Thursday, January 27, 2005

I'm not a mossback... I'm a crackpot!

I thought that I was a "mossback,", but the LA Weekly's Doug Harvey has now convinced me that I am a crackpot!

When critics, gallerists, curators or artists get their knickers in a knot over the need to promote traditional - generally figurative - art as an antidote to the rising tide of decadent, superficial, sensationalist hucksterism, they are relegating themselves to crackpot status. The issue isn't so much the viability of figurative work, as the mainstream art world easily embraces a handful of token figure painters like Elizabeth Peyton or John Curran [sic] every few years. Nor is it merely the fact that they are swimming against the tide of Modernism with its utopian sense of inevitability and its flagship aesthetic of reductive minimalism. What truly isolates them is the siege mentality with which they declare their dedication to representational craftsmanship, a passionate testifying that is out of place in the convivial social whirl of the art marketplace.
Harvey rants against "sixty-something New York based art critic Donald Kuspit" here, as if Kuspit's age has anything to do with his views.

It's all supposed to be a review of a show curated by Kuspit called "California New Masters" at Gallery C in Hermosa Beach, but ends up being somewhat a tirade against Kuspit and Kuspit's opinions on modern art and it even crosses into diminishing the exhibition space and showing a crack in California'a art armor and inferiority complex with NYC:
Kuspit can hardly be described as an art-world outsider, though. A contributing editor to Artforum and several other major art magazines, professor of art history and philosophy at SUNY Stony Brook, and the author of a score of books as well as the official Encyclopedia Britannica entry on art criticism, Kuspit is more of an insider than most Duchamp scholars will ever be. In Columbia University's National Arts Journalism Program's 2002 survey of visual-arts critics, he ranked as the 33rd most influential art theorist in all of history. Still, when the opportunity came for Kuspit to curate an exhibition demonstrating the kind of work he believes offers "the possibility of making a new aesthetic harmony out of the tragedy of life, without falsifying it," that opportunity was nowhere in or around Manhattan, but in the unlikely community of Hermosa Beach in a clean, well-funded space called Gallery C.
Does that mean that it can only make an art statement in Manhattan?


Harvey doesn't like Kuspit's views on modern art and uses the unfair broad brush of generalizing, which is his right as a writer and critic, as as he clearly submits that he's partially in the right side of the argument because he is an artist: "it has been my impression from my own study of art history, my experience as an artist (I myself am a Master of the Fine Arts)..." blah, blah, blah...

People on either side of this "argument" are not crackpots; they are people with opinions, just like Harvey. The "argument," by the way, doesn't really exist other than in the words of puerile writing like Harvey's (in this case - I've never read Harvey's writing before, do not know it, nor him and will not paint all of his writing with one adjective) and fools like me who bite this kind of hook every time.

Me? Mossback and Crackpot and proud of it! And I guess I'll miss the "convivial social whirl of the art marketplace."

The Thursday Reviews

Jonathan Padget looks at Pyramid Atlantic in the WaPo and Jeffry Cudlin is eloquently descriptive but somehow leaves me somewhat wondering what he really wants to say (as far as a final opinion) with the last line in the dual shows at Numark Gallery in the WCP.

Last line: "His work manages to be attractive without actually being desirable."

Printmaker Jenny Freestone tells me that this coming Saturday January 29th and Sunday January 30th, from 12 Noon until 6pm, a group of Washington area printmakers will he having a sale of their works in aid of Union Printmakers Atelier, Inc.

Sale is at 926 Blagden Alley, NW (926 N St. Rear) in Washington, DC (Mt. Vernon Square Metro stop).

Artists include: David Chung, Scip Barnhart, Jody Mussof, Jenny Freestone, Andrew Kreiger, Robert Nelson, George O'Connel, Fred Folsom, Bill Woodward, Hi Gates, Kevin MacDonald, Wonsook Kim, and many more. Call Jenny Freestone at 301.655.4910 for more details.


Filming a TV review of the group show currently being showcased for the re-opening of the Arlington Arts Center, which finally re-opened after three years of being refurbished (originally it was supposed to take less than a year).

It will air next Thursday.

I will also write a review of the show. A heads up: Best of Show easily goes to Richmond artist Claire Watkins.

Read Michael O'Sullivan's excellent review of that show here

Secrets as Art

One of the Artomatic projects or art ideas that really sunk a hook into me, was this really odd and unusual project that had blank postcards where people could write their secrets.

What a terrific idea!

The creator of this idea is Frank Warren, and he is one of the artists whom Anne C. Fisher Gallery is currently showcasing in her beautiful gallery in Georgetown; and I've just been made aware of the Post Secret BLOG, where anyone can post a secret or read someone else's secret.

Is this a new kind of art? Is this the marriage of reality TV with "reality art"?

I don't know, but there's something definately new going on here. Anyone can contribute... and everyone is invited to anonymously contribute a secret to the PostSecret project. Your secret can be a regret, fear, betrayal, desire, feeling, confession, or childhood humiliation; Reveal anything - as long as it is true and you have never shared it publicly (and anonymously) before.

Steps: Create your own 4"x6" postcard and tell your secret anonymously. Then stamp and mail the postcard to the address at the bottom. Some tips:
(a) Be brief – the fewer words used the better
(b) Be legible – use big, clear and bold lettering
(c)Be creative – let the postcard be your canvas.

Mail your secret to:
13345 Copper Ridge Rd
Germantown MD 20874