Sunday, November 30, 2008

Somewhere Between Here and Nowhere

Still from Under Discussion, a video by Allora & Calzadilla (great interview with them here)

Excerpt from Tine Van Aerschot's first production, I have no thoughts and this is one. The actress is Forced Entertainment's Claire Marshall.
Another excerpt and a short bio here.

First Trick Rail Jam Stowe Mountain Footage

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

First Trick Rail Jam Stowe Mountain Footage Courtesy of Bear Pond Productions (Thanks Matt!) This is just the first of many more Stowe Jams to come this Winter! See ya'll back in the park soon. Happy Shredding!!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

"Art is seeing things from a different perspective"

Diogenes Laertes, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Pythagoras, Bk. VIII, 8:

“When Leon the tyrant of Phlius asked Pythagoras who he was, he said, “a philosopher,” and that he compared life to the Great Games, where some went to compete for the prize and others went with wares to sell, but the best as spectators; for similarly, in life, some grow up with servile natures, greedy for fame and gain, but the philosopher seeks for truth.”

Video by comedian/musician Chris Cohen.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Swingin pullin droppin as if it all never happened

Kamila Szejnoch's work Swing is the winner of this year's Szpilman Award ("awarded to works that exist only for a moment or a short period of time"). The Swing was suspended on one of Warsaw's largest (and scariest) monuments, the monument to the Berling Army Soldier. (for posters in the same vein and for Szejnoch's commentary, see here).

Two other works I particularly like from among the finalists are Sai Hua Kuan's Space Drawing
and Kate Mitchell's I am Not A Joke:

Beautiful Catastrophy - Kristine Moran's painting

What I find fascinating in Kristine Moran's paintings is the sense of discipline. The disasters that keep appearing, the huge messes of messes, the total wreck of a reality she introduces us into, seem like a carefuly planned catastrophy.
No wonder she arrived at theater interiors, with their settings ready for the show, with the wardrobe mirrors reflecting every possible aspect of the mask, with their ridiculously decorative shapes that are bound to disappear when it happens.
This stage is set for failure. A beautiful failure of something that seemed to be going right. Everything was set, every rule was applied and every hope was nurtured.
And yet, the closer to what matters, to the subject (the topic, the I, the eye), the bigger the tension.
Until it all just blows up in pieces.

But not entirely. And call me an optimist, but this structure which reappears even in the most amorphous circumstances sustains not just the painting, but also, whatever is left of me, the empathic viewer.

Moran's pictures have evolved into an astonishing universe where 3D space that contains, well, how do I put it... paint. Color. Texture. Painting is the better word here. It is as if the painting, a 2D picture, moved into a 3D space. And the space accepted it, incorporating it in its realm. If you think this is a metaphor, see this:

Kristine Moran has been compared to Francis Bacon. Yes, sure, the inter-dependence of form and reality, their perverse games of hide-and-seek... But Moran's work seemingly leaves the human body - though certainly not the human - much further behind. And maybe because of that, it appears as not so much a struggle of the artist, as a struggle between the forms themselves. As she watches them, cooly, from a distance.

The titles are, in order of appearance: You Used To Be Alright, What Happened ; The World Is Yours ; Collapse of Will ; Hunter - Gatherer.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

...and all this time is so far away...

Okay. This is not an easy moment. All this attention is getting me nervous, and I feel like everything I write is being observed... After all, this has all along been about a private journey into the realm of some contemporary art.
So, just to make sure it is still a blog, let me tell you a story.
Once upon a time, I was an addict of skiing. I trained and I raced (without too much of a success) and I even got to spend some time with the Polish Ski Team. My first encounter with them was in a hotel in the French village of Les Deux Alpes. I entered the hotel room, and there they were, Poland's finest skiers. Most of them were concentrated on a Playstation game of Formula 1, with its volume set to maximum level. The rest of the young sportsmen were watching TV - it was a formula 1 race, and its noise was competing with the game. Everyone was completely mesmerized by the two screens. It took me at least a minute to realize there was someone else in the room, though. It was Andrzej Bachleda, by far Poland's best skier, who has lived most of his life in France, and whom I considered a strange guy - not very talkative, some sort of an odd case... In the midst of the overwhelming noise, the man was sitting on the bed, tucked into a corner, and reading Hemingway.
Well, this man has also come a long way since that moment. He has recently put out another album. Here is one song. (Besides the charming music, do appreciate the Polish mountains in the background).


Artists always dream of creating works of permanence. Perhaps they hope that "timeless" art will help them live on past their death.

Lorado Taft (1860-1936) was that kind of artist. A Chicago sculptor of monumental, heroic subjects, Taft worked from 1907 to 1922 on his life's masterpiece, a huge sculpture about mortality called The Fountain of Time. The sculpture was based on a line from Austin Dobson:
Time goes, you say? Alas, time stays; we go!
Taft created a 120 foot long parade of humanity with over 100 different figures symbolizing life's journey from birth to death.

This "march of the doomed" takes place in front of an imposing, 26 foot tall statue of Father Time.

Taft wanted his sculpture to have an eternal look, so he designed it in a classical "beaux-art" style. Unfortunately, by the time he finished, the beaux-art style was already unfashionable. It was replaced by abstract modernism. (Perhaps Time felt that Taft's ambition was impertinent and wanted to teach him a lesson.) In any event, the leading Chicago newspaper soon labeled the outdated sculpture one of the city's "pet atrocities." Resentful at the way styles had passed him by, Taft became a leading spokesperson for conservative sculpture and lectured against the evils of modernism (demonstrating that he had learned absolutely nothing about the inevitability of time).

Taft also tried to construct his sculpture using materials that would last a long time. After consulting with engineers, he decided on steel reinforced, hollow-cast concrete. Unfortunately, this choice was not well suited for Chicago winters. The concrete expanded and contracted, causing cracks in the surface. Details eroded and crumbled away forever. By the 1980s, the interior was crumbling due to moisture buildup, and the surface had become pitted and drab, assaulted by time, elements and pollution.

Even then, time was not done transforming Taft's work. Taft had envisioned his sculpture as the centerpiece of an elegant park in the style of the World's Columbian Exposition, where Taft first worked as a sculptor. However, the neighborhood changed with time. The surrounding city deteriorated even more than the sculpture. The sculpture became overgrown with weeds. There were no funds for sculpture repairs in a rough neighborhood on the south side of Chicago.

As a small boy in Chicago, I used to stand in that park and stare up at Taft's crumbling sculpture. Its subject was scary for a kid, but not nearly as scary as the changes wreaked by the passage of time.

I revisited that sculpture years later when I returned to Chicago as a law student. By then, time had transformed both me and the sculpture. I had grown to understand that, no matter how big or permanent we try to make art, it will not enable us to outwit time. No matter how grand or eternal the subject matter that we choose. No matter how wise the artist. No matter how much the artist got paid.

Taft had to learn the hard way that even art can't rescue us from the gaping maw of time; we just have to keep looking for our solace.

This happy happy love
Is sieged with crying sorrows,

Crushed beneath and above

Between todays and morrows;

A little paradise

Held in the world's vice.


This love a moment known

For what I do not know

And in a moment gone

Is like the happy doe

That keeps its perfect laws

Between the tiger's paws

And vindicates its cause.

. --Edwin Muir

Of Delicate Pride - Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada

The Wooster Collective published an interview with Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada. The answers to the following three questions are a brilliant introduction to his work. (My favorite, of course, is the third answer.)

Wooster: What other artists do you most admire?

I admire artists from different periods because of how they have impacted me at different times in my life. Leonardo da Vinci, Jean Giraud, Marcel Duchamp, John Heartfield, Ana Mendieta, Chris Burden, Barbara Kruger, Mark Pauline, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Joseph Beuys and Anselm Kiefer are each a little part of me as an artist. With my contemporaries I would have to say that Swoon, Blu, and Marc Jenkins have impressed me not only with what they say with what they create, but also because of who they are as people.

Wooster: How would you describe your art to someone who could not see it?

My art is usually found within the urban landscape. City textures are my favorite background for my work. I like to work with ephemeral materials. One of my directions is to create large charcoal portraits of anonymous people on inner city walls that fade away with the wind and rain.

Wooster: What other talent would most like to have?

If I had another lifetime to devote to something else I would probably be an archeologist.

There is one thing about these portraits from the Identity Series I find awe-inspiring. They are modest. They bring forward the anonymous faces in a way that inspires both empathy and awe. They put them forward, fighting the war with commercial works as well as any. And yet, they are not shining at us with attractive colors. Their truthfulness is more than honest. It is humble. And yet - proud. And one more crucial thing: these faces, they fade away with time. This rare combination of grandiosity and modesty is something truly impressive.

Which brings us to Rodriguez-Gerada's latest project, the one most of us came to know him for.
He is the author of a huge portrait of Barack Obama (although actually the work is still not finished). But I think this has received enough publicity already. Appropriately enough, the work will be called Expectations, and is yesterday's news even before it inaugurated. Which tells us as much about the reception of directly political art as about the work itself. (On the other hand, this expectation is also about preparing the desinchantment, isn't it?)

Two documentaries about Rodriguez-Gerada's work in Spain:

Monday, November 24, 2008

Getting Ready

Part of an installation by Urs Fischer.

(Slowly and gently coming back...)

Friday, November 21, 2008


The great Coby Whitmore reminds us that a picture can be bigger when it doesn't fill up the whole page.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I am proud to inform you that this site has been named one of the Top 8 Art Blogs of 2008 by the great Murmurart! It has also been listed as one of 100 Blogs That Will Make You Smarter at Online!
This demands celebration...
After the hangover, expect new posts.
Also a selection of the posts will hopefuly soon be featured at the website of the classy Art World Magazine.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Say Word: Robert Burden's Voltron timelapse painting

Why not post more interesting things like Robert Burden's Voltron timelapse painting?! A new series titled "Say Word" (props to Boing Boing)



Andrew Wyeth called this painting "Marsh Hawk."

Having trouble finding the marsh hawk? Why, here it is way over at the edge, sitting on a post:

Harold von Schmidt painted this wonderful painting of revolutionary war hero William Dawes. Can't see him? If you are lucky, you might catch a fleeting glimpse of his butt.

This is Brueghel's painting of the fall of Icarus, the boy who flew too close to the sun. But Icarus is not exactly hogging the spotlight.

Here are his legs, way down here:

The literary critic Marvin Mudrick once said,
If you're ever tempted to write a story called "The Secret of the Universe" or "Man's Inhumanity to Man," do yourself a favor and call it "Fred" instead.
For today's post, I was tempted to expound at length on the importance of avoiding obviousness in art.

But I think I won't.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Illustrator Chris Van Allsburg once said that he spent only a small percentage of his working time making creative choices. The vast majority of his time was spent on the manual labor of implementing those choices. He would spend days and days painstakingly drawing individual blades of grass and leaves.

Artist Bernie Wrightson seemed to work the same way. He spent a great deal of time mechanically implementing his initial artistic decisions:

(In my view, this often resulted in a mountain of effort for a molehill of a result.)

Illustrator Robert Vickrey had a similar laborious style. Once he designed a picture, he would spend weeks filling in backgrounds such as concrete surfaces and brick walls.

I was thinking about this trade off as I was marveling at the paintings of Dreamworks artist
Nathan Fowkes. Fowkes works at the opposite end of the spectrum.

Note the simplicity and economy with which he created that notch in the nearest line of mountains, or the way he conveyed important gradations of color within a single brush stroke.

These are small paintings (most are less than 3x5") that were painted very quickly (usually in 20 to 40 minutes) yet each one contains the entire genetic code for a larger, finished painting.

These sketches demonstrate all of the hard artistic decisions (commitments to a composition and a design, selections of color and technique) by which a finished work of art might be judged. They are pure artistic choice in its most concentrated form, without all the numbing labor and secondary refinements found in the finished pieces above.

Don't make the mistake of thinking there is anything crude about these paintings just because they are sketches. The subtlety of color in this next little beauty is absolutely breathtaking:

While they are smaller in size and took a fraction of the time, Fowkes's sketches convey far more information, with far more insight, than the larger finished works of Van Allsburg, Wrightson and Vickrey above. Each stroke or color choice by Fowkes has real significance.

I particularly enjoy the rich variety that Fowkes finds in the view from his window. These tiny pictures are so dense with knowledge, they must have the atomic weight of weapons grade plutonium:

I find his curiosity about this view quite contagious.

Van Allsburg, Wrightson and Vickrey are all talented fellows and I admire their work, but there is a separate beauty to Fowkes's economy, and I commend his work to you.

Friday, November 7, 2008

It's a celebration!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Burlington Underground Web Launch

Ryan Orlove (founder/co-owner), Brady Lee (Co-owner/promoter) and Dan Mesa (Co-founder/webmaster) just recently launched their new website thats quoted as "your connection to Burlington's music scene" Giving the community information 24/7 on shows, dates, tours, venues, etc. (Were surprised nobody thought of this sooner haha) Congrats guys! Visit Burlington Underground HERE

DJ's Rob Swift, G.I. Joe and Russell Friday Night!

LINK for more information. Dont miss this show!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Gates McFadden - You Can See Russia From Here On A Clear Day

Gates McFadden's fullest album to date has improviser/composer Joel Schrauben making a digi-romantic Glenn Branca of himself. But not via an army of guitarists; it's just Joel and a laptop - therein being dozens of delay loops and tones. You Can See Russia... is an exercise in infinite repetition; fitting in that the Palin remark appropriated is just one of a series of infinitely repeated talking points this season - repetition to the point of a loss of meaning. Fortunately for Gates McFadden, the loss of meaning here is not a descent into idiocy but one of recontextualization; where repeated tones and sounds layer upon one another building a veritable Tower of Digital Babel that comes crumbling down when Schrauben (as creator) sees fit. Schrauben achieves a unified, suspensefully ambient statement that gives credence to those who may assert that tension and resolution are overrated concepts.
Get it here.

Guyz Nyte - Smmmrtyme Blooze

In the heat of the summer, two men did not forget what heat and oppression are all about. Summer has come and gone, and the dutiful execution of heat mongering, sweltering summer death and 10,000% humidity by our two prophets of sweat stands as a testament to those months now lost. As you stand in the death-piles of raked leaves, counting the dismal days until you are buried in ice and snow, hold vigil with our heroes, Guyz Nyte, for the taste of the Mississippi Delta that comes to Michigan every year.
Get it here.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Spot Light: Mickey Factz

Lee, our friend over at AM ONLY Bookings put us on to Mickey Factz about a month ago (thanks brotha). And after giving his latest mix a listen, were not surprised to see why in the past six months he's been hitting the interviews in several hip hop magazines including this months cover on XXL If your a fan of Kid Cudi, Wale or the Cool Kids-you'll be sure to dig the electro/hiphopster MC. CLICK HERE to download his newest mix titled Heaven's Fallout

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Music Video of the Month: Q TIP 'Move'

We just got our advance copy of Q Tip's newest effort titled Renaissance....Tribe fan? Well guess whose back. Be sure to pick up the new release election day November 4th. Yeahhhhh