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friday press roundup

Post #313 • July 2, 2004, 9:37 AM • 20 Comments

Elisa Turner for the Miami Herald: Multimedia celebration of the tart and quirky.

Elisa Turner for the Miami Herald: 'Awesome' days at Christie's for Miami Beach collectors.

Elisa Turner for the Miami Herald: House of Glass: Jean-Michel Othoniel's MOCA exhibit creates a super-sized and super-sensual spectacle in glass.

Michael McManus for Street: Smokin' art: Warning: Old cigarette machines may prove beneficial to your cultural health.

Miami New Times: reviews of current shows.

Michael Mills for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times: Artful Ornithology: The Norton's "Birdspace" takes us to a sprightlier world.

Michael Mills for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times: Artbeat: Smith's Picture Framing and Art Gallery.



mary agnes

July 2, 2004, 5:08 PM

Jack's suggestions are right-on. I will add that the blog's attraction surely lies in part with the quirks of the person whose blog it is. I would like to see that influence continue.



July 2, 2004, 6:05 PM

I agree with Jack and Mary Agnes (all this agreement; what's going on?), with a minor caution about "structure". Structure can take many forms (so to speak), and God knows these days we need it, but I would not like to see, under any circumstances, any compromise in the fundamental premises that this blog has worked under: absolute openness and absolute anonymity when someone wants it. I know Franklin has been uncomfortable with some of the indecorous comments, backbiting, nasty asides and innuendo we have seen recently - so have I; and i contributed soime myself - but that's the price of the freedom we enjoy here.

By the way, franklin, if you are going to list shows and reviews, as jack suggests and as you have done, I hardly thing things will "quiet down". I expect it will be more active and rancorous than ever. I look forward to it.



July 2, 2004, 6:33 PM

By the way, Franklin, is there any way to get a pass-through for the Herald and other papers that want subscriptions entered? It is not a big deal but it is slow and annoying to have to type in information every time.



July 2, 2004, 6:40 PM

You're right - it is annoying, and I know of no way around it. My understanding is once you register, the site stores a cookie on your computer that saves your login information so you don't have to keep asking to be let in. If you don't want to register, you can use the account of Artsjournal:, password access.



July 2, 2004, 7:04 PM

Im so new that I feel like its not my place to make such demands on what is not my blog, really (if I dont like this blog, I can just go elsewhere), but I thought Id offer my comments just in case they could be useful:

I have only recently arrived in Miami and am therefore fairly new to both the art and the blog scene here. I sensed immediately, however, that theres a whole history of conflict between certain personalities that write on this blog, causing arguments to become more personal than they perhaps should be.

A general tone Ive seen on both sides: I dont understand what you are saying, so therefore you are stupid or arrogant or what you have to say is therefore irrelevant, etc.

Nasty asides usually have footing in larger, more valid points that should come to the surface if a fair discussion on a topic is to occur, and I see few questions asked from either party in order to clarify and understand what the other is REALLY trying to say.

For instance, Michael Betancourt had a few really, really good points to make, however cloaked in grandiose language they were. For someone like me, who really wants to have all sides of an issue laid out on the table (especially sides that I may not agree with), it was sad to see his points go unaddressed just because they seemed slightly impalpable.

And I assume that there is more going on here that causes the very occasional dismissiveness/snobbery/anger, I just dont know what that history is, so it doesnt make sense to me why bickering gets personal rather than staying on the issues. I feel constructive arguments about issues are sometimes silenced too quickly due to personal grievances. That makes the very few blog experiences Ive had somewhat less rewarding for me at times (though the overall experience has been positive).

I want an issue, an artist, a work of art, etc. to be dissected and disputed and torn apart, and I want to see all types of opinions presented all over the place. Personally, I like it when people argue with my opinion. Get nasty all you want over the faults you can find in my ideas thats how I learn just dont use that to make assumptions/assertions about me as a person.



July 2, 2004, 7:30 PM

N: I don't think the disagreements here are old animosities. I, for example, have no idea who most of these people are, even when they use their actual names. The animosity lies latent in the nature of the contemporary art world, which lacks any kind of underlying assumptions of probity, procedure or criteria for the estimation of value or truth. Part of this is because art is what it is, that is, anything you want it to be, part because this freedom attracts the best and the worst, and part of it is because (this is my opinion again) the twin demons of commercialism and academicism are eating away at the foundatuion of something some of us think is the highest expression of the human spirit. Given these circumstances things get very contentious.



July 2, 2004, 9:35 PM

The weblog owner has a choice of modulating this weblog by denying accesses to those who cross the line between animosity and contention after certain amount of warnings are given to such induviduals. If he chooses to take all participants regardless of their nature, animosities are inevitable at times.

I have been actively participating in a Japanese online community on a different topic than Art for about 5 months and have had absolutely positive experiences. I would like to introduce what the guy who set up the site did.

He set certain rules and enforces them. I firmly believe that the site attracts wonderful and intelligent Japanese (all are written in Japanese)because of the rules. I list some of the rules that may apply to this weblog. I find them extremely helpful. Please be aware that I am merely translating the content from Japanese to English. I skipped some due to the nature of this weblog being different from that one.

Basic Rules:

1. Do not deny the main point of the post

2. Do not deny the opinions of others

3. Learn from good points of others opinions

4. Rather than commenting on others opinion, stick to your own opinions and express them.

Specific Rules:

1. Do not produce a comment that is completely out of the topic.

3. Avoid the topic on others privacy, such as, life conditions, character, and vocation.

4. Do not write things that other participants may feel repulsive.

7. Ignore the comments that appear to produce animosities. Do not respond to the comments that are disgusting to you.

10. Combats are forbidden. Examine the agreed points not the differed ones. Opposition is not the purpose. "Study" is the purpose here.

11. Since this is a place where individuals thoughts are revealed, use cautions not to judge whether it is right or wrong, on the subject that may have both sides of right and wrong.



July 3, 2004, 12:09 AM

I love it.


mary agnes

July 3, 2004, 12:37 AM

with respect i submit that the particiapants who feel most closley connected with American culture would chafe at the number and kind of restrictions listed as being helpful on the Japanese blog. However there certainly may be some good ideas in the list that can be adapted to this situation and may result in less conflict on this venue. Oops -- now i am commenting on someone else's post which would not go over on the Japanese blog. I can't help myself! I love to respond!



July 3, 2004, 12:57 AM

I agree M.A.; if I had to put up with a lot of rules like that I simply would not bother. I would spend so much time reading instructions I'd never get anything written.

I just got back to my computer after an afternoon up in Ft. Lauderdale. Is it possible that no one has anything to say about any of the many things Franklin offered up for sacrifice above? On this our weekend of The Revolution? You all must be out buying firecrackers.



July 3, 2004, 1:25 AM

The best remedy to weblog combat could be to learn which one to ignore and which one to take. Some arguments are not worth continuing on.

I think you have the point I failed to view. Most of the items listed are Japanese crap, which I typically hate.



July 3, 2004, 1:39 AM

I don't know if anyone has checked out the links Franklin put up, and I don't want to get into the art and the writing about the art at any length, but it seems to me that if anyone wants to know why Maimi is an artistic backwater, there's your case study in a nutshell. I have not seen much of it, but if the writers, who are all fairly good at description, are describing accuratly, there seems little point.

I have seen pictures of the glass show at MOCA and I can't possibly understand what Bonnie Clearwater was thinking when she decided to do it. She and MOCA are the only museum in town that I know of actually curating their own shows, and she has done several that, even if you don't like the art in them, certainly were lively, instrructive, interesting and timely. There are hundreds of glass artists out there who could at least have put on an exhibit where the intensity of hyperkitch was at least bearable .(Please, don't give me the old high/low rationalization). This is just embarrassing. I can't figure it out.

There. That should get someone started. (sorry, Momoko).



July 3, 2004, 6:25 AM

Well, Oldpro, despite having seen pictures of it beforehand, I actually went to see the MoCA show, largely out of a sense of obligation (which may be a form of masochism). It was ghastly, even for a summer show, especially given the venue--which should care rather more about its image. This show struck me as a joke, literally, though it might not have been a bad one if that had been the intention. Judging from Othoniel's comments in the Herald, it wasn't.

Imagine a community center crafts class entitled "Fun with Beads," brightly colored glass ones, where the participants are encouraged to be "creative" and "imaginative," as well as "whimsical" and "childlike." Imagine the predictable results, only blown up to room-filling proportions. Imagine walking into and among such stuff, strewn all over a large space, and wanting to believe you've accidentally wandered into a kids' play area, such as one might find at Michael Jackson's "Neverland" estate. I wouldn't be at all surprised if MJ loved this show, but I don't happen to share his taste for flashy baubles and such, or his infantilism. I was not at all amused, even if that was the point, or part of it. At best, this work is decorative fluff, eye candy for people of a certain bent. As I said, the venue is Miami's Museum of Contemporary Art, not Toys R Us.

It's impossible to believe MoCA couldn't do better than this--much, much better, summer or not. I actually felt embarrassed to be there, foolish, as if I'd been lured under false pretenses. Obviously that's my response, and other people are free to differ, but I cannot respect this sort of move on MoCA's part because, among other things, I don't think it respects me (and yes, it has occurred to me that the satisfaction of people such as myself may not appear anywhere on MoCA's list of priorities).

As a non-patron of the Herald, I was somewhat surprised at how much print space was granted to Elisa Turner's review of this show, though I don't know how typical that is. Such space could certainly have been put to better use, in my opinion, but at least she was given tolerably free rein, which is something. I think her review was much ado about not much, however. Most telling line: "You must wonder, looking at this piece, at the way Othoniel uses glass and water to create a sense of unmeasurable abundance and lurking mortality." I wonder, all right.


that guy in the back row

July 3, 2004, 6:28 AM

Boy, if only I knew 14 years ago, that all I needed to do, to be taken seriously as an artist, was have other craftsmen make large things out of glass for me. I could have saved myself a lot of trouble. Looks like we are back to those tried and true world fair themes again. Think I'll save myself the drive this time. Also, does Elisa Turner have any critical judgments she would like to share with the audience? Pray tell! And no, a string of adjectives such as "unbearable -- and irresistible -- bombast" are not critical judgments. They are rather catch phrases that tell anyone even remotely interested in art "Its not worth your time to read this article".

Old pro: not sure what Bonnie is thinking. But it must involve trying to look hip and slick. Which consequently dictates most of what gets museum play in this sad state of contemporized art affairs. I hesitate to make predictions but, give it a year or two, and that glass will look about as washed up as a 30 something Biscayne blvd bimbo. Maybe if anyone on this blog as access to her via email you could let her know she has some explaining to do here on Art blog. Thats right, ArtBlog Baby.



July 4, 2004, 12:44 AM

Jack, I suspect that "lurking mortality" she sensed in the Othoniel exhibition is the mortality of art itself.



July 4, 2004, 3:23 AM

oldpro: if anyone wants to know why Maimi is an artistic backwater, there's your case study in a nutshell

I do not have a good case study, but I do wonder how an art enthusiast or intellect, like you, can live in Miami. Having lived in Miami area for four years I feel that I am in a huge cave where the Sun and Moon are in the cave. Theres just no culture here as a city. In other cities I had lived or visited, with one exception of a tiny city in Oklahoma, I could breathe art through the air. But the cave I am in now doesnt have art in the air.

I enjoy the tropical plants, warm winter, and low cost of living, though.



July 4, 2004, 7:42 AM

There are economic reasons.

Interesting comment on Miami as a culture-free zone: "no art in the air". Indeed. Sort of squares up with what Mary Agnes wrote on this blog a week ago, about how she came from a small town in North Carolina and the critic's panel was, in comparison to panels she had organized there, like "a summer preparation course for art criticism 101". Visual art down here seems to be a lot of people who have no idea of what art even is copying all the silliest stuff they do in NYC. And there are rich folks, equally clueless, drawn by the magic word ART, who throw money at it and make it look legitimate. Then, because of what we genuinely do have, as you mentioned - tropical plants and warm winters - we get Art Basel when it is cold everywhere else and we think we are Culture City.

But, "low cost of living"? Where are you, in Florida City?



July 4, 2004, 5:16 PM

I don't know if anyone is reading this on this holiday weekend but I guess this page will be up for a while, so I will proceed.

As if to provide a confirming example for what has been said here so far, the Sunday Miami Herald covers, at great length (half page with headline and color and 3/4 page continuation), the current "Hope and Glory" exhibit of current and past winners of the Cintas Foundation Fellowships at Miami Art Central. Once again, all I have to go on is two color photos in the paper and descriptions in the text, but, again, I don't think it matters much. Good art needs to be seen; bad art can be reproduced. The paintings look no better than fairly accomplished street fair work and the described items either follow suit or are of the mainstream "let's take things that don't belong together and put them together and produce deep meaning" variety. Typical, but discouraging.

To be fair, the New York Times does not do a whole lot better with a story and interview - front page of the art section, one and a half pages inside, 7 color reproductions - concerning an utterly pointless book produced by current culture hero Gerhard Richter, titled "War Cut", in which he has juxtaposed details of one of his abstract paintings with news clips about the war in Iraq. I guess this kind of pompous indulgence goes with Art Stardom. (As is often the case with bad abstract art the details are way better than the picture they are taken from, but never good enough). The difference between this and the Miami coverage is that at least the Times is dealing with really ambitious bad art, what they like to call "cutting edge" these days. Middlebrow culture junkies will eat it up, while the Miami story, if, perchance, carried by the Times, would cause them to shake their heads in consternation.



July 5, 2004, 2:04 AM

Oldpro, it 'd be interesting to know who makes editorial decisions concerning arts coverage at the Herald. The story you mention, while it would have made more sense at the Spanish Herald, still makes more sense to me than letting Elisa Turner go on and on about some cheesy glass show for which there's no real constituency I can discern (except perhaps people with small children). After all, there is obviously a significant Cuban or Cuban-American constituency here who might be much more interested in the Cintas/MAC story than you.

As I'm sure you realize, what gets covered in the paper, and the amount of coverage, need have little or nothing to do with really deserving such coverage, but it has everything to do with perceived reader interest and, by extension, moving newspapers.



July 5, 2004, 5:06 AM

Sure, the Cintas event deserves coverage on a news,or "art news" basis, because it is the job of the newspaper to cover such a thing, especially because there seem to be ongoing controversial elements in the story. And I did find it interesting or I would not have mentioned it. But by the same token here is major coverage of a major fellowship award which involves the Hispanic community, as you say, which is obviously a large and important part of the Miami art community, and the art is embarrassingly bad. Seems to me it is a Miami problem, not a Hispanic one.

As for selling papers, I think if their art colum sounded like this blog everyone in the art community would be waiting by the stand for the late edition.



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