Small studies for later work.

Here is something fast I did this week.

(Another project happened September through mid-October but I will describe that later, another time.)

I examined Sol Lewitt’s letter to Eva Hesse from April 1965. Wanted to take it apart & draw it together.

From the SFMoMA collection, see some of LeWitt’s work here and see his google images search here. See Hesse’s “Untitled or Not Yet” piece (on view at SFMoMA) here and see her google images “eva hesse” search here.
(Best link I could find for the letter is here.)

I’ll be continuing work on these two pieces.

#1.)
small study for “1965 From Sol: I”
8.5″ x 11″
spray paint, fabric, vellum, glue
excerpts of letter from Sol Lewitt to Eva Hesse, April 1965
(all the “I” statements)

study for "1965 From Sol: I"

#2.)
small study for “1965 To Eva: You”
8.5″ x 11″
spray paint, gouache, vellum
excerpts of letter from Sol Lewitt to Eva Hesse, April 1965
(all the “you” statements)

study for "1965 To Eva: You"

Working

Just an insert that I have been working rather steadily since the beginning of September– a lot of writing in addition to object/picture making, and it leaves me less to invest in a post here or there. But I will. Soon.

It’s so quiet sometimes

1. I had a car once that had no music. No player, no speakers, just the motor, wind against the metal hulk, the weather. I commuted in that car and there was so much relief in the silence. So much space, even if I was enclosed and traveling at 50-70 mph. Alone with my thoughts. Sometimes I want more of that. Sometimes I want less. Sometimes there’s nothing I can do.

2. I am drawn to: books on language, conversation, all the forms of communication between one person and another; art & artists who incorporate language in their work; poetry & poets who incorporate visual language or tools in theirs. One of the recent books I’ve been reading (I should call it not-reading, as I spend more time trying to think of a way to read another page than I spend actually reading it) is: Bill Bryson’s The Mother Tongue. One fact I enjoy thinking about:

English speakers dread silence. We are all familiar with the uncomfortable feeling that overcomes us when a conversation palls. Studies have shown that when a pause reaches four seconds, one or more of the conversationalists will invariably blurt something–a fatuous comment on the weather, a startled cry of “Gosh, is that the time?–rather than let the silence extend to a fifth second.

I couldn’t find the passage in the book until I did a search in google books, but before that I stumbled on a website from Cooper, a product & design strategy firm in San Francisco. In 2009, they had an entry in their Cooper Journal on the 4 seconds of silence:

Though it reads as a very short amount of time, it doesn’t sound the same way. At an average 196 words per minute in a typical (English-speaking) conversation, four seconds equates to 13 words. That’s about the length of an average Twitter post, i.e. a complete, if short, idea. It actually sounds pretty long, especially in the middle of a conversation… It’s a long time.

I’m fascinated by the drop offs in communication, in the invisible back and forths between people who can see each other, as well as those who can’t and maybe never will. What is building? What falls apart? It’s fascinating but painful sometimes also. Silence sometimes equals an opaque distance that’s impossible to traverse. Between two people, interpersonal conventions give us visual cues as to how respond to each other, what to think, what to say or not say. When physical presence is removed and it all happens online, what is left? Impossible silence.

3. I visited the SF MoMA again last week just before the Fisher Collection debut was closing out, and I saw so much visual information, it was a cacophony of visual conversations between the artworks, the people, the artists themselves, and no one in particular. It’s like walking through a hall where everyone is talking loudly on their cell phones, listening & taking it all in just the same. I always walk through museums backwards- I enter the side that is supposed to be the exit, I start at the last floor and make my way to the first. This time I ended up on the 2nd floor last, and when I walked into the room, I faced Mitzi Pederson’s Untitled, 2007 (featured in the Whitney Biennial 2008.) In the past I hadn’t understood the great draw others have had to the work. When I saw it previously, it was silent for me when I wanted much more.  This time, when my mind was crowded with the voices of so many artists, I was relieved for the silence I got from her work, the emptiness was the relief. That became the point.

MItzi Pederson, Untitled 2007

4. Nap time is just an awesome time when you have a small child in the house, but it’s fragile too. My 4 year old still desperately needs the quietness in his day, and so do I. I’m so desperate for it that any sound which threatens to break the moment startles me. My 7 year old is the quiet one. When he was a baby, my mother chastised me (in love) for not talking with him more. But he was happy & quiet and I was happy & quiet, why ruin it? His language developed normally, and he’s a reader & sometimes writer, but definitely not a talker. My 4 year old on the other hand… he’s been chatted with since he was born (brother, mother, father, live-in grandmother, another pair of nearby grandparents) and his language is/was delayed. That doesn’t stop him from talking non stop, though. He insists on being known & understood, on saying what he thinks and wanting to know what I think. While my older son’s mind & heart are only opened from time to time on an invitation only basis, my younger son is a space where the doors are always thrown wide open, ready to receive, he’s fresh air and full of presence. For all the love I have of silence, knowing and being known is actually pretty awesome after all.

Soooo…

I swear I didn’t set out to make these 2 pieces at the outset. Not that I feel I have anything to excuse. You see, I was doing a study of materials for another piece I am doing, and I had to write a lot of text by hand on some paper and proceed to work with the text… cutting, glazing, etc. And then, so what I’m trying to say is, it was the day I finally got around to reading Carol Vogel’s article about Dan Colen. I found some rich material there. I hope to post better photos later, as well as links to relevant sources, such as William Powhida’s twitter essay. (Thanks for that.) Comments are welcome or find me on twitter. ~ @marzkim

(see images on home page for detail views)

I’m dreaming

1. I saw Inception tonight, I think after everyone else here already did. There were about 15 people in there & I knew almost all of them (we came together, my town is not that small that I know everyone.) I just need to say the physicality in that movie really is like my dream world, they captured the details, the breadth, the depth, the grandiosity and the specificity. I have this city that I’ve visited for years in my dreams. It’s the first clue I had that I loved maps (besides pouring over them in real life, that wasn’t enough of a clue.) (Also I can visit a place for the first time again in years and I know exactly where I am.) (I like to know where I stand.) This dream city has been made up of the neighborhoods and places I have lived all my life. I used to live in Huntington Beach briefly. So the beach had a prominent place in my dreams. And I often dreamed of buffaloes chasing me down the street. I’m sorry, this is certainly getting rather boring for anyone but me. Anyway, back to the beach, there were often tsunamis in my dreams. I learned over time how to avoid getting sucked into the wave, where to stand, how to run. The thing is, I haven’t dreamed about that even once since the tsunami hit Indonesia in 2005. Not that I think my dreams were predictive, but more that real life has trumped that dream. I could no longer use that image once real life claimed it.

2. So another dream, just one, last year, it was during the fight over Prop 8. At the height of it. I inexplicably dreamed about the older brother of a friend of mine from high school. I had no reason to think about him. But maybe I’d overheard his name? I really don’t think I did. Anyway, he was not my direct friend, but he was one of the group of cool kids that were the older brothers of my friends. They talked leftist politics together, made little zines, made art, listened to the best music. Anyway, I dreamed about him and in this dream, I saw him murdered, mercilessly, there was a lot of blood. You have to know, I don’t dream those kinds of frightening things, and when my dreams are frightening, they are not bloody. But this was both. I googled his name when I woke up. He was/is a lead attorney in the fight to ban gay marriage. How could things end up this way? Him? What?!? And this dream?!? I can’t write his name, I’m too afraid that someone would do something horrible, because, you know, this blog is widely read. In my dreams. :)

3. This next part could be succinct but I’ll probably ruin it. At age 14 I sat down, looked out the window, and decided what I wanted out of life. It stays with me. I knew I wanted this art thing, to raise children, to have love, to know God (whatever that means to you, I have no idea, but I know what that means to me.) So, 4, 3, 2, 1, here I am. If I ever sound like it’s having children that’s held me back before now (have I addressed this before?) well it isn’t just them. It’s also me. Paul Kos looked me in the eye at art school and said, are you going to do this thing? I said, it may take me a long time, but I will never quit. So even if it looks like I quit at some point, or really- that I never got started- well, things aren’t what they seem. I needed until now to clarify my thoughts. At 20, I couldn’t even fathom how people said with such conviction what they liked & didn’t like in art. I had no idea what I thought. Someone said how much they loved Agnes Martin. I wasn’t sure. I just watched. (What are those lines? Why those colors? Why is nothing happening there? What is it?) I am still watching, but now I am making things, too. Finally. And I absolutely love Agnes Martin now. But I still feel like I am always just a breath away from this all falling apart, because I don’t trust that this is real, that it will last. I hardly trust myself. I’m here doing this now, but will I be in 6 months? I want to say that because I have been waiting for this moment, that it’s started now, and there’s no stopping it. I want this art thing, I have always wanted it. Have I really started to work? After all this time? Is this a dream? It is.

4. In real life, I’m not surrounded by artists–it’s quite the opposite. I went to an art show today, Alexis K Manheim’s, and I loved seeing her work in person. I love seeing the materials and thinking about the moment when each piece is made, and the decision to turn in this direction, then that. I like the digging into the paper with a pastel chunk, I like the marks that seem to be records of the sounds of life. I haven’t done a lot of drawing or painting for a while, but the materials and strokes of the artist still make me very happy. I remember times when I’ve gotten lost in picture making and there’s so much joy in that. Then I paid a quick visit to the Fisher Collection (SFMoMA)–quick, because of needing to pick up Hub, then return home, drop him at his car, and drive on to a movie with friends (Inception!). So at SFMoMA I sat, in the Agnes Martin room, and I breathed. Her work energizes and soothes me at the same time. It’s atmospheric and it’s ordered. It’s the desert air, it’s clarity. You know this if you know the desert intimately. I know the visual language to take all this in and hear the beautiful silence there. I know a language my friends don’t know they are missing. I wish they could know what I know. My life is rich because I know this beauty. They see the beauty on their hikes, they taste it in their raw food (?), they know it in the regular life they live, in some way. But I get this art thing, and I feel so lucky. I love art.

5. Online life is unreal. One thing I really need to say is, in my first posts, you saw a back and forth I had with Jesse P. Martin. I haven’t known how quite to say it, but I want to say a public thank you to him- he so graciously and kindly took time to look at my work when I asked him, and he gave feedback on my work- it’s not so much that he liked it (although he seemed to) but that he cared enough to let my work speak & have a voice. From online interaction to real life meaning. What a valuable gift to me, thank you Jesse.

Getting to the next level

1. My boys play the wii. They love it, they obsess over it, it’s embarrassing. My 4yo, when he walks down the hall before daybreak, wiping the sleep out of this eyes, he talks about getting to the next level in this GAME, or when he’s ruminating at midday over his life, he sighs and says, Level 8, it’s so IMPOSSIBLE.  I feel like that bad mother whose kids are glued to screens (tho there is a time limit to it.) I draw the line at the DS. The Nintendo DS. All the boys have them around here (well not all of course) but the boys feel like everyone has one. But my Z has a piece of wood that is small, maybe 2″ x 5″ and he calls it his DS. I feel somewhat redeemed. A piece of wood as his obsession, much better.

2. Today was supposed to be the 29th birthday of my friend’s only sister. She was pregnant last summer, a due date in January of this year. She was very sick. Finally in October her brothers drove down to her town & picked her up & drove her back to Stanford Medical Center. Finally they diagnosed that she was at Stage IV melanoma, it had gotten to her lungs. They delivered her baby in October. She died in December. She left her young husband, her 3 year old, her 18 month old and the newborn she’d held a few times, not to mention her 5 brothers & her parents. What is that? And another friend’s daughter relapsed in leukemia in January of this year. The little known truth is that relapse is worse in many ways than the original moment of being told your child has cancer. Terrifying. So, after a bone marrow match search & subsequent bone marrow transplant, she is now recovering at home. She was in the hospital for many many months. Right now she’s awaiting biopsy results to see if she can move on to only having those checks every three months. My hub had cancer before I met him. He graduated from annual cancer checks a few years back, to now only needing to be checked every five years.

3. The alternating connections & isolations of online social media, they are providing some rich material for my work. I am starting to see this wide subject matter that means so much to me, this whole bit about how one person sees & connects with another. (What African language is it, that as a greeting, instead of Hello, it’s “I see you“?) The human-ness between us who can’t see each other. The audacity. The frailty. The ease. The discomfort and sadness. Between people who know each other, and people who really don’t. I take this in with twitter (@marzkim). Then, I am walking through a restaurant, and to my left I see a disabled person whose speech is so impaired, it’s hard to understand them. I have a friend who’s child has severe autism. He’s about 17 now. For years in his life, they knew he couldn’t talk and they didn’t think he could really think. Then they got this Lightwriter machine that facilitated speech for him. He types into it, and it speaks his words for him. At around age 14, because of this machine, they realized- he has something to say. He has a lot to say. He has important things to say. He is more than what he seems. He is finally known. So I think, if there are all these layers of separation between myself and another (in person or online or…)–do they know who I am? can they hear me? is what I see what is real?– what about these disabled persons, when people don’t stop moving or take time to know, hear, see? There are so many layers of separation between one human and another. Does this make sense? How are we connecting with each other? What is happening online? What if the next level is not Up, the next level is Deeper? Closer? What if the next level is not Achievement, it’s Knowing, Being Known?

4. And yet, I still want to play a certain game. That game being art, as I learn to make work that is meaningful to myself, work that I’m proud of, I want it to be shown somewhere. I want to be a part of the art world thing. I want my work to be seen, and maybe that means I don’t want to be invisible. Here’s a game that William Powhida made, really, it’s one you can play- rules are provided. You, too, can have your art shown in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, you too can be canonized. Except, you can’t. It’s nearly impossible. I don’t know, I haven’t played it yet, it’s all New Yorkish and all. (SF/LA versions coming in 2 years he assures, it’s the typical way it plays out? The SF version should be small, cute, easy to make, & easy to win & yet still be a loser? haha) Apparently, I lost this game before I even started, #1 reason being I don’t live in NY (never plan to). Then there are many more reasons I’m a loser :) some of which are listed (having children), some of which aren’t, so I guess I really am losing this art game. I’m glad he took the time to diagram out this impossible world, as my 4yo sighs, It’s so impossible! Very funny. I’m glad I am making up my own game and playing by my own rules. Because, according to my own game, I am actually winning. It’s probably the only way to do it & survive. It’s like when a child plays “soccer” or “football” or “whatever” and she ends up the winner no matter what. I like that kind of game. Except, I really want my work shown in places. So, in my game, I am winning but I still want the bonus prize. I know there’s a game, I know there are rules, and when I break them, I do it on purpose, and I dare anyone to dismiss me as a contender. When I look like a loser, maybe I’m seeing if I can force the rules to bend, I’m not being stupid. I am playing this game to win, on my terms.

When I start

Rio Grande River just south of Albuquerque at ...

Rio Grande

1. I start at 5:30 in the morning. Because Hub gets up early for work and my 4yo is a light sleeper, and my cat meows if ANYONE thinks of sleeping IN. As if 5:45 is sleeping in. I get up at 5:45. Because of the cat. And other reasons.

2. I start with my work by following trails. I try to stay on the right ones, not drown in the flood of information all around me. I try to remember why *I* make art and not why other people make it. I try to not get distracted by a sweet technique or material, if it hasn’t already proven to have a place in my language of art making. But if I keep coming back to that material or subject, I take note, and maybe I’ll stick with it next time.

3. I start defining what’s important to me in art, what I like. This summer I’ve re-entered (again) looking at art, immersing myself. It started with an art TV show that a lot of people hate. I don’t really think about that show anymore. But watching it solidified something I started to realize when I considered applying to grad schools (last Fall.) I realized, my mind gets crowded when I look at too much art, when I talk to too many people about it, when there is too much chatter, and grad school’s Read This and Read That, and meet these New People, now Forget Them, now Meet Ten More. I forget what I like. I forget what I think. I forget who I am. Everything starts to look good. Or bad. Mediocre things become interesting because someone said it was. (Maybe because I see the good in things?) (Still, I have to remember that “kind of good” doesn’t mean “great.”) Also have to remember: I don’t REALLY like art that appears only pretty but has mildly interesting material (physical or conceptual.) I might “like” it, though. But REALLY, I want art to hit me somehow. Because I want it to take itself seriously, and not waste my time. On the other hand… a lot of art does something for me, and what I walk away with is what’s important to me in the end.

4. I have started considering issues around immigration more. My latest (study for a) piece is about local views on immigrants (or illegals as some people say) and I guess I have touched on it before in the “Here, in layers” piece- you know, the one with the little map of my neighborhood. The home I live in is in this 1940’s subdivision that was “whites only” (it’s disclosed in the papers we signed off on when we bought this place) but, don’t worry- Coloreds were allowed in servant’s quarters, so we’re good. Anyway, I would post a pic of this piece I killed myself for over the weekend (while Hub steered the home ship), but it’s just not ready to be looked at yet, like I said, it’s a Study for a piece. (Right. Because the end product fell so short of what I wanted, it became a Study.) The important thing is to stay true to myself when I’m changing subjects a bit in my work. The subjects can change, but not me.

5. School has started. I have started logging more hours in the studio. But these free couple hours incl. trips to the Home Depot that I can’t do with my (loud! unruly! embarrassing!) wonderful boys. Includes the fact that my studio is a COMPLETE disaster and so is my house, and I feel guilty because if I do the studio first, then my family is still suffering with living in a crumbling environment while I build up my workspace…. so I need to clean my studio during studio time. (Clean house when boys are home.) And I watched “Border Wars” (research= studio time?) from the NatGeo channel, with my mom, who was up late last night & caught it on TV. She suffers with a lot of pain & illness, and one of her meds needs a refill. (I blame the pesticides of the 1950’s farmlands- she worked them when she was school age.) She found this show and it was about Death on the Rio Grande– the river my grandfather crossed while steering all the children on the raft he built. He used a machete to cut down the wicked brush, branches and grasses that line the water. So, the story as told by the border patrol agent in this show, said that if a person gets tired while crossing this enormous river, and he lets his feet fall too far, he gets caught by the undercurrents, and pulled under. Then he is Finished.

6. I’m going to start cleaning my studio. I have 45 min.

I’ve got nothing.

I’ve spent hours in the studio. Working on new work. Been spending all weekend away from the boys, after a week of working feverishly most hours that Hub is home from work. This morning, he took them for immunization shots. I heard they had to pin down my 7yo while he screamed, he was worse than my 4yo. Anyway, I am tweaking my website because I decided to leave all those extremely long things I wrote on my site here, and I turned this section into a blog. I said at some point in one of those things that I wanted to make work for my own demographic.

I’ve changed my mind.

I want to take my demographic out, Out Somewhere, Out from here.

Anyway, I’m out. I’m so exhausted.

The reply to the reply (unbelieveably long)

My reply to a reply to my reply on William Powhida’s blog

This evening I realized that I guess my comment fr. yesterday (see below) on William Powhida’s blog rant/post got more traction than I realized. I didn’t even know that he posted it to his blog- when I got the error message that it was too long for google, I just assumed it would never post, and I sent him a direct link to here, thanks twitter. Again, tonight, I got an error message on my reply. Google says it’s too long. It’s probably right. Anyway, I got several replies, but I mainly write back to one: @Jesse Patrick Martin. Here you go, Lovely ; ) …

@Jesse, thanks for what you wrote. No worries- utterly jerkish? No. It’s fine- Yes, I’m maudlin, sentimental, optimistic. That’s fine. But really- alienated? I guess in the way I referred to art-world circles, sure- but as a whole persona, no, definitely not. And I will own the demographic that I am: stay-at-home-mom, family loving, mass-media consuming- Yes. It is not only who I am… (where I come from- that’s a whole other story- yup, my mother picked fruit & cotton out in the fields as a born-in-Mexico-came-to-the-USA immigrant Mexican laborer- take that! how American!)…  but, I hope I develop work about a kind of American experience I don’t see in a lot of art. I hope it’s thoughtful, considered, effective… Someday. If I didn’t know about mass-media, how could I hope to communicate to the audience I care about? Let me elucidate:

All is not sweet & cheery in my view of art these days. I’ve gotten angry only recently. Very. But not about this WoA show. No- it was about some art I saw. I walked through a show. I took my time. I read some the materials. And I wanted to scream. It was just… so… insular. Art about art about art. Where is real life in that? What is real life? It didn’t make me ask any questions about life. I want my own work to mean something more one day. This work I saw- you not only had to have a knowledge of art history at the ready, and of art criticism, but you had to have multiple visual references just to get past the smallness of it. I just hated it. I thought- this is exactly what my friends hate about art. This is why they default to seaside impressions of impressionist painting. I mean- they don’t totally get what I make (when I make it) either. But it’s about them & me. Communicating to them effectively through my work will be a central problem for me in the years ahead. I am not making art for everyone. I primarily want to make it for my demographic. And if it’s any good, it should go beyond that, into those art circles I am learning about. Maybe. One day. Another thing is, I still think about this show. And it drives me. So maybe it worked just fine.

If you think that I looked forward to the release of WoA with wide-eyed anticipation, you think wrong. I heard about it when the call went out last year. The idea of a reality TV game show with a winner-takes-all artist champion, it made me gag on a 10 foot pole. Come on. I watched WoA, like I said in my maudlin way ; ) with 2 sick kids over one weekend. Actually I skipped a couple episodes, I remember now. I didn’t seek it out, I stumbled on it in Time Magazine, I read: “In the traditionally opaque world of art and art criticism, however, where opinions are usually safely buried under layers of jargon, Work of Art has caused a sensation.” I read that Pulitzer-prize nominated art critic Jerry Saltz was there- and I thought- I’m there. I am watching that. Right. Now. I never read a twitter on the spot reaction. I didn’t get into the prattle, I missed all that, yay for me. It would have dulled the whole thing that *I* got out of it. And that’s all that matters to me- what *I* got out of it. Like I said in my 1st comment- I wasn’t talking about the cultural value as a whole, or the broad impact on the un-educated art audience. I hope that the larger public, if interested, can take responsibility for themselves (?) and go beyond what they saw there & do some real discovering. If they get stuck in drivel, wouldn’t they have been stuck in that anyway, just about something else? If they are left confused, led astray… I hazard to think they would have been in nearly the same spot without the show. What I was addressing was the sense that I heard that this show was worthless. Worthless? No. Hate it? If you want. I didn’t. So what? Among the things I take away from watching WoA was that peeling away of pretension. I don’t mean that “unpretentious pap” is the easy to swallow way I like to consume things.  No. I mean, Pre-tend-tious. Like it took me 2 years at art school to figure out how on earth people traveled around or rented great apartments yet seemed as poor as me? Oh. They weren’t. Trust funds. I didn’t know such a thing existed. I like that WoA was a window for me. Like I said- seeing the insecurity, the figuring out what to say, the failures- seeing discussions, even sound bites of critique I’ve heard before- it turned a light on *for me who already has been exposed quite thoroughly to contemporary art ideas but lives outside that place you all speak of*. It did something for me, that is what I was trying to say. Hate the show if you want. I just wanted to enter my experience into the whole conversation of how this show was or was not effective.

It may sound like I am talking out of both sides of my mouth, but I hope it makes sense to someone: I also really like William’s rant. It ‘s raw, real. It’s what I love about artists, about us. He wrote “The stakes in this game have always been high… for me, it’s just my life. This isn’t a career for me. It really is everything.” He isn’t making art about art about art- he’s making art about people. People I don’t know, haven’t heard of- but people in this whole other circle of life, and he cares so much that he’s angry about this- he’s defining that circle. Come to think of it, I got most angry about work I saw infringed on how I define my circle. But I love learning about circles. ; ) I get how maddening it was that this whole thing invaded his world. That other important things dropped out because of it. I get that, accept that. I just had a wholly different experience is all. I hope it comes across that this is what I was trying to say. I am not a William-hater. I’m just not a hater in general. Actually I am kind of a William-liker. And I am a Jerry-lover now. Even my 7 year old keeps asking about Jerry Saltz, what does Jerry Saltz like. Funny. You’re actually really famous if a 7 year old knows your name. Anyway, I like to see the good in things. Except that artist’s work I talked about, I hated that. : )

And about the bit about how William said artists don’t get challenges in real life. Of course not. The show was off in that way. The greatest challenge we often face is figuring out what questions to ask ourselves. But sometimes we do have to answer somebody else’s questions. We speak with our work. We inform somehow. Sure- “Make a portrait,” “Use junk,” “Shock us.” Basic. I pose another thought- how about juried shows? That’s what I do (um, once a year?) (I know, how glorious.) I *do* have to take on a prescribed challenge, while being true to my work. Anyway.

William said “What scares me most about this, this blackhole of terror that opens up in my chest, is that there is no dignity to art, to this career…” No I think that William’s passion is what makes this dignified, says that this art thing is worth fighting over & fighting for. William said an hour long lecture series would be more productive, “at least I might learn something or experience an idea that will challenge my ideas about what is possible in art.” I present that maybe we don’t need to be at the table of an exalted conversation to have that revelation. Maybe it can be while watching a reality show. Maybe it can be while at some mundane, draining activity, maybe that’s where we define ourselves or rise above, and then go tell that story through what we make. I hope so. I think I get the most out of that kind of work, art that started somewhere invisible, nameless, rejected, or so normal nobody wants to talk about it. How about art that starts when I’m playing with my kids or hug them or a talk with my friend, my regular friend? How’s that for something that makes someone want to gag? Don’t tell me it doesn’t sound stupid. But to take that & make something great? I hope someone does. Actually, I hope I do. One day.

So, @Jesse, I guess this exchange might not mean too much to you, (don’t worry, I don’t feel sad about it, it’s a reality– you are in a circle that I’m not in, & I like my life very much thanks) you said: “Great, here we are ‘talking’ about ‘art’ and our relationship to it by way of a twelfth-rate reality show that actually wrapped up many months ago. We might as well be communicating via kazoos in a typhoon.” I think you are able to engage about the merits of the visual representations of our world all the time, right?… Me? Nope.

So, yeah, I’ll take the kazoos in the typhoon. The funny thing is, I think I hear you just fine. : )

Lastly, thx to @Molly & @Saskia & getting that kid-time-juggle thing, that thing that makes me feel like a fish out of water All. The. Time. : )

addendum: @Jesse is really very cool. He’s generous and I’ve enjoyed a few exchanges we’ve had (via facebook) since this exchange. Super nice! – Winter 2010

What someone replied to me

The reply I got to my reply on Powhida’s blog

Jesse Patrick Martin responded to my response on Powhida’s blog comment section (I enjoyed reading.)

@Maritza: I know it may seem utterly jerkish of me to say so, but your maudlin testimonial doesn’t seem like a reasonable justification for WANGA. Actually, it smacks of the same generic tone that most marketing (and reality-show competitions) deliver: inspirational, “unpretentious” pap that appeals to the alienated-yet-family-loving consumer. Oprah would approve.

I mean, WANGA’s casting-call for the 2nd season has a similarly irritating, aspirational earnestness to it: “We want voices that believe in their art and want the world to know who they are and what they can do.” And remember: Abdi won because of his “heart.” Please. This all sounds like sentimental, “emotional” advertising copy 101, and it’s bad news if this is the default tone of where the “broadening discourse” of art is heading. I’ll slit my wrists with a Hallmark card.

Maybe Powhida’s “rant” isn’t any better, but at least it’s not condescending to those childless, art-world-insider dilettantes with the “luxury” “to stare at walls.” C’mon.

I’m sure you’re lovely (I am, too), but the crisis in the “art world” is no different than the crisis in the real world: there are so many voices and conversations and confusions and standards over how things should be understood that we all just end up perceiving ourselves as being broken up into these little factions. Then, big-money (Bravo, Carrie Bradshaw, etc.) swoops in and chucks it all into the hopper and neatly packages our collective dreams, struggles, accomplishments, failures, misgivings, whatever into a pretty little paste. Because things are so groundless to begin with, the paste becomes the new point of reference merely because it was made conveniently available to the most people. It’s like, great: here we are “talking” about “art” and our relationship to it by way of a twelfth-rate reality-show that actually wrapped-up many months ago. We might as well be communicating via kazoos in a typhoon.

(Jesse also has a blog, and we’ve discussed a few things in the here in his comment section incl. how I should’ve come out to say whose work I hated. So I did. Over there.) : )

What I had to say (long)

My reply on Powhida’s blog

I wrote a way too long comment to William Powhida‘s rant about Work of Art: America’s Next Great Artist today. And I got an error message that it’s too long, even though it’s under google’s comment limit (I know, I’m verbose.) So I am inserting it here, for maybe a week, then I will take it off my website again. I got tired of having a blog. I don’t have time to write & edit that much, I have priorities. But I had to post this, because it means so much to me. Here you go:

for William Powhida…

I like what you came to at the end of your article. About what maybe actually is disappointing you- it informs your opinions & perspectives. I come from a wholly different place. I am this person outside of the circle of the art world; in fact I am *outside* of the outside circle of the art world. Anyway, I live in dualities in a lot of ways (I am a stay-at-home-mom artist in a suburb on the other coast, surrounded by “middle-america” thinkers who I love and yes I am a thinking artist.) I really don’t have any artist friends, still I know contemporary art well enough; I know what I like when I see it. My life finally allows me to make art again sort of, entertaining my children while I am working (who can work in these conditions!) : ), I take them with me into my studio as my studio assistants– they are the unknown variable that informs my work (what choice do I have?) : ). I’m not exactly young anymore, but my portfolio is immature since I took the scenic route in my career. I get to have that indignity. I don’t care about commercial contexts of WoA or any art for that matter. It doesn’t make me angry. I just don’t care. I don’t care if WoA upends West Chelsea art. Because probably there’s good in mixing it up. I don’t care about how we as audience are delivered to the advertisers. The joke is on them- I take what I want & need from this show or any art. No one makes me like or buy anything.

I define myself here, bec. I must say- I liked WoA, really I did. Maybe it helped that I watched it all at once the weekend before last (but waited for finale like everyone else)- ALL these episodes in one weekend because I had kids with the flu so we were trapped at home. I didn’t get into personality dramas and who wore what. I saw it as one whole experience. I know enough to see past the BFA constructs in the assignments. I know it was soundbites. But- I read between the lines, the crits pointed me back to ones I’ve heard before, I could fill in the blanks. *You* didn’t need this WoA show, and this show frustrated you.  (And you seem to care deeply about the show’s role in the shaping of culture- I’m not addressing that right now.) But *I* needed this show. It’s not because it offers up art exposure to me. (There were pieces I did like tho.) I can visit galleries & museums, I get to see a lot of end-product art. WoA for me was just a window into other artist’s processes (who cares if they weren’t stars!), seeing their funky haphazard 24hr failures & their joy when something worked… At art school there was so much pretension… well– in life there is so much pretension. Everyone acts like they know what they are doing, they want to be the expert. Who really is the expert? This show gave me a chance to see artists, experts, buyers… opine, sound stupid sometimes, roll their eyes, sigh, critique, make mistakes, AND get it right on, too. Loved that. Post-episode articles gave me even more back-story. Seeing people interact about art, talk about art… happy happy. You are in the middle of it, you get that in real life. You love your life. ?. I love mine. You hang with other artists & drink until the wee hours. I don’t. I get woken up twice a night by a 4 year old for various reasons. Lucky you for being in the middle of this art world thing, having the luxury to not need something like this, lucky you for having your work loved or not loved by people, for having time & energy to make work, time to stare at walls, lucky you for having an audience of any kind. You didn’t need this show. But I did. It opened up a world to me that I am not in, made it accessible. I don’t expect it to give me all the answers, and probably I will need Season 2 for the illusion of being surrounded by practicing artists again. It makes me work more. And I loved people watching in this reality TV art “false construct.”  However false it was, it was built out of pieces of real.

And if that’s all I’ve got, I’ll take it. Happily!

An art rant

Powhida’s blog entry, his rant that was heard around the … in a lot of places

Great stuff, it really got me thinking, then thinking about thinking, then defining who I’m making art for, and then I’m still defining that. Please read William Powhida’s art rant here. He gave everyone an art version of grabbing 2 beers and sliding down an inflatable slide. Except, it was more like the opposite of quitting. Don’t miss his work: find it here.