Friday, April 29, 2005

HEAD Magazine: Remembered Like a Dream

by Gregg Chadwick

HEAD Magazine, an online publication from the United Kingdom, is featuring a group of my paintings in their latest issue in a visual article entitled: "Remembered Like a Dream" .

cover photo by Dominik Weyerke

The staff at HEAD magazine describes the intent of their efforts:

"HEAD Magazine is an online publication designed to showcase the creative talents of established and emerging visual artists from all over the world. HEAD Magazine was founded in 2003 by Steve Kraitt and Nicolene Hannan, and provides an editorial and advertising-free platform for exhibiting the work of photographers, artists, illustrators and designers. From the outset, the central ethos and conceptual objective of HEAD Magazine has been to provide artists with a global platform of the "purest" form. It was the primary intention of Steven and Nicolene to create a publication that concerned itself entirely and exclusively with the presentation of visual art, without any of the influence or distraction that editorial association can often apply. HEAD strives to present only the work itself and nothing more; no biographical information regarding the creator/s of the work, no review or assessment of the work, and no other form of written content that could influence or inform the reader further than the immediate emotional response that the work itself prompts. This lack of editorial is one of the primary attractions of Head Magazine, and the reason so many of our readers find our concept so fresh and appealing."

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Picasso's Guernica Remembered

by Gregg Chadwick

April 26

The Basque city of Guernica was firebombed by the Condor Legion of the Nazi Luftwaffe sixty-eight years ago today prompting Pablo Picasso's painting "Guernica". The fascist states of Germany and Italy had provided men and military aid to the forces under Franco who were trying to wrest control of Spain from the democratically elected government.

"Study for Guernica"
graphite on paper 1937

"A painting is not thought out and settled in advance. While it is being done, it changes as one's thoughts change. And when it's finished, it goes on changing, according to the state of mind of whoever is looking at it."
- Pablo Picasso

News of the firebombing of Guernica reached Paris on April 27th in a broadcast by Radio Bilbao. Within that week, Picasso abandoned his initial ideas for a painting destined for the Spanish Pavilion at the soon to open World's Fair. On May 1st he began a series of graphite on paper studies for a new painting, which would become "Guernica".

In a burst of creativity, Picasso molded his personal artistic themes into a universal declaration against war. Picasso's companion, the photographer Dora Maar, had access to the work in progress and recorded the development of the painting in a series of black and white photographs.

The painting's final state depicts a world where interior domestic life has literally been blown into the streets. By deftly combining cubistic space with classical art references and newspaper reportage, Picasso created a political painting that harked back to Goya's "Third of May" while depicting a new type of total war. The enemy who has laid waste to Guernica is nowhere to be seen. This unseen enemy's violence is created offstage as in a Greek tragedy and his weapons are thrown down wantonly upon an innocent populace.

This painting has also played a part in our new war. On February 5, 2003, United Nations officials covered up a tapestry reproduction of Picasso’s “Guernica” during US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s presentation of the American case for war against Iraq.

One cannot help but think of a small man, behind the cloth hiding the painting, pleading, "Do not look behind the curtain." Picasso pulled the curtain back on the destruction of Guernica and unveiled the small men hiding behind their armies. Let's hope there is another painter out there willing to pull the curtain back on today's injustices.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Devils and Dust: Bruce Springsteen, Edward Hopper and American Light

by Gregg Chadwick

Bruce Springsteen's latest album will be released on April 26th, 2005. But the title track, "Devils and Dust" is already available. Like the compelling story in the newspaper that you find well after the hype of the front page, the characters in this new song are riveting yet invisible to the general public. The music is stripped down, at times hardscrabble and barren like the physical and emotional landscapes that these characters roam. As a painter, when I listen to Springsteen's hard fought melodies and stark vocals, I see images. And many times I see images painted by Edward Hopper.

Edward Hopper
Museum of Modern Art, New York

Hopper's figures share with Springsteen's characters a very American way of being. Not always pretty- but always present. Both Hopper's paintings and Springsteen's songs are lit by a sort of American light that exists not to create atmosphere, but to light objects. This same light is used in school portraits and family snapshots to fix smiles for posterity. But, as in the boxes of color photos found in attics and basements, the color in Hopper's paintings seems to turn amber as the works age. I was struck recently by the evident aging in Hopper’s "New York Movie" at the Museum of Modern Art. The paint was visibly pulling away from the edges of the painting. The clean, smooth look found in much contemporary painting and photography was not there. You could see the struggle in the painting's creation and feel its impending loss in the growing network of cracks and fissures. Springsteen's ballads on 1982's "Nebraska" foretold another process of decay even while new. The album was mastered from a damaged cassette tape of homemade demos that Bruce carried with him to band rehearsals. The crack and hiss in the album were there from the start and seemed to create the soundtrack for the eventual decay of Reagan's grand American Empire. Springsteen's next stripped down acoustic album, 1995's " The Ghost of Tom Joad", was steeped in Steinbeck’s novels "Grapes of Wrath" and "East of Eden". But Steinbeck's optimism had been left in Salinas. And Bruce left the romanticism out on New Jersey's Highway 9. The music in "The Ghost of Tom Joad" was as dry as Hopper's paint in his later works. And that was the point. These were American artworks based on tangible images and moments. And there was a sort of American heroism evident in getting these images and stories down.

USMC, Korean War
photo by Robert Chadwick

Springsteen wrote the haunting title track for "Devils and Dust" on the eve of the war in Iraq. There is no bombast in this piece. This is no call to arms. Instead, Bruce captures the inner conflict of all soldiers on all battlefields. When Bruce mumbles, "We're a long, long way from home, Bobbie", I think of the photos taken by my father, another Bob, as a young Marine in the Korean War. But even more I think of my mom, waiting for her man to come home. And I think of the young American moms and dads waiting for their loved ones to come home from Iraq, or Afghanistan, or the numerous and un-named lily pad bases scattered across the globe.

Springsteen and Bono, 1981

U2 tackled the mythos of the American West in 1987's "Joshua Tree". This music is now so emblematic of an American sense of place that I longed to hear those anthemic songs while recently driving through the National Park at Joshua Tree. But when I exited the park and watched the afternoon light slant across boarded up storefronts along the Highway and heard the scream of the Marine Corps jets above me, I realized that Springsteen had to leave his anthems behind when he tackled his vision of the American West in "Devil's and Dust". Springsteen doesn't just see the wide-open vistas at the scenic viewpoints. Springsteen turns around and sees the young Mexican girl selling trinkets along the road. Springsteen knows of the rat-filled tunnels she crawled through to get to America. Springsteen hears the diatribe coming from Washington and Sacramento. Springsteen's response is to strip his songs down just a little bit more, to edit deeply, and to keep looking at the American light.

Springsteen plays in Los Angeles on May 2 and May 3. My thoughts on the concert will follow:
See Devils and Dust Tour

*Update: Devils and Dust Tour

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Whispers of Siam

by Gregg Chadwick

Gregg Chadwick
"Poem of the River"
36"x29" oil on linen 2005

Julie Weiss, who designed the costumes for the films Frida, American Beauty and Twelve Monkeys, recently stepped into my studio to view my new paintings. She was struck by the garments of remembrance that ran across the wall: saffron robed monks, a trio of women in kimonos, a boy in blue running across an open beach. Julie Weiss said, “ The paintings all together are like a ribbon across time and experience. We are following these monks on their journey. We see with their eyes as they pass by storefronts and streets. We are with them in fate, chance and accident.”

This ribbon began a few years ago in Thailand during a journey with my father. He was acting as a visiting lawyer involved in issues of justice and human rights. I would scurry out at dawn to wander the alleys of Chiang Mai and would catch the monks on their small morning pilgrimages. The morning of my last day was especially luminous. The light was almost incandescent and the blur of movement seemed to create paintings for me. I just needed to pay attention. To really see. I spent the time on the short flight to Bangkok watching a film in my mind of saffron robes glowing in the morning mist. As I waited for my connecting flight to San Francisco I caught a new clip on the television monitor. As the second plane crashed into the World Trade Center I longed for home and my son and knew that my artistic pilgrimage was just beginning. My new paintings are inspired by the whispers of Siam that I carry with me from that day. The saffron robed monks in my work are direct echoes of that experience. For me these monks are spiritual pilgrims that lead us away from the destruction and waste of violence, racism and hatred.

A selection of new paintings will be on exhibit from May 6 – June 9, 2005 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art,
Art Rental & Sales Gallery
5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Reception for the artist
Friday, May 6th, 6:30 – 8:30 PM
Leo S. Bing Center, Lower Level at LACMA

Gallery hours:
11am - 4 pm: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday
Closed Sunday, Monday and Wednesday

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Miranda July: New Film & New Blog

Miranda July, recently involved with the Learning to Love You More project which made stops along the West Coast as part of the Baja to Vancouver exhibition and was in the 2004 Whitney Biennial, has a new film and a new blog .

Miranda July, The Swan Tool

"I loved Miranda July's piquantly original first feature film, "Me and You and Everyone We Know", about a fragile, quirky,and imperfect human connection. It was probably my favorite among the American Dramas I saw at Sundance, and I loved it like a poem or perhaps like a piece of performance art for which Miranda July is known; it is also poem-size, the kind of exotic delicacy likely to bloom only in festival soil."
- Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Private Screening of "A Day Without A Mexican" for Arnold?

by Gregg Chadwick

California's actor governor knows all about film screenings. After his latest off the cuff and out of control quip:

"Close the borders. Close the borders in California, and all across Mexico and the United States. Because I think it is just unfair to have all of those people coming across, and to have the borders open the way it is. We in California have to still finish the border. That is the key thing -- to have borders and to keep the law, enforce the law.", Schwarzenegger told hundreds of newspaper publishers at the Newspaper Association of America convention at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco.

Arnold needs to arrange a private screening of Sergio Arau and Yareli Arizmendi's film - "A Day Without A Mexican". In an interview with Bija Gutoff on the Apple Final Cut Pro site Sergio explains the genesis of the film:

“I was waiting for my car to be washed, and this guy handed me a tip,” says Sergio Arau. “In a restaurant someone heard me speaking Spanish and asked me to bring water. I’d say to myself, ‘Do I look like I work here?’”

Yareli Arizmendi and Sergio Arau

A well-known journalist, cartoonist, animator, musician and film and video director in Mexico City, Arau was used to being viewed as a serious professional. So it was a shock to discover how little his resume counted in the U.S.

“What happened?” asks Arau. “I had a long career before I came here, and because I didn’t speak English, for the first time in my life I was a minority. No one knew or cared about the work I had done. What’s worse, they didn’t even see me.”

As an immigrant, Arnold Schwarzenegger should realize the unwarranted and destructive nature of his comments. Close off immigration from Mexico, Central and South America and California will grind to a halt. Take a break Arnold. Grab a bowl of popcorn. Screen "A Day Without A Mexican". Get ready to laugh and learn a few things. Remember Arnold; it's that other newly elected German-speaking guy who thinks he is infallible.

Gregg Chadwick
Portrait of Yareli Arizmendi
40"x30" oil on linen 2012

"How do you make the invisible visible? You take it away," says Yareli Arizmendi, the film's lead actress, co-writer and co-producer, also known for her portrayal of Rosaura in Like Water for Chocolate.

Arizmendi's mantra comes from the old adage 'you don't know what you have until it's gone,’ and it is precisely this idea and sentiment that the filmmakers want us to walk away with-- knowing and feeling that immigrants, legal or illegal, are indispensable not only to our economy but to our very way of life.

"The most important thing is that we are human beings," says Sergio Arau, the film's director, co-writer and co-producer.

"I believe this film will make a better place for my kids," says Sergio Guerrero, the film's co-writer, second-unit director and one of the top directors of Spanish-language television commercials."

*Interview With Sergio and Yareli from the article "A Day Without Racism?" by Ricardo Acuña in

New Pope - New Culture War?

by Gregg Chadwick

Cardinal Ratzinger of Germany Is Elected
265th Pope, Taking Benedict XVI as Name

The newly elected pope is a divisive figure and an acknowledged opponent of a contemporary, pluralistic and modern culture.
In a world beset with war, over-population, environmental degradation, religious strife, AIDS, prejudice and racism, we need a religious leader who embraces humanity in all its colors, genders, orientations and talents. Instead we are presented with a man who is according to Rose Marie Berger of Sojourner's Magazine, "dogmatic, and rule-bound. Inclusive language makes him queasy. Liberation theology and women's ordination give him hives." The new pope sees pluralist modernity as heresy and homosexuality as a moral and psychological disorder. As Cardinal, Ratzinger predicted that Buddhism would replace Marxism as the Catholic Church’s main enemy this century.

"Art itself, which in impressionism and expressionism explored the extreme possibilities of the sense of sight, becomes literally object-less. Art turns into experimenting with self-created worlds, empty "creativity", which no longer perceives the Creator Spiritus, the Creator Spirit. It attempts to take his place, and yet, in so doing, it manages to produce only what is arbitrary and vacuous, bringing home to man the absurdity of his role as creator."
- Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, "Art, Image and Artists"

"There is simply no other figure more extreme than the new Pope on the issues that divide the Church. No one. He raised the stakes even further by his extraordinarily bold homily at the beginning of the conclave, where he all but declared a war on modernity, liberalism (meaning modern liberal democracy of all stripes) and freedom of thought and conscience. And the speed of the decision must be interpreted as an enthusiastic endorsement of his views. What this says to American Catholics is quite striking: it's not just a disagreement, it's a full-scale assault. This new Pope has no pastoral experience as such. He is a creature of theological discourse, a man of books and treatises and arguments. He proclaims his version of the truth as God-given and therefore unalterable and undebateable. His theology is indeed distinguished, if somewhat esoteric and at times a little odd. But his response to dialogue within the church is to silence those who disagree with him. He has no experience dealing with people en masse, no hands-on experience of the challenges of the church in the developing world, and complete contempt for dissent in the West. His views on the subordinate role of women in the Church and society, the marginalization of homosexuals (he once argued that violence against them was predictable if they kept pushing for rights), the impermissibility of any sexual act that does not involve the depositing of semen in a fertile uterus, and the inadmissibility of any open discourse with other faiths reveal him as even more hard-line than the previous pope. I expected continuity. I didn't expect intensification of the fundamentalism and insularity of the current hierarchy. I expect an imminent ban on all gay seminarians, celibate or otherwise. And I expect the Church's immersion in the culture wars in the West - on every imaginable issue. For American Catholics, I foresee an accelerating exodus. But that, remember, is the plan. The Ratzingerians want to empty the pews in America and start over. They will, in that sense, be successful."
-Andrew Sullivan

Also see: don't forgive them;they know what they are doing.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Marla Ruzicka Dies in Her Line of Duty

by Gregg Chadwick

"I was really changed by my experiences in Afghanistan. It is a luxury for people to say war is bad when they are in San Francisco. You need to make friends with people in the U.S. government in order to get a change in policy. You can't say something is bad unless you come in with ways to fix it."
-Marla Ruzicka

Marla Ruzicka and Matt Gonzalez at Laila Carlsen's show, San Francisco City Hall
photo by Gregg Chadwick

The war in Iraq is a senseless accumulation of deaths. Marla Ruzicka, the founder and tireless leader of CIVIC (The Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict) and Faiz Ali Salim, (CIVIC's Iraq Country Director) were just two of the most recent casualties. But for the San Francisco art community these deaths struck home. Marla was good friends with Matt Gonzalez and frequented the art openings in Matt's office at City Hall when she was in town drumming up support for her campaign to account for the civilian deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Marla died on Saturday at the age of 28 in a suicide bomb attack while on the way "to visit an Iraqi child injured by a bomb, part of her daily work of identifying and supporting innocent victims of this war," said CIVIC representative April Pedersen in a statement on the group's Web site.

April Pederson continues, "It is tragically ironic that two beautiful people who devoted their lives to helping innocent victims of war have now become them.There are precious few who have the courage to stand up and demand justice for all the victims of conflict wherever they may be. This troubled world cannot afford to lose people like them.

Marla overflowed with passion and had an incredible sense of obligation to help those less fortunate. She worked tirelessly to push the US military on its responsibility to keep a proper accounting of the consequences of military action on civilians in Iraq."

Marla's funeral will be held on Saturday at 11am in Lakeport's St. Mary's Church, and a memorial service will follow in Washington, D.C. Her father, Clifford Ruzicka, asks that donations in her memory be made to CIVIC at P. O. Box 1189, Lakeport, CA 95453.

Robert Worth in the New York Times reports."On the day she was killed, Ms. Ruzicka was visiting Iraqi families that had lost relatives to the violence here. She sent a text message to a friend saying the stories had been painful to hear.

An American Army officer who arrived on the scene shortly after the bomber struck said that Ms. Ruzicka's car was engulfed in flames, and that she was still alive and conscious.

A medic on the scene treated her, said the officer, Brig. Gen. Karl Horst, and heard her last words.

"I'm alive," she said."

Marla's spirit was captivating. Her vision was clear. And her bravery and willingness to get into the dirt of both war and politics should inspire all of us to continue with our efforts to create peace in our time. Marla's last words ring clear. Marla's spirit, Marla's vision, Marla's bravery and Marla's cause live on.

Marla's Work- The Christian Science Monitor
Marla's Work- The San Francisco Chronicle
Marla Dies in Her Line of Duty- New York Times
Marla : Time

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Sculptor Robert Graham's Nude Gift to Venice

by Gregg Chadwick

The Los Angeles Times reports on the controversy over the gift of a sculpture by the figurative artist Robert Graham to the city of Venice, California. Diane Haithman in the LA Times reports,"The Los Angeles City Council approved the yet-to-be completed artwork, a gift to the city from the artist and Venice donor Roy Doumani, last June. But earlier this month a handful of Venice residents filed appeals with the city to block the sculpture's placement in Windward Circle, a traffic circle ringed with funky eateries, wacky gift shops and chic boutiques."

Robert Graham's work, like that of the Bay Area sculptor Stephen de Staebler and Rodin before him, plays on the history of classical sculpture and its fragmentation over time. The proposed sculpture for Venice is an elevated stainless steel female torso. The work would focus on the core of the body minus extremities. This emphasis helps to exclude a reading of the sculpture as a portrait of an individual or a type and broadens the scope of the work to include myth as well as art history. There is nobility and strength in a portrayal of the active human core that is exemplified in the classical Belvedere Torso now in the Vatican Collection.

Sculpture by Robert Graham, UCLA Sculpture Garden
photo by Gregg Chadwick

Peter Selz writes on the subject of fragmentation while considering the work of Stephen de Staebler:

"Ever since Auguste Rodin, evoking the damaged sculpture of antiquity, presented his partial, yet muscular and erotic figures, the fractured human form has been endemic to modern sculpture. The human torso was a dominant theme in the work of artists as diverse as Maillol and Brancusi, Henry Moore and Antoine Pevsner. Giacometti pared the standing woman and the striding man to the bare essentials of existence. But only in the “Abakans,” the poignant headless figures by Magdalena Abakanowicz, and in De Staebler’s sculpted images does the fragmented figure assume a symbolic function of human incompleteness and yearning for wholeness. De Staebler’s large-scale legs signify this predicament for an artist who faces the human condition—both its vulnerability and its tenacity. His work recalls the ancient effigies of the Sumerians and the Egyptians. At the same time, it is painfully contemporary. While there is a timeless quality in De Staebler’s work, these severed limbs remind us of our recently awakened sense of vulnerability."

Belvedere Torso,1st Century, Vatican Collection

"Despite delays and controversy, Doumani and Graham have no intention of withdrawing their donation. 'Venice is Venice. It's one of the most outspoken communities anywhere,' Doumani said wryly. 'I've never had so much trouble giving anything in my life."

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Artists Interview Artists

J.T. Kirkland on his site:thinking about art has a call out for artists to interview other artists. Formulate five interview questions that you would like another artist to answer. Send them on to J.T. He will then provide you with five questions from another artist that you will answer and return. JT will post the interviews periodically.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

More on Peter Schjeldahl at SFMOMA

Peter Schjeldahl was also at SFMOMA last Thursday evening - Anna Conti who graciously provided a link to my entries on Neil Welliver and Peter Schjeldahl provides a detailed account of Thursday's lecture:
  • Peter Schjeldahl at SFMOMA
  • Saturday, April 09, 2005

    Neil Welliver- Down the Canvas to the Bottom and Out

    by Gregg Chadwick

    Neil Welliver, who died this week, painted the Maine landscape with rigorous vision and an all-over technique inspired by abstract expressionism that gave his work a Thoreau-like spirit of both the pragmatic and the numinous.
    He settled on a daringly simple method of painting. Starting from the top of his large, usually square paintings, Welliver would finish a corner, then a horizontal strip and work his way down the surface of the work until he painted his way out in the last corner. There is a freshness of seeing and paint in these works that bring to life both the crisp light of Maine and the inner workings of Neil's richly intelligent and humorous mind.

    Neil Welliver, Vickie 48"x48" oil on canvas 1970

    "Courbet looked very hard and had a method. Bierstadt did not
    look very hard and had a method, and de Kooning makes it up as he
    goes along. I think I relate much more to de Kooning because I look
    very hard and then I make it up as I go along.
    The way I paint is totally focused and intense and complete -
    every mark is a form that's not going to be covered up later. I don't
    go over it. I go down the canvas to the bottom and out, and that's it."  
    -Neil Welliver, from a conversation with Edwin Denby, 1981
    "Years ago, Neil said to me that his goal as a painter was to make a natural painting as fluid as de Kooning. And he repeatedly acknowledges that the vitality of his own art comes from Abstract Expressionism, and that he has a natural affinity for pure abstraction. What is truly remarkable about his paintings is their success in, at once, organizing the picturesque elements of nature without loss of phenomenological integrity, and at the same time, achieving abstract structure without the feeling of the imposition of a natural order."  
    -Frank Goodyear, 1993 

    Also see:

  • modernkicks: neil welliver

  • terry teachout on welliver

  • ken johnson on welliver

  • alexandre gallery

  • Peter Schjeldahl at SFMOMA

    by Gregg Chadwick

    Peter Schjeldahl at SFMOMA
    photo by Gregg Chadwick

    Peter Schjeldahl, currently the art critic for the New Yorker, held a roundtable discussion with Neal Benezra, director SFMOMA, and Janet Bishop, curator of painting and sculpture SFMOMA, yesterday at the Wattis Theater in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. His enthusiasm for art and artists was palpable. And his wit was in rare form. During the question and answer session following the discussion it was announced by an artist in the back rows of the Wattis Theater that painting was dead. Peter chuckled and then asked,” What kind of art do you do?" The artist responded that she was involved in art that utilized new technologies. Peter laughed again and blurted out, "Well, there you go, trying to kill off the competition." He neither dismissed the woman nor her art but instead pointed out the careerism hiding behind many art labels and preferences.

    When I asked about the place of beauty in contemporary art, Peter leaned forward and spoke from the heart." This is an important, if not controversial, question that I write about often. In the 60s and 70s in academia it was the forbidden word. A group of art historians could look up at the blue sky and and declare it a beautiful day on their way to a conference on contemporary art. But once in the doors of the conference room, beauty ceased to exist." Peter concluded by stating, "Art does not have to address beauty- to reach for beauty. But it sure is great if it does."

    Tuesday, April 05, 2005

    Murakami's Little Boy Exhibition Opens April 8th at New York's Japan Society

    Japan Society Gallery, Spring 2005
    Little Boy: The Arts of Japan’s Exploding Subculture

    Curated by Takashi Murakami
    April 8 - July 24, 2005

    Little Boy: The Arts of Japan's Exploding Subculture explores the culture of postwar Japan through its arts and popular visual media, from the perspective of one of Japan's most celebrated artists. Focusing on the phenomenally influential subcultures of otaku (roughly translated as "pop cult fanaticism") and its relationships to Japan's artistic vanguard, Takashi Murakami explores the historical influences that shape Japanese contemporary art and its distinct graphic idioms. The exhibition's title, Little Boy, refers to the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, clearly locating the birth of these new cultural forms in the trauma and generational aftershock. In Murakami's perspective, a resonant figure for Japan's contemporary condition is that of the "little boy"--both the nickname for the bomb dropped on Hiroshima and an image of Japan's infantalized culture.

    Little Boy concludes Murakami's "Superflat" trilogy, a project conceived in 2000 to introduce a new wave of Japanese artists and to place their work in the historical context of traditional Japanese styles and concepts. The exhibition will showcase the work of key otaku artists and designers, many of whom are cult celebrities in Japan, and introduces their film and video animations, video games and internet sites, music, toys, and fashion to American audiences.

    Work by Anno Hideaki, Aoshima Chiho, Ban Chinatsu, Fujiko F. Fujio, Kawashima Hideaki, Kato Izumi, Komatsuzaki Shigeru, Mahomi Kunikata, Matsumoto Reiji, Miura Jun, "Mr.," Narita Toru, Okamoto Taro, Oshima Yuki, Otomo Katsuhiro, Otomo Shoji, Takano Aya, Tsubaki Noboru, Yanobe Kenji, Yoshitomo Nara, and Murakami will be exhibited. Public art works by Ban, Aoshima and Murakami will be installed at sites throughout New York City.

    A fully illustrated, bilingual catalogue, co-published with Yale University Press, accompanies the exhibition, with essays by Murakami, Midori Matsui, Morikawa Kaichiro, Okada Toshio, Sawagari Noi, Katy Siegel and project directors Tom Eccles, Director of the Public Art Fund and Alexandra Munroe, Director of the Gallery and Vice President of Arts & Culture at Japan Society.
    Gallery hours
    Tuesday through Thursday, 11 am - 6 pm
    Friday, 11 am - 9 pm
    Saturday & Sunday, 11 am - 5 pm

    Moby's Music for Our New Flat Earth

    by Gregg Chadwick

    Thomas L. Friedman's new book, "The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century'', argues that the fall of the Berlin Wall was the first in a series of important events that have ushered in the 21st Century. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the ensuing dissolution of the Soviet hold on Eastern Europe allowed us to see the world, maybe for the first time, as one whole fabric.

    April 1, 2005
    photo by Gregg Chadwick

    "It was a result of events and forces that all came together during the 1990's and converged right around the year 2000 ...The first event was 11/9. That's right -- not 9/11, but 11/9. Nov. 9, 1989, is the day the Berlin Wall came down, which was critically important because it allowed us to think of the world as a single space.’ The Berlin Wall was not only a symbol of keeping people inside Germany; it was a way of preventing a kind of global view of our future,' the Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen said. And the wall went down just as the windows went up -- the breakthrough Microsoft Windows 3.0 operating system, which helped to flatten the playing field even more by creating a global computer interface, shipped six months after the wall fell. 
    The second key date was 8/9. Aug. 9, 1995, is the day Netscape went public, which did two important things. First, it brought the Internet alive by giving us the browser to display images and data stored on Web sites. Second, the Netscape stock offering triggered the dot-com boom, which triggered the dot-com bubble, which triggered the massive overinvestment of billions of dollars in fiber-optic telecommunications cable. That overinvestment, by companies like Global Crossing, resulted in the willy-nilly creation of a global undersea-underground fiber network, which in turn drove down the cost of transmitting voices, data and images to practically zero, which in turn accidentally made Boston, Bangalore and Beijing next-door neighbors overnight. In sum, what the Netscape revolution did was bring people-to-people connectivity to a whole new level. Suddenly more people could connect with more other people from more different places in more different ways than ever before."
    -Thomas L. Friedman, "The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century''

    It is the last sentence that I think will prove to be the most prescient for artists around the globe. More people are connecting with more people from more different places in more different artistic ways than ever before. In the past, new art was engendered as differing artistic cultures slid along each other like massive geological plates. In our age, music and art can be created in real time over a vast "flat" landscape. Global distinctions are breaking down. Artists are using the machines of business and industry to stay ahead of some sort of global homogenization. Instead artists like Moby are connecting and creating with a vast and potentially powerful community.

    I thought of the collapse of the wall again when I read Kelefa Sanneh's failed attempt in the New York Times to use Francis Fukuyama's "The End of History" as a bludgeon to beat Moby's new album "Hotel" into the ground.

    Moby's music is built using techniques that are global. Musicians can gather in their respective studios and plug in across the globe to create one new piece of music. The opportunities are open and endless and just being touched on.

    Kelefa bemoans this influx of technology into the art world :"Mr. Fukuyama, in his famous obituary, might have written (but didn't quite, of course) that "boredom at the end of music will serve to get music started once again." That's an appealing idea, but it's also appealing to know, listening to "Hotel," that it won't be necessary. The end of music seems to have ended itself."

    Of course this is a willful misreading of both Fukuyama and Moby. "The End of History" is not an obituary but instead a birth announcement - a philosophical examination of political good news:

    "Liberal democracy remains the only coherent political aspiration that spans different regions and cultures around the globe. In addition, liberal principles in economics – the “free market” – have spread, and have succeeded in producing unprecedented levels of material prosperity, both in industrially developed countries and in countries that had been, at the close of World War II, part of the impoverished Third World. A liberal revolution in economic thinking has sometimes preceded, sometimes followed, the move toward political freedom around the globe."
    -Francis Fukuyama, "The End of History"

    Moby in a recent interview with Jaan Uhelszki in SOMA magazine describes walking down a hotel corridor past rows of closed and forbidding doorways but with the understanding that behind these doors people "are doing the most intimate things...bathing, sleeping, crying, having sex, laughing, starting relationships and ending relationships."

    Friedman in "The World is Flat" describes the fall of the Berlin Wall as opening the closed doors of Eastern Europe and goes on to show how the world's new digital railway has opened the doors of India and China. Moby's global concerns and global audience indicate that he is in the forefront of a new worldwide artistic community. The beauty that Moby strives for and finds in his music speaks to the denizens of our new flat earth.

    Monday, April 04, 2005

    Venetians Added Ground Glass to Renaissance Paints

    In the current issue of "Science News", Barbara Berrie and Louisa Matthew, from the conservation department at the National Gallery of Art, report on new discoveries in the paint formulation of sixteenth century Venetian paintings. It seems that ground glass was added to the powdered pigments upon grinding in linseed oil to increase transparency and to speed the drying time of the paint. Microscopic traces of glass were found in samples of Lorenzo Lotto's pigments viewed by Berrie "using scanning electron microscopy, energy-dispersive spectrometry, among other sophisticated analytical techniques"

    "Upon closer examination, Berrie found high-quality silica in a form routinely used by Venetian glassmakers. During the Renaissance, they obtained it from quartzite pebbles along the Ticino River in northern Italy. They would then grind the quartzite into a fine powder."

    Lorenzo Lotto
    detail: Allegory of Virtue and Vice, 1505, National Gallery of Art

    "For the Venetians to be able to use this ultrapure source of silica was a real technological innovation. Traditionally, glass was made from sand, which is loaded with impurities such as iron. The iron gives glass a green tint. Using pure silica, helped Venetian glassmakers to create their colorless cristallo. Perhaps Lotto was trying to achieve the same clarity in his paintings. He was layering these paints so thinly, he must have been taking advantage of glass' optical properties, says Berrie."

  • sciencenews

  • And I highly recommend the color histories found on:

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  • "De Kooning: An American Master" by Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan Wins Pulitzer Prize

    "De Kooning: An American Master" by Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Biography today.

    Portrait of De Kooning

    photo by Harry Bowden
     Courtesy of the Charles Campbell Gallery, San Francisco

    Saturday, April 02, 2005

    David Hockney - Hand, Eye, Heart, Space

    David Hockney's current exhibition of landscape watercolors at the LA Louver Gallery in Venice, California brings him back to the fields of East Yorkshire where as a teen on summer breaks from school he worked the fields he now paints. There is a youthful expansiveness in these new watercolors. Hockney's deep study of Picasso and Braque's cubistic space allows him to blow open these paintings in a way seldom seen in watercolor. The type of bent and overlapping space found in Hockney's earlier photo collages such as "Pearblossom Highway"(up the road at the Getty) is very much in evidence here.

    Moving from the foreground with its patterned arrangements of vegetation, to the lozenged fields in the middleground, to the horizon line in "East Yorkshire Spring" (above) which seems to bend with the curvature of the earth, leads us not to a single point, but to the vast interconnected nature of time and existence. We have seen these wide-open vistas so often in American films, especially Westerns, that it is easy to brand the vista as an exclusively American idea. In these works, Hockney seems to be discovering that these limitless horizons were already found in the landscape of his youth. And these limitless spaces are also found in the ideas of physicists such as Stephen Hawking. Hockney, throughout his career, has been as interested in how we see as in what we see. Light, color and questions on space and time have come to the forefront in both physics (light has become the cornerstone of reality and space and time have become observer-dependent) and the art of David Hockney.