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All my dimes are adding up…

I won’t tell you where I found them, but they’re shiny and earning interest.

Here’s a recent shot from my studio:

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A lot of people will tell you that the contemporary art market is full of greedy, ego-centric, shallow, amoral miscreants.

This might be true, for the most part.

Somehow, however, I have been able to find a number of individuals firmly established in the higher echelons of the contemporary art world that are people of integrity and honorable character.

This comes from both sides – artists and dealers. You may know that I am involved with a couple of critique groups and arts organizations which have exposed me to a number of outstanding artists – both in terms of their work and themselves as individuals. It may be easier to achieve this reputation as an artist, coming from the pre-supposed underprivileged starving status. Unfortunately, we artists can just as easily be slimy, debaucherous leeches ourselves.

I have had less exposure to people working on the gallery and museum (I’d say professional, but I’m trying to include myself in that category also lately) side of the market. The majority of the stories I have heard have not been encouraging.

This evening, however, I was reminded that I do, indeed, know quite a few outstanding people working in this area. I had a studio visit from a friend whom I was able to get to know over the last 7 years or so by doing IT consulting for the gallery she worked for. It was the first time she had been over to see my work, even though she had been familiar with it for quite some time. Over the recent weeks, in talking to her I have had the opportunity to learn more about her conception of the artist-dealer relationship and how she sees her role in it. It was great to hear someone talking about the process of learning the value of developing the relationship with the artist and their career, along with how a responsible gallery takes their role in the art and artist’s development seriously and what that looks like. She does it because she loves it. She loves the work she’s promoting and the cultivation of the artists she works with.

How refreshing. What a pleasure.

For a moment I thought, what an anomaly…what a rare find. A person who actually cares in the art world. Then I realized that I know another woman who works at a prominent gallery that I believe really cares also. Then I remembered another, more recent friend working her way up the ranks with just as much respectability. And then there’s my former roommate, who managed a gallery for several years and the collector friend and the curator friend and the critic friend and the historian friends.

If you look for it, there is real richness to be found in the art world. Do not be fooled or disillusioned that it is only a wasteland.

I’m realizing that as well as making art for myself (and this is a realization to have made) I am forming a team of other people who the work is also for, in a certain sense, because they are the people I want to have involved in the conversation and I want the conversation to be rich.

Eagle ate the otter.

Word.

-W

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What’s going on…

Howdy.

Lots of stuff going on this week.

Well, two things going on this week.

1)I’m in a group show opening Tuesday (tomorrow, yes).

Quality Service: Artwork form the staff of the Cooper Union School of Art
February 24-28, 2009
Opening Reception:
Tuesday, February 24, 6-8pm

The cooper Union
6th and 7th Floor Galleries
7 East 7th st
New York, NY 10003

Gallery hours 11am-6pm, Tue-Sat

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2) The IAM conference.
They’re calling it an encounter, but it’s a conference.

Where:

Downtown New York City
Evenings: Tribeca Performing Arts Center (199 Chambers Street)
Daytime: Downtown Conference Center (157 William Street)

When:
February 26-28, 2009

I’m often skeptical of these conferences before they start but end up liking them by the time they’re done. The speakers are usually pretty great and you end up meeting interesting people.

Saturday I’m giving a talk on Art, Design and Social Responsibility – summarizing some of my experience from teaching last semester at Parsons.

-W

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Convincing arguments on Super Tuesday…

Howdy.

This post is for Super-Duper Tuesday-ers.

I’m not sure if I’ll leave it up after tonight, but it impressed me and I thought I’d post it for today, at least.

Keep in mind that this is not a faith-based argument – perhaps then think about how similar a faith-based argument would sound.

I don’t know much about Lawrence Lessig, but I do know a strong, thoughtful, and intelligent argument when I hear one.

“20 minutes or so on why I am 4Barack”

…and this one’s just for fun:

-PAX

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Spiritual America (part 3)…

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This is “Docucolor 1” from the new series of paintings I’m working on.

If you’re around next Thursday, a few friends and I have drawings in: Night of 1,000 Drawings, A Benefit for Artists Space. 

I’m not sure what time I’ll be there.  It’s on the same night as at least 4 other openings/Christmas Parties I know of.

Gimme a call if you hit it.

Ok, here’s the third part in my blog review of the Richar Prince retrospective at the Guggenheim titled: Spiritual America.

The article is going through the sieve that is my genius editor-in-wife.  It promises to be much more coherent.

The thing that really kept, and keeps, me so interested in Prince’s work is probably best summarized in the exhibition’s title, “Spiritual America.”  I found myself continually comparing my own impressions of American spirituality and how it compares with what Prince has offered the public in this show.  My first reaction is, “Yeah-huh.” It’s easy to see Americans’ true spirituality as bad jokes and muscle cars.  We’re not a Christian nation and never were.  What we are (to the world) is advertising, consumerism and shallow relationships. My wife and I recently met a man from Belgium who said Americans have a reputation for being open to talking to everyone but never having a real relationship with anyone.  We said that he was probably right and promptly left.

On the other hand, I also want to react against Prince’s implication that there isn’t anything deeper or true in the spiritual lives of Americans.  I have seen some tremendously encouraging signs coming out of Christianity recently that reiterate this.  Humanitarian efforts to fight AIDS, feed the poor, and actually care for our environment are springing up all over the U.S. The spirituality that I know and grew up with isn’t about celebrity or distraction, it’s about communities in relationship, lifting each other up and meeting each other’s needs.

Maybe the resolution to these reactions is a reminder to keep them separate and let Richard Prince be right.  The concept of a “Spiritual America” is a joke, and perhaps we need to just admit it and move on.  So we’ve created a shallow, consumerist, rampantly destructive culture that’s self-righteous to boot.  The sooner we acknowledge the reality, the sooner we can work against it or to correct it.  In the end, I think Prince gives us a hard lesson that’s easy to swallow but difficult for us, individually and nationally, to digest.

and  This is why I recommend people see it.  It’s interesting work, visually, and it confronts issues about who we are.

PAX

-W

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Spiritual America (part 2)…

OK, by tomorrow, apparently I meant “way off in the future.”

And apparently this is going to be multi-part.

Also apparently, the review is going to be severely edited before going into Comment Magazine.

All right, on to the paintings. I’ve pretty much liked Prince’s paintings from the start. The racist, off-color and tacky jokes just add to the conceptual jab at what America is largely about. Face it, we’re just like them (the paintings). We’re big, loud, tacky and inappropriate. That’s what American culture is. Not that other countries don’t have or do similar things, but really, who does them as loudly or with as much waste as America? Our foreign policy is a racist joke. Our TV and movies are sex jokes (or just bad ones), and all those marital infidelity jokes…they could be so many things…how about good ol’ American corporate policy for one. America does have its good side, but that’s often not the side we lead with. Something I also noticed in the paintings was a thinness I hadn’t seen before. I guess I had always seen them in shows and thought they were much more thickly or richly painted. some of the ones at the Guggenheim were fairly rich, but many came off as just barely enough to support the weight of the concept – leaving me in a similar position as with the advertising photographs. I wanted better paintings.

This brings me to his famed “Nurse Paintings.” A lot of people told me they think that the Nurse Paintings are Prince’s best work. I can’t figure this one. They are more aesthetically balanced, in my opinion, than the joke paintings. This is to say that they give the viewer the same conceptual weight to absorb and think about but also a bigger and richer visual payoff. That said, I don’t think they come close to the car hoods and sculptures. They’re nice paintings, but nurses seem too easy a stand in as metaphor – maybe when compared to the jokes they come off as subtle.

Part 3=Why “Spiritual America?”

PAX

-W

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Veg Head…

In honor of my “Jesus year” (I turned 33 yesterday) I have decided to become a vegetarian for 1 year.

For some reason, this makes me want to record my meals on this blog.

They’ll be short.

Regular art blogging will remain a weekly endeavor, possibly increasing in the near future.

Day 1:

October 29, 2007

Breakfast: Coffee and an everything bagel with cream cheese.

Lunch: 6pc veggie chicken nuggets from Birdie’s and a side of collard greens. I have to say, Birdie’s on 1st ave and 9th st has fan-freaking-tastic fried chicken. Their veggie fried chicken is way better than McDonalds. I know that’s not saying much, but really, you’re working with an imitation from the start. They were good.

Dinner: Gnocchi w/ truffle and cream sauce, beat salad w/goad cheese at Sweetwater.  Drinks at Spuyten Duyvil.

-W

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Mother Theresa ate my seminary homework…

So if you’re a Christian, you’re trying to be like Jesus.

If you have a hard time picturing Him and need to look to someone living for a good reference, Mother Theresa was it.

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ok, so the big new revelation has been that Mother Theresa had doubts. Big doubts. Crushingly huge tractor trailer-sized doubts. These doubts are chronicled in a new book, Mother Theresa: Come Be My Light by Brian Kolodiejchuck.

David Van Biema broke the story in this Time article, which I found brought up some interesting questions for myself. Namely, What does it say when the generally undisputed best Christian in the world had grave doubts and didn’t feel the presence of Christ in her life for almost 60 years? And what does that say about the millions inspired by her? What does it say about me and my paltry speck of Christian service in comparison to MT’s supertanker load of devotion? I mean she helped dying lepers, for crying out loud. You can’t get more impoverished, forsaken and shunned than that.

She won. Yes, we understand she was still human and still a sinner saved by grace, but really, she was totally a Christian version of a Superfriends character. You could always refer to Mother Theresa fondly, far away, serving the uber-poor, not getting leprosy, living on sand, dying at 300 years old…wait, sorry. But she was something of a Christianity trump card – if SOMEONE on earth had integrity, dignity, true faith, it was her.

Her “calling” was direct enough for her to completely change the direction of her life until she claimed to hear the voice of God pleading with her to serve the poorest of the poor:
“Come be My light.” The goal was to be both material and evangelistic — as Kolodiejchuk puts it, “to help them live their lives with dignity [and so] encounter God’s infinite love, and having come to know Him, to love and serve Him in return.”

The many recorded correspondences of doubt could disparage Mother Theresa, her faith, and Christianity in general, but in the end, Van Biema reveals what Brian Kolodiejchuk is arguing for even more passionately now – that Mother Theresa’s faith was so much stronger, more complex, and more mysterious than we ever thought. This is why he’s pushing hard for her sainthood. He’s trying to confirm her membership in the Justice League. He’s reminding us that we can be superheroes too.

Here’s a summarizing quote form Van Biema:

Kolodiejchuk thinks the book may act as an antidote to a cultural problem. “The tendency in our spiritual life but also in our more general attitude toward love is that our feelings are all that is going on,” he says. “And so to us the totality of love is what we feel. But to really love someone requires commitment, fidelity and vulnerability. Mother Teresa wasn’t ‘feeling’ Christ’s love, and she could have shut down. But she was up at 4:30 every morning for Jesus, and still writing to him, ‘Your happiness is all I want.’ That’s a powerful example even if you are not talking in exclusively religious terms.”

Even though I’m not Catholic, Mother Theresa is my new favorite saint.

-W

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