August 23, 2007

Talking Falsely, Talking True

nobiboweb.jpg
No Bibo No Mas. Photograph © 2006 Jerome du Bois & Catherine King.

. . . so let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.
--Bob Dylan, True Bard

by Jerome du Bois

While the dust is still settling from the recent comment flurry, let's highlight some topics from the last two postings, and those that arose in the comments. Talk about shining a light? Take off your blinders but put on your shades.

First, I'm going to make damn sure nobody is confused about the reverse racism and misogyny which pervade our culture and which get foregrounded in Phoenix. The default setup is that one should be proud of one's heritage, so long as you're not white. In that case, you hang your head and drag your guilty ass around saying how sorry you are your ancestors went around banging damn near everybody upside the head but Martians. Sorry sorry sorry. If you say there's something hinky about this setup, and, not only that, you're proud you come from English-Irish Pilgrims or French-Dutch Huguenots, and you're a proud American --well, then, some pissant pipes up like a cuckoo bird, squeaking Nazi! Nazi! Nazi!

Renee Cox, Kara Walker, John Leanos, William Pope.L, and Beverly McIver can say, do, or depict any vile fiction that they might imagine about "white"-"color" relations, and everybody oohs and aahs and gives them prizes and money, including Creative Capital grants for the last three named above. Nobody criticizes their racism, their profiting from questionable victimization, or their false reinterpretations of US history.

If Catherine was a Native American woman (with her actual troubled background: see Standup Woman, below), people would be fawning over the Portraits we do of her. (Picture it: "Jerome, there's something I've never told you before; I'm one-sixty-fourth Yaqui." "Yes! I can see it now: St. Catherine Silver Cloud!") But in a town fixated by political cowardice, the art of those Portraits, including No Bibo No Mas, cannot be allowed any aesthetic purchase, lest it lead to the monetary kind.

The misogyny is obvious, again, unfortunately, using Catherine as an example. When we posted our first Portrait of her, at least three jerks out there made caricatures and tried to circulate them on discussion forums, including the now-defunct labelhorde. Why did they do that? Because they have worms in their hearts. Would they do that to Annie Lopez? Well, would anyone? Hell no, it's hands-off on account of her ethnicity but by the same token, Catherine is fair game because of her skin color and her beliefs. Even now, as far as we know, similar ugly things might be going on about Catherine in the snickering corners of invitation-only listservs, for example. If so, we have much to say about it, but we would of course begin with the Robert Irwin Double Salute. Of which more below.

Next, though, all the narcissistic hand-waving in the comments by Bill Campana and Bernard Shober don't distract us from the light we're shining on the hypocrisy in the Partnership For Innovation. Specifically:

(1) flawed methodology, (2) taxpayer support of artists, (3) artists deserving public money as artists, no matter the quality of their work, (4) what real innovation means, (5) conflicts of interest, and especially (6) misogyny.

Shober, in a comment, calls these points "garbage," and says they should be thrown out. Without a single word of discussion. Because-- trust him. This is Dhimmi the Kaped Krusader talking. He says no reader should go beyond his word. Bernard, in your tiny world perhaps your word is fiat, but in the real world rational people discuss the pros and cons of their positions. Dismissing them out of hand is fascistic, another one of your handy words. You arrogant little strutter. You think you can come in here and silence this room? Dream on. I'll be getting back to you and your incipient stalking.

Naturally we sent out emails about this article to some of the principal parties, including the Arizona Commission on the Arts, which includes this invitation in the Report:

We encourage you to read the complete report and then send us your comments, particularly as they relate to the existing structures (i.e., how they could be shored up, expanded, or enhanced given the information presented in the report.) Please email you [sic] comments to researchreport@azarts.gov.

Of course the State responded immediately and positively and warmly and we've been having a series of lively and fruitful . . . wait wait wait; crap, that's another world in the multiverse; I get mixed up sometimes. In this world we got the big goose egg, yeah, except . . . look, on the horizon . . . shade your eyes, who's that approaching? Two riders? No, two crawlers. Ah! It's those two clown-tramps from Waiting for Godot! Or . . . no, wait, they don't even rise to the level of those plug nickels. It's only Campana and Shober --you know, the spoken-word guys.

It's not as if they're players, correct? As far as I know they control no budgets, shape no agendas, have no official handles, dials, or art-powerful cell-phone numbers in reach of their hands. Neither do we. But they are the only ones who responded, like two stony-hearted spear-carriers enacting some not-so-comic opera, galumphing around and distracting people with personal attacks on us.

About those original verbal and visual attacks on my wife, Billyboy and Bernard: although you did not author them, you never objected to them, and Catherine has the feeling that, in these comment threads, you're looking past her; you won't acknowledge her. Well hell, who can blame pomo posers like you two? She's a powerful woman, that's for damn sure. Still, it's a fact that you will not write one line of support for a woman who has never asked such a thing from anyone, and never would; but who has forged a path through life against obstacles --yeah, physical and muscular and male-- that would shrink whatever cojones you could still claim, you petty, petty excuses for men.

As for your attention to me, Bernard: In one line? It's creepy as hell. In an earlier thread, you went on with comparisons between prominent bloggers, then ended with "You've got me." No, you creep, I do not. I mean --Eeewww. One hundred eighty degrees of separation. Then this line about the "joys" of a near-eidetic memory --Catherine nearly hurled-- and then a quote from me about giving the middle fingers --the Robert Irwin Double Salute-- with a nailed-down date. You seem so proud, but you look so foolish, man. First, I don't believe the eidetic schtick; the "near" gives away the lie, at least to me. Even if true, why admit to a memory bank about me? It's all very queer.

Bulletin: though you seem to know so much about me and my writings, Shober, there's only one written sentence of yours which I can clearly recall, from back in the ugly days when we visited your livejournal site from time to time. I don't know any other single line from anything you've uttered into the world, and I can't imagine any reason I would search one out. But this one . . . It was about making an Italian dinner and then "watching the Sunday cartoon lineup on Fox." More than once I've used it as a joke between Catherine and I, about trivial blogging. I never mentioned your name, but now she knows: "That was Bernard?!" she exclaimed with a big smile.

But about that specifically-dated reference to the Western gesture of derision, which led to a later one: I suggest you read both of them; especially the second one, in which my wife Catherine King shines so brightly as a writer that she puts you two in the shade for sure. Just as importantly, that second essay, which is about 9/11 and being a standup person, was written through angry, bitter, but sight-clearing tears. When we first started this blog, we had a tagline we didn't want to overuse:

Read it and weep.

And when you're done, for the benefit of all, I've reprinted in a coda the vignette Catherine and I call The Robert Irwin Double Salute, which is about American freedom of expression in the face of arbitrary power, and which we now direct to . . . well, you know who you are, you sonsofbitches.

CODA:

My favorite Robert Irwin story, on pp. 94+95 of Lawrence Weschler's book Seeing Is Forgetting The Name Of The Thing One Sees, is about ignorant arrogance:

. . . Irwin drifted into an anecdote about a confrontation that occurred the night the Museum of Modern Art’s 1965 touring exhibition, ‘The Responsive Eye,’ opened at the Pasadena Art Museum. (His dots were included in an appendage to the show, flanking a group of Reinhardts.)

“It was a big show, so before the opening there was a fancy dinner in celebration, and all the big patrons were there, and they invited some of the artists. People were just put at tables -- you know how they do it: mix groups -- and I was at this table with several Pasadena types, including this lady who had just given the museum a million dollars. The dinner was very, you know . . . you get six strangers sitting at a table, so it’s one of those stilted situations. Plus there’s a terrific imbalance in terms of what people are doing there.

“But anyway, at the museum, later that evening, this lady all of a sudden just came up to me and told me, literally told me that I was not to do this kind of art anymore, that I was no longer to perform in this way. I mean, for some reason she got the idea that she could tell me that: she just insisted the whole thing was absolutely un-Christian, anti-American, whatever. And what struck me the funniest was how she told me that I was not to do this any longer. I was to cease and desist: that was it.

“Well, in the direct confrontation, I didn’t react at first. I just sort of listened to her and thought, ‘How weird.’ Eventually I turned around and started to walk away. When I got halfway across the room, this big crowded room, she started shouting, ‘Don’t you walk away from me like that!’

“So I spun around and yelled, ‘Fuck you, lady!’”

Bob was now laughing heartily, savoring the memory, the middle finger on his extended left hand upthrust in sweet recapitulation.

“And then I got really mad, and I shouted, ‘Fuck you, you dumb son of a bitch!’”

More laughter, the middle fingers of both hands proferred defiantly.

“And she just fainted.” Calming down. “They literally had to carry her out of the place.”

Ah, the Robert Irwin Double Salute. It always warms the cockles of my heart.

Posted by Jerome at 06:12 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

August 22, 2007

STANDUP WOMAN

standup3.jpg
Standup Woman. Ink on paper. © 2001 by Catherine King.

Posted by Jerome at 08:30 AM | TrackBack

August 20, 2007

'Fraid Not, Bernard

ffejklaf2web.jpg
Stop'N'Look Window, Beatrice Moore, Prop. Photo taken by Catherine King on September 4, 2004. Explanation below.

[Note: This piece, and its coda, would have been posted at least 24 hours ago if we had not been subject to what our hosting provider calls a "brute force attempt" on our domain, during which we couldn't edit our weblog. Comments were disabled as well. This happened not long after we stirred the local waters with a piece about hinky local art honchos. We can't figure out what went wrong, but . . . it makes you wonder. Now, back to business.]

by Jerome du Bois

An unexpected gift has stumbled over its kape through the comments door: confirmation of everything I (and Catherine, of course, my editor) wrote in the previous post. Bernard Shober spends a lot of words doing The Wonder of Him jam -- "Now, I can silence a room with the first sentence that comes out of my mouth"-- but ignores several reminders to discuss the main points of the piece. (It really isn't about you, man.) Instead, while indignantly denying he's carrying the water for anybody, he then names some of them. (By the way, is Trish Yaslosky TrishJusTrish? Asking just asking.) One of these "community" saviors is Jeff Falk, into whose arms, soon after Millennium's dawning, the thirsty Floridian pilgrim gratefully fell after comin acrost the dayzert.

(By the way, all the Florida inside hoohah was lost on us, Cosmo.)

I'm glad he brought up Jeff Falk, who has had several exhibitions lately --100++ career so far!-- work tagged with the usual unquestioning praise, work that Shober refers to as "Mental Cubism," an empty category which turns too easily into "BlockHeadArt," doesn't it?

While discussing the last posting, Catherine and I remembered the ugly window above. Catherine said, "Neither Beatrice Moore nor Jeff Falk will spend three dollars for some Windex and paper towels, much less take the computer time to print up a nice, neat sign for the public. They're cheapskates. But the City keeps throwing money their way."

Since Mr. Falk's lone defender so far makes much of him, I'm going to reprint the section of "The Pride Of Phoenix, Part Two: Reading Bad Signs Downtown," which comments on the photo above, then I'm going to refer the reader to our posting from October 7, 2004, called Stop'N'Look. See Jeff Falk Mock. Mock, Jeff, Mock. Shober claims:

. . . you chose to attack those people. And not through an art critique which can be both valid and scathing, but you chose to attack them personally. [We'll have a response to this "personal attacks" hypocrisy below.] Perhaps I should have gone beyond the whole "biggest hacks in Phoenix" and done a more spirited defense of Jeff's "Stop and Look" piece (which I consider to be an excellent example of what I call Jeff's "Mental Cubism"), but I chose not to after reading more of "TToT".

In the "See Jeff Falk Mock" piece we did both --we attacked Falk personally / politically, as well as analyzing specifics of his cheap-ass aesthetics-- so BS needs to reread his own BS.

There's more commentary about BS's latest comment, including how he didn't get two jokes --plus a scathing coda from Catherine King to the bloated pig Stephen Lemons-- so let's begin. Again.

[Originally published September 3, 2004:]

Jeff Falk Doesn't Bother Putting Lipstick On The Pig

Last week we took a picture of the Stop'N'Look window and said some things about it, mainly that it was empty. When we went back for Part Two we found this piece of paper, what turned out to be probably the most telling sign of this whole article, taped to the inside of the window, right next to a splat of . . . ugh:

Study this image, reader, ugly though it may be, because we'll both have a lot to say about it. First, whether Beatrice Moore decided to respond to our criticism this way -- "Run over there, Jeff, and leave some kind of note" -- we don't know. But it's there. Jeff Falk, a twenty-year veteran of the Phoenix art scene, over one hundred exhibitions -- MacDonald's owns his work! -- recepient of grants and other encouragement, probably the most-mentioned artist ever in Phoenix New Times -- this is how he deals with his "public." Just read the content:

Stop'N'Look is closed for renovations, but will open in September with an irreverent political installation by Jeff Falk.

Renovations: two pieces of drywall slammed up to block off the inside. No sign of work, either week. How's he going to get something done by September 3rd, First Friday? Or even their new thang, First Saturday? But wait, there's another significant date coming up this month . . . maybe he's aiming for . . . as I ruminate, my blood begins to rise. Oh, man . . .

Irreverent political installation.

September 11.

Jeff Falk, boogie out whatever St. Vitus buffoonery appeals to your stunted soul -- masks, gold-painted puttis, inflatable things, Kerry and Bush doing the dirty hula, crayon tutu facepaint hobbyhorse jamboree -- but keep your greasy fingers off The Twin Towers, off the Pentagon, off Shanksville. PLEASE. May the Perpetual Clown with the Stony Heart not touch these wounds! Don't go there.

[End of excerpt.]

As for our piece on Falk's Che / Lincoln window, I'll just quote the closing, addressed directly to Jeff Falk, now extended to Bernard Shober:

You mock everything Abraham Lincoln suffered for, everything that stands behind me, and elevate a bloodstained psychopathic mafiamechanic in a splatter suit for your saint. You shame yourself, Jeff Falk, but America endures you anyway. Let me say it in the short words you know best: Grow up. Your baby clown days are over. You. Must. Change. Your. Ways.

Let's get the jokes out of the way, Bernard. I don't know where anyone got the idea that we were wealthy. The chateaubriand reference was pure fiction, which I thought was obvious to anyone with a just a bit of wit. I was wrong. (And Catherine wonders about your reference to people in "certain corners" laughing about this. The usual word is "circles;" "corners" is a Freudian slip, and implies dark, ugly, souls.)

More recently, I thought you more media-savvy, but you failed to pick up the Goodfellas dig in my first response to you, in which it's obvious that the "clown" is the addressee (you), not me. But explaining jokes ruins them, doesn't it, you dull man? Let's move on to more serious things.

You trying to tar us with the racist brush, for example. We have made clear that we oppose illegal immigration from anywhere, regardless of skin color. Both Catherine and I have Hispanic relatives, who would surely take exception to your characterization; talk about ignorant.

Then the Muslim thing. Again, we oppose any religion or social system or "time-honored tradition" which practices any degree of misogyny. Islam is the most blatant and aggressive, for the last half-century at least, in defending its misogynistic practices. And when they come and kill us because of who we are, it's not just different, it's evil. Murderous evil.

I think you're a misogynist, Bernard, and you've signed off on attacks on my wife. Let me tell you a story. Back in November 2006 we got all dressed up and came out of hibernation to visit the Phoenix Art Museum's reopening after expansion. We wrote about it here. Little did we know that local lumbering slug Stephen Lemons was there, because not long afterward, certainly after getting an enthusiastic go-ahead from his boss Amy Silverman, he posted a vicious attack on his new blog on, of course, Catherine, because that's what cowardly male chauvinist fat pigs who have to pay for sex do, weenie-wanking losers like Lemons who is proud to be photographed with movie hookers. A mole rat among mole rats. (Read the coda for the whole score.)

Right after this asshat's posting, in the comments, came some anonymous wimp saying something like, "Oh, now you've asked for it. Here they come." But we didn't say a word about it, did we? until now. We stayed above the crud and mud. Catherine knows how I feel about her, and about those who attack her. I didn't have to share that with the world.

But then you, Bernard, as if on cue, showed up with the second comment, and you dragged out your usual boilerplate about the Mexicans and the Muslims.

And you said not a word in support of my wife --did someone say "unsupportive"?-- from Lemon's envious, irrelevant, putrid attack. You're quick to defend your friends from "personal attacks," but when somebody else does it to us for no reason at all except spite, you're all rahrahrah, hypocrite. You people: your self-loathing envy and fear of women is pathetically transparent. I say that to Stephen Lemons, Jeff Falk, and Bernard Shober, for reasons damning and abundant. I will leave Catherine to her coda, but for this:

Yes, Bernard, I remember friends. I still have the collection of knives they left in my back.

* * * * *

CODA, from Catherine King:

An Open Letter to Stephen Lemons, woman-hating race bully:

I was aware of the trash you wrote about me months ago, due to our sitemeter, of course; but until now you and your existence have never risen to what I considered a noteworthy, much less actionable level. In all honesty, I was embarrassed, even sitting here in my own living room, to visit your skanky blog. It’s just so not me.

But I’m taking time away from my art-making, as I work here in the dark aftermath of a fascistic strike against me, and my husband’s, freedom of speech, to compose a series of statements directed against you and your sleazy weblog.

If you, pathetic loser that you are, check out the “synchronistically”-titled The Arizona Partnership for Stagnation and Stifling Dissent, you can see that, “ironically,” just before we got muzzled, Jerome was having a dialog with Bernard what's-his-name. In this dialog, Bernie condemns Jerome and I for attacking his arts-community friends “personally.” My husband and I had been composing our responses to his ethical stumbling blocks.

In our comment, which was almost growing into a posting itself, Jerome and I were going to lump you in with a couple of the other vicious cultural chauvinists in the local arts scene. But pretty soon I realized you are in a category all by yourself.

Because you, like us (ewwww), are “media,” as they say. And it took a while for it to get to me, because I have a life, but you are not just chauvinistic --sadly, a plus in this era-- but you are also a BIG FAT RACIST, which I’m pretty sure you would flamboyantly deny with bloated pomposity.

You undoubtedly believe your readership expects you to roll around in the mud, but I’ll bet a million bucks you also love to believe that you stand up for the oppressed, you stunted grub.

It was the words FAIR GAME.

I couldn't get them out of my mind. In your stinky world, it's totally okay to attack a white woman about her body and appearance. Not only that, I'm a white woman who takes pride in her privacy and dignity and style and personal power. That gets to you, too, doesn't it, you low-rent skunk? It makes me fair game for attack.

But if I was black, would you be making jokes about kinky hair and a fat ass? that she looks like Whitney Houston in 15 years and a long bad month? You know you wouldn't, you coward, but I'm a middle-aged white woman who has a serious life, and that's a threat to your shrivelled nuts, but, luckily for you, the culture is on your side, so you keep on getting away with your filth and hypocrisy, happy as a pig in manure.

But you don't get away from us, bully boy.

Posted by Jerome at 05:40 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

August 17, 2007

The Arizona Partnership For Stagnation And Stifling Criticism

by Jerome du Bois

Early last week we were visited all one day long by referrals from something called thescuzz.org. I know that's not the real name, but the hell with them cowardly twits twittering away in their corner anyway. If they have something to say about us, why not say it to us? Ah, who gives a damn what they say? Never mind them.

More interesting to me, the sitemeter showed some visits from three government agencies --Arizona State Government, City of Phoenix, and Maricopa County-- and two universities --ASU and U of A-- during business hours; people who should have been about the public's business, no? What are they doing going to the spazz in the first place, and then bouncing over here? This is our tax dollars at work? Doing what, pray tell?

So I did some googling around, pairing our blog's name with the snuzz, and I found out that late last summer (2006) the Creative Capital Research Foundation conducted research for The Research Finding Report of the Creative Capital State Research Initiative in Arizona. Yes, they really did. It was research. (HTML version here, published earlier this year.) Most intrepid of readers --I once spent several years pursuing a graduate degree in public administration-- I plowed through the bureaucratic jargon in search of our name. The Report was supposed to be about Arizona artist infrastructure, innovation, the need for criticism, and the need for support. It was catalyzed by something called the Arizona Partnership For Innovation, a thirty-six member "Steering Committee." I read it once. Unbelieveable. I read it twice. These people are shameless. I studied on this thing. I came across many enraging and revelatory things --including the one reference to us, which I'll get to before the jump.

But most offensive was the hard kernel, the invisible key, the hidden engine behind the whole meghillah --its unstated and unjustified assumption:

Art-school artists, by their very existence, deserve public support.

Bullshit. And let me tell you in advance I'm going to give these hypocritical money-grubbing backstabbing blackballing sonsofbitches a serious piece of my mind.

This is what they said about us:

One local blog, “The Tears of Things” written by two local artists provides regular commentary on the Arizona arts scene but was characterized as “unsupportive” and “highly negative”.

Characterized by whom? Unsupportive of what? Highly negative? compared to what? Paintings of shotgunned faces, and other snuff art? They've been exhibited downtown. The misogyny of burlesque and body painting? Happens all the time downtown. We'll answer these questions as we explore this arrogant, self-satisfied Report, which is primarily designed to be presented to government eyes: that is, the person(s) who finally sign off on however-many-thousand dollars for whatever-grants, will be able to at least partially justify such expenditure by pointing to, by handing over, this Report. That's what the Report --physically, on paper-- is for. Wearing a false veneer of impartiality as easy to see through as a carny-whore's makeup, it's a multi-purpose bureaucrat's instrument for covering one's ass, petitioning for funds, creating salaried postions, solidifying existing positions, and generally justifying the existence of the whole federal, state, city, and district arts infrastructure which both depends on and legitimizes the Report!

Fucking operators.

The Report was created to keep taxpayer money flowing toward the socialistic bureaucrats and fat-wallet players who created, supported, and assembled the Report; and to expand the pool of public money for artists, arts administrators, and "artists' advocates," whoever the hell they could be. In other words, a boondoggle. (Some of it brings a rueful grin through the anger: a State Poet Laureate, okay? Don't laugh. They could call it The Bernard.) I love this country, it is the greatest on earth by orders of magnitude, but I must say that locally I agree with George Orwell: "The existing social order is a swindle." In the local arts scene, it's a swindle in spades.

Here is how the Report describes the "Methodological Framework" for the study:

This study was conducted using qualitative, ethnographic research methods (primarily in-person, one-on-one interviews but also phone interviews and focus groups); findings are therefore geared towards describing attitudes, opinions and subjective data. In addition to the interviews, there was a limited review of current literature on artist systems, a quantitative assessment of formalized funding programs for artists (Attachment 3) and a review of Arizona specific websites, articles and ephemera (flyers, magazines, catalogues, etc.). The narrative findings describe existing artist support systems and conditions, dividing the state into three regions: Central (including Phoenix), Southern (including Tucson), and Northern (including Flagstaff). Each section contains aggregate, qualitative data from our visits and interviews with respondents in these areas.

Interviewee selection was made with a goal of selecting diverse respondents across a range of artistic disciplines, geographic locations across the state, ethnicity, and career stages (recognizing a general, but by no means static, correlation with age). We were also directed specifically toward artist respondents who were “originating” artists (as opposed to “interpretive”) considered to be “pursuing innovative approaches to form and content.”

Then they went and contacted ninety-one people for their study. Ninety-one. Most of them teachers, too: people trained in and comfortable with jargon and questionnaires and bureaucracy. To represent the whole state's population of artists. While researching this posting, I came across a website promoting Arizona artists, and I went through twelve pages of twenty-eight artists per page; that's 336 people right there. That's just one; there are plenty. I don't expect a stratified random sample that jumps through all the social science hoops, but . . . ninety-one?

Now consider this hypothetical scenario:

You are one or more or all of the out-of-town consultants or research people for this project. That is, you are Roberto Bedoya, Eric Wallner, Caron Atlas, Barbara Bacon, Helen Brunner, or Kathie deNobriga; or you are the local Dwight Walth of the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture, who wouldn't even return our emails a couple of years ago about the Phoenix Artist Storefront Pilot Program (now under revision. What's that about?). As you do all that ethnographic digging described above, or conduct online surveys, you hear about this blog --yes, this one. Over and over, especially when you discuss art criticism. But when you ask about the blog, or about the two people who run it, all you get is sour looks and rolling eyes and accusations of sour grapes and paranoia. Oh, don't go there. They have nothing good to say about "the community." That du Bois guy has a saying on the blog's sidebar: "When I hear the word 'community,' I reach for my car keys." They're not team players. They just complain and complain.

Now wouldn't that pique your curiosity? Wouldn't you want to know more about the people who are making so many other people uncomfortable? After all, this is dispassionate social science, idnit? Like an anthropological mission; you're not supposed to have an agenda that simply supports the checklist of hopes and claims of the local yokels. Wouldn't a couple of people who were irritating the settled, established scene be just a little bit worth checking out? Could they be completely bereft of credibility? Especially since they had been blogging for nearly four years, a sure sign of commitment to cultural discourse?

But you didn't, did you? None of you seven people just named above got in touch with us; nobody emailed us with the survey, or to set up a face-to-face meeting, to find out why people considered us "unsupportive" and "highly negative." We didn't get a voice in this conversation, and all you seven people just signed off on what others said without even giving us a hearing. You didn't think for yourselves, you took the words of at least seven local people that we have made mad over the last four years. You just dismissed us out of hand. That was methodologically sloppy data collection for damn sure. All the huhu about ethnographic methods, focus groups, diversity, and subjective data was just so much wind from a duck's behind.

And this is a respected foundation? Reader, check out the paragraphs they handwave through trying to define and defend "innovation." Even in qualitative research, don't you at least try to operationalize your definitions? But the overseers in New York must be satisfied with the research, because Creative Capital is going to invest in more Arizona research for the next three years. They already had a "skills-building retreat" in December for seventy artists to help them with their "career management." Translation: grant-writing, schmoozing, and working the system. Pitiful collective hand-holding and disingenuous networking. Trying to make our state into a nanny state, for artists anyway. Believe it or not, one of the most pressing concerns of the interviewees and respondents was health care coverage. What, are they all diseased? Not surprisingly, as I noted above, the vast majority of respondents teach at high schools or universities, keeping their priveleged places at the public well.

But I want to get back to those questions from before the jump. First one: Just who exactly characterized us as "unsupportive" and "highly negative"? Well, I happen to have a list from this Report. Of the thirty-six members of The Partnership, as I'll call it, twenty-five reside in the Valley and have probably heard of us. We have written critically about seven of them. (I have no idea who the ninety-one artists in the survey were, but I know we have written critically about at least a couple of dozen local ones.) It seems reasonable to conclude that

Gregory Sale
Greg Esser
Susan Krane
Beverly McIver
Mark Newport
John Spiak
and especially
Glen Lineberry

would call us "unsupportive," because we won't sign off on their lame-ass low-class promotion of substandard art and artists, which includes Sale, McIver, and Newport. Not to mention that we're pro-American --liberty, freedom, democracy for everyone!-- and pro-humanity-- which makes most of the art world's hackles rise. With Lineberry, who is no longer associated with Bentley Projects, boo-hoo, it wasn't just about aesthetic judgments, but his lack of business ethics.

Creative Capital (CC) has a similar problem, with conflict of interest. For two examples among many --more below-- there's a section in the Report where respondents answer questions about CC, all fawningly favorable for some mysterious reason; and three of The Partnership's members --McIver, Cohen, and Newport-- have received grants from CC.

I'll move on to the notions of "highly negative" and "innovation." You'll see how they relate. People call us highly negative because we call them on their incompetence, sloppiness, antihumanism, cruelty, peurility, stuntedness, schadenfreude, and misogyny, among other things. True, we are definitely "unsupportive" of these widespread practices and attitudes, which we consider highly negative. We're miles from there.

We stand for and promote human dignity, reserve, handwork and craft, grandeur, glamour, excellence, themes worthy of our contemplation like science, religion, nature, and death; deep emotion, pathos, mystery, our suffering human history, and transcendence. These clowns? They got nothing! and we tell them, we've been telling them, and we'll keep on telling them --and so they whine because we won't join them on their cheap and sleazy gravy train. They got that right, those murder pimps.

Innovation for these people means painting yourself as a whiteface, or blackface, or greenface clown; or knitting superhero costumes; or restoring an East German Trabant, the worst example of an automobile ever made.

Or, like Gregory Sale, literally stealing another artist's work, in his Yoko Ono piece. I say we give him a government job! Oh; they did. Although now I see the ACA advertising his position, so he's probably figuring out a new way to put the squeeze on the public purse.

There's also a new setup as ASU:

Respondent spoke favorably of the Arts, Media and Engineering [AME] program at ASU and their state-of-the-art equipment as having the potential to be an important local incubator for innovation, particularly if access for local artists is somehow made available. [Like that's going to happen. Pay the tuition, chump.] The universities in general were seen as a starting point for fostering innovation. As one interviewee noted, “Experimental work tends to happen first at the universities.” One interesting and challenging project that was developed at ASU involved an artist who placed microscopic cameras on animals and, after recording their interactions over time, constructed short narrative films.

Besides Mr. Cutesy editing animal antics --your tax dollars et cetera-- there's also Mary Bates Neubauer, straight out of the AME, having a computer make weather-pattern-summary abstracts, but with no symbol key, so what we are left gazing at are geometric New Age greeting cards, with no way of knowing the meaning behind the curves and the colors. This is advanced thinking? Read some Tufte. Get back to the Lab.

Or here's Dan Collins with his big flooded Valley of The Sun digital print. From the same Lab. Let's pause at this project for a moment, since it's been making the rounds around town. Well, it's easy to describe; I just did it: no buildings, no streets, no people, no boats, no towers, no drama, no waves, not a lot of sweat, just the familiar mountains rising above a level grey expanse of uninflected water.

First, technically, it's not much, for all the hoo-hah about the AME and such. Really, watch a few TV commercials, Dan, and try to catch up with our 21st-Century eyes.

Second, and more seriously, this guy just wiped out several million people and the hard work of countless lifetimes. For what? To make a comment on human hubris? global warming? or some other over-warmed-over liberal disposition? That's nothing compared to the sociopathic sadism in this frozen-hearted gesture.

Here's another example of the kind of innovation I suppose CC is looking for, since the Arizona Commission on the Arts is singing off the same page. This is Erin Sotak, who us taxpayers just gave some money through an ACA grant so she could do this thing, and I couldn't help commenting on it in brackets:

What I do is I tell stories. I make images. My work first exists as an installation and performance that is concerned with ideas of labor, endurance, futility, absurdity and aesthetics. ["concerned with ideas of"?] The ephemeral work, the tableau, continues to live in the form of a photographic image.

My project, "Squeeze," is concerned with the notions of absurdity, futility, consumption, labor and aesthetics. [didn't we just hear this? except now they're notions.] I created an oversized hope chest in which to store myself and perform a series of actions in an attempt to obtain a small but potentially well-worth-the-effort reward. The hope chest has a small square opening at either end. I enclosed myself in the hope chest. Lying on my stomach, I reach out of the right end of the chest and select a pomegranate based on color, size, shape and hardness. [not on musical ability?]

After the selection process, [yeah, that was labor all right] I pulled the pomegranate into the chest. I split the pomegranate open and seed it, and squeeze the seeds. I then rotate and flip over. Reaching out of the left side opening, I poured [get your tenses consistent, willya?] the thick purple juice into the waiting pewter bowl. I was interested in the act of squeezing [thinking big, I see]: the extraction of something in spite of resistance and the removed consideration of that said something as a concentrated substance or essence. [Spoken like a true bureaucratic blowhard artist.] Most notably, I was intrigued by the mythology of the fruit coupled with the concerted dedication and absurd labor involved in extracting the juice from the pomegranate.

Simple things fascinate simple minds. Absurd is right, but the ACA just loves this kind of mindless crap. As for innovative, though, let's slow down a moment. The Visual Arts Director of the ACA, Gregory Sale, signed off on "Squeeze." The same Gregory Sale who did a performance piece around ten years ago in which, on stage, he juiced up a bunch of ornamental oranges while yakking on about being a gay man. Ah, the wheel of innovation just goes round and round. But it's really the wheel of stagnation, isn't it? People repeating the same motifs for years and being supported for it. For examples, see Annie Lopez and Jeff Falk, both then and now. Same same same same same.

Check out Sue Chenoweth, another ACA grantee. There's an interview with her in the Winter 07 ACA Bulletin, in a pdf file. Boo-hoo Sue has made a career out of appearing disabled, so that people will celebrate her boringly childish surrealism and limp abstraction. (And write her proposals for her. Gregory Sale is a good friend of hers.) Celebrate what? the very fact that they exist, I guess, since they have nothing else going for them. And don't let Scribblin' Sue near a wall unless you want to see a meandering stain of anemic doodling or a hastily-assembled paper collage.

See? So easy Sue Chenoweth can do it.

Then there's Angela Ellsworth, teaching now at ASU, who has tried to make aesthetic gold out of the effluvia and ephemera of exercising. And people like Glen Lineberry, spellbound by stupidity, line up for her lousy offscourings.

And none of this stuff is art; it's infantile narcissism, and an insult to true art.

What kind of innovative thinking did the respondents and researchers show in their recommendations after the survey? Let's look.

To maximize the current opportunity, our research suggests the need for creating a latitudinal, systematic plan with specific goals, strategies and outcomes. Questions to consider include: What would a robust support system for Arizona artists look like? What specific strategies work best at fostering innovation?

You see how they assume that Arizona artists deserve and should have a robust support system --no matter the quality of their work. They're Artists. Nuff said.

The following recommendations (listed in no particular order) are presented as considerations for “next steps” and possible programmatic initiatives --some ideas came directly from respondents while others were based on researcher observation and analysis. Suggestions range from the small, specific and practical to larger, systemic issues.

The Arizona Partnership for Innovation will continue to develop these and other plans and ultimately prioritize them for action. Creating an inventory of practices, programs and policy changes which result from this project will be crucial to documenting its success.

There are eighteen recommendations. Fourteen of them require money from taxpayers. Those "($$)" below are my additions.

General:

* Lobby and educate city and county officials to create artist-friendly ordinances (live/work restrictions in Tucson, zoning issues in Phoenix). ($$: tax breaks)
* Create language and compelling evidence around the need for innovation as a priority within the state.
* Consider an “artists summit” convening to strength and galvanize artists networks statewide. ($$)
* Host local “educational forums” or workshops for local magazines and media outlets on how to find and cover innovative artists and art projects.
* Capitalize on Arizona’s large public sector (governmental agencies) as possible sites for artists residencies or collaborative partners in developing new audiences for innovation work (such as writers in residence at local libraries). ($$)
* Investigate model residency programs that foster local-national dialogue and new work creation such as PACE in San Antonio. ($$)
* Create support and training for emerging and mid-level arts administrators and artists advocates. ($$)
* Provide financial support to fortify establishing artist-focused galleries, performances space, and other groups with the potential for supporting the creation of new work. ($$)
* Develop more formalized partnerships with other local initiatives such as MPAC, ASU’s proposed downtown campus, Phoenix Downtown Artists Coalition, Tucson’s Rio Nuevo, as well as national ones such LINC, American Artists, Artadia, Center for Cultural Innovation, among others.
* Create an artists task force within existing arts advocacy structures to galvanize artist involvement in policy-making. ($$)

Discipline specific:

* Given the current governor’s strong support for the artists, investigate creating a state Poet Laureate position. ($$)
* Create and/or strengthen support networks for performing artists. ($$)
* Create a directory of available theater and performance spaces (including university venues with open access) which can be utilized by originating performing artists. ($$)

For public and private funders:

* Consider the creation of unrestricted, artist fellowship programs. ($$)
* Reconsider the lifetime cap on Arizona Commission on the Arts’ Artists Project Grants, maybe allow artists to re-apply after a certain period of time (5-7 years) to provide support across different career levels. ($$)
* Consider additional language to materials and applications to convey programmatic goals to artist applicants and make procedures and selection criteria as transparent as possible.
* Given the particular dearth of performing arts opportunities, consider expanding public arts programs to include public performances by local performing artists. ($$)
* Strengthen regional touring opportunities. ($$)

The whole mindset of this Report is communal, governmental, official. All arrows point to some desk-bound form. The word "independent" appears in this Report about a half-dozen times, but never attached to the word "artist." It's almost always a collective entity, including "entity," "booksellers," "presses," and "theater." But not an individual person. There is always the image of the supplicant artist approaching the powerful and indispensable funding agency, knit cap in hand; and never the image of the innovative, maverick bureaucrat out in the world trying to find the best art he/she can find, and to hell with the rules. It's outrageous that these blinkered jerks would write:

Host local “educational forums” or workshops for local magazines and media outlets on how to find and cover innovative artists and art projects

when they don't do that themselves.

It is sourly ironic to me that some of our own innovative ideas were and are designed as generous, splenderous public projects:

--The Collective I, for example, which anticipated YouTube and is still powerfully viable.

--our Glorious Golden Grand Avenue Vision, pedestrian-only from 7th to 15th Avenues except for its funicular streetcars; and with street mosaics, local businesses, and giant flower gardens.

--our piece called "The Antidote," which would be a mobile multi-media truck with big double-sided screens and giant speakers, driving around downtown on a First Friday playing an art-historical slideshow interspersed with printed aphorisms, accompanied by classical music selections; the idea developed from Camille Paglia's notion that "The only antidote to the magic of images is the magic of words."

--Catherine's tableau and diorama called "American Woman," which she literally dreamed up when she fell under the reasonable notion that the curators at ASU wanted balance when they conjured up their election-year exhibition "Democracy in America." Read about it here.

--our resurrection of Liberty Poles;

--and especially our "American Gothic," a multi-media installation and performance about the history of the uncanny and supernatural in America. The piece would have holograms and videos, live dancing in period costumes, narration with projections on waterwall scrims, a giant twisted wooden trumpet pouring out the voices of the dead, a life-sized Green Man made of plants and flowers, a tableaux called "Beyond the Cabin Door," complete with floating orbs and streaks of hants, and all of it accompanied by live performances on bow saw, violin, and theremin.

Instead, this year as in too many recent years, the city will probably be treated with Jeff Falk's Stupid Santa again; and Scott Sanders and his Paper Heart will continue to "showcase" anyone who wants to get in front of a microphone and rant, as well as much skankier activities at his venue. Sanders, by the way, was going to close his joint last November, but he held a fund-raiser and held on. Also, significantly, the city came to him with the offer of a low-interest loan, which he finally accepted. I don't know who from the city floated the offer, but it could have been motivated from the highest levels. There's a picture somewhere of Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon with his arm around Scott Sanders. Elsewhere, Gordon has endorsed the whole downtown scene. Word of caution, Phil: in an election year, some of what these people do might stick to you in ways you don't want it to.

On to criticism. Earlier this year Creative Capital / ACA finally published the Findings, and in early May SMoCA had a panel discussion to discuss the findings. Matthew Bowman wrote about it on May 7th for phoenixartspace. Excerpt:

. . . But as panelists noted, on the flip side of comradery [sic] is overly polite assessment, and following a do-it-yourself mentality can foster isolation.

Their conversation hit heavily on the need for strong and informed criticism as a necessary driving force of innovation and operator in any vigorous, refined arts environment. The Creative Capital report outlined this need for criticism, describing the “overwhelming deficit of media coverage, particularly reviews and critical, scholarly discourse about artists.”

Anne-Marie Russell, director and curator at MoCA in Tucson, noted the lack of a single trained and specialized art critic in the state and appealed for openness to formal criticism. She pointed at what she called “the degenerate legacy of postmodernism” as contributing to criticism’s lack of acceptance. . . But all the same, if Phoenix is going to move past clubhouse galleries and into a thriving scene, Russell reminded that Arizona artists need to pursue, rather than shy away from, serious criticism.

President of Roosevelt Row CDC, Greg Esser, presented challenges concerning the audience for Phoenix arts. “I recognize everyone here,” he told, “like I do at everyone else’s events.” While affectionately highlighting the unity of the local arts scene, Esser also brought into focus the risk for its self-containment. Artist and educator Angela Ellsworth, in support, described the need to explore, to get out, for people to emerge from their usual bubble and explore the overlap with other artists and diverse audiences.

Esser and Ellsworth are liars. LIARS and hypocrites. What they want are positive reviews for artists to pin to their resumés. They do NOT want serious discussion, review, or even "scholarly" criticism, by which they probably mean decon obfuscation like Erin Sotak above.

For over four years we have been criticizing the local scene, including specific works, artists and arts administrators, raising questions and pointing out discrepancies. We went away for awhile, but we've got a second wind now. And all we've ever got during that time is assaulted, both physically and in every vicious verbal way imaginable, until we had to shut down comments on the blog due to the gleefully sociopathic behavior of some of the same kind of people Creative Capital wants to throw money at for the next three years.

So, yes, Greg and Angela and all you kewpie dolls lined up in your Partnership, we see what you mean by innovation, criticism, and support. While we continue to support ourselves --"in isolation," did someone say?-- we'll show you what we mean by true criticism, true innovation, and true art.

Posted by Jerome at 10:40 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

August 16, 2007

FIRST STAR

firststar.jpg
First Star. Paranormal Photograph © 2007 by Catherine King.

Posted by Jerome at 08:19 AM | TrackBack

August 06, 2007

Stinky After Skool

by Jerome du Bois

So I got a pseudonymous comment on "Stinky Skool," which I made clear was not based on a gallery visit but a newspaper article:

Now we know how low the bar can go --I think. It may go lower: since five15 won't post any images of the exhibition, I rely on Lengel's descriptions of three items, which, as I mentioned above, are enough to outline the key to this downtown crew.

The comment:

So you're saying that you're bitching about a show you haven't even seen yet?

I don't know why these idiotas keep trying to guilt-trip us, and pretend at the same time that I didn't write what I wrote.

The piece was about the antihuman and self-loathing mentality that considers such skanky themes --"What Smells So Bad?"-- worthy of artistic effort. Three examples were plenty to illustrate, and criticize, the theme, and the notion of themes themselves. Instead of addressing these topics, the commenter --who knows who it is? who talks directly to a cartoon character?-- tries to imply that I can't make a judgment until and unless I see the show.

Again, the stink of school: it's like Parents' Night: you have to go, otherwise you hurt their wittle self-esteems. And if I did go --never happen-- what? Being in the presence of the actual artworks would cause the callous scales to fall from my eyes, and I'd see the light?

Never happen.

Not with these no-talents.

But there's more. five15 doesn't pass the Internet Test. Why do they not post the show on their website? At least one image of each artwork, complete with dimensions and media? Are they afraid that if people saw what the show looked like, they would stay away? Well, isn't that the chance you take? And aren't these five15 people proud of what they do? You'd think they would be eager to post those images, but no. Not one. Just the skunky poster.

But there's more in the commenter's taunt. Some of them want us down there to punk us, or confront us, or photosnap us, or gang up on us. Forget it. But think about this, too: getting anyone down there into the gallery, much less the bathroom, is punking you enough, innit? No matter what's in there, now you've joined them, now you're with them, now you're with the offal and the garbage.

And they love it, they wallow in The Rebarb. That's what it's always about with this crew: when they look within, all they see is worms. And they think everybody's like that, but that's only because they can't see the broken hearts still beating, nor the golden tears still flowing, and they would never think that any wind they felt could come from invisible wings.

Posted by Jerome at 08:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 05, 2007

Lift Up Every Stone

liftstone.jpg
Photograph © 2007 Jerome du Bois

You've got to lift up every stone, now, brother,
Gotta lift up every stone--
You've got to lift up every stone, now, brother,
You gotta clear this field and build that wall.

--adapted from John Hiatt.

Posted by Jerome at 09:00 AM | TrackBack

August 03, 2007

Stinky Skool

by Jerome du Bois

Anyone puzzled by the continuing stagnant immaturity of the downtown Phoenix visual arts dumbmunity will find the outlines of a key in a tiny recent story in the local paper. It's a simple key: the downtown arts structure is just school writ a bit larger, its cozy communal assumptions and slack standards transferred intact and functioning to the world of real life, and still partially supported by our tax dollars (Mike Goodwin, for example, and any five15 member who teaches or prepares at a public school, university, or art institution).

The three stigmata of this school-inflicted affliction show clearly in the piece:

(1) a narrow theme --as in a school assignment;

(2) a skanky narrow theme --to conform to middle-school mentality, which is the intellectual level of the current culture, sadly;

(3) pairing off --as if it takes two to create one idea, plus the essential communal comfort.

Here is Kerry Lengel's squib, written with typical uncritical supinity:

"That stinks" is not the response artists are usually hoping for on opening night, but for this month's First Fridays tour, the five15 Gallery is throwing caution to the wind.

"What Smells So Bad?" is a group show in which member artists have paired up to offer their interpretation of the theme.

"It could be taken literally, or it could be interpreted in a political manner," Travis Janssen says.

Or both, in his case.

He and teammate Mike Goodwin have created a set of four scratch-and-sniff prints commenting on pop culture. For example, "A rose by any other name would smell sweeter" features a black-and-white Paris Hilton and Britney Spears with a bright red blossom. Scratch it and smell manure.

Mary Shindell is just as pointed in her artistic commentary. Her piece with Kathy Pinto, "The Lazy Double Bling," uses two dollar signs as a cattle brand. The message: "At what point does art become nothing more than another form of bling?" Shindell says.

To underline her point about the "branding" of high-dollar art, another piece takes aim at the Cowboy Artists of America, the men-only Western-art cartel that holds its annual sale in October at the Phoenix Art Museum.

"I used the invitation from the CAA show and I cut the artist's face out and made a drawing of a bola tie, and it's tied like a hangman's noose," Shindell says.

With 11 members working in a variety of media, the "odors" in this show should be equally diverse.

"Someone's even using the bathroom (to display their work), which I think is really funny," Shindell says.

I think it's pathetic that a woman in her fifties thinks that it's "really funny." Trying to impress other fools half her age. I, and Catherine, will have more to say about Ms. Shindell after the jump. On five15's website now, the announcement graphic for the show is a skunk in the lower right corner of a nauseous yellow rectangular background, the animal's flatulence forming the title words in floating bilious green cloud shapes.

Now we know how low the bar can go --I think. It may go lower: since five15 won't post any images of the exhibition, I rely on Lengel's descriptions of three items, which, as I mentioned above, are enough to outline the key to this downtown crew. School's never out for them.

Okay then. Class is in session.

Lengel begins:

"That stinks" is not the response artists are usually hoping for on opening night, but for this month's First Fridays tour, the five15 Gallery is throwing caution to the wind.

"What Smells So Bad?" is a group show in which member artists have paired up to offer their interpretation of the theme.

In my experience and research, serious artists until the last two generations or so pursued their own paths, often working on several distinct "themes" at once --but those themes were theirs, organically grown from the contending interests in their active brains. It would seem odd (and insulting) to invite one to participate in a "theme" show which might have nothing to do with the artist's preoccupations or body of work. As if one would ask the mature Marcel Duchamp to make a painting of one's favorite horse.

That sounds quaint, I know, since themes have been all the rage for years now, and the artists coming out of the schools (are there any other kind?) have learned to be good little whores, and they're entirely comfortable extending their student identities for as long as possible. They like assignments; they need assignments, because they came to school without worthy ideas, found none there, and developed none themselves, even after graduation. With peurile results: school-style curating, and school-style artists, and school-style art.

Time was that a curator really worked the seams of art history, based on a vast, largely self-taught inventory of images and ideas culled from years of passionate study. And not just in art, but history, anthropology, archaelogy, and psychology as well. Picture a desk, and chairs, and a whole room scattered and piled with open books, white pages glowing like a flock of birds frozen in flight, and someone in the middle of it all, thinking, looking, reading. But not today. Today, any bozo with a BFA can fake-curate. That's how you get shows about umbrellas, dry heat, and The New American City.

What smells so bad is the theme. But who can blame them, since the local Science Center did the artists' thinking for them, and booked record business with that stinky goop kid show. Besides, like true perpetual adolescents who even their art teachers never really criticized, they like grossing out the grown-ups. It's guaranteed to please the highschool fools who still make up the bulk of First Friday these days. Maybe one of the artists can dress up as the Stinky Cheese Man for the opening tonight.

[By the way, five15 was the gallery who created a different kind of stink with its $99 Only show during this year's Art Sewer tour. If Phoenix had a truly vibrant, active, burgeoning art scene, five15's show would have been easily absorbed in the general generous exchanges of money and goods, with much amused shrugging amid the abundance. But that isn't Phoenix, is it?]

"It could be taken literally, or it could be interpreted in a political manner," Travis Janssen says.

Or both, in his case.

But his no-brainer piece with "teammate" Mike Goodwin simply trashes two foolish women, easy joke targets, who are about as far from political as you can get. To ask, "Can these guys really be proud of this crap?" misses the point. Of course they're proud; they're just worried that the work isn't crappy enough.

Mike Goodwin, by the way, as the guy who schedules the zippy-wow Project Room for Mesa Contemporary Arts, seems to be going down the roster of five15 and getting his friends and gallerymates exhibitions there. Shindell, Martinez, now Richardson. Cozy.

Mary Shindell is just as pointed in her artistic commentary. Her piece with Kathy Pinto, "The Lazy Double Bling," uses two dollar signs as a cattle brand. The message: "At what point does art become nothing more than another form of bling?" Shindell says.

Answer: when Shindell and Pinto finally squeezed this one note out of their collaboration. But this stupid brand --yes, comes the heavy hand, like an advertising brand; thud-- didn't even start out as art, it never was art, it never will be art. "Bling" is superficial and often ostentatious display, and betrays an exaggerated envy of good taste while showing none of it. But this piece, just from its verbal description, doesn't even qualify as bling --it's not encrusted with diamonds, is it? or even CZs?-- so it's nothing more than a bland blunt brand, which could never heat up enough to hurt.

Apparently "inspired" by this cowboy-image collaboration, Shindell went after another well-worn target:

To underline her point about the "branding" of high-dollar art, another piece takes aim at the Cowboy Artists of America, the men-only Western-art cartel that holds its annual sale in October at the Phoenix Art Museum.

"I used the invitation from the CAA show and I cut the artist's face out and made a drawing of a bola tie, and it's tied like a hangman's noose," Shindell says.

Oh, man. "Johnny Johnny Johnny, did you see what I did to your yearbook picture? Nyah-na-na-na-na-na!" Grow up, lady. And consider the murderous and sociopathic overtones reverberating in your symbolic actions. Even if the sexist charge was true, is this the way a mature person responds to such a social imbalance? But then, you're not a mature person, so I withdraw the question.

Catherine responds:

We went to the last CAA show at PAM. Mary Shindell couldn't begin to approach the sheer talent of those men. Her work is flat, colorless, and with only minimal modelling. Can she paint a woolen saddle blanket in motion on a galloping horse, with red dust blowing by in front of it? A campfire in winter? A river encounter between red and white men? She can draw dessicated saguaros and bare mountains and then ignore the sky altogether --bare paper. These guys fill every corner with clouds and chapparal, with the rough elements of reality, and with human conflict and human dignity.

We don't know or care why the CAA is all men, but if there's a woman out there who wants to compete with them, there's nothing stopping her from painting so much better than them, in their style, that they would be begging her to join their group. But such a woman would have to have the chops, wouldn't she?

So Mary Shindell's little cruel stunt reveals only her childish whining, and the intellectual stuntedness that drags out the flyblown dead horse of sexism. She and the rest of the crew down there make appropriate lowbrow models for the young people streaming cluelessly through their doors, so they can take responsiblity when these same young people return five years later proudly bearing loads of the same kind of crap that already jams downtown like a landfill.

Yeah, that stinks.

Posted by Jerome at 02:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack