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Post #355 • August 27, 2004, 8:28 AM • 8 Comments

Slim pickings this week.

Elisa Turner for the Miami Herald: Playful sculptures accent FIU campus.

Elisa Turner for the Miami Herald: Moonman over Miami.

I have seen no new information regarding her health but I hope for the best.

The dubious Indie Artist exercise at the Miami Herald finally featured someone with a whiff of subversion.

Michael Mills for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times: Art, Meet Commerce: A new gallery in Oakland Park finds the fine balance between bucks and beauty. How he got through this thing without mentioning the phrase vanity gallery is beyond me. This week's Artbeat explores a do-it-yourself purse design boutique.

Gary Schwan clocks in at the Palm Beach Post.

Comment

1.

oldpro

August 27, 2004, 7:33 PM

Slim pickings indeed.

The "wall-sized shrunken head" picture by "Indie" artist San Gomma has something going - it caught my eye, at least. There is substance there and some originality.

The "playful sculptures" and the "moonman" are basically large decorative "fun" objects. They can been seen as art, of course, but their primary function seems to be something else.

It may be that the reason the writer of the Oakland Park Gallery piece did not use the term "vanity gallery" is that this place is not even a vanity gallery; it's a rental space. Now that any existing entity whatsoever without serious purpose or usefulness is held up as "art", renting space like this makes as much sense as storage rental does, after all.

Now, at a time when all standards are mocked and derided, when meretriciousness is paraded with an attitude of virtuous pride, when people are afraid to make even the slightest claim for their own taste, or even admit to having any (eg our own recent blog postings), when nothing can be "bad", when the "art" label is hung on any clump of detritus, we witness the irony: when anything goes, everything goes. When anything can be art, almost nothing is.

2.

eddie

August 27, 2004, 10:08 PM

it seems theres little to appreciate this week. The San Gomma stuff being the closest thing to good art here. However, eventhough there may be some interesting characters in his paintings, the paintings in general seem amature-ish (not in a purposeful cool contemporary way), boring compositons and not enough with form, texture or color or anything that combines to make a good 2d piece of work.

Oakland Park "gallery" is as oldpro put it, just rented space. Only worse becuase its administered by some capitalistic money hungry people who have no interest in curatorial duties or quality work or any viable conception of an acomplished piece of art. Therefore anything that shows there worth viewing will be diminished in standard by association to surrounding senseless and clueless excuses for art.
P.S.I don't care how many pieces of crap they sell.

3.

catfish

August 28, 2004, 3:11 AM

You take my breath away oldpro. Well said.

4.

Jack

August 28, 2004, 4:44 PM

Well, Oldpro, as someone who's increasingly tired of, in effect, being had, despite probably excessive interest in the art scene, I can only think of one practical solution: zero tolerance, or at least rather less tolerance than what I've been putting out. I'm no longer willing to give habitual offenders the benefit of the doubt. I'm definitely not willing to accept any claims from any source that contradict my eyes and mind. I will probably continue to be a sucker for the possibility of discovering something new that's worthwhile, even though it's seldom realized, but I need to install better filters. Way too much crap has been getting through, which is bad for the eye and bad for the spirit.

5.

oldpro

August 28, 2004, 6:04 PM

Thanks, catfish.
Jack, for me it is not so much the bad art that rankles but the justifications for it - "claims that contradict the eye" as you so nicely put it. Filters are fine, but I hope you don't reform your obsessive searching. Think of it as panning for gold. That way you get less pissed at the bad stuff, which will always predominate.

6.

teach

August 29, 2004, 4:12 PM

Oldpro, those last two sentences were very well put indeed! They point directly at meaning and a lack there of. Incidentally I was looking at art papers this morning thinking how everything now seems to be a derivative eg. another article about "whiteness" this time veiled in academia, and anothe african american artist doing victorian sihouttes.
I guess when anything goes, one is left with imaitating what already went.

7.

oldpro

August 29, 2004, 6:34 PM

When inspiration dies, imitation thrives. We see this all the time in all the arts (look at all the revivals on Broadway) and certainly in academia, where all the humanities seem infected by trend and fashion, some terminally so. Any Afro-American artist doing Victorian silhouettes would have to be seen as a pure ripoff of Kara Walker, whose ironic "ccomments" on racism are themselves part of a distinct current trend.

I am not familiar with the "whiteness" paper, but I probably can safely assume it is not an intense disquisition on the color white, like, say, Melville's "the Whiteness of the Whale" chapter in Moby Dick, but yet another on-the-bandwagon piece based on current academic fashion. Whenever any emotionally charged public issue gets settled and the bad guys are on the run it is truly amazing how the posse swells with the newly righteous. When people were getting murdered for their activism for civil rights it took courage; now it is the cozy property of smug academics and ambitious politicians.

Recycling can be very successful in the market. When pop art burst out in the early 60s is seemed to me that it was just a pallid copy of what artists like Larry Rivers and Ed Kienholz had been doing for years and stuck on top of a (by then) tired Abstract Expressionist method of composing, to boot. I still think so, but Pop Art took off like a rocket. The lesson there is, if it borrowing goes over big it isn't a ripoff any more, it is a "trend".

A lot of what the current pomo artists are doing now is clearly unoriginal (I think in a previous blog posting used an example of a Robert Gober leg coming out of a wall which had been done by Kienholz over 40 years ago) but now, oddly enough, it is not direct imitation, because most of these artists are so deficient in recent art history they don't even know they are imitating. It is more a matter of what is "in the air", that is, that there is a shared attitude toward art-making which is so singular and cohesive that similar things are produced by different people at different times with no intervening connection.

On the other hand, using old material is often grist for genius. Manet got tired of all the dull, overworked, sentimental salon painting and reached back to Goya and Velasquez for color and rich surface. Composer have always stolen from folk music and from each other mercilessly, and Jazz, as it evolved in the last century, was an endless sequence of listen and steal.

So, when it comes right down to it, "originality" is just another characteristic, neither good, bad nor indifferent, and what matters in the end is the art itself.

8.

that guy in the back row

August 30, 2004, 3:12 AM

good call oldpro, ive been ripping off the best any chance I get. Now if we could only get some more of the good stuff down here in miami to rip off, we would be in business. So far as I can tell Miami suffers from a condition known as art in vacuo. Most Miami artists seem to be in perpetual false start mode were nothing really matters to them. I can't figure it out.

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