uh, yuh.