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I have a framed piece due for the MOCA benefit on Friday and Words With Friends is ruining my life. I  won the last 10 games I’ve played and I am desperately losing the ones I have going right now. Dan P….you’re going down, just as soon as I can slap that Q on a TL it’s game over. I have legacy to uphold.

I’m excited for the benefit which is next weekend. The list of participants is storied and I’m humbled to be included.

On another note:

big ups much love to Michelle Muldrow who kicked off her second edition at 20×200 that piggy-backs her solo show at the Jen Bekman gallery. Serious accomplishments. The new print is stunning with the painting energy of Cecily Brown and the subject matter of Brian Ulrich.  It is unsettling in the weird space it occupied between lush by-hand painting and sterile mass consumption. Does Gamblin make a Home Depot orange?

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Dear Diary, I can’t believe I found you! Last I remember us together we were waiting at the northbound platform of the 150th Rapid Station. I thought I lost you there. Gone forever. Worst of all, all my thoughts read by hundreds of Strongsville families waiting to go see the Tribe. Yikes! But who knew for months you were only a dropped quarter away from being found under my car seat. I promise those salt stains and sticky marks from that half eaten blow pop will come off your cover. Reunited and it feels so good.

Honestly though every artist has their starts and stops. I was on sabbatical. Refueling and refreshing for things to come. Plotting my next move. Questioning the universe. Questions only seem to beget questions and a shame spiral of inaction ensued. And then I found this guiding light.

My wallet suddenly filled with money, my gas tank was full and that wart on my toe finally fell off.

So now I’m here for another season of whatever comes my way. What’s been up in Cleveland? Lot’s I’m sure. What’s been up with me? Even more.

But you know what Diary, I have to go because that castor oil that was supposed to kick in in 6-8 hours seems to want to get the party started a little early.

Jerry Saltz generous column @ NYmag

Jerry Saltz AKA Mr. Accessible, Democratic Critic, the Critic of the people for the people a few months back opened himself up even farther beyond his studio 54 wait listed Facebook page to answer a few questions a month in a column for New York Magazine called Ask An Art Critic. I love reading it as do I love reading all of Mr. Saltz writings (agree or not ) I always appreciate his toned down rhetoric and non academic prose. This was a question from the most recent set of queries, I found it very interesting and informative in regards to viewing art in general and heck looking at life….

Dear Jerry,

Over the past few years, I’ve noticed a lot more abstract art being made, and I often find myself stymied by something a little bit embarrassing. Jerry, is abstract art for real? I mean, I often don’t really get it. Isn’t it just smudges and stripes and squares and stuff?

—Embarrassed

Dear Embarrassed,

You are not alone. I too have heretical thoughts like yours. It can also take 30 years to understand why an all-white painting by Robert Ryman or a pencil grid on canvas by Agnes Martin is art.

I can’t tell you what abstraction is, but I can tell you a number of things that I think that it allows artists to do. What I say about abstract art could also be applied to representational art. With that in mind here’s “The Jerry Saltz Abstract Manifesto, in Twenty Parts.”

1. Abstraction is one of the greatest visionary tools ever invented by human beings to imagine, decipher, and depict the world.

2. Abstraction is staggeringly radical, circumvents language, and sidesteps naming or mere description. It disenchants, re-enchants, detoxifies, destabilizes, resists closure, slows perception, and increases our grasp of the world.

3. Abstraction not only explores consciousness — it changes it.

4. All art is abstract. A painting of a person or a still-life is a two-dimensional representation of three-dimensional reality and therefore infinitely abstract. Whenever an artist sets out to make something it turns into something else that he or she could never have imagined or predicted.

5. Think of an abstract painting as very, very low relief — a thing, not a picture.

6. Abstraction exists in the interstices between the ideal and the real, symbol and substance, the optic and the haptic, imagination and observation.

7. Abstraction brings the world into more complex, variable relations; it can extract beauty, alternative topographies, ugliness, and intense actualities from seeming nothingness.

8. Abstraction, like ideas, intuitions, feelings, and life, is not mimetic.

9. Abstraction is as old as we are. It has existed for millennia outside the West. It is present on cave walls, in Egyptian and Cypriot Greek art, Chinese scholar rocks, all Islamic and Jewish art — both of which forbid representation. Abstraction is only new in the West.

10. Abstraction gained ground in Western art after centuries of more perfected systems of representation. By the mid-nineteenth century, representation felt like a trap, and seemed empty, false, or limiting. A similar situation existed in the early aughts, after artists of the nineties re-deployed realisms in numerous ways. The field appeared closed off for younger artists. That’s why contemporary artists have not only begun to reexplore the possibilities of abstraction, they’re shedding much of the Greenbergian cant and academic-formalist dogma that attached themselves to it over the last 50 years. Abstraction is breaking free again.

11. Abstraction offers ways around what Beckett called “the neatness of identification.”

12. Rothko’s glowing floating rectangles of color are more than abstract patterns. They are Buddhist TVs or what Keats called “good oblivion. One sees what nothing looks like in them. They make you ask, “What light through yonder painting breaks?” (Now do you see how full emptiness and abstraction can be?)

13. Abstraction is just a tool. It is no less “real” than philosophy or music.

14. Abstraction is something outside of life that allows us to be present at our own absence or alternatively absent in our own presence.

15. Abstraction creates patterns of meaning and its own extremely flexible intricate syntax. It is astral synthesis.

16. Abstraction teeters on making empty gestures while also making deep statements.

17. The camera was supposed to supplant painting but didn’t. Instead, painting — ever the sponge, always elastic — absorbed it and discovered new realms.

18. Abstraction may speak in a sort of intra-species visual-electronic-chemical-pheromonal code, creating optical-cerebral networks and wormholes, organic maps of unknown yet familiar territories, may have a kind of plant intelligence that allows it to grow, proliferate, flower, change directions, and survive relentless aesthetic predation from a lay public.

19. Abstraction contains multitudes.

20. I’ve left out No. 20, because I want to hear your opinion: What else does abstraction do that’s special? Comments are open below.

The ensuing conversation in the comments section is worth the read too, so click on the link above and read a debate of believers and nonbelievers and you will see why what Jerry does is important to the vibrancy and importance of art in society beyond the high dollar auction results.

I wrote once about Schulnik a few moons ago mostly I think in the capacity of painting but since I have been gearing up and practicing with movie making in the studio I revisited her animations. This one in particular is sentimental but not cavity inducing. I think partly because of its grittiness. When an artist engages kitsch it is a fine line not to exploit it. I guess more so it can be sucessful when it is OTT used to express the absurd see Condo. Or it has to be subtle as in a grounding reference to society. It’s like take a stand on it but don’t use kitsch because you think it’s cool. When someone apropriates it and is bold or honest then it works.

I’m rambling. What my point is is that animation is hard to do. I like this animations achingly swaying and dragging pace. It’s how life feels sometimes.

P.S. Does anyone else think we as a society are devolving? DEVO as prophets?

Survival Kit

Man do young people know how to market these days. I don’t consider myself old by any means but the fresh crop of minted ex-art schoolie’s these days know how to make it happen. Survival kit, the newest gallery in the 78th street studios is cropping up more than Daisy-esque ads at election time. I saw a poster on the wall at my day job, then again featured in Freshwater Cleveland and other various media sources. Way to go. So anyways, go see what the fuss is about this Friday. There is a joint power in numbers event at the Studios featuring the 1300 Third gallery and others:  see above. I really like the diversity, craft, music, art….I think it is a smart move in this market. I hope the best for them.

 

I leave you with this truly amazing Joel Sternfeld photograph from American Prospects.