Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Art, damn it, art! watch. (#44 in a series)

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Good news out of Palm Springs this week: Work has begun on dismantling “Forever Marilyn,” the grotesque colossus fabricated with typical ham-handedness by sculptor J. Seward Johnson, which has been marring an already vacant lot at a prominent downtown corner for the last two years.

Gee, Christopher Knight, why don’t you tell us how you really feel?

Obit watch: January 15, 2014.

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Neal Barrett, Jr., one of the great Texas SF writers.

Madeline Arakawa Gins, of Arakawa and Gins fame.

Their work was underpinned by a philosophy they called Reversible Destiny. Its chief tenet, as the catalog of a 1997 joint exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum SoHo put it, was, “Reversible Destiny: We Have Decided Not to Die.”

Gins was 72. Arakawa passed away in 2010 at the age of 73.

Edited to add: the Statesman published an obituary for Mr. Barrett. Bad news: it is behind the paywall and thus unlinkable.

Legal update part 1.

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

The lawsuit by Alexander Calder’s heirs against his former dealer has been dismissed.

In a decision dated Dec. 23, Judge Shirley Werner Kornreich wrote that “all of these allegations are so patently inadequate that the court can only conclude that they were brought solely for the purposes of harassment or embarrassment, without any consideration of their legal sufficiency.”
The judge also invoked the statute of limitations, writing that the plaintiffs were trying to litigate issues that stretched back “decades without any personal knowledge or contemporaneous records, where nearly all of the people who had personal knowledge of the facts are dead.”


(I expect to have a second legal update later today; I’m just waiting on events.)

Random notes: December 21, 2013.

Saturday, December 21st, 2013

I’d never heard of Ned Vizzini until yesterday; this isn’t a shot at him, I just don’t read a lot of YA fiction. But this is just sad and awful.

The number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).

The WP reviews “Chris Burden: Extreme Measures”, a retrospective of his work. I believe Mr. Burden and his work have come up here before, but for those who don’t remember…

In 1971, in a bare gallery space in Santa Ana, Calif., artist Chris Burden filmed himself being shot with a rifle. The bullet went through his left arm, causing more damage than expected. The moment after he was shot, the boyish young man with short-cropped hair staggered forward a few steps as if stunned by pain or shock, and was photographed later with blood dripping from the wound. In the previous few years, tens of thousands of men his age died in Vietnam, and the performance, titled simply “Shoot,” obviously had something to do with the political climate since 1968.

Unmentioned because it isn’t really relevant, but: Burden’s performance inspired one of Laurie Anderson’s early works, “It’s Not the Bullet That Kills You (It’s the Hole)”.

TMQ Watch: December 3, 2013.

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

Instead of a musical interlude, or random snark, we’ve decided this week to bring you something we hope you’ll really like: an interview with Gregg Easterbrook about The King of Sports: Football’s Impact on America from Reason magazine. Why? Well, we self-identify as libertarians, we like Reason, and we’d like to give them some more exposure. Also, we think this is a rare opportunity to see and hear the man himself, just in case you were wondering what TMQ looks and sounds like.

After the jump, this week’s TMQ


Random notes: November 28, 2013.

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

Some thoughtful posts on the FDA and 23andMe: Derek Lowe. Popehat. Overlawyered.

This is how I want Lawrence‘s tax dollars to be spent: safety tips on turkey frying from the Round Rock Fire Department.

All the Vermeers on the Eastern Seaboard.

(There was a period of time when I was going to see a lot of movies at the Dobie Theater here in Austin; this was before the Alamo Drafthouse, and Dobie was the “art” film theater. Anyway, it seemed like every movie I went to see had the trailer for “All the Vermeers in New York” in front of it. Drove me absolutely bugf–k nuts. The trailer was so annoying, it killed any desire I might have had to see the movie.)

Photographer Saul Leiter passed away on Tuesday. I had not heard of Saul Leiter until I started listening to the “On Taking Pictures” podcast (which is my new favorite podcast in the world): Saul Leiter is an obsession of theirs, to the point where he made it into the OTP drinking game.

To be serious, I wish I had found Leiter’s work much earlier. There’s some good stuff over at the NYT Lens blog about him as well.

Art, damn it, art! watch. (#43 in a series)

Friday, November 15th, 2013

I’m going to quote the lead of the week here:

MOSCOW — Artist Pyotr Pavlensky’s protest performances have begun to take on a familiar, if chilling, pattern. First, horrified policemen stare at him in confusion. Then they call a doctor.

Click through to the article at your own risk, especially if you are male.

Yes, it hurt.

Art, damn it, art! watch. (#42 in a series)

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

It’s not a balloon, it’s a Zeppelin Bansky!

“I don’t have it as art on the invoice,” said Deputy Chief Jack J. Trabitz, the commanding officer of the property clerk division, which maintains facilities around the city for evidence storage. “We have it as a balloon.”

That ’70s post.

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Ah, the 1970′s. What a time.

Remember Alexander Calder, the noted sculptor? Died in 1976? Well, he had a dealer, Klaus Perls, that he worked with exclusively. It was, by all accounts, a close and very friendly relationship.


In a recently amended complaint filed in New York State Supreme Court, the Calder estate says the Perlses surreptitiously held on to hundreds of Calder’s works and swindled the artist’s estate out of tens of millions of dollars. Perhaps most surprising, it says that Perls, a dealer with a sterling reputation who campaigned to rid his industry of forgeries, sold dozens of fake Calders. The suit depicts Perls as a tax cheat who stashed millions of dollars in a Swiss bank account, a secret his daughter said she maintained by paying off a former gallery employee with $5 million. She added that Calder had his own hidden Swiss account.

It looks like the Perls family stipulates at least part of these claims, specifically the parts about the Swiss bank accounts. But they also claim that part of the reason Perls had a Swiss bank account is so he could transfer profits to Calder’s Swiss bank account.

In court papers, Mr. Wolfe, the Perls lawyer, said, “Alexander Calder and Klaus Perls were kindred spirits in that they both had an aversion to paying taxes.”

I knew there was a reason I liked Alexander Calder’s work.

The 1970′s were also a time when it was much easier to get your hands on explosives. Especially if you were 17 years old. And if you were peeved at the California Department of Water and Power.

The blast ripped apart a 4-foot-wide steel gate that regulates the flow of water to the aqueduct. Windows were blown out of the gatehouse atop the spill gates and its concrete floor buckled.
About 100 million gallons of water meant for Los Angeles were instead flushed into Owens Lake, which had been dry since the Department of Water and Power opened the aqueduct in 1913.

Nobody was injured. Mark Berry, one of the two men responsible, spent 30 days in juvenile detention. And he now works for the DWP.

(I love this telling detail: “The air was filled with the banana-like smell of nitroglycerin.”)

(And this one: “Berry said his father, as yet unaware that his son was one of the culprits, boasted to a neighbor, ‘If I ever find out who bombed the gates I’ll buy him a steak dinner.’” Gardner Dozois and Edward Abbey, please call your offices.)

(Since I made a “That ’70s Show” reference, I believe I have to link to this Penny Arcade. Especially since I am all about fish out of water prison dramas.)

The Night They Drove Old Tosca Down…

Friday, September 27th, 2013

Barring a miracle, it appears the New York City Opera will file for bankruptcy next week and begin winding down operations.

The NYCO has been trying to raise $7 million before the end of September. So far, according to the NYT, they’ve managed to raise $1.5 million. They even have a Kickstarter: the goal is $1 million, but they’ve raised $194,549 (at this writing) with three days to go.

How did they get to this point? And how can New York City not be able to support two major opera companies?

…the company began running sizable deficits in 2003, and went dark for the 2008-9 season while its longtime home, the New York State Theater, was given a major renovation and renamed for its benefactor, David H. Koch. In doing so, it lost a year’s worth of ticket sales. Then the company raided its endowment, withdrawing $24 million to pay off loans and cover expenses.

The company cut back from “115 performances of 17 different operas” a decade ago to “16 performances of 4 operas” last year. The smaller number of performances has, in turn, resulted in a smaller number of patrons, and a smaller number of potential donors.

Apparently, the NYCO was in Lincoln Center up until 2011; then they moved out, and are now “an itinerant troupe at theaters across the city”. This may also have something to do with their problems. (I was confused about why NYCO was in Lincoln Center if the NYST was their home; if I understand Wikipedia correctly, NYST is actually part of Lincoln Center.)

And because they raided the endowment, the annual income from that source is now less than $200,000 a year – “less than City Opera makes from its Thrift Shop on East 23rd Street in Manhattan”. (If you try going to the Thrift Shop website, you’re confronted with an uncloseable fundraising appeal that completely obscures the rest of the content. Oh, wait; I hit the back button a couple of times and managed to close the fundraising appeal. Would you like to buy a piano? That’s a trick question: nobody wants to buy a piano.)

(O.M.G. Okay, I have to purchase this. If only as a gift.)

The back and forth in the NYT comments section is interesting, to the extent that any web comments section is interesting. Some folks complain about the unwillingness of the wealthy to step up and bail out the opera, others complain that of course the opera is failing because they present crap like “Anna Nicole” (while others point out that “Anna Nicole” is a critically acclaimed modern opera), and there’s a lot of blame for the management and board of NYCO.

There’s not really much more I can say about this, though I do find it interesting. I would be sad to see an opera company close down, in much the same way I’d be sad if a local restaurant that I liked closed their doors. On the other hand, it seems like the closure is the result of ten years of poor decision making, and there’s nobody to blame but NYCO itself.

Art, damn it, art! watch. (#41 in a series)

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

There is a Spanish architect named Santiago Calatrava. Mr. Calatrava is apparently something of a big deal in Spain, and has designed a new PATH station in Lower Manhattan.

One of his big projects was the “City of Arts and Sciences” in a “dried-up riverbed” in Valencia:

…which includes a performance hall, a bridge, a planetarium, an opera house, a science museum, a covered walkway and acres of reflecting pools.

Sounds pretty cool, right?

  1. The City of Arts and Sciences was originally budgeted at 300 million euros. So far, it has cost three times that.
  2. There are problems with some of the buildings. The opera house has 150 seats with obstructed views (though the NYT doesn’t give a figure for the total number of seats). The science museum was “initially built without fire escapes or elevators for the disabled”.
  3. Problems with Mr. Calatrava’s designs aren’t limited to Valencia.
  4. “In Bilbao he designed a footbridge with a glass tile surface that allowed it to be lighted from below, keeping its sweeping arches free of lampposts. But in a city that gets a lot of rain and occasional snow, pedestrians keep falling on the slippery surface. City officials say some 50 citizens have injured themselves, sometimes breaking legs or hips, on the bridge since it opened in 1997, and the glass bricks frequently crack and need to be replaced. Two years ago the city resorted to laying a huge black rubber carpet across the bridge.”
  5. Mr. Calatrava designed an airport terminal in Bilbao. He designed it without an arrival hall. “Passengers moved through the customs and baggage area directly to the sidewalk where they had to wait in the cold. The airport authorities have since installed a glass wall to shelter them.”
  6. Mr. Calatrava and his organization have been ordered to pay $4.5 million to settle a dispute over a conference center in Oviedo. The conference center collapsed.
  7. A winery is suing Mr. Calatrava over a leaky roof. (Frank Lloyd Wright, call your office, please.)
  8. Mr. Calatrava is being sued over cost overruns and repairs to the Ponte della Costituzione in Venice, a footbridge over the Grand Canal.
  9. The skin of the opera house is buckling.

    One Valencia architect, Vicente Blasco, has taken Mr. Calatrava to task in a local newspaper for even trying to cover the steel sides of the opera house with a mosaic of broken white tiles. (That touch was Mr. Calatrava’s nod to another noted architect of Spain, Antoni Gaudí, who favored mosaics.) The flourish may have been a nice idea, Mr. Blasco said, but it was absurd. The buckling that is now occurring was predictable. On days with a rapid change in temperature, he wrote, the steel and tile contract and expand at different rates.

Mr. Calatrava was unavailable for an interview by the paper of record. However:

In a brief interview in Architectural Record magazine last year, he noted that clients were satisfied enough to come back for more. Among them are the cities of Dublin and Dallas. In that article, Mr. Calatrava called the uproar over his work in Valencia “a political maneuver by the Communists.”

I’m as anti-communist as the next guy (unless the next guy is Lawrence, who makes me look squishy). But when you are blaming roof leaks on the Communists, I think it is time to sit down and re-evaluate your designs, and how you got to this point in your life.

Art, damn it, art! watch (#40 in a series)

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

Yesterday was gun show day.

(I didn’t pick up anything, though I did see a couple of nice Savage Model 24s in .22 magnum/20 gauge on one guy’s table. They seemed reasonably priced, though I still couldn’t afford them right now.)

As our party was on the way out, we noticed a bunch of Austin Energy trucks off to one side of the expo center parking lot. That’s not unusual – the expo center is within sight of one of the major power plants – but there were also signs for something called “PowerUP”.

What is “PowerUP”, we wondered? It turns out that “PowerUP” is…

…a performance featuring the employees and machinery of Austin Energy. Performed to an original score by Graham Reynolds and accompanied by a string orchestra led by Austin Symphony Conductor Peter Bay featuring “digital violin” solist Todd Reynolds, PowerUP will showcase 50+ linemen, electrical technicians and Austin Energy employees, bucket trucks, cranes and field trucks, a set of 20 utility poles, and an audience of 6,000+ people!

So I’m still not sure exactly what it is, beyond a performance that apparently involves linemen and bucket trucks. There was a Kickstarter for this project, too. $500 got you a reserved parking space and four reserved seats.

I’m intrigued by the description (and I also get a kick out of “Forklift Danceworks”); I might have gone to this if I hadn’t had other plans last night. (Of course, I would have had to wear my “Forklift Driver Klaus” t-shirt.)

They’re also doing the performance tonight, as well, but according to the Forklift Danceworks web site, they “sold out” both nights of the free performance, and don’t have any additional tickets available. Which sort of renders my gripe that there hasn’t been any publicity (that I’ve seen) for this null and void…