Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Kirkland's Top Ten

J.T. Kirkland is the wood dude and Thinking About Art blogger. His top ten visual art shows of the year are here and also summarized below:

1. Andre Kertesz @ National Gallery of Art (DC)
2. Dan Flavin: A Retrospective @ National Gallery of Art (DC)
3. Cy Twombly Installation at Philadelphia Museum of Art
4. Linn Meyers @ G Fine Art (DC) and Margaret Thatcher Projects (NYC)
5. Bruce Nauman - Raw Materials @ Tate Modern Turbine Hall (London)
6. Logical Conclusions: 40 Years of Rule-Based Art @ Pace Wildenstein (NYC)
7. Shelley Spector @ Painted Bride Art Center (Philly)
8. Jiha Moon: Symbioland @ Curator's Office (DC)
9. David Ryan @ Numark (DC)
10. J.T. Kirkland: Studies in Organic Minimalism @ University of Phoenix (VA)

Honorable Mentions
William Betts @ Thomas Werner Gallery (NYC)
Barbara Probst @ G Fine Art (DC)
Scott Treleaven @ Conner Contemporary (DC)
Sam Gilliam's retrospective at The Corcoran Gallery of Art (DC)

Bailey's Top Ten

Bailey, Bailey, Bailey... herewith the Reverend's top 10 visual somethings for 2005. Whatever you do in life, don't ever piss Bailey off:

The Right Reverend James W. Bailey’s Top Ten 2005 Metro Washington, D.C. Area Friendly Fire Art Attacks

But first…

"That Ole’ Time Religion Postmodern Art Healing Touch"

A radio ministry of the Black Cat Bone Global Media Empire


A new and improved version of an ancient story handed down from generation to generation in the Great State of Mississippi.

Oh, brothers and sisters, turn off all the electric lights in your home, light your Hoodoo candle, and gather around the radio in fellowship. While raising your right hand up high to shake hands with Jesus, slowly reach out with your left hand and touch the back of that glorious machine. Are you feeling the divine heat of the spiritual energy radiating from those cosmic radio tubes?

People get ready because the Lord has a special message that He’s asked Brother James to share with you tonight...

Once upon a time...

A French deconstructionist professor confined to a wheelchair — who was on loan from the Sorbonne to the art department at the University of Mississippi — entered a juke joint just outside of Itta Bena, Mississippi, and asked the waitress for a cup of coffee. The professor sat down, intently surveyed the patrons, and was shocked to realize he recognized one:

“Excusez-moi madame, but tis that the Jesus Christ sitting over there?” he asked the waitress.

The waitress nodded “yes,” so the professor told her to give Jesus a cup of coffee, “with my greatest pleasure.”

Now the next customer to come in was another French art professor/marketing director with a severely hunched back — a hard core postmodernist on loan from the international marketing department of Air France to the art department at Mississippi State University. He shuffled over to a booth, painfully sat down, and asked for a social construct of a meaningless cup of relativist hot tea.

All of a sudden this professor’s eyes nearly bugged out when he surveyed the restaurant:

“Excusez-moi madame, tis that a social construct of ‘the Jesus Christ’ symbol sitting over there in that imaginary word ‘chair’ that we commonly refer to as ‘a chair’?” he asked the waitress.

The waitress again nodded, “yes,” and the second French professor said to give the “unreal Jesus” an “unreal cup” of “relativist hot tea, with great respect as my special treat,” as he emphasized the quotes around his words by making air quote marks with his fingers.

Now the third customer to come into the juke joint was a not so terribly famous big-fish-in-a-small-goldfish-bowl local Mississippi born and bred redneck artist who was dramatically limping on crutches accompanied by a loudly self-proclaimed agony for all to hear. He clumsily and noisily hobbled on over to a booth, after nearly knocking all the other tables over, sat down with much commotion and hollered out in his sexiest drawl, “Hey der, sweet thang! How's ‘bout pushin’ ya hot buns on ova hare n’ brang wit ya a tall cold glass of Coke wit lots of ice! Gotdam, girl! Just lookin’ at ya puts me on far, darlin’! Please hurry up wit dat Coke, baby, and come on ova hare and sit ya sweet cheeks down in ma lap. I think dat would help cool me on down, honey!"

Now after the Mississippi redneck artist finished loudly plopping his found-in-the-middle-of-the-parking-lot discarded can of Skoal chewing tobacco, assembled collection of borrowed-from-barfly-friends unfiltered cigarettes, shoplifted bottle of Jim Beam whiskey, and ripped-off from his doctor’s office pens, pencils, and drawing pad on his table, he also surveyed the juke joint, and his tongue nearly rolled out of his mouth on to the floor when he recognized what had drawn the attention of the two French art professors:

“Holy shit, Ruby!” he exclaimed to the waitress (who was also his ex-wife’s former lesbian girlfriend’s third cousin twice removed), "Is dat God's only boy sittin’ ova dare all by his lonesome self? I can’t believe dis shit, Ruby, but dat dude looks jest lack a young Elvis!"

Ruby the waitress once again nodded, “yes,” that it was indeed Jesus, so the Mississippi redneck artist said to give Jesus a cold glass of Coke, “on my bill, sweetheart, n’ ya know I’m good fer dat shit dis time, baby, you jest know I am!”

As Jesus got up to leave, he passed by the French deconstructionist professor, touched him on his forehead and said, “Bless you my son. For your generosity and kindness, you are healed.” The professor suddenly felt the strength come back to his legs, got up and did a blues dance right out the door of the juke joint while joyfully proclaiming in plain spoken English the global virtues of American high energy CIA-approved-for-mass-capitalist-consumption white male dominated abstract expressionism and minimalism.

Jesus also passed by the hard core French postmodernist art director professor, touched him on his forehead and said, “Bless you my son. For your generosity and kindness, you are healed.” The professor suddenly felt his social construct of a screwed-up back straightening up, and he raised his hands high up toward the heavens, praised the Lord, and did a series of back flips out the door of the juke joint while cursing the writings of Michele Foucault and Jacques Derrida.

… then Jesus walked up to the Mississippi redneck artist.

But before Jesus could touch his forehead, the Mississippi redneck artist bolted out of his chair, backed-up in a heartbeat 10 feet away from Jesus (without the use of his crutches) and yelled out like a four-paw-trapped wild cat [writer’s note: that’s an old timer north Mississippi hunter’s slang expression for a critter that’s been trapped with its back up against the wall so tight by a gang of rabid hound dogs that all it know to do is scream as loud as possible for heavenly mercy] in an amateur veterinarian’s office that had just been cruelly inserted with angry water moccasin enema, “Now hold on jest a gotdam minute, son, don't you dare fuckin’ touch me! Hell, boy, I’m a gotdam artist! Can’t you see dat I wuz jest sittin’ at dis damn table mindin’ my own fuckin’ bidness?! I don’t need you to touch me, Jesus!”

“I apologize to you, my son. I meant you no harm. I also happen to love art. What kind of artist are you and what is it that you are working on with your pens, pencils, and drawing pad?” asked Jesus.

“Son, I’m a gotdam con artist and I WUZ workin’ on dis shitload of fuckin’ insurance paperwork dat my lawyer sent ova to me concernin’ my slip n’ fall at da Piggly-Wiggly in Jackson. Or at least I wuz workin’ on dat shit till you started fuckin’ wit me! But anyways, to ansa ya questions, dat lawyer of mine is a damn good art teacher, Jesus. He’s teachin’ me how to draw social security disability!”


And the winners are, in no particular order…

1. Best Fly-By Night “Curator” – Libby Lumpkin with OPTIONS 05. Thanks, Libby, for drifting into town in the middle of the night and offering an L.A. jet lag MFA-centric eulogy for the death of the D.C. avant garde. What a shame D.C.’s most radical art didn’t qualify for a proper burial spot at Arlington Cemetery. Surely the federal government must have had at least a postage stamp size piece of ground available that could have easily accommodated the microscopic size corpse of envelope-pushing art that you curatorially told us no longer exists in the nation’s capital. Of course, we all know there’s never really been a lot of avant garde art in the first place to be found in Washington, D.C., so we probably could have easily buried the entirety of the history of this body of work in one or two plots at most. I suppose, if push had come to shove during OPTIONS 05, we could have demanded the exhumation of a couple of bodies of unindicted war criminal generals from the Johnson and Nixon administrations to make room for a final decent resting spot for the collective body of D.C.’s cutting-edge art.

2. Best Shit Happens Street Art Project…Literally — Mark Jenkins for Fresh Shit. The sign of a truly great artistic genius is the sheer bold audacity to publicly embarrass one’s self, to stand out and above and beyond the lame crowd of sacrificial sycophant ass-kissing wannabe artist lambs, to risk complete utter flaming disastrous failure. Some think Mark did a Florida Everglades-style Value Jet landing with Fresh Shit. I’m not one of them. Mark injects a desperately needed sense of humor in today’s dry, boring, predictable, and pedantic art environment with his richly entertaining and thought-provoking work. 3-D street art is the future. Mark has given us a glimpse of what’s to come. And even if Fresh Shit was DOA in D.C., I’ll gladly take a non-FAA-approved Mark Jenkins’s crash and burn over a 1,000 artists at the airport in Chelsea doing TSA required check-in cartwheels for the approval of the international art press any day.

3. Best Art Review Published on a Metro D.C. Area Art Blog"Ian Whitemore at Fusebox" by Kriston Capps of Grammarpolice.net. I disagree with 99.9 percent of what Kriston writes. His predictably tight-ass politics makes me want to toss my crazy vet uncle’s Vietnam War-era live hand grenade through my computer screen. But I love to read what he writes because I also can not stand to constantly sit in my car by myself in-taking exhaust pipe opinions with the windows rolled up that are too much in smell-sync with my own — although I do very much enjoy corresponding with Ted “The Unabomber” Kaczynski on mutual subjects of intense narrow-minded interest. Kriston’s art criticism soars when he dares to leave his Democratic National Committee anti-Bush talking points at home on the fax machine. His review of Ian Whitemore’s show is one of many such fine examples to be found on Grammarpolice.net. I want Kriston to know that when my right wing buddies at Opus Dei, the Masons and the Sons of Confederate Veterans finally exert some real control over this damn country by weeding out all these pissant neo-con Republicans, I’m gonna make sure that Kriston is given a pass on being locked up in one of the many very large and very PUBLIC — not secret — torture prison camps that we aim to set up across the nation to properly discipline all these out of control east coast liberal arts media sinners. Kriston will naturally have to change his name while on the lam in the new America we intend to found, but I’ll be happy to covertly fund his pirate art blog so he can continue to aggravate the hell out of me from an undisclosed location.

4. Best Pull-A-Wild-Hair-Cultural-Master-Plan-Idea-Out-Of-My-Ass by Blake Gopnik — Just days before David Levy, former President and CEO of the Corcoran, resigned and the Gehry titanium overcoat fantasy for the old Corcoran building imploded, the Washington Post, in a really bizarre move that I attribute to a rave party overflowing with homemade X that must have been held in the editorial offices the night before publication, published Blake’s wonderful idea for turning the Corcoran Gallery of Art into the National Museum of Easily Accessible Dumbass Tourist Snap-Shot Photographs. Thanks for this immensely entertaining read, Blake — we all look forward to your lengthy post-U.S.-withdrawal-of-troops-from-Iraq cultural master plan that will no doubt be published by the Washington Post just days before the invasion of what’s left of Iraq by a coalition of social realist troops from Iran, North Korea, and China.

5. Best Human Interest Story Published on a Metro D.C. Area Art Blog — [Special note: Fairness required that I eliminate myself and my insane Deep South stories for consideration in this competition.] Once I eliminated myself, there was no serious competition in this category. The hands-down favorite knee-slapping gut-wrenching laugh-out-loud-till-you-drop-dead story was F. Lennox Campello’s Tentacles (A man, an axe and a doctor: A tale of pain and art). Note to fellow national art bloggers: Look, we all enjoy your opinions, ideas, thoughts, suggestions, reviews, spin, rants, crying, whining, and neverending self-absorbed complaining about why you ain’t the big cheese in New York yet because the ignorant art powers that be have failed to grasp the genius of your earth-shattering originality and such, but take a lesson from Lenny and learn to open up more about who you really are if you really want to be a rich, famous, successful, and highly-collected artist. Know ye the #1 Intelligent Design Law of the Art Universe: People DON’T remember art, they remember PEOPLE. Hundreds of millions of people on this planet know who Picasso was, yet the tiniest fraction of those people have ever seen (or will ever see) an original Picasso painting in person. Picasso is known throughout the world, not because of his art, but because Picasso had a great story to tell. And it damn sure helps to have people remember you as an artist if you have a great story to tell, too. As my grandfather in Mississippi used to say, "You don’t have to be a great story teller to tell a great story." We need more and better stories being told on art blogs. Hell, if you don’t know any good stories, make one up. I do it all the time.

6. Best Young Female Photographer to Jump Out of the Sensual Frying Pan and Straight Into the Hot Erotic OvenSamantha Wolov for her Anti-Porn series. Folks, this young lady is going places and in a hurry — if you’re a collector, place your bets now! It takes most artists a long long time to get their engines warmed up. Samantha started out on fire in a suped-up Camaro before she even had a legal license to drive. I predict within the next couple of years this hot photographer will be tooling around in D.C. in a Lamborghini that will make Cam’ron jealous – and, hopefully, unlike Cam’ron, Samantha will fork over the dead presidents for the bullet-proof model. Great art reminds us that the best things in life are sinless. At the top of that best things in life list is passion. Samantha’s passion for life compels her toward a portrayal of sinless sex in art. This is a message that this constipated country needs to see and hear every day. Why’s America so screwed-up? Because there simply aren’t enough people in America living passionate artistic lives that are willing to embrace a sinless aesthetic point of view about life. Samantha’s work will be relevant for years to come because America has a long ways to go in the sinless artist behavior department.

7. Best Young Male Artist With the Biggest Pair of Balls — It wasn’t even close this year people — his name is Borf. How in the world did this kid do what he did? While you and I were sleeping in our beds at night, maybe plotting our next Art Basel Miami art move, or clicking through the Fox news programs so we would have something to scream at Bush about (all you liberals know you love watching Bill O’Reilly, don’t you?! Sure you do…), or maybe downloading a video from our favorite porn site while our wives, husbands, girlfriends, or boyfriends slept, whatever, Borf was all over the damn place sticking his finger in the bespeckeled corrupt lobbyist liar eye of the most repressed buttoned-down corncob in the ass anal retentive city in the country…uh, with the possible exception of Salt Lake City, Utah. Just standing near his large Constitution Avenue exit sign tag earlier this year sent a shiver of arthritis through my knees. It also made me a bit queasy to stretch my neck up to look at it because I’m also somewhat terrified (being from a below sea level place like New Orleans) of being arrested by cops above ground level. Brothers and sisters, wake up and realize that we now live in a post-911 control-freak country run by a bunch of bi-party control-freaks who are propped-up by dual constituencies of control-freaks who have shown that they are more than willing to let Democratic and Republican assholes on both sides of the aisle assume total fucking control of almost every damn thing that people ought to be left alone to decide for themselves. Borf’s message is an irritating asinine disrespectful young punk middle finger to all these useless conniving lying political jerks and the control-freak idiots that vote for them. And all of them deserve it and more. God bless Borf for pointing his middle finger in the right direction.

8. Best Metro D.C. Area Artist Who Should Have Received a Whitney 2006 Biennial Invite — My nomination is Joseph Barbaccia. When I view (experience) Joseph’s art, I’m immediately reminded of how utterly useless and distracting it is to try and pen words to describe the experience of mind-enhancing mind-blowing and mind-altering art. Amy from The ARTery made a masterful attempt. I, however, am at a complete loss for words to describe Joseph’s art — but if I were forced to attempt to do so at gunpoint, the closest word would be “unworldly.” I have often imagined that if I were standing in the middle of a cornfield during a moonless night on my historic Bailey family property located way back yonder at the end of an abandoned gravel road in the piney hills of north central Mississippi, and if an alien space craft were to suddenly appear overhead and suck me up into its belly and transport my ass across inter-galactic space and time and then deposit me in the middle of their most respected cutting-edge contemporary art space, that I would wake up and find that I was surrounded by a host of mysterious, magical and sublime objects that strongly resemble Joseph’s work. Joseph’s mind, and his art (which in Joseph’s case is his mind), are from another planet. How I wish I had a star chart that showed me how to get there, because it’s a place I would love to live out the rest of my life. For now, I’ll have to wage war with my fellow humans fighting Beltway traffic to see Joseph’s work on planet Earth.

9. Best Upper-Middle Class White Girl Binge and Purge A Long Envious List of Encumbering Useless Stuff Except for Her Computer and Web Site Performance Art Project — Melissa Ichiuji for "Stripped." Thanks Melissa for reminding all of us lower class white artists who daily struggle to pay our unaffordable mortgages on our cracker box-size townhouses in this bullshit Northern Virginia real estate market just how valuable the little bit of shit we have is, how thankful we should be for having it and how strongly we should hold on to it…just in case we need to pawn it in order to pay our monthly home owner’s association dues. I will acknowledge that Melissa’s performance did in fact inspire me to sacrifice a few frivolous things in my own life: I don’t rent from Blockbuster anymore; I’m a Netflix man now. I’ve cut down from eating at the Silver Diner in Reston from five times a week to no more than two. But most importantly, I’ve completely cut out paying for over priced bottles of puffed-up bullshit wine produced in Northern Virginia; I’ve come back home to the real stuff from France. I will not, however, EVER agree to voluntarily cut my beautiful long locks that fully crown my head. Why? Because most dudes half my age have already slipped down the Nightmare on Bald Mountain – sorry, but I ain’t taking the chance that my hair may not grow back! "Stripped" offered an opportunity for an important dialogue in this class-in-denial community of Washington, D.C., about the last taboo subject of public conversation in America: class and its privileges in the upper spectrum. It’s too bad the Washington Post did not engage this conversation by allowing for a wide diversity of opinions to be published in response to their article about the performance and Melissa’s follow-up Op-Ed. I don’t know what her intent really was, but kudos to Melissa for putting the conversation on the table.

10. Best Erotic Female Photographer Who Photographs Herself and Graces Us with Those Beautiful Images on Her Art Blog — Tracy Lee for Angstbabe. Folks, Brother James encourages you to risk being fired from your day job by daring to daily drink from the libertine well of beauty that is Tracy’s vision. Do whatever you have to do to unfilter those overly sensitive corporate and government porn filters. Tech-savvy help is available at every Starbucks in the metro D.C. region. There are more overpaid easily tempted I-dare-you-to-do-it ego challenged techno-nerds in this area that would be happy to help you hack through supposedly impenetrable security systems to increase your viewing pleasure than there are Southern Baptists at a prostitution convention at the Bunny Ranch out in Nevada. The artist/humanist Joseph Bueys said "To make people free is the aim of art; therefore art for me is the science of freedom." Tracy offers free online Ph.D.s in the science of artistic freedom on her site. We should all be taking advantage of this opportunity to upgrade the educational lines on our resumes.
Bailey, Bailey, Bailey...