Saturday, September 13, 2014

#271 Reclining Figure /w Bloody Hand

32x40 acrylic on canvas

#270 A Host of Ghosts

20x12.5 Acrylic on plywood

Friday, September 12, 2014

Class and the Sunday Funnies

Somehow, while washing dishes, I thought of Joe Paluka for no discernible reason. There followed names of old comic strips--Bringing up Father with Jiggs and Maggie, the Katzenjammer Kids, Gasoline Alley. These weren't my favorites, but I read them all, Sunday funnies spread out on the living room floor.

Got me thinking about class, and how central it was in the old comics. Has anyone done a serious study of changes in how class was depicted in comics, and how that changed over the years? Related, I'm sure, to changing audience. Change was particularly noticeable through the 50's, As the largely working class audience, home from the war, college on the GI bill, moved into the middle class, the comic characters, too, 'graduated' from the immigrant, working class world that was so much a part of comics in the 30's and 40's.

The total absence of blacks, except for gross caricatures now and then, is telling. By the mid 60's, comics no longer represented the kind of mythic universalizing (white) lens of America the way they did when FDR would read the Sunday funnies on the radio. There's an interesting story in this. I wonder if anyone has done it?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Monday, September 8, 2014

Artist? Or servent of the Empire?

If you are an artist--of whatever sort: we all need to live, and have to find the means to make our art. But there is no wall that insulates HOW we go about this from how it works out in the world we live in. How it supports established power, whether we want it to, or not, or doesn't. This. fucking. matters. You CANNOT claim to be an artist... of any sort, if you are unwilling to turn your creativity to thinking about how what you do, and how you seek to support yourself, works out in the real world. That means developing a politically aware conscience. If you just want to entertain established power... in exchange for their support.. you are their house servant, and you have sold out your art. x

Sunday, September 7, 2014

#268 Icon

14x11 paper bag, roofing paper, acrylic on canvasboard

Stop making art for the rich and their Empire of Money and Death!

My first thought, as I walked into the room with Cy Twombly's work at the Phila Museum of Art, was: how do you stretch a canvas that size? Then, off and on, wandering through rooms of 20th C modernist and near contemporary art, it occurred to me that the larger and more elaborate pieces, had to have been made with museums in mind--or collectors who could afford to live in very large houses with very large rooms....
How then, I thought... does this pre-selecting of the'audience' affect the making of art? Whether or not the artist gives this any thought--art made in this way becomes the art of capitalist power--not unlike how those great bronze equestrian statues of military and political figures, were meant to honor and glorify their subjects, and with that, the conquests, subjugation and exploitation of those under their power.
In this way--even the most subversive and revolutionary work, will have written across them a second message, declaring their impotence at the hands of power. "You see, we OWN you! You cannot harm us, here in our aesthetic Free Speech Zones."
Fuck the gatekeepers! Fuck all OWNERS! Better street art that defaces their arrogant walls. Stop making art for the fucking rich and their Empire of Money and Death!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

#267 Human Resources

Reworked from #265 -- looked too much like corporate wall-art 40x32 Acrylic, U.S. currancy on canvas

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Art (as Social Organism) vs. Gentrification

Art (as Social Organism) vs Gentrification.
Interview of Amie Sell by Adam Turl in REDWEDGE, September 2, 201

Monday, September 1, 2014

#265 Day at the Beach

32x40 Acrylic on canvas

Stone Troll #2

Illustration for children's book. Stone troll that comes to life. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014


264 24x27 Acrylic on composition board

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Hilton Kramer and the New Criterion (from 1982)

From a journal entry, July 19, 1982
            Hilton Kramer has resigned as art critic for the NYT and announced the appearance of a new review: The "New Criterion."  In reading the publishers introduction, I detected a familiar tone. When I came to names from "Commentary" and the "National Review", the source was plain.
            There have been several articles and review on music in "Commentary" recently. They have taken a critical tack I've found odd and unsettling. Not criticism of individual works, but generic criticism. Attacks on jazz, on popular music, on the dilution of the teaching of "serious" (European concert) music in the curricula of American conservatories and schools of music. This seems to be a posse of writers and intellectuals, politically right wing, with an active agenda to correct modern culture, which they are sure has gone miserably astray. They are anti's: anticommunist, an­ti-populist, antidemocratic, anti-soviet, anti-liberal (who, by design or unconsciously, are the handmaidens of Marxism). They are authoritarian elitists.          
            The new thing here is this emphasis on controlling culture. The arts, literature, music, theater; all are seen through a kind of backwards Marxist lens, busily purveying hidden social programs. The real purpose of criticism, it seems, is to expose the hidden social agenda a which is the matrix and context of the work, then to demonstrate the political/economic wrong-headedness of that context. The work itself is but a means or foil for the serious business of promoting political and social orthodoxy. Art is taken seriously, the way Marxist criticism takes it seriously. Not for its own sake (whatever that may mean), not for the meaning or importance inherent in any particular work, but for the place a work occupies in the social-political matrix of which it is both example and creator-advocate. This new-conservative, neo-clas­sical-authoritarian criticism begins with its own dogmatic or­thodoxy, but an orthodoxy that is clear and formally articulated only on the political-social level. In other words, it's not about art, it's about politics. Art held up to political ideology.
            Their problem is, they can't deal with art. It's too slip­pery. Like a guerrilla army in the hills. So the New  Authoritarian eliminates the enemy by a master stroke; it transforms by magic thinking art, artists, and all their sup­porters, into pure ideological terms. For ideological battles the Authoritarian's rhetorical weapons are well honed.
            It's characteristic of the these guy to be more eager to attack the supporters of the arts than the artists or their work. They're realists. They know where the money is. And in the White House, having not the slightest idea what any of this is about, they  have no mere sympathizer, but a crusading general.

            An article in the Inquirer this week on the New Criterion. The Village Voice a critical piece. They're (NC) funded by some right wing founda­tion.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Artists, Break Free from the Capitalist Market!

keep throwing these messages in a bottle out into the wake...I mean, how we artists need to free ourselves from the capitalist trap. I would think supposidly creative people would be more hyperattuned to this.. and dig the challenge... but most, even those who pretend to radical messages... just roll over and hope to be fucked by the gallery comodification investment model... like maybe they'll get knocked up and give birth to a zillion dollars. Kinda disgusting.

Compartmentalization... but what fucking kind of 'creativity' is that, that can't deal with the real world and how it uses our art?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Human Heart Revealed #262

Ghost Flowers #261

16x12 Acrylic on canvas board


Those of us who were born before 1945 or soon after, who were children in the late 40's, teens in the 50's... grew up deluged with images of nuclear bombs, the endless photos of hydrogen bomb tests in the pacific; we passed Nike anti-aircraft missiles on the Lake front in Chicago, we knew people who built shelters in their basements... all this, culminating in the most terrifying two weeks since humans came down from the trees--October, 1962.through those years, have no idea.

The nuclear arsenals are still there. The missile silos are still there. England, the U.S, Israel, Pakastan, France, China, Russia...North Korea... all armed with with the capacity to initiate a conflict that would be the end human life on the planet--or make it so terrible, that extinction and death would be a blessing.
Those years were a watershed in human consciousness--if you did not learn to disassociate, to build your life in the delusional shelter of the Great Hologram... as most people did, you became an alien in the world forever, an exile in a world run by madmen, you learned, over the years--for such knowledge is too much to absorb all at once--you understand that there is no longer any place in this world to call "home." After Hiroshima, it is always and forever, 3 minutes to midnight

Saturday, August 2, 2014

This is the End, my friend... and maybe the beginning

I think there's reason to expect that these weeks of slaughter and destruction in Gaza--made visible for those who choose to see it through social media, is going to have broad ranging consequences in the future, its corrosive effect on the impenatrable solidarity of American Jews with Israel, just for starters. Which means a less certain stream of money to AIPAC, and, one can only hope, a loosening of Israel's stranglehold on U.S. representative and senators. But I'm thinking more along the lines of how watching the aftermath of the Iranian stolen elections--following if for week on Twitter--and then came the Arab Spring!  -- how this was yeast to the brew of social and political discontent essential to the Occupy movement. I don't see how it's going to be possible--not for those of us who have stayed close to the news coming out of Gaza outside the major media, who have followed the livefeeds, have obsessively shared photos and stories by Twitter and Alternet and FB--how it will be possilbe to return to 'life as usual' without being alert in every nerve and cell, waiting and searching for the time to come together that make is feel like we are addressing the horror we've witness, in ways that feel in some small degree proportionate to the provocation.

If people came to the Occupy encampments out of disillusion and rejection of the electoral political process and its institutions, this promises to have blasted a larger crater in any possibility of believing or living in the greater Machinery of world power. We see China and India, the rest of the Arab leaders, not simply indifferent, but complicit--realizing that what Israel is doing, they are fully prepared to do with their own troublemakers. No wonder Bashar al-Assad is still in power--after waging a years long war against his own peoples! That's how it works! That's how this whole fucking bloody machinry of power works! Held together by money and its institutions and the on-going privitazatiion of everything. What Israel is doing, what Assad is doing--that's what's in store for anyone who resists the Machine, who seeks to build more humane relationships on the other side of Nationalism and Capitalism and it's tools of patriarchy and racism and enforced inequality and the propagation of ignorance and the raising of servility and complicty with tyrany to the supreme virture!

This is the end, my friend... the beginning of the end. Oh, let it be so. Let it be so.

Friday, August 1, 2014

July 30, 2014

On this day we observe
how he both ambled on and back
in time, & stood there in summer heat
brick rubble at his feet, the house
razed that very morning—four days
it took (week four of the destruction of Gaza)
the sound of the chain saw, the mechanical
grunt and grind scoop &
scrape four days till this morning … tiles
on a wall left pressed against the
adjacent house where the bath had been--
rubber hose & shower-head
limp as a dead man’s penis

his eye and swept him back
alone, a child on a wooded path
he was afraid of falling trees
(so many strewn among the leaves
moss covered trunks
stripped by years of branch and bark
no sense of time’s lightning
storms or wind, contingency not cause, the smell
of braken & blueberries—
the lake
beyond the hill

Who lived here first? Before these great bodied
trees had stretched and swayed
made sounds on windy nights as though the sea
itself … not a question he would find to ask
for years—how we are all like that, late comers
to a shore we no longer
see through eyes of ghosts
made over into mascots, Halloween warriors,
while on this morning, or late that night
by what little was left
of a house where once
men, children, women cooked and washed good herbs
hung to dry with skins and polished fragrant bark
 – in this house—they showered hanging
naked in mid-air (he saw them)
no floor to hold them, & children
playing on the steps long past dark
by light of flares, the burst of flame
the blast that rips free a child’s arm mid-air
burned clean of skin the smell of roasted human
flesh—here too, he thought
before this house was built, before Penn’s
sons’ deceitful race— where on the sands of Gaza’s shore
Israel’s tanks do shine so bright
the memory erased
of stars as other eyes had seen them
on nights like this, thick
with fireflies

Saturday, July 26, 2014