Monday, January 30, 2012

Tadaaki Kuwayama at Gary Snyder

Tadaaki Kuwayama had his first solo exhibition in New York in his late 20s in 1961 at the famed Green Gallery.   He was an early exponent for a radically new reductive language for painting.   In the past 50 years, he has shown all over the world and last week a  new exhibition of his work opened at Gary Snyder in Chelsea.  The new Snyder gallery space is the perfect setting for Kuwayama’s  beautiful work.

Snyder’s gallery is one of the few in New York that specializes in abstract art, similar to the role Eric Stark played in the 1990s in SoHo and Chelsea.  However,  Snyder has focused more on representing artist’s estates and re-igniting interest in overlooked or forgotten artists.  Tadaaki Kuwayama is an artist who has produced an extraordinary body of work , working quietly in his Chelsea studio while art fashions have come and gone.  He is revered in his native Japan but in America has remained known only among those keenly interested in abstraction. 

That has been changing over the course of the past few years beginning with a   wonderful show of his paintings from the 1970s in 2008 at Gary Snyder.   He is currently part of a show at the Guggenheim in New York focusing on 1960s monochrome painting and will be having major museums shows later this year and next in Japan and South Korea.   

The centerpiece of  this new show is a work comprised of 22 identical 8 x 8 x 2.25” panels of reddish anodized aluminum.   Spanning an entire wall, they are both monumental and light as air.   Behind that wall,  is a new floor piece made up of 8 identical units of anodized titanium.  They strike me as little Olitskis (the sprayed ones)  that somehow dematerialize.  The installation of his work at this show is of the highest order.  
The exhibition runs through February 25. Gary Snyder is located at 529 W. 20th Street, 10th floor 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bush & Cheney's Mayhem Comes Home

The catastrophe that was the 8 years of the Bush/Cheney regime will have repercussions for decades to come.   We have seen what 8 years of conservative governance wrought and yet Republican candidates still go around proclaiming their faithfulness to "Conservatism."  Remember, Conservatism never fails, it is mortal men who fail conservatism.  President Obama will be re-elected.  He has been a very good president and the best president this country has had in 50 years.  (Although I always consider Alex Cockburn's belief that Gerald R. Ford is the best president of the 20th Century since in his short term he did the least damage),

It still puzzles how George W. Bush was re-elected.  We know he stole his first term through a coup d'etat by the Supreme Court and the feckless Al Gore, but 2004 still confounds.  Bush/Cheney were the hapless duo that sat passively and negligently by as this country was attacked, humilated and humbled on 9/11.  Never has a country been so starkly denuded and brought to its knees than the United States was by Bush/Cheney incompetence on 9/11.  Imagine that had happened to Obama?  The right-wing double standard fails to surprise.  
The Democratic Party gave Bush/Cheney a pass on 9/11 and the results were the election of 2004.  Think the Republicans gave Obama a pass on the atrocious economy he inherited from Bush?  

Besides their incompetence leading to 9/11, Bush/Cheney's war in Iraq did not just cause needless mayhem in Iraq.  (Oh and by the way, is there nothing more humiliating than going to war to remove weapons of mass destruction only to find out there were no weapons of mass destruction?) Cheney and Bush should still be in prison for their crimes against the Iraqi people.  But their crimes against Americans continue on a daily basis.  No, I'm not referring to the economy.   I am referring to the thousands of soldiers who have come back from Iraq (the lucky ones who came back alive and physically fit, but mentally troubled) to kill and injure innocent Americans.  Not a week goes by without a story of an Iraqi war vet killing someone.  In the past two weeks we had a vet in Washington State killing a park ranger and before that killing he is supsected of killing others.   Yesterday in southern California, a 23 year-old vet is the alleged serial killer responsible for the killing of 4 men over the past 10 months.

I hope that a census can be kept on the murder rate among Iraqi war vets to have empirical evidence on yet another great conservative legacy of Bush & Cheney--the one celebrated by the vile Liz Cheney on Fox News.  Interestingly, the one name that dares not speak it's name on the Republican campaign trail is Bush.  You would never know that from 2001-2009 a Republican conservative named George Bush had been president.  You would think that Ronald Reagan had been the last Republican president.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Israeli Terror Machine

The assassination in Tehran yesterday of  32 year-old Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan was at  least the fourth targeted hit against a member of Iran's atomic energy program in two years. Tehran quickly blamed Israeli-linked agents backed by the U.S. and Britain.  Of course, there is little doubt this was the handiwork of Netanyahu and Israel intelligence.  This is another in a series of terror attacks against Iranian scientists by Israel. 

The march towards war by the Israeli terror machine cheered on by its Amen Corner in the United States continues unabated.  The Neo-Cons lied this country into a disastrous war in Iraq and are now doubling down on more war for Iran.  The Obama administration has chosen the politically expedient path by placating the domestic ultra-right, as if anything could placate blood-thirsty extremists like Rick Santorum who cheered the murder of the scientist while on the campaign trail.

The only national politician to tell the truth about Iran and our foreign policy in general is Ron Paul.  The mainstream media ignores Paul and the conventional wisdom is that Paul could threaten the Republican nominee's chances in November if he were to go third party.  Actually I think there's an equal chance he could hurt Obama by capturing much of the anti-war youth vote which was crucial for Obama in 2008.  Netanyahu is an assassin and his rogue government will now face the consequences of its actions with a new round of violence.  The United States as Ron Paul reminds us will also suffer more blowback from our insatiable appetite for murder, mayhem and mischief.   No, they don't hate us because of our freedom, they hate us because we can't stop killing them.  

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Obliteration Room by Yayoi Kusama

Sometimes artists intentionally enlist little children and adults to help in the making of a great artwork as witnessed in these photos of the legendary Yayoi Kusama's work currently on exhibition in Australia's Queensland Art Gallery's  Gallery of Modern Art. 

The obliteration room 2011 revisits the popular interactive children’s project developed by Yayoi Kusama for the Queensland Art Gallery's ‘APT 2002: Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art’. In this reworked and enlarged installation, an Australian domestic environment is recreated in the gallery space, complete with locally sourced furniture and ornamentation, all of which has been painted completely white. While this may suggest an everyday topography drained of all colour and specificity, it also functions as a blank canvas to be invigorated — or, in Kusama’s vocabulary, ‘obliterated’ — through the application, to every available surface, of brightly coloured stickers in the shape of dots.

As with many of Kusama’s installations, the work is disarmingly simple in its elemental composition; however, it brilliantly exploits the framework of its presentation. The white room is gradually obliterated over the course of the exhibition, the space changing measurably with the passage of time as the dots accumulate as a result of thousands and thousands of collaborators.

Sunday Morning, 40th St. and 11th Ave.

Photo by Max Estenger 2012

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

In The Studio with Jocko Weyland

Jocko Weyland has been primarily known through his photographic works, his writings, and his cult zine "ELK." But recently he has made a major foray into drawing and painting and the results have been quite impressive.  His "China" drawings were first shown at Franklin Parrasch two-years ago and his first paintings more recently last fall in the group show  "SCRUFFY"  at KS Art in Tribeca.  I ventured over to Red Hook in Brooklyn to see what was up with Weyland's paintings and discovered some new gouache on paper paintings (all generally measuring one to two feet).  The source material for these paintings is his recent publication The Powder (Dashwood Books)  which is comprised of images culled from the pages of 1970s and early 1980s issues of the  magazine Powder--a lifestyle magazine centered on the then emerging glam world of skiing. 

Weyland has made delicate paintings of details of some of these images.  Some are oblique, while others make their referent obvious. I like the ones where I can get what they are better than the more obscure ones.  But he is already on to a technique that is producing some seductive surfaces to match his always keen color sense.  The next move will probably involve a bigger scale and most likely canvas but seeing his initial works makes the anticipation all the more exciting.

The work above is based on a detail photo of a ski

Rick Santorum: Lamb of God

For those who decry all the attention paid to a bunch of caucusing white people in Iowa, last night's results proved the journey was worth it at least for the drama throughout.  From the beginning of the process until this morning, the Republicans have jettisoned Pawlenty, Cain, and from every indication Perry and Bachmann.  That leaves Romney, Santorum and Gingrich as the only plausible nominees left.

But last night's huge winner (even if the official tally leaves him 8 votes behind Romney) is Rick Santorum.  He won the kind of campaign that will become future political lore.  He actually gave a great speech last night.  He may be crazy, but he is not stupid.  Nice pivot last night to the white, working class voters he will need in NH.  The question now is who is going to pony up the money now.  The free-lancers and Wall Street launched Obama, why can't Opus Dei and pro-lifers pour their money for the truest champion of the unborn this side of Randall Terry?

Gringrich in defeat showed the grace that only his ex-wives have been privy to at exit  time.  If it had been a woman acting like he did last night  we would have to have called him bitchy.  I guess dick or asshole would be ok too, though Newt was a bitch last night.

Rick Perry pulled the plug on his awful, toweringly inept campaign.  When you factor in the hype, the money and the cockiness you are left with the worst major campaign ever run for President of the United States.  He was a disaster in every way.  Last night's concession speech did not disappoint.  Most of it was a poorly written letter by a supporter and even more poorly read by Perry (who apparently had not read it beforehand).  He lurched on the podium in a slanted sideways pose that killed the vertical/horizontal plane of the tv set.  He seemed like a happy man however, like someone who had finally been fired and was at least looking forward to unemployment insurance and a golden parachute.  He can now go back to making life harder for millions of Texans.  We shall not see the likes of him for many, many election cycles.

Then there's Michelle.  She didn't say it was over, but it is over.   Sadly, we won't have to hear her say "Obamacare" any more in that whiny snarl.  She did have to get in one more vicious smear at her husband Marcus when she told the audience that while she was campaigning yesterday, he was out shopping for sunglasses for their dog.  Part of me thinks they have a reality show in the works ready to go, and these are future plot lines.  I don't know.  

Congressman Paul was defiant in his concession speech.  It looked like his left eyebrow was going to fall off again.  Rand Paul looked very uncomfortable as his father spoke about how we can't force countries to be democratic at the point of a gun.  He was already finessing how he would run in 2016, with a foreign policy position somewhere in between daddys and the neo-cons.  Meanwhile, daddy is such a throw-back.  He joked that we are all "Austrians now"
and even referenced what he was referencing, Nixon's "we are all Keynesians now" quip. While he basks in the esoteric, he forgets to deliver the basics.  He can't bring himself to say that it's onto NH, South Carolina, the Republican nomination and then the White House.  If he doesn't really believe, why should anyone else?

For now, this weekend promises to be like final four weekend.  An ABC network debate on Saturday night and then an NBC Meet The Press debate on Sunday morning.  Imagine how grumpy Gingrich will be on Sunday morning. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Can Rick Santorum Shock the World?

Some of the wiser political observers ranging from Ed Schultz to Charlie Finch are predicting a victory tonight for former Pa. Senator Rick Santorum in the Iowa Caucuses.  His politics might be toxic to most of us and certainly in a general election (he would give Goldwater and McGovern runs for least competitive) but Santorum is the most authentic candidate in the GOP field and he doesn't have all the personal baggage that some carry, and he can put together a coherent world view while speaking.  This is the year the Republican Party should nominate a Rick Santorum.

Republicans who pride themselves as the Daddy party and the tough guys  are just as wussy as Democrats when it comes time to nominating a presidential candidate.  Time after time they never nominate the truest right-winger.   Only in 1964 and 1980 did they do that.  Otherwise, it's been the conventional mainstream choice and not a movement conservative that has gotten the nod--Ford, Bush 1, Dole, McCain.  It's been mostly a losing proposition.  

Despite the state of the economy, Obama will be formidable in 2012.  Romney would be a watered down version of the GOP brand in 2012.  The GOP brand stands on the infamous three-legged stool of  the religious right, wall street plutocracy, and endless neo-con war. That is the short version.  Santorum epitomizes the three-legged stool better than anyone.  He has a little bit of W's profligate spending, but otherwise even the Tea Baggers would love him.

And then late last night I saw the waterworks.  It always helps at moments like these (except if you are Ed Muskie).  Santorum told a compelling account yesterday in Iowa of his controversial decision to keep his wife's miscarried baby around for two days and have each of his other 7 children hold the premature  dead baby. Both the Senator and especially his wife who was at the event cried.  It will be like gold to evangelicals.  And even someone like myself who had heard the story second-hand now felt that any attack on the Senator over the matter is wrong.  In our country, these are private matters and no one else's business.  It's too bad the Senator can't do the same when it comes to the rights of women and gays.  

And then there was his eye-opening unsolicited comments on blacks and welfare also from yesterday in Iowa.

Answering a question about foreign influence on the U.S. economy, the former Pennsylvania senator went on to discuss the American entitlement system - which he argued is being used to politically exploit its beneficiaries.
"It just keeps expanding - I was in Indianola a few months ago and I was talking to someone who works in the department of public welfare here, and she told me that the state of Iowa is going to get fined if they don't sign up more people under the Medicaid program," Santorum said. "They're just pushing harder and harder to get more and more of you dependent upon them so they can get your vote. That's what the bottom line is."
He added: "I don't want to make black people's lives better by giving them somebody else's money; I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money."
"Right," responded one audience member, as another woman can be seen nodding. 

So please Iowa, do your thing. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Another Year Over.....Another's Just Begun.........

Happy New Year To All...Health & Happiness!!
photo by Max Estenger W. 4th Subway Station New Year's Eve 2010