Going Soft

July 12th, 2008 § 0 comments

Levon Helm said of coming to new york from Canada:

A dream come true. Fascinating, scary. Kind of hard to take the first time. You have to go there about two or three times before you can fall in love with it. But that happens eventually. New York, it was an adult portion, an adult dose. So, it took a couple of trips you know, to get into it. You just go in there the first time, and get your ass kicked, and take off. As soon as it heals up, you come back and you try it again. Eventually, you fall right in love with it.

After a few days of wandering the length of Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs, I thought about his drawling little speech made thirty years ago. At a high point in the day, after food, water, and a brief rest I laughed at its relevance. New York is an uncompromising city. A friend told to me it doesn’t matter if you have 2,000 or 20,000, you will never find a place for the price you want. Discouragement ran high by the end of everyday, and when it did I felt disgusted by anyone who would fight hard enough to live in such a place. For such a small packed place, Manhattan’s diversity is incredible. The city is torn apart by unwanted gentrification and poverty. The rich, high above the streets in door-maned buildings, don’t seem to notice their own reflection in the eyes of those around them. Spoiled students run rampant through the streets of the village spouting nonsense into their iPhone. Because everything is so difficult and expensive, discontent in general is high. Flying out of jfk last night the flight was delayed 20 or 30 minutes, which caused such an outbreak of anger and violent verbal abuse I was startled—do these people never fly? I wondered, as on time flights have become a thing of the past. 

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Talking Art World Talk

April 12th, 2008 § 2 comments

At least one person is thrilled that we are moving to New York, and that would be Gregory. I always feel rather disconcerted when talking to him, I choose my words and meanings very vaguely, I think this is why we have such miscommunication. We spent a good amount of time talking about life in general this week, my future prospects I suppose he would call them, he told me if he were a “lovely, talented young photographer” he would want to live in Sunnyside Queens. He asked about my thesis and wanted to know what artists I was including. Laughing, I told him a lot of old, dead men, and then qualified it with, they might not all be dead. He shook his head and said that I need to be looking at women, young women.

It was a point I had never thought of before. Not only do I have to put myself within a medium specific category, and in line with its given history, but I also have to consider a gendered history of that medium. I don’t tend to think of myself as a woman in the context of “art”, only within the context of the world. I never realized photography was masculine, or rather I never considered it more masculine than anything else—most professions are, even ballet is ruled by men. They get all the freedom it offers, they break all technical rules, they are the directors, choreographers, and teachers. From Volk’s point of view I can see that it is very important that I follow in line, and break specifically with, a tradition that is suitable to me as a person, and that my sensibilities as an artist and my aesthetic of making should follow accordingly. He often comments that I am very strange, but when I ask why he never really says. What he sees, who he sees, must look very incongruous with what he thinks he ought to. When I started thinking about it I wondered if “people” is the place where women have made a their own tradition in photography, and that is why Gregory thinks I should move away from objects, landscape, etc. and photograph people. When I think about the women photographers I know and am interested in, they all photograph people in some manner or other.

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November on Broadway

March 27th, 2008 § 1 comment


Going to the Barrymore Theater to see a play was rather similar to going to the Dorothy Chandler to see a ballet. The LA audience at the music center is usually made up of a post-retired crowd of performing arts lovers, awaiting to be moved not by the passion of the story, but by the latest pair of pretty feet. The last time I was there there, J and I saw ABT perform an impressive version of Swan Lake, during an intermission I overheard some older ladies talking about the leading dancer, who I was not familiar with, in a derogatory manner because they did not happen to like her legs and feet. Silly women who I am sure never stuffed their flat feet into pointe shoes to execute some forty fouette turns. Still, at such events I never felt totally out of place, there are always the dreamy little girls with their mothers and grandmothers, and of course the determined teenage dancers aspiring to be in ABT themselves someday soon if ever, I can pick them out by their duck walk, and yes, I used to be one of them.

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From Montpellier to Richmond

December 31st, 2007 § 2 comments

“Life, though it looks tender on the outside, is very crunchy on the inside, which may be why we prefer it with food.”

I have always had problems when it comes to heroes. I remember Mr. Harutunian, when I was in his English 101 honors class, pacing the classroom, asking of us, who are your heroes? I think his point had something to do with my generations problems, and what he saw as a lack of something. I do remember, however, vividly thinking about the idea of a “hero” for the first time in my life. Who were my heroes? The question seemed absurd to the point of being completely baffling, I could not think of anyone I knew personally, and my generational references were not large enough to provide someone either-perhaps that was his point, we don’t have any. Perhaps he was questioning-much more likely, really-what a hero was, why we had them (if we did), and how a hero might change with someones age and interests. Who did the public provide for us, who did we construct ourselves, and to whom, within the confines of our reality, would we give that title? To have a hero, it seemed, one must completely agree with, support and believe in, that person or thing implicitly and without question-a feat impossible for a 16-year-old, frustrated and suspicious. I had a very similar problem when Gregory Volk, the first day of his seminar, asked what artists we would “one-hundred-percent” (with emphasis on each syllable) stand behind: in other words, what artists did we believe in implicitly? Again, I was at a loss for words and intentions. Was he trying to find out what kind of artists we were by our loves and inspirations, was he testing our knowledge of current artists (the one I believe to be true), was he seeing if we looked forward (to the forerunners of ‘art now’) or backwards for our references? If he had asked who I looked at and why, I could have given a coherent list of artists and explanations, though it might be a bit shabbier and more dated list than it should be, but I could not think of a single artist who I would “stand behind”. Why? The same reasons, I believe, I could not pick a hero at 16.

It was Katherine Hixson ( ironically enough) who gave her class an essay by Gopnik to read when we were (oddly enough) talking about food, Alice Waters, and Proust in the Critical Issues/Fiber & Material Studies class. After suffering through maddening selections of Proust (which I am now determined to reread), Gopnik’s essay was humorous if dense, and enlightening of a profession I had never given much thought to. It was a mad bit of luck that I began my stay in France around the same time that I began to read Paris to the Moon, the source of the essay, and a book that happened to be about Gopnik’s five year stay in Paris with his wife and newborn son. I am not sure I have ever agreed with a book so heartily, for while his stay and observations went much deeper than mine-he became a part of the culture rather than an onlooker from the sidelines-his descriptions were a part of my everyday life. I doubt very much if a French person would feel the same way, but American to American, expatriate to expatriate, it was right. He has an incredible habit of drawing large sweeping conclusions out of small, unimportant events and objects. I subscribed to the New Yorker this year because of him, only to find, much to my disappointment, that he does not write very often, of course when he does it is worth the wait. A few weekends ago while bookstore shopping in the National Gallery, Jake found his new book, Through the Children’s Gate, a Home in New York, a book about his return to New York City shortly before 9/11, and the raising of his family after. Although I never would consciously have said it, I never thought I could disagree with his conclusions.

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NYC Galleries, Day Two

November 22nd, 2007 § 0 comments

Friday Nov 16th

1.) Friday morning started off very cold at Madison Square Park where there was an installation of Roxy Paine’s metal trees.

2.) Artists Space seemed like a more interesting place to show work, more for younger emerging artists.

3.) The Drawing Center also seemed like a somewhat more alternative place to show. The show that was up was Alan Saret, a minimalist who draws with handfuls of colored pencil.

4.) Ronald Feldman Gallery was interesting, the work was a strange plant like video with photographs.

5.) Envoy contained the closest thing to a textile, which was a show of large paintings with textile like patterns placed across the painting.

6.) We ended at Pierogi 2000.

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