Monday, December 19, 2011

another year heading away from me... and what a year-- marriage, baby, strong sales of my work, hawaii, the ocean, etc...

and so, the art world. the art world indeed... saatchi has called them out (irony is a soft, pliant mistress...). miami basel miami basel. the yachts moored in venetian slips...

this is so far removed from the art world i know and work in that it seems ridiculous to even bring up the point. in my rabid youth such atrocities and pretensions would have driven me to extremes of hyperbole and/or violence. now, well, now i just pay a little attention to what is going on and then get back to the work at hand- painting, drawing, training and caring for my daughter. life is short and now, as father, artist, teacher, what have you, i am so very aware of this...

it seems to me that at this stage in the journey battles are to be picked with a hungry, focused discrimination. warhol happened a long long time ago. johns before that... from there we get the ourslers and the finleys and koons and hirst.


theres a lot of shitty TV that pulls in the $$$$ and adds nothing to culture, save a punch-line. thats where we are with THAT art world.

stupid, vulgar people create and harbor stupid, vulgar creations.

this tawdry fact being what it is,
why should i concern myself?

isn't it more important
to just attempt the labor of good work?
maybe write a poem,
for no eyes save my own...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

yeah... not too late but late enough. an opening reception and then the after party at my place. drunk artists and drunk bulgarians make for a lethal combination. there is, in the eastern european soul, a thirst so heroic as to bring a man to his knees. i know this as fact and yet dance with the realities as often as possible. of course... of course.

so now, a beautiful meal in my belly, beleaguered not by life, but by, perhaps, it's omens-- my thoughts drift towards death. hitchens dead; havel dead; twombly dead; freud dead; the great hermann bachofner-- dead.

what is it that we leave behind? maybe some paintings, some scrawled words on bar napkins in east village dives so long ago it doesn't even seem like it could have been the early '90's...

yeah, the east village... this was my haunt before the glassy towers of $$$ and european architects, too many happy people and productivity.

this was the frontier-- still and, it seemed, forevermore... deli's were where you copped heroin. corners were where you looked out for the law. there was a steadfast democracy that held sway-- you made it or you didn't... fuck you.

maybe NYC life was harder all around in those days. it wasn't the '70's for sure, but there was the chance that for every beautiful story, there was a horror story. and i lived through that... my best friend-- maybe not...

i didn't mean to think about him just now... but sitting here, writing of east village times and great dead men- it happened...

i'm old enough now that i need reading glasses. an indignity of gnarly weight and gravity. my daughter sleeps with some ease in her closet of a room and i note that, indeed, i am happy. happy and sitting down to write a few words of art or meaning and in the end a lost companion of 18 or 19 years comes up. there are sad songs in life and i've lent my voice to many, far too often. now, as a father, i look for the clean, arid lyrics that could define a certain, odd, happiness...

he was younger and yet better, smarter-- a cultural soldier, strident and unyielding, as i staggered about insouciant...

his was an intelligence carved from self-reliance and weathered backbone.

a beacon in the fog of young men searching out futures and destinies.

a sublime warrior....

i didn't mean to write about him tonight.

but i did.

and the only relief i have from the pain of losing him is that i knew him for the time i did...

Monday, December 12, 2011

with three new pieces wrapped and ready for a saturday opening and exhibition, i've been pondering the meanings of what it is i've been doing of late. feeding my baby i notice how (at 5 months) certain things catch her eye and her focus. if the bathroom light is on for instance, she is wholly transfixed. what is it exactly that she sees? it's of interest in the larger scheme of things because there is no language or fixed definition for her at this point in her life. she experiences what comes her way in the purest conceivable way. no shit-- she's a baby... but it's fascinating in the same way it's fascinating to speculate on the thought process of pre-socratic philosophers-- where did their apparatus come from? what gave them the weight of their speculation? back in the days of good acid in the boondocks, it dawned on me that i was feeling what a baby felt day to day while in the midst of a trip-- everything was perceived anew, everything was vital and i crawled about as a virgin of sorts-- each movement a brave exploration into new territory, new sublimities...

don't we do this with painting? of late, dealing with a slightly new direction in my work, i've felt an odd joy and desperation in my efforts. pleasure? yes, to be sure-- but there is a detached sense of the path never before taken... it's my opinion that we should, as creators, work in this sort of innocence. if at all possible...

with the gestural mark-making going on in the studio, i've noticed 3 rather distinct qualities:
the circular, organic calligraphy; the more formal, "worked" line and a sort of instinctual shorthand, if you will... all 3 go on view this weekend.

and i'll have my baby with me.

she can lend her gaze to these objects
and in doing so, perhaps, give some depth of purpose to all of it,
the notions of art, collectors,
dealers, resumes,

MFA's and the like be damned...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

made it to chelsea... a half hour before closing time-- they just shut those lights out and the booze is pulled from the tables and the pretty girls are not working anymore.

gordon moore at betty cunningham gallery was purely thrilling. the guy does moves with paint and line that you might dream up stoned, but never work the nerve up to go for. a painters painter and a man so keenly invested in his practice that to say he kicks ass or, perhaps, serves as a beacon to what a painter might strive for, cuts it a bit short...

and i walked 25th street after the moore gig and was delighted to see more strong painting (and some candy, that looked like a bad "LA" painting show-- but thats neither here nor there...).

i'm not thinking, in any way, that we're turning a corner here.

painting has never died and it probably will not make any real comeback. but it's out there.

it takes getting on the street, walking the walk and maybe checking the websites, the shitty magazines and asking around, but there are painters showing true, strong painting.

and tomorrow morning i'll head to the brooklyn studio.

and feel pretty good...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

too late to be up, but the baby is doing her thing from time to time...

aah, deegan faith.

so, with the grace of grandparents in town, i made my way to the studio--

devoid of child.

i hit it hard-- the fine tuning and questioning of work set to be released to the world, nailed up, fastened to the gaze, etc... all of it, far too dramatic. far too dramatic...

there was a bottle of wine and work that was looking good so i did my thing and later went for my halogen light bulbs and tripe soup at the dominican place. rained on for the 3rd time of the day, but thats ok...the artist, deceus, visited for a short time and we shared stories of art and daughters, life and getting it on in spite of that new life around you, surrounding you... and i sipped the wine and did my thing, the work coming strong and easy. it's an amazing reality to be alone in the studio-- sometimes more amazing than you can imagine. and then i headed out and back to manhattan, to the grandparents and deegan faith and soothed her and poured a drink and grilled 2 ribeyes and made a vinaigrette of jalepeno, garlic, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and my own special "Zalsa..." stirred that shit up good and doused it over spinach. it was a fine meal. heroic in it's way, and needed...

2 steaks might come across as abusive.

or maybe cathartic...

Saturday, December 3, 2011

ok, saatchi said the art world is vulgar... fine. it is.

it must be understood that there is CULTURE and then there is the ARTWORLD. the ARTWORLD is a product-- something dreamed up and formulated. it's become a conceptual territory that has nothing to do with the creation and love of ART.... the ARTWORLD, as we know it (fairs, venice, hirst, koons, additions, warhol, warhol's bitches, the DEAD DE MENIL KID, polaroids, videos, politics, feminist identity, queer agenda, etc, etc....) is a pathetic social play that the rich push around on their plate and the poor try to snag a pea, filled with posers and cliche misfits.

the ARTWORLD is about $$$. period... and names. it's about those that know nothing about art laying down coin for art. and maybe, at times, it's good art-- or at least something that has some meaning. but when thats the case it's on the word of an art consultant.

on the flip side there is CULTURE. here we have the refined and intelligent, the sensitive, etc... here we find painters and ARTISTS, along with those that support them through understanding, $$$, compliance and awareness.

i dig it-- rich people need art just as poor people do. it's no different, regardless of what the socialists would say... and believe me, i want them buying my work as the paint dries (what color is your couch?)...

the point is that saatchi is calling out the ARTWORLD and people are getting pissed...

fuck them. he couldn't be more accurate--


and saatchi, himself falls right in there. who, in his right mind (aesthetically if nothing else), would lay down good british coin on anything by the likes of emin???

who? well, saatchi..

but here he is calling them out.

that takes balls.

or maybe it doesn't...

yeah, maybe it means nothing.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

there is this sense, as an artist, that you deal with life in a rarefied plain, more emotionally, more subjectively, more objectively, more violently, more sanely. there are the late nights and early mornings of bad women you don't know and bad habits you know all too well. there are the old books falling apart-- brittle with age, the yellowed to brown pages crumbling with each turn of the inquisitive hand. there were nights where i never spoke a word of language other than the language of a brush or a scrawled pen in the dim light under my loft bed in the long island city studio as the street lights of 11th street blew out the glass brick windows of that concrete ground floor space.

the artist, robert kingston (at the time) was on the top floor and while walking his majestic dog, Reina, he would, at times stop to knock on the thick glass and he'd come in and look and we'd talk and think, for awhile, together, sometimes leaving the space to walk along the east river warehouses that, at that seemingly long ago time, lined the shoreline where the packs of wild city dogs crept out from the forgotten basements in the late of night.

at the time, long island city was part small town and part ghost town. part NYC and part??? there were young mexican families and old italians and if you saw someone more than once you at least nodded and said your hello. and it has changed... like so much of everything else in life-- it has changed. the old warehouses are long gone. the young mexican families gone or, if not gone, furtive, in hiding... the old italians? sadly, i'd say they've died off. and their children and grandchildren play at making a living off the new way of life on that side of the river.

but, clearly, i digress.

back to art... it is a singular game. there is little room for collaboration in the quest of a vision-- narcissus, the cruel master... it dawned on me yesterday, feeding my baby, that my wife and child have given me purpose. given my way and my life reason and a cause. i have been steadfast in my pursuits-- art, vice, poetry, violence, sport, what have you... but now... now there is a new speed and a newfound vigor to my practice of existence. and indeed, to the practice of my art

i owe this to them...

the poet, james dickey wrote,

"I begin to move with the moon
As it must have felt when it went
From the sea to dwell in the sky.

As we near the vast beginning,
The unborn stars of the wellhead,
The secret of the game."

yeah. that about sums it up...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

too late to start writing and too late to stop... certain glories come to us at the wrong times and how you deal with it is what sets you apart from the rabble.

gesture, in it's truest sense, is a bitch. it's there- waiting, crouching in shadow and then it spews fourth from the brush or the pencil or the nub of charcoal, as untamed and buoyant as a branch broken off in a nyc october blizzard. and then what? how do you handle it?

i'm trying for as honest, as organic a line (or stroke) as possible. from there i go back into it, but i want that first hit to have some sincerity, some meaning if nothing else.

but what if that first hit doesn't work?? what then? much paint has gone down taking care of this eventuality.

in the studio of the powerful MP Landis, i mentioned i had been wasting a lot of paint.

"paints never wasted..." he said.

true enough.

and i carry on...

Monday, November 14, 2011

a few notes:

* the grace of the "gesture" is in it's intimate, muscular urgency. so present in it's own state-- so honest, so articulate... and then you work with it a bit more and it becomes, perhaps, less honest, but no less articulate. i've felt honored in the studio of late.

...and thats a hell of a statement to make.

* i find that my daughter's presence in the studio gives me a buoyant, playful energy. the brooding seems lessened, the dark waters becoming a little clearer...

* so much talk about the marina abramovic MOCA fiasco... so much. I applaud yvonne rainer in that she had the guts to really say something of meaning against this debacle. i must say, however, that there has been too much talk of "exploitation"and other such nonsense. the outrage over this has nothing to do with the sad condition of marina's participants (oh so willing, it should be very well noted...), the outrage should be over the likes of deitch taking control of a public venue, the cult of exhibitionism run rampant across the arts, etc, etc, etc...

i came up with an equation a long while back: art school girl + camera = nude self-portraiture.

the all female cast of the "performance" will no doubt, look back on this (and it's line on their resume) with a smirk of perfect self-satisfaction. they don't paint, they don't carve, they don't care... they stripped down and someone else called it art, or if not art- performance... there was no exploitation-- only supply and demand.

this is how it works-- ask any stripper.

but then, most strippers are too honest to give a shit about these losers and their postures...

Friday, November 4, 2011

first day cruising the chelsea galleries with my daughter... i hope she never reaches a point where she doesn't want to do that- but given the art world, who could blame her??

so we made the rounds with the artist, james austin murray providing comic relief and video documentation. and he picked up half the lunch (beer) tab...

* serra at gagosian was, as always, superb. the new works, junction/cycle, are right up there as an experience as any of his other great pieces-- adventurous, daring articulation of space. flat out: serra does what few artists ever have: achieve the scope of their ambition. and with a striking consistancy.

that same power was evident with the late milton resnicks impastoed monochromatic (polychromatic?) work at cheim & read gallery. having never had much exposure to his output, i was really taken with the force of resnick's resolve-- the drive to JUST MAKE A PAINTING AND WORK IT AND MAKE IT SOMETHING REAL...

i asked the desk help if she had an idea as to the number of years per piece-- i was pressing my luck... each work is credited with a year- '87, etc, and no notice given as to how long an individual painting was labored on.


resnick offed himself in 2004. i don't know what his output was at that time- does it matter? the fact that at some point in his life he put together THIS body of work is enough. there are so many of us out there- painting, striving, or, perhaps, just doing our thing.

how many have a philosophy?

resnick did... and he lived it. i raise this glass of vodka to his work and his memory.

and next door at marlborourgh? well, some hack named newsome, that somehow has already had a solo gig at the wadsworth... according to the press release, this work, "...combines high neo-Baroque style with low-pop advertising imagery..." and on and on and on.


this is just some pile of akendi wiley refuse that got tossed up and hung up. coming off the heels of the dietch "street" show in LA, it just seems a little too conveniant. i'll put fourth the question: what does low-pop anything have to do with art?

and i'll answer it: nothing...

and so i will give no more space and/or energy to this bullshit, writing this to whoever might be reading (me, tomorrow...), coming off a great night of work in the brooklyn studio...

* thursday i hit the opening (once again at cheim & read) of joan mitchell's later work. i was very very curious to see this show. i had written an extensive review of her whitney retrospective years ago and came out of that exercise exhausted and rather emotionally spent... the woman made some great paintings... she also cleaned her brushes on canvases and put them on gallery walls for sale to the those that buy and don't look crowd... it grieves me that her output is so spotty. she could have been our champion-- plowing forward through the decades... instead she became little more than the grouchy, booze-sodden grandmother of the ab-ex movement. and the 2nd generation at that-- aesthetically overshadowed by norman bluhm and the ghost of alfred leslie's early labors.

but she did pull off some great work. and why not? she was from a good wealthy chicago family that paid the bills and bought the paint. fuck yeah...

so i was excited, a few kitchen shots before hitting the taxi for chelsea.

and you know what? there was some great painting going on. the old broad was getting down in her last decade. to be fair, i must say there was some brush cleaning going on-- meaningless strokes to nowhere, at times, a horrid disregard for composition-- but the great moments are what stuck with me. and the great moments are what will stick with me.

mitchell was (is) one of our greats. that she could not step away from the canvas for (to my eye) a day or week or year, or 2 of reflective self-critique haunts her work. clement greenberg wrote about duchamp mis-interpretating picasso's bold discoveries-- perhaps joan (as many of her contemporaries) mis-interpreted de kooning's process.

de kooning worked years for that famous slash and burn-- scraping off and re-painting, scraping off and re-painting... mitchell didn't go that route. there was scant evidence of any truely re-worked passages-- hers was an immediate program and assault. she seems to have had little time to question herself.

but what if- once in awhile, she did?
think about that...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

so they have "occupied" Artists Space now... what to say??

the MOMA protest was juvenile and devoid of any real meaning- prankster-ism, performance, etc... but this smacks of something more sinister.

to protest MOMA was a grandstanding gig put together by some loser from brooklyn with way too much free time on his hands. fair enough. it's easy to get on the soapbox against venerated public institutions. pointless, but easy. the deal with this nonsense is that these fools are the same as any hillbilly from alabama lamenting "cultural elites"... i think the "occupiers" even used a term along those lines. they are hammering what we'll call "high" culture- the culture that has sustained us and endured (not without pitfalls) for generations... this is not a western culture versus diversity bullshit program, regardless of what they want to shout from the street corners. this is protesting culture- period. and thats fine. there are a lot of people with a lot of complaints about a lot of shit going on in the art world, culture in general. i'm one of them. but if they spent as much time trying to make art as they did with such street theater, or watching tv... you get the picture.

there was a lot of criticism of the OWS participants as slackers, trust fund kids, hippies, etc. for sure there are plenty of slackers, trust fund kids and hippies down there, but there are also enlightened, intellectual adults trying to become part of something larger than themselves and trying to add voice to this movement. lets be honest with ourselves: to bring about any real change will take about a century of turmoil. i'm not happy about this, but it seems like reality...

you gotta start somewhere.

but Artists Space??? this was organized (it seems) by some performance artist with a little bit of a career. of course! it make sense now: "occupy" a non-profit that is kind to the alternative mediums and housed in a beautiful SoHo loft-- high and dry from the cops. if this was a legit protest about the inequities of the brutal art world, why not "occupy" gagosian in the heart of chelsea??? dumb question- go-go would have the cops there breaking heads and handcuffing the offending in less time than it takes to say gagosian. these children went for the easy game to cash in on the momentum of a real movement and juice up their resumes for when they start typing up those grant requests.


i doubt if the director of Artists Space will call the cops. this will play out just as the bastards want it to. it will become some horrid waiting game without end.

but if they get tired of the nonsense i'll put together a posse of big, drunken painters and clear the place out...

no problem. give me a call...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

fatherhood has given me many things- and there is no doubt that one of those things is a new found respect for space to think and put together ideas, notions and dreams. every parent knows the beautiful dilemma of caring for and dealing with a baby, a child, what have you... intensity (such as is found in submission grappling and/or parenthood) is a game best worked within a full engagement and a crying baby (if you have the guts) is a take on full engagement in the most titanic of terms.

this then leaves the question of time. time to make art, time to think, time to put together the myriad detritus of a day into a night and the resultant narrative. in short, time alone...

an artist feeds on a certain requirement of solitude-- time to ruminate on matters aesthetic, poetic, romantic, etc. these thoughts take the full measure of a man's energies and (as an artist) he comes out from these reveries, maybe not better-- but stronger in a vigorous sense of purpose, going forward with the work at hand.

almost midnight now and i sit here at the table alone. baby asleep and the dreaming the soft dreams that we can never recall having dreamed in that time so long ago, wife asleep and deserving it...

fatherhood has given me many things. one of the very implicit contributions to my life has been a newfound appreciation for appreciation and for gratitude.

i have been given a chance to feel so much more outside of myself than ever i could have felt from within myself alone... and my daughter gave this to me.

this is but an echo of my own childhood-- an echo of generations... and as an artist, irreplacible as a font of creative vitality.

tomorrow, baby deegan will be with me in the studio- supervising, if you will. paint will be laid down hard, diapers changed, etc etc... but right now i'm alone. i am typing and sipping cold vodka- readying myself for the 4AM feeding.

i should have been in bed an hour ago, but then i couldn't have written this and thought these thoughts, paying so much attention to how very lucky i am...

Monday, October 17, 2011

* interesting how i find myself going for the grim profundity of black once again... that note of high seriousness, etc. zubaran, goya, valazquez-- the ground, burnt bone of animals.

add to that this new quest to reinvigorate my work with gesture and a baby and all the rest and life is just spinning at speeds that seem, at times, surreal. the crazed energized pitch of the edge that i felt hanging off the fireescape in the bronx after to much of any number of bad habits nipping (then) at my heels... and why not gesture?? there is a very valid reason work such as De Kooning and Kline resonate so with certain viewers-- that coarse, arrogantly physical statement of FACT put down on canvas. in discussion after discussion with the poetic artist robert kingston, we've hashed out the issues of the hard edge, the grid, geometry (what have you), versus the elegiac song of the painterly, or gestural... our main conclusion (if you could call it that) was that the 2 could and should intermingle to create a work of the complexity an artist should strive for given our dicey space in the continuum of art.

i'm taking this operation very deliberately. large canvases line the walls of my studio- some of them having been labored over for serveral years and drawings litter the floor of my apartment, my baby deegan held the brush for the first time on one such outing- her savage markings sharing an honesty i can only hope to come across in my own handling of material...

* the paradox of james austin murray... i've been meaning to write something along these lines for quite sometime now. i first met murray when he was a young dealer (of art). then, ditching the retail trade and focusing on his own chaotic painting, he stumbled across a brilliant melding of tight, graphic portraiture and expressionism that debuted at andrew miller's much loved and short lived L.I.C.K. Ltd. in 2001. 1 week after 9/11...

since that time a lot of paint has gone one way or another, for better or worse. of late however, murray has staggered across a growing body of work in the last year or so that is quietly reaching a fever pitch of importance. an importance that, sadly, is going too far under the radar... his monochromes (and, despite his possible protestations, that is just what they are...), black, radiant, daring in execution and sculptural implication, sit on the wall with a chip on the shoulder daring you not to lose yourself in track of a brushstroke, or the lost wisp of an edge that might round off when (seemingly) it can't, or according to some pythagarian standard, shouldn't, but does. beautifully.

at his recent open studio i had the honor of seeing 3 large scale works for the first time- 2 tryptichs and a stunning (the best nyc painting of this year???) dyptich, titled "bomb proof anchor". these paintings need to be seen and visually labored over. i'll not go into details here (besides, my glass is empty...).

not that it matters much- but i've felt for years that, as talented as murray is, he never understood that talent, or what made selections of his work so important. i don't feel that way anymore...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

* ...the sound of my daughter's laugh. thats what today will be for me. just over 3 months old and now i have heard that beautiful beautiful sound.

and in abundance.

life is good.

* the De kooning retrospective at MOMA is as it should be- a splendid offering of a great artist's lifes work laid out for us. if makes it very very easy to see how far we've fallen in terms of true ambition and realization- our polaroids and installations amount to little more than party favors for a party that means nothing outside of the fact that i wouldn't get invited and wouldn't go if i did...

* a new body of work cooking in the studio. much painting and re-working... but thats a good thing. even my mom told me tonight on the phone, "it's part of the process..."

Friday, July 15, 2011

* so, fatherhood...

what is there to say that has not yet been said? cliches and stereotypes hold a certain power within the fact that they hold a certain truth. i am in the midst of the greatest endeavor of my life-- and it becomes so much more than that with each second of holding my daughter.

this morning, she opened her eyes to mine as i watched over her dreaming expressions. I WAS THE FIRST THING THAT SHE SAW TODAY... to say (merely) that i was moved, amazed, indeed, brought to tears by this actuality, would be an understatement of the rawest insensitivity...

Deegan Faith.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

this morning, i felt my daughter kick for the first time. it wasn't the kick i imagine i'll feel in 16 years or so, when she belts a roundhouse to my unshaven chin, but it was a strong kick nonetheless... this is the stuff of life. a life roughed up and walked over; swallowed, tossed aside-- left drying on a beach somewhere- maybe negril back in the early '90's, eating fish stew with the rasta men in the woods on the other side of the road...

a strong woman told me, "real men have daughters..." indeed. the context of the life i've lived shifted in a hard stroke when the word (let alone the kick) officially came down. there are reasons why certain rogues cry at odd moments-- too much booze, too much sentiment, too much art. too much too much... we are the bits of the play we write each day the curtain falls and we keep trying to bring back the magic of opening night.

one of these days, over a good bottle of wine, she'll explain all this to me.