There’s a Reason Why Art is Shown Best in Public Institutions. U Get Me?

Last weekend I went on a pilgrimage with a friend to the Hall Art Foundation which is up in Reading, Vermont, near Killington where we stayed during the hottest day of the year to date.

corporate collection, Andrew Halll

The barns of the Hall Art Foundation

There’s no air conditioning up there as they just don’t get that kind of heat normally, well until now that is, and the craziest thing is that the temps were higher up on Mt. Killington than they were back in Boston. Nuts.

Anyway, my friend and I learned of the Hall Art Foundation from a pilgrimage we made to Mass MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) back in September of last year (the two joined in 2013). Mass MoCA was, and always is an amazing time and I highly suggest you check it out if you never have, or even if you haven’t been there in a while. There’s an incredible virtual reality installation by Laurie Anderson that you just can’t miss and a just as mind blowing retrospective by James Turrell (I feel weird calling anything by him a retrospective since he sure as hell ain’t done yet!) which will make you look at light in a whole new way.

But I digress….so, the Hall Art Foundation actually exists in two locations – one in Derneberg, Germany (in the former home and studio of artist Georg Baselitz) and the other, as I had mentioned, in Reading, VT, and is such a lovely discovery!  The entire collection has over 6000 pieces in it and with a little bit of Googling I

outdoor, sculpture, public

Untitled, Richard Deacon

found that it is the collection of a hedge fund manager who made close to 100 million dollars in bonuses just after the wall street bailout. Hmmm. He and his wife are also now the largest private landowners in Reading and the other residents have mixed feelings about what the Halls have done to Reading.

Putting all aside, if that’s completely possible, the shows we saw in 4 separate barns consisted of themed collections curated by well known artists invited in to create some order to what must be overwhelming at first. One show (3 of the barns) carried the theme of women’s bodies and sexuality and the fourth barn was about nature and it’s limited resources.

I must say that the shows were interesting and well curated but, since you can’t see the work without a guide (who couldn’t answer all of our questions) you have a fairly limited amount of time to take the work in as you are kept going at a certain pace. I’m glad that the work can be seen by the public, even though in small chunks at a time, but there was something false about the experience that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. The difference in feel between Hall and Mass MoCA is like night and day. It was like the restricting, stern rules of a damaged, controlling adult versus the playful, honest and open heart of a child.

Anyone been to one, the other or both? Thoughts?

You Do Know What Extreme Wealth Means, Don’t You? 📍

So maybe it’s because I’m from the Midwest originally but I find the East Coast, beautiful, diverse, metropolitan and cold (and I don’t mean the temperature).

Quaint Vermont Town, Woodstock, VT, white, no diversity, beautiful

Quaint Vermont Town

I’ve lost count of how many people told me “I have enough friends” back in the day. I couldn’t imagine what that meant. I was a naive outgoing midwesterner who was considered threatening somehow for these same traits. How could anyone ever have enough friends, I thought?

What I’ve learned over the years is that people who say things like that are scared. They are scared of new things, new people and possibly even growing in any way. This of course has nothing to do with me but one can’t help but take it a bit personally no matter how many times I might have told myself not to do it.

Recently, through networking initiatives, I have been meeting more people and here and there hit it off with someone where I am always the one who suggests keeping in touch or meeting up again. I do believe that they reciprocate honestly in saying that they are interested in that too, however, I have yet to know someone besides myself who actually makes contact and follows through.

I’m thinking that this might be a contributing factor behind the condition our country is in right now. We’ve gotten so buried in our technology and have absorbed all of the scare tactics of the nightly news to the point where we are all convinced that the person behind us in the grocery store line is crazy or out to get us.

company, togetherness, peace,  friendship

Three Amigos – happy just to be together

The thing we forget, and I mean all of us even on our best days, is that every one of us on this planet basically wants the same things (barring mental illness, of course – whole other blog) – to live in peace and with freedom, for our kids to be safe, to just have enough money to feed our families and be in a comfortable home, and to not have violence threaten us in any aspect of our daily lives. In other words, to have just enough. At some point money starts becoming something used to fill an empty hole in us as well as show something to other people rather than have just enough of it to be happy and thrive.

Overly wealthy neighborhoods these days are making me feel ill as I drive through them thinking about how they have acquired so much, which could have only been made possible by taking advantage of the privilege and complete advantages over others that they have and have had. A giant mansion really could only be acquired by what is now called “status hoarding” – keeping all of the advantages for me and mine while you go without anything. It’s a whole other way of looking at the world and we have been conditioned to not look at it that way. The system only works if no one takes the red pill and sees the truth.

Thoughts?

Do You Often Forget That There is Balance in the World? ☯️

So, this MUST have happened to you at some point…. I mean, it’s not just me, right?

Someone does something, ahem, unpleasant to you and you curl up inside and start to back away. You begin to close up, get a little bitter and start to mentally shut them out.

book, art, performance, exchange

The Art of Asking – a true inspiration.

Truly, I think most of us do this or at least have done it at some point. Whether it’s on an institutional level, a friend does something, or even a client, trust is a commodity that we keep close and don’t share lightly.

Well, as some of you already know, I am a pretty big fan of Amanda Palmer and support her Patreon, in a very humble way. I don’t do this lightly, commonly, nor is it selfless. I get a lot out of what she makes and what she writes and, therefore, she in turn supports my artwork through her ideas. This is exactly what she writes about in her bestselling book, The Art of Asking. The idea that even though you may not see a direct exchange from artist to patron in financial terms (there are all sorts of ways to do it) that doesn’t mean there isn’t one there.

So this week I was thinking about a passage in Amanda’s book, The Art of Asking,  about a couple who were kind of stalking her in Berlin and then showed up to a party she threw for Kickstarter patrons in which she ended up naked with everyone writing on her (long story) and this stalky couple end up sexually assaulting her. Talking to her husband afterward she talked herself through the gamut of thoughts (as I often do) of feeling angry, hurt, betrayed and then talking herself into a place where she could zoom out and see the larger picture of where those people might fit in. It’s the yin and the yang in the end. All good comes with bad and all bad comes with good. They are inextricable, we must accept one with the other and find the use and purpose of both if we are to be contented.

I always have believed in this way of thought but we humans have a way of forgetting what we know so well from time to time and lately I had forgotten a bit. When something happens that makes you feel angry, hurt and betrayed, ask yourself – Why did this need to happen? What am I supposed to learn from this? What good thing might I not be able to have if this wasn’t the other side of the coin?

And let me know if you have any of these incidences to share or your experience with trying it out. I’d love to hear about them.

NYC – uninspiring?…..Never! 📣

Last weekend I went to NYC, my usual, regular pilgrimage that makes all right with the world, and saw my usual varieties of art and for the first time in a while felt a little blah about it all. Nothing was inspiring me. “Really, nothing?”, I asked myself. I’m in NY for freaks sake, there must be SOMETHING here to inspire me!

art, animated video, memories, death, life

Moléculas, Juan Antonio Olivares

Then, on Sunday, I went to the Whitney (thank you Kath!) and was blown away by all three of the shows I saw there – and amazingly – it was the very last day for each of them.

The first, was an animated video by Juan Antonio Olivares called Molécules in which Olivares tells a story of a highly personal nature that is partly true and partly fantasy, through an old teddy bear with one arm torn off. It’s terribly sad as the bear talks about memories of his mother with whom he had a dysfunctional relationship. A melancholy and moving piece that reminds us how delicate and easily damaged we all are, especially by poignant memories and people who are important to us.

American Gothic, kitsch, heartland art

Corn Cob Chandelier, Grant Wood

Next, I walked right around the corner and into the Grant Wood show which was just a few rooms but really packed a punch. I knew nothing really of this painter of the mega famous American Gothic. I, as a lot of artists I know, have just written it off as “refrigerator art” or kitsch but this show was so revealing

Grant Wood began as an Arts & Crafts style functional artist working in the Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles with a little midwestern kitsch thrown in. His early work is absolutely gorgeous and interestingly odd – i.e.: an amazingly ornate chandelier with corn cobs vertically holding the bulbs (which I was also thinking could be called American Gothic).

As he moved on to painting his work begins to hold a certain type of anxiety. The people all look miserable and repressed and at the same time there is a surreal pristine fantasy portrayal of the landscape and the place everyone has in it. This, I learned, came from his repressed life as a gay man in the rural midwest of the 1930’s and 40’s where his interpretations of life were strewn with either idyllic representations of his memories of being a boy or his experiences of life being so austere and difficult as an adult hiding who he truly was.

politics, art, relevant, brilliant, test of time

I Want a Dyke for President, Zoe Leonard

Lastly, and what an oh so wonderful surprise, was a survey (I think the same thing as a retrospective except that the person may be a bit young for that title) of Zoe Leonard who I had previously never heard of. Her work is so poignant and did just what I want an artist to do for me, slightly change my perspective or just show me a slightly different one.

The piece to the right here, I Want a Dyke for President, is 25 years old, if you can believe that, and is more relevant now than it was then. It’s brilliant, inspiring, perceptive and made me see the point in a way I hadn’t thought of before.

I kept thinking, “yes! yes!” I want a president who has been through something, not someone who has been pampered their whole life. I want empathy and passion for the issues that affect our most vulnerable not political nonsense. Where are they? And most importantly, have they been there all along but all of us are playing into the game of keeping them out of the realm where we could really use them?

What are your thoughts on this? As always, I want to know!

 

The Big Magic of Elizabeth Gilbert….🎩

As I go through the incredibly stressful experience of trying to sort out my new app and get it up and running (programmers have been less

live creatively, no fear

Author Elizabeth Gilbert

than honest by trying to induce money out of me to keep making unnecessary changes and it’s still not working properly – working on this) I have been looking for inspiration and encouragement in the world.

I found that encouragement this past week from a podcast interview with the writer Elizabeth Gilbert. The podcast is On Being, as many of you already know I listen to pretty regularly. It was a re-broadcast but who cares when it hits right when you need it, am I right?

Here are some of the ab-fab points that I absorbed like a sponge:

1) The people who will lead and have the most followers in the future will be the people who can hold diametrically opposed ideas in their heads at the same time (as life is not and has never been black & white, only shades of gray).

no fear creativity

No Fear

2) The idea that we have made creativity, which is our unique superpower as humans (we are makers), precious and elite to the point where we convince most people that they don’t possess the ability to access it. We have degraded the idea of creativity and with it degraded ourselves.

3) Creative living is choosing the path of curiosity over the path of fear. AND…choosing to live a life of curiosity is living life as a work of art, a spirit of being (I LOVE this idea!).

4) Society fetishizes passion when most of life is pretty boring and mundane.

All of this makes me realize that we truly live in a 1984 world these days where all of the messages around us are fake and so many decide to believe in the fakeness we are fed instead of seeing what is truly in front of us. I choose the red pill as as least I can trust it. That’s a good place to start, I believe. What do you think?

The Times They Are A-Changin…Again. Can You See It?

Hello y’all!

I hate to be a commoner but I am going to allude to the RW (royal wedding) today.

Yes, I’m a bit sick of it too, however, it was a momentous occasion for so many social issues and I feel that those are very important to my upcoming work.

royal wedding, donald glover, video,

Absolutely no relevance to blog post – just some beautiful, yet dangerous, lava.

I may or may not have mentioned that my next piece will be in relation to white priviledge. This has been swirling in my mind for some time now and there are a lot of stimulants urging it on. The early stimulant was race dialogue training that I worked on at my previous job but the topic was already working its way to the forefront of my frontal lobe prior to that.

It’s like an app (yes, I have apps on the brain – All The Pardons) always running behind everything else that I’m doing. And…then….these things happened in the last couple of weeks that inspired me and made me so excited to push the issues a little more forward in my brain.

Firstly, Donald Glover hosted Saturday Night Live and his musician self as musical guest, Childish Gambino. He is one of the most talented people around at this point in time. So, toward the end of the show, SNL premiered a Childish Gambino video called This is America which has since caused such a stir that there are discussions going on about it and how to interpret it all over the net. That is something in this day and age. It’s a brilliant video which requires multiple viewings to catch everything. I’ve seen it a half dozen times and watched it again to link it here and saw more stuff I hadn’t seen before. Check it out and let me know what you think?

bi-racial world, be woke, change

We’re all in this together

Right, back to the RW. So, if you caught the actual wedding or not, it was amazing. I never thought I would see that in my lifetime. Meghan Markle brought her background, history and culture into the royal family and Windsor. She’s a breath of fresh air.

I watched a southern bishop, Michael Curry give a sermon that referred to universal love and made repeated Martin Luther King Jr. references and a black choir sing Stand By Me. It was a beautiful thing and though all of the attendees didn’t always look particularly comfortable with all of this, it was good for them and good for us. White supremacists or no, times are changing and they had better get used to it. It may not be a quick as some of us hope, but justice will come eventually and I for one will welcome it with a red carpet.

Wanna Hear About My Techie Millennial Approval?

So last Thursday was the Arts Technica event at the Cambridge Innovation Center Boston for Art Week.

Art, Tech, app, kindness, allthepardons, compassion,  empathy, artitech

CIC Boston, Art Week – Me & Liz Cantor

It was a smashing success and I had a great time!

It was an event mostly populated with techie millennial guys, many of whom work at the Cambridge Innovation Center and are working on their own techie projects (why do I keep saying “techie”?). I had all kinds of interesting conversations about my project and topics related to it, annoyances in people’s lives relating to technology, terrifying impending doom scenarios related to AI (just check out some of Elon Musk’s fears aired in the media over the last year or so) and personal, touching topics that encourage me.

The most inspiring revelation I had all evening was that techie millennial after techie millennial (stop it!) loved my app idea! Hallelujah, they loved it and it’s something they wouldn’t have thought of themselves! Of course not, really, as that’s not where they’re coming from but it’s still such a boost to my confidence. It makes the struggle that I’ve been going through with my programmers worth pushing through.

For those of you just joining this saga….I am talking about the app I’m creating called All The Pardons – The App That Tells You Not to be Rude with Your Cell Phone.

Tech, guys, millennials, techart, artitech

Random tech guys

I also had asked people to write down a phone behavior pet peeve that actors would present as what the behavior looks like now and what it would have looked like before the invasion of the cell phone. Of course one of my actors was sick and I would have to fill in, which I did but as loud as we could act out a scenario, it was not loud enough and no one heard us or noticed us. In the end we just had discussions with people about the app and their thoughts about it, which is what I enjoy doing most anyway.

Thanks so much to the Cambridge Innovation Center Boston for hosting me, ArtWeek for helping me find CIC Boston, Liz Cantor for helping at the event, Brigid Watson for attempting to and those of you who came, and to those of you who missed it and would like to know about other events in which All The Pardons will be front and center, please sign up on my mailing list attached to this site.

I look forward to seeing you next time!

Have You Been to a Death Cafe? ☠️

death, discussion, art, perfection

Death Cafe

So, last night I went with a friend to something called a Death Cafe. It was her birthday and she requested I go with her for her birthday (does she know me or what and how cool is that?).

It sounded interesting and I was intrigued. I suppose coming from the artist’s perspective (the only one I know) I thought it would be something wild and creative, like everyone sharing their imaginary ideas of a wild and crazy death or discussing what we’d like to come after or some such thing.

What it ended up being was more than a few people obsessed with death, a few who felt uncomfortable with the idea of death and talking about it, one who was contemplating what hers would look like or wanted it to look like, one who wanted to proselytize to us all about what comes after and the rest of us who, I think, were just curious what this would be like.

Here is what their website says, “At a Death Cafe people gather to eat cake, drink tea and discuss death. Our objective is ‘to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives’.”

I like the idea of talking about death and it came up more than once that people very often change the subject when it comes up. The interesting thing is that the Death Cafe was invented in England and is much more popular in many many other countries than the US. Several people asked why this was and I thought it made perfect sense as the US has such an obsession with perfection and death certainly isn’t part of perfection. To be honest, I have no interest in perfection, nor do I find it the least bit interesting, which is why I feel like I don’t fit into most regular circles, however America’s obsession with perfection just keeps on growing with more and more plastic surgeries including on people’s pets now (really, do we have to bring them into it too?).

We (the collective “we”) just don’t like talking about anything negative or even acknowledging anything that isn’t perfect or

bug, death, art, conversation

Beetle Death by Alys Myers

happy. It’s funny because life is a lot easier – and let’s face it, life is not easy – when we just admit it wasn’t ever going to be easy. The bar gets lower, you know?

I had a conversation with someone at my old job who was talking to me about an ex-employee who we were both friendly with and I had visited last year. I was talking about the visit and something odd that her husband did that affected the whole visit. The woman’s response to me was “but he’s such a good father and a great guy”. I just stared at her for a second because her view was so different from mine and I was just realizing how different we look at things.

Yes, absolutely he is a great father and a wonderful guy. I was not attempting to wipe out everything good about him by mentioning that he’s not perfect. It actually makes him a more interesting character in my book.

How do you feel about this topic? Agree, disagree, can’t swallow it? Tell me.

Hey! Also, if you’re in the Boston area and are free on the evening of May 3rd, 5:30-8:30, I am doing a presentation of my All The Pardons app (the app that tells you not to be rude with your phone) for ArtWeek Boston. People will present me with their pet peeves of rude cell phone behavior and I will have actors with me who will act out what those scenarios looked like before the cell phone. There will be food and good coffee and it will be a lot of fun!

Here’s the info and a blurb promoting All The Pardons in the Metro:

Date: Thursday, May 3, 2018
Time: 5:30-8:30pm
Location: Lighthouse, 20th floor, CIC Boston
Boston, MA 02109 (easily accessible by Red, Green, Blue, Silver, and Orange lines.
Hope to see you there!

Should We Separate Great Art from Transgressors in the #MeToo & Other Movements?

Well, this is a toughie.

I imagine it will also be a controversial subject for some.

MeToo, behave, art, artist

Pablo Picasso

Upfront, I will say that I think that these two things need to be separated. Example – should we never watch the film, The Usual Suspects again just because Kevin Spacey is in it and he is a movement transgressor? The performance he gives in that film is positively genius. How could we rid the world of that kind of beauty? We would be the losers in the end.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the punishment of bad behavior, especially as it’s been such a long time coming. And let’s make room for the next generation of talent who knows how to behave themselves, by all means! But, the art that exists, that means so much on its own, let’s still revere it.

Let’s be honest, if we dismissed work from all of the badly behaved artists in the world we’d lose most everything from the past (and most of them we don’t even know what awful things they may have done).

So this is a very delicate balance to be sure. We need all of the beautiful, truthful and brilliant art in the world that we can get. We don’t need to ignore, promote further, or even forgive the artist who made it but we do need to see the art on its own as a work that stands the test of time alone, without anyone speaking for it. As we would accept a child from a known transgressor on its own, not judging it by its parent’s failings.

truth, honesty, opinion, converseI do understand the opposite side of this – I really do – and welcome your opinion if you feel I am wrong or just emotionally just can’t swallow this. And dare I ask, would love your feedback here. Anything is fair game as I love opinions and honest thought. Teach me something. This is a fair and inviting space – I do my best anyway.

Throw me some view, give me your opinion, converse your comment. I desire it.

Hope to hear from you!

Love you, whoever you are!

Are You Familiar with Monkey Mind? 🐵

“The definition of success is the ability to go from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

Now this is a very interesting quote. I don’t think that the person who said it (not sure who that is by the way) means total failure,

selfie, MOMA, art, colors, monkey mind, Buddhism

Me inside the Cosmic Closet at the Studio 57 show at MOMA

in fact, I’m sure they didn’t.

Life is made up of tiny to medium sized failures (most of the time) which we encounter each and every day, to some degree. And, even if we aren’t artists, this holds true, yes? Well, of course it’s true as the quote doesn’t say “The definition of success for artists…”, right?

So, let’s say….you’re walking down the street, going to work in the morning, and you run to catch the bus and awkwardly trip and fall flat on your face at 8am – that’s a little failure. Easily recoverable, but still, not the way you originally envisioned your day to begin.

Here is my tie in…I am having some technical issues with the All The Pardons app at the moment. I had intended to announce the approval of the Apple Store a month or so ago and, did get the approval, but it still didn’t work the way I had promised.

I’m working with my programmers to get the issues working but it’s frustrating and I promised to have the app working in a specific way to help people in a specific way and why isn’t the communication working smoothly between my programmers and I and I have deadlines coming up where I am promoting the app and what if it’s still not working properly when I have to speak in front of people about it and I’m losing opportunities to promote the app daily because it’s still not working….and….and…and….

So you can see how this is going. I’m in full possession of monkey mind as they call it in the Buddhist tradition. Cyclical thoughts that sometimes spin out of control and create stress and panic and a totally unproductive mindset for problem solving (which I’m normally quite good at) and creativity. Working on it! Meditated this morning in fact.

Ok, just wanted to share that with you.

This is all happening in NYC, which I love and which always makes me my most creative self so I need to peace out.

Little cool tidbits from this trip…yesterday eating at a terrible dive deli, food awful but two Broadway actors discussing their show experiences and gossip about other actors. MOMA – at the Studio 57 show in the basement, from one of my favorite NY art time periods, I’m watching artist made films from the 70’s & 80’s in a little space and there are two older artist looking people sitting in the front row. The man exclaims “There you are!”. A few minutes later the woman says “Look how young I looked!”. Only in NYC!

Thanks so much for reading this or else I would have no outlet for this stuff (as always, comments welcome)!