Wednesday, April 29, 2009

It’s practically impossible for me to make a line, a brushstroke, to put together an installation, without immediately evaluating it. I feel tremendous virtuosity pressure. There’s a loud judge in my head and her verdict is that it’s not done well. And she's right.

I wouldn’t ever say that skill kills. Of course it doesn’t. And nothing is more false than faux naiveté. But, I wish I could just make it shit and not worry about it.

Besides, what I’m looking for in the end isn’t skill at all. It’s another quality. I’ve always called it sincere – I’ve also heard it called honesty. Both are not to be confused with earnest, of course, which is a quality that is entirely overly self-important.

The shoe-i-ness of the shoe, as a colleague of mine recently wrote me.

Monday, April 27, 2009

All black blobs no same

Above: Untitled (2009) by Jacqueline Humphries, part of her show up now at Greene Naftali

Below: Dark Form II (1963), by Philip Guston

Both: a search for form without drawing on the seduction of a wide-ranging palette

Above: predominantly up and down strokes, so my eye stops moving around, loses engagement

Below: vectors, layers, which gives the black form life

Above: black lays on top of silver

Below: black takes root in gray

Above: can’t breathe

Below: air

Above: I’m looking for some tension

Below: Found some mojo

Note to self: good luck trying

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Wheelin' Art

(Philip Guston, 1968)

This is a hunch I’m having: most gallerists might not know – or might not have the time to know – what they’re looking at. It’s up to the artist to give them the hook, the elevator pitch. That way, the gallerist can match it, promote it, promote the artist, to their people. The term “dealer” might really be more accurate than gallerist.

A girlfriend of mine has just finished writing a book. Now comes what they call the query letter, which consists of three paragraphs sent to agents. The letter has to not only recount the book and suck the agent in, but it must also couch it in a certain market, name parallel titles, other published books. It is the writer’s responsibility to give this information.

That actually annoys me. I thought it was the writer’s job just to write the thing. Guess not.

What I wonder is, what’s in it for the agent, the dealer, the gallerist? Really? You can like art, you can love books, and that’s wonderful. But, what would make you want to sell it? Part of me thinks power, fashion. Part of me hopes love itself. Part of me just doesn’t know. But, if I’m going to stay in the business, I guess I’ve got to respect them. God bless ‘em.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Studio visit, part I

I had a big studio visit last week with someone I’ve been courting for one year. It took ten days to get the studio in shape: put lighting up, build picture rails, prepare portfolios… oh, and make new work (most my good drawings were up in Westchester).

It also took ten days of emailing, to settle on the actual day and time. Ten days and one hour of texting an hour before. He was going to be late.

Upon his arrival, he plugged in his iphone and didn’t want a glass of something to drink. He then spent twenty seconds on each activity. I knew it was time to switch because I could read his loss of concentration as well as I can read my mom’s. Then we talked about his gallery, and then leave-in conditioner. On his way out, he told me to keep in touch, he took a picture and that was that. The whole thing lasted twenty minutes.

I’m told this constitutes a successful meeting. It certainly wasn’t negative.

Fine, but what a let down. I confess, I expected some meaty conversation or how about a show? Patience is a virtue I don’t quite have.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


No time to say anything today. Also, I have nothing to say.

This show looks promising at sara meltzer.

Monday, April 13, 2009

To please oneself or not, that is the question

It’s impossible to paint and not have the Abstract Expressionists there with me (Pollock, Kline, de Kooning (who I really can’t stand), those guys). Their gestures and how seriously they took them is a model in my head, and I didn’t even know it was there.

But, in 2009, the emulation is mostly esthetic. Because, investigating what they were interested in (movement, purity, inner truth) falls short. It’s not enough.

Sometimes I catch myself making a decision in painting because it looks AbExpressy (which looks good to me) and then I’ve got to get rid of it. Because I know it’s shallow. It’s fake. My alternative is not to make something look bad. But, the priority has to go to a non-esthetic investigation. How I fulfill the investigation may be via the tools of the Abstract Expressionists, but the thing has got to be on its own track.

That said, I’m attracted to the work of Amy Sillman (that's her painting above). It’s good, and it reminds me of the Abstract Expressionists. But, what else? I don’t think anything else, so maybe it is enough after all. But not for me personally.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Unknown Friend

In doing my research to expand my talk on text-based art, I have come across the work of Anne-Lise Coste, a French-born artist in her mid-thirties.

Her work draws on the content of writing, the expression of the hand and the rebellion of graffiti. I see her work and I wish I had made it. (Yes, that’s jealousy.) And then she’s better! (Yes, that’s fear.)

But soon after there comes a relief that sounds somewhat like this: Wow. So, I’m not such a wack job after all. There are people out there who are tackling the same ideas I am, and I like the differences.

If I wanted to be pedagogical about it, I’d say, artists, give your inkling some room, let it grow, and eventually you’ll find your people (if that’s even important to you). And if I didn’t want to be, I’d say to myself, nice work, makes me want to get back to the studio.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Art Lingo

We need to qualify the term “collector.” Because as artists and gallerists are using it, it has come to mean “person who pays for it” and nothing more. That’s a little crass.

The other night a gallery owner said to me, “Oh, we’re getting a lot of traffic. Even collectors!” From which I was supposed to understand that some of the work might actually sell.

I once introduced two friends to a woman who owns a gallery, saying “These are my friends from Brazil and they’re collectors.” And in her eyes there suddenly appeared dollar signs.

The good ones deserve more; an acknowledgment of their ongoing interest and an appreciation of their support. Patron still works for me, although it's a bit stuffy. Benefactor sounds a bit like Mrs. Havesham. We could go with “collector and art enthusiast,” or “ serious collector,” but those are a little long. Probably direct is best: “She bought it,” or “This piece was purchased.”

Above, an image of my installation of drawings currently on view at Westchester Community College. Click on image to see drawings better. Going up for one of two artist's talks today.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

On Torment

I think there are two kinds. The first involves a constant inner-rumbling that is entirely self-propelling. It is self-sufficient, if you will. There is no concern about what other people think because the hope one might lay on others has been extinguished. There are no intimate relationships, just iconic ones in the mind that one struggles with, attacks. My hunch is that Kippenberger falls into this category. And he made great work.

Picasso cared little for others, not out of torment, though. His sense was an entitlement, a supreme and rare confidence. And yes, he made great work.

Another word for these two states might also be selfish.

Then there’s the kind of torment that is fueled by what other people think, by what other people have said, by a desire to prove oneself.

As the artist Erik Parker revealed in a recent Times article:
"I’m always trying to prove myself,” he said, his scrawny frame as tensed as that of a bantam-weight boxer. “It’s like people are saying: ‘No good! Stop now!’ It’s like I have an ‘I’ll show you’ voice in my head."

Unfortunately, this form of torment may not yield work that is as raw and exciting as it might be, and probably that’s because it is always trying to relate. A nicer person does it entail? Probably.

What’s more important?

Then there are those who create work either to learn in the making or to teach through the representation. But this is rare and particular, and constitutes a post unto itself.