July 28, 2008

Still Waiting

by Jerome du Bois

We haven't posted much lately about art and culture in Phoenix because there aren't many good examples of either here. And nobody seems interested in responding to our criticisms. It may be because our comments section is closed due to bad software. The drive-by anonymondos can't drop their dud bombs and have them sit there for everyone to see until we delete them. They would have to email us and wait in frustration until we decided whether to post them as updates. Unlike the comments sections at New Times and azcentral.com, this blog is not a wastebasket for off-the-cuff clichés.

I could have written a caustic fisk of Lilia Menconi's recent review of Gregory Sale's "Love Buttons," in which she enthusiastically misidentifies luv for love, and superficiality for significance. But why bother? Her schmoozy embrace of Sale's silliness merely confirms what I had already written just below. "Love Buttons" is an example of one my wife's mantras: People love mediocrity best.

Chris Santa Maria wrote in his blog a propos our position in this town:

Phoenix boasts a small handful of individuals that are sincerely interested in dialogue about the visual arts. It's a fundamental issue of dynamics between those that feverishly engage in meaning and those that lazily encompass posturing. I think that both of them are in the circle of engagement.

But there really isn't any dialogue, or sincere interest, and not much engagement. When Catherine tried to engage him, in "Fisking Chris," he declined any public discussion. He wanted to have coffee instead, in private. Amy Young's blog on azcentral.com went bye-bye a long time ago. Maybe our piece "Let's Get Verbal" had something to do with its folding. Or maybe not. But "Art Attacks" is gone, and we're still here, still waiting for answers to our questions.

We do get lots of readers checking out earlier criticisms, most recently the one about Adam Allred from more than two years ago. And just this morning somebody looked up "On Being A Leper And A Tar Baby," about Rick Barrs and Amy Silverman from the Phoenix New Times. In that piece I wrote that "our purpose is to get the right eyes to the right words." That still is our purpose.

But we have no illusions about a circle of engagement. As Catherine wrote at the end of "Fisking Chris,"

And as for changing the community in a meaningfull way, at the risk of being accused of crassly attacking your person, I submit you really are naive, Chris. Don't hold your breath waiting for the local scene to change in a meaningfull way. Because it'll be a million years before anything that I do makes any difference at all, man. Later.

The artists and curators in this town just want to lazily posture in their comfort zone, meeting for coffee and congratulating one another. We will continue to challenge them in print, but until they challenge themselves, nothing will change.

We're still waiting, but the coffee's gone cold.

Posted by Jerome at 11:55 AM | TrackBack

July 15, 2008

Not Feeling The Love Buttons

by Jerome du Bois

I’ve been keeping my promise not to write any negative art reviews, and I’ll return to that position, but here I will make an exception, because last week we received an email from local artist-lite and ASU art teacher Gregory Sale. It was a mass emailing, not directed to us personally --”Hi All,” he waves vaguely-- so why should it bother me?

It’s no secret to our readers that we can’t abide this pretender, and that we loathe his practice of moving from one part of the public trough to another, dispensing ephemeric effluvia in his wake. He’s well aware of our contempt. Though he’s been around the Valley since the middle Nineties, making this and that while living off taxpayer money, we’re at the top of his Google page, with my piece “Words Fail Gregory Sale,” from two years ago. We’ve also referred to him in a number of other postings before and since, always critically. He has never contacted us, never challenged us, never acknowledged us in any way. So why did he suddenly add us to his email list?

The email was an “invite” to participate in his “Love-Buttons” project, a repeat of sticky-sweet superficiality he first presented over two years ago. You can read about it here. He got money from Lisa Sette and the City of Scottsdale to make it happen again. (Unless last Thursday’s thunderstorm rained on the charade, that is.) Did he really think we would want to mingle with people who were impressed with his sub-pop sentimentality? That we would pin a pale green “use mine” on ourselves and seek out others with the same message? That we would be moved by his “evocative texts” and “poetic fragments”? I doubt it. So, why the email?

This is a man with a smiley-face heart, who fosters an image of connection, of public schmoozing, of feel-good hippie communication, complete with frisbees. Was this his way of reaching out to us? I don’t think so. I think he wanted to stick his thumb in our eye. He knows damn well that we would go the long way around to keep him out of our sight, out of our path. So this email was a just a jeering, sneering, snide missive to remind us of our outsider status. Behind the vinyl-thin veneer of the smiley-face is the curled lip of the privileged insider, trading on the lack of standards and the empty expectations that characterize the current art culture. We’re not feeling the love, Mr. Buttons.

Posted by Jerome at 06:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack