Wednesday, October 15, 2014


24x12 Acrylic on canvas.

#280 36x34 Acrylic on canvas. Samhain, Full Moon Fire Circle, Faerie Fall Gathering

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Narrative Realism: recycled

This is the preface to a review of an Alice Munroe story in the New Yorker.
This is Part II of a review of Some Women, by Alice Munro
Naming the Real in Realist Fiction. Here is Part I .

Three posts on Critical Narrative analysis

No artist tolerates reality." says Nietzsche. That is true, but no artist can get along without reality. Artistic creation is a demand for unity and rejection of the world. But it rejects the world in the name of what it lacks and in the name of what it sometimes is.
Camus, The Rebel

When I first read this, I noticed an ambiguity in the English translation which I assumed would not exist in the French. As the likely pronominal antecedents (une exigence, and le monde) are of different genders, it would be clear in French that the first refers to 'artistic creation,' or rather, its 'demand,' and the next two, to 'the world.' But {this demand) rejects the world in the name of what ( the world) lacks and in the name of what (the world) sometimes is. However, I find that there is something to be said for the ambiguity and for the creative misreading it allows. If we understand 'world' and 'reality' as synonymous (as Camus apparently does here), make 'artistic creation' the subject and turn 'demand' into a verb with 'writer' as its object, we will have pregnant formulation of the problematic of realism and representation. .

Artistic creation demands of the writer
that he/she reject reality
for what it lacks
and for what it sometimes is.

To this I would add, that artistic mimesis, what we think of as 'representation,' the very possibility of artistic realism, arises out of an encounter with what reality 'lacks.' What constitutes realism--what any work of art represents ( pictorial, dramatic, literary, musical) is not 'reality,'' but its 'lack,' the artist's endeavor to complete reality, to make real what was give to Airy Nothing a Local Habitation and a Name. Which means the distinction between 'realism' and whatever name you would give to its antithesis, is false. There can be no distinction, and any criticism over-determined by the assumption that there is, will fail in its encounter with the work. With this in mind, let me turn--or return to, the story I've set out to review.
In an EARLIER POST, I wrote that writing:
is a process of negotiation with the material at hand and every act, each engagement with that material translates both material and intention. ... because the author's intentions have been in a continuous process of translation along with the writing as it evolves, what existed in the beginning, and at every point to the completion of the work, is a continuum of difference that moves both forward and back.
We can't recover the process or recreate the stages as they evolved in the continuing encounter, but I believe we can identify imprints of that encounter, evidence of the reality which shaped the elements of the writing as it emerges in its final form.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sunday, September 28, 2014

#277 Three Who Found Truth

15x48 Oil-stick, acrylic, dirt, sparkles on weathered plywood

Friday, September 26, 2014


Mounted fragment from house fire, acrylic. 29.5x25

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

#273 Fish

28x35 acrylic, street trash cardboard on scrap plywood

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Appropriation of art by the Master Machine

So many variations on how the Master Machine appropriates, dilutes, and controls what is alien to it. For art, some of the mechanisms are mediated by the benign face of NGO's and grants, others are ground up in the maw of naked capitalism, like the gallery-to-investor system for the visual arts (and make no mistake, galleries, if they are to be successful, are there to serve investors and commodification of art, not the artist)--but the end is the same. Even when the message is subversive, in the institutional setting of a museum or high end gallery, it's digested and reconfigured in its AESTHETIC robes, teeth pulled and declawed.
"But how will we make a living?" the captive artist cries, like any cubical wage slave. So we sell our children to serve the Master Machine, and call it freedom.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Class and the Sunday Funnies

Somehow, while washing dishes, I thought of Joe Paluka for no discernible reason. There followed names of old comic strips--Bringing up Father with Jiggs and Maggie, the Katzenjammer Kids, Gasoline Alley. These weren't my favorites, but I read them all, Sunday funnies spread out on the living room floor.

Got me thinking about class, and how central it was in the old comics. Has anyone done a serious study of changes in how class was depicted in comics, and how that changed over the years? Related, I'm sure, to changing audience. Change was particularly noticeable through the 50's, As the largely working class audience, home from the war, college on the GI bill, moved into the middle class, the comic characters, too, 'graduated' from the immigrant, working class world that was so much a part of comics in the 30's and 40's.

The total absence of blacks, except for gross caricatures now and then, is telling. By the mid 60's, comics no longer represented the kind of mythic universalizing (white) lens of America the way they did when FDR would read the Sunday funnies on the radio. There's an interesting story in this. I wonder if anyone has done it?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Monday, September 8, 2014

Artist? Or servent of the Empire?

If you are an artist--of whatever sort: we all need to live, and have to find the means to make our art. But there is no wall that insulates HOW we go about this from how it works out in the world we live in. How it supports established power, whether we want it to, or not, or doesn't. This. fucking. matters. You CANNOT claim to be an artist... of any sort, if you are unwilling to turn your creativity to thinking about how what you do, and how you seek to support yourself, works out in the real world. That means developing a politically aware conscience. If you just want to entertain established power... in exchange for their support.. you are their house servant, and you have sold out your art. x

Sunday, September 7, 2014

#268 Icon

14x11 paper bag, roofing paper, acrylic on canvasboard

Stop making art for the rich and their Empire of Money and Death!

My first thought, as I walked into the room with Cy Twombly's work at the Phila Museum of Art, was: how do you stretch a canvas that size? Then, off and on, wandering through rooms of 20th C modernist and near contemporary art, it occurred to me that the larger and more elaborate pieces, had to have been made with museums in mind--or collectors who could afford to live in very large houses with very large rooms....
How then, I thought... does this pre-selecting of the'audience' affect the making of art? Whether or not the artist gives this any thought--art made in this way becomes the art of capitalist power--not unlike how those great bronze equestrian statues of military and political figures, were meant to honor and glorify their subjects, and with that, the conquests, subjugation and exploitation of those under their power.
In this way--even the most subversive and revolutionary work, will have written across them a second message, declaring their impotence at the hands of power. "You see, we OWN you! You cannot harm us, here in our aesthetic Free Speech Zones."
Fuck the gatekeepers! Fuck all OWNERS! Better street art that defaces their arrogant walls. Stop making art for the fucking rich and their Empire of Money and Death!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

#267 Human Resources

Reworked from #265 -- looked too much like corporate wall-art 40x32 Acrylic, U.S. currancy on canvas

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Art (as Social Organism) vs. Gentrification

Art (as Social Organism) vs Gentrification.
Interview of Amie Sell by Adam Turl in REDWEDGE, September 2, 201

Monday, September 1, 2014

Stone Troll #2

Illustration for children's book. Stone troll that comes to life. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014


264 24x27 Acrylic on composition board

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Hilton Kramer and the New Criterion (from 1982)

From a journal entry, July 19, 1982
            Hilton Kramer has resigned as art critic for the NYT and announced the appearance of a new review: The "New Criterion."  In reading the publishers introduction, I detected a familiar tone. When I came to names from "Commentary" and the "National Review", the source was plain.
            There have been several articles and review on music in "Commentary" recently. They have taken a critical tack I've found odd and unsettling. Not criticism of individual works, but generic criticism. Attacks on jazz, on popular music, on the dilution of the teaching of "serious" (European concert) music in the curricula of American conservatories and schools of music. This seems to be a posse of writers and intellectuals, politically right wing, with an active agenda to correct modern culture, which they are sure has gone miserably astray. They are anti's: anticommunist, an­ti-populist, antidemocratic, anti-soviet, anti-liberal (who, by design or unconsciously, are the handmaidens of Marxism). They are authoritarian elitists.          
            The new thing here is this emphasis on controlling culture. The arts, literature, music, theater; all are seen through a kind of backwards Marxist lens, busily purveying hidden social programs. The real purpose of criticism, it seems, is to expose the hidden social agenda a which is the matrix and context of the work, then to demonstrate the political/economic wrong-headedness of that context. The work itself is but a means or foil for the serious business of promoting political and social orthodoxy. Art is taken seriously, the way Marxist criticism takes it seriously. Not for its own sake (whatever that may mean), not for the meaning or importance inherent in any particular work, but for the place a work occupies in the social-political matrix of which it is both example and creator-advocate. This new-conservative, neo-clas­sical-authoritarian criticism begins with its own dogmatic or­thodoxy, but an orthodoxy that is clear and formally articulated only on the political-social level. In other words, it's not about art, it's about politics. Art held up to political ideology.
            Their problem is, they can't deal with art. It's too slip­pery. Like a guerrilla army in the hills. So the New  Authoritarian eliminates the enemy by a master stroke; it transforms by magic thinking art, artists, and all their sup­porters, into pure ideological terms. For ideological battles the Authoritarian's rhetorical weapons are well honed.
            It's characteristic of the these guy to be more eager to attack the supporters of the arts than the artists or their work. They're realists. They know where the money is. And in the White House, having not the slightest idea what any of this is about, they  have no mere sympathizer, but a crusading general.

            An article in the Inquirer this week on the New Criterion. The Village Voice a critical piece. They're (NC) funded by some right wing founda­tion.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Artists, Break Free from the Capitalist Market!

keep throwing these messages in a bottle out into the wake...I mean, how we artists need to free ourselves from the capitalist trap. I would think supposidly creative people would be more hyperattuned to this.. and dig the challenge... but most, even those who pretend to radical messages... just roll over and hope to be fucked by the gallery comodification investment model... like maybe they'll get knocked up and give birth to a zillion dollars. Kinda disgusting.

Compartmentalization... but what fucking kind of 'creativity' is that, that can't deal with the real world and how it uses our art?