Friday, December 31, 2004

mystery train

buddha's hand: for those lost on december 26, 2004
-gregg chadwick, buddha's hand 2004

We spoke of the tsunami in an L.A. pub last night. Over the sound system the piano intro to "Let it Be" stopped our conversation. Tentatively, yet without prompting, we sang together the first line,"When I find myself in times of trouble..." It was a brief moment but it cut through the evening. The conversation veered to John Lennon's murder and then on to the small disasters in all our lives. I looked around the room, a collection of friends celebrating life. Smiles in our eyes as the little kids at our table drew their own inner worlds. A ten year old lost in a book, i-pod buds in his ears filtering out our musical memories as he created his own. Across the room an older couple sipped wine and whispered to each other. It was as if we all were in the dining car on a train, heading for separate destinations, yet for a brief moment brought together. This random collection of faces would never be together again. Someday each one of us, like the victims of the tsunami would take our walk into the shadows. Or as Van Morrison might sing,"into the mystery." I thought of a fellow traveler, the writer Phil Cousineau and how much this evening missed him. And I realized how much art had brought us all together: words, music, painting and film. I realized how much art gives us common ground to celebrate and to mourn.

As I write this a phone is handed to me - a line to Amsterdam- just after midnight. I can hear Dutch voices and fireworks crackling across the city. The world has never seemed smaller to me both in sadness and in celebration. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

by the sea

anil's ghost

By the Sea

Stretching into the distance
the sea
swallows a hundred rivers
for thousands of miles
the spray joins the waves
to the sky

-Muso Soseki (translation: W.S. Merwin)

I'm reading the poems of Muso Soseki today, a Japanese poet born in Ise in 1275, ten years after Dante. Ise is on the coast far to the west of what was then Edo and the sea has a real presence. We tend to sentimentalize the ocean now, travel is easier and at times it seems that we have harnessed the massive power of the tides, currents and waves. A sense of ease disappeared on December 26th as a massive shift of tectonic plates off of Java sent a wall of water that swallowed coastlines for thousands of miles, engulfing rich and poor: Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, and Christians.

kenro izu, java
- kenro izu, borobudur, java

Kenro Izu's palladium photograph of Java is timeless. The landscape stripped of living human presence. Java as a museum - ancient, yet yielding to the forces of wind, rain, and time. The jungle is slowly pulling these structures back into the ground, crumbling the stone into earth again. Somehow we can sense this process while viewing Izu's photo. And we can feel our own mortality. Life is short. So many mourn today in Java, Sri Lanka, India, Phuket and across the Indian Ocean. As we remember the lost and help the injured it becomes very clear that we are in this together. We stand together with the great figures of Borobudur as silent sentinels marking our own brief time.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Thanks from Emily Jacir to All Who Believed


i should write an official letter of thanks for your blog because (of) the good news! ... I can't thank you enough for your efforts! We won! If it was not for people like you who wrote letters I am sure this change would not have occurred.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

The 49th Day-Hope and Readings for the New Year

"Everyone has their Vietnam. Everyone has their war. May we embark together on a pilgrimage of ending these wars and truly living peace."
-Claude Anshin Thomas, "At Hell's Gate"

The 49th Day
gregg chadwick
the 49th day
38"x38" oil on linen 2004
collection of bill badalato

Listening to Bono and Pavarotti sing "Miss Sarajevo" as I stretch new canvases for the upcoming year. The fresh smell of new linen mixes in the room with the fragrance of a just pulled espresso. The light this morning is crisp and warm. My world seems to be at peace until a line from the song slips into my mind :"Is there a time for keeping your head down, for getting on with your day?" I can picture Sarajevo in black snow. One by one, men, women and children race across a broad street. I can hear the crack of a sniper's rifle in my mind...

That imagined gunshot haunts me. A taunting reply to my question "How does one paint peace?" I pick up Claude Anshin Thomas' new book from a stack on the studio floor - "At Hell's Gate: A Soldier's Journey From War to Peace." I flip through the pages looking for the passage on Bosnia and instead find what I really need: "To live in the present moment and find peace in our lives, we need to be mindful in all that we do, in every action that we take... We are easily distracted by our thoughts, images of the past and the future, our dreams, our hopes, our regrets."

Claude fought in Vietnam, his youth lost as a gunner in assault helicopters, piles of spent shells gathered at his feet and piles of lives lost in the jungle below. Claude is now a Zen monk, practicing pilgrimages of peace and non-violence to war scarred spots across the globe. His message is simple yet heroic.

Claude was embraced by the Vietnamese monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, during a meditation retreat for Vietnam veterans. It is my sincere hope for the years ahead that we will see American, Iraqi War, veterans embraced by Iraqi religious leaders in meditation retreats so the cycle of war ends for these new veterans as it has for Claude Anshin Thomas.

I wish you peace in the new year.

Monday, December 20, 2004

A Balance of Shadows

"Our task now is to mend our broken world... And what our world needs now is not belief, not certainty, but compassionate action and practically expressed respect for the sacred value of all human beings, even our enemies"
-Karen Armstrong, "The Spiral Staircase"

A Balance of Shadows
gregg chadwick
a balance of shadows
72"x96" oil on linen 2004

Thursday, December 16, 2004

emily jacir exhibition to run w/o conditions :via kevin mullins, curator -ulrich museum, wichita state

I wish to provide you with the following official statement regarding the upcoming exhibition by Emily Jacir:

      "Wichita State University is aware of the discussion generated by the scheduled exhibition of work by artist Emily Jacir at the Ulrich Museum of Art.  The University is committed to going forward with the exhibition without conditions or limitations that could be considered to compromise the integrity of Ms. Jacir's work as an artist.  The University appreciates the widespread interest in the artist and the exhibition."

You are welcome to forward this e-mail as appropriate.

Thank you,

Elizabeth King
Vice President for University Advancement
Wichita State University

more detailed information can be found at:
from the floor
deep appreciation to newsgrist, from the floor, kevin mullins, elizabeth king, david butler and deborah gordon for helping this important exhibition proceed as planned

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

exile and memory

emily jacir
emily jacir
from "where we come from"

At times the subtext of events and images from Palestine to San Francisco to Berlin helps illumine an artwork, its inspiration and possibly its meaning. Emily Jacir's recent project "Where We Come From" is concerned with the ideas of memory and exile. As a Palestinian-American, Emily is able to travel in a comparatively free manner across and through the Palestinian-Israeli borderlands using her US passport as a sort of get out of jail free card. With this ability Emily was able to create an art project in which she asked exiled Palestinians: “If I could do anything for you, anywhere in Palestine, what would it be?” Many of the requests would be considered simple, almost banal, if they were not impossible for the exiles to fulfill: “Go to my mother’s grave in Jerusalem on her birthday and put flowers and pray.” “Drink the water in my parents’ village.” Emily journeyed with US passport and cameras in hand in an attempt to grant these requests and record the journey. The finished piece is a collection of memories and documentation that seems to feel much like the exiles own experience. As viewers we are priveleged to enter into Emily's process yet in the end humbled by our inability to do anything.

zoo station, 38"x38" oil on linen 2004
gregg chadwick
zoo station
38"x38" oil on linen 2004

My painting Zoo Station is also concerned with the experience of Palestinian exile and memory and seems relevant to the dialogue and controversy brewing around Emily's work. I post it as a fellow artist in a gesture of support for Emily in her struggles with Wichita State University concerning the upcoming exhibition of "Where We Come From" at the Ulrich Museum.
Zoo Station began with my observation of dual protests across Montgomery Street in the financial district of San Francisco. I was visually taken with a protester on the Palestinian side of the street who seemed to carrry the air of a figure from Daumier or even Manet's "Liberty Leading the People". A kind of quiet heroism surrounded her. Her presence entered into the painting "Zoo Station". As is often the case in my work, the setting changed as the painting developed. Over a series of months this Palestinian woman ended up in Berlin. Reading Richard Bernstein's piece
in the New York Times adds another layer to the experience of this work.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Emily Jacir Calls for Help

----- Forwarded message from emily jacir -----

Dear all,

I was slated to have a one person show at the Ulrich Museum in Wichita, Kansas in January 26th. The piece was Where We Come From which was included by Dan Cameron on the 8th Istanbul Biennale "Poetic Justice", and a small excerpt of it was also included in this years Whitney Bienniel.

This show has been planned for over a year, much to my horror two days ago I was told that the The Jewish Federation of Kansas has put pressure on the University and the Museum so that they have been granted permission to place brochures and a sign in the gallery expressing their views concerning the politics of the Middle East. Actually, the University and Museum have no idea what text is contained in the brochures and what the posters are but have given them permission nonetheless.

This is a complete infringement on my right to free speech, not to mention an insult to me as an artist. It is intolerable that I have to go through this just because of my background. I am sure no other artist would accept to work under such conditions. They are placing a huge unnecessary burden on my exhibit with the presence of the brochures which are intended to silence or censor my work. I am shocked that they would place such conditions in a the space of a museum.

On the one hand they are allowing me to speak but on another they are trying to control my work by placing brochures, thereby contextualizing and framing my work in ways I have no control over. Not only is this an infringement to free speech but it also disturbs the integrity of my work.

This also sets a bad precedent for them - the next time the University has a show that some group wants to object to they will have to put that group's sign up in the gallery.

I feel violated as an artist by their decision to put a sign in the exhibition with my pictures. This modifies my installation and the work is no longer what it was intended to be.

I think people should be able to see my work on its own terms and be able to form their own opinion. I am not against having a conversation, or organizing panels where a variety of views can be expressed if necessary.

If this group is allowed to do this then perhaps other groups should also demand that their own signs and brochures be placed in the gallery as well. How could they be refused? The Museum has now opened up my exhibition space as space for comments from one political group so why deny others?

I am very upset and people are telling me I should cancel the exhibition. I am not sure what to do....I don't want to cancel because it is not fair that the people in Wichita are unable to see my work because of this fiasco but on the other hand these terms are unacceptable....

Please help me. Does anyone have contacts with the ACLU or ideas?

Emily Jacir

The Director of the Museum is David Butler.

Edwin A. Ulrich Museum of Art
Wichita State University, 1845 Fairmount, Wichita, Kansas 67260
contact: Dr. David Butler, Director
telephone: 316-978-3664, fax: 316-978-3898

Kevin Mullins is the Curator who invited me to Wichita.
316 978-5851

For more on Emily Jacir, her project and how to help:

"where we come from" at debs & co.
ulrich museum
the thing: look for arts intolerence, emily jacir thread in undercurrents

Monday, December 13, 2004

painting with light: alan caudillo - cinematographer

by Gregg Chadwick

alan caudillo & one red sock
alan caudillo
photo by Gregg Chadwick

the witty, important film "a day without a mexican" is now available on dvd. alan caudillo was the director of photography on the film and i recently had the chance to spend an afternoon at the norton simon museum in pasadena with alan. our conversations centered around the place of light in film and painting.

alan- " the light one finds in vermeer and other painters of the dutch school is always in my mind when i begin to plan the overall look of a film. on one level the light flooding in from a side window as one finds in vermeer or in this gabriel metsu unifies the scene. everything in the frame looks good. the shadow areas are rich and vibrant and the light is almost spiritual.
on a more technical level as the actors move through a scene, when lit in this vermeer-like light, whether they are in shadow or moving in light they are readable through the lens. there are no bad moments in this kind of light."

gabriel metsu
gabriel metsu
woman at her toilette
norton simon museum
photo by Gregg Chadwick

alan-" i continually am amazed at the light in paintings. as a painter, gregg, you have ultimate control over the light in your work. if you paint it with skill and direction the sense of light is just there. as a cinematographer i have to physically light the scene and then let the actors loose in this light filled box that i have created. "

gregg- "alan, you also are a painter. do you bring this sensibility into your work in film?"

alan- " yes, when i look at paintings i like to figure at how they were accomplished and then bring those findings into my film-work. when looking at this metsu i can imagine the light fixture outside the window illuminating the scene. all i need to do is set up the camera and let it happen."

gregg- "it is your skill behind the camera and your vision that makes it happen"


Judge OKs Barnes Collection Move to Philly

 vincent van gogh postman 21"x15" oil on canvas 1889
vincent van gogh
21"x15" oil on canvas 1889
the barnes collection

Montgomery County Judge Stanley Ott has issued a ruling today that opens the way for the Barnes Collection to move from its hard to access Lower Merion site to downtown Philadelphia. Judge Ott in his statement wrote that there was "no viable alternative" to save the foundation from financial collapse.

Albert Barnes in his will instructed that the collection never be moved. His will also limited photographic reproduction of the paintings and forbade artworks to travel on loan. For many years art scholars and artists were forced to rely on black and white photos of the work. These restrictions have been lifted at least partially in recent years.

Could this be the end of an era as the Barnes Collection moves into the 21st century? Or is this the start of something new and important for the city of Philadelphia?
More to follow...

Thursday, December 09, 2004

for john lennon & dimebag darrell & theo van gogh

for john & darell

the world is a lesser place w/o you...

civil disobediences

Henry David Thoreau was inspired to write “Civil Disobedience” after a night in a Concord, Massachusetts jail for refusing to pay a tax in support of the Mexican-American War. A new book takes its title from this essay which also inspired Martin Luther King's, "Letter from a Birmingham Jail".

 1st amendment

"A corporation of conscientious men is a corporation with a conscience. Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice. A common and natural result of an undue respect for law is, that you may see a file of soldiers, colonel, captain, corporal, privates, powder-monkeys, and all, marching in admirable order over hill and dale to the wars, against their wills, ay, against their common sense and consciences, which makes it very steep marching indeed, and produces a palpitation of the heart. They have no doubt that it is a damnable business in which they are concerned; they are all peaceably inclined. Now, what are they? Men at all? or small movable forts and magazines, at the service of some unscrupulous man in power?"
-Henry David Thoreau, "Civil Disobedience"

Anne Waldman and Lisa Berman in

Civil Disobediences: Poetics and Politics in Action (CoffeeHouse Press)

have edited an important volume that drives home the importance of the artist/activist in contemporary America. In the introduction Anne Waldman creates a vivid picture of the artist in our growing security state:

" Do we really want to expel poets from the Republic? Imagine Plato going through security at the Athens Airport, then arriving in the USA for a Modern Language Association convention. Would he be affronted? Amused? Would not the threat of censorship be worrisome? Would he appreciate the decor? If Henry David Thoreau were to travel, would he suffer humiliation and indignation? What might compare back then? Imagine your favorite radical literary heroes going through security: Lao Tze, Sappho, William Blake, Mary and Percy Shelley, Gertrude Stein, W. E. B. DuBois.
There is currently--and one feels this is not going to go away--a strange and disturbing “disjunct” or “rip” in our culture that calls for an articulate active response to the current repressive agenda where anyone who doesn’t agree with current USA administration junta policies is “unpatriotic.” It’s as if people have given over control of their “destiny”--in fact, their “imaginations”--to a hopeless gray area of defeat and despair. When I get an e-mail that “someone is investigating your background” is it just a scam or something really creepy?"


Saturday, December 04, 2004

a theater of time -julie nester gallery

a theater of time
gregg chadwick
a theater of time
72"x56" oil on linen 2004

in park city, utah for the opening weekend of the julie nester gallery.
nice group show including "a theater of time" and also the work of kirsten stolle and marshall crossman among others.

Julie Nester Gallery opens in Park City

Park Record

Contemporary art finds a home off Main Street

By Casey R. Basden

Tucked behind Windy Ridge restaurant sits Julie Nester Gallery a former warehouse turned contemporary exhibition space that features the work of emerging Bay Area artists, among others.

The walls are crisp white, the track lighting is modern and the concrete floor is stained to perfection. The floor space is bare, but the walls tell the story of artists such as Gary Denmark, Marshall Crossman, Michael Pauker, Kirsten Stolle and Gregg Chadwick.

What was once a "mess" has turned into Park City's newest gallery off Main Street. Julie Nester, art consultant and owner of Julie Nester Gallery, says. "Before I moved I knew I was going to open a gallery here. I was just looking for the right space."

Nester, her husband and two children moved from San Francisco to Park City in April to be close to family. Once Nester found the right locale for her gallery, several weeks were spent tearing out ceilings, adding walls and installing lights.

The result: an inaugural group exhibition and reception, which took place Friday. Julie Nester Gallery is now officially open for business. Art of all shapes and sizes fills the large space with bright colors, muted colors, warm tones and cool tones. Abstract, wildlife and the human form are central to each piece.

Nester says, "I've got some really good feedback on this space and the art. When I was looking for a space I wanted an open, airy feeling. That is why I chose this warehouse space even though it's kind of out of the way I wanted a big, open space and you can't find that on Main Street. So, I'm trading the street visibility for the space."

A graduate of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Nester studied graphic design, but soon discovered it was not her true calling. Instead, she preferred acting as an art consultant.

As a consultant, Nester works with homeowners and businesses to determine what type of art will reflect well in any given space. She takes several pieces, decides what is appropriate, and then returns with other pieces that reflect the particular style.

In addition to serving as a private art consultant, Nester was employed at both the Dolby Chadwick Gallery and the Andrea Schwartz Gallery in San Francisco.

Today, Nester works with designers to drum up additional business for the gallery. Rather than waiting for people to come to her, Nester goes to them. Reflecting on her experience, she says, "I just had more passion in selling. I liked graphic design but I never thought I would have a career with it. I have more passion for other people's art."

One such artist is Thor Archer. Nester walks across the room to a piece by the entry. Hanging is a figurative sketch by Archer made with "found objects." A fan, Nester digs through a folder looking for pictures of his work.

Coming up virtually empty handed, Nester says she would like to have some of the artist's sculptures on display in the future along with various solo shows scheduled for next summer.

"Right now, the majority of artists I know are from the Bay Area," says Nester. "I would love to have some Utah artists. I'm always looking to get new artists as long as it fits in with my theme, contemporary art. I do painting, photography, sculpture."

Realizing Julie Nester Gallery is off the beaten path and quite the jaunt from Main Street, the art consultant admits to being a little scared, but excited at the same time. With few contemporary galleries in Park City, Nester is positive about what the future has in store.

Speaking of her goals, Nester is happy to support the emerging and mid-career artists she has come to know throughout her journey as an art consultant. She is also pleased about bringing more contemporary art to Park City a town known for having a conservative taste in art.

While starting a new business venture is always nerve-racking, Nester appears to have a clear perspective about what she wants to accomplish.

She simply says, "It's a little scary, but really exciting. When I was an art consultant, I would pick up art work from the artists and from the galleries, but now I have it all here, which is nice."

Julie Nester Gallery is located at 1755 B Bonanza Blvd. in Park City. For more information about the gallery, call 649-7855.

Friday, December 03, 2004

black budgets & satellites (update)

"Tucked inside Congress' new blueprint for U.S. intelligence spending is a highly classified and expensive spy program that drew exceptional criticism from leading Democrats.

In an unusually public rebuke of a secret government project, Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, the senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, complained Wednesday that the program was ``totally unjustified and very, very wasteful and dangerous to the national security.'' He called the program ``stunningly expensive.''

Rockefeller and three other Democratic senators -- Richard Durbin of Illinois, Carl Levin of Michigan and Ron Wyden of Oregon -- refused to sign the congressional compromise negotiated by others in the House and Senate that provides for future U.S. intelligence activities."

-from an article by ted bridis and the associated press from the new york times, 9 dec 2004

mystery spy project
and see update:
mystery spy project update

seems that the black budget for reckless military hardware and spy programs continues to grow. a round of applause for these senators with the courage to speak out against america's development of an expensive and seemingly unnecessary new satellite system.
whatever happened to the idea of the peaceful development of space? do we really need a new arms race?

Thursday, December 02, 2004

tasting blue

the blue museum

phil cousineau's new collection of poems: "the blue museum" is out. thought i would share his cinematic poem on the burning of the library in sarajevo:


Black snow fell over Sarajevo,
darkening the midday sky with ashes
from the million and a half books burning
in what was once the National library.
The old librarian raced through shell-pocked streets,
his face reddening from the torrid heat pouring
out of the knot of smoking ruins where
he had spent a lifetime rescuing words
from oblivion. Defying the snipers,
he stood on the steps of the smoldering building
wanting to save—something, anything—even
the single sheet of cindered paper that drifted towards him
through the singed air, still holding fire from the inferno.
He caught the paper, which glowed in his hand
like a black and white negative held up
to the red light inside a photographer’s darkroom.
He glared at what was once a page from a holy book,
an illuminated manuscript, and could not smell the skin
of his fingertips burning as he tried to read from what seemed
to be the last page of the last book on earth.
With time on fire, history incinerated,
the page flared, then vanished,
leaving blue and gold and red ash
on his cold, numb hands.
Staring into the fiery ruins, he began to wonder
how long it would be before he could start rebuilding

©Phil Cousineau — All Rights Reserved

from The Blue Museum,
published by Sisyphus Press, ©2004.