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Post #231 • March 9, 2004, 5:25 AM • 11 Comments

After an evening of looking at so-so, not great, not terrible, and pretty good art last Saturday, I arrived at Dorsch Gallery to see Rene Barge's latest piece. The concept was simple: a metal bathtub, propped up on guitar slides, with a contact microphone attached to it, water dripping into it, and a spotlight shining down on it.

I felt as though my attention had been wiped clean with an alcohol swab.

The sound was cavernous but spare and comforting. The tub glowed like the moon. The pleasure was so simple as to preclude analysis, and the evening was redeemed.




March 9, 2004, 7:56 PM

It's hard for me to reconcile the man to his work



March 9, 2004, 9:12 PM

It's not hard for me at all.

Suddenly negative comments are appearing on a few posts. There's a troll about.



March 9, 2004, 10:17 PM

It looks great! I'm sorry I missed hearing it . . . thanks for the image at least, F.!


Godless Roach

March 10, 2004, 10:21 PM

Being unable to reconcile a man with his work is not necessarily negative. If I turn on the tele and see Mr. Barge squat thrusting 1000 pounds in the Olympics, I can praise the performanc and take quite a while to reconcile the act with the person. On the other hand, if I see him spit on a homeless child, I will deplore the behavior and struggle to reconcile the act with the spitter.



March 11, 2004, 4:45 AM

Oh, I wasn't trying to be mean. I was even trying to be considerate about how I phrased my comment, so I don't appreciate being called a troll. If I think that the work and the person don't make a fit, and make a comment about it, its to hope to get a thoughtful response. I'm mostly curious to know if anyone else has made a similar observation, or not, whatever the case. I appreciate the last comment, and think that this is a good topic to discuss: whether a person and their art necessarily stand alone or if they are inseparable. Maybe another day and place. By the way, I'm not angry, I'm just trying to get my original point across.



March 11, 2004, 3:28 PM

If that's the case, disbeliever, then sorry for jumping on you. Nevertheless, I'm not sure that I could have gathered what you said in your second post from what you said in your first.

Rene has an intense focus that makes work like the above seem like a natural expression. He strives for the essence, which sounds goofy to say, but it informs a lot of how he does things and what he is willing to occupy his mind and life with. So in this case I see a close match between the man and the work. But occasionally I do see work that doesn't match the personality. I don't think there's any telling what will come out of people.

Roach, I quite like those kinds of anamolies about folks, when they're positive: Ian Anderson's fish farm, Brenda Ueland setting over-70 swimming records, Bonnard's fondness for dachshunds, and so on. It makes for a more human person, I think.



March 11, 2004, 3:36 PM

By which I mean to say that I agree with you, GR.

(By the way, both the half-ton squat thrust and the spitting would be utterly impossible for Mr. Barge, I can tell you first-hand. He's a stand-up guy.)



March 11, 2004, 5:48 PM

This is NOT in reference to Rene Barge or his work, but rather a general comment. It's a very well-known fact that an artist's work may not "fit" with what the artist is like as a person. Richard Wagner is a notorious example, and there are any number of others. Talent is one thing, personality is another, and they need not correlate. It happens.



March 12, 2004, 3:26 AM

not to beat a dead horse... I just want to know if you are affected by someones work differently if you know who the person is. In other words if someone is unintentionally doing something right, does that make it any less right? And, if it doesn't, don't you still feel a bias towards the work?


not a troll

March 12, 2004, 4:22 AM

I am in agreement with disbeliever. I suspect you perfer this piece to William Cordova's Moca installation because this artist is your friend.



March 12, 2004, 5:19 AM

Disbeliever, NAT - These are valid issues to raise.

First off, there's no such thing as an unbiased opinion. Opinions reflect biases. But you can be predisposed to like or dislike something for reasons that have nothing to do with the art, and that can be problematic. There's no easy way to judge art if you're going to do it publicly. You can't unlearn everything you know about art when you go look at it - it's just not possible - so you have to simultaneously trust your judgment and suspect that your judgment might be mistaken. I make a point of asking other people what they think of a show when I go to one, and that helps. At the Russell Crotty show that I just reviewed, no one else was there, so I asked the museum guard what she thought of it.

You tend to like the work of your friends. Why are they your friends? Because they share a lot of your sensibilities and values. That puts you all on the same page from the beginning. Of course, you have to be careful that you're not going overboard, and that you're not being overly forgiving about the problems. If you can do that, I don't think that reviewing them postitively is a concern. I want to say that I have also given a positive review to someone - I won't give names - whom I loathe. He did something mean to an ex-girlfriend and I still want to crack him one when I see him. But his work was good and I said so. It almost hurt, but I did it.

Cordova's piece and Rene's may have some shared aspects but they come out of very different sensibilities. Rene's piece was pulled off in a way that Cordova's wasn't - Cordova's lacked the rigor and sensitivity that he brings to his little collage drawings. Rene's had an elegance that was missing from Cordova's. I respect your suspicions, NAT, but I stand by my calls in this case.



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