Tuesday, December 21, 2010
(Molly Stevens, (not yet titled), oil stick on paper, large but not huge)
The blog is a slog: it’s something I’ve been feeling as this year ends. ‘Tis the season to feel wracked with doubts about my writing and artmaking. But onward, onward JewBu soldiers.
Looking back on a year in writing here and on Donkey Trail (excluding the interviews), I’ve forced myself to make a top-ten list of favorite sentences. I’ve chosen them because I like them as writing, as ideas, or for the memories they evoke.
My bests wishes to all readers here at Art on My Mind. Thanks for stopping by. See you in January.
10. Backstage with Pink Rocks
9. Making art involves endless choices; you can go safe – stick with what you know, with the good looking cream-white combination - or you can go out on a limb, leap into the unknown, a leap of faith as my friend refers to it.
8. Puppy topiary is a person. I accept that person.
7. But what’s harder, actually failing, or predicting that you might fail.
6. She goes and gets her higher up, who comes out, her hands in prayer position, at a slight bow, as if she were in front of the Dalai Lama.
5. Line does and color is.
4. Dealer is onomatopoetic for money.
3. "Out of Line" is on the Short List in this week’s New Yorker in the Goings on About Town section! Whooooo! Oh, I mean, "I am so pleased."
2. When Slacker first came out in 1991, I couldn’t take it in because I was trying so hard to distinguish myself politically and socially (oh wait, I still am) that anything that became popular I considered mainstream, ie: not good because it was not radical (radical ironically meaning that everything was as politically correct as it could be, that the proper stance was taken in terms of race, class and gender. (Oy vey)
1. The spirit of art goes against the downward spiral – or at least attempts to – and that is not insignificant, for the artist personally, for any interested viewer, and as a symbol.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
(Martin Kippenberger, Self-Portrait, 1988)
I skim David Brook’s columns only so that I can righteously confirm to myself that he is a pompous conservative and extremely irritating, even more so because he’s so damn articulate. On Monday my skim revealed something about how it’s bourgeois to be interested in self-improvement - and that the bourgeoisie is growing, growing, growing, so expect the self-help section at the bookstore to takeover. This is a good thing, he says
I can understand that if you’re really working class, you can only think about survival; I can understand that self-knowledge is a luxury. I get that. From that point of view, being able to pick up a copy of Deepak Chopra might be enriching.
But I’m an elitist and a snob. I want to go somewhere where Barnes & Noble can’t take me. And I think I can. And I think I can through things like artmaking and meditation (with a mantra) and esoteric books and existential angst. I am such a damn sheltered liberal as someone noted just yesterday. But so be it. I hate the suburbs.
As I am now, where do I fit among middle class values? Nowhere. And, as I am now, where do I fit in an ideal classless society? Nowhere.
Monday, December 13, 2010
It has also taken me twenty years to key into Basquiat. Up until now, I just haven’t been able to take him in for all the hype and myth around his person. The documentary Jean Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child is my first step towards the subject.
Despite the annoyingly fast editing, the doc paints a truly affecting portrait. What hit me hard was the core contradiction he embodied. On one hand, he was so tremendously independent in his approach to painting. On the other, he had a palpably gaping need for recognition and respect.
In one interview, Julian Schnabel says of the artist:
[…] he didn’t want to get his feelings hurt. And if he just could have had a little more support in a deep sense so that he didn’t feel so damn lonely, and didn’t feel so taken advantage of, and so damn confused… he just didn’t have to the tools to navigate the sea of shit.
How can someone be both so terribly fragile psychologically and so artistically unequivocal and brazen at the same time?
It got me thinking (again) about what gets an artist to make something and also to make it in the art world. Basquiat got into the latter through fun, through partying, and clearly through the penetrating sweetness of his good looks. And it worked, but it also killed him. He got to artmaking through his kind of stimulation: in his studio, the music and TV was always on, and visitors came and went. What came out as a result is the mystery of art, and I don’t want to try to figure that out.
Monday, December 6, 2010
When Slacker first came out in 1991 I couldn’t take it in because I was trying so hard to distinguish myself politically and socially (oh wait, I still am) that anything that became popular I considered mainstream, ie: not good because it was not radical (radical ironically meaning that everything was as politically correct as it could be, that the proper stance was taken in terms of race, class and gender. Oy vey.) Plus, I didn’t have a cool air and I wasn’t laid back (oh wait, that’s still the case) so anyone who was, I just promptly wrote off as pseudo (that was a favorite word left over from senior year in high school), as stupid, and, well, as a slacker.
With the distance of almost twenty years though I really appreciate this movie. The vision that we’re all interconnected but entirely isolated and alienated resonates. It’s hard watching over-educated white folk going off philosophically, and it’s hard seeing resignation and wandering, because, frankly, it hits a bit close. But there are wonderful quirks, there’s wrenching suffering, stabbing humor. In one vignette, for example, an artist-type has prepared a stack of cards with aphorisms on them that anyone can just draw at random and contemplate for however long he or she wishes (usually less than a second). One card reads: “Withdrawing in disgust is not the same as apathy.”
This is a portrait of a population and a time, our time too. But, as usual, I couldn’t see that in the moment of 1991. When will I just let my own immediate senses be the judge?