W/R/T David Foster Wallace

I came home from the library last night, started reading and couldn’t stop. I have the lastest David Foster Wallace book in my possession , Consider the Lobster, and feel regretful I have to go to work today.

This is a relief. After many years, after dodging through some not so bearable books (especially his short fiction Hideous Men, which I own, but couldn’t get through) someone decided to put together another chronicle of the essay pieces he has written for various magazines (including the surely it bombed idea– the only released via e-book “Up, Simba“, which finally you can actually read on paper). I have been a fan for a long time, but a very estranged one as in recent years he delved deeper and deeper into less legible territory. The stuff he writes for populist publications such as Harpers or Gourmet for some reason allow a passageway for his humor, which I find his strength. Or maybe I just like to be entertained.

More on this soon after I finish the book, most likely tomorrow….

Canaletto vs. The Tribbles

My co worker Amy yelled at me down the hall yesterday, asking me if I’d been to the new art show at the EMP. Of course I haven’t, even though I have been really toying with the concept of finally setting foot into one of Paul Allen’s museum’s. I told her on principle, I’d never been to the EMP because I found it insulting that it was terrifically over priced and additionally they never featured a free or reduced admission day. Being the fine coworker and fellow art enthusiast that she is, she totally agreed with me. However she said, she’d had an opportunity to go to one of the opening events for the latest venture: Double Take, and she said it was totally worth it just to see a Canaletto. I actually have no idea which Canaletto is featured in the show Double Take but Amy has me convinced it might be worth my while.

I got the full scoop, no bullshit report on how she sat through a five minute movie featuring the curatorial aspects of putting the show together (they obviously had to come up with an arching theme for the random collection to pull it all together), how she endured, for about five minutes the heinous head set lecture that accompanies the exhibit (after about five minutes she switched to the one produced for children but after two secondsof helium pitched vocals she silenced the mechanism all together. But then there wasthe Canaletto,that made the entire trip worthwhile. After she left the exhibit she was asked to participate in an exit interview, quizzing her on what she thought of the space, how the exhibit was put together, etc- which I find sincerely much more intriguing than anything else I’ve heard about the show. So yes, I will go for Canaletto and perhaps a few more amazing pieces that normally live behind closed doors normally in our fine city of Seattle.

I haven’t read much press on the show as I hate to have my brain flavored by other’s reactions (before concocting my own), however Amy’s full report has left me with enough bias and curiosity to actually make me want to go soon. And frankly it’s stupid to let my principles over admission prices keep me from seeing art that that isn’t likely to be on display in the region again any time soon. However, about those Tribbles….

Judy Glantzman at Betty Cunningham Gallery

Tonight, Betty Cunningham Gallery , in Chelsea opens a new show by painter/sculptor Judy Glantzman.

I wish I were there. Not only do I love Judy’s work, but in some regards have a huge line of thanks out to her for being a cultural buffer for me last summer when we were both teaching in North Carolina. I can’t decide if I have written too much or not enough about being in the South, but Judy― a born and bred Manhattanite was my huge breath of fresh air while there.

One of first our great conversations we were sitting in a small café in Sylva, North Carolina at night – catching up on shows we had both seen in New York. I asked her if she had seen the East Village USA show (I hadn’t) and she said, yes- “I’m in it”. (!) Whoops.

During our stay, I had brought some films with me to show as a film festival to the students, and one of the first ones- (regrettably horrible) was All The Vermeers of New York. However as some second hand history lesson, it featured Judy’s first dealer from the golden days- Gracie Mansion. We also watched the Basquiat movie, which as follow up to seeing the expansive show at the Brooklyn Museum was bittersweet. Possibly a good indicator of a great art film is it makes you want to paint.

Anyway, Judy was great company while she was there. Not only did we discover a low brow affinity for Adam Sandler movies, we ended up sharing a night at the Asheville Art Museum in some weird panel discussion, where we were supposed to comment on contemporary artists presented to us on the fly. She was gracious, and the only thing I remember from the night was getting dissed for not liking Richard Serra and saying the best thing about Matthew Barney was Björk.

Looking at the work presented in her latest exhibition, I note I took a very important lesson from her: Super Sculpey. Totally robbing her of the idea as a medium I made my latest works, knowing the medium was both packable (for long trips) but as I found also- unfortunately fragile.

Judy Glanzman, a very hardworking artist and real person, I raise my wine glass to you tonight. Cheers, hope all is well.

Judy signing prints in Cullowhee.


Lovely Boys and Flowers


I just got back from a quick outing to Western Bridge’s new exhibit Boys and Flowers. I have only one word: lovely. It’s a good thing I’m not a real art critic or I would be D.O.A.

There is something about going there- from moment of entry, I just feel content*, and I must give credit to Roy McMakin for his building. It’s so nice to be in a space where the art is installed with designs to let it breath. The rooms absorb traffic to the extent you feel you are the only one there, which is a greedy desire fulfilled. The True’s have done a very generous thing in allowing Western Bridge to continue to thrive and be a continuous batch of fresh air that I hope Seattle is appreciative of.

And yes, with magnolia and cherry trees coming to life right outside our windows, the thematic concerns of the exhibit are very timely. After such a long, dark, dreary, moist and dreadful winter, I’m sure we would be hard pressed to find any arguments from the peanut gallery. My personal favorite from this visit was Kutlug Ataman’s The Four Seasons of Veronica Read. However, I also found Jeffry Mitchell’s new piece byobu strangely beautiful and thanks to having read Christphoer Frizzelle’s heartfelt piece in the Stranger a week ago (concerning the demise of Club Z), I agree it could indeed be Mitchell’s Rosetta stone.

Jeffry Mitchell’s new installation juxtaposes a handmade Japanese byobu screen of molded paper with a vitrine containing ceramics in the vein of Chinese funerary sculpture―though this particular tomb is for a soon-to-be closed Seattle bathhouse, Club Zodiac. The form of the vitrine echoes that of Charles LeDray’s Milk and Honey, 1994-1996, an installation of 2000 minuscule ceramic vessels. The screen arranges a Mitchellian zoological garden―elephants with spurting trunks, bunnies, peonies―under a line from the Prince song “Alphabet Street.” The silkscreened pattern on the screen’s verso is modeled on a William Morris wallpaper design, which was also used on the cover of the Bee Gee’s album Main Course. The installation is a sort of Rosetta stone of Mitchell’s interests, linking Asian and European craft traditions, botanical and animal imagery, ritual ceremonies, sex, life and death.

from the nice map/handout that WB gives out at the front desk to help navigate the work.

Probably too much to have duplicated here, and I am not a huge fan of needing text to explain a work of art. In this case though, the background material made the piece all the richer. I was particularly struck how the work was given a large upstairs room all to its self, perhaps the last thing you find on your visit. The screen hiding the vitrine is placed almost to the far wall, adding the essence of surreptitiousness that Mitchell obviously meant to provoke. It’s timely, it’s pretty, it’s obsessive and it put a new spin on Mitchell’s work for me.

At any rate, I just wanted to briefly say, luckily this show is up until August 12, which gives you plenty of time to see the loveliness for your self.

I was curious too, here is the LeDray Milk and Honey reference:

*content, now there is another word that just isn’t allowed in the realm of critical theory.

con·tent2 (kən-tĕnt)

  1. Desiring no more than what one has; satisfied.

tr.v., -tent·ed, -tent·ing, -tents.To make content or satisfied: contented himself with one piece of cake.

n.Contentment; satisfaction.



The Written Journal

A discussion about what to do with all of your accumulated journals a week ago immediately brought to mind this photo of Anais Nin, her life’s work stacked safely in a bank vault. I was a huge fan of Anais all through out my 20s and some of my 30s, I am sure her writing and the what she conveyed as an expectation level of how an artist should live their lives influenced me heavily. I recall the summer I found a paperback diary of hers in a used bookstore in the University District here in Seattle, and ate it up.

I don’t recall if I actually read all of them but it was to a point where people would give me rare editions of her books as gifts. However, a fated day at the Strand bookstore in New York, probably eight years ago brought me Deirdre Bair’s huge examination of Anais’ life. Page after page unfolded the lies upon lies that were hidden from Anais’s published work. Perhaps that was not Bair’s intent, but I felt angry and betrayed. Perhaps I always thought it was feasible that I too would live in a houseboat, live a bi-coastal life and continue the life of a “boheme” forever. When I found out her carefree lifestyle was the product of an unmentioned banker husband and all kinds of other assorted pieces of unsavory evidence I felt betrayed. A book that was supposed to be about the honesty of a person’s life was really fiction. I was pissed. I sold or got rid of all of my Anais library, holding onto only the Bair book.

This weekend I was at Elliot Bay Books an came across one of her diaries in their used book section. I picked it up and looked at the cover, thinking maybe they would be of interest to reread from a new perspective. I couldn’t do it though. Too many other books to place my time into now. However, the thought of holding the act of keeping a journal up as a serious activity still resonates with me and for that I am still thankful.


Last night was so popular I couldn’t find a parking space. I thought maybe I had run into baseball season traffic or something…but no, the crowds came out in force to see art. I did a drive-by of a handful of galleries.

It was the opening of Foster White’s gallery relocation, now sitting side by side with the Greg Kucera gallery. The cavernous new space was a bizarre thing to enter after previously knowing Foster White as a small maze like set up. A running joke of the night though was allegedly signage on the gallery front says “Painting, Sculpture, Chihuly”. Perhaps the next generation will major in Chihuly in art school.

While I missed some new spaces that were right under my nose, like Punch, it was great to see some now established places like Platform really hitting their stride and packed to the gills.

Good news for fellow Shift Studio mates, Garth and Pierre, whose collaborative effort Inventory opened last night. Garth was just awarded a Fulbright to Mexico next year and Pierre last night missed going to the opening of Fresh at Elizabeth Leach Gallery which also features some of his work.

Stayed tuned, next week we’ll be heralding a new column looking at back at Seattle’s old art cosmos.


First Thursday

Now that the weather has turned nice and daylight savings time has kicked in it actually seems palatable to brave the Thursday night crowds to check out the art.

Howard House is opening a show of Matthew Picton’s work tonight, one of Portland’s well-known artists. A little birdie told me there might be some new drawings by Robert Yoder hiding out too.

I’ll be out in support for my Shift mates, Garth Amundson and Pierre Gour who have a collaborative exhibit opening tonight called Inventory.

Regina Hackett gives them a nice mention in the PI today.



One more for fun


Saturday, December 10, 2005

I’m privy to some funny products out here that don’t make it to the States. For instance for lunch today I am eating “Ainsley Harriott’s Citrus Kick Couscous—Just Add Water”. By the photo on the packaging I’m taking it that Mr. Harriott maintains somewhat of an epicurean celebrity status in the UK.

Directions: On the hob (thank god there is a graphic of a pot boiling)place contents of 1×110g sachet into medium saucepan. Add 180 ml (6 fl oz) of BOILING water and an optional 10 ml (2 tsp) of oil or a knob of butter if desired. Bring to the boil and then remove from heat. Cover and leave to stand for 5 minutes. Return to a low heat for 1 minute separating the grains with a fork. Serve. V, Vegetarian, less than 1% fat…and its good!

Jamie Oliver has a line of cooking products on sale here too. I’m still trying to figure out his snotty appeal (bad boy cook? tantrum throwing blue-collar diva? trust-fund boy with own show?). I watched his TV show the other night—he was trying to make over the school lunch program in the UK. The Brits I see are in the same slovenly place as the Americans (overweight and under exercised). The Americans, being such narcissists ignore this, thinking we’re the only ones with problems.


Two Evas

Last week, while Eva Lake and I were chatting and discussing various things during her visit, she asked me why I was taking a break from writing. In the moment I had problems articulating my reasons, although I knew there were many. So as a prod, I decided to resurrect a project I‘d intended for this past winter that never came to pass—which is posting all the notes I had taken during my trip last December. I came across this passage last night, which bemused me, perhaps the name similarities are a coincidence, or perhaps they are not:

Friday, 12.09.05 2:03 AM

Here’s a story for you. A woman, named Eva Hesse journeyed to Germany (her returned homeland) for a year –with her husband to make art. He was the well known (although we don’t remember his name now) and she was the sidecar for the trip.

For months she could make nothing. It was horrible. She was a painter but finally she started playing around with the materials left over in the industrial site. Her work changed forever after this moment and there are smiling, happy photos of her exhibition in a German greenhouse.

After their time was up, Eva was able to bring her work back with her. Her husband who made huge sculptures was unable to bring the cost-prohibitive pieces back. Her short life proceeded to increase in her ability to make art, his we are not sure…

I need to read Eva again. Last winter, right at this time she was my touchstone. I think it would be important if I went to the library again. I found their art book section again today, yet the modernistas were represented by Egon Schiele and also Renoir comes to mind. I didn’t see many contemporary artists. However, I don’t know many Icelandic artists. Strangely, and this is probably a good thing—my visual landscape is bereft of any art books. Influence free.