6/15/10: The Jersey City Museum

June 15, 2010 at 3:35 pm (art, culture, jersey city)

Rumors are circling again that the Jersey City Museum is now closed for good. I hope they’re not true, and in fact I think there’s very little reason for them to be true. A few years ago, the Museum was a pretty hopping place, and very easily it could be again.

From where I’m sitting, watching the museum fall apart is a very frustrating thing because it simply doesn’t have to be this way. I can’t understand why the hell we’ve gotten to this point, but to me the solution seems rather simple and direct.

And so, I submit to you, my three-step plan to keep the JC Museum in business, thought up while I was getting dinner ready:

1. Request money from people likely to give it to you. If you were to total up the number of people who have shown in solo or group shows at the museum, plus those who have given money to the museum either in memberships or by participating in programming in the past, you would easily have a couple of thousand people that you could email and hit up for donations. Emailing people is free, and I can’t understand why you haven’t done this already. For many people, sending you $10 or $25 is totally doable and easy, and not the kind of thing they really expect anything in return for, other than to see you survive and keep your doors open. Again, emailing people to ask for money is a possible way to raise money completely for free. You need to make it known that small donations are not only welcome but actually crucial for your existence. 

2. Talk to the press. I know, it’s hard to interest the press in covering a story in Jersey City because we always have what goes on across the Hudson as our competition. But you can try. And an excellent way to get people interested in helping you is to actually tell them you need assistance and to remind them of the great work you’ve done in the past. But you’re going to have to reach a little further than the Jersey Journal or the Newark Star Ledger to get the word out. Those newspapers are fine and are a great place to start, but you have to keep going and try and get places like the NY Times to write about you. I know, it’s crazy that there are people who live in JC and don’t read the local papers, but… well, hey, I happen to be one of those people.

3. With the money you have raised from Steps 1 and 2, actually do some programming. Having the museum open one day a week is not a great way to convince the community that your museum is the vital institution that it is. And I understand that fully staffing up the museum and keeping it open 6 or 7 days a week may not be an option. But it’s summer now, and there’s tons of people wandering around, looking for stuff to do in the evenings and on the weekends. Film screenings, panel discussions, performances, how-to demos, kids projects…. these things should all be very, very cheap to put together and will generate you income and interest. Super easy example: The Lowes Theater just did its last screening of the summer; wouldn’t their audience be awesome to tap into? The equipment and space is all there at the museum already; with just a little money raised it seems that you could very quickly generate more if you were creative.

I don’t think this should be so hard. I think it’s still savable. So, what do you say, JC Museum?

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6/12/10: Working on artist’s books

June 12, 2010 at 9:01 pm (art, books, culture)

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6/5/10: New work

June 5, 2010 at 10:27 am (art, culture, interesting)

Today is the last day of my BravinLee and Mississippi shows. It’s sad to see them go.

But, knowing I’d be a little sad today, I saved today to show you some of my new work. This is a continuation of the embroidery project I started for my birthday last year and which I’m scrambling to finish before my birthday this year (I have two months!). It’s basically me reflecting on my life as an artist, and my experiences within the art world. There is one, long narrative that holds the piece together; these are the first three panels. The panels I’ve posted before are #4 and #5.

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6/4/10: Kiosk

June 4, 2010 at 9:46 am (art, culture, interesting, life, other sites to see)

En route to the opening last night, I happened across a really intriguing store in Soho. It’s been a very long time since anything in Soho seemed interesting or worthy of really slowing down and taking a look, so I guess I could be forgiven for hesitating outside and wondering if the trip in (which involved a flight of stairs and then following arrows pointing you around a graffitied hallway) would be worth it.

It is. Not really an art gallery and not really a standard retail shop and with a little etsy and Printed Matter thrown in, Kiosk is something really different. It’s apparently made up with objects culled during travels by the owners. Let me just quote their website – it’s just easier that way:

We opened the shop to provide an alternative to over-design. We consider the items we show to be humble, straightforward and beautiful in their simplicity and directness. Often they are traditional goods that have developed over generations or anonymous design found in general or hardware stores. We feature the things that generally go unnoticed, products created by not one personality but objects that are the result of local aesthetics and needs. Their value is sometimes hard to see in today’s market; our motivation to start Kiosk was to shed some light on these anonymous objects and support independent producers.

I tended to like the things in the store that were closer to “art” than to “anonymous design,” but it was fascinating to see the different kinds of objects laid out next to each other. One of my faves:

Mr. Hop by Roger Geier

Big plaster bunnies that they had laying on the ground, underneath a small “exhibit” of different kinds of gum from Iceland, which were laid out on a big fabric volcano.

Ok, if the above sentence doesn’t leave you wanting to go to Kiosk right now, I don’t know what will.

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5/28/10: Ed Ruscha’s books

May 28, 2010 at 9:53 am (art, culture, interesting, life, other sites to see)

Ed Ruscha is one of those people that still, after all these years, a disappointing number of East coast art students know about. It’s shocking to me how many 3rd and 4th year BFA students and plenty of MFA candidates draw a blank stare when I mention his name. What’s especially weird about it is that if you have graduated from art school and spent a few years in the art world, it seems unimaginable that anyone alive wouldn’t know who Ruscha is.

I’ve heard various theories as to why this is the case (the Biggie vs Tupac/East vs West coast one is by far the most frequently cited). Personally, I think it’s because the artist has worked across mediums a lot, the photographers consider him a painter, the painters a photographer, and the print/book people (who are REALLY the ones who should be teaching him) just assume he’s been taught in either photo or painting class.

Well, don’t get me started. But the point is, I’ve been thinking about Ruscha’s books a LOT over the last couple of weeks:

His books, which contain mostly straightforward “documentary” photographs of what is mentioned on the cover (apartments, pools, gas stations, etc; in my favorite case, “Baby Cakes,” his book features pictures of both babies and cakes), are totally phenomenal. And maybe because they look so straightforward that they don’t get considered by book art teachers enough (I’ve seen people lecture endlessly on some obscure artist who made a really insane tunnel book but then completely skip over Ruscha’s contribution to the field), but to me, this is their strength. They float around and find their way into regular bookstores (or they did, before they became highly collectible). They’re inviting, accessible, and understandable. And yet they point to a bigger project and act as a gateway to the rest of the artist’s work.

No matter how many Kindles are sold, books aren’t going away. Definitely not books that rely upon imagery – I would love to have a Kindle so that I can bring it with me rather than lugging around some art history book, but I’m never going to get one to look at art/design/fashion/etc books. For those, I need the book before me, to have the ability to leaf through it and turn it by hand. And with printmaking processes becoming cheaper and easier to do in short runs, I’m surprised more artists aren’t taking advantage of the medium.

Books are (or can be) an intervention into everyday life. They’re stealth operators.

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5/27/10: There’s always money in the banana stand.

May 27, 2010 at 1:04 pm (culture)

I was a fan of Arrested Development from the first time I saw it. However…

It wasn’t until Charlize Theron’s character (your standard issue RomCom pretty, wacky, childlike, sweet, slightly dim, cute, not very difficult or demanding, “special”, magical, happy all the time naif) wound up to be mentally retarded that I truly lost my heart to that show. Dear god, that was brilliant writing. For one brief moment, all my anger and hostility at being patronized and patted on the head my whole life by the media trying to sell me some gross lie about how I could be happy if I just gave up and became stupid, was acknowledged.

And then, in an instant – poof! – it was over.

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5/23/10: So beautiful

May 23, 2010 at 10:42 am (art, culture, other sites to see)

I have a brochure for this show that was up a couple of years ago and I can’t throw it away. This is the image on the cover. Who could ever throw this away?

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Looking at: Aneta Grzeszykowska

May 20, 2010 at 10:51 am (art, culture, interesting, other sites to see)

I’m generally not the biggest photography fan and I definitely don’t pay as close attention to what’s going on in the photo world as I should. But occasionally I see work in photography that is so smart and just so unbelievably good, and that I’m blown away.

I was thrilled to learn about Aneta Grzeszykowska’s work from a friend. The first series I saw was her set of Cindy Sherman film stills. Here’s what the artist does: She is taking this series of photos that are well-known, iconic, and much revered and she’s rephotographing them, painstakingly capturing the original photograph down to the tiniest detail. But two major things are changed: One, the artist produces color photos when the original was done in black and white (more on this in a moment). Two, she incorporates tiny details that refer to the fact that these photos were taken in Poland, and not America.

the "original"

Grzeszykowska's "copy"

Looking at Sherman’s originals, there’s plenty of things that I just sort of glossed over and never questioned because I assumed (with my American eye) that they were “universal.” So of course (I always thought) the signage behind her character in a particular shot was going to be written in English, or of course her grocery bag that spills out onto the floor will have food in it that’s familiar to me. That’s the kind of chauvinism that the training (art school, etc) I have has instilled in me, and it’s so rare to see something that rattles me out of it. And what first tips you off that something really amazing is going to happen is the very simple trick of changing the stills from black and white to super saturated color. Looking at Grzeszykowska’s series, you immediately get that something is wrong, or that something is very different, and it’s the effect of the color on an image you’re so used to seeing in black and white. And then all this other stuff gets revealed, and it’s a real treat.

The artist has also done some other projects I much admire, including one where she went through old family photographs from her childhood and edited herself out, and a riff on the work of Thomas Ruff, where, using Photoshop, she creates portraits of completely nonexistent people.

Now I want to go to Poland. A lot.

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5/19/10: The business of art as art, pt 2

May 19, 2010 at 10:04 am (art, culture, interesting, other sites to see)

I’m totally late to this and you’ve probably already seen it, but hey – it’s amazing enough to watch again!

I wrote a post a week or so ago about a class I want to teach called The Business of Art As Art, and I think this fits in perfectly to that. This is a project, designed to make money (this time for charity), which is art in and of itself. Normally, the idea of making money off of your work is something that artists feel uncomfortable with or they feel as though it has to happen sort of accidentally. But here’s a great example of someone who came up with a very successful project that is incredibly moving and inspiring, and also designed to raise a lot of money! Brilliant.

Go Sheena, go. You are amazing.

Many tiny hat tips to Ms. Siouxsie.

Hey Vimeo and/or WordPress, why can’t I embed Vimeo videos into my blog posts??

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5/18/10: Blog Love

May 18, 2010 at 11:02 am (art, blog, culture, other sites to see, Uncategorized)

You know, there’s no love like Blog Love… when a total stranger feels inspired to write about you or your work, it’s one of the best compliments you can possibly get. Everything your mother ever said about not talking to strangers? It was a lie. Strangers are awesome. I mean, I guess some of them are scary, but most of them are awesome.

This is what I’m blathering about:

Katie Runnels of The Constant Gatherer wrote on of the nicest articles about me ever:

and Jeff McIntire-Strasburg wrote this really great story for the Sundance blog:

Oh man, today is off to a good start. It’s rainy and cold but who cares. The world feels good right now.

UPDATE:

More wonderful blog love, this time from Kickcan and Conkers! Holy cow, you guys are the greatest!!

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