Monday, March 23, 2009

Under Pressure from China, South Africa Declares That Soccer is More Important Than World Peace!

The South African Government, stooping under pressure from the Chinese government and business leaders, has denied the Dalai Lama a visa to attend the upcoming international peace conference in Johannesburg which is scheduled to begin this week.

Thabo Masebe, a spokesperson for the South African government has stated that if the Dalai Lama attended the conference, the focus would shift away from the 2010 World Cup which South Africa will host next year:

"We cannot allow focus to shift to China and Tibet," Masebe said, adding that South Africa has gained much from its trading relationship with China.

The Dalai Lama's fellow Nobel laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, said that he will not attend the peace conference in protest:

"We are shamelessly succumbing to Chinese pressure," Archbishop Tutu was quoted as telling the Sunday Independent. "I feel deeply distressed and ashamed."
A spokesperson for the Dalai Lama told AFP news agency he was "very disappointed" by the decision, also accusing South Africa of caving into "intense pressure" from Chinese authorities.

Former South African president, F.W. De Klerk, also a Nobel laureate, is in solidarity with Desmond Tutu, saying that he would also not participate in the conference if the Dalai Lama remained excluded.

De Klerk said that the decision to refuse the visa made a "mockery" of the peace conference."The decision to exclude the Dalai Lama is irreconcilable with key principles on which our society is based including the principles of accountability, openness and responsiveness and the rights to freedom of expression and free political activity."

"South Africa is a sovereign constitutional democracy and should not allow other countries to dictate to it regarding who it should, and should not admit to its territory - regardless of the power and influence of the country."

More at:
South Africa bans Dalai Lama trip

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Off to Japan!

This beautiful photo is by my Japanese friend in Kyoto.
More at: lolalways

I will be in Japan for the next two weeks. My bags are almost packed. Loose ends almost tied up. OK, I am not quite ready yet.
But I still must say "Gambate!" (Very roughly in Japanese - "Go Get em")

I will be in Tokyo for the first eight days and then on to Kyoto. It will be quiet here on Speed of Life. Much more when I get back.

Yossi Govrin's Monument to Donald Douglas and His Dog, Wunderbar, Unveiled at the Santa Monica Airport

Yossi Govrin and his Bronze Sculpture of Donald Douglas and Wunderbar

Yossi Govrin spoke yesterday at the unveiling of his bronze sculpture of Donald Douglas and dog Wunderbar ."I have always been afraid of flying, " he said. "As an Israeli, all citizens serve for a time in support of the country. And as I just said I was always afraid of flight. So what did they do? They put me in the airforce. And they made me jump out of airplanes!" Yossi was safely on the ground speaking in the shadow of the Douglas DC-3 Monument which seemed to soar above him.

This aircraft was built at the Santa Monica airport in 1942 and after a long journey from the US Army Air Corps, to the Navy, to a stint in commercial aviation with Nationwide Airlines, to service with the Richfield oil company, the plane now dubbed "The Spirit of Santa Monica" is home. Echoing Yossi's days jumping out of aircraft, this DC-3 was initially used as a 28-seat paratrooper and glider tug.

Palmer, Alfred T.- photographer.
Women at work on C-47 Douglas cargo transport, Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, Calif.
1942 Oct.

In the 1920's, Donald Douglas started building planes in a small workshop in the backroom of a barbershop on Pico Boulevard. By the end of World War II, Douglas Aircraft had produced more than 30,000 planes for the United States Armed Services. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, former commanding general of the United States forces in Europe fighting the Nazis, remarked "that the DC-3 was one of the four reasons the allies won the war."

Artist Yossi Govrin

My father-in-law, Ralph Heilemann, after serving with the Navy, worked at a secret weapons system in a hangar at the Santa Monica airport in the 1950's. Ralph later went on to work on the Lunar Rover for the Apollo, moon shot, program. Yesterday, watching the crowds beneath The Spirit of Santa Monica and milling around Yossi Govrin's sculpture, I thought of how the past continually mingles with the present. And that the creative spirit and heroism of those who have come before us continue to season our lives.

I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold (Ralph - Madison)
Gregg Chadwick
I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold (Ralph Heilemann)
16" x 8" oil on linen 2008

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Thoughts of Travel on Saint Patrick's Day

Phil Cousineau at Yeats Tower in County Clare, Ireland.

"I am convinced that pilgrimage is still a bona finde spirit-renewing ritual. But I also believe in pilgrimage as a powerful metaphor for any journey with the purpose of finding something that matters deeply to the traveler. With a deepening of focus, keen preparation, attention to the path below our feet, and respect for the destination at hand, it is possible to transform, even the most ordinary journey into a sacred journey, a pilgrimage."
--Phil Cousineau, from

Before he departs on a journey, Phil Cousineau calls a dear friend or a trusted mentor. In his wonderful book, The Art of Pilgrimage, Phil describes just such a call to his friend and mentor Joseph Campbell before Phil left on a journey to Paris in 1987. Phil describes how Joseph Campbell's bon voyage felt like a blessing and that Campbell's voice "took on a shimmer of delight" as they spoke of Campbell's years in Paris in the late 1920's.

Before I leave for Tokyo, I intend to ring up Phil and congratulate him on his new television program, Global Spirit which is set to premiere Sunday, April 12, 2009 on Link TVGlobal Spirit will delve into humanity's existential questions, "tracing our collective human journey in the timeless quest for truth, wisdom and understanding."

Phil's passion for humanity is evident in all aspects of his work: writing, filmmaking, and teaching.
Phil - you inspire me daily and I am honored to be your friend.

"Beannacht Lá Fhéile Pádraig"

More on Phil Cousineau:
Phil Cousineau's Website

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

3rd Annual Santa Monica Airport Artwalk on Saturday, March 28 from 1 to 5 pm and Doni Silver Simons Opens at Sherry Frumkin, March 26 from 6-9 pm

2010 Update: The 4th Annual Santa Monica Airport Artwalk is on March 20, 2010 from 1-5pm
Details at:
Airport Artwalk

The Presence of Light
Gregg Chadwick
The Presence of Light
48"x36" oil on linen 2009

When a painting seems to be finished I ask,
"Is the work open enough to allow the viewer
to enter into the painting and find their own
path or story?" If not, I dive back in again.

Coming up soon is the 3rd Annual Santa Monica Airport Artwalk on Saturday, March 28 from 1 to 5 pm. My studio will be open and I will have a group of new paintings on view. This will be a nice opportunity for you to take some time off from the stresses of our twittering world and to enter into my paintings in search of your own paths or stories.

I will be in Tokyo but my talented friend, the singer/songwriter/dancer Kelly Colbert, will be on hand to answer questions and to engage you in conversation about art and perhaps, life?

Gregg Chadwick
48"x36" oil on linen 2009

Also, that same week, the numinous artist, Doni Silver Simons', exhibition "....lines...." will open at the Sherry Frumkin Gallery on Thursday, March 26, 2009. The reception runs from 6-9pm. The Sherry Frumkin Gallery is in the same hangar as my studio, as is Doni's studio. As an act of community, Doni has asked us to open our studios during her opening on Thursday, March 26. Kelly Colbert will be on hand in my studio on the 26th as well. I am fortunate to have such a group of intelligent, talented and caring artists and gallerists around me. When the news of the world threatens to throttle our creative souls, a shared artistic community can help keep us on the path. Doni Silver Simon's work marks the passage of time yet its open spaces are less elegiac than timeless. Like the photos of Hiroshi Sugimoto, Doni Silver Simons limns the ineffable space of time.

Doni Silver Simons
16'3"w x 7'h
Acrylic on Linen

The Santa Monica Art Studios are located at 3026 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90405.
My studio is #15

More at:
3rd Annual Santa Monica Airport Artwalk
Santa Monica Art Studios
Doni Silver Simons


Monday, March 09, 2009

Royal T

Royal T
Gregg Chadwick
Royal T
20"x20" oil on wood 2009

This very recent painting was inspired by a visit to the opening of the KAWS curated exhibition, I Can't Feel My Face, at Royal / T in Culver City.

Whitney Museum Council member Susan Hancock, a collector who owns several works by KAWS and operates the café and art space Royal/T, compares KAWS to Takashi Murakami, who is described by the Los Angeles Times as " a Tokyo-born pop savant whose work is inspired by Japanese manga comics":

"I consider KAWS the U.S. Murakami equivalent," Hancock said. "He is mimicking what is popular in today's world: SpongeBob, Smurfs, Simpsons, much like Murakami took off from the world of Japanese contemporary culture."

My work nods subtly to both KAWS and Murakami.

Next time you are cruising the galleries in Culver City, stop by Royal/T for a bite to eat in an art studded site. Check out KAWS' exhibit at Honor Fraser as well (Up until April 4, 2009).

More at:
Royal T
KAWS Website
Honor Fraser Gallery

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Thoughts on "No Line On the Horizon's" Cover Art: Hiroshi Sugimoto's "Boden Sea"

Hiroshi Sugimoto (Japanese, born 1948)
Boden Sea, Uttwil,
42.3 x 54.2 cm (16 5/8 x 21 5/16 in.) gelatin silver print 1993
Metropolitan Museum of Art


Water and air. So very commonplace are these substances, they hardly attract attention―and yet they vouchsafe our very existence. The beginnings of life are shrouded in myth: Let there be water and air. Living phenomena spontaneously generated from water and air in the presence of light, though that could just as easily suggest random coincidence as a Deity. Let's just say that there happened to be a planet with water and air in our solar system, and moreover at precisely the right distance from the sun for the temperatures required to coax forth life. While hardly inconceivable that at least one such planet should exist in the vast reaches of universe, we search in vain for another similar example. Mystery of mysteries, water and air are right there before us in the sea. Every time I view the sea, I feel a calming sense of security, as if visiting my ancestral home; I embark on a voyage of seeing.
- Hiroshi Sugimoto

Hiroshi Sugimoto's haunting photograph Boden Sea, Uttwil graces the cover of the band U2's new album which was released this week. At its best the music on No Line on the Horizon, produced by Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois, and Steve Lillywhite, is open and atmospheric and in many instances raises similar questions to those found in Sugimoto's photographs in which water meets air. Since 1980 Sugimoto has traveled the world to find his locales. Ephemeral seaside moments are stripped away in Sugimoto's images. Rather it is the "particularity of light and atmosphere" at play in front of a distant horizon which compels Sugimoto. In each of his photos where sea meets sky, the horizon precisely splits the image into equal parts of air and water. From this combination. in primordial times, life began. The Metropolitan Museum in New York, in their catalog notes on Boden Sea, Uttwil, describes Sugimoto's photos as limning "the shifting envelopes of air and water covering the earth" and ultimately describing the ineffable: " the featureless purity of the world's first day."

Hiroshi Sugimoto (Japanese, born 1948)
Aegean Sea, Pilion,
152 x 183 cm gelatin silver print 1990

What does the horizon mean? At some time we have each gazed across a body of water attempting to unlock the mysteries of life and creation. The Metropolitan Museum describes Sugimoto's horizons as both literal depictions of "the contact between Earth's surface and the ether" and also as "metaphors for the bounds of our mental and visual perception."
"The depth of field within each picture is as far as the eye can see. This visual approximation of the infinite is an apt expression of the sublime for an age that has forgotten that such majesty exists on a shrinking and polluted planet."
Like the light from distant stars, we are viewing the light of the past as it arrives in our sphere of vision.

Mark Rothko (American, born Latvia 1903–1970)
White and Greens in Blue, 1957
oil on canvas 1957
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
photo by Gregg Chadwick

Like Sugimoto, the painter Mark Rothko courted the numinous in his work. Standing in a front of a large Rothko painting is in many ways similar to gazing from a cliff across the sea to a distant horizon. Rothko resisted attempts to see his paintings as abstracted landscapes but we can't help but feel the mists and waves created by the seemingly effortless movement of Rothko's paint across the massive expanse of his canvases. Rothko's paint creates an interior luminosity that pours out of the canvas. Mark Rothko is not illustrating a pleasant day of sun and surf but instead is creating light with the barest of means. This moment of creation which reaches back to the origins of life is a direct connection between Rothko and Sugimoto. In this spirit Sugimoto writes,"The beginnings of life are shrouded in myth: Let there be water and air. Living phenomena spontaneously generated from water and air in the presence of light."

Caspar David Friedrich (b. 1774, Greifswald, d. 1840, Dresden)
Monk by the Sea
110 x 172 cm oil on canvas 1809
Nationalgalerie, Berlin

Another much earlier antecedent for Sugimoto's work is the 19th Century German painter Caspar David Friedrich, whose painting Monk by the Sea depicts the meeting of air and water witnessed by a lone figure. The art critic Robert Rosenblum connected Caspar David Friedrich's seascape and the paintings of Mark Rothko when he wrote in The Abstract Sublime that,"We ourselves are the monk before the sea standing silently and contemplatively before these huge and soundless pictures as if we were looking at a sunset or moonlit night."

Hiroshi Sugimoto (Japanese, born 1948)
Time's Arrow,
(Seascape 1980/ reliquary fragment, Kamakura Period, 13th Century)
H 8.4 cm gelatin silver print, gided bronze 1987

Hiroshi Sugimoto collects fragments of the past. Time's Arrow combines a hoju (flaming jewel) shaped Buddhist reliquary from 13th Century Japan with one of his contemporary seascapes. In the catalog to his exhibition L'Histiore de L' Histoire, Sugimoto writes of this piece:

"In place of the missing ashes, I have inserted a seascape of a calm sea surrounded by fire, somehow reminiscent of the newborn earth. Time's arrow shoots from the primordial sea through a Kamakura period frame straight at your eye."

There is an interesting connection between Sugimoto's interest in time and Brian Eno's involvement in the Long Now Foundation. In 2003, Brian Eno took part in a fascinating discussion at Fort Mason in San Francisco. During the evening, Brian Eno described his musical and artistic goals:

"I was interested in losing the obvious boundaries of music, I wanted to make something that didn't sound like it had edges, sonic edges, or that it had a beginning and an end. I wanted to make something that belonged to a big space and you as the listener could hear some of that but not necessarily all of it, and I wanted to make something that felt like it had always been going on and would always be going on and you just happened to catch a part of it .... and I wanted to give the implication that this was not a piece of music in the ordinary sense of something that had been composed with a beginning, a middle and an end, but instead was a continuous endless place in time. So I was developing this idea of place of music being not so much a sonic narrative but more a sonic landscape - again with the feeling that this was a landscape that was always in the present tense, a landscape that was an extended present tense."

The Sea is Watching  (for Hiroshi Sugimoto)
Gregg Chadwick
The Sea is Watching (for Hiroshi Sugimoto)
36"x48" oil on linen 2009

Listening to U2's new album No Line on the Horizon, I am struck how much different the music would be if the band had fully opened up to the sonic landscape that Brian Eno helped them create in the studio in Fez, Morocco. Instead of striving for a hit with Get On Your Boots, the first single released from the work and which reportedly Brian Eno disliked intensely, what if the band had allowed the organic process of creation to lead to an album that felt like a musical equivalent of a Mark Rothko painting or a Hiroshi Sugimoto photograph? There are moments to be sure, but overall the album doesn't reach the grand poetry of Sugimoto's cover image or Brian Eno's production. Ultimately, the final four songs - Fez, White as Snow, Breathe, and Cedars of Lebanon - stand alone as testaments to what could have been a rich voyage of sight and sound. Hiroshi Sugimoto writes in L'Histoire de L'Histoire, "Images of the sea have an evocative power to stir distant memories of where we humans come from. Such images possess a profound embracing gentleness, a healing quality of parental love."

Said Taghmaoui rows from Europe to Africa in the final scene from Linear, a film/music video mash-up of U2's songs from No Line on the Horizon directed by Anton Corbijn

Hiroshi Sugimoto (Japanese, born 1948)
Sea of Buddhas
gelatin silver print 1995

Sea of Buddhas
The art scene I knew in New York in the 1970s was dominated by minimal and conceptual art, experiments in visualizing how abstract concepts. It occurred to me that similar motives inspired the making of art in twelfth-century Japan, when they reproduced the afterlife conceptualized as the Buddhist Pure Land Western Paradise in model form in this world. Thus we have an installation of a thousand and-one Senju Kanon "Thousand-Armed Merciful Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara" figures passed down eight-hundred years to this day in Kyoto. After seven years of red tape, I was finally granted permission to photograph in the temple of Sanjusangendo, "Hall of Thirty-Three Bays." In special preparation for the shoot, I had all late-medieval and early-modern embellishments removed, as well as having the contemporary fluorescent lighting turned off, recreating the splendor of the thousand bodhisattvas glistening in the light of the morning sun rising over the Higashiyama hills as the Kyoto aristocracy might have seen in the Heian period (794-1185). Will today's conceptual art survive another eight-hundred years?
- Hiroshi Sugimoto

More at:
Hiroshi Sugimoto's Website
Brian Eno's Website
Rothko at the Tate
Anton Corbijn's Website
U2 Performs "Breathe", "Magnificent", "I'll Go Crazy", and "Beautiful Day" on David Letterman

Sunday, March 01, 2009

U2 Performs "Breathe", "Magnificent", "I'll Go Crazy", and "Beautiful Day" on David Letterman

Update: Thoughts on U2 and Sugimoto at: No Line On the Horizon

U2 Plays Breathe on Letterman - March 2, 2009

Mystery of mysteries, water and air are right there before us in the sea. Every time I view the sea, I feel a calming sense of security, as if visiting my ancestral home; I embark on a voyage of seeing.
- Hiroshi Sugimoto

U2 Plays Magnicent on Letterman - March 3, 2009

U2 Plays I'll Go Crazy if I Don't Go Crazy Tonight on Letterman - March 4, 2009

U2 Plays Beautiful Day on Letterman - March 5, 2009