Saturday, May 31, 2014

Another blog to viist...


I've lost it. I mean, keeping up with blogging. Checking in on other blogs.. too may. Can't keep up wiht them all.
 But here's a one, another one, well worth checking out.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Infinite growth on a finite planet: does not compute

In talking about capitalism with people who don't get it--corpoarate power, the rise of the far right in Europe--so many variables, such a complicated set of problems--I try to keep in mind a simple pattern that encompases almost all of the parts: that capitalism succeeds by growth, collapses when growth slows too much or stops. We live on a planet with finite resources, many of those which have fueled growth, and on which we have come to depend have passed their peak--so that it becomes more and expensive, and destructive to our environment to exploit them, and with the threat of collapse, we see those in power clinging shifting to desparate, economically self-defeating measures--from production to financancial pyramid schemes, the privitazation of resources neccesary for life. None of this is going to work. Economic collapse is unavoidable if growth can't be maintained. Growth can't be maintained because the resources upon which it depends are finite. For those who cannot imagine anything other that what we have now, they must see what's coming, as much as they publicly deney it. So we militarize our police, sieze and privitize every public resource, undermine and cripple democratic institutions, builld political power on no-nothing populist movements, seeded with money and the propaganda of fear. One thing follows another, and at the bottom, this simple reality: that we live on small planet with finite rescources, and we are lashed to an economic model that collapses without perpetual growth. Understand that, and everything else falls into place.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

New eyes, new world

Went to the Monsanto demo... maybe 6 to 800 people there. More than I've seen on the streets in Philly in some time. I didn't take my medic kit, but went with the eyes I would need as a street medic. A little digression here. Couple years ago in Love Park, on a whim, I put a crumpled dollar bill in one of the planting areas. Quite visible. I watched as dozens, many dozens of people passed. Most business peeps on lunch break. No one noticed. Then a presumably homeless man came by... saw it right off, picked it up, went on his way. You see, I thought to myself--we live in different worlds, different perceptual realities. Not metaphor. What those of means, and those of no means--how they see the world--it's not the same world. Live in different worlds. Different realities. So with my Street Medic eyes... I began to see things in a very different way. Bikes through crowds, dogs, people climbing on poles to take photos... potential hazzards. I was taking in this scene in a very different way -- with some overlap. Always hyper conscious of cops. That worked naturally into this--in this case, that there were no signs of problems unless they came about by unexpected incidents. I did run into real ceritfied Street Medics... from my training last weekend, and joined in as a buddy 4-some. No problems. No injuries.... we high-fived at the end. Good outcome! The best! I was sorta bashful, ya know... about taking my med kit, not yet being a full Street Medic... but I feel better about it now. Next time!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Revolution: Critical theory and action

This is not discounting the importance of theory--when theory is embodied in the materal reality of our lives, in real relationships between real people.. that kind of action-- what makes change, and in countless possible ways. Whether Street Medics, Food Not Bombs, Occupy Sandy, communal urban farming... whatever the form it takes, making in this world something together that looks a little more like the world we want to live in, Nothing provides richer material for critical thought: compost for the revolutionary imagination, grounded in the tangle of what happens when you take what exists and disasseble, melt down, reforge in the heat of the friction between the possible and it's resistance. Only in action do you see as subject for your theory what never before existed emerging into materail reality.
I mean the action of construction, cooking the revolution! Kneading the dough of material reality by hand, hand in hand--let theory, revolutionary theory be the yeast in the bread... feeding our imaginations into the future.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Theater" Artiface and Feeling



I intend to write a post in response to Gil Johnon's Connection in Rehersal, an experiment in performance. This relates to much of what I've written on this blog on realism, representation, artifice in literature.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

" Why so late and with such difficulty? Is art a priesthood that demands the pure in heart who must belong to it entirely?" Cezanne

I ask myself, how did it happen that something I told myself was play, just play… like being a child, has become something very different. Oh, it’s still play, but so is Russian roulette. Sky diving with a set of gliding wings you just made and never tested.

On the one hand, this is of no consequence. If I were 22, I’d be dreaming of being a Great Artist… but I did dream that, and it scared the shit out of me. But that doesn’t matter now, because what’s involved there is displaced to the judgment of other. It can’t help but be. Whether it be critics, popular acclaim, the hope for the approbation of posterity—it all lies outside yourself.

If I still believe in that, I could conjure up a rationalization to explain to myself what’s happening. It would be misleading and wrong, but sometimes you can use that kind of fiction to carry you over the rough patches. The thing is, I feel no less driven, and by something I understand less and less. It’s still play—in that I can find no excuse for it, no justification other than—I need to do this. I need to do it sometimes more than I want to…and there is where it cross over into something else.
br /> You see, I face resistance to keeping myself to task, to working on my drawings. Performance anxiety involved, no doubt—but that’s not the whole of it. It’s become something of an inner imperative—and maybe, not one I’ve completely surrendered to yet.

Don’t ask me what I hope to accomplish. I couldn’t tell you. And no one or nothing will be able to offer me confirmation that I’ve done it. Whatever, it’ is. I trust, both that I will know, and no one else, and that I will never arrive, because the confirmation is only of the ‘you’re getting warmer! variety.

Where this leaves me, is that I’m obsessed with something, a challenge I barely understand. I think about it all the time. I dream about it. Would that I could convince myself that all this passion is sure sign that, if I keep at it, something good will come of it—objectively good, a contribution to art, to the world… to something. But even when I entertain that idea, what comes back to me, is that’s all beside the point. Nothing of my concern. Forget it. Nothing happening there.

It also feel cut off from others… that there’s this rhinoceros, not in the room, but in my belly, thundering around with its almost extinct hooves and horns, crushing my organs of sense and sensibility against my bones, and the bones are creaking about to crack… I what can I say?

How have you been, Goby?

Oh, great… you know. Making art. Trying to.

Wag my head. Smile.

What the fuck am I supposed to say?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day


All this mother's day stuff... like overwhelming. all these memories and mismeettings and.. My Mom was fierce, and terribly repressed, and made all the best kind of mistakes in bringing me up, for which I wlll alway love and miss her. It was her soul she passed down to me... sorry Dad, but you never got it. Passive is not the way to deal with a feminine warrior soul... even when she gives in to you. I'm your child, Mom... son/daughter soul,...... to the end of my days.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Empty Space in the Vase

Couple more hours at A-Space, figure drawing. This is way intense for me. I burned out at 9:30. I’d already done several hours of figure drawing from photo stock, and then studies of hands and feet. Seeing some improvement, almost every day. Developing my own shorthand for quick sketches.    I was looking at a site with drawings and paintings by graphic book artists. Set me to thinking about what I’m after—both in putting this in perspective, and getting at what I want to get out of this. The comic and graphic book artists are really very good: perspective, anatomy, and all of them, masters of foreshortening—kinda their trademark. What I was thinking, was that much of that skill is what I’m training for.<
I expect, a year from now, I'll be able to do that myself. I sure can’t do it now. But my goals, undefined as they are, are set for something very different—and not just cause I have no interest in drawing sword wielding warrior women with pneumatic boobs. Way beyond subject matter. No more than the photo-realist pencil drawings that keep popping up on the web. In fact, I think I have more respect for the comic/graphic book artists than for that most recent tromp l’oeil trend… I mean, what’s the point? Once you’ve said, wow, that’s very skillful! What’s left? Why not take a photo?

Still… gotta respect what these artists are able to do—the graphic book artists, the pencil photo drawers; it demonstrates the value of work and practice That drawing, representational drawing, is a learned skill.

But I’m not interested in ‘representational’… so what is it then? I want to move into figurative painting. That much I’m sure of. In as much as I can be sure of anything before I do it. And at this point, what I need to be able to do, the better comic book artists can draw circles around me. I gotta respect that. And learn from it. And then find my own way.

Much of which depends on not giving up on what makes what I’m doing now awkward, clumsy, “unprofessional.” In a sense, what I have to remind myself of—is that it’s not the control of craft that’s my real goal. That’s only a necessary step on the way. What I want, is control over the failures. Not control, maybe… but another kind of mastery… of being out of control. The graphic artists are superbly in control of every line… like the best of commercial artists. But they have lost the ability… or have lost interest… in the perfect accident. What every line Picasso or Matisse or Daumier set down on paper or canvas, reveals. What they knew to leave out. The absence, the empty space in the vase that makes the vase what it is.

That’s the part I wouldn’t have gotten had I done this at 15.

# 239 Visitors

28x22 acrylic on canvas

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Number Our Days


I got up at 6:30 this morning. Put in 3 hours of focused drawing: 15 gesture figure drawings, an hour drawing hands and feet, an hour contour figure drawings, then worked on corrections: anatomy—bones and muscle. On my way to Fleisher’s open studio figure drawing, feeling more confident than I ever have.

I asked myself, not for the first time—why didn’t I do this when I was 15? I am quite obsessed with this—learning to draw the human figure.

 While I’m increasingly confident something will come of it—that it will find its way into my art, I’m also quite aware that there’s more going on. I don’t have the words to describe how important this has become to me. I’m trying to prove something to myself.

But what?

 I know that one of the reasons I turned to pottery, was that I was good at it from the first time I sat down at a wheel. I could center, open the cylinder… and threw a narrow necked bottle the first time I tried it. That same year I was taking a life drawing class, and now at all happy with what I was able to do.

After all these years, I’m putting it together. I’d taken courses in art from childhood. I won awards. I was making oil paintings at 13 or 14.. not great, but enough to win Missouri State competitions. But faced with drawing the human figure, I found myself a struggling second-rate student. I think, looking back, that I saw that as representing the limits of my natural talent. And natural talent was all I knew. My mother, my uncle—they could draw a figure, anatomically correct and in proportion, while carrying on a conversation about something else, like they weren’t even paying attention. But my mother had apprenticed with a professional artist when she was a teenager. And my uncle had studied and drawn and drawn and studied through high school to the point that he almost didn’t graduate—cause it was all he wanted to do.

 At 13 or 16.. or 22… it all looked to me like, you know.. “Innate ability,” …and I’d clearly reached my limit. I would never be a real artist. So I turned to pottery… there--learned to work at it. And learn. I taught myself how to make glazes, how make kilns, and built them.

 Skip three or four decades, more or less, and here I am again. Talent is not enough. Talent—innate ability, will only take you to the limits of that ability—and it’s what you do from there that makes all the difference. Michelangelo showed an interest in art, and some talent, at the age of 10. At ten he began to study with established artists, at 13, he apprenticed. That meant—that by the time he was 14 and creating amazing work, he had spent almost half a decade of intense study and practice: anatomy…probably observing dissections, drawing bones, drawing cadavers, copying master works. No, I’m not another Michelangelo… but what if he had gone with what he knew and was able to do at ten? I don’t want to do classical representational work. I don’t know what I want to do with this. But I know that I need these skills to move forward. I’ll find it. I’ll discover what it is, in the doing. And I need to go back and … practice my scales. To push past that ceiling I thought I’d bumped my head against. I don’t need to do this to prove myself as an artist. I need to do this to be the artist I want to be. And it’s a challenge of lifetime… literally.

 I felt pretty good coming back from Fleishers. A couple of drawings… first class student work. I’m getting there. Late Bloomers—take notice! Even if you die before you get there, it’s keeping in the race that matters.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Does travel broaden our experience?


People can travel and never leave the several square miles of their accustomed world. McDonalds international, depends on that. I'm not particularly responding to that famous quote by Mark Twain here... but this brings up a lotta stuff for me. I've never 'traveled.' That is--abroad, as they say. I've never had the money--most of my life, it was a matter of paying for food and rent for the next month. By choice. This isn't a complaint. Though I would like to have seen more of the world--that was a passionate yearning in my youth... which makes it complicated now, at my age, that it's very unlikly I ever will. I've told myself, that with a mind, and not just a mind...all the senses--open to where you are, you needn't wander far from your front door to take in most of the richness that life offers. And if you're a poet, or artist... all the more so. That if one couldn't do that, travel wouldn't add anything. Travel is broadening, in a sense, only for those who wouldn't need it. Wonderful as it must be. One's soul is no smaller for never having left one's front yard. No, it's not envy... but some kind of, I don't know... itch, I feel, when people talk about the great soul expanding experience of traveling the world. As though, it weren't that they were traveling because their souls were already expanding and they felt the need to seek space to match! I feel myself to be very much a citizen of the world... and not the human world alone. I make jokes. I say, when I hear long accounts of visits to wonderful exotic lands... that, once in a while, I take the High Speed Liine to Camden. Would Emily Dickenson have been a greater poet, if she'd tossed a coin in the fountain at Trivoli? Fed the pigeons on the Piazza of St. Mark? It might very well have made her a much worse poet. If she'd thought that was more important that what she learned from her garden in Amherst. I'll likely die in Philly, where I've lived for almost 50 years. And I think, the whole world will be there in my heart.