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an open letter to jacin giordano

Post #441 • December 30, 2004, 11:19 AM • 44 Comments

Dear Jacin,

First of all, sorry for not reviewing your show at Snitzer while it was still up. My show was going on at the same time and I was a little wiped out. I got to see it, though. I stand behind my assessment of your talents - you continue to be one of the stronger painters in town.

This last show at Snitzer didn't surpass the previous one. I think it came in under, in fact. Your technique for handling acrylics continues to look inventive and bold. But two things seem to be tripping you up, one compositional, the other cultural.

You're using a landscape-type composition in your work that differs from the more two-dimensional, truly abstract approach of your previous work, and it's not helping. You went bigger, and big paintings demand strong compositional devices - a landscape motif probably seemed like just the thing. But they're contrived and unadventurous by comparison. Your work goes better when you think of it like a map rather than like a landscape.

I also see the influence of Laura Owens on your more recent work. I know you're a big fan of Owens, but I'll tell you again - you're a better painter than she is. Flee her vibrations. She's trying to set up faux-naif dioramas, whereas you ought to be maximizing your snappy colors and strange textures. You could almost forget about making pictures and probably come out ahead.

That brings me to the second problem - you caught the Cute Bug. The Cute Bug is going around down here in Miami. Even I'm occasionally tempted to make a cute painting. Don't go cute - go ugly. Your best work in the last show made me think, Lordamercy, this looks like a genetic accident involving a hand-knitted afghan and an athletic sock. It worked, even while looking scary, which is great. As it is, you look a little like Greg Kucia trying to redo Piet Mondrian. (You're a better painter than Greg Kucia, too.) Kill everything that looks winsome in your work. Lose the installations of blankets - we already know where you're coming from. Bear down on getting each corner of your paintings to work with the same strength as the center. You can do it, man.

Fondly, I remain

Your endless-running font of unsolicited advice,





December 30, 2004, 7:47 PM

I'm going to surprise everyone and say this artist has something going. It isn't jelled yet, and I agree with just about all of what Franklin says (especially about staying away from Laura Owens; at this point that influence is pernicious) but there is something there.



December 30, 2004, 8:15 PM

I saw this show. Cute. Synthetic. Fun. Trendy. Colorful. Decorative. I didn't dislike it, but I came out feeling like I'd eaten a bit too much cotton candy. The best pieces for me were a couple of smaller works in the back, next to the office area (which are not illustrated above).

There is a certain child-like quality here which is appealing, a playful feeling, combined with a certain delicacy and even elegance. There is also an uncomfortably overt plastic-synthetic character which alienates me, and the bright colors only heighten that aspect.

And by the way, Franklin, the antidote to cute need not be ugly. Contrived ugliness is no better than shallow prettiness. Both are affected.



December 30, 2004, 8:46 PM

Jack is right about cute/ugly. You dont apply characteristics, you move with what you have into something better. This artist is all over the place (often an indication of talent & energy) and hasn't yet taken all that "overt plastic/synthetic" stuff and forcd it into a singular, focused method. When he does the work still may have all those off-putting characteristics but be better as art.

The Laura Owens reference, now that I think about it, puzzles me. I don't see much of Laura Owens here. This person is already a better and more interesting artist than she is. Influence from rthat direction would be very destructive.


jonathan lasker

December 30, 2004, 9:03 PM

Hey! This kid is ripping me off. I'll take it as a compliment.



December 30, 2004, 9:04 PM

Throw away the art mags Jacin.



December 30, 2004, 9:06 PM

I may be overstating it, but I perceive Owens, or rather her commercial success, as the source of a lot of cuteness in current art. She also started a kick of making landscapes out of visual quotes from this and that, and I feel that method at work here.



December 30, 2004, 9:59 PM

I agree that the "this and that" is at work here, but this is something that started in the 80s with those random insets that artists like David Salle did. I also agree that Laura Owens is the embodiement of cute, and insipid, bland. lackluster, what have you. Looking at one of her pix is like chewing on Kleenex.

This stuff is way more jammed and "vulgar" in a positive, forceful sense, and the errant juxtapositions more jarring and humorous. As i said, I think he has a long way to go to get it together, but he is way more vital and interesting than Owens.


mr strauss

December 30, 2004, 11:12 PM

Well this artist does some things well, and he falls short in some spots also.

What does he do well? In my opinion he is successful in both use of striking color juxtapositions and in his use of the space on his canvas. He understands composition well. Your eye rest on those images in a way that intrigues it, primarily because he knows when and where to leave enough space.

Where does he fall short?

Well, you are always going to run into trouble dealing with wholely abstract impulses. It asks a lot of the viewer to be responsible for generating all of the meaning himself. Plus it lends itself to dismissal that sounds like "oh that is just totally arbitrary." Also, the things that he does well, listed above, he doesn't do fantastically well consistently enough - a conclusion that I have drawn, admittedly, from a very limited sample. I'd also venture that he lacks range, with the same disclaimer.

But for someone doing abstract stuff, this guy is pretty striking.

thanks for reading my comment,

mr strauss



December 30, 2004, 11:37 PM

Mr Strauss: I think we should be careful with the idea of "range". Most great art is very narrow, that is, very limited in its means and effects. I would have mr. Giordano restrict his "range" in that sense - even more.



December 31, 2004, 1:36 AM

I meant to add that, in this case, I tend to prefer the reproduced images of the work to the live work, because the images flatten everything out and remove the distraction (for me) of textured bits and pieces of material that look and feel plastic (literally). Seen live, these paintings struck me as more fussed over and/or gimmicky than they do as digital images. The reproduction process acts as a kind of equalizer or varnish, if you will, so one can focus better on color, compositional patterns and the overall effect, as opposed to the individual little units that make up the whole. In other words, the flattened images register with me as better integrated, more harmonious and "natural."



December 31, 2004, 4:45 AM

That's interesting. I would have thought that becaue they are so graphic they could be read pretty well in reproduction. But what you are saying rings true.



December 31, 2004, 5:48 AM

What happened to free speech!!!!!!!!
I thought I contributed 2 great quotes pertaining to Thiele blog, and you deleated them?
Correct me if i'm wrong but are you based in Cuba?
This sucks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



December 31, 2004, 6:17 AM

Hold off L8R - you may have put the quotes in a type of quote mark which the blog will not accept - when this has happened to me I just redo the quote in a following post. Franklin has never deleted anything except people using other people's screen names, in my experience.



December 31, 2004, 6:26 AM

No quote marks were used!!!!!!!!!!!



December 31, 2004, 7:43 AM

Save your exclamation marks. I am sure Franklin can explain it.



December 31, 2004, 8:22 AM

I got your explanation right here, buddy. L8R hit the trifecta yesterday.

1. Off-topic, non-sequitur posts. Normally, I let it go.

2. Double post. Now this frosts my shorts, but normally I let this go too.

3. A post with four, count 'em, four unclosed tags. Now I have underlines, strikethroughs, bolds, and italics going through the rest of the page. My shorts are frozen solid, and I have cleanup duty on top of it. And while I'm cleaning up, a couple of L8R's more outré posts, including the duplicated ones, disappear. Now how did that happen?

(I left the one that seemed to directly address Thiele's work.)

My readers will attest that I allow all sorts of nonsense and aggravation remain on these pages, because I value the free, open format and the range of voices that stop by to opine. What sucks is cleaning up after commenters who think I owe them a forum. I have set up an intellectual commons, and like in any commons, there are rules against littering.

P.S. - Shove that Cuba reference up your ass.



December 31, 2004, 8:50 AM

You have a way with words Franklin. Why don't you write something for Issue #6. I hear Accent Miami is paying for selected work now. [For those who don't know me, I'm AMs Design Editor]

...and Jack is right on the mark about the Giordano reproduction vs. reality issue.


mr strauss

December 31, 2004, 11:52 AM

To: Old Pro

Thank you for engaging me regarding my comment. My response:

I may have been unclear in my phrasing. What I meant to say was that the artist showed a lack of range, based solely on the few images I saw here, which, granted, isn't much to base any conclusion on. But I agree with your principal position that individual works are often very successful while being very narrow in scope. I might even venture that a broad work has less of a chance of being successful - or at least it carries more of a handicap - than does a narrow work. Which I think might be a point you were voicing as well?


mr strauss



December 31, 2004, 4:49 PM

Mr Strauss:

When I mentioned narrow focus I was referring less to an individual work (I don't think I could say what might be a "broad" or "narrow" work of art) but to an artist's approach. There are a million things you can throw into a work of art, but the process of making good art is one of a series of limiting choices whereby the artist eventually settles on a very few means for making art. To put it very simply you might say that art is characteristically "deep" rather than "broad". This is why we can recognize the "style" of an artist, and this is why we have to be careful about criticising any artist on the basis of "range". "Range", or the choice to do "everything" could be a very valuable asset to, say, an illustrator, but even there the most noted illustrators are usually those who develop a distinct "look" and way of working.


For one who is ignorant of these things, what is an "unclosed tag", and why would would a double post get you upset? I have occasionally entered something twice, but it is always just a simple mistake. And when I try to use computer-style enclosures (those wedge-shaped things, which don't show up when I use them) the whole quote disappears. Also when I enter italics or underlines or bold type face they don't show up either.


Jerome du Bois

December 31, 2004, 5:55 PM

Franklin, and everyone:

Testing: Happy New Year!

(Actually, these paintings remind me a lot of Luca Samaras's fabric constructions from back in the day.)

Jerome du Bois



December 31, 2004, 6:07 PM

Oldpro - fair questions.

Let me start by saying that while I'll let people do whatever they want here for the most part, I won't let them advertise ("Hey, come check out my site," unless it's on-topic for some reason). That will get you canned. I'm also interested in discouraging the people who want to make this site read like Artforum's Talkback.

Double posts often happen by accident, but occasionally appear because the server isn't moving fast enough for someone's taste and they ignore that "Click once" note by the submit buttons. Double posts junk up the page and diminish your reading enjoyment.

Unclosed tags are formed when someone starts formatting but doesn't tell the browser where to end it. L8R's four unclosed tags caused his post to appear like this, and threatened to do the same to any subsequent posts. So I had to go in and clean up, which I don't appreciate.

Here's how to form tags properly: let's say you want to italicize one word of a sentence that might typically appear on You arrange the tags thusly:

No, why don't <i>you</i> go soak your head, doofus?

This will appear as:

No, why don't you go soak your head, doofus?

If you leave off that </i> the rest of the sentence and the rest of the page will be italicized. That's an unclosed tag.

Now, anything that appears between a greater-than sign and a less-than sign is a tag, and I have a tagstripper that will eliminate all tags except a, b, i, strike, and u. Otherwise people could hotlink images and do all kinds of mayhem on my site. That means European-style quotes will be interpreted as tags and stripped. However, you can represent less-than sign with something called a character entity. Type the following:


And it will appear as


Greater than is &gt.

The a-tag is special. To create linked text, type the following:

<a href="">Here's a link to</a>

This will appear like so:

Here's a link to

Hope this helps.



December 31, 2004, 6:15 PM

I inquired about Owens on the MOCA bashing day and I am happy now to get some feedback on that...
I thought her work was insipid as opposed to Giordano.
Giordano lacks maturity but the work is not insipid...
Any comparison to Owens in my book would be an insult...
No wonder she refuses to talk about her work...
Nothing to say.

I didn't see Jacin as cute but warn about "clever" or studied.
But he does have a distinct handprint which can be developed in wonderful ways in the future...
Keep it up with more to come



December 31, 2004, 6:16 PM

Thanks for all the info, but help me out with the two "doofus" sentences.

They appear identical, and in both cases the "you" and the "go" are connected. Is this some kind of code?

When I italicize or bold or underline the particular emphasis just disappears when I post.



December 31, 2004, 6:20 PM


What is a "MOCA bashing day"?

You write:
I thought her work was insipid as opposed to Giordano.
Giordano lacks maturity but the work is not insipid...

I think that puts it in a nutshell.



December 31, 2004, 6:20 PM

Sorry, Oldpro, they did look identical when I first posted them. Go have another look.

(Everybody - character entities revert to real characters upon hitting preview. News to me, too.)



December 31, 2004, 6:30 PM

It was 2 days back, Blues for Moca Day...
Perhaps bashing was a bit too harsh...

You just went right over my head
I'm still just trying to avoid all caps...



December 31, 2004, 6:32 PM

Thanks. At my stage of computer development I think I better just forego italics and the rest.



December 31, 2004, 6:45 PM

Note to all - I love you the same whether you can code html or not.

Some non-code acceptable methods of formatting include asterisks:

No, why don't *you* go soak your head, doofus?

and underscores:

No, why don't *you* go read Immanuel Kant's _Critique of Pure Reason_, doofus?

A little geeky, but they do the trick.



January 1, 2005, 12:29 AM

Excuz me but I was only trying to be creative I thought this was an ART BLOG!
John Cage must be rolling in his grave!!!!!!!!!!!!!

P.S. What does this mean:
Message. , , , , and tags are allowed.
are allowed.
are allowed.???????



January 1, 2005, 12:34 AM

Sorry about last post with the tags I cut and paste without thinking.
I didn't mean to do it again I was trying to make a point that tags are allowed. (creative or not)



January 1, 2005, 12:58 AM

It's this "without thinking" thing that I'm having a problem with, L8R.

I'm leaving the rest of this page screwed up as a monument to Without Thinking.



January 1, 2005, 1:06 AM

But Franklin... I thought....



January 1, 2005, 1:23 AM

Excellent, Hovig!

But you know what? It looks like there's not thinking, and then there's plain old not thinking.



January 1, 2005, 1:56 AM

Great reply, Franklin.



January 1, 2005, 2:39 AM

I'll second that, catfish.



January 1, 2005, 5:26 AM

How fun! This is like Star Trek or something, when the force field breaks up the signal! bzz! Cap'n! pshh! under attack! khhh! send help! pfff!



January 2, 2005, 2:09 AM

Just trying a little experiment.

Does this fix it?



January 2, 2005, 2:09 AM




January 2, 2005, 8:26 AM

Your thinking 2 much!


late night fix attempt

January 2, 2005, 9:22 AM

italics, italian, itinerary?

testing, testing, one two three

what about it?


the queen of the internet

January 2, 2005, 9:23 AM

i did it!



January 2, 2005, 3:45 PM


Safari is still reading the page as screwed up, though. How does it look to you Windows users out there?



January 2, 2005, 5:26 PM

With IE running under XP, everything looks back to normal.


Jerome du Bois

January 2, 2005, 10:48 PM


Whup L8R's ass, willya? Make us proud.

I'm running Firefox on an eMac with OS X,and L8R's big black lines are still runnin' through everything up to comment 41. After that, OK.




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