Friday, May 27, 2005

Global Art

Wanted to thank:

Hans Heiner Buhr in Georgia (not the state- the country) for his comments on Silk Road.
hans heiner buhr

Marja-Leena Rathje from Finland (now resident in Canada) for her comments on Lalla Essaydi.
marja-leena rathje

Linden Langdon for her work in Tasmania.
linden langdon

Vvoi in Portugal for his thoughts on contemporary art.

And Laila Carlsen from Norway (now in SF) for her friendship, inspiration and amazing work.

Laila Carlsen
60" x 45" oil on canvas 2005

Laila - when can we expect your blog?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Lucian Freud in Venice

Update: May 2008 -Painter and Model: Lucian Freud's Benefits Supervisor Sleeping Sells for $33.64 Million

Both Franklin and Todd pay homage to the Lucian Freud article in the London Times .

Lucian Freud
"The Painter Surprised by a Naked Admirer"
54"x42" oil on canvas 2005

This painting will be the most recent work in a a retrospective exhibition, curated by William Feaver, on show this summer at Venice's Museo Correr (12 June-30 October 2005). The exhibition is organised by the Venetian Civic Museums on the occasion of the 2005 Venice Biennale.

Cherry Blossoms and Kamikaze

by Gregg Chadwick

While glancing at the schedule for this week’s National Critics Conference (May 25-28, 2005) at the Omni Hotel in Los Angeles, I came across the description for Elizabeth Zimmer's "Kamikaze Writing Workshop." Obviously the word "kamikaze" has shifted in tone and meaning since it first entered the American vocabulary during the last years of WWII. I doubt that Zimmer’s criticism class will make a fiery plunge into the conference hall as a final project. But I was reminded of the important work being done in the fields of aesthetics and history by Emiko Ohnuki – Tierney at the University of Wisconsin.

Cherry blossom send off.

Kamikaze means "divine wind" in Japanese, and originally referred to a miraculous typhoon that saved Japan from a Mongolian invasion force in the 13th century. The Japanese Navy used this term to describe their suicide attack planes. In America, the word "kamikaze" describes actions that are reckless or dangerous to the point of being suicidal. The term "kamikaze" is now applied to a wide range of situations, including terrorist suicide bombings, reckless drivers, and out of control classrooms.

This free use of the word kamikaze tends to inhibit our understanding of a key question. Why did almost one thousand highly educated "student soldiers" volunteer to serve in Japan's tokkotai (kamikaze) forces near the end of World War II, even though Japan was losing the war? In “Kamikaze, Cherry Blossoms, and Nationalisms: The Militarization of Aesthetics in Japanese History” Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney shows how the Japanese state manipulated the symbol of the cherry blossom to convince young soldiers and sailors that it was their honor to "die like beautiful falling cherry petals" for the emperor.

Cherry blossoms served as the primary symbol of kamikaze pilots. And their fiery descents into American fleets were likened to falling blossoms in the spring wind. The image is poignant and powerful. Young girls would line the runway and wave branches of cherry blossoms as the pilots took off on their attacks.

Emiko Ohnuki - Tierney reports that many former students from Japan's elite universities died as kamikaze pilots: “In October 1943, military draft deferment ended for students in liberal arts and law, although the deferment continued for students in such fields as engineering and natural sciences.” Many of these former students joined special units to carry out suicide attacks on Allied fleets. Emiko Ohnuki - Tierney estimates that one thousand student soldiers died as kamikaze pilots.

Drawing on diaries never before published in English, Ohnuki-Tierney describes these young men's agonies and even defiance against the imperial ideology, “Passionately devoted to cosmopolitan intellectual traditions, the pilots saw the cherry blossom not in militaristic terms, but as a symbol of the painful beauty and unresolved ambiguities of their tragically brief lives.”

Kamikaze, Cherry Blossoms, and Nationalisms: The Militarization of Aesthetics in Japanese History
by Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney
University of Chicago Press, 2002

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Silk Road

Painting in the studio today...

Gregg Chadwick

Silk Road
48"x38" 2005
Private Collection

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Lalla Essaydi

by Gregg Chadwick

Modern Kicks reports today on the 2005 DeCordova Museum's Annual Exhibition. The report from Modern Kicks: " those of you who haven't already been hearing a lot about Lalla Essaydi, expect to do so."

Encouraged by Modern Kicks prompting I add my thoughts about Lalla Essaydi:

The Boston based photographer Lalla Essaydi grew up in Morocco. Her childhood experiences in a remote family residence inspired a return visit two decades later in which Lalla began a series of images that she recently described to T. Trent Gegax in Newsweek's International Edition as her reinterpretation of "the Arab female. We're always seen as the woman who's oppressed, when we're actually negotiating every day."

Essaydi creates and then photographs henna scripted tableaux of women in draped interiors. Essaydi's henna calligraphy runs across figures, skin, floors and walls. The arabic words comprise, as reported by Gegax, "Essaydi's stream-of-consciousness diary ("I am a book that has no ending. Each page I write could be the first...")

Lalla Essaydi 
"Territories #29"
40 3/4" x 33 1/4" chromogenic print 2004

Gegax continues:
"The calligraphy, an art form that until the past decade was not taught to Moroccan women, took three weeks for each image. Through her works, Essaydi, now in her 40s, gives voice to a complex generation of Arab women—Western and Eastern, traditionalist and liberal, secular and Muslim."

Land of Plenty

by Gregg Chadwick

A new mayor has been elected in Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa - the first Latino mayor of Los Angeles since the city's pioneer days. L.A.'s last Latino mayor, Cristobal Aguilar, left office in 1872, when Los Angeles was a frontier town of barely 6,000 people.

Villaraigosa's win exemplifies the growing clout of Latinos in California, after decades of population growth that failed to lead to a rise in political power.

This is a positive step that bodes well for the future of the city and the state of California. But there is still much to be done. As Bruce Springsteen said at his latest concert in L.A. - "The American government's border policy is a disgrace."

Across the Border in Ensenada, Mexico
photo by Gregg Chadwick

On her blog today, Megan McMillan thinks of Wim Wenders' film, "The End of Violence", after overhearing the gardener's working at her apartment complex. Megan McMillan's description of the conversation illustrates the inequities in this land of plenty:

"Black, white, there are still a lot of problems. Slavery was over a long time ago, but if you think about it, we're slaves too. I just try not to think about it... man, I just try not to think about it."

Listen to a cut off the soundtrack to Wim Wender's "Land of Plenty" ...

The Weight of the World

and create a new reality today.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

American Favorites

by Gregg Chadwick

In response to Tyler Green's response to the Guardian:

Diego Velazquez' "Juan de Pareja" is my favorite painting in America.

Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez
Juan de Pareja
oil on canvas 1650
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
photo by Gregg Chadwick

This is one the paintings that made me want to become a painter.

Richard Diebenkorn's "Ocean Park #54" is my favorite painting by an American.

ocean park 54 - diebenkorn

Richard Diebenkorn
"Ocean Park 54"
100" x 81" oil on canvas 1972
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
See:Diebenkorn and Kitaj Off Ocean Park

R.B. Kitaj's "If Not, Not" is my favorite painting by a living American artist.


R.B. Kitaj
"If Not, Not"
60" x 60" oil on canvas 1975-76
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh

Monday, May 16, 2005

Call for Artists: Video Art for Tom Bradley International Terminal LAX

Video Art in Tom Bradley International Airport - CA
Deadline: May 23, 2005. The City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department seeks to establish a pre-qualified pool of up to twenty (20) Video artists/artist teams to be considered for the upcoming Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) projects at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Artists who have experience working with multiple screen projections and are capable of occupying an entire space on a grand scale are being sought. The artists should address the context of the airport and the City of Los Angeles and help create an impressive moving visual art environment. This is an exciting opportunity for Video Artists to collaborate with a team and generate work that will enhance a dynamic space and engage millions of visitors each year. The artwork will be exhibited on a video wall and/or a linear “film strip”. The video wall is comprised of 20 40”LCD screens and covers an area approximately 25 feet wide and 10 feet high. The film strip consists of 58 back-to-back 40” LCD screens with an overall length of approximately 90 feet. Both locations provide opportunities for artists to create works with temporary or permanent Video art installations. Questions: Noah Davis: 213.473.8570. Download application at:

Friday, May 13, 2005

Phil Cousineau: The Painted Word

From Gerald Nicosia in the San Francisco Chronicle "Phil Cousineau has long been a powerful presence in the San Francisco literary scene, but he is best known as a filmmaker and writer who has carried on and reinterpreted the work of Joseph Campbell, especially regarding the omnipresent influence of myth in modern life.

Phil Cousineau
photo by Gregg Chadwick

Last year he also had a best- seller with "The Way Things Are," a collaboration with the religious philosopher Huston Smith. All this while Cousineau has been publishing -- in very limited editions -- collections of his own poetry, whose influence has been noted by a great many other major poets of his generation, including Antler and Jane Hirshfield. But his latest collection, The Blue Museum (Sisyphus Press; 152 pages; $12 paperback; P.O. Box 330098, San Francisco, CA 94133), comprising poems selected from his entire life's work, is a book readers will be unlikely to forget.

 l to r: Gregg Chadwick, Huston Smith, Cassiel Chadwick and Phil Cousineau 
photo by M.V. Heilemann

"The Blue Museum" contains the whole story of one man's life, the way poets seldom do it any more -- the way Wordsworth or Whitman did it, say, or William Carlos Williams, or even, more recently, Charles Olson. Cousineau writes in long, conversational, deceptively casual lines that quickly add up to an explosive critical mass. At times these epiphanies are dazzling, as when Cousineau recalls in "Go-Kart" the first time in childhood he took note of his own being in the world:

My nostrils fill with the smell of freshly mowed grass,

my eyes smart with streaming sunlight, my fingertips warm

to the touch of just-sawed two-by-fours

my thin arms sag under the weight of tools

hauled in from my dad's hand-made,

silver-painted workbench.

All at once --

in one swift moment --

I know I know

I know I'm knowing I'm alive

and not not alive, not dead,

not like my recently deceased grandfather,

not unborn like our neighbor's nine stillborn babies.

Yet Cousineau is equally adept at the sort of short-lined, concise, clear- eyed appreciations of nature perfected by Gary Snyder, whose influence shows in poems like "The Meaning of Happiness," an exquisite lyric about the harmony between man, woman and unborn child:

The swift flow of salmon

in brisk rivers

loud with moonlight

The murmur of lovers

Calling the restless one

In her teeming belly

It takes courage to write poems about one's living wife (Kenneth Rexroth was one of the few before Cousineau to do it superbly), but perhaps even more courage to write about those other giants in our lives, our parents. Cousineau writes of his dead father in "Slow Dissolve":

he was trying to tell me he was dying,

"I don't know how much longer I have left."

Just thirty-two, I didn't believe a guy

could lose his father that young.

I huddled deep into my black leather jacket

that still stank of motorcycle fumes,

felt my heart shrink-wrapped by his cracking voice,

the icy finality with which we shook hands

in the doorway of his apartment.

"The Blue Museum" contains several equally moving poems about Cousineau's role as father himself to his young son, Jack.

Jack Cousineau
In one poignant poem, driving his son home from Sonoma at night, he is torn by the boy's terrible fear of the darkness, and finds himself lying, as his own father had, to comfort him: "Only then did the words spring free,/ the lie I told to tell the longer truth, / "Don't worry, buddy, we'll be home soon./ I won't let the darkness hurt you. " In this poem, as in so many others, Cousineau is able to draw profound questions out of ordinary daily life, and here he asks with astonishing simplicity: "How do you lead a child/ into the darkness and out again?"

"The Blue Museum" contains poetic tributes to a whole array of artists and heroes who have inspired Cousineau in the literal odyssey of his life, as he has wandered across the globe for decades. There are poems about John Lennon, Anne Frank, Ray Charles, Anna Akhmatova, the bargirls of Naples and the most beautiful ode to Van Gogh I have ever read, "Vincent's Search," in which the poet, perhaps thinking of his own poetry as well, speculates that the painter "never/ searched for more than frankly green, frankly blue landscapes,/ only longed to paint an olive orchard so vivid others/ would want to harvest it, a starry night sky so alive anyone/ who gazed at it would long to lay themselves down/ and sleep the sleep of the ages below it."

Phil Cousineau's latest: Native American Spirituality: Huston Smith and Phil Cousineau in Conversation

Thursday, May 12, 2005

L.A. Light

by Gregg Chadwick

There is a cinematic light to the skies in Los Angeles at dusk and a Disney-like quality to the shopping arcades and restaurants.

Encounter at LAX
photo by Gregg Chadwick

The level of energy is similar to New York but it is spread out horizontally and tends to dissipate along the edges as the city leaks into Orange County. Prompted by Megan and Murray's recent newcomer's thoughts on L.A. and my current exhibit at the LACMA Art Rental and Sales Gallery, I have begun to think about Los Angeles as a muse as well as a subject. What siren calls does this city sing?

Ed Ruscha "LACMA On Fire"

At my opening at LACMA last Friday, more than one person came up to me and asked if I was in the business -referring to film and television. As an artist in L.A. you must not forget your place on the periphery. But in that benign neglect, there is freedom for a visual artist. There is a sense of possibility even. And chance.

Gregg Chadwick's Studio
May 2005
Santa Monica Airport

Ry Cooder has a small studio at the Santa Monica Airport. Though we have not yet met, it is comforting somehow to think of him working nearby as I paint late into the night. I picture Wim Wenders driving up in an old Mercedes to listen to Ry Cooder's latest musical project on Chavez Ravine. And I keep painting away.

For Tom Fowler

by Gregg Chadwick

Artists create communities. And artists that share representation by the same gallery form a family. Dysfunctional maybe. But still a family. As a family of artists and with deep sadness those of us who exhibit at the Dolby Chadwick Gallery in San Francisco mourn the passing of Tom Fowler. Again, we are reminded how fragile life is.

" More influential than current art trends is the religious or spiritual tradition of writing repetitive phrases as a form of meditation. Zen Buddhist scroll writings and Hebrew holographic writings are examples of this. Another motivation is the tradition of penitence. Saying a hundred Hail Mary's, or having to write mistakes over and over on a blackboard, is something we are all familiar with."
- Tom Fowler

Tom Fowler 

There will be a memorial service for Tom Fowler at The Melting Point Gallery on Sunday, May 15, at 2:00 PM. The Melting Point is located at 1340 Bryant Street in San Francisco.

Art Business News on Tom (scroll to the bottom of the article)

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Warhol's "Liz" Sells for $12.6 Million at Sotheby's

Carol Vogel at the New York Times reports:

"Lawrence Graff, the London jeweler, successfully outbid five other contenders for "Liz," one of Andy Warhol's series of 13 paintings of Ms. Taylor, this one against a deep-red background. The 1963 painting was being sold by Irving Blum, the Los Angeles art dealer who had owned it for 40 years."

Monday, May 02, 2005

The Crossing

"Gregg Chadwick paints scenes from the life of Asia that reminds us of the monastic life of pilgrimage which has been all but lost in the West."
-Ratnagarbha and Thomas Jones
from "Urthona: Journal of Buddhism and the Arts" Issue 20

Gregg Chadwick
The Crossing
48"x72" oil on linen 2004 

Thanks to Anna Conti for her recent comments on my work and site. Enjoyed her tour of the downtown San Francisco galleries.

And Tyler Green is pondering the state of art in LA while reading about the Tate in London. Provacative ideas.

Also a must read is Megan McMillan's account of skipping out of high school to sit in the cool chill of Church's iceburgs.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Once Again, We Have Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself: "The Power of Nightmares"- A New Film Series by Adam Curtis

by Gregg Chadwick

This weekend in San Francisco (May 2005) an important and powerful film series by the British Director Adam Curtis was screened. Jeanne Carstensen from the San Francisco Chronicle explains,"The Power of Nightmares," Curtis' three-part series, broadcast on BBC last fall... asks hard questions about the scope of the global war on terror, such as whether al Qaeda is really as vast and powerful a network of international terrorism as we've been led to believe. But "Nightmares" also digs much deeper, into the roots of neoconservatism and radical Islamism, two conservative movements that have significantly helped shape geopolitical events since the end of World War II. As we near the four-year mark of a war that has no definable end, "Nightmares" asks viewers to consider the idea, and its implications, that politicians and citizens alike are now living in a society driven by fear above all else."

Jeanne Carstensen continues, "In "The Power of Nightmares," the international men of mystery are Leo Strauss, conservative political philosopher from the University of Chicago, and Sayyid Qutb, U.S.-educated Egyptian turned Islamic revolutionary. Both rejected post-World War II American values and believed that Western individualism led to nihilism.

Strauss' students, including Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, went on to build the neoconservative movement based on their mentor's ideas of governing through great unifying myths. Finally in power in Washington, D.C., when Ronald Reagan came into office, they used their influence to convince the White House and the American people that the Soviet Union was extremely dangerous -- an Evil Empire -- a version of reality that contradicted reports from the U.S. intelligence community. In power once again under George W. Bush, after Sept. 11, the neocons have led the charge into a new war against global terror, and, once again, sold the country on the idea that this threat is so vast and unimaginably evil that the most extreme measures are justified.

Qutb, meanwhile, returned home and seeded the already growing Islamist movement that was challenging the secular Egyptian state with a more radical strain. After he was executed, his ideas lived on through Ayman al-Zawahiri, who joined forces with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.

Curtis' goal isn't so much to compare the neocons and the radical Islamists -- although there are some fearful symmetries -- but to point out how, through the ideas of Strauss and Qutb, they've changed the world, often in ways they themselves didn't intend, and how fear functions in the politics of our era."

Adam Curtis decribes his film in the Chronicle:
"The West does face a deadly threat from groups and individuals inspired by dangerous ideas .... But the film also argues that the true nature of this threat has been completely misunderstood by governments, security services and the international media. It has been distorted and exaggerated to create a vision of a unique threat unlike anything we have faced that justifies extreme countermeasures. This fantasy, which has trapped our leaders and our media, prevents us from comprehending and dealing with the dangers we face."

"The Power of Nightmares" will also be screened this year at the Cannes Film Festival.

For more info:
SF Film Festival
BBC News on Adam Curtis