Sunday, December 30, 2012

5 Pointz Documentary!

Since moving to NYC I visited 5Pointz a few times.  You need to watch this short documentary on the place:

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Laughing with Kafka By David Foster Wallace Harper's Magazine, July 1998

Laughing with Kafka     By David Foster Wallace   Harper's Magazine, July 1998

From a speech given by David Foster Wallace in March at "Metamorphosis: A New Kafka," a symposium sponsored by the PEN American Center in New York City to celebrate the publication of a new translation of "The Castle" by Schocken Books. Wallace is a contributing editor of Harper's Magazine; his short story "The Depressed Person" appeared in the January issue.
One reason for my willingness to speak publicly on a subject for which I am sort of underqualified is that it affords me a chance to declaim for you a short story of Kafka's that I have given up teaching in literature classes and miss getting to read aloud. Its English title is "A Little Fable":

"Alas," said the mouse, "the world is growing smaller every day. At the beginning it was so big that I was afraid, I kept running and running, and I was glad when at last I saw walls far away to the right and left, but these long walls have narrowed so quickly that I am in the last chamber already, and there in the corner stands the trap that I must run into," "You only need to change your direction," said the cat, and ate it up.

For me, a signal frustration in trying to read Kafka with college students is that it is next to impossible to get them to see that Kafka is funny...Nor to appreciate the way funniness is bound up with the extraordinary power of his stories. Because, of course, great short stories and great jokes have a lot in common. Both depend on what communication -theorists sometimes call "exformation," which is a certain quantity of vital information _removed from_ but _evoked by_ a communication in such a way as to cause a kind of explosion of associative connections within the recipient. This is probably why the effect of both short stories and jokes often feels sudden and percussive, like the venting of a long-stuck valve. It's not for nothing that Kafka spoke of literature as "a hatchet with which we chop at the frozen seas inside us." Nor is it an accident that the technical achievement of great short stories is often called "compression" -- for both the pressure and the release are already inside the reader. What Kafka seems able to do better than just about anyone else is to orchestrate the pressure's increase in such a way that it becomes intolerable at the precise instant it is released.

The psychology of jokes helps account for part of the problem in reading Kafka. We all know that there is no quicker way to empty a joke of its peculiar magic than to try to explain it -- to point out, for example, that Lou Costello is mistaking the proper name "Who" for the interrogative pronoun "who," etc. We all know the weird antipathy such explanations arouse in us, a feeling not so much of boredom as offense, like something has been blasphemed. This is a lot like the teacher's feeling at running a Kafka story through the gears of your standard undergrad-course literary analysis -- plot to chart, symbols to decode, etc. Kafka, of course, would be in a unique position to appreciate the irony of submitting his short stories to this kind of high-efficiency critical machine, the literary equivalent of tearing the petals off and grinding them up and running the goo through a spectrometer to explain why a rose smells so pretty. [1] Franz Kafka, after all, is the writer whose story "Poseidon" imagines a sea-god so overwhelmed with administrative paperwork that he never gets to sail or swim, and whose "In the Penal Colony" conceives description as punishment and torture as edification and the ultimate critic as a needled harrow whose _coup de grâce_ is a spike through the forehead.

Another handicap, even for gifted students, is that -- unlike, say, Joyce's or Pound's -- the exformative associations Kafka's work creates are not intertextual or even historical. Kafka's evocations are, rather, unconscious and almost _sub_-archetypal, the little-kid stuff from which myths derive; this is why we tend to call even his weirdest stories _nightmarish_ rather than _surreal_. Not to mention that the particular sort of funniness Kafka deploys is deeply alien to kids whose neural resonances are American. The fact is that Kafka's humor has almost none of the particular forms and codes of contemporary U.S. amusement. There's no recursive word-play or verbal stunt-pilotry, little in the way of wisecracks or mordant lampoon. There is no body-function humor in Kafka, nor sexual entendre, nor stylized attempts to rebel by offending convention. No Pynchonian slapstick with banana peels or rapacious adenoids. No Rothish satyriasis or Barthish metaparody or arch Woody-Allenish kvetching. There are none of the ba-bing ba-bang reversals of modern sit-coms; nor are there precocious children or profane grandparents or cynically insurgent co-workers. Perhaps most alien of all, Kafka's authority figures are never just hollow buffoons to be ridiculed, but are always absurd and scary and sad all at once, like "In the Penal Colony"'s Lieutenant.

My point is not that his wit is too subtle for U.S. students. In fact, the only halfway effective strategy I've come up with for exploring Kafka's funniness in class involves suggesting to students that much of his humor is actually sort of unsubtle, or rather _anti_-subtle. The claim is that Kafka's funniness depends on some kind of radical literalization of truths we tend to treat as metaphorical. I opine to them that some of our deepest and most profound collective intuitions seem to be expressible only as figures of speech, that that's why we call these figures of speech "expressions." With respect to "The Metamorphosis," then, I might invite students to consider what is really being expressed when we refer to someone as "creepy" or "gross" or say that somebody was forced to "eat shit" in his job. Or to reread "In the Penal Colony" in light of expressions like "tonguelashing" or "She sure tore me a new asshole" or the gnomic "By a certain age, everybody has the face he deserves." Or to approach "A Hunger Artist" in terms of tropes like "starved for attention" or "love-starved" or the double entendre in the term "self-denial," or even as innocent a factoid as that the etymological root of "anorexia" happens to be the Greek word for longing.

The students usually end up engaged here, which is great, but the teacher still sort of writhes with guilt, because the comedy - as - literalization - of - metaphor tactic doesn't begin to countenance the deeper alchemy by which Kafka's comedy is always also tragedy, and this tragedy always also an immense and reverent joy. This usually leads to an excruciating hour during which I backpedal and hedge and warn students that, for all their wit and exformative voltage, Kafka's stories are not fundamentally jokes, and that the rather simple and lugubrious gallows humor which marks so many of Kafka's personal statements -- stuff like his "There is hope, but not for us" -- is _not_ what his stories have got going on.

What Kafka's stories have, rather, is a grotesque and gorgeous and thoroughly modern complexity. Kafka's humor -- not only not neurotic but _anti_-neurotic, heroically sane -- is, finally, a religious humor, but religious in the manner of Kierkegaard and Rilke and the Psalms, a harrowing spirituality against which even Ms. O'Connor's bloody grace seems a little bit easy, the souls at stake pre-made.

And it is this, I think, that makes Kafka's wit inaccessible to children whom our culture has trained to see jokes as entertainment and entertainment as reassurance. [2] It's not that students don't "get" Kafka's humor but that we've taught them to see humor as something you get -- the same way we've taught them that a self is something you just have. No wonder they cannot appreciate the really central Kafka joke -- that the horrific struggle to establish a human self results in a self whose humanity is inseparable from that horrific struggle. That our endless and impossible journey toward home is in fact our home. It's hard to put into words up at the blackboard, believe me. You can tell them that maybe it's good they don't "get" Kafka. You can ask them to imagine his art as a kind of door. To envision us readers coming up and pounding on this door, pounding and pounding, not just wanting admission but needing it, we don't know what it is but we can feel it, this total desperation to enter, pounding and pushing and kicking, etc. That, finally, the door opens...and it opens outward: we've been inside what we wanted all along. _Das ist komisch_.


[1] A more grad-schoolish literary-theory-type machine, on the other hand, is designed to yield the conclusion that one has been deluded into imagining there was any scent in the first place.

[2] There are probably whole Johns Hopkins U. Press books to be written on the particular lallating function humor serves at this point in the U.S. psyche. Nonetheless, a crude but concise way to put the whole thing is that our present culture is, both developmentally and historically, "adolescent." Since adolescence is pretty much acknowledged to be the single most stressful and frightening period of human development -- the stage when the adulthood we claim to crave begins to present itself as a real and narrowing system of responsibilities and limitations [2a] -- it's not difficult to see why we as a culture are so susceptible to art and entertainment whose primary function is to "escape." Jokes are a kind of art, and since most of us Americans come to art essentially to forget ourselves -- to pretend for a while that we're not mice and all walls are parallel and the cat can be outrun -- it's no accident that we're going to see "A Little Fable" as not all that funny, in fact as maybe being the exact sort of downer-type death-and-taxes thing for which "real" humor serves as a respite.

[2a] You think it's a coincidence that it's in college that most Americans do their most serious falling-down drinking and drugging and reckless driving and rampant fucking and mindless general Dionysian-type reveling? It's not. They're adolescents, and they're terrified, and they're dealing with their terror in a distinctively American way. Those naked boys hanging upside down out of their frat-house's windows on Friday night are simply trying to get a few hours' escape from the stuff that any decent college has forced them to think about all week.

©1998 Harper's Magazine

Monday, December 17, 2012

the scandalized masks/grotesque singers/man of sorrows

James Ensor, The Scandalized Masks,1883

Grotesque Singers, 1891 

The Man of Sorrows, 1891

Judith Linhares by Madison Smartt Bell

Full interview here:

Born in Pasadena, Judith Linhares came of age amid the social, cultural, and political sea changes of the 1960s in California. A working artist since her early teens, Linhares describes a world where dreamy sunlight shines on skeletons. A deep sense of the pastoral in her work is tempered by an acknowledgement of the macabre, a flair for the grotesque, and a sophisticated wit that both sharpens and lightens the images she makes.
For the first 20-odd years of her career, Linhares lived and worked on the West Coast, where, following an early phase of abstraction, she became a figurative painter. She made her first major raid on the New York art world in the Bad Painting show curated by Marcia Tucker for the New Museum in 1978.
In 1980, Linhares moved to New York, where she shares space and her life with conceptual artist/poet Stephen Spretnjak. During the last few years, many of the surface gestures of her style have been popularized by a generation of younger painters, but her Rowing in Eden show at Edward Thorp Gallery last spring reasserted her preeminent mastery of a way of painting she has made her own throughout her 40-year career.
Linhares’s work has deep foundations, in both the compositional and the psychological sense. Her long-established habit of beginning her paintings in abstraction gives her work a solid integrity of composition that few latter-day figurative painters can rival. Meanwhile, she has blended some iconographic tactics of Frida Kahlo and Remedios Varo with the expressionistic power of James Ensor and Edvard Munch. “Linhares’s imagery enters the subconscious on very much the same level as the artist herself finds it,” as Dan Cameron wrote in 1985. The result is a system of psychological signification at once profound and accessible to all.
This interview with Judith Linhares began in Edward Thorp Gallery on March 21, 2006, soon after the opening of Rowing in Eden. The conversation continued for the next few hours in various downtown Manhattan venues, then for the next three months via email.

James Ensor

James Ensor:

Friday, November 23, 2012

Call It Sleep

A global, strategic evaluation of the social forces comprising the society of the spectacle. It is conceived from the view that, if individuals are to gain control over their lives, the world of hierarchical power must be destroyed.

Call It Sleep is the first visual work produced in the United States which makes use of the situationist technique of detournement - the devaluation and reuse of present and past cultural production to form a superior theoretical and practical unity.

Call It Sleep is based on material drawn from the most prevalent means of social conditioning- television-for two reasons. Familiar images easily acquire a strong negative charge when linked with a subversive content. Using images and techniques available to everyone has demonstrated once and for all, that detournement is within reach of anyone with a few basic appliances and the ability to communicate radical ideas.

Some people who see Call It Sleep are only interested to know if copyright permissions have been obtained from the producers of the various images in the tape. These "courageous souls" think that a disrespect for cultural and social conventions should begin after property rights have been observed. No doubt many of these people have already produced or dream of producing an artifact which they want protected by the state.

Others want to discover what special techniques or tricks of the trade are behind Call It Sleep and they may be disappointed because no sophisticated technical expertise was involved. The singularity of Call It Sleep comes not from the novel use of equipment, but from the practical application of a radical perspective on daily life.

Call It Sleep was completed in May of 1982. It was financed solely by its makers.

"One can only empathise with individuals, motivated by a sincere desire for reform, who join ecology groups, consumer organisations and alternative political parties. In any of these groups these individuals are directed by a firmly entrenched leadership through a maze of politically motivated compromises to an end that is sadly predictable: the indefinite postponement of profound social transformation, the enrichment of the careers of a few bureaucrats and the permanent disillusion of a number of intelligent individuals."

[1973] "Not I" (Samuel Beckett)

Dana Schutz interview

In Conversation

DANA SCHUTZ with Jarrett Earnest

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Meeting Louise Fishman

I visited the Louise Fishman today, the last day of the show, at the Jack Tilton Gallery.  Upon being buzzed in, I could hear two individuals talking, Fishman and Tilton.  They were discussing "being angry."  I figured it was Louise, eventually wondered up the stairs to see more of her work, and asked Tilton.  "Yes," he nodded, "that's Louise."  I turned back down the stairs and called her name.  She turned around with a warm smile, alongside her partner.  I shook her hand, introduced myself, and thanked her for her work.  I told her how I have been studying her work after the advice of my professors at Brooklyn College and what a honor it was to meet her after reading several recent interviews.  She kindly thanked me.

Aside from this, the work is life changing.

September 5 – October 13, 2012 Reception for the artist September 5, 6 – 8pm
Tilton Gallery is pleased to announce the scheduling of an historical exhibition of paintings by Louise Fishman opening September 5th. “Louise Fishman: Five Decades” is curated by Simon Watson, who has worked with the artist on five exhibitions over the past 30-years.
For this exhibition the Jack Tilton gallery will be divided into thematic zones of historical works from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Works on view will include:
  • Shaped canvases from a solo show at Nancy Hoffman Gallery (1972);
  • Circle paintings from a group show at Paula Cooper Gallery (1972);
  • A painting from the Whitney Annual (1973), her first museum showing;
  • The “Angry Women” paintings of 1973, which were seen most recently in 2008 at PS1/MoMAʼs Wack! Art and the
    Feminist Revolution; and
  • “Remembrance & Renewal” paintings related to the Holocaust, exhibited at the Simon Watson Gallery (1989).
Since 1966, Louise Fishman has been on a personal exploration that allies the themes of feminism, Judaism, and queerness with a visual vocabulary touching on a wide range of expressionist modes of abstraction: from making and breaking the grid to text and calligraphy. Fishmanʼs work of the 1970ʼs ranged from grid paintings, to cut wood paintings, stitched grids and handwritten/hand-painted messages.
Now seventy-three, Fishman is from a generation of artists that includes Lynda Benglis, Mary Heilmann, Bill Jensen, Robert Mangold, Brice Marden, Robert Ryman, and Pat Steir. While Fishman shares similarities with this group of mostly abstract artists, she retains a unique approach to her medium. Known for energetic surfaces of layered color and texture, Fishmanʼs paintings radiate emotional intensity while offering unpretentious subtlety and nuance. They divulge how shifts in color, composition and work process discreetly rework their visual impact. They demonstrate high energy and an accent on process, discovering the visual idea through the process of creating it.
Further, Fishmanʼs 1973 “Angry Women” series was instrumental in her turn towards gesture. The highly charged paintings that comprise the series each represent (by name) important women: heroes, lovers, and friends. They are emotional, messy and expressionistic, as they aspire to reclaim territory long governed by male artists. Fishman's subsequent embrace of gestural abstraction was an affront to traditional art history, specifically to American male painters' domination of Abstract Expressionism. In addition, her disregard for postmodern discourse (“painting is dead”) repositioned and reinvigorated abstract painting, helping to free it from old associations with the prevailing canon.
“Louise Fishman: Five Decades” at Jack Tilton Gallery will be contemporaneous with an exhibition of new paintings by the artist at Cheim & Read; it will be Fishmanʼs seventh solo exhibition with Cheim & Read.
Also visit
The Tilton Gallery is located at 8 East 76th Street, between Madison and Fifth Avenues. For more information, please visit our Web site at or call 212-737-2221.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Detroit Is Not a Utopia


Thursday, October 11, 2012


check out Ai Weiwei at the Hirshhorn, Washington D.C.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

LOUISE FISHMAN with Sharon Butler

Check out this interview with Louise Fishman in this months Brooklyn Rail:

"The painting, and my experience in the studio — and I think most painters would say this— is really all there is. The rest of it is fluff. One has to be careful not to get seduced by success, which is really difficult and, particularly for young people, but even at my age, it’s very seductive. Things that happen around one’s work, when there is a positive response out there, can turn in a second. The audience for art is very fickle."

Mickalene Thomas

Amazed today by the paintings of Mickalene Thomas at the Brooklyn Museum

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Black Angels - You in Colour

jackson pollock guggenheim application

Mr. Pollock once said

"I’ll never be satisfied until I’m able to mould a mountain of stone with the aid of a jack hammer to fit my will.”

check this out:

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Milton Resnick: there's a measure called recognition.

September Painting

September Drawing

Milton Resnick Wisdom

Louise Fishman

Louise Fishman
Oil on linen
70 x 60 inches
177.8 x 152.4 centimeters

Visited Cheim and Read Gallery in Chelsea to view the Louise Fishman show, as recommended by two professors.  Fishman's marks and colors referenced the fluctuating Venetian sea side, pulling large swaths of grey and Prussian blue over raw linen with hints of cadmiums.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Regarding Warhol

"Buying is much more American than thinking and I'm as American as they come."

I attended a members preview of the new show at The Met Museum, Regarding Warhol.  Here is a listing of the pieces I found most interesting.

Warhol's "Cow Wallpaper" and helium-filled silver pillows.

"Icebox" 1961, oil, ink, graphite on canvas.

Gerhard Richter "Cow" 1964, oil on canvas

Robert Gober "Hanging Man, Sleeping Man" 1989, silkscreen on wallpaper

*Personal Favorite*
Keith Haring "Elvis Presley," 1981
Ink on commercially printed offset lithographic poster

Monday, September 10, 2012

new york city where have you been all my life?

new york city
where have you been all my life?

you are my long lost brother
or lover
created alongside
myself and the universe.

i have never in my life
felt more alive
more blessed
than now
in your presence.

in this lifetime
i promise to never leave
your side
it has taken me too long to find you.

Friday, August 24, 2012


I am living in Brooklyn, New York for just a week now.  My grad school program begins this Monday, August 27th, at Brooklyn College, MFA painting.  I cannot thoroughly express the amount of joy I feel for living in one of the greatest cities and art epicenters of the world!  Aside from the amazing galleries, museums, schools and artists that call New York City home, I love the cities immense cultural diversity, endless blocks of food and shopping choices and structural beauty.

I think I will never leave.

The work of one of my professors, Vito Acconci

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Where have I been for all these months since the summer? I have been completing 22 graduate applications for the fall 2012!!! Yes, I have 20 out of 22 completed, with transcripts to each from 5 different undergrad institutions. Working two part time jobs, running and working out... playing with my cat, etc... and just starting to get back into painting again with four new smaller works started. I also have a commission to start for a childhood friend in Michigan. I want to do a larger painting but one that is easy to transport. Maybe four by three feet.

I went home for Christmas--to Michigan, the first time in three years. It was great for so many reasons. I am in a better place. I am done "working" meaningless jobs (retail) with meaningless people, just to pay bills. I stopped doing that in the spring of 2011 and started heavily painting again, spiffing up the portfolio for grad school and finding my soul after it had been raped from a corporate-retail-whore-factory. A bit harsh you say??? No, those are the true words of an artist who isn't made to compromise myself to "fit in" to any given situation. I'd much rather wait tables and clean houses, keeping my dignity.

Furthermore, and to explain where I am now... I dreamt last night that I traded in my utilitarian Corolla for a covertable red Corvette. Man, I can really fucking tear up the streets in that bitch!