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Contents for January 02, 2013

1. Ed Ruscha, FF Alumn, in The New York Times, Dec. 27, 2012

The New York Times, December 27, 2012
Empty Pages in a Show Filled With Words

Ed Ruscha has never been particularly precious about print. For him books - even his own artist's books - have always been disposable. His breakout work, "Twenty-Six Gasoline Stations," was a photo essay that looked more like a user's manual; it set the tone for much Conceptual art and was followed by other, equally deadpan compendiums ("Every Building on the Sunset Strip," "Nine Swimming Pools").

In an interview in The New York Times in 1972 he told the writer A. D. Coleman, "I know that my books are not thought of in the same way as my paintings are." He elaborated, "People get the pictures and look at the pictures, and they put it away and eventually somehow it just kind of ends up in the trash, which is O.K. - that's all right with me, it doesn't bother me that much, that they might decompose, or not be thought of as 'objects of art,' because they're definitely not."

To many viewers today they definitely are (and they're certainly priced as such in the art market). But at Mr. Ruscha's latest, self-titled exhibition at Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea he is still treating the book as a kind of empty Pop container or Conceptual signboard. And often he is doing it in the medium of painting, collapsing trash onto treasure.

The show is derived from "Reading Ed Ruscha," a larger exhibition that appeared at the Kunsthaus Bregenz in Austria this fall. It includes three marvelous new "vanitas" paintings made for that exhibition that subject a blank, open book to the ravages of time. (In the final canvas it's moldy, dog-eared, and riddled with wormholes.)

Here too are found-object works made by scratching and bleaching books, and painted works that foil or assault would-be readers with meaningless palindromes, redacted texts and profane titles.

Where others see printed matter that's more or less two-dimensional, Mr. Ruscha sees sculptural objects. Sometimes it doesn't even seem to matter what's between the covers, as when he photographs only the edges of closed books. In works like "Gilded, Marbled and Foiled" (2011-12), depicting a butterflied volume from some luxurious library, he approaches books in the manner of a nose-to-tail chef, using parts of them that are often overlooked and underappreciated, the spines and endpapers and edging.

Certainly he does not treat books with kid gloves. An 1875 copy of "The Poetical Works of Thomas Moore" has a hand-drilled intaglio reading "INFO" on its gilded fore edge; a New Lexicon Webster's Dictionary of the English Language (1988 edition) bears the message "OH NO." He attacks other books with bleach, painting single letters on their cloth covers. (The fonts vary, as do the titles; a medieval "M" on "Imaginary Gardens," a thin, elongated "C" on Richard M. Nixon's "Leaders.")

He seems to favor atlases, indexes, Bibles, dictionaries and other reference books (as in "Stock Market Technique, Numbers 1 & 2," a painting accompanied by the book that inspired it). These are not the first editions and other collectors' items favored by the gallery's other resident bookworm, Richard Prince. Literary fiction is scarce here, aside from two small drawings of Steinbeck novels.

Some works seem to divorce books from the act of reading, or to invent new ways to read. Among them are two paintings of open, blank books floating above palindromes (One says "STARBRATS"; the other "TULSA SLUT"), which complicate the usual left-to-right movement of English text with their strange symmetries. (They relate closely to Mr. Ruscha's "Mirror Paintings" of a decade ago that set palindromes against twinned mountain landscapes.)

In another series of paintings, rectangles arranged on plain backgrounds mimic the look of blacked-out text. (The missing words are suggested by the works' titles.) But this is not just an exercise in concrete poetry, à la Mallarmé and Broodthaers; each painting addresses the reader-viewer with the sneer of a film-noir mobster. The wall label for one warns, "TROUBLE YOUR WAY IF YOU INSIST ON RATTING." Another threatens, "LITTLE SNITCHES LIKE YOU END UP IN DUMPSTERS ALL OVER TOWN."

Like the palindrome paintings, these works make us hyper-aware of our penchant for "reading" artworks; we can't help moving our eyes from left to right. And as it happens, some of them are painted right on books; the cover of "The American Sporting Scene" (1941), for instance, has been bleached and retitled "EAT HOT LEAD."

Mr. Ruscha, unlike other artists of his generation, does not seem inclined to brood over the death of print; if anything, he is cracking wise at its funeral. But the most recent paintings, which include the three "Old Books" and another titled "History Book Laying on a Table," may be taken as modern-day memento mori. They invite us to lift our eyes from our tablets long enough to ponder the fate of once-grand tomes rotting away in the stacks. And yet the unsentimental rendering of worm-eaten pages, and the absence of text on them, reminds us that books are just paper; or as Mr. Ruscha might say, it all ends up in the trash.

"Ed Ruscha" continues through Jan. 12 at Gagosian Gallery, 555 West 24th Street, Chelsea; (212) 741-1111, gagosian.com.



2. Doug Skinner, FF Alumn, at Jalopy Theater, Brooklyn, Jan. 4

I'll be performing my customary birthday show at the Jalopy Theater on Friday, Jan. 4. I'll be singing my songs, playing instruments from the ukulele family; and I'll be joined by David Gold, playing those viola obbligati I've written just for him. Jalopy is at 315 Columbia St., Brooklyn, in Red Hook.

Brian Dewan will also be on the bill, playing his and others' songs on autoharp and accordion. Brian is at 9 pm; David and I at 10 pm. Admission is $10.



3. Hector Canonge, FF Alumn, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Jan 11-19, 2013, and more

Some NEW news about my work and projects here are:

ARTerial Performance Lab (APEL)
In November, I launched the the project-initiative-collective ARTerial Performance Lab. APEL (as it is becoming be be known) is to foster collaboration, integration, and production of Performance Art works among Latin American artists and their counterparts in the US and Europe. With its home base in Bolivia, the heartland of the continent, APEL will serve as catalyst to connect artists from its neighboring countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Uruguay, and Paraguay) and centers of contemporary performance art production.

This past December 21, I completed the multidisciplinary project ANIMALIA that involved: A public intervention walking the streets of Cochabamba, the second largest city in Bolivia, carrying a dead animal, an exhibition & performance in the old Matadero (Meat Packing Center) of the same city, and for the closing a happening recalling the ancient Aymara/Quecha social gathering 'AKTAPI' very similar to the Potluck.

January 11 - 19, 2013
I will be participating in the Hemispheric Institute Encuentros 2013 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The international event has gathered artists from many countries, and I'm happy to deliver my work in the streets of this megalopolis. As in Buenos Aires, I will be intervening many public places with a public performance where people will be asked to participate and collaborate as a way to learn the history/story of Brazil.

MY LAST SUPPER in South America
January 30, 2013
As I did when I left NYC, I'm organizing a goodbye dinner-meal-performance-event where guests will take active part in my last meal in this region.

Best wishes for the New Year.

Hector Canonge
Visual Artist, www.hectorcanonge.net
Director, CINEMAROSA, www.cinemarosa.org
Co-founder & Director, QMAD, www.qmad.org



4. Lawrence Graham-Brown, FF Alumn, at Dance New Amsterdam, Jan. 11-12

Lawrence Graham-Brown interviewed by Matthew Morowitz of AIOP for his upcoming event "Acute Case of Black Fever" at Dance New Amsterdam January 11 and 12, 2013


Happy New Year! We are excited to announce Avant-Garde Jamaican artist
Lawrence Graham-Brown premieres "Acute Case of Black Fever" at
Dance New Amsterdam Triennial;
other.explicit.bodies, January 11 & 12, 2013 at 10pm
Curated by Jaamil Olawale Kosoko:

Presenting artists who deploy highly erotic performative strategies while also incorporating materials of dissidence and unrecognizability to construct work that elisticates the boundaries of race and gender, Jaamil Kosoko has assembled two eclectic evenings of underground cross-genre performances. Though many of these artists appear to use conventional, contemporary methods to create 'meaning' and/or points-of-entry in their performative language, they remain deeply concerned with experimentation that takes creative detours from convention by using personal content, references and/or structural procedures. Each artist, singularly, embodies 'disordering' effects in their work, resulting in a uniquely dynamic platform that encourages further discussion and creative analysis. -Jaamil Olawale Kosoko

Participating artists:
Program A features work by:
Lawrence Graham-Brown
Kate Watson-Wallace
Jaamil Olawale Kosoko
Marjani Forte
Saul Ulerio
Rebecca Patek

Program B features work by:
Lawrence Graham-Brown
Holly Bass
Megan Bridge
devynn emory
Jasmine Hearn
Jen Rosenblit
More info: http://www.dnadance.org/site/theater/2012-2013/apap/kosoko/




5. Joyce Cutler-Shaw, FF Alumn, at Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, La Jolla, CA, opening Jan. 11

What Comes To Mind:
Nature-Human Nature and Visual Translation
Joyce Cutler-Shaw
Athenaeum Music & Arts Library
1008 Wall Street, La Jolla, CA 92037
January 8 - February 11, 2013
Opening Reception Friday, January 11, 2013, 6:30-9 pm

The exhibition What Comes To Mind is of the artist's role as visual translator across disciplines of art and medical science and art and our endangered global environment. We are of nature, of embodied mind, born of water. We are at home in a blue striated marble, 70% water, orbiting in a universe that we have discovered is but one of many in seemingly infinite space. Within ourselves we share remnant chemical constituents with every living thing and a common evolutionary past through millennia. Newer science studies emphasize, not chemistry, but two-way information flow, with internal "translations" from inputs to actions, which characterize all living things.

We can live without food for some time but we cannot live without water. Wall books in the exhibit ask "What Shall We Do When The River Runs Dry?" when we have overused our common supply. There are drawings and dimensional drawings of Limbs and Trunks as visual metaphors for our identity with the natural world. There is a walk-in book of wild birds and grasses. What comes to mind is that we are temporal, in a continual now. The past is memory, translated to artists slide books of brain images and Memory Pictures. There are tunnel books with brain scan movies, and memory pictures, as if in a wonderland of images in the mysterious realm of consciousness, of origins still unexplained.



6. Galinsky, FF Alumn, now online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sf3b61Z0wnY

Galinsky, FF Alumn, on The Ricki Lake Show, Dec.21 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sf3b61Z0wnY



Goings On is compiled weekly by Harley Spiller