Tuesday, April 29, 2014

shiny new essay

I'm a shiny new essay.  I'm supposedly gonna talk about art.  But I don't really know much about it.  I like to make art.  That is if this is accepted as art.  Well no, because I don't really look for acceptance as a measure of art.  That would be a bad idea I think.

You see, acceptance is just not a value one can use for this stuff.  It doesn't work as a measure.  Why not? Well for example,  when Manet did his magnificent painting of Olympia, there was a movement if you can believe it to cut that painting up and burn it.  It was hated.  The critics thought he was cutting up people because the girl stood behind a bar and her lower half was not visible.

And no, I don't measure anything I do against a Manet.  That doesn't work either.  You see, he is now a famous and acclaimed artist.  I am a nothing and an unacclaimed nothing.

I am a nobody nowhere.  Yet, to give another example, just one more okay?  When Magritte came to Paris and Breton got him a show there,  the critics laughed at it, and Magritte went back to Belgium, ashamed and penniless.

This stuff juste happens.  And continues to happen.  Nothing has changed.  But what has changed is that many artists know that it is hopeless..and yet, even believing that, they still criticize themselves, and call themselves every tragic and ugly name they can think of.  Well maybe nothing at all has changed.

I have few illusions:  the cause is lost in advance.  As for me, I do my part, which is to drag a fairly drab existence to its conclusion. -Rene Magritte

Sunday, April 27, 2014


or moving garbage into art and art into garbage or moving trash into art and art into trash or moving nothing into nothing and reverse.

...when one sees one of my pictures, one asks oneself this simple question, What does it mean.  It does not mean anything, because mystery means nothing either, it is unknowable. -Magritte

You just go in there, into painterville, and you can see all the famous and the infinite number of non famous painters.  They were all currently painting whenever they were or are alive, and still are, though we like moving them into the past and gone.  Doesn't matter really.  While in painterville you can talk to whomever you like.  Many are very friendly.  You can, if you wish, borrow their techniques, copy their signatures, talk to their friends, and even eat their food.  It is nice.

I will admit, since you insist on it, that most of the alive ones are a bit defensive, a trifle sensitive and weirdly compulsive about some nutty idea, well like most people of course.  But they are, each and every one, you know, interesting, especially when you get inside them.  But that is yucky, bloody and gooey, repulsive even, so let's leave that for Goya and that British guy,  we shall stand as proudly as we remember how, until we get bored, then we will sit down.

It is boring even sitting down, so let's lay down and close our eyes, and go back through painterville, and say hi to everyone, though I must say I am happiest to say hi to Blaise Cendrars and Louis Celine and Paul Bowles, what are they doing here anyway?, and go out the entrance to this boring stupid world of idiotically opinionated, creepy ant like creatures who all bite the ankles of the ones directly in from of them.  Ahh, what a waste.  And poor Nany, holding her mouth and her eyes in her hand as they find her heart an accurate witness.

And we go forth into the day.  Like an Egyptian.

Well you can see, I don't create any mystery.  Because in fact this whole darn thing seems completely mysterious to me.  How can something be understood on one level? and not exist on any other?

How do I complain about one lousy sentence which make no sense, and then loudly and happily sing the dumbest lyrics ever written to the entire grocery store?

Saturday, April 26, 2014


Really, you can't blame me, it's just what the painting did, the paints themselves.  I always try just to do exactly what I did yesterday.  I don't try to use new and bold colors, I don't try to use colors at all.
I don't try to use imaginative canvases in oddball shapes or even canvas itself.

Really I just try to do the same thing every day.  I am trying only to think of something but the word for it escapes me.  The entire everything escapes me.

Except I like movement.  And I like going there after a time and seeing what was made that day.  Yes I try to use a process that is out of my control beyond my ken.  I try not to read music, I don't really like notes and in particular I don't like the sound of picks against the string.

I am usually only happy when the painting looks like I went to painting land and ripped out a hunk of it and returned with the bloody hunk and it dried itself to death almost as soon as it got here.  It ends up looking like a leaf or maybe fresh concrete.

 And occasionally like a strange plastic pig or a man with a an attitude and a cigarette or maybe his worried daughter with ridiculous hair.

Friday, April 25, 2014


Between ourselves, it's terrible what one lays oneself open to when drawing an innocent picture. -Magritte

Of course, Magritte was not the top tier of painters.  That was Picasso.  And once you leave the top tier, you starve.  Or, of course, never get there in the first place.  And so of course, after leaving Paris after his great humiliation, with the critics laughing at him, he went home to Belgium and painted Picassos and Chiricos for a living.  And it's alright, Chirico had to paint Chiricos too for a living, and got to suffer the humiliation of stealing his own signature and dating the paintings back to the time he was popular.

All I can say is just fuck them all or as Magritte put it -My art is valid insofar as it resists bourgeois ideology, in the name of which life is extinguished.

Once, on regaining the light of day, I noticed an artist painting in an avenue of the cemetery, which was very picturesque with its broken columns of stone and heaped up leaves.  He had come from the capital -his art seemed to be magic, and he himself endowed with powers from above.  Unfortunately, I learned later that painting bears very little direct relation to life and that every effort to free oneself has always been derided by the public. -RM

Now I don't actually paint like any of that.  I am too desperate just to paint anything.  So I just let the paint do what it likes and I try to stay out of the way of it.  If it fails I know I got in the way -I started thinking and painting, both ugly things to me.  Just let the paint talk, and once in a while, every hundred paintings or so, something will emerge, something beautiful...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

an artist is an artist

An artist is an artist only because of his exquisite sense of beauty, a sense which shows him intoxicating pleasures, but which at the same time implies and contains an equally exquisite sense of all deformities and all disproportion.  -Charles Baudelaire

Common sense tells us that the things of the earth exist only a little, and that true reality is only in dreams. -Baudelaire

How little remains of the man I once was, save the memory of him!  But remembering is only a new form of suffering.  -Baudelaire

The insatiable thirst for everything which lies beyond, and which life reveals, is the most living proof of our immortality. -Baudleaire

I have always loved Kenneth Patchen, both as a poet and an artist.  I can remember, long ago, how I used to see his hand-painted books in the used book store, at first out in the stacks, and later safely behind the counter.

I do wonder just like you about all these quotes.  What is that all about?  What does it have to do with the paintings one posts?...probably nothing.  It's just that the names pop into my head when I am looking at these paintings, so I have to go look at their things...but the best quotes are the ones I no longer remember, found when I first read them...

Monday, April 21, 2014

idle thinking

I mean all the things, whether you're soliciting permission or not, do give you permission. -Robert Rauchenberg

As if that helps. Well no, I guess it does.  But the easiest permission is the kind you get by being completely unknown, a total singularity of nothing to no one, and the only arguments come from the idiot who hired you.

Let's face it, painting makes you happy or something like that sorta.  Well no, not really, I don't know, it's not like watching a cool movie, no maybe it is like that, no not that more like something to do with painting.  Ah that's it.  It just is this thing you do.  And I like seeing the things that could be...

or the things I think I see when I look at things, like outside, or weirdly enough in the air itself.  Like do you sometimes see lines in the air?  Oh you don't? Well, they are there.  I don't know where they come from.

It just seems strange the 100 billion things you see floating around, made out of some kind of nothingness, and there they are, so you blink your eyes and they are gone...

I just wonder like, do these things exist or not?  Is it just my vision, or is it something else,  like dust in the air, or water in the air, trying move around...?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

the box of toys lost to time

So, I guess it was three years ago I got my framer to make a real big box so I could dump in it many of the toys from my boys early childhood.

I though it would make a good composition with bright colors, its strong forms, and objects each of which demand unique attention.  I also thought that over the years rubber would bend plastic would stress and shatter and that finally there would be left only shards and tangled remains.

My boys got a kick out of it...they sat in front of it for about an hour, each of them pointing to certain figures, and telling each other how they played with it, which toy was the one they wanted in the bathtub, which one was the one they had in the bottom of the bed, how one was lost for so long but finally turned up in a crease in the couch.

They remembered the old movies they saw, and they remembered the time surrounding many of the toys, they recalled which ones had been outside with them, which ones had consequently been lost for periods of time, what house we were in when these events occurred, which friends had been over...

And now they all rest in this pauper's grave and I am reminded of a story cousin Edith told.  How, when my father's mother died when he was five...how when he grew up he learned that she was buried in a pauper's grave, how this appalled him and he determined to have her dug up and buried properly...but gave up when the man explained to him how many people were buried together in those graves...

He was determined not to be buried at all...and when he died his ashes were spread across the island where he lived...

...and now when I look at these figurines, all buried together,  I feel the sadness that comes from growing up, not losing your affection for childhood toys, but feeling the interests of new feelings and thoughts that have taken their place...and the sadness of the ruptured toys, lost forever in time, forever collapsing, sinking, crushed together under time's endless mass...

Monday, April 14, 2014

thinking only begins

Thinking only begins when we have come to know that reason, glorified for centuries, is the stiff-necked adversary of thought.  -Martin Heidegger

What does it represent?  There was never any question in plastic arts, in poetry, in music of representing anything.  It is a matter of making something beautiful, moving, or dramatic. -this is by no means the same thing. -Fernand Leger

Ah, these now seem like old stories, truths from the times of our grandfathers.  -we all know in our hearts that the only truth is the one we tell, the one we say. -it is the one that is hardest to tell, and to tell over and over, until the rest of humanity knows we will not change, we will not alter our beliefs.

The paintings, though they change, are all the same.  The gestures all come from the one hand.  The details are from the same mind and are reflected in each picture...

And no matter what one wishes, you remain the same person.   From the many that one was as a child  to one person laid down to earth.   -an endless yet brief existence.  for each of us the same.

One painting seems dark and dreary, full of darkest thought, blackest detail, the next one light and airy -yet is just not true not in that way.  For each one blares out the notes for help, for beauty, for truth, and for secret peace.

And in each one we see the same self-proclaimed words, the assassination of thought, the traitorous compromises, childish frustrations, idiot, fool, go away and leave art to us -the anointed, the purified, the long-standing truthers.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

April flowers and Love Letters to God

That is the title of a book on her art work the my friend Justine wants to use.  Perfectly out-of-sync with any current suppositions on art...especially on some supposed linearity.  Her work by the way is beautiful, large and marvelously deceptive.

I wish I had an example for you...I'm sorry I don't.  I just have this one of my own, that I don't know where to put.  Its large, at least in my opinion, but not nearly as large as her work.  Really it doesn't coordinate with anything.

I think I will simply bury it in the bottom of a large box and forget about it.  When you make a bunch of art, sometimes these things will happen.  They are strange ugly creations that just show up, ungainly, uninteresting,  simply ugly things that exist, at best.

Josef Albers

I am the first to admit that none of these bare any resemblance to Josef Albers...it's just that I want to talk about his work for a minute or two, actually not his work so much as my introduction to it.

Back in the early 70's I was in school down in southern Ohio with Ethelred Eldridge and Jenny Holtzer (who was also a student there).  I was also babysitting to make a little money.  

I had one job in a small house with a nice couple who had a little girl.  She had already gone to bed when I got there.  And what I was to do was sit there while she slept and read a book and maybe watch television while they were out.

But I was too nervous to do anything.  I kept wondering if I should go check on the girl but I decided not to.  I didn't want to wake her.  And I was afraid she would be scared since she had not met me.

I didn't even want to watch any television, since I never did anyway.  And so I just sat there in a chair in that tiny living room. Right next to me in the only light available was a picture painted by Josef Albers.  The professor had told me about him, and I was interested.

But I was too nervous to get up and look through the professor's books on him, so I just sat there and stared at it. All night.  Till late. Till the professor and his wife came home.  I got to know him a bit that night.  Just me and him in a very small room.

I didn't move that evening.  I just sat in a comfortable chair and listened for the little girl's breathing and looked at this peaceful painting, one that seemed to offer solace and a promise of harmony in it's inner workings.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

on being an artist

on being an artist -Where do you work? -do you work 'inside' or do you work 'outside?'  

To work inside is to deal with the internal conditions of the work -the melodies, the textures, the rhythms, the lyrics, the images.  -all the day-to-day things you imagine an artist does.

To work outside is to deal with the world surrounding the work -the assumptions, expectations, legends, histories, economic structures, critical responses, and so, on and on.  You might think of these things as the frame of the work.

A frame is a way of creating a little world around something.

Is there anything in a work that is not frame actually? -Brian Eno

we are all so odd aren't we?  We constantly think of "I" as in I did this and they did that...but really do we ever really think "I" did anything at all?  Who was that "I" anyway?  It must of been a long time ago and he was just a kid, a very naive kid too,  and that lasted a long time, well up to the present at least and into the possible future.  I will lay down tonight and contemplate this "I".