Previous: nyfa piece (13)

Next: art blog reader survey and a heads-up on 2.0, as it were (5)


Post #372 • September 24, 2004, 8:38 AM • 38 Comments

Elisa Turner for the Miami Herald: Picture this: A harvest of art from around the world.

Omar Sommereyns told me that he has something in Street but they haven't posted it yet on the site. I'll check back throughout the morning. Omar Sommereyns for Street Weekly: Ad nauseam: Art collective MSG's current exhibit could elicit a strong response with its satire of art world commercialism and Water works: At Art Vitam, Ellen Jong exhibits her pee shots while Maxime Dautresme plays pretty in the pool. Street's website sucks even harder than the main Herald site, but this sets a land speed record for sucking - right now Omar's work has been posted, but not linked to the main page, which means that the only place you can access it at the moment is right here at Suckers.

Michael Mills for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times: Artbeat. "River of Grass could easily be mistaken for just another small home landscaping center." Yes, and Artbeat could easily be mistaken for an art column. Sorry, the neighbor's dog has been barking since 5:35 this morning, right after some rude-ass fool across the street clicked his car alarm on about a half-dozen times, and I feel really pissed off right now. Fucking Miamians.

Gary Schwan for the Palm Beach Post: Pure and simple photography.

Gary Schwan for the Palm Beach Post: Art world update following Frances.

Oh, and it looks like we're doing this shit again this weekend. Okay, that does it. I'm going back to bed. Gut fucking yontiff.




September 24, 2004, 5:34 PM

Really, Franklin, you musn't begrudge the news people, not to mention Publix and Home Depot, their fun and profit. As for rude Miamians, well, Duh. Still, I should be more sympathetic, I guess, since you artist types are supposedly more sensitive (or so I've heard). Of course, one hears all sorts of things, such as that art publications and museums are reliable and trustworthy judges of quality, and that their top priority is the promotion thereof. It's a nice concept, anyway.



September 25, 2004, 7:15 PM

The freak show continues.

Ellen Jong goes around pissing on things in places where there must be reasonable ordinances against fouling the environment, art or no art. Someone take pictures of the process, and, of course, they must be shown as art.

Omar the Street Critic has this to say about the photos:

"...Frisky, comical, and full of verve...spunky records of human behavior and impulses... They're humorous: a palpable joy surrounds the works, which validates them even more as a genuine experience."

Omar, such a wordsmith! And so open to "genuine experience"!

Ellen, no less a word whiz, has the following to say:

"I was like, damn, I'm obsessed. A lot of people see it as sensational or as a sexual fetish, but others can see the little existential bubble in here.''

Sorry, Ellen. I really don't even want to think about that "little existential bubble".



September 25, 2004, 7:37 PM

Oldpro, I'd say something about Ellen's, uh, work, but it's too easy a target, and I'm not even willing to waste time reading about it. By the way, "Omar the street critic" has a nice ring to it, sort of like "Joe the street person." Anyway, I sympathize with your disgust, but this is very much bush league stuff (like Street, come to think of it) and not worth the bother.



September 25, 2004, 9:16 PM

Sure, Jack, it is all bush league, though I hate to insult the bush leagues, who presumably play by some kind of rules. The problem, however, is not that it the pictures are so silly and juvenile but that they are being put up in an actual art gallery as actual art and reviewed favorably by an actual critic, at least "actual" in the sense that there he is with a byline in a paper with circulation.

Besides, this is what Franklin is giving us. I assume that if there was anything decent out there he would report on it.



September 25, 2004, 10:12 PM

Oldpro, I'm sure you know I understand your point, and this sort of beyond-dubious work is both an embarrasment and an insult, but those who make it, promote it, or write about it as if it's the genuine article, honestly or not, are automatically barred from any serious consideration by me as far as art goes. In other words, for me, they have no credibility, which means they may as well not exist in the context of art.

I know they might still be accepted, praised, idolized, in which case they could do harm, however unintentionally, but I cannot get all bent out of shape whenever someone--yet AGAIN--resorts to piss, shit, blood, animal carcasses or what have you to get noticed. Maybe I'm too jaded, or just too sick and tired of dignifying ridiculous nonsense with attention (which these people crave, even if it's negative or hostile attention).

It's like the beyond-absurd celebrity culture-business: if they all dropped dead tomorrow, I wouldn't bat an eye, because to me they mean nothing and they are nothing. They are not part of my life, and I won't let them in it. Regrettably, no matter how much I might want to, I can't get rid of them, because mine is clearly a minority position. To hell with them, then.



September 26, 2004, 12:10 AM

You couldn't get rid of them anyway, because of they all dropped dead a new crop would sprout, like mushrooms, the very next day.



September 26, 2004, 4:51 PM

It fascinates me, Jack, that you refuse to take the time to go look at this work, and yet you have all the time in the world to sit in front of your computer and criticize it, its existence, and the fact that someone is writing about it. Pretty much the same goes for Oldpro.

What we have here: a blog who's whose comments section has degenerated into two old guys kvetching about art they have not seen.

Kind of sad. Strikes me as kind of sad.



September 26, 2004, 5:34 PM


First of all, the implied slight "old guys" is unnecessary and invidious. Experience is hardly an impediment to seeing art well. And I do not think Jack has given any indication of his age.

Second, While it is true that I expect little and see even less (in person anyway), it is impossible that you, as a regular blogger, have not observed Jack's record of going to and looking at everything he can get to, even shows up in Palm Beach, Boca and other points north. I don't think anyone else on this blog has seen or reported on as much as Jack has. So in that respect you are just plain wrong.

Jack's problem, as he has so clearly stated, is that he has been so thorouighly and consistently disappointed that he is unwilling to look any more. That is "sad" indeed, but the problem is the art, not Jack. That is, not unless having high standards for art is sad. I don't think anyone can truly fault him, or anyone, for not wanting to trek over and look at a bunch of photos of someone pissing in parking lots.



September 26, 2004, 5:42 PM

One more thing, Alesh. If you think the blog has "degenerated into two old guys kvetching" why don't you and your presumably young buddies put your money where your mouth is and go see the stuff Franklin has posted and tell us how wonderful it is. Or perhaps confirm that it really is crap.


a friend

September 26, 2004, 7:33 PM

alesh has got it right. i can't believe someone who dares call himself an 'oldpro' has so much bitterness and spite against any artist, much less most of the scene.



September 26, 2004, 7:59 PM

If Oldpro or Jack wants to rip on work in the abstract, they're entitled to do that. The writing and hoopla around the art make for valid targets as much as the art itself. All the more so if the artist displays as much eloquence as Ms. Jong.

And I suppose if someone wants to respond to that by ripping on Oldpro and Jack, they're entitled to do that as well, but it seems like a better response would be to defend the artwork. This is blindingly obvious to me, but for some reason there's some defect in the local collective consciousness that makes it necessary to keep pointing it out, and I have been, repeatedly, for years now. It makes me crazy. Criticising the critic is not defending the artwork. It's much worse - it's a tacit admission that the art can't be defended and there's nothing to do except go after the attacker.

That said, I believe that quality has no qualities, and for all I know, Ms. Jong may be the one peepee artist who can make it work. I believe also that a cynical response to such an exercise comes with a long list of examples of failed art to back it up.

Apart from a few groaners and the fact that I don't agree with him half the time, I don't find Omar's wordsmithing all that problematic.



September 26, 2004, 8:03 PM

I have no bitterness and spite against any artist, friend, only deep disappointment at the lack of professionalism and seriousness displayed by the Miami "art scene". I have been involved with art in places like New York long enough to have seen a lot of great art, old and new, and I know art history and plenty of serious, talented artists. When the "scene" puts up photos of someone pissing all over the landscape and a local critic gives it a rave I say it sucks. I'm sorry. Like Jack, I am unwilling to accept garbage, and I will continue to say so.



September 26, 2004, 8:09 PM

You are right, Franklin; Omar's "wordsmithing" is not as bad as some, at least until you start getting picky and ask what a "genuine experience" might be. But he does come up with a howler or two, like the column a few weeks ago when he said that Picasso started making prints in the 30s. Writing and opinions are often too soft to be assailable, but facts are facts, pomo relativism notwithstanding.


Omar Sommereyns

September 27, 2004, 4:50 AM

Alright Oldpro, although I've refrained from rebutting any of your whiny grumbling in the past -- I don't have much time for your "old-timer" effrontery and it makes for quite a banal, incestuous blog most of the time -- I must say, I do appreciate all the attention you've given me. Really, it's quite flattering.

I can understand why you lament the "art scene" in Miami (I have many qualms as well), yet I find the insolence of your disparaging presuppositions about my worthiness as an art appreciator and writer to be childish and really pitiful. You see, there are many things about me that you don't know (and that I shouldn't have to tell you), but let it be known that I was born and raised in NYC -- your hallowed, beloved art center -- attended a rigorous French school (much more advanced in arts education than any "prominent" prep school in Manhattan), traveled thoroughly throughout Europe and have studied and looked at much of what you would call "real" art.

I'll admit that I faulted on the Picasso fact -- my inclination was towards the Thirties, but I hastily fact-checked the article because I was overloaded with work and, having read Triff's piece beforehand, I noticed that he had put the same date as I had so, naively, I left it at that. Information keeps swelling and mistakes do happen though, no? But I learn from them. We all do.

As for Jong's pictures and you and Jack "not wanting to trek over and look at a bunch of photos of someone pissing in parking lots," well, 'tis your opinion, yes? You can stay stuck in your modernist hole if you'd like - not that I don't think some of the greatest works were produced in its heyday - but you really seem to be, dare I say , out of touch with the "youth" and urban culture. You're probably not familiar with culture magazines such as Vice, photographers such as Ryan McGinley, and the going-ons inside "subculture " movements in NYC and California. I'm not commending any of this, just letting you know.

You see, now more so than ever, most "art", especially photography, is meant to communicate something -- whatever it may be -- to young culture-absorbers. Many of the greatest works have already been produced and many new young artists either have a lot of skill and no vision or vice versa, while some still devise a way to make you stop on your tracks and absorb their work amidst the messy, bemusing hodgepodge of communication tools. Jong's work is far from genius, but, unfortunately, you don't seem to see the hilarious absurdity in there and most likely can't fathom its relevance in contemporary youth culture.

I usually don't give in to the crap than many young artists peddle around here though. Chances are you didn't read my other review this week (or anything that you can't counter such as my Shepard Fairey article), since you were so hellbent on trashing the Jong article (yes, it involves "crass, non-art " pee photos, how terrible!), but if you read the last paragraph in "Ad Nauseam", you'd notice that I didn't fall for their schtick and clearly expressed its weaknesses. Of course, you much prefer engaging in a brazen polemic about Omar the Street Critic's many defaults, rather than providing insightful arguments for this blog about the art that I and other writers are reviewing. But please, be my guest.



September 27, 2004, 5:31 AM

Good to hear from you , Omar. It has been quite a while since I have been the target of such a massive ad hominum attack. I was beginning to think no one cared any more.

You should not have to "fact check" to avoid writing that Picasso started making prints in the 30s. As a practicing art critic, with all that high-class education, it is something you should have known in the first place.

I don't know what Modernism has to do with photos of pissing. Or what "hilarious absurdity" or"relevance to contemporary youth culture" has to do with art.


Omar Sommereyns

September 27, 2004, 5:58 AM

P.S. Not that this exempts me from anything, but I'm a culture writer, not an "art critic" -- the term implies a much more focused expertise in a certain field. C'mon, do you think Street has ever had an actual "art critic", someone that can parallel, say, Arthur C. Danto?

Who, Damarys Ocana, their former art writer?



September 27, 2004, 6:12 AM

Alesh, if Michael Moore somehow manages to get cast as the lead in a production of Hamlet, or if Michael Jackson pays his way into playing the lead in Othello, I don't need to see either travesty to say, with great confidence, that it IS a travesty. If you decided to put your feces in cans as an artistic statement (which, of course, has already been done), and some gallery in Wynwood exhibited them, you'd better believe I wouldn't feel any need to see the show and I wouldn't give a damn if a Street critic (or any other) went gaga over it.

Frankly, I've paid my dues, certainly around these parts, and I'm no longer willing to invest time or energy in anything that is not, in my estimation, at least tolerably promising. Yes, I could conceivably miss out on something worthwhile, but the chances of that are far, far lower than the chances of my wasting my time if I continue to see everything everywhere, as I pretty much have done. If you have a problem with my approach, that's your issue and not my concern. My mind opens and closes entirely at my discretion.



September 27, 2004, 6:24 AM

Omar, If your job requires you to write about art and you feel you are not qualified, ask someone who knows to help out.

I think Arthur C. Danto is a phony and a windbag. If he were writing for Street I suspect I would be on his case pretty quickly.



September 27, 2004, 7:02 AM

C'mon, do you think Street has ever had an actual "art critic"...?




September 28, 2004, 4:33 PM

I agree with Omar, but more so: Miami doesn't have any art critics.



September 28, 2004, 5:20 PM

In that case, Catbird, I'd like to hear what kind of person you would willingly refer to as an art critic.


Concerned Artist

September 28, 2004, 8:56 PM

What is Vice Magazine doing on an art blog? I dont see how this clothing catalog for rich kids is important to artists. Its lush, pretentious, apathetic bullshit has nothing to do with me, and Im 22. Ah, and Ryan McGinleys self satisfying pics for esoteric designer clothing are bad news. Who cares? This subculture of ours is very good at patting themselves on the back, very bad about taking risks. Its all so conservative and clean, like all that goddamn fake experimental electronic music that could double as VW jingles. Where is the divine EXPERIMENT? Shouldnt this all be much more challenging?

Fuck all these easy answers - the less afraid artists are of mistakes, the better off well be. If I see anymore aqua and plexiglass Ill die and take everyone with me. We have more material to work with then weve ever had as artists and everyone is concerned about their careers. Its unholy. The art world is self congratulatory to the point of parody, and none of this elitist youth subculture is any better. Its like someones issuing a checklist on what you have to believe in and be. I dont buy all this indie, scenester, name dropping shit, and why should I? So I can watch a Bum Fight? Thats why we have 18 year-old soldiers, because only the young are capable of such violent dispassion.

Why should the Modernists that write on this site pay attention to this, the MOST incestuous of all communities? What does it have to do with their lives? What will these over- saturated children teach them? I see NYC inspired spray painted John Cage portraits all over FIU, but Cage said fashion is from the devil and Im inclined to believe him.


that guy in the back row

September 28, 2004, 10:16 PM

Alright concerned artist guy. Your Vice Mag comment was halfway coherent. The rest... not so much. Try thinking before you write so the rest can understand you. You sound angry enough to be making some good points. Now make them.


Concerned Artist

September 28, 2004, 11:06 PM

I'm at work trying to hide my browser, so I'm writing quickly. What are you not understanding?

Vice had a semi-positive review for a DVD called "Bum Fight", which was basically footage of 20 somethings paying homeless men to fight each other. Not an art thing, but a culture thing. Yay.

Aqua colors and plexiglass in art? We all know this, right? It's everywhere.

It's a checklist system. Certain things are fashionable to like and believe in and most scenesters seem to just check these things off a list.

At FIU there's a group that spray-paints John Cage's face all over. Cage is not important here, what is important is that the artist has shown that he knows who Cage is. It's a name-dropping thing.

Does that help?


that guy in the back row

September 28, 2004, 11:59 PM

Great art could be made with all those things you mentioned. That the art you saw didn't do anything for you might mean that the art sucked. Are you telling me that if you:

-pay bums to fight
-spraypaint John Cage's face to a support
-use aqua and plexiglass in your art

that you qualify for being trendy in Miami? I think it involves more deviance and soul selling myself but your welcomed to your opinions. I'd like to see the "Bum Fight" if not for the art than at least for the sick depraved joy of it.



September 29, 2004, 12:00 AM

I wouldn't be too hard on concerned artist, back row guy. He seems healthily angry. He just has has own local bullshit to be angry at.


Omar Sommereyns

September 29, 2004, 12:03 AM

Concerned artist, you seem to be aware of the pretentious "subculture" booming in cities like New York and I agree that it's mostly a world of fashion and scenesters, but, obviously you don't get Vice, which is probably the most honest source of information for contemporary youth culture, which, if you know it and are living it, you'd understand it's relevance, whether or not it's a good or bad thing. I'm not saying those guys don't have their pretenses, but they're covering culture better than any current godforsaken "arts and culture" glossy. McGinley's photos are self-indulgent, but like Larry Clark's work, it's a candid, updated vision of youth. I only pointed out Vice to Oldpro in reference to Ellen Jong, whose work I reviewed and who has shot for Vice. Nonetheless, I'd rather not start a debate about that right now but, talking about pretense, I find it rather amusing that 3/4 of the people on this blog love lashing out their opinions, but don't even have the balls to reveal their real names. Ha.



September 29, 2004, 1:26 AM

Omar, we have been over the anonymity issue several times here in the last few months. There are very legitimate and obvious reasons for not revealing names, just as there are for secret ballots, etc etc. Please let's not beat this dead horse again.



September 29, 2004, 1:57 AM

Boy, that Cage thing sure sounds unpromising. My condolences, Concerned.

Omar, I get suspicious when I hear the term "youth culture." I suspect that it's a marketing demographic. (Mine was "Generation X," which I don't believe really exists either.) So when something is said to speak to youth culture, I think immediately that we're still talking about fashion and not art, or something not worth distinguishing between the two (painted trucker hats, anyone?) I believe in the existence of hip-hop culture, skateboarding culture, grafitti culture, and all that, but upon repeated usage, "youth culture" starts looking like an excuse to sell something to a teenager or make lazy art.


Omar Sommereyns

September 29, 2004, 3:07 AM

Franklin, you are right on about pseudo-youth culture and, perhaps, I use the term a bit loosely -- I should be saying "youth consumer culture" or something. And many magazines and "merchants of cool" have been pushing it as "subculture" and counterculture" or "indie" and "underground" even though none of that exists anymore. Perhaps I was embracing graf, skateboarding, hip-hop and other elements together when I wrote "contemporary youth culture."


Concerned Artist

September 29, 2004, 4:03 AM

I'm Chad Clayton Harris.

Vice is most certainly a funny magazine, with some decent content, and it's free (still?) which is amazing - but it's also emotionally and intellectually uncommitted. Not as bad as some, that's for sure.

Unlike counterculture and subculture movements 20 years ago, my peers don't seem to really care about anything. All these extremes, all this art, is beefed up and backed up with expensive educations, but to what end? Painting now seems like it's only a visual system of nodding agreement to others in the know. See, it's a record player. It's harvest gold and there's a pink record in it. Yup. Contemporary music? An experimental musician doesn't have to do more than be some derivative waterdowned mash of obscure Krautrock bands and Perry and Kingsley with a pleasant melody. I don't get it. Shouldn't we be REALLY challenged by all this? There is, of course, some very contemporary and relevant art being made by young people - here's some that I am listening to and looking at now, this is all very much up my alley:

I hate to be so NEGATIVE and ANGRY all the time! I just have such a hard time relating to all this culture, which I'm part of. You know what I mean Omar?



September 29, 2004, 4:38 AM

I know nothing of the "youth culture" things you allude to, Concerned. Like Franklin, my antennae go up when I hear grandiose, non-specific phrases like "youth culture".

But I have a feeling that the reason you are so angry is because you have a predisposition to care about something, whatever it may be It probably just isn't quite focused yet


that guy in the back row

September 29, 2004, 4:39 AM

so Chad, If I'm following this thread correctly: your telling us about what counter culture was like when you were two? Forgive me if I don't take your opinion too seriously. "people like us" was funny but as art it was lame.



September 29, 2004, 5:42 AM

Chad, your description of painting as "only a visual system of nodding agreement to others in the know" is apt to a great degree, and I suspect the same could be said about any medium to some extent. For instance, my knowledge of music is poor in general, so I have no idea what you're talking about above regarding experimental music. (BeWare, we need you.) On the other hand, I've been on an Asian electronica kick lately, so I can now distinguish Karsh Kale from Midival Pundits, and you probably can't just cause you don't know about them yet. Painting isn't rocket science and it's not magic. It's mud on cloth, as Robert Hughes once put it. I would add that it's mud on cloth with a community around it. As with any community, there are agreements about what's important, relatively fewer dissentions about same, and practitioners and admirers in possession of varying amounts of aptitude for the topic. If it calls to you, come on in. If not, good luck finding your niche. You will find something similar happening there.

I sympathize with your anger. I spent years being pissed, as anyone on the receiving end of a negative review from me circa 1999 - 2002 will attest. For some reason that anger has dissipated somewhat. I guess I went around the angry track enough times to realize that the finish line and the starting line are in the same place. But I know where you're at if you're at all like me - you take all this crap going on around you personally, and you get a bug up your butt about it. I'm not going to tell you not to. On the contrary, get angry, and let that motivate you to make something amazing, and in the process of doing so, you'll probably forget all about the stupid stuff going on and just make your work.



September 29, 2004, 6:00 AM

Yikes! Guy in the back row has it out for me! I should know better mentioning my age! I'm interested in the amazing 80s music and video scene, of course, historically. People Like Us can be easily dismissed - but, like most good things, it took me a while to get it. Thanks for the good words Franklin.



September 29, 2004, 7:11 AM

This blog reads like a bathroom stall at a prep school--semi-intelligent polemic that centers more around reveling in your own refuse, than an attempt to reach some intelligible conclusions. Semantics, semantics...blah, blah, blahhow about more of an effort at understanding each other, and less ego-masturbation.



September 29, 2004, 1:25 PM

Ma/'at: It is posts like yours that make a blog read like a bathroom stall.



September 29, 2004, 2:37 PM

Ma'at, akin to the old saw about being the change you want to see in the world, I invite you to contribute the content you want to see on the comments boards.



Other Projects


Design and content ©2003-2022 Franklin Einspruch except where otherwise noted