Tuesday, January 29, 2008

pattie boyd

A friend lent me a book to read: the new Wonderful Tonight by Pattie Boyd. I am almost done and it was an enjoyable read for the most part. Like being able to go back in time - and who wouldn't want to go to London in the 1960s and hang out with the Beatles? - Just to read about the optimism is almost like a drug. Mind, by the 80s, things get kind of messy....

There was a bit of gender-sparring about it in the NY Times Book Review. The first review was by a man who said who cares about this groupie, basically. Not an important story in rock n roll, blah blah. Who really cares about "the Muse?"

- Then a woman wrote a review, telling us how what the world needs now is another blow by blow account of various chord progressions developed by the boys in the middle of the night - and how, gee, she's just the woman who inspired Something and Layla and Wonderful Tonight and maybe more rock love songs than any other single person. That's all. She wouldn't have a story to tell now, would she?

As I bounded along, I did wonder how someone could leave a Beatle for anyone else. It’s got to be on a few minds. And could that alone be the reason she waited all these years to write it, for said Beatle has now passed on?

- Because just like so many of the hip and elevated before him, he was kind of a sexist creep to her. It broke my heart to read it, because I loved him, even collaged him - yet why wouldn’t it be true?

She was the Beatle Wife who made money, had a career, had her own thing, more so than any of the others (till Yoko came along). She was on the cover of magazines and books.

Of course she doesn’t really write it that way, all “Look what I did.” Some would say she’s got too much class for that. But others might say she doesn’t have the confidence or training to blow her own horn.

Mr. Spiritual didn’t want her working, wanted her home cooking (or something like that), and he cats around like crazy otherwise. So when God (otherwise known as Eric Clapton) comes knocking, she’s like, well, Hello.

Speaking of the Muse, I see that Lee Miller has a big show in Philadelphia right now. That would be something to see. She was painted at the muse forever, someone who just happened to be there for the moment of Solarization. She just happened to be there for a lot of things. Well, she’s slowly acquiring a much bigger and better place in the history of art than that.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

cynthia star at nw thang

My godchild lent me her camera today and I went down to Gallery Homeland for the final night of their NW Thang show curated by Paul Middendorf. The artist here is Cynthia Star, who was part of my window project on Lovejoy a few years ago.


It has been a joy to collage. The imagery has been collected for quite some time with nothing done because I had a big painting project. And the painting had a very singular, committed idea, whereas this process in contrast feels almost like instant gratification.

I wanted to be able to use contemporary figures, not just women of Hollywood history. I've always thought Lindsay was beautiful and for some reason I care about her plight, much more than her girlfriends Paris and Britney. But maybe I'll use them too.

Something about the black around the head reminds me of a burqa, except of course we get to see her face.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I want to Live

After exhibiting work two years in the making and planning, you can come down with depression. Sometimes it’s right during the show. I remember one opening – we all went out for drinks afterward – and I could feel this immense crash right there at the bar.

So what I try to arrange now is have something all lined up to do as soon as that show is delivered - a project which doesn’t have all this build-up and expectations attached. Just something to do.

That’s what the targets meant, sort of an escape from the business of art. And this is why I hem and haw a bit at already thinking: where to show, how to show, how to present, how much money and time to throw at it, and all the usual considerations that go into the business of art. Yes, I know it deserves all that, but let’s just say it’s a lot more fun to make them than to figure out all the other stuff.

When I was a kid, I saw I Want to Live! with Susan Hayward. That film made this huge impression on me. It was about a real convicted murderer, but all I saw was this woman fighting for her life who lost – with a torrid scene of her being strapped to the electric chair. She played a lot of wayward (and powerful) women very well.

Monday, January 21, 2008


Through Joanne Mattera I discovered Geoform. Now I am happy to say that I was recently included in this project.

Geoform is an online scholarly resource, international forum, and curatorial project that focuses on the use of geometric form and structure in contemporary abstract art. The project is edited by Julie Karabenick.

Some of the artists I recognize – like Michael Kessler, Michael Knutson, Rae MaHaffey and Tim Bavinton. Perhaps my favorite is Thornton Willis.

There are currently 119 artists from 18 countries taking part in Geoform. Their artwork, artists' statements, and contact information are presented in the Artist Directory. Included in the contact information are links to further information about each artist.

A growing collection of in-depth interviews conducted with some of the participating artists may be found in the Interview Directory.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

new targets

Awhile back I wrote about using targets in art. It was on my mind because I did it a lot in the past and wanted to somehow get back there. It was not all out of my system.

Perhaps I will paint them someday. I don’t think they completely belong to Kenneth Noland or Jasper Johns at all.

All of these I have done since it became 2008. They all have something to do with drugs, drink, death and women. (The scans are not the best as they are bigger than usual and I stitched it all myself.) (I love Natalie Wood.)

I’d love to do some with Liza’s mother, Judy Garland, if I had the right images. She’s the first casualty really, or at least the biggest one that I can think of. Her story just rips me apart. I recall when she died – I was just a kid, but I knew that she was always in the tabloids our neighbors had around, sort of like a Britney of those days. She had a young husband and all this tragedy in her face. And the biggest talent, the biggest voice.

Friday, January 11, 2008

red lipstick

The New York Times Magazine had an interesting piece on red lipstick and, to a certain degree, how it traverses on art. It started off with saying that red lipstick had made a comeback (when did it ever go away…?). It also explored a trend of women perversely kissing paintings made by men, wearing their most indelible red. It happened to Cy Twombly.

They say that you can get rid of the red initially, but that it keeps coming back. It will resurface, sometimes years later. Indeed, the woman has made her mark permanently, branded the work. Oh, there are so many ways to interpret this. The women quoted in the article seem to come from love and adoration of the artwork, but I think much more is at play here, and at stake.

I have a pal who has not lived here long, coming to PDX via much bigger cities. She believes her perpetual red lipstick makes others uncomfortable around her. I was a little puzzled, as I love lipstick, especially red, and don’t think much about it one way or another. I whip it out and back into my bag so quickly, I couldn’t imagine it was a force or subtle repulsion. But perhaps I was missing something.

Sure, sometimes a fellow would tell me he did not want his women to wear lipstick. But I always figured that this was the same fellow who had the magazine rolled up under his bed, filled with girls wearing nothing but.

My friend works in more established arenas than myself, so maybe these power movers do not wear paint. But it’s not like they are the vast right wing conspiracy – it’s the very hip and free thinking art world of the Pacific Northwest.

So I checked out her theory. Do people avert their eyes when you whip it out? - as though you’ve got some kind of sex toy in your hand? My friend says they look away while you’re doing it (applying the paint) and they also look at her lipstick traces on cocktail glasses with a vague repulsion. This doesn’t happen with soft lip-glosses, mind you. It’s the commitment (or rather aggression) of red which sends them. Is it because, as someone in the Times article says: “Red is primary and violent – it’s the universal gash.” -? (Italics mine.)

We followed this trend from personal style into the art itself. Can women venture boldly into color and if they do, how is it met? Surely not repulsion? Or is color just fluff? Is the denial of color a more serious pursuit? You know, it’s not a little bit like that freezing studio and leaky roof….

- We found some depressing indications that the more subtle the color, the more we are encased in a dreary encaustic grey – so like the weather! - the more seriously it might be taken. This is not a down-the-line assessment, and I am not going to give examples here either, but it’s never been a high-color town anyway, until more and more of the out-of-town New Garde arrived (thank God). And some of this relates to a general chromophobia which has nothing to do with gender.

Of course this is all reminding me of Lipstick Traces by Greil Marcus. That book speaks of gloriously aggressive times and aggressive characters, while not exactly being any kind of landmark feminist manifesto. Yet who wears lipstick - ? Are there chapters on Siouxsie Sioux and Lydia Lunch, exploring that very title? No. Yes, the title is lifted from an Elvis Costello song, but I think there was a big missed opportunity.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


A pal responded to my in Denial post by referring me to a review which not only posts a photograph of the woman artist, but notes beneath the photo that her studio has no heat and the roof also leaks. Yikes!

We laughed for many reasons - the first being that our studios don’t have heat either. But newsflash: s p a c e h e a t e r s work just fine. You really don’t have to suffer so much. It’s hard enough sometimes.

But then we figured…wait… she probably does have a fucking space-heater. The critic just didn’t want to see it. The romance of the freezing female artist makes better copy. Add the leaky roof and it’s practically orgasmic.

Somehow this all reminds me of when I played music at KPSU for an hour before my artist would arrive for Artstar Radio. One time I did two hours of disco… something I did not listen to much of my life, certainly not in the 70s, but someone gave me the music and it was totally addictive and oh well...

The artist arrives and you could tell she was clearly put out that I was playing loud disco. I'm not going to quote her but I was flip, that was the gist of it and my facepaint probably didn't help. She went into the interview accordingly. Maybe I said “I don’t usually play disco” - but I didn’t usually play anything; the show had no particular theme and was in fact called No Agenda.

Anyway, having fun was not an option to establishing any of kind of serious commitment, which was a paramount goal. - Someone actually emailed me about the interview: they heard the dis. It’s dangerous to head-trip while you’re on the radio and I went through the motions… and you can never really be certain. We all have our stuff. Still, I wonder if that it was due to the disco, which, you know, isn’t that much about serious suffering. (Neither is the red lipstick, but that’s a topic for another post.)

The woman is indeed not only a serious artist, but one who, in most people's books, has made it. And at least ten years older than me, she made it in even more of a man's world, and carved out her own. Whatever dissing I felt, I had to let it go, because I've probably had some easier times, but I still saw myself in her.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

installation shots

Tamara of Augen Gallery took some installation shots of the Richter Scale.
My goal now is to get it out of town or in a public space.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

bad art and bad writing

Everyday I write, but I do not make art every single day. Still, I did not think of myself as a writer until the last few years. The exactitude of words can be mystifying.

Recently I was talking over the submission process in writing, specifically the jobs of editors and agents, with a friend. He said: “Well, you had the same kind of job really. You must have seen a lot of bad art.”

Weird, because I never thought of it that way. I don’t think Bad Art. I just thought not art I wanted to show, or wanted to be around. It’s so subjective. People are showing empty rooms these days. Can you call that bad art? I wouldn’t.

But my friend then said: “But there IS bad writing.” He’s right. Now why is that? Is it because words are so exact - in a way images cannot be? Or is the world of art bigger, less easily contained and reigned in? Some say art says all those things words cannot, at least for them.

When a work of art uses words, it treads heavily. The words can change it all. Something that was exploratory and definitely up to the viewer can be less so. Of course the words can make its success too. Some artworks put me off when I found I had to “read” them – literally. But sometimes the words cinched a one-two punch.