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Post #523 • April 25, 2005, 12:47 PM • 48 Comments

One of the best pieces of advice I've gotten over the last year came from someone who's so smart and so on the ball that I feel honored just to be in contact with him. It went like this:

Miami has the lightest of lightweight art scenes. You are wasting your time getting involved with it unless it is providing significant income. It is and can be nothing more than a day job. I have no place to suggest as better. But it could be deadly to suppose Miami "has potential" or some similar drivel because it isn't going to go anywhere except where the art system has already gone and thoroughly worn out. If you continue to work in Miami just work there, as opposed to "belong to its scene." It will just soak you up and give you nothing of durable value in return.

As has probably been apparent from the lethargy, forehead-clutching, and ennui about art when compared to life on this blog, I've felt pretty soaked up these days. The man was right. I have fun being involved, but as my psychic resources have been in short supply as of late, I have come to notice how much of them are consumed by producing

At one point I pledged to review more shows to make up for the dearth of coverage in print. I had a good run of doing so during Basel and since. But my bottom line is that I'm an artist; the fact that I write is an accident of my intellect. The first design of this blog prominently featured the tagline: the chronicles of an artist in the world. I feel a need to get back in touch with that. So for a while at least (maybe a good long while), we're looking at fewer reviews, and fewer negative reviews among them. If a show doesn't call to me, I'm not going to fool with it. If the art world does something goofy and crass, as we've come to expect it to do, I'm going to remind myself that art is not a world and go back to painting or writing about stuff that interests me.

Like my new camera. This baby has a 2.5-inch LCD display, a quick if not instant shutter, a portable size (I got tired of carrying around that brick I had before), xD memory (Sony Mavica's CDs, while cool, never caught on and didn't work all that well in some respects), 3x real/4x optical zoom, 5.0 MP interpolated. I won't be eating for the rest of the month but at least you'll finally get to see the gaijin calligraphy.

Miami is a beautiful place in many respects - it is pretty and bright. Summer heat and hurricanes notwithstanding, we enjoy a lot of physical comfort here; it ought to be as pleasant of a place as any to make art. If you live in Miami, when you read about how painters left Paris to work in the south of France, you understand that instantly. It is also quite insane. No, let me not call it insane, let me instead call it ignorant in the way that Buddhism uses the term - mistaken or uninformed about fundamental aspects of reality. (Although a city that necessatates the existence of this organization makes you wonder if the standard definition applies.) You don't combat ignorance - you offer wisdom. The Dhammapada, not exactly a recent document itself, calls this idea "ancient." Thus I look forward to using the blog for something different. Beloved Marcus:

A little flesh, a little breath, and a Reason to rule all - that is myself. ... As one is already at the threshold of death, think nothing of the first... The breath, too, what is that? A whiff of wind; and not even the same wind, but every moment puffed out and drawn in anew. But the third, the Reason, the master - on this you must concentrate. Now that your hairs are grey, let it play the part of a slave no more, twitching puppetwise at every pull of self-interest; and cease to fume at destiny by ever grumbling at today or lamenting over tomorrow.

I agreed with someone recently that we've hit a wall around here, and I think the wall is that the bitch-fest finally played itself out. Should no bitching be added to the guidelines? Well, I'm adding it to mine. As recent personal events have underscored, vita is just too damn brevis.




April 25, 2005, 8:22 PM last, a window has been opened....



April 25, 2005, 8:32 PM

No Bitching? Vita is brevis, but bitching is fun.

So we just write good stuff about the good stuff? Sounds like an instant vacuum to me.

If we can't rail against the art business the blog world will lose one of the few voices standing up to do that. We have had a lot bad stuff thrown at us on these pages and we have invariably blown it out of the water. It stands as an example and constitutes a service, in my opinion.

I guess this zen you are into counsels enlightened detachment. That's nice, I suppose. But where does that leave the good folks, the "silent majority", who know in their hearts that they are drowning in dreck - verbal and esthetic - and have nowhere to turn to confirm their feelings?

Of course it is your blog, and your right to take it wherever you want it.



April 25, 2005, 8:37 PM

Well, Franklin, I hope you will at least post images from the AIM show at Dorsch, one of the best there in a while and better than the usual fare at a number of other, "brand-name" galleries. I did not see you at the opening, which struck me as odd, but this show clearly deserves coverage, and the official print outfits will probably drop the ball--again.



April 25, 2005, 9:01 PM

I essentially agree with Oldpro, Franklin. Based on anecdotal but suggestive evidence, I think the blog may be having more impact than is readily apparent. A lot of people who don't post still read and think about what's hashed out here, and in at least some cases they find it of some use. An artist who's probably never posted told me at the Dorsch opening Saturday night that she'd been struck by the recent discussion about form vs. content, and that it helped her put her own ideas about that into better focus. It may be a small thing, but it's something, certainly more than what anyone's likely to get from reading, say, the Herald. We may bitch, but we're serious, we care and we mean business. What other local alternative is there that's more than bland, safe, and/or entirely predictable, establishment-friendly artspeak? Think about it.



April 25, 2005, 9:26 PM

Lovely forward movement, Franklin.

For the rest of us, commenters, not posters, natch (Franklin is the only one who posts around here), we must do what we will. Those who need to bitch are freed to create the venue they desire.

Negativity has been released, gents. Be free.



April 25, 2005, 9:43 PM last, a window has been opened.... Tfulmia, will you be climbing in, or climbing out?

No Bitching? Vita is brevis, but bitching is fun. So is eating candy. A little is fine, but too much is bad for you. Let me clarify that I'm going to stop bitching. You feel free to continue.

So we just write good stuff about the good stuff? Sounds like an instant vacuum to me. Oh, we'll get some disagreement. With a crowd this contentious? We'll get some disagreement.

We have had a lot bad stuff thrown at us on these pages and we have invariably blown it out of the water. Well, we've shot at it, anway. Have we blown it out of the water? Have the famous and bad artists I've critiqued become any less famous or bad because of it, or am I adding a few microseconds to their 15 minutes of fame? Are our institutions operating in a more just or sensible manner because I've fulminated at them, or are things pretty much the same old?

I'm not turning this into Mr. Roger's Neighborhood or anything. But my railing against this and that is creating consequences. My pointing out that Inka Essenhigh is talking like a bimbo acknowledges that she's important, and I'd rather not. My getting angry about the Consortium Grant winners not including any painters - what happens if I win one next year; will I start saying that everything is working fine now? And what a relief it was to not write about four fair-to-midland shows and instead write a sonnet praising my friend's hair in the midst of them. Good art supplies energy; fair-to-midland art demands it and doesn't give it back. I'm tuckered. And I realized that I'm giving it out because I have been thinking of myself as an arts writer and consequently have felt obliged to document everything and say something about it. But I'm an artist. When you're an artist, if you go to a show and don't like the work, you just say, Too bad about that, and that's it. Whew. And by the way, your hair looks nice.

I do detect subtle evidence that this blog has an impact, re: Jack. The thing is, my tastes aren't changing - I'm going to talk up the stuff I like, poke fun at the stuff I don't, and challenge enormity in the artworld as I can. But no more grumbling at today or lamenting over tomorrow.

Again, this all leads back to the advice above - essentially, to be in the Miami art world, but not of it. The Wu Manual of T'ai Chi puts it nicely - don't resist, and don't lose.



April 25, 2005, 9:48 PM

please ,,, bichin is all i got...



April 25, 2005, 10:19 PM

I forgot to mention to Jack that I missed the opening at Dorsch because I was over at the folks' for Passover. I agree that it's a hell of a show and will post images soon.



April 25, 2005, 11:34 PM

What constitutes belonging "to its scene"? As opposed to not beloging.



April 25, 2005, 11:36 PM

belonging. sorry.



April 25, 2005, 11:44 PM

Franklin, your response is admirably to the point, but I still take issue with the point.

Your point is, what good does it do? And you adduce examples to demonstrate that nothing we have done here has caused massive change.

Well, of course not. The good we do is not dramatic and immediate, it is contributory and incremental. As Jack points out, it is largely hidden but undoubtedly there. This is how change happens.

We set an example. When I said "blown out of the water" I did not mean we changed the system or the art or the practice of slinging BS all over the place. I meant that when these people try to justify that bullshit they end up looking like jerks. Ayoung artist, confused and intimidated by the bullshit, can read what we have to say and think (i hope anyway), wait a minute, I don't have to believe all that crap tthe art business is dishing out. That's the positive part of the negativity, folks, and I feel good about it. .

We are, quite literally, what those bullshitters like to think they are: an Alternate Space.

Anyway, thanks for letting us keep on bitching.

Oh, Kathleen, Tfulmia, and all you other relieved people, remember, it is always a refief to give up.



April 25, 2005, 11:45 PM

Is there a Part-of-the -Scene test I can take to find out?



April 25, 2005, 11:57 PM

Regarding the no bitching clause the Dhammapada also says:

Be quick to do good.
If you are slow,
The mind delighting in mischief,
Will catch you.

Turn away from mischief.
Again and again, turn away,
before sorrow befalls you.

Set your heart on doing good.
Do it over and over again,
and you will be filled with joy.



April 26, 2005, 12:10 AM

You already failed it, beWare.

Actually, I can't define what he means by that, but I understand what "just work there" means. As opposed to swilling cocktails and chatting people up at openings - just get your darned work made. Or in my case, as opposed to running all over town and writing about stuff whether I give a bag of beans about it or not.

Oldpro, recently you brought up the hope that the visual and non-visual art camps would go their separate ways and develop independently. The thing is, what looks like bullshit over here goes over like gold over there. And if I keep talking about them, I'm in their world. Then they come over here and get in ours. The stale odor around here is this increasingly tired argument between the two camps. But there really is no such thing as bad publicity - I do more damage by not discussing the bullshit than I do by excoriating it.

Those people you mention will come around here and realize that I'm not writing bullshit and they'll hang out. I plan to lead by example in that regard.

The subtext of the above, too, is that I'm going to spend more time on my art and more time talking about art that inspires me.

Chris, thanks. Those recommendations are coming.



April 26, 2005, 12:19 AM

To supplement #11, I'll add that pointing out someone PURPORTED to be important actually sounds like a glorified bimbo is NOT acknowledging her supposed importance but CHALLENGING it. If nobody publicly and explicitly identifies or exposes BS for what it is, THAT is a tacit form of supporting or enabling the BS.



April 26, 2005, 12:25 AM

If she didn't matter at all, there would be no point in remarking that she sounds like a bimbo. So she's important to the people who she's important to. I'm not in that group. Those people who think she's important don't matter to me. In a sense, this is a very Jackist approach.



April 26, 2005, 12:29 AM

The "Dhammapada" ? I'm sorry, maybe I'm just in a funny mood from all the drugs i've been taking for the herniated disc in my back, but Dhammapada sounds like a falafal joint in Cambridge, Mass where you can also read dog-eared translations of or Jalaladin Rumi by Coleman Barks (the best translations, actually) while also eavesdropping on conversations of Bierkenstock-frocked proffs between classes at the Divinity School. What I mean is that it's all so....earnest. We all. often, set are hearts on doing good and are only rarely "filled with joy", because joy is a rare gift, a fleeting thing. That's why wickedness is fun. And so is this blog. As my pal Tom's grandmother used to say, "If you don't have anything nice to say about someone....come sit next to me!"

And now, more valium, please. :)



April 26, 2005, 12:47 AM

Those people who think she's important don't matter to me either, Franklin, but it's not about those people; it's about the ones who are still able to hear and accept the truth if only somebody will make it clear and plain enough for them. It's about people who are too insecure to go against current dogma without sufficient support and reassurance. It's about driving the money changers out of the temple, Franklin, as a certain Jew once did.



April 26, 2005, 1:24 AM

franklin, for whatever it's worth, i am pleased at this change in direction. i think you'll be happier. i know that sounds kind of silly, but i mean it. i liked your documentation of art and having a forum to sound off on it. up to a point, i've also gotten something out of some the discussions in the comments.

but in terms of reading and inspiration, i get a lot more out of your "chronicles of an artist in the world" stuff (i.e., the beautiful "500" post) than much of the other stuff. and for many of the reasons you mentioned, i think focusing on your own work and processes is generally more constructive at this point as well.

as for the pro-bitching folks, have you thought about starting a blog (or blogs) of your own? you're certainly prolific enough writers to keep one going. you can still maintain your anonymity (as much as is possible on the internet, anyway), and they're easy enough to get up and running. or in the wise words of le tigre, get off the internet--why not start your own venue, curatorial series, lecture series, etc. dedicated to cultivating the art you feel merits more attention?



April 26, 2005, 2:11 AM

Franklin, Ah ha trapped between the eclipses.

I agreed with someone recently that we've hit a wall around here, and I think the wall is that the bitch-fest finally played itself out. Not really, maybe whats occurred is that youve burned through the obvious, what comes next is where the fun should start.
We are living on the cusp of a changing era, blogging is one of its attributes, which contains the potential for a mode of social interaction which has never existed before in human culture. Cyber communities allow a linking between individuals with similar interests without regard for physical boundaries, it is a form of meta friendships. So you took on the task of starting a blog, the chronicles of an artist in the world so to speak (or write as the case may be). A myriad of chronicles ultimately leads us to a place with thousands of busy writers but also paucity of readers.

This is one of the better artists blog out there, for that, thank you. I honestly dont know what you or anyone else expects from this endeavor. A chronicle is cool, what it has developed into is personally more interesting. Somehow, the "comments" part of this blog has become as interesting a dialog as the original commentary. Partly this occurs because you start us off in the right direction but also it is a result of the others who participate in the discourse.
because I have been thinking of myself as an arts writer
Maybe you are more of a provocateur who has a way with words?

I have a hunch that todays blogs are a bit like stem cells, undifferentiated and capable of growing into various forms. Whatever the case, it is interesting to have access to a community of individuals with a shared interests.



April 26, 2005, 2:48 AM

OK, Franklin, I guess I don't really disagree with you. Your anitbitching proposal disturbed me a bit at first, but I can see that all you really intend to change is your own procedure, and of course that is your privilege. It may even be a good idea. Let's see.

I don't want to start a blog, Denise. I like this one. Franklin does a terrific job and I am grateful to him for doing it.

I like the stem cell idea, George. It will be very interesting to see what happens in the blogosphere over time. I think it can only be good.



April 26, 2005, 5:05 AM

Even though I've been compared to Torquemada here, and even though I'm no doubt considered hopelessly opinionated, rigid and all the rest of it by some, it has never occurred to me to tell anyone, however distasteful to me, to go off to be with his/her own kind on his/her own blog so I don't have to be imposed upon any more by his/her presumably inappropriate and/or unenlightened comments.

How very curious, then, that such a, uh, tactful approach seems to be so prevalent in certain quarters that surely consider themselves exquisitely open-minded, tolerant, and utterly without the slightest prejudice.

Most interesting.



April 26, 2005, 5:10 AM

I know franklin is focusing on fewer reviews but does anyone have pics of the show at dorsch? I was out of town and unable to attend.



April 26, 2005, 5:12 AM

"It's about driving the money changers out of the temple, Franklin, as a certain Jew once did." Go figure...



April 26, 2005, 5:31 AM

It's about the truth.

Who's truth?

Ask the truth fairy.



April 26, 2005, 6:13 AM

"No more bitching" sounds like something I should hate by default, but the more I think about it, the more I agree with Franklin. The way the negative posts tend to go is that Franklin posts about some art he doesn't like (or has serious reservations about), the Artblog Posse tears it to shreds, a few idea-art-people (as I guess they're going to be referred to), including me, come to the reluctant defense of the work, and a big argument ensues. It was fun the first few times, but it does get repetitive.

The "great art stops thinking" post of a few months ago, on the other hand, led to a pretty different kind of discussion; long, nuanced, and positive as well as negative.

Plus, Franklin's writing is the fuel around here (and not just because it's his blog), and his writing is just not as good when he's pointing out flaws in things (however carefully). The 500 post was a bit much for me, but lots of the other "positive" writing has left plenty of room for good, contentious discussion. Plus, I don't think Franklins going to be able to resist throwing in some spleen once in awhile.

Oldpro~ insofar as you are far and away the best voice against the forces you refer to, i-for-one would strongly encourage you to rethink your refusal to start your own blog. Consider that it would in no way compromise your ability to comment here. Consider that you would be able to focus exactly on that which is wrong with the art world. Consider that, noting the recognition you've gotten as a mere commenter here, you could be a voice for whatever-it-is-you-call-your-view on a national level. I fail to see the downside.

Eddie~ Duh. Dorsch is open every Saturday, 1-4 pm. Just get your ass down there next weekend. You can see the show; all you'll miss is the super-groovy opening-night crowd. Just be ready to sweat.



April 26, 2005, 6:36 AM

To bitch or not to bitch, that is the question.
Actually, a rule is more insidious, just leave it up to your gut.

a pretty different kind of discussion; long, nuanced, and positive as well as negative This sounds right, what I would look for. Yet, in any public discourse you will get a mix of high and low, which is as it should be. The discourse that is the target which provides the path to the long and nuanced discussion.

As far as OldPro starting his own blog, this is an interesting suggestion. On one hand maybe he has the desire and energy to maintain one. On the other hand maybe OldPro is better off as a "commentor", a special class in the blogosphere (whattawurd). As for myself, Ive run an investment message group for 6 years and know what it takes, its a lot of work, Id rather be a "commentor"

The fact that people can take this blog as a serious forum is important and not that common, kudos to Franklin.



April 26, 2005, 6:43 AM

Alesh: Thanks for the compliment. Tryin' to get rid of me??

The downside is time. And I have no interest in being a big blog deal. I enjoy active and contentious discussion - which I used to get face to face when I lived up around the Big Apple - and I work with the computer a lot during the day, so when I get bored it is a pleasure to drop in and yak a little and then go back to work.

Furthermore it is fun to deal with the unexpected. If I had my own blog I think I would bore myself to death.

Franklin does a real good job here. That's good enough for me.



April 26, 2005, 6:46 AM

Opee, whatta class act.



April 26, 2005, 6:47 AM

Thanks to all for the compliments and input. But I need to return a lot of the former, as I happen to be fortunate to have a lot of active and dedicated commenters. I promise to do my best to make this site worth reading every weekday, even with the new approach.



April 26, 2005, 7:00 AM

Franklin, whatever you do will be fine.
I made my earlier remark about "stem cells" and blogging with a point in mind, namely that the blog idea must evolve into something else. Not linearly but chaotically with bifurcating intentions. The idea that the "common man" could have a voice is very significant. This notion has not gone unnoticed, see this little post on Felix Salmon's blog. You might be in Miami, but you're just 10 point Arial to me.



April 26, 2005, 7:10 AM

alesh- first of all, blow me. second of all, i'm not in florida therefore i can't make it there, opening night "groovy" crowd or not.



April 26, 2005, 7:21 AM

Eddie and Alesh, Spy vs Spy.
Eddie proves the point, who knows where we are?
Follows on my question yesterday about the lack of photos on the Dorsch website. It's a different world out there. Go to MOMA and stand in front of Pollock's "One", you'll be flanked by citizen image makers with their digital cameras or cell phones. The genie is out of the bottle.



April 26, 2005, 2:21 PM

" . . . i was out of town an unable to attend.[#23]"

implies you're back in town now and being unable to attend was a temporary state. Geez.



April 26, 2005, 3:08 PM

Franklin, all I can say is that you should have recieved two consortium awards - one for your intelligent literarary dedication and the second for your painterliness.



April 26, 2005, 3:28 PM

Great Post Franklin.

I am reading this at my day job, which some people forget that I have...

In a few hours I will find out if tonight I will be either:
On a Plane to Lisbon.
On a Plane to Hawaii.
On a Plane to FreePort Bahamas.
On a plane to a destination yet to be determined.
Our staying in town, to support other employees who will be making those flights.

If the last option is what is in store for me, then I will be at the gallery around 8:00PM and will stay up late photographing the AIM and Keddell Show, and sending the images to Franklin to post if he wants to.

If it's before midnight and I have not gotten too many phone calls from my day job I will try to update my website, but after working all weekend some sleep may be in order. So the web may have to wait until the weekend.



April 26, 2005, 4:39 PM

I think this might be a little bit off topic but, did you hear the new pope saying that Buddahism was some kind of erotic diversion (something along those lines)? I haven't heard anyone comment on it and I'm sure he said something negative that was overlooked in all the latest showing of robes and waffing of incense.



April 26, 2005, 6:22 PM

okay here we go. note!i use public computers to get read this and im not that fast a reader and i actually had to scroll back to remember what this was about, so many tangents. Ok this said-i am an outsider from miami, having celebrated (kinda) my one year arrival anniversary recently and am always looking. All of you are from the scene. If anything because you are here and posting(yes posting, it's what it says at the little virtua button at bottom). You dont have to be active in a scene to be part of it. the scene obviously benefits from your inclusion active more obvious than passive, but we are all here. Usually recognition is a big scene definer. Something i personally have not enjoyed (or at least enough to fill my standard, egotistical or not) Truth is the scene here is something i have defined as an outsiders view. And you know what, i haven't decided whether to say it yet or not. I i feel i have a handle on who i am talking to but still i feel insecure. Ok ill say it.......or not.......ok.......ok no............

coffe anyone?



April 26, 2005, 7:16 PM

Jack, relax. i meant it in the "be the change you wish to see in the world" sort of way. i.e., if you're unhappy with a change in policy/content/whatever, why not create a space that reflects the type of policy/content/whatever you want to see?



April 26, 2005, 7:57 PM

Well, Denise, when something I care about may change for the worse, my approach is to try to prevent that, not abandon ship and start from scratch. If that's what you do, fine, but I'm obviously not you. And by the way, regardless of what you meant, it came across as it was bound to do, and still does.



April 26, 2005, 11:14 PM

some folks have referred to this blog as a forum for discussion and critique of "the art establishment," or faulty art systems. several of the regular commenters have come to value the comments section of this blog as a vehicle for challenging the status quo. in other fields (politics, journalism, etc.), people are using blogs strategically to challenge ineffective institutions and hold them accountable. they do this in part by disseminating information, networking with other bloggers, collaborating online to initiate campaigns, share resources, and plan IRL action; and of course, promoting critical discussion. as a discussion point, do folks feel that's what's happening here, or on other art blogs?

dialogue is essential. but is ongoing discussion, however vigorous, a way to effect systemic change, or is something more needed? or are people just enjoying the conversation? (nothing wrong with that.)

as someone mentioned earlier, it can get readers/audiences thinking, and that sometimes translates into IRL action. but do people see this type of dialogue as directly engaging with the institutions that need to change--the decision-makers, stakeholders, whatever? or creating significant impact in some other way outside this space? do the folks involved in this ongoing critical discussion even feel that this is necessary?

i'm curious about other people's opinions on this, as this was really what i had in mind when i posted earlier today.



April 26, 2005, 11:19 PM

i re-read some of OP's comments above, which do somewhat address my questions above. i'd still be interested in hearing other thoughts.



April 27, 2005, 2:11 AM

Denise, Good comments. You mention people using blogs strategically to challenge ineffective institutions Aside from gender or racial issues I seriously doubt such an organized campaign would be effective in the art world. I think the impact of these dialogs is personal, not political. As an artist, the only way to effect stylistic change is by example, talk wont do it. But, to an individual these dialogs have the potential to be affirming and empowering by creating an intellectual environment which is supportive and/or challenging. It is possible that a discourse could lead to evolutionary development in the work and this might indirectly engage the decision makers.



April 27, 2005, 3:54 AM

Working for change in the art world is not like working for change in the real world. There are no laws against bad art. We just have to carry on.

A blog is a forum for ideas and discussion. I do it for fun and interest and because we can set an example, as George says. If we have an effect fine, if we dont, too bad.

In the meantime let's have a good time.



April 27, 2005, 4:45 AM

Denise, what's IRL action?



April 27, 2005, 6:00 AM

IRL=In Real Life. so the way i used it, i meant action in real life, or beyond the interchange that's taking place online. sorry, i thought i'd clarified that somewhere in my comment, but i guess i didn't.



May 9, 2005, 2:27 PM

Seria posible de que consideres no dejar de escribe? No hace mucho encontre su "blog". Ahora que lo encuentro y me encuentro leyendo religiosamente todos los dias usted lo veis necesario echarlo?



May 9, 2005, 2:52 PM

Eduardo, as you can see, I've hardly discarded the blog. Rather, I'm just getting away from railing against the silliness and immorality that I see in the art world, partly because it's not good for my head, partly because it's not newsworthy. Mostly because of the former. It's nice to hear that someone is reading this religiously, though. I'll do my best to keep it interesting.



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