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Feeling that New Times love

Post #849 • August 10, 2006, 4:10 PM • 23 Comments

I no longer comment at TNFH for a number of reasons, but the overriding one is that I believe that the art world ought to divide into however many factions it needs to divide into, and each one stay out of the others' hair. Arguing and re-arguing basic parameters about art just prevents the conversation that should be happening, within those parameters, from taking place. As I put it more or less to KH, via e-mail, you don't go to the Fairlaine Fancier Society and savage Ford, you don't write into Cigar Aficionado Magazine about lung cancer, you don't come to and dis Greenberg, and you don't go to TNFH and talk about conceptual art as a failed enterprise. Doing so will invite a disproportionate response.

I do read it, though, regularly, because despite differences in taste between me and its author, it's doing an exemplary job covering the art world I grew up in. And from it today I learn that I've been rather nastily slagged by Carlos Suarez de Jesus at the New Times.

Speaking with [Bert Rodriguez] at his studio above a corner bodega and beauty parlor on Biscayne Boulevard, I saw one of his recent works hanging over his couch. It depicted God rolling a snake from a block of clay. I found it a metaphor for some of the virulent commentary on local art blogs regarding his current show.

You can inhale a whiff of the dustup at, where hardline modernist pisspokes tried to cornhole Rodriguez with some guff about "fractal wrongness," whatever the crap that is.

Rodriguez laughed it off but mentioned Miami can be provincial, pointing to the paint-squandering, canvas-harming varmints who crawled out of the woodwork to trash his stuff sight unseen.

"Some of these people are stuck in some academic bubble like slaves. It's like they see themselves as keepers of culture or art history somehow and can't bring themselves to grow or allow others to move on. I can't say what art is, nor am I willing to get caught up in the modernist-versus-postmodernist thing. But can anyone describe what art is really? To attempt to seems crazy."

This brings me to the second reason I don't comment there, which I noted in a comment thread here - arguing with those people is like using a stick to attack an ocean of mayonnaise.

Now, circa 2004 would tear CSdJ limb from limb, but these days, realizing that such things are only too easy, I've tried to take a higher road. Which way to go today? I'm not sure yet.

I take full responsibility for being the hardline modernist pisspokes - all of them - who showed up to criticize Rodriguez. I don't know whom CSdJ wants to implicate by association. I was the only guy in the room taking my side, although regular commenter Ahab did opine once.

CSdJ knows who I am. He could easily have contacted me regarding his confusion about "fractal wrongness," assuming that his confusion is genuine and not the kind of pose that afflicts his writings in general. He did not. In any case, the term derives from computer science, and translates as "The state of being wrong at every conceivable scale of resolution." I was using it to describe the chain of philosophical co-dependence that was meant to support a recent show entitled "Something" at Locust Projects, in which Rodriguez participated.

I confess to harming canvases and squandering paint. My attempts to make better art have required it, although I realize that making better art might strike some people as retrogressive. However, I'm bewildered by the perceived interest in Rodriguez's cornhole, which indicates quite a bit more about the author than me.

Lastly, Rodriguez's reply serves as a fine demonstration of fractal wrongness. Keunwoo Lee at the link above cautions:

Debating with a person who is fractally wrong leads to infinite regress, as every refutation you make of that person's opinions will lead to a rejoinder, full of half-truths, leaps of logic, and outright lies, that requires just as much refutation to debunk as the first one.

For instance, Rodriguez, New World graduate, of the gallery of Frederic Snitzer, New World instructor, thinks of my position as academic, apparently without the irony that drives his work. Miami is provincial, yes, but that's partly why I left. The scene down there regards Rodriguez as the "Miami Duchamp," as Alfredo Triff has called him more than once, without considering what a colossal failure of originality that represents. I have, in fact, seen Rodriguez's work. I can say what art is. But see above re: stick, mayonnaise. There's no point to it. We're talking about an artist who doesn't believe in quality and his spluttering defense by a writer prone to windy inanities. That's what the crap that is.




August 10, 2006, 4:30 PM

Just for clarification, where online can one see the work of this Rodriguez, and just what did you say about it?

Again, apparently, we have the wonderful irony that anyone who criticizes what everyone in the academy is doing is a slave of the academy.



August 10, 2006, 4:34 PM

There's a link to it via the link to TNFH.


Mr. Nippleton

August 10, 2006, 4:51 PM


Leave it alone if is smells.

Stay the course.

No one really cares that much and next week this issue of the New
Times will be lining countless litter boxes.

I happen to like Bert's work, it makes me laugh when I'm stuck in traffic. I feel it functions as work you don't have to afix to a wall. It can exist in your mind and is essentially free to enjoy for anyone open minded.

You like paintings and that is just dandy. You should continue to paint and look at paintings and write about paintings.

All of this can coexist peacefully. Don't think that dividing the art world up mentally is a solution. Perhaps you want have a fragmented mind and experience.


Senor Trash

August 10, 2006, 5:06 PM


You are reading too much about other artists, especially those left behind in Miami, the "Baltimore of the South".

Petty stuff, especially if it is in the New Times...most folks breeze through the issue by then to get to the tranny ads.



August 10, 2006, 5:58 PM

So this is something that happened 2 months ago? I read about a tenth of the discussion and quickly left. You can't argue with those people. I'm sorry I even looked. Forget about them. You are not even here any more.

By the way, folks, it is not "about liking painting". It is "about" engaging in any kind of art-making that demands the kind of deep working-out and density of choice that gets down to the bottom of your soul or spirit or whatever inadequate word you want and brings something up that says something good to the same part of sombody else.

Painting is simply one way to do this, and even painting doesn't get there most of the time. This other stuff never does, not in my experience. It never even tries.



August 10, 2006, 6:33 PM

Franklin, I know it can be difficult to resist the temptation, but you should really try to stop wasting your time like this. Here we have an artist who traffics in the banality of self-conscious and cutesy would-be cleverness, and a would-be critic for a sleazy rag that's become an embarrassment to read in public (for some of us, at any rate).

I'm hardly surprised CSdJ took a swipe at you, given the fact he's never gotten much respect here, for the perfectly good reason that his art writing does not inspire any. Even KH has, at least in the past, expressed misgivings about his work for New Times, but attacking Artblog and its "culture" is far more PC, and thus much safer, than publicly trashing TNFH and its crowd.

I neither saw nor commented on the Locust show in question, but I did see two of the works mentioned in the CSdJ review at the Legal Art show. My comments on that show are in Artblog Post 817 (comment # 5). I could go into more detail but won't. It's simply not worth the bother.



August 10, 2006, 8:54 PM

I figured you didn't need me and my own somewhat goofy logic defending you against the zombie attacks back there, Franklin, but I was plenty amused by the exchange and couldn't help tossing in a few "not even wrong" comments of my own.


Marc Country

August 11, 2006, 1:40 AM

Let me guess, the headline to this fine bit of reportage was "My Friends Are Cooler Than Your Friends", or something to that effect. Weeklies like these, from my experience, all seem to be glorified (but just barely) clubhouse newsletters. I suppose we could start our own, and write stories about how we are all so rad, and totally lay the sweet burns on people who try to argue with us, 'cuz they're sooo lame, etc. etc.,, but we'd have to rustle up a bunch o' hookers to buy ad space.

It depicted God rolling a snake from a block of clay. I found it a metaphor for some of the virulent commentary on local art blogs regarding his current show.

I do like this 'metaphor', though... so, if I understand correctly, the blog is the lump of clay, the 'virulent' comments are the snake...
I guess that makes you God, Franklin. You should thank CSJD or whatever for the compliment...



August 11, 2006, 7:48 AM

Each year Locust Projects has a benefit to meet costs. The artwork donated has little to do with what is shown at LP. It's probably their best show.



August 11, 2006, 11:19 AM

I wonder if a desperate or irresistible desire to turn a supposedly clever phrase is pathological or merely irksome, not to mention tiresome. I believe the afflicted tend to see themselves as "wordsmiths" or some such. Flash, of course, has long been an attempted substitute for substance, but very few can pull that trick off, and even then, there's got to be more there than just the flash. Everybody is not Robert Hughes, let alone Oscar Wilde.


Marc Country

August 11, 2006, 11:46 AM

... assuming that his confusion is genuine and not the kind of pose that afflicts his writings in general.

That's just it, of course... none of it is genuine, it's all a pose. After all, your initial use of the term "fractal wrongness" on TFNH was in the form of a link to the definition... so CJDS is clearly being disingenuous... there's simply no difference between this, and political spin... it's not about who's right and who's wrong, it's about who can repeat their 'version' loud enough and often enough to convince the people who aren't willing to think it through themselves And it is seemingly these people who make up the majority.

Again, Harry J. Frankfurt's "On Bullshit" comes to mind...


Marc Country

August 11, 2006, 12:01 PM

Naturally, Bert's not the wordsmith that the New Times writer is, but this is a particulary choice turn of phrase:

Some of these people are stuck in some academic bubble like slaves.

I'm trying to picture this mixed metaphor in my head... hardwroking cotton-pickers, trapped in glistening, soapy bubbles... then I remember that the bubbles are not 'soapy', they're 'academic'... and the imagery falls apart.



August 11, 2006, 12:11 PM

Well, Marc, it's really very simple. Franklin's problem is that he's not sufficiently open-minded, or rather, not open-minded in the proper way (which is to be open to anything as long as it doesn't oppose or disagree with current dogma). I'm just here to help, as always.



August 11, 2006, 12:26 PM

"but we'd have to rustle up a bunch o' hookers to buy ad space"

Excellent idea, Marc. Let's do it.



August 11, 2006, 2:36 PM

How are you taking a higher road by even discussing it here? That makes no sense.


Marc Country

August 11, 2006, 8:41 PM

??, Franklin responds to this gross mischaracterization of himself and his position, which amounts to no more than an underhanded personal attack, with an impersonal clarification of his position, and a cogent analysis of his detractor's hypocracies.

Looks like he took the high road to me. As I was suggesting in my previous comment, it would be all to easy to stoop to the New Times level (with the requisite financial backing from prostitutes, of course) and resort to slander and insult, as CDJS does.

So, are you really taking issue with the simple fact that Franklin chose to acknowledge the attack with a post here? Or are you actually taking issue with the rest of us commenters; that we haven't joined Franklin on the high road?



August 12, 2006, 9:22 AM

Sorry . . . i'm commenting without really having read the whole thread, but yes: picking this thing apart is pretty silly. Carlos writes a column with fairly regular instances of flip comments; to obsess about and dissect them just makes him look cooler.

But what I really wanted to say is about the "fractal wrongness." What it really means is something like "your statement is wrong, and all of your underlying beliefs are wrong, and pretty much your whole world-view is wrong" or "you're so wrong I don't even know where to start" or "you're wrong, and it's not even worth trying to discuss this with you" or "you're wrong, and you're an idiot."

It's a very fancy way to tell someone they're wrong and throw in a free gratuitous insult. A phrase I might be proud to have cooked up, but not one I'd proudly use.



August 12, 2006, 12:02 PM

Well, Alesh, I don't presume to be an authority on "coolness," nor do I especially care to be, but if writing like that is "cool," I don't have much respect for anybody who'd be impressed by it, certainly not as art criticism. It's analogous, in principle, to people who use arcane and convoluted language to sound profound and intellectual. It's a crock.



August 12, 2006, 12:10 PM

It's not in my nature to sit around and put up with people talking shit about me in third person, particularly when they get their facts wrong, but I keep forgetting to keep it under fifty words. More than that, and you're just gratifying stupidity with attention. I'll try to remember that for the future.



August 14, 2006, 1:18 AM

Jack~ I think you're exactly right. Shit, I don't read Carlos' columns very often. I read the line in question and left it at that.

Franklin~ You may not like to think so, but you spend more then a little time playing the same game that Carlos plays at NT. Did someone get their facts wrong? What, you did see the show at Locust?



August 14, 2006, 9:18 AM

No, Alesh, but I pointed that out myself in the thread at TNFH. I was responding to what was being said about the show on that thread, which was sufficiently ridiculous to refute on its own terms. Later I commented on Rodriguez's work based on having seen it many times in other contexts. But that's too fine a distinction for CSDJ, apparently.


krfm eicaxsbrj

August 15, 2006, 12:40 AM

[Deleted spamming nonsense. - F.]


Marc Country

August 15, 2006, 1:31 AM

I used to listen to KRFM, but they got too commercial...



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