Thursday, September 20, 2007

Figge classes, more Rothko quotes, some self-doubt

I've been busy writing up some art studio class proposals for the Figge lately. Staff there always wants good hands-on studio courses, so I'm currently trying to come up with a comprehensive plan to revive their printmaking facilities. I'm also thinking up some drawing courses for children - classes with a comtemporary spin, but still "for the kids." One will draw on my experience helping to organize the travelling exhibit post-hypnotic, and get them looking at and thinking about the fun, second wave of op-art that resurfaced in the late 90s. But the real interest I have in working with such museums is talking about the art on the walls, discussing art-making and art history. And this proves to be a more challenging yet fulfilling task.

I hope I come up with a good idea for a course.

This undertaking has lead me to my collegiate art history books, and some wonderful quotes – some of which I actually think a few of the "powers that be" here in the Quad City art scene need to understand...

Mark Rothko and Alfred Gottleib, an excerpt from "Statement," 1943:

It is a widely accepted notion among painters that it does not matter what one paints as long as it is well painted. This is the essence of academicism. There is no such thing as good painting about nothing. We assert that the subject is crucial and only that subject matter is valid which is tragic and timeless. That is why we profess spiritual kinship with primitive and archaic art.

Consequently, if our work embodies those beliefs it must insult anyone who is spiritually attuned to interior decoration; pictures of the home; pictures over the mantle; pictures of the American scene; social pictures, purity in art; prize-winning pot-boilers; the National Academy; the Whitney Academy; the Corn Belt Academy; buckeyes; trite tripe, etcetera.

Orange, Gold, and Red 1957

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


I caught this special on PBS last night:

it was very, very powerful and moving. i'd highly recommend watching it if you catch a rerun; it's beautiful and horrific at the same time. the bond these shunned women form at the Unicef hospital in southern Congo is amazing to watch unfold. the songs they sing, the way they overcome their horrific rapes, the way the interact with newborn children. my mind was going a million miles a minute as i watched. with guns... fuck this world of men and guns.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

long walk to freedom

as i occasionally say, i never wanted this to turn into a journal-ish blog. but here's a rant for you... in the last four days, i went on a wild horse ride that scared the hell out of me, and left me with some marks on my forehead from smacking two trees at full canter speed (my glasses were knocked off and lost on the trail, but luckily recovered later). i woke up to a flat tire, which means i've shelled out yet more hundreds of dollars on car/truck repair this month. and now, my home computer is pretty much dead. aside from these three major things, there are many smaller problems right now too. when it rains it pours.

but this brightens the mood:

if you want to see a really powerful piece by Mambazo, check this link out:

Ladysmith live at Austin City Limits

long way... long walk... a long walk to freedom
long way... long walk... a long walk to freedom
long way... long walk... a long walk to freedom
long way... long walk... a long walk to freedom

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

busy busy busy busy

it's been go time this week and last. getting things straight for a faculty exhibit at The Figge. trying to get this Sophisticated Traveler + Friends show rolling somewhere in rock island this december. busy busy. i can't decide if this comes off as hippy-dippy or erudite:

Teaching Philosophy
I’d have to say one of the most important aspects of teaching is being a good listener. Whether it be simple craft classes with young children in a studio setting or advanced art theory seminars at the university level, the best art dialogue happens when the “teacher” listens to the questions, opinions, and reservations of the “student.” A student’s questioning of “why?” or “why not?” is the catalyst that spawns critical thinking and a truly interesting dialogue on the creation of and discussion of art.

Our experiences with the arts —being moved by a painting, listening to the most touching music, or seeing an incredible theatrical piece — are the places where we feel the most free and autonomous. A studio instructor can teach the ways of a finely honed skill, but he or she should always remember to never stifle a student’s creative journey with absolutes such as “this is wrong.”

ah well. it will suffice for the show. shout out to chad, because no one else reads this!

here's some Limp Wrist. straight edge queer-core. i met Martin (singer) back in the Los Crudos days. nicest guy in the world.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Anti-Racist Action in Knoxville + Fugazi video

This is pretty funny. I originally saw the news on Digby, but she heard it through the grapevine. I'm not sure of the original source. Here's some of Digby's post:

White Flour!
by digby

(Via Perlstein, here's a hilarious story about a Klan rally. For real.)

Saturday May 26th the VNN Vanguard Nazi/KKK group attempted to host a hate rally to try to take advantage of the brutal murder of a white couple for media and recruitment purposes.
Unfortunately for them the 100th ARA (Anti Racist Action) clown block came and handed them their asses by making them appear like the asses they were.
Alex Linder the founder of VNN and the lead organizer of the rally kicked off events by rushing the clowns in a fit of rage, and was promptly arrested by 4 Knoxville police officers who dropped him to the ground when he resisted and dragged him off past the red shiny shoes of the clowns.
“White Power!” the Nazi’s shouted, “White Flour?” the clowns yelled back running in circles throwing flour in the air and raising separate letters which spelt “White Flour”.
“White Power!” the Nazi’s angrily shouted once more, “White flowers?” the clowns cheers and threw white flowers in the air and danced about merrily.
“White Power!” the Nazi’s tried once again in a doomed and somewhat funny attempt to clarify their message, “ohhhhhh!” the clowns yelled “Tight Shower!” and held a solar shower in the air and all tried to crowd under to get clean as per the Klan’s directions.

Like I said, here is the whole link, with some pictures.
Hilarious, ¿no?
The punk band AVAIL was the first means I ever heard about ARA. That was wayyyyy back in the day. Sounds like a decent group.

Now, here's some Fugazi. "Facet Squared." Why do a ton of the Youtube videographers who are into Fugazi focus on Ian al the time? The guy is the least interesting member of the band. Ah well. Enjoy. One of my favorite-of-all-time songs by them.

Pride no longer has definition
Everybody wears it, it always fits
A state invoked for the lack of position

Strength is the bait that keeps us so busy
If it's perforated, then I tear it to bits
All sense lost in the frenzy

They should never touch the ground

Irony is the refuge of the educated
Always complaining but they never quit
Cool's eternal, but it always dated

They should never touch the ground

It's not worth, it's the investment
That keeps us tied up in all these strings
We draw lines and stand behind them
That's why flags are such ugly things

They should never touch the ground

Saturday, September 1, 2007


The world-traveling public art exhibition Coexistence opened up in Davenport this past Thursday night. Many people I've spoke with are considering it a special honor - we're the smallest metro area the show has gone to since its inception 6 years ago. Think about it - Jerusalem... Sarajevo... Cape Town... Quad Cities. Pretty cool. I was particularly looking forward to seeing it because I have a huge interest in peoples' shyness towards modern and contemporary art. If you didn't know, there is a bit of local apprehension about the show. Try as we might, the "cultural barometer" of this area means some aren't always ready for stuff like this. Even if the exhibit is not dangerously graphic or provocative, it still seems to have intimidated some people and caused a bit of fear or anger due to differing opinions or a lack of understanding. Or... well, hell, I suppose I'll go off here... or some people are just being moronic about it. Some local commentators in our online newspapers wrote acerbic rants about "liberal, elitist so-called 'art'" this-and-that. I can understand opinionated commentary on the artwork, or even talking about an over-the-top idealism, but frankly, I think some of these comments come from chicken shit knee-jerk reactions from close minded naysayers. If you have a problem with the "politics" of this show, come on... you've gotta write more eloquently about your stance.

So, enough about that. My wife and I checked the panels out this morning. I actually had a small part in setting up the signs, so I had seen all of them before the official unveiling, but wanted to really take my time looking at things while together, with her, on a non-work day. We both came away with the same thoughts... some panels' artwork was quite poor, some was quite strong. Same thing with the text panels beneath the art - some strong, some poor, and some seemingly placed without any contextual tie to the artwork. So, sometimes things paired up nicely, sometimes poorly. Regardless, we both had a strong emotional reaction to the show as a whole. The people with power around the world have to start understanding we all come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, and not everyone worships your god, likes your economic model, agrees with your stance on abortion, etcetera.

Here's some pictures and a few of the quotes from the text panels below the art. Enjoy. Click on images for a larger view. And I have a feeling not many local bloggers read this, but if you come across this via a comment of mine on QCI or Cruiser or somewhere else, please feel free to drop your $.02.

"You know what the trouble with peace is? No organization. And when do you get organization? In a war. Peace is one big waste of equipment. Anything goes, no one gives a damn … I've been in places where they haven't had a war for seventy years and you know what? The people haven't even been given names. They don't know who they are! It takes a war to fix that. In a war, everyone registers."
- Bertold Brecht

"If the heart could think, it would stand still."
-Fernando Pessoa

"The time will come when the sun will shine only upon a world of free men who recognize no master except their reason; when tyrants and slaves, priests, and their stupid or hypocritical tools, will no longer exist except in works of history or on the stage"
- Condorcet