Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Good Stuff

Successful single photographs are so satisfying. I had forgotten but was reminded recently thanks to one mailer and two blogs I’ve found [Is that a grammatically correct sentence?]

The mailer was an announcement for Lee Friedlander’s show at the Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco. Friedlander is one of my all-time faves. I love everything he does. It’s all about the visual. And I have a huge admiration for the expansive size of his oeuvre.

Then there’s Conscientious and The Year in Pictures. New stuff to look at every day. I’m enjoying it.

Monday, February 25, 2008

This is my first neon, four feet long, installed in my home until further notice.

It’s also my first wall piece, my first sculpture, really. What bothers me is that my own hands were almost entirely not involved in making it, except for preparing the template by tracing the two dimensional font I selected for a handwritten feel. This is not unusual these days, of course, but, a bit unsatisfying for me.

In terms of subject, it represents my interest in anxious attachment (that is, the insecure bond with the mother and its consequences); in language; in text; and subtext. But, blah blah. Feels good to have branched out into a new direction just because I can.

Any reactions appreciated (including about how I photographed it).

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Opera to the People

There’s a guy on the downtown platform of the 6 train at 68th street who seems to spend his days singing Ave Maria over and over again. He’s Asian, probably about fifty years old, and he sounds great! His deep voice, the melancholy tone echoing off the tunnel and his forever changing and diverse audience make him a New York experience.

Today I saw about five commuters tipping him in the five minutes I was standing there. So, this one-aria repertoire is even financially viable.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Still Possible

As Kosovo declares independence, thousands have signed their name on this monumental public sculpture that reads “newborn.”

Even knowing that artists tend to see life as art – and thereby run the risk of lessening the weight, import and scope of a situation – I still think this image shows how visual symbolism can unify and represent a sprawling moment.

Looks like there are hooks on the tops of each letter. Wonder why. Anybody who finds more information about this piece, please share.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Underdog Mentality

I have never, ever, in any situation, supported a frontrunner. To say the least, it feels strange for me to be an Obama backer right now. But, I’m going to go with it. I’m going to try to revise my underdog mindset, and leave room for the possibility of doubt about my choice, but not run to that doubt right now.

The situation makes me wonder about artist-ness. How much does being an artist depend on contrariness? How much does an artist’s happiness depend on being able to say “I am different” and even “I am uncomfortable”?

This of course suggests that artists adopt a pained posture. I’m not saying we’re affected, I’m saying that going against the grain is part of the part, even if the role feels entirely natural.

In this period where I am attempting to de-isolate, de-demoralize and de-strive - you could say de-underdog - I wonder if my urge to make will diminish.

Monday, February 11, 2008

This time, with a little less expression, please

Here’s my latest rejection via email:

“Yes I had the chance to look at the DVDs you sent me. It is quite mysterious for me, I did not get all the points I think. For now, I am not planning any show where videos could be shown.... Sorry.”

Keep in mind, English is not her mother tongue. So, my translation of her note is, “I don’t get what you’re doing and frankly, I don’t think it’s worth figuring it out. Stop writing me.” Very encouraging.

I may be reading too much into it of course. But, I think I’d rather receive a cold, “Thanks, I’ll keep you in mind.” (ie: You can write me, but, I won’t write back anymore). But, I get a lot of those too. They don’t feel much better.

Here’s my response, and it shows I can kiss ass:

“Many thanks for looking, XX. I really do appreciate your time and your feedback. Mysterious? I'd love to talk to you about this. My focus is family, and the conflicts within.

In any case, I'm happy to meet you via email and I hope to meet you in person soon. Please keep me posted on your curatorial projects.

All bests, MS”

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Independence Myth

Yesterday, in my neighborhood (Chelsea), you would have thought Hillary wasn’t going to get a single vote. I was in Obama-land, and I have to say, it felt pretty good.

Then, I realized, I’m just a demographic.

It’s funny, we think that we make measured, independent decisions, that our penchants and opinions rise from untainted reflection. But, in fact, we’re as predictable as Huckabee quoting the Bible at his address last night to supporters in Little Rock, his wife standing demurely behind him wearing beige.

All this to say that the art we admire is no surprise either. It’s demographics within a demographic. When I read Heart As Arena, I know Brent Burket is going to love Black Pussy. Personally, I feel like I’m visiting a frat party. But, imagine how he feels about Mario Merz’s neon sculpture now at Luhring Augustine, which is part of a group exhibition by Arte Povera artists. I think it’s poignant. He probably thinks its passé.

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Peacock

I think I’ve mentioned it before, I pay my bills (almost) through work as a French-to-English translator. At best, I deal with art catalogues, at worst, and more typically, badly written coffee table books about luxury resorts in the south of France, Jackie Onassis or Christofle silver flatware.

Let me be clear. I hate working.

But, the funny thing is about balancing paid work and non-paid art work is that I do in fact need the former to be able to do the latter. I’m not talking financially (that’s just obvious), I’m talking psychologically. Working (which, I repeat, I hate) makes me feel that I deserve to do other things, perhaps because I get paid. It acts as a validation.

Probably very confident artists feel their work is all they need to do. Although arrogant, this may be part of the mindset of success.

I’m not sure I want to go there.