Category Archives: art

1984 expressed with a lot of p’s

If I didn’t already write about how much I like 1984, then let me make mention of that now. Done.

Now imagine that you’re on your regular NYC walkabout, scouting for art, getting lost in the mix of Chinatown and the Lower East Side. You finally find a street with some small galleries. So you walk into one, mainly because there are pages of paper plastering the wall. (So many p’s in that sentence! Perfection!) Okay. Pages of plastered paper is a total attention grabber. So you look at the artwork that has been hung on the page covered wall and its relatively interesting. The best bits are the newspaper magazine collages of the page number 13. Its always 13 but I didn’t ask why. I’, sure you could though because the gallery owner and attendant is an absolute sweetheart. So in any case, as a library loving book reader, I just have to read what the pages say. I hold off until the third artwork into this massive ‘paragragh” of the pages. Then I can’t help it anymore but give in to the absolutely compelling desire that wants me to read those words. I only have to read four words of the sentence and I knew it all. Winston. Ministry of Peace. It was 1984 and it was all over the wall and excitement certainly can’t be contained when that happens. Don’t try, you’ll explode.

So I was ecstatically happy, so much so that the gallery owner ended up talking with me at length about it. This being why I think she’s sweet. And the artist, Gary Rough, collects the book 1984 (duh!) but less duh! he’s only able to receive them, he can’t actually buy them and he wants to collect 1,984 copies! I’m so in love with this man’s thought process, his apparent love for 1984 that if I had $4,500 to buy an installation of four copies of 1984 installed on my walls, I would do it! So here are the details if you want to experience that sort of page plastering pleasure for yourself.

Gary Rough, “I want to tell you” at Number 35 – for more info see: www.numberthirtyfive.com

The Art of Financial Accounting in relation to Birds somehow.

Today my Stern business class started: Financial Accounting. I had been dreading it, thinking “oh, business, this is going to be sophisticated and difficult! I am going to dread this 6-9pm course!” However, upon my first day of class (although I will need a pack of skittles to stay awake) I really enjoyed it. In fact I would venture to say that it’s my best class so far, well right up there with Carlo’s course in London.

Now in financial accounting you have your assets and your liabilities and owner equity. Since its a double balance thing you record things like such. Say you want to buy a chicken. Don’t ask me why, you just do. So you spend $30 on a chicken of your assets but then add $30 worth of chicken to your inventory of chicken. Inventory also being an asset. However, if you wanted to buy a whole hell of a lot of chicken and you put it on a credit card in basic terms. You’d add + $ for chicken to your inventory and + $ for chicken to your liabilities, basically your bills. At the end of the day assets = liabilities + owner’s equity. Owner’s equity being if you decided to sell stock in your chicken. Oh god that was the worst unintentional pun ever! I may actually use it again just for the sake of the cringe that crept over me.

So had class today. But yesterday is when the important thing began. I was thinking about President’s day weekend as I was walking to the PATH and Benjamin Franklin (who was never a president but also goes with the bird theme as he suggested the turkey – relative of the chicken – to be our national bird) for that matter why do we have a national bird and no other national animals? Really animals, stand up for your rights!

But back to Ben. So Ben would keep a day planner. I remember reading about this in middle school in some terribly illustrated book in a class by a woman who I wasn’t so keen on. I would regularly fail our reading tests. So Ben would have this day planner and he’d keep track of where every one of his hours went. Or more like, how he spent them. He’d get up terribly early and utilize the daylight and such and work off into the night. So I began thinking about how I use my hours and where do they all go to. I figured that I spend at least 2-3 hours a day in just commuting! That adds up! I spend another 40 hours a week in going to work, my internship and classes.  Again, a lot of time. Then when you think about how much sleep you get and how much time that takes up! So you can imagine my mind is just reeling over how much time I spend where and doing what.

Now bring this back to Financial Accounting. Again, I was walking to the PATH. I do my best thinking when I’m walking as anyone who has seen me on a telephone or dictating something would be able to tell you. And here it is the art of financial accounting. How can I make a balance sheet of my day? So instead of assets = liabilities + owner equity, you’d end up with Enjoyment = Work + Extremities. I was counting sleep and eating under extremities. But then… bear with me as I take you through a train of thought that really belongs on a carnival tunnel…. how would I assign value to the numbers? Would I make the measurements units of time, units of experience, units of money, units of quality? Its just mind boggling! For instance, though I was considering sleeping and eating as extremities, things you just need to do, they can also totally be considered enjoyment. And in that case, how do I create my balance sheet?! Hence the concept of quality or for that matter experience. If I spend $2 on a cupcake and it make my entire day, how do I weigh that against the 4 hours of work I just did so I could buy the cupcake or feel that I emotionally deserved the cupcake enough to financially buy it!

So you can see, its really difficult to account for yourself! I mean, then you get into the whole concept that accounting is just numbers and the number have no real meaning! Because there are plenty of things that aren’t considered in accounting that do contribute to the value of your company! For instance with all the big pharmaceutical companies, if they develop the Paten for the drug in house, they don’t have to put it on their balance sheet! Or if you bought a building 10 yrs ago and the real estate is now worth more, you still put the price of purchase on your balance sheet. So numbers mean absolutely nothing and I can’t even begin to consider how that will effect my personal accounting! I mean my mind just may explode by the time I figure it all out. And if then you take into consideration that TIME IS JUST A  HUMAN PERCEPTION! Thank you Data/Star Trek episode and the book Speed, then where are we to begin with? And isn’t time acutally a dimension, like the 4th dimension? Does the forth dimension not exist? Oh my gosh this is just amazingly crazy and I have no idea how I’m going to get this personal accounting thing to work. Then again, its just as likely or rather maybe more likely that I’ll have forgotten about this whole art project by next week. However, if there are any suggestions out there – send them my way!

Vik Muniz you are a god or, why Rebus should be required viewing.

Dear Vik Muniz.

You are a god, but certainly you must know this. You must have other worshipers. I first came in contact with your work because it made me laugh. And I love art that makes me laugh. I love art that makes me laugh at art, or more appropriately, with art. Now thats successful art for you. Now, as you must know, there isn’t always a lot of art out there that fits that unique category. So it wasn’t hard to figure out that your name kept coming up. And this when I fell in love with you. (I know pretty heavy for a first time imaginary love letter, but what can you do?!)

So when I saw your name mentioned in the context of the Rebus show at MoMA, I have to admit I couldn’t even finish reading the sentence. I was sold. I was going. And I went. And really, honestly, I expected to see your work. I was expecting a show of you. In fact I had read Rubik rather than Rubus and had expected you to be making things out of Rubik cubes like Pollock pieces or something. So, it caught me for a moment that it wasn’t your work, but really that’s not true either. For all the work that wasn’t yours, it was really just one larger work that was yours. And does so truely fit with your body of work, your use of art as the subject of art. Its really brilliant you know. And if I keep saying really, let me just put it this way, I wish I could find a greater emphasis to use instead.

I laughed immediately upon seeing the show. I mean just the first work, which I was already familiar with, and its huge crowd surrounding it. It was hard to get in! I love the way the name puns as your opening piece. I love the references to Plato in the second through fourth pieces. I love the way you drive this exhibit like a car changing lanes or making turns whenever it feels like it, but at the same time, keeping that rhythm, the beat, the soundtrack of our lives. Keeping it going and letting it also change course. I walked through the whole exhibit and giggled. I like the use of your gray wall to keep our eyes focused on the art. I just want to go back and take notes on how people respond. I asked the guard, but I don’t think he was honest.

I kept going around and around and then I found out about your talk and ran down to sign up for a ticket. No luck. It would have been my first day of financial accounting and I would have gladly missed it for you. Thats both not really and is really the comment on financial accounting that it could be seen to mean. I think I ran back and forth to and from the gallery at least two other times. Getting the audio guide that the guard said didn’t exist. Even if it was just one number, that was particularly hard to find, it was worth it.

Now I know I should be critical and say something academic sounding and the like. But this was such a pleasure trip for me visually and intellectually that just trying to put it all in words makes it sound bad. So I understand if you don’t make it through the rest of this letter that you’ll probably never read. Its okay. But what I do want to say and say rightly is that, part of what made it great was that each time I returned I found something new. It didn’t have to be all out shocking like some of the work you see now. Shock value just for shock value. It was clever, it was funny, it carried meaning, it asked questions and it made statements. But, of course, what else would it do? Its yours.

And I love the handouts, the educational guide. I just want to frame it and put it above my bed. I love the way you think, I love rocks, paper, scissors. I love the movie screen and the end. And how I will not make boring art or how I will love Marcel Duchamp even more when he is next to this pail. I think he would too, personally. I love how all of these works that I knew came together to be something more than their individual worth. I love how you do this to art and I love how it makes me feel to see it.

So there you have it, Vik Muni -, a love letter, or if you will, a love post, just for you. No stamp necessary.

And most importantly, thank you. Thank you for being you. Thank you for keeping art on its toes.

Last of London

With two days left, my class makes a stop over at Saatchi Gallery. This worth mentioning for two reasons: first because of the nature of the gallery and second because what I did before going to the gallery. Lets start with the gallery.

Old Person's Home - Sun Yuan and Peng Yu

Old Person's Home - Sun Yuan and Peng Yu

Mr. Saatchi is and is not the person I want to be when I “grow up” I would certainly love to own a beautiful gallery space and be able to show and catalogue all of the masses of art that I own ( my personal favorite above ) but at the same time, I hear the Indiana Jones catch line – from film #3 to be exact – hovering in my head, yes you named it, “It belongs in a museum!” At the same time I think Dali and his museum, which isn’t exactly what I was intending by the use of the term. Its an interesting debate though. Saatchi is free to public and self promoting. There seems to be something not quite right about it, but not quite wrong either. Its up in the air Mr. Saatchi.

Now briefly, a fantasy interlude: It a bright and beautiful day. The sun was shining. I was in an airplane reading about a sexy redheaded vampire who had recently become self-empowered to wear the LBD. Little Black Dress for those of you who don’t know.  (Like me!) LBD is not part of my vocab. But since this reading on the airplane I had gotten it in mind that I would find the perfect little outfit as well. …and rainbow colored unicorns pranced under puffy clouds to songs that emanated from strawberries….the realism here is that on my adventures in Camdon Market I had found the perfect shoes. Aldo 10 pounds. Red. Not red in the “*#$@ me” sort of sense of the novel or according to Lola, but red in that sort of Librarian lets her hair down sort of way that embodies me to a T.

I was satisfied here with the shoe purchase. I had been spending very little, I require very little, so I was tempted to just exchange the money back. But then I remembered how I needed money for postage etc and that ended that. So empowered with my own desire for a LBD, I checked out the All Saints website since I had been hearing rave reviews. Then I actually visited the store and did something I don’t really do. Be prepared. I wasn’t. I walked in, in my rainbow winter garb (no fantasy joke there), looked at the first employee I saw and said.  “I am looking for a black dress, simple, elegant and on sale. What can you find for me?” I’ve never went into a place known for their expensive stuff and said. I have money and I am going to buy. Show me. But I did and it was strange, gratifying in a strange sort of way. I don’t plan on doing it again soon. And I didn’t fulfill the part when I pranced around in the dress through the store after trying it on. Yes, go ahead. Little deer like creature, in tight waisted but flowy skirted black taffataeque dress, skipping past the racks. I really did do it. Hadn’t shaved for months. Probably embarrassed several patrons. Enjoyed every moment. For 36 pounds, for which I had lived on bread, cheese and yogurt for the past two weeks and for which I hadn’t really gone out, I had in fact secured an experience and a LBD that I won’t forget…And there were chocolate sundaes sprouting from the ground and chocolate fudge sauce in rivers and gnomes running around in a hypercolored farmland. Fantasy interlude completed.

In any case, on my last day I meet up with Forbes – a really nice adjunct SU professor who has been teaching in London for the last 17 yrs. We meet at an artsy coffee house above an artsy cinema in Brixton – the first really gentrified neighborhood which I’ve seen since getting to London. For never having met before, we spend a good hour and a half talking about art, visual culture, theory, film, our backgrounds. Fascinating guy and the time flies! Its my last night in London, so I ask him what I should do! With a bit of persuasion, he’s given me some ideas. I take the bus over to a bridge from which you can see the houses of Parliament and the whole London sky light up at night. Its really beautiful. On my way I’ve passed the British Film Institute (playing Michael Snow!) and I pass through the free gallery exhibit. Yup, its Michael Snow’s work! I had screened him back through Thursday Screeners and it was  good to get a refresher course. Near by is some neat advertising which makes me giggle:

Quite the advertising!

Quite the advertising!

I’ve been taking pictures of poster and ads all over London – they just have such a better sense of humor! So this one is for the Southbank Centre (love the “re”) which hosts some free programs that I couldn’t quite figure out but asked about profusely. From here I can see almost everything in London. But I head over to the TATE Modern and go up to their 7th floor bar to get an even bigger view. Its all beautiful. All the lights and shadows and mystique that the camera can’t capture. I gave up on photos right then. Just beautiful.

Coming back to earth I finished up my trip with two other stops: Primark and St. John Wood’s Tube stop.

As mentioned, I am extremely conscious about finances. With 15 pound in my pocket, the remainder of all of my money for the trip. I did what I had planned on doing, spending my last few pounds at Primark. I love Primark. I love Penneys. I love the company that sponsors them. These are two sister store brands that I’ve encountered in my UK/Ireland experiences. They’re delightfully cheap and they’re always full. So many people pulling things out that they’ve hired a staff to refold things. I spent my last few pounds there buying these amazing pants with bondage like suspenders that were slightly too big but pinstriped and absolutely something I would love to wear.

As for St. John Wood’s Tube stop. It was really about walking down Abbey Road. I have a heart for the Beatles, who doesn’t? Had to ask a really nice ambulance driver to find my way, but got there. And, late at night, in the dark, I completed my journey. Alone, happy, pleased. Everything was as it should be and I was fully content. London was successful and I headed home to write the last few of the 22 letters I sent out about it. Crazy girl, but happy.

two words.

Part of this being in London thing is doing the class assignments of course. One of our diy projects was to hit up the Mark Rothko (wow, I used his first name!) show at the Tate Modern. Now, I know you’re average Rothko. I mean this in the least familiar of senses. I’ve read about him in Kathrine Kuh’s book and I’ve seen his work here and there but, no, I’m not obsessive and, no, I haven’t seen him in this number before. There are a ton!

I’ve heard about his smaller works. Now seeing them, I like. Get into this burgundy, red series at the Tate and, also beautiful. These are the most familiar style with the loose look of overlapping colors weaving in and out of the visual playing field like we’re exploring the depths of the kaleidoscopes. I find a stunning one, iridescent shine, and pick up the post card. Then we get into these black form ones and here I find true love. Maybe even true art. Yes. The common viewer must want to call this man an asshole and I want his work to be the lover who will never love me back.

Now if I were to paint a series of black form pieces, I would get the idea and I would laugh out loud for a moment. No one would notice any difference from my usual unusuality. However, if I were to actually paint it, I would lay it out, tape it off. I would lay down the paint and I would stand back and there it would be. For all of its hypothetical physical presence it would still be an idea of my head. And this is where Rothko’s beauty lies. I’m sure there are many Rothko fans that already know exactly what I’m about to write and therefore will understand how little the meaning behind the words can actually translate. But here it is anyways.

There’s unspeakable passion in Rothko’s painting. It’s not an idea – it’s a love affair – with the color, the canvas, the stroke. It’s in the quite, subtle, softness of both knowing where to touch and how it will react. Letting it be both mysterious and understood. Closing your eyes, trusting and just breathing the same breath. It’s the intimacy of the affair, the private, unconditional love glance that causes that someone to notice the little quirks you never knew you had. And that’s what my painting would miss if I had ever tried to make it – the unseen movement of heartstrings that really hold the brush.

Maybe not everyone sees it that way, but to me it’s clear. I searched the gift shops for postcards of the black form pieces. And realized lovingly that their beauty couldn’t be photographed; I mean this honestly. Don’t look at the ones online. They polarize the black on black so you can only see it as two shades when it’s really meant to be seen as both one and two shades at the same time. I’ve looked for pictures to add to the post and I certainly challenge you to find one that comes close to accurately being what the black form pieces truly are, or maybe more percisely, truly art.

More on that Chelsea

So I work part time at a Chelsea gallery. Yes, I am a desk girl and yes, by the way, I will say “hello” to you when you walk in. I will probably forget to turn on all the lights though and the owner, my boss and only other employee, will run from her desk and get them. At this point I will feel terribly bad, but that’s beside the point as is the rest of this introduction.

The point is that last night was the first opening I worked in Chelsea. I have lots of opening experience. Years. Many of which I spend afterward sitting on the floor, chatting with my boss, talking about who or who came and how I hadn’t seen him or her in a while. And the success of selling that one piece (hopefully of many) or how so and so had bought something and you didn’t even approach him/her about it! Last night, all dressed in black, I should have been a greeter and I was to a point. There’s no problem with this specifically, I’ve always felt that it was an important job. Welcome people into the space, say upfront “hi, we have some genuine hospitality and manners here, you should like us and support us!”

Last night, however, I also became the smallest bouncer in high heels ever. Because my greetings didn’t matter to most people, because people coming in didn’t come to the gallery for the gallery. Its a Thursday night in Chelsea, of all the nights to go drunking for free, Thursday is that night. And because the gallery I work for is in a large tower of galleries on one of two-dozen or more blocks of galleries, very few people could tell you what gallery they were walking into (literally walking into it or into a wall). This is terribly disheartening to me.

I had just come to terms with my academic program. Its not so great. It is also disheartening, but out of a conversation with the director I had put together one single thought that had meaning. I was a community based art scene girl. I don’t know why I hadn’t realized this before. Marion had joked in undergrad that they should have a new major for me “community art.” I had taken almost every course that could be considered under this title. And somewhere that very important, very telling piece of self-truth was forgotten in the same manner that I regularly misplace my keys or end up in a room not remembering what I came there for. And in that meeting, I remembered how to say what I valued, how to make meaning of it for someone else.

There is a connection, here. When I go work at an opening in my not-really home town but adopted love of a city in Syracuse, I know those people. I know why they buy. I know that I’m the reason why some of those purchases take place and if I wasn’t there, if they didn’t know me, they may not have made that decision. Its a sense of value, a sense of community not about myself or my place in it, but that fact that those people aren’t looking for a turnover on that work. They buy because they love and I live for that love. That’s the draw of it for me. Its the running on passion part.

Now I’m sure that Chelsea has its own community of supporters. My boss has people who buy just because its her, I saw it take place the other day. But when that crowd comes into the opening and over half of them visually scan the room and head directly for the bartender and then take their glasses out or are people who have brought in their own half open whathaveyous, thats not my community. There is no connection,  no passion, no love. They do not buy and would not buy solely out of love, not the people who come in. There does exist those who do buy out of love but I haven’t seen them yet. The deep pocketed people who still feel they walk the same earth as anyone else but just have the ability (more ability than I do) to make a purchase. With the economy as is, it’ll be harder to find them.  And its depressing. But art is a drug. I make 600 a month max and I already know where 175 of it is going next month. I can’t help but want the art that makes me feel. And people who buy in the drugged up love sense of it, those are the people who give art value, who respond to art for all of its unexplainable possibly even spiritual essence.

And in the long run, I see those people in my small towns and small cities so much more than I see them in this big city. So, truth be told, small girl/big city is looking for a city where she fits better. small girl/small city makes things not so small.

Jeff Koons on the Roof at the MET

Steps for viewing Jeff Koons on the Roof:
Step one: Make friends with a security guard
Step two: Ask for directions to the roof.
Step three: Repeat steps one and two until you arrive at the roof.

It took me five security guards to get to the roof and, in arriving at the Jeff Koons exhibit, I’m disappointed. There are only three pieces, or maybe two pieces and a vertical blob. This show makes me question the art world, but maybe that what it is suppose to do. The exhibition brochure (also difficult to find) suggests that others have similar concerns about Koons’ ‘art,’ as the brochure identifies Koons as “an American artist known internationally for his controversial and intriguing contributions to contemporary art.” The pieces located in the roof garden certainly fit this description!

Regardless of the art’s controversial value, Koons’ work is well suited for the roof garden, as the space was designated to show the works of individual artists. The space complements the sculptures by adding to the surprise one feels when stumbling upon them. If one wasn’t use to seeing Koons’ art in a white walled gallery, the roof garden only enhances the shock value. I remember my own first encounter of Koons – finding Puppy at 7 AM in Bilbao, hours before the Guggenheim would open. All I could do upon seeing the gigantic topiary of a dog was laugh and later buy a Puppy t-shirt. I still own and wear it of course.

Koons’ work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Balloon Dog, Coloring Book, and Sacred Heart (Red/Gold), are not such a far cry from Puppy. The exaggerated size, the choice of object and the displacement of this object from everyday life are the terms which unite Koons work – turning people both on to and off of his art. Looking at the three, Balloon Dog becomes my favorite; it is also the image that was used in major press material. Sacred Heart (Red/Gold) is featured on the exterior cover of the program and Coloring Book can be found in the interior, pictured in black and white with the accompanying text: “cheerful pastel colors.”
The pieces are well placed on the roof, allowing for space to walk around each sculpture. The wooden porch area is left unutilized, probably because of the weight limitations with Koons’ work. And while, at first, Coloring Book seems out of place, it quickly becomes just as unusual as its two companions. From reading the brochure, I become aware of and can actually see the outline of Winnie the Pooh’s Piglet character in the artwork. Ironically, the piece seems to be a favorite for the children visiting the space.

Though it’s a slow day, people have crowded around the sculpture and the roof garden becomes a perfect place to sit and discuss the artwork. And that is what this exhibit does – Koons’ pieces beg to be questioned. They crave public discussion, not in a self-serving manner, but as a gift to society to stir up the long unanswerable question of “what is art?”.

Puppy (foreground) Heart (right side) Coloring Book (background)

Puppy (foreground) Heart (right side) Coloring Book (background)