Category Archives: art

Seen on the Street

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One of the best features about my new (new-ish) apartment is the gym right next door.  Not that I use it for working out.  Eeks, no.  But it does pretty much guarantee a steady stream of really cute, well built guys streaming past my front door.  I would consider joining it just to go and ogle the boys changing, but all of them look like they come in their gym clothes already.  While that improves the streetscape, it does cut down on the ogling chances.

I’d prefer something like this:

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Also, while we’re down here on the street, I’ve recently seen a return of a graffiti (I believe there is a different noun for a single piece of graffiti, but I’m too lazy to look it up. You can if you’d like to.) I’m very fond of; the street koi.

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These have been around for years, sort of on and off.  I like them because they’re unusual, being on the street, and the play with a sense of perspective, as if you’re looking down into a koi pond.   And now, apparently, the artist has been commissioned to cover up temporary construction walls, so good for him.

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As I said, the koi come and go.  Imagine my surprise when I was in New Orleans once and stumbled upon a bunch of them there.  My friend Stephen said he was acquainted with the artist, but not fond of him.  He said the local theory of the random appearance of the art was that the artist would inevitably wind up with enough restraining orders against him that he would leave town until they built up in his new environs at which time he would strike out for new horizons.  I don’t know, I’m just going on Stephen’s possibly biased deductions.

I’m a fan of graffiti.  I think it can be charming and amusing and even beautiful.   Well, not when people jus splatter their tag up and call it day.  That has all the appeal of a car alarm going off.  But when it’s funny and makes you think, isn’t that art?

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Merry Xmas, with Extra Bits

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My christmas present showed up today.  Yay!  Totally not sarcastic for once!  Genuine yay!

When I was in Austin earlier this month, the charming Diane von Austinburg led me to a small gallery we both like called Yard Dog.  Totally cool.  If you’re in Austin, you should drop in there on South Congress.  I was very struck by, and then bought,  a constructed piece called Who Breaks a Butterfly on a Wheel?  Photo below:

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As we stood there arranging for it be shipped halfway across the country, Diane remarked that it was never going to make it all the way out here in one piece.  Or words to that effect.  Diane is never snarkey and I can never imitate her measured tones.

Proof of Diane’s prescience:

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I think the frame holding the components might have started out life as a really big wall clock (although it seems too shallow for that) or possibly a whatnot shelf.  It’s mahogany and the little feet allowed us to stand it up in the gallery since I was thinking of displaying it that way rather than hanging it.   All those little bits ‘n bobs there on the left are the pieces I found in the bottom of the shipping box.  I only found the legs that had busted off by sifting through the peanuts. All of these pieces seem like what you could have found in the back of any good grandfather’s garage when I was a kid.  Even the eight ball.  Now it’s art.

God knows, the very nice guy who owns Yard Dog did the best he could in packing it.  There was enough styrofoam peanuts to account for a small slip in global warming.  The padding also included some scraps of bubble wrap taped together in a way that suspiciously implied they may have at one point provided the basis for a wacky Halloween costume.

Still, in the end, it was not enough.  Looking it over closely now, I am pretty sure no human effort would have sufficed.  I’m not convinced this baby could have made it from the gallery to the car without at least one piece falling off.

The artist’s attitude towards construction seems to have leaned towards the lassiez faire, with a fair amount of glue and possibly spit.  He also seems to have depended on gravity with somethings apparently just resting on top of others.  “It’s art,” it implies “How much are you really going to be moving this around?”  Good point.

And to be honest, this brings up the interesting idea of how closely do I have to hew to the artist’s original when reassembling all this?  In the picture of the piece before its shipping trauma, you can see a big semi-petrified handball on the top right corner.  I thought at the time that it threw the proportion off and didn’t really work.  And now it’s fallen off!  Do I have to put dutifully back in place?  If you think the answer is yes, you just don’t know me well enough.  My theory is, if I have to put it back, I get to put it where I please.

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Art.  Plein air art, in fact

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My theory is, if I have to put it back, I get to put it where I please.

Fredtastic

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A few years ago, Secret Agent Fred decided he didn’t want to paint anymore.  The muse had deserted him.  He continued with graphic design and working in sketchbooks (see below for one of his gold leaf smut pieces)

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but he was through with his larger scale canvases.  I was disappointed, I like his work very much.  So I was delighted when he announced this evening that he had decided to take the brush back up.  His inspiration?  An airing last night on TCM of Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine, one of the worst movies ever to see the light of day, but also starring Susan Hart.  It turns out he had started a painting featuring Miss Hart a while ago and had never finished it.  Actually, I had seen the canvas and had always thought it was finished, but he’s the artist, he gets to say when something is complete and when it needs something.  In this case, what it needed, according to Fred’s tiny little brain, was a raven spitting up blood.  I think it best not to ask why.

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I also always thought this was Diana Rigg, but I see now I was incorrect.  Also, I’m not sure why Fred is working on this lying on the garage floor (the painting, not Fred, or at least, not Fred the last time I looked,) but again he’s the artist.

Go see more of Fred’s work at Its Fredtatstic

Now They’re All Gone

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Oh dear, Albert Maysles, the genius behind Grey Gardens, died Thursday.

Some, but not by any measure all of my favorite Gray Gardens quotes:

  • If you can’t get a man to propose to you, you might as well be dead.
  • …there’s anything worse than dealing with a staunch woman. S-T-A-U-N-C-H.
  • Edie!  Open a can of pate!
  • … this is the revolutionary costume!

More Southland

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Did Secret Agent Fred and I have a lovely time down in the southland?  Why, yes, yes we did.  Thanks for asking.

In Los Angeles, we repeated our “Fancy Ass Manicure and Mexican Food Tour” plus we added the thrill of making a pass by the Los Angeles County Museum to see the Big Rock.   Friends more in the know than little me had chastised me for going to LACMA last month and skipping said Rock so I was determined to show them up this time.

It’s supposed to be called “Levitated Mass,”but even the people that work in the museum refer to it as The Big Rock.  Here’s the scoop from the LA Times review of it:

  • “Levitated Mass” is a piece of isolated desert mystery cut into a dense urban setting that’s home to nearly 10 million people. A water-hungry lawn north of LACMA’s Resnick Pavilion was torn up and replaced by a dry, sun-blasted expanse of decomposed granite. A notched gray channel of polished concrete slices 456 feet across the empty field, set at a slight angle between the pavilion and 6th Street. Like a walk-in version of an alien landscape painting by Surrealist Yves Tanguy, quiet dynamism inflects a decidedly sepulchral scene.

Whatever.  It’s a big rock sitting on top of depressed (in every sense of the word) sidewalk and you walk under it.  It is just as artistically thrilling as it sounds.  As a big rock, on the other hand, it’s great.

We also drove out to Palm Springs where it was HOT, bitches.  I tried to enter into an appreciation of the blasto sun, like a lizard and that sort of worked.  Mostly I avoided it as much as you can in a desert, but I still got the blotchy red skin so very appealing in those of us descended from Vikings and other Northern European cabbage eaters.

Our charming bungalow was in a hotel very successfully decorated by Kelly Wearstler, the mistress of bold graphics and white paint.

I got to go swimming at night, which I love and ate hot fudge sundaes every night.  A perfect desert trip.

I also bought a painting by Chris DiVincente.  I love it, but I don’t have any room for it, so I’m negotiating for our friends Jan and Aaron to take a big ass photo off my hands to open up some space.

Ride ’em

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This is one of my favorite statues, Theseus and the Minotaur, at the Victoria & Albert. In looking for a picture of this, I was struck by how consistently all the published ones are pretty much this orientation, head on from the front. One supposes the bearing is favored because it is the tamest. The statue is located in the intersection of two halls, so when I first saw it, I was looking at it from the side and the impression of it portraying a humpy young man being butt-fucked by a studly bull thang was most pronounced. In fact, the impression was emphasized by the angle making it look like his club is his Club, if you know what I mean, rising stiffly from his groin.

I know plenty of high minded people are offended by this kind of homocentric interpretation; the work, just like the myth, represents man overcoming evil or his worse nature, the concious over the dark unconcious, the super-ego over the id. But sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and a half bull chimera being straddled by some marble porn butt is buggery.

Defenestrate the Development Agency

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One of my favorite public art pieces in San Francisco is a rundown rat trap that was a residence hotel until a fire there twenty years ago. In 1997, artist Brian Goggin turned it into the Defenestration Building with furniture crawling out the windows and up the exterior walls, some of it leaping from the roof. Couches and refrigerators and a floor lamp and an armoire not only hang off every surface, but also twist in very un-furniturelike ways. They all seem very animated, especially the spindly little end tables that scramble along like cats on ice. It’s wacky.
The building itself, not so wacky. It’s a substantial piece of real estate on a prominent corner that’s been abandoned for decades and the fact its ramshackle state adds to the dilapidation of Sixth Street is pretty damn annoying. Sixth Street is a filthy skid row that has resisted the steady efforts of the city and several very right thinking non-profits to change it for the better. I know, I’ve worked with Urban Solutions, one of the best nonprofits involved, for years and watched them struggle against the entrenched shabbiness of the area that defeats most of the businesses that try to move in there. So dealing with one of the most derelict buildings in the neighborhood is okay by me.

But the only solution the local development agency can think of is tear it down, art and all, and start over. It’s a big sturdy building, why not renovate the interior and keep the art on the outside? There’s little enough charm in the world, why destroy some on purpose?

Art off the Block

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Urban Street Pirate and I headed off to an auction today at the local art academy.  R Man’s parting words to the Pirate were “Don’t let him buy anything.”  Thus when I spied a big ass black and white print I realized I could buy it and it would be the Pirate’s fault.  What could be more ideal?

Artsy B&W mounted print: $300
Pinning the blame on your friend: priceless.
It looks rather smashing in our living room, R Man seems to like it, and the Pirate went out for drinks with his friends, so now we’re all happy.