Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How Bixente really feels about Relational Aesthetics.

So, this is Bix doing his absolute favorite wintertime activity- running around the bathroom with his head in a toilet paper tube. I think it must remind his little hypothalmus (try as I might I can't verify if hedgehogs have a hypothalmus, and I'm not going to cut him open to find out) of tunneling or something (though he never digs tunnels when he could, so god only knows). He will willingly investigate things he would usually find terrifying (my shoes, the open floor underneath the sink...). He tries to sneak up on me, an activity he would never indulge in otherwise. After awhile he will pull his head out, look a bit scruffly, give himself a good scratch, and then find somewhere to nap. ((well documented, but infrequently witnessed -- phenomenon of apparently healthy hedgehogs running in circles, sometimes for hours on end, without seeming to get bored. ))

And this brings us back to the topic of Relational Aesthetics... In that instead of spending yesterday doing research on relation aesthetics I read some scientific papers about hedgehogs, drank too much coffee, and glowered because it was raining...

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Another Week, Another Party

Every year for quite awhile My mother and I have hosted a "Robert Burns Birthday" party. Mom makes her fantastic shortbread, we make scotch eggs, coll, potted salmon,bannies, drink good beer, have people bring us decent scotch, etc.

This year, as a talking point, I brought out the 2 halves of the big ball of finger-knitting. This happy couple are the McQuerys, she's an author, he's a goofball. People couldn't get over that the balls were solid, and that I had been working on this project nearly 10 years.

The image with 3 balls in it shows how much I got finished during residency- about 650 feet, about a 1/4 of what I had left to make. Got some tv time ahead...

Friday, January 27, 2012

Back it up...

Hmmm... Sideways? but you get the idea...

Let's pretend I'm still in L.A. for a second (even though that was so 3 days ago). It's a glorious sunny day after a rainy one, so visibility is fantastic. And I decide to walk down (straight down) Lakeshore Ave, then Baxter where I find a porch full of parrot cages complete with talking parrots (HI YA! HIYAYAYAYAYA! HEY! PRETTY! PRETTYPRETTY! HI YA!), down Echo Park, down Sunset Blvd, then over to Grand and then down to the MOCA to see the Weegee show "Naked in Hollywood." Nearly the whole time this vodka blimp is following me. I first noticed it way back by the Echo Park Time Travel Mart (Wherever you go we're already there!), and it stayed right with me the rest of the way. I thought to myself, "Funny..."

Anyway, Weegee show- Excellent. I especially liked his assertion that if you put "naked" in front of any word people will pay attention. But what was especially exciting to me was the way that Weegee played with images of sexuality and debauchery with satyrical depth. Some of my favorite images were from the Hollywood drunk tanks, where men were just piled up, as if they had opened the door and just dropped them in. "Drunks provide endless material for me," the caption read. Though I thought the modified images of women and movie stars were interesting, the more documentary and casual pictures of crowds and off-duty strippers made me think that these were the anti-heroes to the photographs of Dorthea Lange. And I love anti-heroes. Especially ones with nice legs and feathered headdresses.

Weegee kept a complete darkroom in the trunk of his car. This is a lifelong dream of mine. Even though I now realize you can have all those capabilities with a cell-phone, there's something a lot more romantic about a trunk full of chemicals. I also am very fond of his stamp...

But back to the blimp. Even without trick photography there is a lot of magic in the world. Certainly in L.A., anyway.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Oh My God! It's Oregon!

So! Yesterday I had to leave lovely lalaland and return to scenic Oregon (the bright spots in that picture are reflections of the interior lights.) Though I didn't get my much needed sun bathe while I was down south, I'd forgotten just how different rain is here, and even more specifically Eugene. There's a freshness to dryland rains- a kind of bright coldness. Here it's more of a moldy glisten. Anyway, I won't wax too long on the weather, even though it's all I think about.

I had my first mentor meeting with the lovely Lesli Larson. She made me coffee (notice the herringbone hourglass holder) and introduced me to her dog Chaz. And, no, those aren't all the bags she owns, though I love their archive system.

It was amazingly satisfying to talk to some one who is around garments all the time. She began to talk about my bikinis as documentable artifacts before I'd even gotten to that part of the explanation. And, golly gee, she's also a photographer who is more than willing to help me with the newly aquired photographic conundrums. So, presumably in March we will get together and shootshootshoot!

Because of that I will be solely focusing on creating the remaining 4 or 5 suits, as well as papers, for the next month. All photo related troubleshooting is to be put aside until further notice.

She's already supplied me with a great list of books I will have no time to read, and reaffirmed that I need to watch "The Wire" as well as several other series' and movies. Already looking forward to our meeting in February.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Non- Art day, L.A.

I really don't like doing the residency summaries. I just never know if I've written enough. I converted my scramble-scribble notes into some sort of coherent form, and I guess that's all I need to do? Now I just need to come up with 3 research topics...

While my procrastination juices were flowing (a useful visual metaphor I'm stealing from my friend here), I decided that much more important than writing up my notes was to fix and clean Daniel's 50's era stove. It had some broken handles (which still aren't attached in the picture as their J.B. weld is curing). So I trundled off to the hardware store and even lolly-gagged looking into plant foods for his hibiscus, picked out a couple of kinds of caulking... And eventually made it back to the house to start the scrub fest. I think I spent about 2 hours on the stove and maybe an hour and a half re-caulking part of his bath tub and the joists in his 1914-era ceiling. And things are gratifyingly better. Why can't this be art?

Well, maybe it can be, if I could just use my camera a little better and more consistently (so good about the after shots, so bad about the befores). After all, J.Morgan Puett gets written up in Food and Wine magazine for her installation fridge ideas...

Anyway, paper is done to the point of just needing page numbers. Pimm's cup is still not mastered as a cocktail choice. Looking forward to sushi, caulk under my fingernails.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Eames Day (waste 15 minutes with me!)

I'm absolutely amazed by how many good friends of mine have not seen the Powers of Ten short by Charles and Ray Eames. I was lucky enough to get to see it projected from those wonderful reel to reel projectors that they used to have in high schools in a very early morning physics class when I was about 16. The cinematography was wonderfully clear, and it makes me a little sad to watch it on You Tube, where it looks all pixellated and the stars are all fuzzed out. Before I ever connected the chairs to the film I was completely in love. I took the strip gently out of the reels to look at it frame by frame, and you could see hairs and finger prints on the print, which made the strip itself this fantastically real thing. You tube is a miraculous tool, but give that old fashioned flammable technology with a flickering bulb any day.

Yesterday I got to visit Case House #8, on a gloriously windy California day, right after a rain storm. I got Eames mud all over my shoes. You can see the house (and the lot)featured in the 2nd film, made by their grandson to celebrate their centennial. & I'm happy to say yesterday was a parade of elephants.

The house itself is half empty at present. All the living room furnishings have been temporarily moved to a life-sized reproduction at the LACMA, which I also got to visit yesterday. I love modern furniture, and find it welcoming and gentle. The Eames house, however, seemed boxy and at odds with it's environment. As much as I could enjoy it for it's utilitarian construction (up in 5 days, after all) and can imagine the wonders of its views (especially of the ocean before the trees all grew up), it didn't seem as organically welcoming as their furniture or as intellectually inspiring as their short films. The house seemed almost fortress-like. And I was sorry that the kitchen was so small. Interestingly there was a "pass through" from the kitchen to the communal area that was eliminated in the LACMA reproduction that made it seem even more disfunctional. Don't get me wrong- the house was funky and original, and certainly a playful structure. But I felt strangely as if they were building a box when they would have done much better to have built a parabola.

I'm thinking of writing one of my papers on hosting, and the Eames in particular were great hosts. I'm also going to look into Gertrude Stein and her brother. Maybe I can work MFK Fischer in there as well...

Anyway, it's late now, and all I can really think of is crawling into bed. I have seen, on average, 1.5 museum or gallery shows the last 10 days. When I sleep my head is spinning, and new neurons are getting made so fast that I wake up ravenous. I often forget just how hard it is to look at things.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Hard Edge (bringing sexy back?)

Today was Getty/Hammer day here in smoggy/sunny (&sorta cold) Los Angeles. I ventured forth and paid for parking to go see the first of many "PST- Pacific Standard Time" shows. In particular "Crosscurrents in L.A. painting and sculpture, 1950-1970." And after the MET, the ICA, the MFA and the MOMA, this was the first show I was honestly gobsmacked at. I've always had the love for L.A. and the west coast art scene, but suddenly, after 4 collections of the great and the well-known/loved art anchors, I got to see 1 show of virtually unknown and completely lust-worthy art objects. These were the kind of art objects that remind a weary artist why they want to make things with a capital "T". I wanted to lick the glass pieces that were elegantly suspended, or set on the ground so precariously. Things were fragile, things were crafted. Sure, there were baby heads and house shapes and big, ugly ceramic eyesores (what mid-century California-based show could claim its cred without something huge and ugly, made out of clay?), but for everything predictable there was something gracefully sublime. I even appreciated Judy Chicago's car hood. When Diebenkorn's look sloppy by comparison to everything else in a room, I suddenly feel at home. The only thing that would've made me happier was if they had included some printmakers and a Wayne Thiebaud or 3.

But by far my favorite was this incredible Helen Lundeberg, which no reproduction could ever do justice. The quality of the exceptionally flat, perfectly mixed and muted acrylic made it feel as luminous as glass, and yet there was positively no reflective quality to the paint whatsoever. It had all the magic of a glass marble,all the grace of the ocean. According to Wikipedia, Hard Edge painting, a style original to California in the 50's (which I had never heard of) was a direct correspondent to the flingy AbEx crap happening on the east coast. Several other painters of this genre were also featured in the room, but this image (is it an island? A cave?)took my breath right away. I could have been with it for hours. Each time I got close to it (and I came back to it, over and over) there was a new layer of color that I hadn't discerned before, and completely lost myself in. So incredibly sexy.
I set the postcard in amoungst the mineolas and tree-ripened grapefruits on my friend's counter in his sea blue kitchen, and loved it all the more for it being a memory, now, of this beautiful house, set back in a beautiful hill. So content. Smelling citrus, listening to Willie Nelsen.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Relational Aesthetics, what the what?

Does anyone explain it better?

So, in the last couple days, as I've been mulling over "when is performance not a performance?" I've been forced to admit that I really don't understand relational aesthetics and my place in them, not to mention how to differentiate them for just the regular wonderfully surreal life that I lead. I mean, I had Alexandro trying to scientificfy my process and got to watch impromptu hiphop art-jamming. Was that where the art was?

So, in an attempt to get a better grasp on such things I am restarting an old Portland tradition- Tuna Tuesday! Actually, I had already planned to host this dinner party long before the residency- the residency just reminded me that it had the potential to be art. So, here are some stills (my movie camera will be used in the future installments)for the 1st of the Traveling Tuna Tuesdays. Last night's took place at 200 8th Ave in absolutely lovely Brooklyn. Not sure if it's art, but heaven's it's tasty.

Monday, January 16, 2012

MOMA Dust Bunnies, Subway Stalagtites, Well-Hung Deer.

Happy After Residency!

After leaving Boston with the WONDERFUL MISS RITA, I've arrived in New York City. Well, I guess Brooklyn to be precise. I'm crashing on the couch of some wonderful wine associated geographers, who took me to a local waterhole where I came across the resplendent represenative of the Cervidae variety. Certainly was a lot more festive than the Beuys Bunny attached to sticks at the MOMA which I had the pleasure of examining the next day.

What a tremendously crowded place! Hot and hard to concentrate in! Maybe I have a case of the overstimulies, but I actually enjoyed the Fluxus room the most,generally because no one was crowding me. Also, those guys just crack me up. I don't know how they ever got anywhere, but Ben Vaultier now has pencil cases in the gift shop and his own wine, so he must be doing all right.

I have to say, I liked the MFA's modern and "contemporary" rooms much more, maybe because they weren't so full of people. However, I have to agree with Liz Deschenes- seeing just one example of, for example, a Raushembourg when you've had the pleasure of seeing whole rooms of them really seems a lonely experience. Personally, I always have this feeling about Donald Judd's work. Curators always seem to have them off in corners looking ominous and imposing, like the uncle no one wants to talk to at a thanksgiving party. (The MFA's Judd piece certainly kicks the MOMA's ass, having just seen them a few days apart. Actually, the MFA's Judd might be my favorite in a mixed bag setting). Seeing Doris Salcedo's shoes in the wall in 2 different locations really changes the meanings of the work, however. Suddenly they became like a commodity everyone could collect instead of the precious portraits they are (I believe) intended to be. And the museums aren't just content with 1 pair, they needs must have at least 4 to get the point across... Anyway!

One thing that was truly amazing to me was the prevalence of sizable dust bunnies. I don't know if the installation of the DeKooning show upstairs had just set the little guys free, but they were EVERYWHERE. Especially on the dias' that kept the sculptures aloft from the masses. You'd think they never dusted in there!

I was sad to see that the Wyeth was hanging, hidden, by the elevator. I must not have seen every floor, because I never caught sight of a Warhol. I couldn't get near Demoiselles. And so I was glad to get back in the subway, admire the strange mineral deposits and head back to Brooklyn, pizza and good friends.

Speaking of whom- my hosts are remarkably intelligent people, have MOMA memberships and cultural awareness, and yet, over dinner Kate asked me "What exactly IS performance art?" Ah, that is a blog post for another time...