Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Paintings I Like, pt. 79

From the top: Codex Major 1, Codex Major 2, Codex Major 4, and Codex Major 7, 2012. All acrylic on panel, 48" x 38."

My old professor and dear friend George Hofmann has recently hit upon a group of paintings that I'm especially fond of - the Codex Major series. The removal of the paint is perhaps more important than the application in this group. The barely-there smears of high-key colors give the pictures a lightness - both in the sense of weight and illumination - and transforms the plywood ground into a hazy yellowish atmosphere, even as the hardness and physicality of the wood tries to reassert itself.

And I think the thing I like best is the speed at which they seem to be moving - particularly in Codex Major #1 and #2. This, to me, is a fresh take on deKooning's famous "glimpse" of something captured while in motion, caught in one's peripheral vision.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Paulie's Picks, Belmont, 5/28/12

Tomorrow is one of my favorite races of the Belmont summer meet: The G1 Metropolitan Handicap, also known as the Met Mile. Above is the celestial Ghostzapper taking down the 2005 Met Mile with grace and ease. You can have the Hamptons on Memorial Day, I choose Belmont Park! Tomorrow's Met Mile has a small but competitive field - I'll definitely be taking a stab at the late Pick 4. Hooray!

Here are Paulie's picks for tomorrow's card:

1st race:
3 - Eltheeb
9 - Person of Interest
6 - Hill Crossing

2nd race:
6 - Whipsaw City
2 - Fontley
4 - Blue Maiden

3rd race:
6 - Smokem's Charm
4 - Fair Trade
3 - Stone Picker

4th race:
3 - Rally Point
4 - Logical Order
8 - Cat Sweep

5th race:
11 - Ornellia
12 - White Glove
3 - Sherry Bay G.

6th race:
4 - Buffum
9 - Star of New York
3 - Simba's Story

7th race, The Sand's Point, G2:
3 - Somali Lemonade
5 - Regalo Mia
8 - Firehouse Red

8th race, The Ogden Phipps Handicap, G1:
2 - Awesome Maria
3 - She's All In
4 - It's Tricky

9th race, The Acorn, G1:
3 - On Fire Baby
1 - Contested
6 - Aubby K

10th race, The Metropolitan Handicap, G1:
3 - Caleb's Posse
6 - Jackson Bend
1 - To Honor and Serve

11th race:
5 - Windafull
1 - El Arquero
4 - Seljuk

Tune in tomorrow night for results and video.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Open Studio, 6/2/12

My studio-mates and I are having open studio on Saturday, June 2, from 3:00 to 5:00 pm in Sunset Park Brooklyn. All are invited! Drinks will be served!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Saturday, May 19, 2012

I'll Have Another Has Another!

OMG! I'll Have Another won the Preakness today, setting up the possibility for the first triple crown in 34 years! I'll see you at Belmont Park on June 9th! Hooray!

Friday, May 18, 2012

2012 Preakness, Plus Bonus Coverage

2012 Kentucky Derby winner I'll Have Another (top) and Bodemeister in a recent public service spot for dental hygiene. It's nice to see athletes giving back to the community.

I'm afraid that Professor Paulie's big Preakness analysis is as pedestrian as can be. I like the first and second choices, in order, and what's worse, I like one of the two third choices to come in third. Oh, well.

Bodemeister has the perfect front-running style for this race, and looks to get almost no pace pressure at the bell. I'll Have Another should be able to race a little closer to his butt without the 20-horse Kentucky Derby cavalry charge to contend with, but unless someone goes up front to wear down Bodemeister, the favorite will be hard to catch. The longshots all look like rank outsiders - whereas some of the Derby shots actually looked live. The only X-factor I can see is the turnaround time; Bodemeister is coming off a colossal effort with only two weeks rest. But even if he poops out, I would simply vote to advance I'll Have Another for top honors. Here it is, boring as can be:

7 - Bodemeister
9 - I'll Have Another
6 - Creative Cause

My racing buddy, JK, master of the multi-race ticket, is going to join me at Belmont Park to watch the simulcast of the Preakness from Pimlico. As it turns out, they have horse-racing at Belmont as well - what a coincidence! Since I'm going to be there anyway, I though I would play that card as well. Here are Paulie's picks for Belmont Park, Saturday, 5/19/11:

1st race:
10 - Chardsey
11 - Logical Order
3 - Springcourt

2nd race:
4 - Reload
8 - Unbridled Fire
1 - Rise Against

3rd race:
8 - Ecstatic Cat
9 - Sheridan Square
5 - Keyaly

4th race:
6 - Stirred Up
5 - Inflation Target
3 - Street Brawl

5th race:
10 - Coronation Day
5 - Corofin
6 - Pin

6th race:
8 - Souper Spectacular
5 - Sky Blazer
1 - Yankee Fourtune

7th race:
9 - Winter Now
6 - Night Site
11 - Ur

8th race:
6 - Nice Stuff
8 - Take It Inside
11 - Sparks Will Fly

9th race:
3 - Saginaw
1 - Uncle T Seven
6 - Mine Over Matter

10th race:
3 - Hardrocker
2 - Power Emblem
4 - Dynabrook

Tune in tomorrow night for video and results.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

2012 Preakness Post Positions and Morning Line

Here are the post positions, jockeys, and morning line odds for this Saturday's Preakness - tune in tomorrow for the highly anticipated No Hassle at the Castle race analysis!

1. Tiger Walk, K. Desormeaux, 30-1

2. Teeth of the Dog, J. Bravo, 15-1

3. Pretension, J. Santiago, 30-1

4. Zetterholm, J. Alvarado, 20-1

5. Went the Day Well, J. Velazquez, 6-1

6. Creative Cause, J. Rosario, 6-1

7. Bodemeister, M. Smith, 8-5

8. Daddy Nose Best, J. Leparoux, 12-1

9. I'll Have Another, M. Gutierrez, 5-2

10. Optimizer, C. Nakatani, 30-1

11. Cozzetti, J. Lezcano, 30-1

Monday, May 14, 2012

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Paintings I Like, pt. 78

Ross Bleckner, "Green Hands and Faces," 1994.  Oil on canvas, 84" x 72."

I went out to the Brooklyn Museum recently to see the Keith Haring show, and spent some time afterward wandering around through their permanent collection.  When I stumbled upon this Ross Bleckner, it was kind of like seeing an old friend (even though he's someone I never met); I remember when he was showing these in Mary Boone's space on West Broadway.  The pictures seemed so fresh, and so different than the more conceptually driven things that were going on in many of the other galleries.  I always thought these were his best paintings - It's that soft glowing light; the "hands" and "faces" seem to alternately swell and recede depending on where you look.  It also made me think about being young, but that has little do do with the painting.

Many of my friends had these same waves of nostalgia at the Haring exhibition, but I got to New York City just a hair late for all that so it didn't really work on me in that way - the Bleckner made for much more of a misty-watercolor-memory trip.  But besides reminiscing about my youth, it made me think about all the painting I enjoyed looking at in those days.  To read a contemporary history of the last 25 or thirty years in art, you might think there were huge swathes of time where no one painted at all - but it's not so!  Peter Schuyff, Donald Sultan, and Donald Baechler were all making compelling pictures.  Bleckner, of course, has managed to keep himself in the dialog.  Peter Halley was making pretty good paintings (even though I always questioned the rhetoric surrounding them).  Doug Ohlson was older than all of these artists, but I remember seeing a couple of marvelous shows of his in Soho at the time.  And there's probably a bunch of other names I can't think of as I type this.

History and the various agendas that drive it are a funny thing - I imagine that last word is not in on that era and I feel quite sure it can't really be written until all the players and eye-witnesses, including me, are no longer among us.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Sweet and Sour Smell of Success

I've noticed an uptick of late in the amount of ink spilled about the fact that fine art is a clearly delineated career path, with training centers and critical and institutional mechanisms that work something like a conveyor belt.  In his review of the New York debut of the Frieze art fair, Holland Cotter sums up the situation:

"The gentrification of contemporary art itself is an old story in two parts. Part one is about a 20th-century model of an avant-garde, with artists as feisty cultural delinquents and idiot savants who set themselves outside the mainstream to make baffling things and think deep thoughts.

In part two, set in the 21st century, the model has changed. Now artists, whether they know it or not, are worker bees in an art-industrial hive. Directed by dealers and collectors who dress like stylish accountants, they turn out predictable product for high-profile, high-volume fairs like Frieze."

The fact that Cotter was able to run this down with such brevity shows not only his knack for concision, but also how familiar the story is by now.  Just about anyone interested in reading a review of Frieze already knows this stuff; very little historical framing is required.

An awful lot of people, including many of the participants and beneficiaries, find the whole thing extremely distasteful.  But there is another point that no one seems to be addressing: Art has always been a career path.  Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, Rembrandt, Velazquez, Reubens, Hals, Vermeer, Tiepolo, etc., etc., etc. all earned their living in this highly specialized activity for which they had an unusual aptitude.  Every culture has art; the art of every culture is wildly varied, but one thing is consistent: the people who make whatever that culture determines to be the best examples of the art that it wants become highly paid professionals.

It was my intention at this juncture to type something like "and I have no problem with this," because I like being a contrarian bomb-dropper, but that's not exactly true.  I do think that the best artists should be able to earn a living from art-making (I know "the best" is a hot-button phrase, but that's another essay).  Making art that's really good requires a time investment that's very difficult to work around a 40-hour work week; Marx pointed out that people who work under a capitalist regime spend most of their off-hours simply recovering from work.  The idea that they could develop their aptitudes and capacities is difficult if not impossible, and the result is many wasted gifts.

The asterisk for me is not whether the artist should be able to earn a living, but who from.  Societies throughout history and all over the world have had an unspoken agreement that the very best art is among their most precious commodities.  And guess who tend to control a given society's most precious commodities?  Bankers and industrialists, kings and dictators, corporate lawyers and hedge-fund managers!  The 1% is a cross-cultural phenomena and they've always owned the best art!

The result has been much hand-wringing on the part of the spiritual heirs to the avant-garde.  Ever since Ronald Reagan, politicians on the right and left have had to convince voters that the reason they want a career in government is because they hate government.  An extremely similar line is used is in much fine art - a certain amount of institutional critique is expected as a credential for being a "real" artist, and professionalism is viewed with the highest degree of suspicion.  The 4/30/12 issue of New York Magazine has a cover story called "How To Make It in the Art World."  The corresponding package of stories return again and again (sometimes in tongue-in-cheek fashion) to the idea that the way you make it really big in the art world is by being perceived as an outsider to the art world. 

It seems to me that what is going to change sooner or later is not the commercial aspect of making and selling art, but the pretense that the artists, galleries, schools, and journals are trying to subvert it - which they aren't actually trying to do at all.  Artists and commentators about art are stuck in a somewhat schizophrenic relationship with the powerful model of the historical avant-garde.

In the second half of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th, from Manet, through Impressionism, right up to the Cubists and Fauves, the most advanced artists were considered rebels, reacting to a conservative establishment whose measure of quality began and ended with Raphael.  Modernism famously triumphed over 19th century academicism, but by the late '60's faced their own rebellion.  Post-modernism and feminism pointed out that Modernist criteria had simply replaced one academic dogma with another - and also called attention to the fact that the chief exponents were virtually all middle-aged white men.

These two successful revolts set precedents that still loom large over art in the 21st century. First, that the most advanced art will be misunderstood by the general public and rejected by the academic art establishment, and second, that the institutions of this latter group must be continuously critiqued and subverted.  But here's where the problem comes in - institutional critique is taught at the big schools, shown at the big galleries, museums, and fairs, and reviewed in the big journals.  It has become the art establishment in the most naked sense.

This has led to much posturing.  All artists want to be successful - even the ones who claim that they hate the art establishment and include that antipathy as content in their work.  The sooner we can drop that, the better - self-expression is, to me, so much more precious and interesting than piety.  I think that the big art fairs and survey shows will improve dramatically with the absence of critique as an over-riding theme, but many participants will have to admit something that has been true throughout history, that was even true throughout much of the avant-garde period in the 20th century, and has been overwhelmingly true since the mid-'90's: we survive at the pleasure and whim of the 1%. 

None of the strategies which have been adopted in the last forty-five years for the subversion of the relationship between art and capital have done anything whatsoever to change it.  And unless a working socialist model for the production and exhibition of art can be established and maintained, something along the lines of the WPA Artists Project, then the uneasy relationship between art and capital will always be in place.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The 2012 Kentucky Derby

Here's a bunch of women wearing funny hats at last year's Kentucky Derby.  More will do that this year.

Well it's already that time again - the Run for the Roses, the first leg of the Triple Crown, the 2012 Kentucky Derby!  Hooray!  Here are the runners with post positions, jockeys, and morning line odds:

1.  Daddy Long Legs, C. O'Donoghue, 30-1

2.  Optimizer, J. Court, 50-1

3.  Take Charge Indy, C. Borel, 15-1

4.  Union Rags, J. Leparoux, 9-2

5.  Dullahan, K. Desormeaux, 8-1

6.  Bodemeister, M. Smith, 4-1

7.  Rousing Sermon, J. Lezcano, 50-1

8.  Creative Cause, J. Rosario, 12-1

9.  Trinniberg, W. Martinez, 50-1

10.  Daddy Nose Best, G. Gomez, 15-1

11.  Alpha, R. Maragh, 15-1

12.  Prospective, L. Contreras, 30-1

13.  Went The Day Well, J. Velazquez, 20-1

14.  Hansen, R. Dominguez, 10-1

15.  Gemologist, J. Castellano, 6-1

16.  El Padrino, R. Bejarano, 20-1

17.  Done Talking, S. Russell, 50-1

18.  Sabercat, C. Nakatani, 30-1

19.  I'll Have Another, M. Guttierrez, 12-1

20.  Liaison, M. Garcia, 50-1

AE: My Adonis, E. Trujillo, 50-1

The favorite and second choice, respectively, are Bodemeister at 4-1, ridden by Mike Smith and trained by Bob Baffert and Union Rags at 9-2, trained by Michael Matz and Ridden by Julien Leparoux.  The somewhat tepid odds show the lack of a dominant horse this year - all the low-ish price horses have plenty of asterisks, and I'm looking for a longshot or a big triple.

Trinniberg will probably go after the lead at the bell - he won't be all alone, though, Take Charge Indy, Bodemeister, and Hansen also have a lot of early lick, so I expect to see that famous Kentucky Derby cavalry charge for the first half of the race.  Pace scenarios like that one often lead to punishing fractions, and the leaders are cooked before they even get to the stretch - remember Giacomo in 2005?  I don't expect to see any of the early leaders at the end of the race.  So who are the stalkers and closers who stand to benefit from a pace meltdown?

There are a bunch of horses here who have one in that style, but I'll limit my choices to the ones with the right post positions, or who have done a similar trick in a G1 or G2 race (which is not an absolute prerequisite - remember Mine That Bird?)  Here are some possibilities, some with big odds, some not:

Dullahan won the Bluegrass Stakes at Keenland with the exact same scenario outlined above from the six slot.  He's in the nearby five position for this race.  A solid contender at 8-1, but not the longshot miracle I'd like.

But then there's Rousing Sermon 50-1, in the seven slot.  He's got the right style for a pace meltdown, and he's starting in the middle of the track.  He could be the bomb that no one sees coming.

Creative Cause will be a little closer to the pack, and almost took the Santa Anita Derby in a stalking style, losing by a nose to I'll Have Another.  The eight slot is nice for him, not too close to the rail, not to far away from it - he looks good at 12-1.

And if you're playing this particular storyline, as I will be, you have to keep second choice Union Rags in the mix.  9-2 is stingy, but he should be right on the tail of the front runners, and he's got a nice spot for stalking.

Enough talk, make a pick already!  Ok, ok, how's this:

8 - Creative Cause
7 - Rousing Sermon
4 - Union Rags

I'm might change my mind on Derby Day, especially if it rains, Tune in to No Hassle at the Castle on Saturday for vacillation and indecision.  See you at the races!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012