Thursday, October 30, 2008

Index Page Down

I seem to be experiencing some difficulties updating my website.

For those interested parties, you can still access the content.
This painting link should get you started.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Global Market

57 individual currency symbols, composite gold leaf and graphite on 6" square canvases. Dimensions pictured, about 42"x54".

After creating Currencies in the Four Letter Words series, I wondered what the individual symbols might look like. As a culture we are likely aware of the symbols for the British Pound, the Euro, and maybe the Japanese Yen, but what does the Korean Won look like, or the Russian Rubble? You can find them above.

The materials, once again, recall the alchemical relationship between gold and lead in the middle ages. The use of gold leaf also recalls the classical tradition using gold leaf to represent the light behind icons.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I h8 DC. Broken Water Main on NY Ave edition.

A water main broke somewhere between Florida Ave NE and Montana Ave NE on New York Avenue NE, this afternoon or this evening, bottle necking traffic from three lanes into one lane. I did not know this as I made my commute from American University to Prince George Community College at 3:50, which typically routes me MA - RI - Q - FL - NY - 50 - Belt - ...

The stretch between Gallaudet and the break is about 1 mile, and I drove that stretch in 2hrs 15 minutes, spending 15 minutes in the jug handle connecting FLA and NY Aves.

Initially, like any calm individual thinking it was just rush hour traffic, I called my grandmother. Realizing I moved less than 1/10th of a mile in half an hour, I hung up and decided I should pay attention; somewhere ahead of me a bus load of blind nuns must have careened into a bus load of quadriplegic school kids with Downs Syndrome, and I would soon be dodging bodies like parking cones in a test drive commercial.

I missed the traffic report on WAMU!
I went to "McCain 570" on the AM dial as a last ditch effort. They were only reporting the traffic problems in the White parts of Virginia, not the Black parts of DC.

Resigned. Crestfallen. I switched the dial and listened to Market Place. I watched the sun set.

DC has interesting driving patterns. You know how you are not supposed to "block the box?" I'm mindful of that. I don't want to be that guy -- that guy who is stuck in the middle of the intersection when the lights have changed.

My light turned green, allowing the one car in front of me to proceed through the intersection, just far enough to cut off the traffic from the cross street, trying to turn right on red. It's an 80 second light. Traffic starts honking at the 40 second count down, and there is just enough daylight ahead of me to scoot my car into the cross walk on the opposite side of the intersection. At least, there was enough room until cars from the cross street decide to turn right onto red and eclipse my right of way. I can understand one car making an eclipse, but three? Since when did Maryland and DC drivers become Italians "in line" for gellato? I say a silent prayer, hoping for the death of the man who placed drivers licenses in Cracker Jack boxes.

Now I'm that guy -- that guy stuck in the intersection because the lights have changed.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Couple Recent Activites

Evidence that the Chalkboard Talks at the Katzen took place. the event was part conversation, part performance... and I didn't even need Piero Manzoni to sign me to become a piece of art.

Prince George Community College is celebrating its 50th anniversary, and the art department is hosting a faculty show to coincide with the celebration. Moment of Zen, along with work from other current and past faculty members, will be playing in the Marlboro Gallery through November 6.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Out of Context

My latest work from the series of Four Letter Words involves words taken Out of Context. If viewed correctly - or incorrectly, depending on context - it is my most obscene work to date.

To recap:
The series of Four Letter Words is a challenge to the title. "Four letter words" is a euphemism for vulgarity, and vulgarity is typically thought of as those words George Carlin examined which could not be said on television (most of which were longer than four letters). This discourages the 3900+ four letter words out there (as deemed playable by the Scrabble dictionary).

The interesting thing with Anglo Saxonisms (another quaint euphemism) was examined by Diane Ackerman in her book A Natural History of the Senses. To paraphrase, "Why fuck when you can fornicate?" In one chapter, wherein she briefly explored a history of language, Ackerman suggested that the languages of Anglo and Saxon were considered brute and harsh when heard by the ears of the Gauls. As a result, the televised audience (in the US) will more than likely hear two four letter words replace once, because the sensors believe an audience would rather hear about couples who "make love."

To counter the brutality of our linguistic Anglo Saxon heritage, as a culture we have invented other euphemisms and colloquialisms for penis, vagina, intercourse, and masturbation. It is also a methodology for adolescents to speak outside the radar of adults. This tradition is older than The Bard of Avon whose phrasings were "wont to set the table on a roar" when such subjects were discussed.

When proposed for the Athenaeum in August, this was a series that was refused from the exhibition. The refusal was based on the grounds that the Athenaeum serves as a rental facility for weddings, events, and ballet classes. It is simple to empathize with that position, since display of that work would probably provoke some outcry from patrons as well as the city of Alexandria. It's also unfortunate. The three works that sold the best were the two series of Onomatopoeia - one because of its relationship to Roy Lichtenstein's pop paintings (blam), the other because they are monosyllabic nonsense that have acquired some sort of intelligible meaning (hunh) - and Currencies, though not as a complete series. I believe the latter did well because they were shiny (composite gold leaf and graphite). Out of Context would have sold as a series... and probably had back orders. Intellect aside, there is a repressed juvenile in us all.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Floating with the FLC at the Katzen

I was recently asked to join the Chalkboard Talks as part of the Brushfire Initiative by Provisions Library. I'll be speaking with Mark Cameron Boyd, Kathryn Cornelious, Nick Karvounis, and a person to be named later, to discuss "The Intersection of Art & Society" on October 18th at The Katzen Museum at American University. The talk/conversation is around 1:00.

To prepare, I stopped up at American University to see what the show was all about. There are a few jaw-droppingly hysterical works, like the translation of Dazed and Confused from "American" to "Indian" (accent). What I would no have given to have a recliner and a six pack... I would have watched the whole movie.

OF course, the exhibition made me realize that I am still behind on the clone of myself that I need to do the volume of work I'd like to complete before the polar ice caps melt... back to the studio.

Thursday, October 09, 2008


For some reason I just got this page as I tried to perform a search through my Google search short cut. Blogger and Gmail still work, but this is a little disconcerting.

Missed Opportunities

If it has escaped the viewership that all the bally-who of the 2008 political debates is little more than theater, then the viewership is not paying attention. It is the ultimate in "reality" television: it is highly scripted; it is not very insightful; and though McCain and Obama won't "hook up" at the end of this season, one of them will get "voted off the island." At least this go around it is more interesting than 2004, when dull and duller took to the podiums and bored a nation into a mandate (of less than 51%).

Listening to the political debates is just as frustrating as watching the debates. More so, actually. Palin's voice is grating, and her performance lacks the charisma without winks and her funny smirks. Obama's even temper still resonates, but his articulation is less so ("uhm" is louder on the radio). At least hearing McCain stumble over the Iranian puppet's name (Ahmadinejad) and correcting himself, only to never get it right, is amusing, no mater what the medium.

What is also heard is the nonsense. These are not debates. Debates are articulate discussions back and forth over policy and ideas. Fortunately these two guys do not have to stand before the audience with a random assignment of a position. They have positions and they should argue them, develop them, enumerate benefits and set backs, and allow us to truly evaluate the complexity of an issue. Instead, they interpret the opposition's position in an over-simplified sound byte, and never articulately clarify their own position. They get asked questions by moderators and begin their answers by rebutting the assertion of their opponents' answer to the previous question. This is not debate. This is masturbation, and the end result is just as messy.

Here are some things I'd really like to hear debated:
  • What does a tax cut for 95% of Americans really mean? Is there a figure or percentage on how much I can guesstimate my taxes will decline? Can you reassure me how that money will be used, or how the cut will be offset elsewhere?
  • What does victory in Iraq mean, when we don't have the profit of land, or riches, or material goods to be gained in the end, and when the competing factions of the (now) civil war hate our guts and want us to leave?
  • What is clean coal technology (really) and why should we pursue that as a positive alternative? How does it differ from dirty coal?
  • Why is nuclear technology so controversial? What makes it bad? What makes it good?
  • Why is socialism such a dirty word when our friends in Scandinavia are socialists? Why does the label of socialism make "universal health care" sound so unappealing? How is universal health care socialism when a $700 billion economic bail out package proposed by a Republican Treasury Secretary not labeled socialism (as hastily), and why is it good?

I have my own positions on these issues, and if I were to voice them I'd bust out my flip flop and step on a pop top. But, I am not running. My position has no direct influence on the outcome of this election. Their opinions do, and I would like to hear them voice their opinions directly, and not in two minutes.

This means the style of the debate has to change. Ten minutes on an issue does little. What if the debate was broken up into half hour segments, where the candidates could get into the meat of a single issue. While the candidates prep for the second question, these half hour segments could be interspersed by relevant sitcom reruns. Discussing Foreign Policy? M*A*S*H. Discussing technology? Max Headroom. Discussing a woman's right to choose? Maude or Murphy Brown.

While the content of these theatrical escapades the last three weeks have been in desperate need of an editor to omit the redundancies and to pencil in some serious content, what has kept the whole thing lively is the use of language and most importantly the style of delivery.

Language: this can best be summarized as, "Drink if you hear Maverick, Change, or My Friends." On their own, the words repeated throughout the debates could quickly become insignificant icons, like D-List celebrities. Hope is hopeless. Change is uniform. Maverick is just a "closeted gay actor" hoping to make Top Gun.

Delivery keeps the language afloat. Listening to McCain's quiet emphasis becomes hair-raising. These issues must be very serious and frightening and I can believe from the tone of his voice that he "can do it and will do it." Listening to Obama's cadence is spiritually uplifting and makes hope and change seem tenable, that the promise of America is still alive, and that together we can make a difference.

But, now they're just words: ear wash affected by a 24 hour news cycle that replays the sound byte of a stump speech that is the same in Gary, Indiana or Hope, Arkansas. It hardly matters that for either candidate there is no longer any there there - it's been squeezed out and sucked dry. Their causes seem to have little, if any, remaining affect. (pun!) Thankfully there is less than a month to go and it will all be over... until the recount.

I just hope, if I'm listening to the last round of debates next week, that I don't miss a moment similar to the town hall between Bush and Gore in 2000, when Bush said something that insulted Gore and provoked Gore to stand from his chair. In the awkward silence heard on the radio, the TV audience watched Bush shoot Gore a smirk, as if to say, "what're ya' gonna' do? Hit me on television?" Maybe Gore should have - his approval rating might have gone through the roof.