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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Not Election-Related

posted by on October 28 at 3:48 PM

For a moment, forget about the election. Make your own Jackson Pollock.

Via Bookninja.

P.S. Election-related: What the fuck did you people do with John Bailo? I was enjoying his increasingly Pollyanna-ish comments from an alternate dimension where John McCain was winning. It was some of the best sci-fi I've read this year.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Currently Hanging

posted by on October 27 at 5:31 PM


Currently Hanging

posted by on October 27 at 10:08 AM

Bark shredder (late 19th century, Quinault), bone, 8 1/2 by 6 inches

Spindle whorl (before 1912, Cowichan), wood, 8 3/8 by 8 by 7 inches

At Seattle Art Museum. (Exhibition site here.)

It's fair to say that the big new show of Coast Salish art at Seattle Art Museum doesn't have to do much to be a success: Its existence alone is an improvement. Although the Coast Salish are the native people on the land that extends south almost to the Columbia River and north all the way to the top of the Strait of Georgia—encompassing the cities of Olympia, Tacoma, Seattle, and Bellingham, and Victoria, Vancouver, and Nanaimo, B.C.—no one in any of those cities has ever organized a major show of Coast Salish art before.

The show was complex to put together, but the material is simplistically presented, unfortunately. I still recommend going (and admission is suggested rather than required, thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities). My full review comes out Wednesday, but here's a bit of it.

"Our people have preferred to be quiet," Upper Skagit elder Vi Hilbert says, and she could be referring to the contrast between the Salish and the dominant force in Northwest native art—the force that for years was treated as the only Northwest native art: what is called "formline" design, made by tribes situated hundreds of miles north of here. The Haida and Tlingit are the best known of these, and their art has completely overshadowed Salish art.

Salish art is simpler, subtler, and looser than the northern style. It is not always symmetrical. It has a muted palette. Dazzlingly colored warrior masks and heraldic totem poles standing outside of homes for anthropologists to gawk at: these are not Salish objects. Salish house posts are installed indoors and bear private meanings. While northerners used objects for decoration, the Salish did not. Weavings, baskets, spindle whorls (for spinning wool), rattles, and drums are adorned with story iconography but made for ceremonial use. Some ceremonies are too secret for their objects to go on display. The religious practices of Salish people are especially introverted; certain names and experiences are thought to lose power if they are widely shared. All of this means that the Salish—in addition to being ignored or swept aside for 150 years—don't spend a lot of time clamoring for the attention of outsiders, either.

This is the original famous Northwest reserve.

No Whisky for You

posted by on October 27 at 9:56 AM

I got a phone call Friday afternoon from a very nice but a very irritated Seattle-based spokesperson for Maker's Mark. It turns out that the PR firm in Kentucky made a "huge error" when it advertised the upcoming one-night exhibition of Maker's Mark-inspired art at SAM as a public event.

It's invitation-only.

(For those who are invited, the good news is that the hideous sculpture I posted is not a part of this leg of the tour, I'm told. Also, the spokesman insisted that nothing that's coming is that bad.)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fashion Week In India: Beatings, Bottles, and Books

posted by on October 24 at 4:09 PM

A slideshow for the ages.

Menacing Poster of the Day

posted by on October 24 at 3:09 PM


Maybe it's a measure to protect from getting torn down by Poster Giant.

Thanks for the photo, Matt Hickey.

Currently Hanging

posted by on October 24 at 10:10 AM

I'm in love with this artist right now.





Olaf Breuning's Why Can You Not Be Nice With Nature? (2008), mounted c-print on 6mm sintra, 60 by 75 inches; Fire (2008), mounted c-print on 6mm sintra, 60 by 75 inches; Miami Sphinx (2008), graphite on paper, 11 by 8 1/2 inches; Helicopter Hair (2008), mounted c-print on 6mm sintra, 60 by 75 inches.

At Metro Pictures in New York. (Gallery site, with more images, here.)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

To McCain, It's A Game

posted by on October 23 at 11:00 AM


American photojournalist Christopher Morris is having a show at London's Host Gallery of his icy-cold images from the 2004 and 2008 presidential campaigns of Bush, McCain, and Obama. (Above is one of his Republicanbots.) I'm not sure how effective these images are, but the show is called My America, and The Guardian has a video interview with him here.

Here are some more of his images.

Currently Hanging

posted by on October 23 at 10:29 AM

Bob Helm's Literary Evening (1996), oil on panel and wood inlay, 22 1/2 by 18 by 2 inches

This one goes out to Jack Dollhausen. For years Dollhausen and Bob Helm have been friends and compatriots, artists happily spending evenings on their Eastern Washington porches rather than chasing down notoriety in big-city scenes.

That all changed Tuesday, when Helm, only 65, died at Pullman Regional Hospital after just a brief illness. (Dollhausen, too, has been ill lately but is on the mend, according to Beth Sellars, who spoke about the two friends at a public art talk last night.)

The painting above is hanging in Century 21, the current exhibition of Washington artists selected by Seattle dealers (at Wright Exhibition Space). Helm was chosen to be in the show by Jim Harris, the Pioneer Square contemporary dealer whose style is marked by a certain delicacy and minimalism. (Harris shows Jeffry Mitchell, Claude Zervas, and Mary Ann Peters, to name a few.) If it is still possible to talk about beauty without getting all gummed up, then it's fair to say that the aesthetic of James Harris Gallery is the most beautiful in the city.

Which is not an underhanded way of saying it's dumb—not at all. Harris's choices show heart and mind. Helm is a perfect case. His paintings (here's a striking example) are quiet, gorgeously refined, and extremely personal. They feel like locked boxes of secrets edited over a lifetime.

Here's some more information about Helm.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The New Fighter Jets and the Specific Forney Hands

posted by on October 22 at 4:49 PM

Dominic posted earlier today about tonight's public meeting about the proposed Capitol Hill Sound Transit station art.

Here are some updated images fresh from ST of the designs by Mike Ross and Ellen Forney. Both artists will be on hand to explain how these evolved from their early iterations.



Continue reading "The New Fighter Jets and the Specific Forney Hands" »

Maybe the Art Will Seem Better If You're Drunk

posted by on October 22 at 2:41 PM


This sculpture of a woman at the Kentucky Derby with a shot of Maker's Mark in one hand and a pair of binoculars in the other is just one of many alcohol-inspired masterpieces that will be on display at Seattle Art Museum the same week the museum opens its first-ever major survey devoted to the art and culture of the native people of this region.

It's a crude coincidence.

SAM didn't actually curate the Maker's Mark exhibition and isn't giving it any gallery space—the show just bought the credibility of the museum's name and location by renting a room in the museum for the one-night Northwest stop of its national tour, a tour put together by Maker's to advertise the Kentucky-brewed whisky without seeming to be advertising at all. Instead, the exhibition, titled "The Mark of Great Art," is supposed to be a showcase for "incredible Kentucky artists," according to its web site.


In a press release, Maker's says "Seattle Art Museum will host" the show. (A SAM spokeswoman says, "We have nothing to do with it.")

Maybe SAM needs the rental money, but yuck. Seattle is the only American city on the show's tour where it actually finds a home in an art museum. I guess the Guggenheim and SFMOMA were booked?

A Monument to All That Is Broken

posted by on October 22 at 1:39 PM


This is Barnett Newman's Broken Obelisk, which stands in Red Square at UW. Four versions of it exist, one in Houston. Guardian art critic Jonathan Jones today provides a reminder of the obelisk's political life.

In Houston in 1969, city officials didn't want it to be a public memorial to Martin Luther King Jr. in the wake of his assassination.

The proposal to treat it as a prominent King memorial was put forward by the famous art collecting family the Menils. (Their museum complex currently houses the sculpture.) In another version of the story told here, they initially responded this way:

After being told that city officials would reject a public memorial to King, the de Menils proposed that the sculpture be placed in front of City Hall and that the base bear the words Forgive Them, for They Know Not What They Do.

The story about the obelisk as a sign of race relations is something to keep in mind as you pass this thing by on the eve of the election that may give us our first black president. Are black voters going to be held back at the gates again (like in 2000)? Is the obelisk going to fall all the way this time? Or maybe the obelisk is a totally outdated symbol of race relations at this point; what would a new one look like?

Broken Obelisk represents more than one broken system: public art is another. Newman said he intended the obelisk as a beacon of hope—a sign that things, even broken things, could get better. But part of what's so great about the sculpture is that it has an equally dark heart. It represents something already fallen, but only halfway. This present state of grace feels like its bounce moment, the moment its tip hits a ground point before the whole thing crashes down to pieces.

Public art with a dark heart is rare these days. The obelisk reminds me of something Seattle artist Dan Webb recently wrote in an essay called "I Heart Public Art" in which he critiques both the gallery system and the public art system (published in La Especial Norte and available at galleries):

Conceptual art has become the new orthodoxy, rooted in something that was hard won, and enduring, and has since evolved into something that is too frequently facile and rote. Hard won principles become short cuts to lesser practitioners; many artists today seem content to be merely clever.

Public art is in quite a bubble as well. It is fixated on trying to be art, without the teeth. When Brian Eno was asked his opinion of New Age music, which he is generally credited with inspiring, he said he didn't like any of it because it lacked a sense of evil. True that. When public artists voluntarily dumb things down, erase the evil, they ultimately come across as condescending.

Currently Hanging

posted by on October 22 at 9:00 AM

Claire Cowie's The Peacock (2008), watercolor, sumi color, ink, and pencil on paper, 48 by 68 inches

At the Wright Exhibition Space.

Back in 2003, Cowie was a bright-eyed young artist heading off to her first show in Los Angeles, of slightly disfigured but very lovable figurines placed in careful relationships on a tabletop. In the five years since, Cowie has sized up her figurines, making them larger-than-life sculptures that themselves contain paintings. Now she has transferred the careful relationships from the tabletop into an unusually large painting called The Peacock at the Wright Space, and simultaneously she has a nearly silent installation of tiny painted moths on pushpins gathered around the light above the stairwell at Western Bridge.

I'm considering asking Cowie to tell me what has happened for her in the last five years, how she has made the subtle transition from hot young artist to scene-staple. The Peacock got me thinking; it is a seriously good painting that moves Cowie forward in small but noticeable ways. (I wish I could offer you a zoom feature here.) I wasn't the only one who noticed. Fellow artist Joey Veltkamp asked her some questions about it himself.

Art-chitecture It's Not (Neither's the "Art")

posted by on October 22 at 8:00 AM

Nicolai Ourousoff gives Zaha Hadid a tongue-lashing for her complicity in this Chanel consumption-vomitorium in Central Park, designed to house artworks made in homage to a quilted Chanel bag.


That's just gross.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Classic or Baroque 2008

posted by on October 21 at 11:46 AM

Here's another binary opposition to throw into your binary-opposition machine.

Late-19th/early-20th-century Swiss art historian Heinrich Wölfflin described two opposing styles: the Classic and the Baroque. (The title of his study in Swiss German was Renaissance und Barock. See how we bring it back to Barack?) By Classic he meant High Renaissance (roughly 15th into 16th century). By Baroque he meant Baroque (roughly 16th into 17th century). Even more specifically, he pitted Dürer against Rembrandt.

By Wölfflin's system, the Classic style was linear, with scenes arranged parallel to the picture plane, using closed form, emphasizing the multiplicity of the parts or forms as much as the whole, and engaging in absolute, almost sculptural clarity. The Baroque was painterly, with scenes receding into unbounded open or flexible space, unified and dominated by light (light over form), and endowed with only relative clarity. When you think of Rembrandt and Dürer, the terms come clearly to mind.

In sculpture, an easy example is Michelangelo's David versus Bernini's.


I'm partial to the Baroque. Just drawn to it. I admire the Renaissance but love the Baroque. Plus, Baroque is the underdog. For years the word "baroque" was not a category in art but an insult. In some ways, Baroque has gone down in history the way women have: as mysterious and not entirely serious. (I caught a glimpse of a James Elkins book the other day in which he posed the question: Why is serious always better than silly in art? What are we overlooking when we make that assumption? Seems worth thinking about.)

So this season I'm voting Bernini, Rembrandt, and Caravaggio over Michelangelo, Mantegna, and architects like Bramante and Sangallo. You?

Something to Love

posted by on October 21 at 10:45 AM

Albrecht Dürer, Six Pillows, c. 1493

Just keeping it simple for a minute.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Currently Pasted...

posted by on October 20 at 4:00 PM a metal box on the street in Providence, RI:


I blame Lovecraft.

The Best Museum in America

posted by on October 20 at 3:00 PM

Two facts: MOHAI is moving. And there is a museum in Las Vegas that's the art equivalent of S&M cuisine, where you are basically punished rather than served.

Erin Langner says these two dots should be connected. She wonders, in this essay on the Neon Museum in Las Vegas, whether you wouldn't like to suffer just a little more for your art.

The Neon Museum is not accessible. I learned of it on a blog, followed a link to the museum's website, and found that registering for a tour in advance is mandatory; this became clear after I realized the address for this place was not posted anywhere on its website. Once in Vegas, I gave the cab driver the address. He started on his way toward downtown with confidence but soon began corresponding back and forth with dispatch, trying to determine a landmark near the museum. After a long pause from dispatch, the driver said he thought he knew where it might be and pulled onto the highway. Fifteen minutes later, I was dropped off at an empty intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard.

Before me was the museum: two sandlots surrounded by a chain-link fence. A tour guide waited across the street from the museum, offering everyone water and an umbrella. No one took him up on it. The group stopped in front of a gate wrapped in a massive knot of chains and Master Locks. The neon signs protruded from behind the fence—the head of a king, a pool player bending forward, horseshoe arches, dollar signs—invading the otherwise barren downtown landscape.

The guide congratulated anyone wearing closed-toe shoes in anticipation of the broken glass and metal throughout the grounds. He mentioned the occasion when a visitor left requiring five stitches, having backed into a piece in the collection while trying to take a photograph. As we stood listening in the shade of the only tree in sight, the error in the group's collective refusal of the umbrella and water became apparent; everyone was already drenched in sweat.

The nickname of this place is the Boneyard.

And thanks to a comment left on the story by 007, here's the cool satellite view of the Boneyard.

For more of Langner's writing, check her blog Peripheral Vision, on which she recently compared Jeremy Shaw's intense video of a fight in the middle of a mob at Seattle Art Museum with Suzanne Opton's censored photographs of American soldiers' faces lying down.

Currently Hanging

posted by on October 20 at 2:35 PM

Scott Griffin's Green Dress, encaustic on wood, 32 by 19 inches

At Garde Rail Gallery. (Gallery site here.)

I was down at Garde Rail on Saturday and caught a little show of these fading, modest things. They're paintings in wax (encaustic), but the encaustic looks thin on the scrap wood. The outlines are fugitive; buxom, '50s-styled women and dapper men are dancing and disappearing. Artists often describe their works as "dreamlike," and I rarely find works of art actually to be dreamlike, but these are.

Scary Patriotic

posted by on October 20 at 1:15 PM

Last week I asked for a list of your scariest artworks, and I linked to a collection of contemporary artworks that use flags. Well, this morning it all came together in this disturbing work of video art by Pittsburgh-based artist Eileen Maxson, posted by the Houston Chronicle's Douglas Britt (via MAN):

Saturday, October 18, 2008

In/Visible Is Up: It's Betty Tompkins on Making Fuck Paintings Since 1969

posted by on October 18 at 10:00 AM

And there's definitely a NSFW image if you click here.

Tompkins began making Fuck paintings in 1969. It was the height of minimalism and conceptual art, so she thought she'd try calling them Joined Forms. She eventually dropped the act and just called them Fuck paintings, adding Dick paintings and Cunt paintings, too.

What keeps a woman working on photorealistic paintings of hard-core heterosexual pornography for 40 years? Well, she did take a break in the late 70s and early 80s to make works that were all text, of which she says: "I bored myself silly, so I went back to sex."

Listen to her talk about her quick rise, her years as an art-world exile, her comeback, her repeated brushes with censorship.

In person her works can be surprisingly tender; they can also be harsh and cold in the Chuck Close way (some are created by stamping words on the canvas rather than with brush strokes).

I'm sorry to say that her show of paintings and drawings (especially two exquisite drawings created in the 1970s with a Dremel tool, which she only knew to be called a "flexible shaft," causing some great innocent doublespeak), at Lawrimore Project is only up through today, October 18. (We tried to do this interview earlier, but because of scheduling conflicts and illness, we just couldn't.)

Her own web site is here.

Here is an image she alludes to in the podcast, her single homage in all these years to the breast. This one is called Fuck Grid #32:


Friday, October 17, 2008

Musical Chairs

posted by on October 17 at 2:00 PM


At 4Culture, Gallery4Culture manager and King County's collections curator Greg Bell is leaving, to be succeeded in November by Esther Luttikhuizen. Bell's going to work for a private collection, and I'll miss him. He's a stabilizing presence wherever he is, and his dry wit will trip you up if you don't watch it.

Luttik-what, you say? It's pronounced LOO-tick-high-zen: not so hard. And as unfamiliar as her name may sound, Esther Luttikhuizen is a very familiar figure: She presided over the glorious Esther Claypool Gallery from 1998 until it closed in 2003. Esther Claypool gave young, energetic artists a chance and almost all of them went on to greater things. Luttikhuizen's got a great eye, and she's been missing from Seattle's public sphere these past years. I'm excited about her comeback tour.

Over on the Eastside, Bellevue Arts Museum has decided to wean itself away from the man who came in to save it four years ago: Michael Monroe, whose official resume began in 1974, when he joined the Renwick Gallery (for American craft) as an associate curator.

Monroe's not leaving just yet. But he's paving his own drive out. BAM has hired an interim executive director, Mark Crawford (an executive with nonprofit and for-profit experience), and a search for a permanent ED will be launched in 2009. This allows Monroe to step back slowly. For now he'll continue to oversee curatorial affairs and to organize exhibitions alongside BAM curator Stefano Catalani.

And now please enjoy this recent interview with Les Claypool (seen above), who has himself shifted roles, as he has taken to making movies.

Hello, Voting Public

posted by on October 17 at 1:10 PM

Today's Weekday was a little crazy, and quite entertaining. We took calls from a bunch of those fabled Obama-Rossi voters, one of whom suggested I wasn't an American and claimed that his vote was going to be determined largely by an offensive public art tire sculpture at a transfer station in... I think it was Lynnwood.*

I don't know if the audio is up yet, but once it is, it's really worth a listen if you're interested in the current Red Scare in Washington and curious about who these ticket-splitting voters are—and how they explain their plans to vote for, say, Obama, Rossi, and Reichert.

One thing that ran through the calls was a plain old "throw the bums out" mentality. Doesn't matter what the politician's party is, said one caller—he's voting against every incumbent out there this year. Another strain of complaint, this one from a couple of self-identified Democrats, is that Gov. Christine Gregoire simply hasn't earned their votes. They're so disappointed in her—on everything from the Viaduct to general charisma—that they're willing to vote for Rossi just to punish Gregoire and send a message to the state party that it had better put up better candidates in the future.

* Do you have any idea what this guy was talking about? I was shown a YouTube video of this offending sculpture after the show, but now I can't find it—it involves truck tires and wind whistling through them and is apparently so infuriating it's costing public officials votes.

UPDATE: Yes! Commenter SP (@11) is correct, the offending public art is in fact in Shoreline. And here is video of said public art, which is apparently destroying at least one voter's faith in his elected officials:

They Electrocute Animals, Don't They?

posted by on October 17 at 1:00 PM


Kinky artists.

If you're ever in Anacortes, look up Cascadia Contemporary, which used to be known as Department of Safety. (Exhibitions list here.)

What's the Scariest Work of Art Ever?

posted by on October 17 at 11:43 AM

What Schmader posted this morning—Rolling Stone's investigation into how the GOP has already stolen the election—has me even more scared about this election than I was before.

In the name of Scared, then, I am inaugurating a contest for scariest work of art. They're hard to think of, actually—you've got "The Scream" and maybe some Balthus but otherwise I mostly draw a blank. What is a work of art that actually scared you when you saw it??

Here's my top pick: Bruce Nauman's Pulling Mouth video from 1969, in which he pulls on his mouth and flashes his teeth in horrible ways for minutes on end.

What's yours?


Memo to Wade Kavanaugh and Stephen Nguyen

posted by on October 17 at 11:02 AM

The Art Law Blog says those two artists got bad advice from their lawyer, or misunderstood the advice they got, on this case involving Anthropologie. For future reference, let us all know the following:

There's absolutely no distinction for copyright purposes between works created and shown in a commercial gallery and works created and shown in nonprofit spaces (like, say, museums).

Want to Wallow in Somebody's Else's Rejection Letters Read (As They Were Written) by Robots?

posted by on October 17 at 11:00 AM


Well then, sound artist Dan Senn has you covered.

His installation Fanning Rejection is built around decades of his own rejection letters. Check it out if you're in Portland at the Portland Building through October 31.

Or you can experience it, in part—the robotic, repeatedly being rejected partright here.

Currently Hanging

posted by on October 17 at 10:00 AM

Jenny Heishman's Do-Over, mirror, vinyl sticker, pom poms, spray paint

Is that an "O" for Obama I see?

This piece is up now at Lawrimore Project as part of tonight's annual SOIL Auction, with a preview at noon and doors opening at 6 pm. (More auction art here!) It's only 10 bucks to get in.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Artist Trust Comes Through

posted by on October 16 at 4:32 PM

Impressively in this economy, Artist Trust has increased the money it is giving to artists. Yesterday (I'm sorry I'm late--it's flu time), AT announced it is giving $157,500 in Fellowship Awards to 21 artists in 4 categories, bringing its total for grants awarded this year to over $300,000 to 100-plus artists. These 21 artists were selected from a pool of 450 applicants from all over Washington state.

In the emerging and cross-disciplinary arts, recipients are Stranger Genius Wynne Greenwood, UW mastermind James Coupe, and beefy-robot-maker and half-of-Fire Retard Ants artist Michael Simi.

In visual art, recipients are Grant Barnhart, Debra Baxter, Diem Chau, Jack Daws, Scott Foldesi, Justin Gibbens, Philippe Mazuad, Nicholas Nyland, Ariana Page Russell, Jim Woodring, Robert Yoder, and Jennifer Zwick.

In traditional and folk, winners are Lisa Telford and Kazuko Yamazaki. In the performing arts, it's Chad Goller-Sojourner, Lucia Neare, Zoe Scofield, and Olivier Wevers.

Each artist receives an unrestricted cash award of $7,500 (up from last year's $6,500). For more information on all of these artists, please visit this thorough page devoted to them.


posted by on October 16 at 4:17 PM

King County now has a public art cell-phone tour.

Currently Hanging

posted by on October 16 at 3:41 PM

A large photograph from Carey Denniston's series Oh, domain

At Punch. (Gallery web site here.)

I've had the flu for the last three days and I've stayed home, which means my surroundings have begun to seem gothic. If I wasn't all weak and feverish, maybe I'd clear out an area here and start throwing dishes at the wall, as many times as I have to in order to make the right photograph from the process. Denniston said it took her many, many tries.

For more women-and-broken-China art, visit the Frye (on the web site, click on image 3, which is Runa Islam's Be the First to See What You See As You See It, a work that's also part of the Turner Prize exhibition currently up in London).

Re: Who Doesn’t Love a Maverick?

posted by on October 16 at 3:00 PM


From Wikipedia:

Early models lacked a true glove box to save on costs, but the glove box was added in 1973.... Some of the exterior paint options had unusual names, such as Anti-Establish Mint, Hulla Blue, Original Cinnamon, Freudian Gilt, Thanks Vermillion, [...] Dresden Blue, Raven Black, Wimbledon White, and Candyapple Red.


By Craig Worrell:

I was getting tired of "maverick" being bandied about like EVERYONE and their dog is a maverick. And yes, it's Jim Garner.

Your Cultural Bill of Rights

posted by on October 16 at 2:51 PM

For weeks I've been soaking up Bill Ivey's new book Arts, Inc.: How Greed and Neglect Have Destroyed Our Cultural Rights.

Cultural rights, you say? What are those?

Exactly. It's a book you want to pick up (and at Powell's it's only $16.95). I've written about it here.

For more natural linkage between art and politics, see Modern Art Notes's series this week on contemporary art and the American flag, which also has its own gallery (that you can add to) on BuzzFeed.

My favorite of the images up now is by photojournalist Todd Heisler. Remember this one?


"Capitalism might be quaking, but the fair goes on."

posted by on October 16 at 2:01 PM

Adrian Searle, in a somewhat inebriated tone—narrates the typically surreal opening day of the Frieze art fair in London today. A slide show captures some of what Searle mentions but sadly leaves out the art involving bowlsful of foxes, foot massages, and private chambers for smokers.

Here, eight British artists talk about the market's affect on their work, along with lists of the most expensive living and dead artists in the world.

Even artists who work in the time-honoured tradition of painting are wary of being sucked into market-led thinking. Landscape painter George Shaw likes to keep his work on a relatively intimate scale and refuses to rev up his output by hiring a team of assistants. "Just because you use the toilet doesn't mean that you have to live in the sewer," he says. Shaw lives and works in Devon, one of many painters (both Doig and Chris Ofili now live in Trinidad) who has left London to avoid the white noise of the market.

Shaw's Scenes from the Passion: Late 2002, in the collection of the Tate

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I've Always Hated This Thing

posted by on October 15 at 9:25 AM


It's called "Monument with Standing Beast" and it's by some French dude called "Jean Dubuffet" and it's been terrifying Chicago since 1985. On the upside, it draws the eye from the far uglier State of Illinois Center that it's plopped in front of. And, yeah, I'm obsessed.

But what do you think, Jen?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Falling and Looking

posted by on October 10 at 2:27 PM

Having just gone through Richard Misrach's press preview this morning, I can say with certainty that you're going to want to hear him speak tonight at UW. (Full details here.)

He's talking about his latest completed series, On the Beach, which he made between 2002 and 2005. In it, he stood on a balcony at a Hawaii hotel and shot downward, geometrically reversing the relationship between photographer and subject that occurred when the victims of September 11 were falling out of their buildings toward the photographers below.

On the Beach is about the way Misrach saw things after the attacks. He noticed floaters in the water that looked like Ophelias, a man who came every year and laid in a fetal position in the sand, the way that a single person doing a handstand in the middle of the ocean resembles Bruegel's great painting of Icarus's tiny splash after his fall—when everyone else around Icarus just keeps on doing what they're doing without noticing that anything's happened.



(Icarus's feet are in the bottom right corner.)

There's a lot to see, and a lot to talk about. Definitely go.

(And I did give the Henry's new web site another chance: the horizontal scrolling feature that's basically the overarching design of the site is actually very cool. You can scroll back—left! get it? timeline-style!—to 1927 to see which shows were on then! My previous complaint about available, high-quality images of the museum's collection stands, though. Having the collection viewable online should be a serious priority for any museum, IMO.)

Banksy's New Creation

posted by on October 10 at 2:05 PM

A pet store! (Via Boingboing.)

To get some storefront art in Seattle this weekend, take a stroll down the east side of Broadway south of John. It's a veritable museum out there, and it's only up temporarily (until construction starts for the light rail station).

Here's Gretchen Bennett's phone photo of her temporary Teen Spirit installation on the former Jack in the Box.


Juan Alonso: No More Donations

posted by on October 10 at 11:00 AM

Juan Alonso's Excelsion #1 (2008), ink and graphite on Claybord, 24 by 24 inches

Seattle artist Juan Alonso is taking a stand on the continual drain on artists represented by auctions and all manner of do-gooders. He makes the point that in the last 18 months, he has donated more work to causes than he has sold. Don't mistake this for the statement of somebody who simply can't sell: Alonso has a pretty healthy market among Seattle artists. (He's represented by Francine Seders Gallery.)

It's a perspective that can't be ignored. Check it out:

To Whom It May Concern,

I feel lucky and blessed to be an artist and have the opportunity to create for a living. It is part of my philosophy as an artist to give back to my community, from local to global. In the last 18 months I have sold some and donated over 30 works of art to organizations (some art related, some not) and fundraisers, and have done so willingly. That is more work given than work sold. The issue is, and more so now with the current economic crisis, it seems every organization believes that artists are the first professional group of people to ask for donations for their fund-raiser, no matter what the cause is. It has gotten out of hand. I don’t know of any other business group, as a lot, that is automatically called when money needs to be raised. Perhaps there are some out there. Perhaps people raising funds don’t realize that artists are single-person businesses for the most part and that as a general rule, artists are on the lower end of the income levels, and that every piece given away to help a worthy cause is also income we are not bringing in to our business. Perhaps fund-raising organizations don’t realize that so far there is no tax incentive for artists to donate our own work. If another individual donates my work, they get to deduct it from their taxes. If I donate my work, the only thing I can deduct is the cost of my materials, which I would do anyway at the end of the year. Under current laws, our skill, talent and labor is seen as worthless and it might be a good idea for some of the organizations asking artists for work to start lobbying governmental agencies to change their policies. As far as I know, Artist Trust is the only one doing so. How about artists being able to deduct a percentage of the price for which the piece sold? How’s that for determining fair-market value?

Until recently, I gladly gave and even served on acquisition committees for a couple of art-related organizations. At this point, however, I’m suspending all donations of my artwork in order to make a living at my job as an artist. I hope that other artists also realize that the “exposure” incentive or the 10% back just doesn’t cut it anymore. I hope organizations start tapping other, wealthier sources for enriching themselves and that the IRS finally comes to realize that artists are assets to the community as a whole.

Respectfully, Juan Alonso


posted by on October 10 at 10:00 AM

First of all, I wrote a short review in the print edition of the paper but the full review is here.

Second, here are some installation shots from "WACK!" taken this week at the Vancouver Art Gallery. (Photos by Rachel Topham.) All of these works were made between 1965 and 1980.

Senga Nengudi's pantyhose

Sylvia Mangold's laundry-pile painting

Ree Morton's wall sculpture

Carolee Schneeman's actual Interior Scroll, which she pulled out of her vagina and read from in the 1970s

Continue reading "Feministartfeministartfeministart" »

Currently Hanging

posted by on October 10 at 9:00 AM

Christian Jankowski's The Hunt (1992/1997), single-channel video, 1 minute 11 seconds

At the ICA Boston.

For this piece, the German artist ate only what he could shoot an arrow into at grocery stores. When I saw the video in Boston recently, a group of older women also happened to be watching it. One of them immediately said, with some concern, "What did he do for juice??"