Friday, March 30, 2007

Today I have a review of the Corcoran's Modernism show in the CP.

Read it

I also have an artifact for Janis Goodman's current show at Flashpoint.

This is my first piece for the artifacts section. It's always a little awkward writing for a new section, or a new style book, but I think this turned out. Thank goodness for editors.

This weekend I'll be in Baltimore for the
Transmodern Age festival. My band, The Object Lesson, will be providing a soundtrack for !Slapdown! , a women's art/wrestling collective.

The results will either be brilliant, or a complete disaster. Either way, count on being entertained.

Pictured: Vladimir Tatlin's Monument to the Third International, model, 1920.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Were you looking for me today? I was home sick with the flu.

At the moment I sound a bit like Tom Waits after a night spent huffing gasoline. No, that's not good.

Last Friday I had a pick in the WCP for Specimen at Project 4.

Read it here.

This week I'll have my review of the Modernism show at the Corcoran, as well as an artifact--an interview with Janis Goodman.
I'd hoped to do something with the audio for the interview, either post it in a podcast here, or on the CP site...but the material may be too noisy for popular consumption.
It sounds like someone was using a jackhammer in the other room of the gallery the entire time we were recording.

Or was it dynamite? Some kind of intermittent exploding distortion.
I'll get the bugs worked out eventually.
Pictured: Adelaide Paul, (Be)Witch, leather and taxidermist mannequin, 2005

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I didn't attend this panel at Transformer. Looks like it was pretty entertaining, though--current CP arts contributer Kriston Capps and former CP editor and gallery critic Glenn Dixon were there. I like those guys.

My current editor posted to the CP blog about it here--and was immediately pounced on by Dixon in an e-mail.

I have mixed feelings about this. I was always a big fan of Dixon's writing in the CP. For years, I read his gallery reviews, thinking to myself, "Boy, I'd love to do that."

Once I did start, you know, "doing that," I could always count on my first editor, Leonard Roberge, to send me links to Glenn's older articles about whatever artist I happened to be writing about that month. No matter who the subject was, it seemed like Dixon had been there first--and he had been both smart and richly digressive in treating the subject.

Leonard was quick to dissuade me from making Dixon's large-to-small arguments, though, or constructing his kind of trademark introductory paragraph. A Dixon review could start with a scene in which a bunch of astronomers are chatting in the Mojave desert--before abruptly depositing the reader in a gallery in Dupont circle. Kind of like Dave "I'm writing about fine art, but I'd just as soon write about Chet Baker" Hickey--but not in an annoying way.

It worked for Glenn...but we decided early on that my focus should be much narrower. Not that I couldn't conceivably write about, say, music. I do play four or five instruments.

But does the world need another rock music critic?

The breeze whispers a gentle "No."

So anyway. The thrust of this dust-up between CP editors past and present is that Glenn doesn't like blogs. This is fine. Frankly, I still prefer seeing my stuff in print to seeing it online. Of course, I also continue to think that spreading colored mud around on stretched rectangles of canvas is a good way to make pictures. So I'm kind of quaint that way.

But, you know, I'm writing a blog. And it isn't easy. Hey, I'm only doing this for myself. Nobody's paying me for this stuff. As a result, half my entries are just musings, or links to what I happen to be reading at the moment--but even this content takes up a lot of my time.

Editing, proofreading and thinking don't go out the window just because someone isn't tidying up behind you. Blogging well is not easy. The best bloggers are working hard and delivering a decent product, I'd say.

I wouldn't characterize MAN as a "crap fountain."

Now, if Dixon's vitriol is really about the fact that most print publications treat their blogs as little ghettos of cultural production, where writers don't get much oversight, compensation, or respect, then I understand. If we really are moving away from print media, toward more and more online content, then the same vetting, concern for stylistic continuity, and money that go into creating a magazine's identity ought to be put in the service of all of its online manifestations as well, right?

It either is the same thing, or it isn't.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Today Tyler suggests making movies based on paintings.

(Can you sell the movie rights for static images? Could we see a tableaux vivants revival?)

A sample:

Ed Ruscha, Los Angeles County Museum on Fire (Hirshhorn). Ruscha's masterpiece. Why is the museum on fire? And how will the fire end -- or will it? Sure, there are art historical answers to these questions, but the movie version wouldn't have to follow reality, would it? I see Johnny Depp as the art critic and Angelina Jolie as, well, anything.

This makes me think of a panel discussion at DCAC a year or so ago. Moderator Ian Jehle asked us: Which painting would you run into a burning D.C. art museum to rescue?

I said--of course--L.A. County Museum on Fire. Not so much because I love the picture, but for the comedic possibilites.

Going back to the Corcoran today. Modernism review will run next week, not this one, so I'm taking an opportunity to look again. I ended up doing the same thing with the Visual Music show at the Hirshhorn a couple of years ago--just to make it through all of the films.

Pictured: Edward Ruscha.The Los Angeles County Museum on Fire 1965-66.Oil on canvas, 53 1/2 x 133 1/2". Hirshhorn.

Friday, March 16, 2007

My pick for Mark Bennett and Matthew Sutton at Conner Contemporary is in today's WCP.

Read it here.

I may or may not be doing an artifacts piece in the near future. Back in 2004, the first piece I was ever assigned was an artifact--and the results were so spectacularly reader unfriendly that everyone agreed I should be doing gallery reviews instead.

The problem with me doing human interest stories, I've told more than one editor, is that I'm not interested in humans. If it isn't hanging on a wall, don't ask me about it.

But maybe I'm softening a bit. I might actually allow myself to report on something, interview someone. Breakthrough!

Still working on the Modernism: Designing a New World review. Due today; it should hopefully run next week.

This weekend, I'll be taking a look at the new show opening at Project 4.

Oh, and on Saturday, March 30th, my band, The Object Lesson, will be playing the Transmodern Festival in Baltimore. We'll be providing a soundtrack for Slapdown!, the best darned woman artist's wrestling collective you've ever seen.

Read that last sentence again. It's all true.

I've been playing drums with the band since September. If you go looking for us on Myspace, you'll hear older tracks, recorded not with me but with my predecessor, and with a second guitarist who's no longer in the band, either. Hopefully we'll have our new material up at some point soon.

Pictured: Anthony Goicolea, "Amphibians," video, 2003. At Project 4's "Specimen" show this weekend.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Saw Mark Bennett and Matthew Sutton at Conner Contemporary and *gogo art projects, respectively.

If you don't know *gogo, it's a space-within-a-space, a roster of younger emerging artists that Leigh Conner has grouped together under a different brand. The artists get presented together in different formats than the ones that the Conner stable does--fairs, alternative or indie spaces, web stuff, etc. Kudos for Leigh for this concept.

But it gets a little weird when, as with the current show, *gogo artists appear in the same brick-and-mortar space they'd be in if they were actually with Conner. It's not like there's a clear division, a partitioned project room: Sutton's work is near the table & window that faces the street; Bennett's takes up the rest of the gallery. By the door you can pick up two separate postcards, for these two different shows, appearing at two different galleries...but those spaces have the same address, phone number, and e-mail. Creepy!

It must be magic.

Of course, maybe this only seems like a problem when you consider explaining the existence of this phantom, trans-dimensional gallery in one sentence or less--say, in the course of a 250 word CP blurb.

Again, I do understand and appreciate the idea. In the case of Sutton, I'm just happy that I continue to get to see his work, no matter where or how. His Complete Inventory of CVS by Memory was the only real standout for me from the
Whippersnappers group show last year--the group that in large part became *gogo.

Sutton seems really driven to understand--or at least play with--the ways in which humans rely on assumptions, stereotypes, and master narratives to process their experiences in the world. With the project I'm working on right now, the persuasive power of the inauthentic occupies a lot of my thinking, so I can't help but admire his work.

Anyway, expect a pick for both shows in this week's CP.

Next week you should see a longer piece from me on the Modernism show at the Corcoran. I attended the preview yesterday.

Last Friday, our performance at
14K Cabaret went pretty well--aside from having to scrub paint off of every part of our bodies afterwards. Video and stills of the piece will be included in our show at DCAC in May.

For that show, Meg Mitchell and I have transformed ourselves into Ian and Jan, a married collaborative duo that was active in the '60s and '70s.

Ian and Jan founded the Washington Body School, a body art and performance collective that stood shoulder to shoulder with the Washington Color School. Their output has only recently been rediscovered; their legacy is only just beginning to be understood. Their work looks plausible and period appropriate...but frequently slips into sheer ridiculousness.

I think we're making, as Meg puts it, "the best worst art ever."

I know it's been quiet here lately. I'll see what I can do to remedy that in the future.

Pictured: Mark Bennett, detail from Home of Norma Desmond, ink and graphite on vellum, 2006

Monday, March 05, 2007

A week has blown by with nary a peep from me here. I am stretching the concept of an "incisive daily journal" past all plausibility.

What have I been doing?

Well, I had a pick for
Graham Caldwell's show at G Fine Art in last week's WCP.

Otherwise, I've been preparing for a performance that Meg Mitchell and I will be doing at the 14K Cabaret in Baltimore this Friday. It'll be a multi-media extravaganza/farce, including experimental music, period dress, action painting, unitards--you know, the good stuff.

You're encouraged to attend--in fabulous '70s attire, if you can manage it. Who knows? You might make it into the documentary footage or photos that will be taken of the event--which will be included in our show at DCAC, opening May 11th. Think of it as the anti-Color School Remix.

In preparation for that, we've been interviewing notable artists and curators and asking them to lie outrageously about local art history. The results thus far have exceeded expectations.

My plan to write a series of essay-ish posts about the papers at CAA and my gallery crawl in Chelsea clearly hasn't come to fruition. Busy, busy, busy.

There's still plenty that I'd like to write about--like, say, the discussion in which James Panero from The New Criterion forced a room full of academics to watch Good Morning America. Fun!