Wednesday, June 25, 2008


THE CONTROVERSY OF THE RISE of American Neo-Expressionism in the very late 1970s, informed by Philip Guston's controversial 1969 show, rooted in the earliest salad days of Julian Schnabel and John Salle has been presented quite charmingly in the book I am currently reading—Art of the Post-Modern Era (From the Late 1960s to the Early 1990s). Of course, there was a controversy. Change is always controversial. But what made this ideological controversy a bit different was that the movement's predecessors had declared painting itself completely exhaused, with nothing left to teach, ultimately worthless to the post-modernist sensibility, in fact, dead.

Guston, a first generation abstract expressionist of considerable reputation, helped rescue figurative art from the dustbins of history after coming to consider abstraction as "an escape from the true feelings we have, from the 'raw' primitive feelings about the world—and us in it."

As he put it, "the Vietnam War was what was happening in America, the brutality of the world. What kind of man am I, sitting at home, reading magazines, going into a fury about everything—and then going into my studio to adjust a red to a blue. I thought there must be some way I could do something about it. I knew ahead of me a road was laying. A very crude, inchoate road. I wanted to be complete again, as I was when I was a kid."

The Canadian-born painter concluded that there was "nothing to do now but to paint my life—my dreams, surroundings, predicament, desperation, Musa (his wife), love, need. Keep destroying any attempt to paint pictures, or think about art. If someone bursts out laughing in front of my painting, that is exactly what I want and expect."

Elsewhere he commented that abstract painting was hiding in mystery. He was bored with all that non-sense, and just wanted to tell stories.

We already know the sensation of Guston's new work. It shocked and disgusted the old guard and its devoted followers but inspired and redeemed the younger breed of new image painters following in his wake, new painters who also rejected the apparent vacuousness of the Warholian pop world then dominating the scene after its own rebellion against the stagnation of abstract expressionism.

What immediately followed were the "Bad" Painting and New Image Painting movements. The breaking down of the social order was reflected in the art world by identifying with "kitsch" and "low" art—considered reactions against the photo-realism and other post-minimalist work of the era. essay in progress, and as the photograph above plainly shows, Gabriel's new studio does meet certain abstract expressionist criteria while he pauses to genuflect to mark the transition from feeling cramped like a passenger class hostage to keying up as an adeptly organized visionary ready to prosper within the framework of the semi-public posture, quite unlike those heady days of the 1980s when I first began to organize myself as an artist, but hardly in earnest...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


THOSE WERE THE DAYS of simply letting it fly. So what were YOU doing in the 19 Eighties? Well, I was a leather and steel punk rocker with a real day job (more on that later), but I do recall the warm fuzzies when watching untouchable Phoebe Legere's bombshell appearance in the underground cult classic film—Mondo New York. Here's the hot link to that new interview by NYC's White Hot Magazine contributor Kofi Forson.

Also, pictured above is another shot of my new studio at 52 O Street.


RECOVERING NICELY, METHINKS. Still hobbling on weak leg, after knee surgery eight days ago, but am back to about where I was just before the surgery, so hopefully it's clear sailing to pain free walking from here.

Sue, with the help of an artist we met at Artomatic, broke down my space on the first day of de-installation. Thanks, though for the offer of help.

Kicking up at the last rites of Artomatic 2008, drinking with Matt and Dana, eh? Well, Sue and I tossed back a few with fellow 52ers—Peter Harper, Adam Eig, and Luke Idsiak—before getting there nearly too late for party favors that Friday night. Ended up hanging with Tariq Rafiq, that new artist friend I just mentioned, up at his space on the 12th floor, closing the place down at 2 AM.

Good luck on the appointment. Meteoric rise through the ranks! Does this mean that you are not a voting member of the board in the interim? Anyways, what do I need to do to formally apply for membership? I've been anxiously awaiting some news on that front since our little chat at the Mayorga a couple of months ago.

A Facebook contact I know in name only) just wrote me a one liner: Do you have any Work that is framed and ready to be hung? I wrote back saying, "well, uh, yes I do but the question is where and when."

Such informality is perplexing to me, but I'm still in the game I suppose. Crap! Just got a return message from this mystery tramp saying only to email him (her) at some new address she (he) posted. That is all that was written.

Fuck it. Another mystery tramp. Where is the literacy in this new crowd of supposed movers and shakers? Email what? I can't read minds, and I so vigorously loathe this tug of war game that everybody seems to play, hiding behind minimal communication skills, I suppose, aiming to gauge the gullibility factor of the prospective fish on the hook.

And then yesterday I was asked by phone to be interviewed by National Public Radio (NPR). But I wasn't at studio, and after learning why I wasn't, she said she didn't think it was worth my while to try to get down to 52 O with only an hour advance notice. I was to be one of three interviews she said, but Stevens [Carter] later said others also were added once the crew got to the building. So I lost out on another rather ample bit of publicity which was building-wide and I, highly recommended, am cast to the wind.

Pulling teeth, dead in the water, strange karmic odor...

But best of luck, Marina, with your own shooting star,


P.S. So I presume you aren't looking to check out the new studio, to see if you want a corner, and general run of the place, or anything like that. Not that I am really looking for someone, but I did promise you an opportunity if you wanted one. I fill the space rather nicely, but I certainly have room for a compatible spirit from the world of paint. If you are no longer interested, please tell me so I can close that particular book for now.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


THERE'S BEEN A GOOD amount of talk recently about photographers in Union Station being told by security guards there that photography is not permitted.

A couple weeks ago, Andy Carvin, a photographer for NPR, was stopped while demonstrating a panoramic camera. Sniffing a story, Fox 5 DC’s Tom Fitzgerald decided to investigate, and while an Amtrak spokesman was telling him that there was no ban on photography, a security guard stopped them and told them to shut down their cameras: