Saturday, December 31, 2005

Between Moment and Memory at the Julie Nester Gallery

The Chinese Sky
Gregg Chadwick
"The Chinese Sky"
48" x 48" oil and silver leaf on linen 2005

Between Moment and Memory
New Paintings by Gregg Chadwick
at the Julie Nester Gallery, Park City, Utah
January 6-29, 2006

Artist's Talk: Friday, January 6, 6:00pm
"What is the Place of Beauty in the 21st Century"

Reception for the Artist:

Friday, January 27, 4:00-7:00 pm (During the Sundance Film Festival)

“A poet or a painter must commit to a life of deep attention and even reverence for the multitude of meaning around us. An artist friend of mine, Gregg Chadwick, calls this 'pulling the moment,' a way of looking deeper into experiences that inspire him.”
-Phil Cousineau, Once and Future Myths

Strike a hard rock edge with a piece of carbon steel and a spark will spread onto dry tinder and burst into flames. In the same way, when artistic cultures strike against each other, new fires can erupt. To build on these experiences, careful attention and reverence must be focused on the moment even as the world rushes by. One of my major goals as a painter is to hold onto the light in these moments with rich, fluid and layered applications of color.

The paintings that make up the exhibition, Between Moment and Memory, are sparked by the life of a son of a Marine Corps officer and the subsequent artistic pilgrimage that has led from New Jersey to Paris, Los Angeles, Venice, New York, San Francisco, Tokyo and Chiang Mai. My current artwork is a synthesis of these travels and experiences and seems to evoke dreams of the moments that sparked their inspiration. These new paintings ask the question: What is the place of beauty in the 21st Century?

Julie Nester Gallery
Winter Hours: Tuesday - Friday 10 - 5, Sat. & Sun. 11- 4
Anytime by appointment

“Best of the Beehive 05” “Best Gallery in Utah”

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Happy Holidays from Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago, December 2005

Happy Holidays with Great Thanks and Hope for Peace in the New Year
-Gregg Chadwick

Friday, December 16, 2005

Art Hurts

"Art hurts. Art urges voyages -
and it is easier to stay at home,
the nice beer ready."
-Gwendolyn Brooks

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Art Theft Doesn't Pay

Stephen Foss
"I Forget You Every Day"
enamel on canvas
image courtesy Sense Fine Art

An art gallery's van containing paintings by the artist Stephen Foss was stolen in San Francisco on November 23rd. Steve Rubenstein reports in the San Francisco Chronicle today that the alleged thieves tried to sell the stolen paintings to the Sense Gallery in Menlo Park. The bungling bandits did not realize that the Sense Gallery owned the van from which the paintings were stolen.

The suspects arranged to meet the gallery owner who then contacted the police. A dozen sheriff's deputies laid in wait, and stormed the gallery when the suspects brought in the stolen Stephen Foss paintings.

Two of the suspects were arrested in the gallery. A third took off running and was caught after being bitten by a deputy's police dog.

Sheriff's Sgt. Jerry Quinlan said that he didn't think that the crew was trying to extort the Sense Gallery to pay for its own stolen artworks- "It was just bad luck on their part.''

But not a bad publicity moment for Stephen Foss or his galleries. Will aborted art theft now become a career move for artists?

Stephen Foss is also represented by the Julie Nester Gallery in Park City, Utah. My next solo show opens on January 6th, 2006 at the Julie Nester Gallery. My paintings are traveling in secret and, in case there are any would be art thieves out there, are protected by snarling art dogs.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

LACMA Garage Goes Down: Fragments and Memory

LACMA Garage Demolition

There was a last minute effort led by Los Angeles City Councilmember Tom LaBonge to save the murals by Margaret Kilgallen and Barry McGee that graced the LACMA garage, but it seems to have come up short. Yesterday, workers were hammering away at the structure with heavy machinery sending cement chips into the air.

Tom LaBonge echoed Tyler Green's point that the main issue was one of value. We have lost not just artworks but visual clues to our time. In fifteen years curators and artlovers will look back, aghast, at our rush towards some sort of progress.

After watching the destruction of the garage for a while, I walked over to the Page Museum at the Rancho La Brea Tar Pits in the heart of Los Angeles. The museum holds an immense collection of fossils of extinct Ice Age plants and animals. I wandered the exhibits and gazed at reconstructed skeletons that attempt to piece together Los Angeles as it was between 10,000 and 40,000 years ago when saber-toothed cats and mammoths roamed the Los Angeles Basin.

It is a shame that LACMA did not have as much foresight as the Page Museum. They could not hold on to the McGee and Kilgallen murals for the future.

Instead we are left with fragments and memory.

I want to thank Filmmaker Alan Caudillo, Councilmember Tom LaBonge, Tyler Green, the Architectural Resources Group, and MVH for their efforts in this cause.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Anna Conti's Art Songs

Still from Counting Crows' "Mr. Jones"

Anna Conti has a great compilation of songs about art and artists -
Anna Conti's Art Songs

I suggested that she add a couple:

Originally from the Bay Area- Counting Crows' "Mr. Jones" ("Grey is my favorite color...If I knew Picasso I would buy myself a grey guitar and play.") from the album "August and Everything After." I used to drive around SF in my old car playing a demo tape from a band called the Himalayans. One day I found myself in a record store on Market Street singing along to a song playing over the store's sound system. I sang till I realized that it was the Himalayans. I babbled something about knowing the band to the clerk at the register. He nodded in a Hi-Fidelity sort of way and informed me that the band was now known as Counting Crows and that T-Bone Burnett had produced the album.

David Bowie's "Joe the Lion" from "Heroes" is written about performance artist Chris Burden. One of my art school friends at UCLA got arrested for pointing a bbgun gun at Chris during an in class performance. That was years ago. Was not surprised to see a similar action happen years later. Well covered in the art blogs.

Chris Burden
"747" January 5, 1973

Lyrics to Joe the Lion-

Joe the lion
Went to the bar
A couple of drinks on the house an' he said
"Tell you who you are if you nail me to my car"
Thanks for hesitating
This is the kiss off
Thanks for hesitating
You'll never know the real story
Just a couple of dreams
You get up and sleep
You can buy god it's Monday
Slither down the greasy pipe
So far so good no one saw you
Hobble over any freeway
You will be like your dreams tonight
You get up and sleep
You get up and sleep
Joe the lion
Made of iron
Joe the lion
Went to the bar
A couple of drinks on the house an' he was
A fortune teller he said
"Nail me to my car and I'll tell you who you are"
Joe the lion, yeah yeah
Went to the bar, yeah yeah
A couple of dreams and he was
A fortune teller he said
"Nail me to my car tell you who you are"
You get up and sleep
The wind blows on your check
The day laughs in your face
Guess you'll buy a gun
You'll buy it secondhand
You'll get up and sleep
Joe the lion made of iron

-David Bowie

Friday, December 09, 2005

Drawing with Van Gogh

"To say these pictures required a kind of monkish devotion to draw is in part to reiterate his inherited Dutch Reform ideas about nature and the revelation of God. Nature was virtually supernatural to him. There is no better proof that he wasn't the mad hatter of movie legend than these painstaking tributes to sublime countryside - as Robert Hughes once put it about van Gogh's paintings, "if sanity is to be defined in terms of exact judgment of ends and means and the power of visual analysis."
-Michael Kimmelman, New York Times

Van Gogh's drawings have a quality of vision that astounds. Each area in the Zouave is drawn with a different series of marks from Van Gogh's reed pens. It is as if each part is presented in a different artistic language: the stippled face, the vertically marked wall, the crosshatched hat.

Seeing With the Brush, Esalen "The Painted Word", December 2005

Last weekend at Esalen, Phil Cousineau and I presented our thoughts on the creative process. Writing and drawing begin with a dark mark on a blank sheet. This urge to create marks can be seen as one partial definition of humanity. Like the cave dwellers in the Dordogne in unrecorded time, we have an urge to leave our mark on the wall.

Bulls Head, Lascaux

By connecting deep attention with a simplicity of means, true vision emerges.

The exhibition of Van Gogh's drawings continues at the Metropolitan Museum in New York until December 31st, 2005.

Van Gogh Podcast narrated by Kevin Bacon

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Day the Music Died

John Lennon & Yoko Ono
photographed by Allan Tannenbaum two weeks before John's death on December 8th, 1980.

"So we got something when we had John Lennon, and we lost something when his voice was killed. We lost somebody as fucked up as us, who worked his whole life to overcome himself, and, in doing so, his creativity would help us overcome the madness of our times -- at least for a while. Through it all, he told us to keep faith, to keep courage, to defy our hurt, our fear, to find love and hope and to fight for meaning."
-Mikal Gilmore, Rolling Stone

John Lennon & Yoko Ono
photographed by Allan Tannenbaum two weeks before John's death

John Lennon in conversation with Rolling Stone's Jann Wenner is now available as a free podcast:
John Lennon Podcast on iTunes
John Lennon Podcast via Rolling Stone

25 years on - NY Times

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Update on LACMA Garage Murals

Here's where we stand with LACMA and the McGee/Kilgallen murals:
Demolition has begun on a part of the parking structure, but efforts are still underway to try and save some of the murals.
More details to follow as info develops.

Barry McGee
LACMA Garage

Margaret Kilgallen
LACMA Garage

Barry McGee
LACMA Garage

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Santa Monica Art Studios: One Year Anniversary

Gregg Chadwick
8"x6" oil on linen 2005

This weekend is the 1st Anniversary of the Santa Monica Studios.
We are holding a free reception which is open to the public.
My studio- #15 will be open.

I will be at Esalen this weekend leading a workshop on Creativity with Phil Cousineau - The Painted Word: A Conversation between Word & Image - Phil Cousineau & Gregg Chadwick at Esalen, Big Sur

But don't worry, Evelyn Gonzalez Figueroa will be studio sitting to answer your questions. Many of the paintings on view in my studio will be part of my next solo exhibition- "Between Moment and Memory" which will be held at the Julie Nester Gallery in Park City, Utah during the Sundance Film Festival.

The historic 22,000 square foot hangar at 3026 Airport Avenue at the Santa Monica Airport will be open on Saturday, December 3rd from 6 to 9 pm. More than 30 artists will open their studios for the event which continues on Sunday, December 4th from 1 to 5 pm.

In the year that Santa Monica Art Studios has been open, it has already become a destination for museum groups, collectors, curators and the general public. Over 3,000 attended the opening celebration in October 2004 that included a ribbon cutting by the Mayor and City Council members. The studios have hosted groups from LACMA, MOCA, Southern California Women’s Caucus for the Arts, Venice Art Walk, Brandeis University, Santa Monica College Mentors Program and the Santa Monica City Schools among many others.

Santa Monica Art Studios also includes ARENA 1, a 2400 square foot gallery where cutting edge work has been featured in shows organized by invited curators. During the anniversary event, ARENA 1 will host “The Shape of Space” a group exhibition curated by Sherin Guirguis and Heather Harmon. Five exhibitions in the past year curated by Malik Gaines, Christine Duval, Diana Kunce and Michael Oliveri, Lee Kwan Hun, and Bruria Finkel have featured artists from Santa Monica, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, China and Korea. Future exhibitions include “Ab Ovo” organized by Steven Hull and “Leaving Aztlan Redux” curated by Kaytie Johnson.

Sherry Frumkin Gallery which has organized several critically acclaimed exhibitions over the past year, will present a solo exhibition of work by Kimberly Squaglia for the anniversary celebrations.

Santa Monica Art Studios hosts a very well received public lecture and discussion series “Categorically Not!” organized by noted science writer KC Cole. The monthly Sunday evening events have included Nobel Prize winning scientists like Roald Hoffman as well as actors such as Julia Sweeney, writers like Jonathan Kirsch, and musicians and visual artists who address a topic selected by Cole and then mix it up with the audience.

Yossi Govrin, an artist with two decades of experience running artist studios in Santa Monica, originally conceived the project as a way to address the loss of affordable studios in Santa Monica and developed the hangar with co-director Sherry Frumkin.

3026 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90405
Directors: Sherry Frumkin and Yossi Govrin
(310) 397-7449, fax (310) 397-7459

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A Scribe's Pleasure

A scribe was asked, "What is pleasure?"
He answered, "Parchment, papers, shiny ink, and a cleft reed pen."

A card bearing this quotation sits in a glass case among precious manuscripts and instruments of writing at the McGill Library in Montreal.

Magnificent Octopus reports on this fascinating exhibit: Scribes, Scholars & Conservators.

Monday, November 28, 2005

An Open Letter to Mayor Villaraigosa: Please Save Our LACMA Murals

Barry McGee
(detail of a mural currently in the LACMA garage)

Mayor Villaraigosa,

I want to thank you for the bold steps that you have taken to create a Los Angeles for the 21st Century. Your vision and ideals are inspiring.

Not long ago you attended the opening of Sergio Arau and Yareli Arizmendi's film: "A Day Without a Mexican". Your commitment to challenging (and humorous) art is evident.

Last May - Sergio Arau, Yareli Arizmendi, and the film's cinematographer Alan Caudillo - attended the opening of my exhibition at the LACMA Art Rental and Sales Gallery. It was an evening of spirit, camaraderie and possibility. We pledged our support to you in the upcoming election and knew that if the time came for the art community to reach out for your help that you would listen. That time has come sooner than we thought.

It has been reported that in a few days, on December 1st, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is slated to demolish its parking garage to make way for a new building to display contemporary art.

Tyler Green explains in his op-ed piece, entitled LACMA's choice, in today's Los Angeles Times: "The problem isn't that LACMA is demolishing a garage so that it can add gallery space, the problem is that LACMA isn't saving the art it commissioned for the garage."

The paintings slated for destruction this week were created in 2000, on the occasion of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's "Made in California" exhibit. The museum commissioned the artists Barry McGee and Margaret Kilgallen to fill the garage with their captivating, contemporary art.

Barry McGee and Margaret Kilgallen have become recognized as two of the United States' most prominent artists. Their work has been exhibited at and collected by the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Tyler Green adds, "The destruction of Margaret Kilgallen's work would be especially disappointing. She died of cancer in 2001 at the age of 33. Relatively few of her works still exist." After Margaret's death, Barry McGee has quietly and heroically raised their child as a single dad. It would be a shame to destroy some of Margaret Kilgallen's few remaining artworks and deprive Barry and his child of a tangible, physical connection to Margaret's life and art.

Margaret Kilgallen
(detail of a mural currently in the LACMA garage)

Like Sergio and Yareli's film, Barry and Margaret's paintings are works of deep power that also carry the humor of our daily lives. It would be a shame to lose these paintings forever.

We hope you will take the time to call the director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and ask the museum to slow down the demolition to properly determine how to save at least some of Margaret Kilgallen's and Barry McGee's work in the garage.

The art community of Los Angeles looks forward to working with you in the weeks and months ahead.

Thank You

Barry McGee reinterpreting one of Margaret Kilgallen's pieces for a show at the San Jose Museum of Art 2002

Kriston's Eye Level at the Smithsonian

Unidentified Artist
3/4" x 3/4" watercolor on ivory ca. 1900
Smithsonian American Art Museum

Kriston Capps announces:

"I'm excited to introduce Eye Level , the blog for the Smithsonian American Art Museum. It's one of just a few museums forging new ground with new media (and is host to the Smithsonian's first blog!). Today's the official launch and I hope you'll check in frequently.

When the Smithsonian American Art Museum reopens its renovated historic main building in July 2006, it will be a showcase for American art that celebrates this nation's vision and creativity. SAAM's blog Eye Level is part of the museum's continuing effort to explore the stories central to the American experienceand to search for what connects Americans today.

Using the museum's collection as a touchstone, the conversation at Eye Level will center on the ways in which the nation's art connects to its history and culture. The discussion will extend beyond works at the Smithsonian American Art Museum to include other collections, exhibitions, and events.

Eye Level presents a collaboration among curators, conservators, historians, enthusiasts, critics, designers, and of course bloggers*all participants in the story of American art. We invite you to join the discussion at Eye Level ."

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Favorites in the de Young: Edwin W. Dickinson, "The Cello Player"

Edwin W. Dickinson
American, 1891 - 1978
The Cello Player, 1924 - 1926
oil on canvas
60" x 48 1/4"
DeYoung Museum
photo by Gregg Chadwick

"Dickinson is not a name that carries instant recognition outside the circles of art historians and artists. He spanned (1891 - 1978) a period in American art history which jumped from academic Realism to Cubism and Abstract Expressionism and through all of these changes he retained his own style, pausing here and there to prove that he was thoroughly informed by all the new schools in the arts while continuing his mission as a representational artist. His studios were in New York and in Cape Cod and it is here that he observed and painted the world as he saw it. Some of his canvases took years to complete."
-Grady Harp

Friday, November 18, 2005

A Museum for San Francisco & the Americas

by Gregg Chadwick

Olmec Sculpture
photo by Gregg Chadwick

"In 1862 plantation workers in Huaypan, Veracruz, thought that they had found a large overturned iron kettle buried in the ground. Believing that it might hide a cache of gold, they dug -- and dug -- and dug, eventually revealing a colossal stone portrait head. This was the first Olmec sculpture to be discovered in Mexico. It would be nearly 70 years before a number of extraordinary objects of jade and stone were to be seen as stylistically related and of a culture which nobody had known. That culture was arbitrarily named "Olmec" for the peoples who, at the time of the Spanish conquest, had inhabited the region where the first head had been found."
- Gillett G. Griffin, from the catalog eesay for "The Olmec World: Ritual and Rulership" exhibited at The Art Museum, Princeton University in 1996.

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco have a new building to house the de Young museum and a new director to lead both the de Young and the Legion of Honor. Tyler Green in Modern Art Notes reveals that John Buchanan, current director of the Portland Art Museum, will step in for Harry Parker upon his departure from the FAMSF.

Greeting John Buchanan upon his arrival will be a powerfully sculpted stone Olmec head. This massive sculpture, on loan from the Mexican government, carries enormous metaphysical power that, in the autumn of this year, seems to bear portents of our future.

According to Gillett G. Griffin, from the catalog esay for "The Olmec World: Ritual and Rulership":

The Olmecs believed that the human body divided itself into three cosmic levels: the celestial, the terrestrial and the underworld.

The head represented the celestial realm which indicates that the colossal heads found in Veracruz were probably ancestral portraits depicting the exalted seat of the mind.

Kenneth Baker in the San Francisco Chronicle recently stated: "The implicit global reach of its collections makes a new conundrum for the de Young in an era struggling to think in planetary terms. As a museum focused on American art, the de Young inevitably tracked American art into the 21st century, where it has already begun to seem much less central to world culture than it did between 1950 and 2000."

I disagree with Kenneth Baker's forecast. John Buchanan, as did Harry Parker before him, needs to remember that a museum focused on American art should open up its definition of America. How often, we in the United States lay claim to two continents in our linguistic hubris by referring to ourselves as Americans while excluding the rest of the Americas that range from Canada through Mexico, Central America and South America to the tip of Tierra del Fuego.

The United States under the current regime is losing favor overseas. But San Francisco is a special city, whose culture and politics find favor in Europe, Asia and Latin America. Maybe the deYoung will be less a museum focused on the United States and more a museum focused on the Americas as a whole and the world beyond. It can only help that the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco will have a broader, more global, focus in the future.

I suggest that Harry Parker on his way out and John Buchanan on his first day in, sit before this ancient Olmec head and listen for the portents that it brings.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Lee Mullican at LACMA

Lee Mullican
40" x 50" oil on canvas 1951
Los Angeles County Museum of Art

"Mullican, like many other artists of his generation, was consumed with the question of how spirituality could be effectively represented in art. He had been stationed with the Army in Guam when atomic bombs landed on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and, with thousands of other American soldiers in the Pacific, he was sent to occupy Japan immediately after.

Faced with the unprecedented potential for nuclear annihilation, and soon given the emerging truth about the Holocaust in Europe, matters of life's sanctity were pressing in the years following the war. Creativity itself held profound intrinsic value — and in a measure unmatched in American culture before. History had brought the world to the brink. Artists, many of them returned from the battlefields, reasonably surmised that a reconsideration of prehistory might provide a platform from which to start over."
- Christopher Knight, LA Times

I studied with Lee Mullican at UCLA. As the years have progressed it has become evident within my own work how Mullican's deep spirituality and profound humanism provided glimpses of an artistic path to follow. Lee Mullican cherished each living organism. His first hand knowledge of humanity's propensity for destruction set him on a path to create artworks that spoke not just of his own personal psychology. Instead, Mullican throughout his career grappled with the problem of creating art that limns our place in a larger universe.

This is a must see exhibition.

Lee Mullican
"Zen Walk"
42" x 14" oil on canvas 1955
Collection of Betye Monell Burton © Estate of Lee Mullican

More on Mullican:

Postwar Painter Seeks the Spiritual, LA Times

Lee Mullican in the LA Weekly

Lee Mullican in Artdaily

Monday, November 14, 2005

Phil Cousineau & Gregg Chadwick at Esalen

Gregg Chadwick
48"x36" oil on linen 2005

Upcoming Workshop Weekend of December 2-4, 2005
The Painted Word: A Conversation between Word & Image
at Esalen,Big Sur

Phil Cousineau & Gregg Chadwick

"Painting is silent poetry, and poetry painting that speaks." — Simonides

For thousands of years, one of the profound mysteries of the human adventure has been the creative impulse. The urge to make new things, to leave our mark, to express ourselves, is essential to what makes us human. While most creative people focus on one art form, there is a venerable tradition, from Leonardo and Michelangelo to Picasso and Akira Kurosawa, that teaches creativity as one vast continuum with no real distinction between drawing and writing.

In this spirit, Gregg Chadwick and Phil Cousineau will use slideshows, film-clips, music, and discussion to explore the intimate relationship between words and images, as well as innovative writing, drawing and painting exercises to encourage fresh ways of seeing and expressing. The workshop will explore crossover techniques between the art forms, such as listening for the color of music while drawing, or sketching word colors while working on a poem. The goal is to marry words to images, text to paint, in order to see and feel in new ways.

Other themes include:
Play theory, visualization, and active imagination
Art and anxiety in a time of war and loss
Pursuit of excellence vs. pursuit of success
The role of mentors

This workshop is for artists, writers, musicians, dancers, filmmakers, as well as teachers, parents, coaches, psychologists, and business leaders—all who are fascinated with the creative adventure.
For reservations and more info see: The Painted Word
Address: Esalen Institute 55000 Highway 1, Big Sur, CA 93920-9616
Esalen's Fax: 831-667-2724

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


by Gregg Chadwick

Lise Patt

On Sunday, November 13, 2005, from 2-5 pm, a reception will be held at The Institute of Cultural Inquiry (ICI) at 1512 South Robertson Blvd in Los Angeles.

This special open house will borrow from the Renaissance “Wunderkammer” tradition—every usable surface of the Institute will be covered with projects created during the organization’s 15 year history.

Ole Worm's Wunderkammer (Cabinet of Curiosities)
Frontispiece from the 1655 catalog : "Worm's Museum, or the History of Very Rare Things, Natural and Artificial, Domestic and Exotic, Which Are Stored in the Author's House in Copenhagen."*

The Danish professor of medicine Ole Worm (1588-1654) believed that learning comes about through the observation of nature - "through empiricism and experiment" - and not just through the study of texts. Worm firmly believed that vision was the most trustworthy sense for investigations of our environment.

To explore these ideas, Ole Worm assembled a sort of museum or Wunderkammer (Cabinet of Curiosities) in his Copenhagen home. Filled with ethnographic specimens, skulls, stuffed animals, and the latest in optical and experimental devices, the early museum was both artwork and laboratory.

Many of the ICI projects on view during their "Wunderkammer" open house, focus on mechanisms of analysis that through time have become lost, forgotten or suppressed:

Melinda Smith Altshuler "Self Portrait"

Melinda Smith Altshuler, an associate at the ICI, discovers and recreates, almost like an artistic crime scene investigator, personal histories found in discarded memorabilia and cast off items from daily life. We are drawn into her artwork as if into another world. And we ask questions. What is this amber material on which these images hover? Is it a sort of paper or skin? Who are these people peering out at us from the past? What are they trying to tell us? But unlike the television investigators on CSI, when Melinda finishes her examinations, more questions, not less, remain. Melinda Smith Altshuler's artworks provide beautiful clues to a past that is just out of reach and a future that we can almost, but not quite, grasp. Her profoundly poignant work investigates memory and also hope.

Another work that I am interested in exploring at the ICI is the forthcoming book: "Searching for Sebald": an investigation by Christel Dillbohner and Lise Patt of the late author and photographer, W.G. Sebald. W.G. Sebald's writings, prose and poetry, are open ended investigations into experience.

Christel Dillbohner and Lise Patt have found that many recent scholarly texts address Sebald's complex prose, "Searching for Sebald" will be the first to explore Sebald's fictive world by discussing the anti-heroic photographs that propel and interrupt his twisting narratives.

Like Lise Patt from The Institute of Cultural Inquiry, I have dreamt that Wim Wenders put me in a movie. It was a scene with Columbo (Peter Falk) and we were drawing together on a street that flickered back and forth from black and white to color. We didn't talk. And there was a wind whipping the pages of our sketchbooks as if the angel of history had just lifted off.

* (The artist Rosamond Purcell fashioned a meticulous re-creation of Ole Worm's collection in her exhibition "Rosamond Purcell: Two Rooms," organized by the Santa Monica Museum of Art and curator Lisa Melandri.)

Monday, November 07, 2005

Special Screening of Wim Wenders' "Land of Plenty" in Los Angeles

Wim Wenders's 2003 film The Land of Plenty will be opening on November 11th for an exclusive one-week run at the Laemmle's Music Hall in Beverly Hills, California. The film deals with themes that are common to Wenders's work: angst, alienation, and America—but in Land of Plenty these themes are explored through a uniquely spiritual and post 9-11 perspective. The film tells the story of Lana (Michelle Williams), who returns to the United States after years of living abroad with her American missionary father. Though she has returned to America with plans to continue her education, Lana instead sets out to find her only other living relative—her uncle Paul, her deceased mother’s brother. A Vietnam veteran, Paul is a reclusive vagabond with deep emotional war wounds. A tragic event witnessed by the two unites them in a common goal to rectify a wrong and takes them on a journey of healing, discovery, and kinship. The Hollywood Reporter says in a recent review of the film, "The sense of wonderment and desire for understanding that envelop the old soldier and the young disciple create a mood of profound optimism."

Wim Wenders will be present for Q&A after the Friday and Saturday night screenings of the film.

Listen to a cut off the soundtrack to Wim Wender's "Land of Plenty" : The Weight of the World

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The Burnt Paintings

Jessey Dorr's "Off to the Oyster Beds," a painting found at a garage sale, led the buyer, Davis Dutton, on a several-year search for the painter. Photo courtesy of the Davis Dutton Collection

Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle has a wonderful piece by the Los Angeles bookseller* and author Davis Dutton on the search for the artist behind a haunting painting found gathering dust in a garage. This account is so well written that it calls out to become a book. It has much to say about art and life in California in the early part of the 20th Century:

The Burnt Paintings

Artist Jessey Dorr: Born into a wealthy Nob Hill family, she was a strong-willed woman who burned her paintings after a bad review. Photo by Imogen Cunningham

As an artist I always wonder where my works will end up in fifty or a hundred years. Like most painters I know,(See Martin Bromirski at Anaba), I have found a few treasures stacked against the walls in small shops. I once found an original Cezanne etching in a thrift store in San Francisco. Any other finds out there?

For more on artists destroying their work see Anna Conti

*Davis Dutton and his wife, Judith Dutton are the owners of Dutton's Books in North Hollywood.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Native American Spirituality: Huston Smith and Phil Cousineau in Conversation

On Monday November 7th at Book Passage in Corte Madera at 7 pm, Phil Cousineau and Huston Smith will talk about their new book "A Seat at the Table: Huston Smith in Conversation with Native Americans on Religious Freedom ". The book is cast as a series of dialogues in which the most widely read and beloved historian of religions in the world, Huston Smith, engages in conversations with American Indian leaders about their five hundred year long fight for religious freedom. These intimate, impassioned dialogues yield profound insights into one of the most striking cases of tragic irony in history: the country that prides itself on religious freedom has resolutely denied those same rights to its own indigenous people.

Phil Cousineau and Huston Smith

With remarkable erudition and curiosity, Smith and Cousineau, respectfully engage ten American Indian leaders:

Vine Deloria, Jr. (Lakota), Winona LaDuke (Anishinaabe), Walter Echo-Hawk (Pawnee), Frank Dayish, Jr. (Navajo), Charlotte Black Elk (Lakota), Douglas George-Kanentiio (Mohawk), Lenny Foster (Dine), Tonya Gonnella Frichner (Onondaga), Anthony Guy Lopez (Lokota), and Oren Lyons (Onondaga).

Winona LaDuke

The ideas expressed in these conversations cover spirituality, politics, Native American relations with the U.S. government and contemporary American society, and the continuing vitality of Native American communities. These words help give voice to a population that is all too often ignored in contemporary discourse. American Indian culture is not a relic of the past, nor a historical curiosity, but a living tradition that continues to shape all of our American lives.

Oren Lyons

Friday, November 04, 2005

The Childballads: New Music

Stewart Lupton and Betsy Wright

"I'm coming into my own," Stewart Lupton says. "Every painter or poet has this period - the good ones always reinvent themselves. There's always this little epoch where you step into your own skin and leave what T.S. Eliot called 'the anxiety of influence' behind."

Gregory Korn, a talented writer and artist, passed on word of The Childballads recently, and the lone song available on the band's website haunts me: Childballads: "Cheekbones (White Chocolate Tea)". This song was in my dreams last night and I woke up singing it this morning.

Of course the name, Stewart Lupton, sounds familiar. Recently in the New York Post, Maureen Callahan wrote:

"IT'S rare that someone gets another shot at becoming the next big thing - especially when people aren't quite sure whether you're still alive. In the late 1990s, Stewart Lupton was poised to be the biggest rock star to emerge from the burgeoning New York rock scene that his band, Jonathan Fire*Eater, had helped revive.

The sonic and spiritual forerunners of acts like Arcade Fire and Interpol, they were the ultimate elegant Lower East Side wastrels, purveyors of noirish, organ-laden rock and sunken-eyed, dishabille glamour."

The Childballads' look and sound is deliberately far removed from Jonathan Fire*Eater's. The new music is influenced by country and folk, with lyrics steeped in old-fashioned storytelling. The stories and sound of the South hide under the alt-rock underpinnings of the band. Stewart Lupton describes the music as "sounding like doilies, like your grandmother's living room. There's a certain hollowness there; it's a roomy sound."

"Stewart's in his prime to leave the mark he didn't leave with Jonathan Fire*Eater," says Erin Norris. "That kid is never gonna fall from grace any further than he already has. He's a lifer."

Pancake Mountain: 21st Century Children's Television

Arcade Fire on Pancake Mountain

Filmmaker Scott Stuckey created Pancake Mountain, the Washington, D.C., cable-access show on which alt-rockers like Ted Leo, Shonen Knife, Weird War, Fiery Furnaces and Arcade Fire play before an energetic and very young audience.

"Bands started hearing about it and called us," Scott Stuckey says. "So many parents write us," says Stuckey, "and they're like, 'Wow, this is something I really like watching with my kids.'"

Rufus and Henry Rollins

In addition to live performances by bands, Pancake Mountain features interviews between the show's puppet host Rufus Leaking and musicians — including Henry Rollins and George Clinton. The program is currently available on cable in DC and New York, but you can buy the episodes on DVD from the Pancake Mountain website.

While created with children in mind, the show appeals to kids of all ages. My favorite clips include Shonen Knife performing "Twist Barbie" and The Evens singing the soon to be classic "Vowel Movement".

Watch it at

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

U.S. Death Toll in Iraq Reaches 2,000

Arlington (detail)

2,000 - A Mark on the Wall

Army Lt. Col. Steve Boylan, director of the force's combined press center, described the number as an "artificial mark on the wall."

"I ask that when you report on the events, take a moment to think about the effects on the families and those serving in Iraq," Boylan said in an e-mail. "The 2,000 service members killed in Iraq supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom is not a milestone. It is an artificial mark on the wall"

The Huntsman's Eye: At The Portland Museum of Art

I voraciously gather images to use for reference in my artwork. I especially like to collect photographs of artworks that move me in some way. I spend hours in the studio looking at these images of paintings and sculptures and then jotting down my thoughts and ideas.

A year ago, on my birthday, I was traveling in Maine and shot a few photos along the way. Modern Kicks' entry on the Neil Welliver exhibition, currently at the Portland Museum, brought back memories of that journey. On that gray day in Portland, two works in the collection stood out.

Winslow Homer (1836-1910)
Sharpshooter, 1863
oil on canvas
12 1/4 x 16 1/2"
Portland Museum of Art, Maine

USMC Sniper Team, 2004
Photo by: Gunnery Sgt. Keith A. Milks

Winslow Homer's "Sharpshooter" is as relevant as the front page of today's New York Times.*

Alexander Eliot in "Three Hundred Years of American Painting" describes how Winslow Homer's "huntsman eyes saw the world his contemporaries saw, only much more sharply." For Alexander Eliot, Homer's paintings are "products of intense and reverant looking, carried on for, not for hours or days, but for years."

Hiram Powers (1805-1873)
Bust of "The Greek Slave", after 1845
24 1/4"
Portland Museum of Art, Maine

Hiram Powers artwork,"The Greek Slave", was arguably the most famous contemporary sculpture in mid-nineteenth century America. The bust in the Portland Museum is derived from the full figure sculpture that toured the United States.

Over one hundred thousand people paid to see "The Greek Slave" during its 1847-1848 tour.

Robert Hughes in "American Visions" explains that an American artist could approach the concept of the Ideal "if he lived in Italy, and between 1830 and 1875 about two hundred of them did. Notable among them were the 'American Florentines,' led by a former machinist from Cincinnati, the sculptor Hiram Powers."

Hughes goes on to explain that Power's "Greek Slave" was a modern retelling of the Uffizi's "Medici Venus" with chains added as a cache-sexe: "This, Americans thought was the first truly moral nude they had ever seen."

What I enjoy most about the Portland Museum's bust of the "Greek Slave" is the absence of chains and the anecdotal context that shrouded Power's full scale version. We can look upon this work as a sculpture of a real, though idealized, woman. As viewers, we are not told what to feel nor does her nakedness seem unwilling. Without bound wrists, the overt moral clothing that covered her is absent. The figure is more ambiguous and more modern.

* (As I write this the 2,000th US death in Iraq has been announced)

Monday, October 24, 2005

Rosa Parks (1913-2005)

Rosa Parks died today, October 24, 2005 at 92.

On December 1, 1955, Mrs. Rosa Parks set the modern civil rights movement in motion when she refused to give up her seat on the the Cleveland Avenue bus in Montgomery, Alabama to a white passenger. When the front of the bus filled up, the driver ordered Rosa Parks, a seamstress for the Montgomery Fair department store, to give up her seat for a white rider. She refused and was arrested.

Rosa Parks's arrest for breaking Montgomery's segregation laws started a boycott of the city bus line that lasted over a year. This eventually led to the 1956 Supreme Court decision which ruled that segregation on public buses is illegal.

Rosa Parks:
"The famous U.P.I. photo (actually taken more than a year later, on Dec. 21, 1956, the day Montgomery's public transportation system was legally integrated) is a study of calm strength. She is looking out the bus window, her hands resting in the folds of her checked dress, while a white man sits, unperturbed, in the row behind her. That clear profile, the neat cloche and eyeglasses and sensible coat — she could have been my mother, anybody's favorite aunt." - Observations on Rosa Parks by Rita Dove - from Time Magazine's 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century.

After her arrest, Rosa Parks agreed to challenge the constitutionality of Montgomery's segregation laws. During a midnight meeting of the Women's Political Council, handbills were printed with the following request:

"We are...asking every Negro to stay off the buses Monday in protest of the arrest and trial... You can afford to stay out of school for one day. If you work, take a cab, or walk. But please, children and grown-ups, don't ride the bus at all on Monday. Please stay off the buses Monday."

The black population of Montgomery stayed off the buses, either walking or catching one of the black cabs stopping at every municipal bus stop for 10 cents per customer — standard bus fare.

On the day scheduled for her court appearance, Rosa Parks slipped through the crowd outside the courthouse, wearing a black dress, a gray coat, a black velvet hat and white gloves. She walked with dignity and appeared fearless. A girl caught sight of her and exclaimed, "Oh, she's so sweet. They've messed with the wrong one now!"

Rosa Park's trial lasted 30 minutes. She was found guilty. That evening, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to a gathering at the Holt Street Baptist Church and declared : "There comes a time that people get tired." At the conclusion of King's speech, Rosa Parks, who was in the crowd, silently stood up. Her powerful presence seemed to say, "We all are tired. We are all tired of false justice and inequality. And now is the time for real justice, for real equality."

Martin Luther King, Jr.
1963, Washington DC, "I Have a Dream."

Rosa Park's courage will continue to provide a powerful example of human dignity in the face of brutal authority.

Civil Rights Protest, Memphis, 1968