Monday, June 29, 2009

Ride the Boogie

The lesser the effort, the greater the achievement.

While this strikes me as counter-intuitive, I’m seeing its truth in all kinds of places. For example, Michael Jackson’s dancing. While I’m totally dazzled by the robot moves (if I could move my shoulder just once like that, I’d be impressed with myself), what really gets me going is the smooth and loose style, like in the video below.

It’s not that he isn’t disciplined; there’s control behind all his moves. But when it’s time for actual boogieing, the concentration is left behind and the body takes over and does its thing.

Take it from him:
There ain’t nothing that you can do
Relax you mind
Lay back and groove with mine.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Future Unknown

In the upcoming months, here at Art on My Mind, I will be considering the question of intuition and non-sense, especially as it applies to art making and viewing. I’ll be talking with artists, friends, shrinks, I’ll be looking into Zen and other spiritual philosophies, body work, brain work, animal behavior, I’ll be trying to understand how (and also why) people draw, paint, write and how they come up with ideas. I’ll also be looking at shows, reading reading, and all with the intent of broadening an understanding of the ungraspable sense that is intuition.

The initial bias is that what we label as non-sense makes more sense. Sound vague? It is and I’d like to keep it that way for once.

For those concerned, I’ll still be bitching about how difficult everyday art making is, and also reporting on what’s up on the scene.

To add to the happy mess is the overlap this project will have with the development of Donkey Trail, both the blog and the exhibition. When something’s happening over there, I’ll post a hee haw hee haw over here.

As Eloise says, “Ooooooooo I absolutely love Room Service.”

Any initial thoughts you might have on this subject are of course welcome.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Donkey Trail

Straight from the Donkey's mouth:

I've been on this path for a while now, with these sacks on my back. This morning I tripped on a rock. So I’ll just stop in front of this one right here. Come to think of it, if I go this way, it’s still up. Nice roses. Ouch.

Donkey Trail: an exhibition being developed by Nils Folke Anderson and Molly Stevens, opening May 2010 at Slag Gallery in New York. Maturing until then right here at Art on My Mind, or visit the Donkey Trail link on the sidebar.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Rhymes with the plural of (window) SILL

Very soon, perhaps even on Wednesday, I'll be announcing an exciting project (if I do say so myself), one that I'm developing in collaboration with my friend, the artist Nils Folke Anderson. Stay tuned!

But today, allow me to briefly introduce you to Nils's work.

Take the piece shown above. What I like is that I have a visceral relationship to it - it's not a model of an idea or an illustration that I observe. That's not to say that I couldn't consider this piece - a set of interlocking and moveable Styrofoam squares – a mathematical conundrum. And as an afterthought this is indeed interesting.

But what strikes me first, along with its balanced good looks, is its scale, which is bigger than me, but smaller than monument. Next to it, I don't feel dwarfed or nullified, but rather distinctly human, and humbled at that. Also as such, I want to touch it, move it. If I were to do so (but I prefer to watch someone else do that, or just imagine), I would end up becoming aware of the piece's possibilities, and also how it is that I move differently in comparison. So I come to have an appreciation of the thing through my experience of it.

The piece is arranged in a formation to suit a specific site; and the little pellets shed through the installation process are also left in the space. This immediately counteracts any pretensions of permanence and importance, making it all the more so, if you ask me.

Consider this post a starting point.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What's up on 24th

(Kim Dorland, RIP Tom Thomson, 2009, courtesy Freight + Volume)

A run across 24th Street yesterday yielded the following miscellaneous thoughts:

The large paintings by Albert Oehlen at Luhring Augustine are stereotypes of art itself, what I imagine the popular image of art to be: a little bit of collage, a splash of paint, and the very important "wha?" Wouldn't the work be perfect for Lily van der Woodsen's home on Gossip Girl.

Across the way at Freight and Volume are intriguing landscapes by Kim Dorland in which urban life encroaches on our pristine conception of nature. In general, give me trees or graffiti (above, both!) and I'm happy. But, with these, am I happy because of what it reminds me of, or because of what's actually in front of me?

It was nice to see the Christopher Wool in the window at Stellan Holm, and also the below painting in the back entitled Unworkable Machine. Upon learning that it was made by William S. Burroughs, I began to wonder if paintings can have a literary esthetic. If so, am I attracted to the wordiness of it?

(William S. Burroughs, Unworkable Machine, 1993, courtesy Stellan Holm Gallery)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Boden Sea

Perhaps the visual opposite of last week's Tibetan landscape are Hiroshi Sugimoto's renowned seascapes, for example the image of the Boden Sea from 1993 above. With each image offering the same balance of water and sky and a particular play of light and texture, the series is really a study in the subtleties of stillness, the kind that Japanese Zen surely informs. As someone who's mind has perhaps never been this poised, I can nevertheless take in the piece as a possibility, as an illustration of how it could be. And there'd still be the crowded train car.

The series reminds me that an artist finds a landscape and then makes it his own. Sugimoto certainly approached the sea and the darkroom with a vision in mind. What we see is really a combination of the outer and inner image.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Landscape vision

I’m just starting to think about landscape depictions, and how they reflect the outlook of an artist or the culture of the artist. I wanted to start with this portion of a tangka from my bathroom calendar.

Tangkas are scroll paintings traditionally used by monks as meditation or teaching tools. This one caught my attention in particular because of the diversity of activity and the unusual combination of formal tools. There are rich narratives inside each room and outside each building, including elephants crossing rivers, groups of flying deities flying (see the orange ones at center), and severed bodies. But there are also surprising geometric areas like the horizontal stripes at the top. I mean, what is that?

Furthermore, we've got the massive structure at the bottom left, the three small cube-houses at top right - unbelievably geometric in themselves - and then those curvilinear buildings at top left. Somehow though, the composition holds together in an unlikely balance.

So this is a wildly complex and untidy world. In it I recognize our own.

Monday, June 1, 2009


(Painting by Bendix Harms)

It has taken quite a bit of courage to write this blog, exposing feelings and opinions and also realizing them through writing. I’m very grateful to you readers – the small number of you that there are - for sending me comments, emails or in-person encouragement. It goes a long way.

In one of Borges’s lectures, he describes writing as a collaboration, in which readers enrich the writing. He says of his lecture:
You may think now and then that you have heard a good lecture. In that case, I must congratulate you, because, after all, you have been working with me. Had it not been for you, I don’t think the lectures would have seemed particularly good, or even tolerable. I hope that you have been collaborating with me tonight.

He even humbly adds:
I think you are quite mistaken if you admire (I wonder if you do) my writing. But I think of it as a very generous mistake. I think that one should try to believe in things even if they let you down afterwards.

I’m no Borges, that’s for sure, but I am applying for an Andy Warhol Foundation arts writing grant (thanks AP). It’s a bit intimidating, but I will give it a whirl.

Among other things, I need to send a selection of posts. Please let me know if there are any posts that stick in your mind as either memorable or stimulating. Thank you.