Friday, August 15, 2008

ok, last night in LA... or the valley, as it were. a good early morning painting and then hanging in and by the pool with beers and my dad. then grilling steaks for my nephews birthday.

last night the artist, robert kingston came out and checked out the new paintings. since the time i've been here, i've danced around the new ideas and then revisited the existing body of work with 2 pieces left over from my last trip out here. so it's come full circle: the paintings to the drawings to the new paintings and how it all comes together as a whole... good words and good advice from robert as we drained can after can of mexican beer under the orange tree. i'm off the idea of following some plan and am back into the rush of confusion that usually gives me (to my mind) the tools to make good (or great) art. the last days out here are always tied up with bummed out feelings of leaving my family and the pool and the killer studio and my sculptures in the garden and the bamboo and the flowers and all the rest. at the same time i get that excitement once again of flying back to the city and the scene and the crazy life of making art in NYC.

a random thought:

i know when i go to bergamot station in santa monica that i will see some good painting. 

in NYC i hope to see good painting. more often than not, i end up pissed and pissed off...

a few more random thoughts:

*the art of southern california has (in general) become so geographically self-referential that it seems to deny any chance of true power or relevance to the world outside it's borders of highways, ocean and desert. everywhere you look there is the imagery of the beach, of suburban ranch homes, car pools, swimming pools, drive-thru fast food joints, film noir, hollywood retro, etc, etc... and the glare, that bloody glare of resin and the slick surface of "the shine..." now, granted, there is a huge audience for this in london, berlin, tokyo, etc. there are MFA candidates across the country who have never even seen a beach, let alone a palm tree, foaming at the mouth in an effort to get this very subject matter down cold. but consider this: imagine a new york scene populated by statues of liberty, coney island freak shows, taxis, hot dog stands, yankee stadiums, rockefeller centers, central park horse carriages, what have you. to be fair, you might see one of these examples now and again (sadly) but it's not the dominate strain of imagery and content. not even close. there is (and should be) a universal, historical and international mode of expression that is there for the taking. for art to succeed, in any media, it must reach for this language and come to terms with it.

*any writing on art done in LA (or surrounding areas) can't help but mention NYC, one way or another... there is the constant song of "ignored by...", "passed over by...", or even, "...recognized by...". the most glaring culprit is the magazine, Art Ltd. almost every profile, discussion, or announcement seems to fall into this trap.

*a random piece of criticism i read last week offered these tired, sagging cliches in discussing a group show: "exploring our perceptions..."; "challenging pre-conceived notions of..." and,"questioning our ideas of..."

except for a very few, this is what art writing has come down to.  everywhere...

*in LA, dennis hopper is considered an elder statesman of the art world.

i'm not trying to bitch, just checking things out and typing it... there is, quite undeniably, great, important art (painting) being made in LA, the inland empire, orange county and the rest. the sheer cultural weight of the region cements this fact as a given. at the same time, however, there is this incestuous cultural circularity within much of the art (good and bad) being made that ties it to the land and, to that end, the time of it's creation. simply put, this labels and dates the art involved in this practice. the phrase, "california artist" flows off the tongues of too many, too often to be healthy. i should know-- i've been labeled one several times, in various group shows i was fortunate enough to be involved in around the country. out here, there seems to be an apprehension at the thought of being a "regional artist". its an apprehension so dense and tactile you feel the tension rising up in conversations and writings before you hear it or see it. sadly and tellingly, this is a self-fulfilling prophecy for many artists, in many ways...

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