's blog covering community artists, gallery shows, and the whereabouts of young entrepreneurs and artistic talents from NY, LA, London, Paris, the world.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Interview With Brian Willmont at Fecal Face

Brian Willmont is a cool and very stylistically and thematically developed artist working out of Santa Fe, whom I met last month at the 92nd St Y: Tribeca show "Invisible Somethings", also featuring selfportrait artist Eric Shaw

Monday, February 23, 2009

TONIGHT Feb 23 2009, co-hosts designer Gail Travis' gallery showing

Monday, February 9, 2009

Crash Mansion 2

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Asher Edelman on The Art Market Slump

This is a brief, vague bit from CNN, which doesn't at all get to the heart of the issue of the exorbitant prices at which art (not just blue-chip at auction) has been traded in the past 50 years, and the essential rethinking of art's role in society that this economic crisis (along with the new media generation and changing forms of consumption of culture) will compel some to undertake. However, it's always fun to see art people on mainstream television.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Adapting America's Great Unknown Author

48 years ago an unknown author called Richard Yates released his first novel, Revolutionary Road. It was recently adapted into a star-cast Hollywood movie. When the book came out people were shocked by how deftly it portrayed the dull reality of post-war American life. It follows a young couple that settles into the suburbs but gets destroyed as they try to live out the American dream. It was a major success, a finalist for the nation book award alongside Heller’s Catch-22 and Yates won acclaim from writers like Vonnegut, Stryon, Tennesee Williams, Cheever and Richard Ford. But the rest of his career was tainted with disappointment; he never hit the same peak of success. By the time of his death in 1992 his name was out of mention and most of his books were out of print. A tragic story, so with the release of the film, questions arise about how it conveys Yates’ book and his legacy.

For starters, the story’s female protagonist, April Wheeler, is far more complex in the book than she is in the film. In the movie she is portrayed as a beautiful but tortured woman, the dove who is pushed to madness by the dull and misunderstanding world around her. In the book, April is largely insane to begin with. This provides for one of the most interesting and ongoing counterpoints in the novel, one that is not present in the film. In the book, she comes from a broken home (her wealthy parents were wed on a cruise ship by its captain and then divorced not a year later), tries to abort her first child, has (presumably) only slept with one man in her whole life, and is ultimately an icily manipulative and selfish person. The rich depth of her character is not done justice in Sam Mendes' film.

Also, while April is the focus of the movie, the book is told largely from the perspective of her husband, Frank. One of the novel's central themes is his quest to prove his manhood. He has an exciting affair with a secretary (which is touched upon in the film), teaches himself how to stop apologizing to people ("Did a lion apologize? Hell, no." he thinks after he coldly ends his affair with the secretary), and by the end of the book he learns to have a sense of indifference to nearly everything ("this is my problem, that’s your problem.”) His character portrays the emergence of a new American man: confused and repressed. The Frank Wheeler of the film is a simpler man, one merely concerned with keeping his life under control.

Lastly, what is not conveyed is Yates' sense of humor. There are passages in the novel that are laugh-out-loud funny. The suffocating, repressed nature of the suburbs provides him with countless opportunities to pick and jab at its absurdity (like when Frank, over drinks with the neighbors, embarrassingly realizes he's telling them, almost verbatim, a story he's already told them before) In the film, this humor is non-existent, as if it was flushed out for Oscar purposes.

Of course it's an adaptation and not everything can be conveyed. Mendes tried his best. Its safe to say that what he made was an attractive drama about the tragedy of suburban life and the American dream, it is not, like the book is, a brooding examination of life in the anxiety of the 50's. Yates wouldn’t be disappointed but he definitely wouldn’t be satisfied. His book mercilessly portrays every aspect of the Wheeler’s painfully ordinary lives. The film is not as dismal and that makes all the difference.

Friday, January 16, 2009

pic from crash mansion

Monday, January 12, 2009

Personality Crisis

Tomorrow night,
Tuesday, January 13th (and every month following)
at Crash Mansion (199 Bowery)
selfportrait and our friends SHAPES bring you Personality Crisis.
Bands, girls, deep conversation.

Tomorrow's bands: SHAPES, The Americans, Chewing Pics, Sweetie

Works on canvas and installations from emerging artists at February's show.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Where do we go from here?

Things that sometimes make me fear the world is going to end soon:

a) the meteor Apophis
b) the Yellowstone supervolcano
c) the Wimbledon 2008 final: how can tennis go any further, as sport or spectacle, than this match pushed it? In the same sense that in 30 years the 100-meter sprint record has improved by less than a second, and the high-jump only two feet since Dick Fosbury, in a stroke of brilliance, decided one day to jump with his back to the bar, one sees in sports a figurative brick wall, an impasse, that we are headed towards: the limits of human physical speed, strength, and coordination (one also sees a different sort of impasse coming for art, but that's for another post). It seems that the next logical leap will occur as we more and more become cybernetic beings, augmented by technology.
That being said, if there were a God, and he were ending the world, he surely would punctuate the final year in history with this match.

Here's the final game:

P.S. if you're not a tennis fan, this post probably seems insane.


I just saw Gus Vant Sant's Milk. You will surely have read similar receptions elsewhere, but, to echo them, it's a profoundly moving film with excellent performances from everyone, and demonstrates Van Sant's mastery of the medium of film in numerous ways. I'm not here to review the film, however. Rather, I'm compelled to allow a post I found over at the IMDb message boards speak to both the film's excellence, and also to perhaps the most powerful and rarefied of effects a work of great art can achieve: the activation of positive, tangible change in the world.

by tony-674 (Tue Dec 16 2008 04:19:06)
This is a 'confession' of a former right-wing fundamentalist.

I was born into a 'christian' home; went to church, went to christian schools, listened to christian music and only had christian friends. I didn't even know what a homosexual was until later in life. My faith taught me to love and show compassion to others. Yet homosexuals were 'outside' this love. It was quite accepted and supported to discriminate against such 'sinners'. Yet in my early 20s (i'm 28 now), i started questioning everything .. esp the dogma surrounding the evangelical's churches view of homosexuals.
By 25 i finally came to the conclusion that no one would 'choose' homosexuality. I was angry that the God of the New Testament would create people whom he condemned.

How does this all relate to the movie Milk?
Well ... i found myself crying in the parking lot after the movie was over. I felt angry. I was angry at myself for believing and accepting such hate. I regretted all the aweful things i had said/thought. This movie demonstrated how similarly the arguments in support of prop 8 were of prop 6. And that people still consider homosexuals to be deviants. There are many Anita Bryant's in the world today -- they just aren't as tactless. They pretend to love; yet they discriminate just as loudly. They are the Sarah Palins, the Mike Huckabee's, the Mormons and the evangelicals.

For those reading this that are gay; I'm sorry. I'm sorry for all the aweful, hateful things you have had to endure. You didn't choose to be gay but as John Stewart says people choose their religion. There is hope. People can change. After all, I did.

To a better world in the new year.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Looking at Music

This small, three room exhibit at the Moma is probably one of the most overlooked in the museum, especially with artists like Joan Miro and Van Gough currently on display. This is unfortunate because it is also one of the most interesting.

Looking at Music chronicles some of the art that emerged as a result of the 60’s/70’s experimental sound revolution, a time when musicians were starting to use digital effects, dissonance, and minimalism in their work. Painters, composers, filmmakers, and writers began to take notice and were eager to implement these same elements into their own work.

The first thing you see when you enter the exhibit is a haunting projection of John Lennon on the wall. He’s looking at you from under a dark mop of hair while he stands in the center of a courtyard. You can hear the crisp sound of cars and birds in the background. Slowly, he starts to open his mouth. “Hi,” he says, in a long drawn out growl. And you just feel like you spoke with John Lennon.

It’s a piece by Yoko Ono, which is surprising of course, because her name is associated with the breakup of The Beatles and not interesting thought-provoking art.

Also besides the entrance are a series of compositions by composer John Cage. At the time he was greatly influenced by eastern music, so he tried experimenting with obscure forms of musical notation. One “piece” is notated with a series of dots and circles spread across a graph paper. Two music students staring at it were able to make some sense of the thing, “well, that dot must be a staff, and that speck has to be a quarter note,” they observed.

A contemporary of Cage’s, composer Nam Jan Paik, turned a mini television set into an abstract musical instrument. A bright white line is projected running diagonally across the TV screen. It stays this way, shining through the black. According to Paik the bright line is akin to what a single note of music would be like if it was sounded forever.

There is a clipping from a 1965 issue of The Village Voice. A dark chalked drawing of a woman walks across the page, obscuring the article. The paper was printed that way, with a portion of the story almost impossible to read. This piece signifies how widespread the energy and excitement for experimentation was at the time. Even publications were willing to try something new.

The last portion of the show examines the emergence of experimental music videos. In the “Penny Lane” video, by the Beatles, the band is shown roaming around London, traveling through gardens by horse, and finally having tea in the middle of a park. Strange stuff. In another music video, “Secret Agent Man,” by Devo, the band is shown wearing disturbing Ken Barbie-like masks as they rock out in a dingy factory basement.

The best part of the exhibit however, is watching peoples’ reactions. A pleasant old lady, for example, put on headphones to listen to Steve Riech’s piece, “Come out,” from 1966. The piece consists of a looped voice, which is then slowly sped up to produce a blurring warbling trance. The lady started off with a smile, which then slowly turned into a bemused grin, with then turned into helpless confusion, and she was forced to take the headphones off.

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