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river

Post #521 • April 20, 2005, 7:10 AM • 25 Comments

Last Wednesday I attended the last Urban Art Access event, which took place at Locust Projects. Artist Frank Haines spoke along with Gean Moreno and Jane Hart of Lemon Sky Editions, the latter who collects his work. Haines created a floor-to-ceiling mural cut from acrylic felt that depicted Vikings, scary white trash Floridians, a hell scene, and medieval warfare. Not the kind of thing I go for, but there was no question that it was done. It didn't want for more labor or vision. I continued to notice the shapes of chairs, and the way rafters fit into the ceiling. I noticed the volume of someone's eyelids. I thought about the logistics of Urban Art Access, and what went into its making. I wondered where Locust built that new apartment for putting up artists in residence.

Something in me, the part that reacts to art, had shut down.

It probably sounds like I'm criticizing the art; that it didn't move me. No, the problem lay on my end. I wasn't reacting. And I thought back and realized that I had hardly reacted to any art at all. For a month. Including mine - my studio practiced had flatlined.

Anyone following this blog during March will remember what the issue is. Since then, more troubles have arrived, none of that seriousness, but enough to kick around the damp cardboard box of my psyche.

I'm fortunate, though. I have received excellent spiritual counseling, and it has penetrated my thick cranium. The numbness I experienced at Locust has given way to something resembling equanimity. My memory of the show acknowledges its existence. Not good, not bad. Nothing to judge. This may spell curtains for my art criticism career, but I felt relief in not feeling pressure from myself to form an opinion about it. And as anyone removed from this business could have told me, the world continues to function in exactly the same way without my opinion about it.

As for my art, I have just taken my first class at Miamintelligence in traditional Chinese calligraphy and painting. That's right - more gaijin calligraphy, although in this case, strictly speaking, we're talking gwailo calligraphy. I learned that I hold a brush like a caveman and load it like a janitor swirling a mop in a bucket of fouled water, the latter of which made my teacher gasp in horror. I have corrected both of these problems. She started me on bamboo, the first of the Four Gentlemen. By the end of the class my leaves were beginning to point properly and my stalks no longer resembled ashen hot dog links. (Pictures? Not yet. We need to have a talk about that tomorrow or Friday.)

More importantly, I reconnected with an intimation I formed at the Upaya retreat - art isn't a world. We call it an art world out of convenience. But art is only taking place between the heart and the brush and the paper. (Chinese conveniently has the word xin, which covers "mind" and "heart" in one go.) It takes place between the xin and the viewer and the xin of the object. (My heart being so pained over the last month, I forgot about that. Breathing, forming a pile of errant bamboo leaves, I remembered.)

Everything else is a business transaction.

I enjoy looking at the business as business; in fact, the real business end of art I'm starting to find fascinating. But the rest of the business, like the silly item in yesterday's post, well, there's no reason to react to that. My mistake was in becoming irritated. I should have laughed.

Relatively, things succeed and fail. Absolutely, everything succeeds at itself, or looking at it another way, fails disasterously, or beyond that, neither succeeds or fails but manifests as motion, like ink turning into bamboo leaves. Both absolute and relative sides operate simultaneously and you have to take care of both of them. If I had seen this at Locust, I would have looked at the art. Just looked. I would remember some of it. Its good elements would stay with me. The ones that didn't work would pass away. I'd go make something and write something. The motion would continue, like life, a river with no beginnings or ends in it. Some things float, others sink, but everything rolls forward together.

Comment

1.

oldpro

April 20, 2005, 3:36 PM

"Everything else is a business transaction."

Amen.

2.

jake

April 20, 2005, 6:25 PM

Well franklin give thanks millions of times, first that this is happening, and second that you have the sight to see it. And here is the point i would like to get across, it may sound cliche, but at these archetypical moments, they are our best friends. Looking, and seeing, two different ideas. People hate to be looked at, they love to be seen. Same with art. This is what shifts you out of oh, good/bad art. You look at it and then see something there. And it is (personal) what you see. It may have so much of a backstory in your life why this particular aspect of the thing you are seeing is striking to you that it may take a while to get through it yourself, let alone trying to commuinicate it to people. And it is quite admirable that you do it everyday.

hope to help
jake

3.

Kathleen

April 21, 2005, 12:33 AM

:) and on and on and on life goes . . . yes, absolute and relative!
Gentle wisdom.

4.

Jack

April 21, 2005, 6:27 PM

Franklin, you're free to take whatever philosophical stance works best for you, but I think something as fatuous as the Essenhigh comment fully deserves to be treated as such. One can certainly laugh at it, because it's silly enough, but as long as she's being taken seriously by the system, such drivel should not escape censure. It may not do much good, given the degenerate state of things, but if no one calls these clowns on their nonsense, there's even less hope for change.

5.

bibi

April 21, 2005, 8:00 PM

Jack, the Torquemada of art.

6.

oldpro

April 21, 2005, 8:33 PM

Bibi, comparing Jack, who is only asking for silliness to be exposed for what it is, to the Grand Inquisator is just dumb.

You recently characterized me as "idealogical", whereupon I immediately asked you to find hust one comment of mine in all the time I have been blogging here that had any idealogical content at all. You did not respond.

If you are going to take cheap shots, back them up with some dry powder.

7.

Cynthia

April 21, 2005, 9:15 PM

Am so glad you're taking steps to refresh yourself and not fall deeper into the hole of despair and an inability to get pleasure from art (even, cynically, from art you don't care for).

I think the brain needs to sit and coagulate every now and then. A rapid response isn't necessary. You may find that you "saw" the art anyway, later on when your current fog lifts. (and it will -- that's what the best art does best). Courage, mon brave!

8.

oldpro

April 21, 2005, 9:24 PM

Cynthia:


Coagulate:
v. To change from a liquid into a thickened mass jell, gelatinize, clot, congeal, curdle, set, stiffen, thicken

Don't you mean just the oposite the opposite, to soften, relax, ease up?.

9.

Jack

April 22, 2005, 2:02 AM

Translation of #5:

"If I don't like someone's opinion or stand on something, s/he must, of course, be a fascist."

Honestly, if that's the best you can do, why bother?

10.

bibi

April 22, 2005, 8:09 AM

Check you spelling, OP. It's "ideological." J: I bother because I care.

11.

craigfrancis

April 22, 2005, 8:38 AM

Franklin: what's happening to you sounds difficult and wonderful. it's good to take time to readjust to this thing we call the art world and to the art experience. some of the most profound art i've seen hasn't affected me until weeks or months or years later when i'm doing the dishes or otherwise unaware and suddenly something hits me in a way i never expected. everything suddenly bursts, it feels like. i think too many people go into galleries with expectations akin to that of going to church. you come out and the world is changed in some profound way when in reality it takes an undetermined amount of time for things to germinate in you and swirl around in there and it's meaningful to you or else you wouldn't still be thinking of it. if that makes any sense.

and then there are those whose thoughts don't change and i imagine their minds are like a little bee caught in a mason jar and talking about what you're talking about won't do any good because their minds are already made up about everything and that's the end of it.

i think coagulate is a proper enough word. because franklin is getting his head together, and to do that takes a loosening and a congealing at the same time.

your mentioning of locust projects is interesting to me since a similar experience of mine happened at that gallery. i was involved in a group show there and felt that the work i had contributed was shit or whatever and kept thinking about how humiliated we'd all be to show this art in miami and how we'd get run out of town etc., etc., and it was this show's apparent failure in my eyes that made me reconsider everything i'd done up to that point, and made me step back from the whole art world and begin to try to evaluate the whole mess anew. as it turned out, things weren't as bad as i had thought, but the whole re examination of what it meant to be an artist was invaluable.

thanks

12.

george

April 22, 2005, 9:59 AM

oldpro,

yup, every now and then the brain needs to experience the state change, directly, from solid to gas.

13.

oldpro

April 22, 2005, 4:33 PM

George: Yeah, we need that gas to keep the hot air going on the blog.

Craig: The "slow realization syndrome" and the" rueful reevaluation of everything" are things everyone should allow to happen, paintful as they are. They are symptoms of growth. I think anyone who does not go through these things or stops going through them is essentially dead mentally.

Bibi: Check your own spelling. "You" should have been "your". Bettter yet, stop picking on trivia and back up some of those accusations you have been carelessly flinging around.

14.

bibi

April 22, 2005, 6:33 PM

Accusations? Don't take it so hard. ("you" was a typo; "idealogical," was a grammatical mistake). Dont be so smart.

15.

Muh

April 22, 2005, 7:02 PM

Personally, I found, pshycholigically, firtile ground for self-doubts. They seem to inflict unnecessary pain and chaos in our psyche but it is a good opportunity to look at our own limitations and strengths and start to search. I believe that every creative mind out there has the unique mental potentials in something what others don't have it and they never will. A successful artistic life is a persistent search through you own confusion and find out to what your brain is responding the best (help of close friends is important). And, I mean, not what you like or it is easy to do or ceate but rather what you have to struggle against. To take artistic struggle means you have a inner strength or force which would help to achieve those unique potentials. The artists who are afraid and unable to face such struggle are flakes. The word fun (the most associated word with art, here in L.A.) is rather poor inspiration for great art.

16.

oldpro

April 22, 2005, 10:05 PM

I am not taking it hard, Bibi. I am speaking for the blog.

Negative characterizations should be backed up or left unsaid.

17.

Franklin

April 23, 2005, 5:40 AM

Negative characterizations should be left unsaid. Address the writing, not the writer.

18.

oldpro

April 23, 2005, 5:35 PM

Better yet.

19.

jake

April 25, 2005, 4:42 PM

i love to be ignored as much as the other guy. So old pro, how old are you and what exactly makes you a pro?

20.

jake

April 25, 2005, 4:58 PM

ok the outing thing is interesting but i know that i've seen at least some of you people, maybe i even know you, but here i have no idea who you are, aside from the rants or phrases you have created as a personna.

the thing i like to see here is the community aspect. And i re-evaluated this post. i thought it was some soret of crisis on the part of the patron, surely something that needed attention since, without the host......we would not have a subject picked for us.

I am not sure this crisis was as serious as i first thought. You took action towards it's "treatment", this post, and well, the worst crisis' are paralallizing. It is strange, but i think it would have been almost more interesting to simply not have seen a post for days maybe even weeks and thought and written amongst the "posters" about the rotting corpse hidden underneath the easel.

Wow, but i sure am glad this did not happen. It shows your character and type of person, the fighter. would not lay down for defeat, rage against the dying of the light. yay!

In fact, have you gotten over this view. since you have posted since, well i guess. But, will your moca review be tainted by this blur? You realize that it is either up to you to not do it, or at least acknowledge your state (assuming it remainsthe same) at the time you write it. Since the following post is in the past tense, it is done, but review it.

I dont know, i guess i just keep writting to see how much i can take, in this impersonal togetherness. I mean, i love body language, and timing and tones and what not. So again i say


ANYONE FOR COFFEE?

21.

oldpro

April 25, 2005, 6:06 PM

it is to understand what you are getting at, Jake.

22.

oldpro

April 25, 2005, 6:08 PM

Sorry, I meant to say it is hard to understand what you are getting at.

23.

jake

April 26, 2005, 5:51 PM

Coffee- drinking it (making it even) in the company-bodily, of each other.

24.

Cynthia

April 27, 2005, 12:27 AM

I think I did mean coagulate. The brain fills up with blood/art. The brain solidifies around some idea and thinks deeply about it, rather than knee-jerk response. The opposite of instant response/gesture is sometimes quite difficult.

25.

oldpro

April 27, 2005, 2:29 AM

Oh, sure, coagulate is OK. It says what you mean.

My reaction was partly because when you said it I immediately thought of that fried-egg "this is your brain on drugs" ad on TV, and I thought, hmm, sounds like too much of a price to pay for a moment of reflection.

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