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Contents for February 16, 2016

1. Henry James Korn, FF Alumn, publishes debut novel

For those Franklin Furnace Archive artists, patrons and friends who ever wondered what ever happened to former Franklin Furnace Board Chairman, writer and museum executive Henry James Korn, I am happy to report his debut novel, Amerikan Krazy will appear in hardcover and e-book editions on February 22, 2016. This mesmerizing satirical fiction delivers a fearless, wildly creative, and rollicking ride through an absurd yet painfully familiar landscape of American culture and politics from post-WW II to a not-too-distant future. In turning political writing into art, Korn's hilarious and hallucinatory post 1984 quest for truth begins where Orwell left off by making sense out of the insane conditions of contemporary life in which prevailing authorities engender paranoia by manipulating power, spectacle, violence, and social status. If you are in the Southern California area, you may want to attend Henry's Amerikan Krazy publication party at Chevalier's Books in the Hancock Park section of Los Angeles on March 2nd at 7 pm or his reading and signing at BC Space in Laguna Beach at 2 pm on March 20th, 2016. For more information:

www.boffosockobooks.com and www.henryjameskorn.com



2. Isabella Bannerman, FF Alumn, now online at comicskingdom.com

Congratulations to Isabella Bannerman, FF Alumn, whose cartoon about monkeys was selected as one of the ten best by Comics Kingdom. Please visit this link:




3. Pablo Helguera, FF Alumn, at Jorge Pinto Books, Manhattan, Feb. 19

a notebook for artists
Jorge Pinto Books, NY 2016

Friday, February 19, 6-8pm

Join us in a performative reading of Pablo Helguera's new book
An Atlas of Commonplaces
with excerpts read by Pablo Helguera and Laura Lona

Drawing on the rich literary tradition of the aphorism, Pablo Helguera takes his anthropological look at the art world to present a group of observations about contemporary art practice. While this is a book directed to visual artists, the reflections of An Atlas of Commonplaces provide a window to current issue around art making for art professionals and the general public alike.

Pablo Helguera (Mexico City, 1971) is a visual artist living in New York. He is the author of many books including The Parable Conference, (2014), Education for Socially Engaged Art (2011) and Art Scenes: The Social Scripts of the Art World (2012).



4. Roberta Allen, Eleanor Antin, Vito Acconci, Susan Bee, Terry Berkowitz, Colette, Roy Colmer, Jaime Davidovich, Stefan Eins, Charles Henri Ford, Tehching Hsieh, Joan Jonas, Lorraine O'Grady, Adrian Piper, Willoughby Sharp, Karen Shaw, Betty Tompkins, Hannah Wilke, Martha Wilson, FF Alumns, at Mitchell Algus Gallery, Manhattan, opening Feb. 20

Concept, Performance, Documentation, Language
February 20-April 17, 2016
Opening Saturday February 20, 5-8 pm
M i t c h e l l A l g u s G a l l e r y
132 Delancey St, 2nd fl, New York 10002

The Mitchell Algus Gallery presents Concept, Performance, Documentation, Language, a group show of work that employs photography, performance, surveillance, data acquisition and participatory intervention to make art that is narrative, analytical, speculative, critical and documentary.

Martha Wilson, Vito Acconci, Willoughby Sharp, Hannah Wilke, Eunice Golden, Neke Carson, Roberta Allen, Adrian Piper, Roger Welch, Karen Shaw, Jeff Way, Hans Breder, Susan Bee, Marc C. Miller, Gene Beery, Eleanor Antin, Walter Weissman, Lorraine O'Grady, Peter Moore, Joan Jonas, Jaime Davidovich, Bettie Ringma, Mac Adams, Kerry Schuss, Morgan O'Hara, Stefan Eins, Tehching Hsieih, Jack Smith, Indra Tamang, Charles Henri Ford, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Trisha Brown, Duff Scwheninger, Jared Bark, James Collins, Betty Tompkins, Arthur Cohen, Christopher D'Arcangelo, Roy Colmer, Dennis Oppenheim, Marcia Resnick, Gerald Hayes, Terry Berkowitz, Charles Gatewood, Christopher Rauchenberg, Stuart Brisley, Lee Lozano, Gordon Matta-Clark, Bill Beckley, Colette

With 50 artists, most of whom worked-and continue to work-in New York, Concept, Performance, Documentation, Language illustrates the shared interests and common endeavor that animated a loosely defined community of artists from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. The exhibition is a meditation on what history gets written and, provided context and equanimity, how that perceived history can be comprehensively and cohesively revised. History is a process.

Interestingly, the current show parallels in part, Jeffrey Deitch's first curatorial outing in 1975, Lives: Artists who deal with peoples' lives (including their own) as the subject and/or medium of their work. Many of the participants in Lives were younger conceptual artists engaged in the openly aesthetic practice of vernacular sociology, behavioral psychology, and local ethnography. Unlike first-generation conceptualists such as Sol LeWitt, Joseph Kosuth or Lawrence Weiner whose work was rigorously formal and to a degree academic, these new artists set out to consider real life, their life, and produce some edifying, playful, acerbic, or confounding analysis and documentation of it. Many of the artists also began to broach trenchant questions of personal and group identity, igniting concerns that continue to preoccupy much recent art.



5. Joyce Yu-Jean Lee, FF Alumn, at Chinatown Soup, Manhattan, Feb. 19 and 21

FIREWALL will have 2 events, on both Friday, 2/19 and Sunday, 2/21. We have seats for 100 for the roundtable, so hoping to get the word out far and wide.


Networked Feminism in China: Fri, Feb 19th, 7:30pm
FIREWALL Internet Cafe hosts a roundtable discussion, "Networked Feminism in China," 7:30p on Friday, Feb 19th, 2016 at Orbital, 155 Rivington Street, NYC 10002.
Please join us for a FIREWALL exhibition viewing and reception from 5-7p at Chinatown Soup, 16B Orchard Street, NYC 10002, followed by a roundtable discussion about China's Young Feminist Activists, and the role of the Internet in this movement at 7:30p at Orbital. FREE. RSVP to info@firewallcafe.com.
moderator, Susan E. McGregor, Assistant Director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism & Assistant Professor at Columbia Journalism School, where she teaches data journalism & information visualization, with research interests in digital security.
Lu Pin, Program manager of Media Monitor for Women Network and chief editor of Feminist Voices, a major leading feminist alternative media in China

Lu Miaoqing, Deputy Director of the Public Interest Law Committee of the Guangzhou Lawyers Association and Visiting Scholar at The China Center, Yale University, researching U.S. law related to women's rights and employment discrimination.

Xintong Liu, designer, social innovator, and feminist organizer.

Joyce Yu-Jean Lee, visual artist and adjunct professor, creator of FIREWALL Internet Cafe, NYC

Artist Reception: Sun, Feb 21st, 6-9pm
Please join FFF and AWGC for a reception for the artist
on Sunday, February 21, 2016 from 6-9pm
at Chinatown Soup, 16B Orchard Street, NYC.
Proxy Pals: Trial by FIREwall: Thurs, Feb 25th @ TBD
An info session and install fest with UProxy.
Invite a friend, family member, or colleague abroad to share Internet connections with you! Please bring your digital device & coordinate with your international contact to connect online.
Time TBD so check back again soon.



6. Norm Magnusson, FF Alumn, upcoming events

Greetings friends!!

Mark your calendars or get in your car!!

Running through April 3! Come see "Beautiful nonsense" at the Rockland Center for the Arts. I curated, there are lots of amazing artists in the show, and a preview can be see here: http://theabsurdobject.blogspot.com

Performances Feb. 26-28 "A memory, a monologue, a rant, and a prayer" at The Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck.Directed by Tracy Carney, an evening of readings presented from the anthology of writings (of the same title) edited by Eve Ensler and Mollie Doyle to benefit The Grace Smith House. Readings by women and men, with some featuring original choreography by Leighann Kowalsky. http://www.centerforperformingarts.org/all-shows-sp-1131460608/item/a-memory-a-monologue-a-rant-and-a-prayer. I'll be doing one of the dramatic readings.
Opening March 12 - abc@WFG, an exhibition of text-based art, curated by me and showing at the WFG gallery in Woodstock. A preview can be seen here: http://abcwfg.blogspot.com. Gallery info here: http://wfggallery.com/index.html

I hope to see you all at each and every one of these events!!





7. Rose English, FF Alumn, at The Harley Gallery, UK, opening March 20, and more

Dear friends and colleagues,

I thought you would like to know about two upcoming live concert performances on 11th and 12th March at Camden Arts Centre: Music for Lost in Music scored by Luke Stoneham for my libretto will be part of the Postscript season at Camden.
For those of you who would still like to see my exhibition A Premonition of the Act at Camden Arts Centre, please note that it only runs until 6th March and the Postscript season takes place after the exhibition closes. Here is a link to The Observer review of the exhibition:
I am also pleased to let you know that a new exhibition at The Harley Gallery, Welbeck, Nottinghamshire will open on 20 March, bringing together Welbeck's equestrian history with a selection of works including Quadrille and Country Life.
Best wishes,

Friday 11 March 7pm
Saturday 12 March 3pm
Live concert performance of Music for Lost in Music as part of Postscript season at Camden Arts Centre.
Singers: Sarah Leonard (solo soprano), Donna Bateman, Omar Ebrahim, James Hall, Oliver Hunt, Jennifer John, Julien van Mellaerts, Melanie Pappenheim, Peter Harris and Rose Stachniewska. Percussion: Julian Warburton. Conductor: Philip Headlam.
Scored by Luke Stoneham for a libretto by Rose English.
The exhibition, A Premonition of the Act, is open until Sunday 6 March only.
Further details and tickets for March 11th at www.camdenartscentre.org/whats-on/view/postscrip3 and March 12th at www.camdenartscentre.org/whats-on/view/postscrip4

20 March to 5 June 2016
Rose English at The Harley Gallery
Welbeck, Worksop, Nottinghamshire
The exhibition will juxtapose a selection of my horse related works with objects and manuscripts from the Portland Collection relating to the equestrian history of Welbeck. This will include the celebrated 17th Century treatise Le Méthode et Invention Nouvelle de Dresser les Chevaux by William Cavendish which is gloriously illustrated with engravings of horses in training and diagrams of their movements in the arena and my installation Quadrille, 1975.
Further details at www.harleygallery.co.uk
As part of The Grand Tour www.thegrandtour.uk.com



8. Adam Pendleton, FF Alumn, in the New York Times, Feb. 11

An Adam Pendleton Exhibition Will Open in New Orleans
Inside Art
FEB. 11, 2016

The conceptual artist Adam Pendleton has not made work that specifically references Hurricane Katrina.

But because his pieces often deal with African-American political and social history, they seem well suited to New Orleans.

That is partly why the Contemporary Arts Center in that city's Warehouse District is devoting all three floors of its galleries to what it says will be the largest solo museum exhibition of Mr. Pendleton's work in the United States.

The show, "Adam Pendleton: Becoming Imperceptible," which opens on April 1, will include film, wall paintings, ceramics and silk screens.

"Siting it in New Orleans carries with it so many reverberations," said Andrea Andersson, the museum's chief curator of visual arts, referring to the aftermath of the hurricane, "when so many people were without homes and living in unfit dwellings."

One of those works uses the language of the Black Lives Matter movement. "My work deals with the past but also the future," Mr. Pendleton said. "That's what a city like New Orleans, after an experience like Katrina, is perpetually grappling with: How does our future relate to our past?"



9. John Baldessari, Alison Knowles, Alan Kaprow, FF Alumns, in The New York Times, Feb. 10

The New York Times
Pee-wee's Big Comeback

After disappearing for nearly three decades, Paul Reubens's subversive alter ego returns - and seems more radical than ever.

FEB. 10, 2016

Paul Reubens wanted to show me his favorite Walgreens. I had asked to visit a place of personal significance, and although he has lived and worked in Los Angeles since the 1970s, he didn't plot some dutiful trip down memory lane - a spin past the old headquarters of the Groundlings, the pioneering improv troupe where he created Pee-wee Herman, his indelible comic alter-ego; through the Burbank soundstages where he filmed much of ''Pee-wee's Big Adventure,'' the hit 1985 film that made him a star; up to his Hollywood Hills home, where he keeps an elaborate cactus garden and a stockpile of curios and tchotchkes. Instead, he proposed a pilgrimage to the Walgreens West Coast flagship. I laughed, but he wasn't kidding. A 23,500-square-foot behemoth at the corner of Sunset and Vine, the store is kitted out to the point of preposterousness with, among other things, a sushi bar, a supermarket, a florist, a warren of frozen-yogurt kiosks and a sidewalk cafe. As we entered, an employee handed out cups of sparkling wine. ''I love it here,'' Reubens said.

It was a midsummer afternoon, and he was taking a break from the editing of ''Pee-wee's Big Holiday,'' the first Pee-wee Herman movie in 28 years, which will have its premiere in March on Netflix. Reubens, who is 63, wore a nondescript outfit that struck a compromise between aging Angeleno scenester and high-school math teacher: loose¬fitting jeans bunched at the ankles; leather walking shoes; baggy black T-shirt; Casio calculator watch; large sunglasses that fit directly over his rimless eyeglasses. Reubens's hair was, like Pee-wee Herman's, buzzed short and, unlike Pee-wee's, graying in places.

We began our Walgreens tour in the vast liquor department, moving from there to its cosmetics aisles, where he took great pleasure in showing me that, in order to see the prices, you had to raise hinged cardboard panels, as if you were reading an enormous children's flap book. We lingered at a display devoted to ''As Seen on TV'' products, by far the most Pee-wee-ish part of the store. There were trompe l'oeil stretch pants made to resemble denim. There were fitted slip-on garments called Sleevey Wonders, designed for those who wished to wear sleeveless dresses while covering their arms. Reubens read aloud from another box with glee: ''Suzanne Somers's 3-Way Poncho!'' The three ways were ''professional,'' ''casual'' and ''dressy.'' At the Walgreens, it turned out, magic was everywhere.

One constant of Reubens's life has been his abiding affection for the inanimate. As a kid, born in Peekskill, N.Y., and reared in Sarasota, Fla., he showed his action figures great reverence, taking care never to leave them facedown between play sessions. Early in Pee-wee's existence, on nightclub stages and in delirious David Letterman segments, Reubens centered his routines on bags and boxes from which he plucked strange toys, perplexing inventions, novelty apparel and lovingly curated pieces (''A Batman credit card!'') of capitalist flotsam. ''I didn't have jokes, and I wasn't good at improvising,'' Reubens said. ''I was good at mugging and finding weird stuff.'' This continued on ''Pee-wee's Playhouse,'' Reubens's smash children's show, which ran on Saturday mornings for five seasons in the '80s and ranks as a work of auteurist genius to rival ''The Sopranos'' and ''Mad Men'' and other commonly feted - not to mention more dour - landmarks of scripted television. In the playhouse, anthropomorphized food cavorted inside Pee-wee's refrigerator, the armchair gave out hugs and even the windows and floors were puppets with plenty to say. During his down time, Reubens engaged in thrift-store binges he likened to acts of rescue, filling his house, and several storage lockers, with salvaged treasure. About a decade ago, he vowed to stop: ''I said, Maybe I can just get flat stuff that's easy to store, like postcards, so I bought those for about a week, and then I said, No. Enough.'' But he has broken this oath more than once, retaining a taste for bootleg and handmade Pee-wee souvenirs - imperfect artifacts of strangers' love and of his once-epochal popularity.

Reubens's relationship to the success he achieved is, to put it mildly, conflicted; he's both deeply warm and deeply guarded, and even before his fame gave way to infamy after his 1991 arrest on charges of indecent exposure, he weighed his ambition to reach ever-bigger audiences against the high premium he put on privacy. The decision to bring me to a chain drugstore was, in part, an act of deflection, but even so, our visit took a few autobiographical swerves. Leaving the Sleevey Wonders, we entered a section marked Wound Care. ''Where is it, where is it?'' Reubens asked, growing suddenly agitated as he scanned the shelves. ''Where's, um, like, stop-bleeding stuff?'' he asked a clerk, who led him to the right place. He snatched up a product called WoundSeal. ''This is stuff that my mom showed me, and as soon as she did, she cut herself, and I got to use it: You tear open this little packet, pour it on the cut and it stops immediately. So instead of going to the emergency room, or dying, you put this on.'' He flipped the box over to show me that, like Reubens himself, WoundSeal came from Sarasota. ''I have this in my car right now,'' he said.

Reubens drifted away from Wound Care and arrived at a rack of tourist junk: Walk of Fame shot glasses; vinyl Clippers purses. He considered these, then nodded upward, toward the fluorescent lights. ''There are apartments upstairs - wouldn't it be amazing to live here?'' he said. ''You'd never have to leave.''

Pee-wee is, by now, a decades-old, decades-absent oddball, and yet he does not register as dated because Reubens designed him, from the jump, as untethered to any one moment in time. Arriving in the thick of the Reagan '80s, ''Playhouse'' offered a funhouse-mirror vision of the Eisenhower-era United States that Reubens grew up in - its excess, its materialism, its hypocrisy, its racism, its hairstyles - with an added slathering of Los Angeles punk. (Gary Panter, who designed the famous ''Playhouse'' set, used to draw for the fanzine Slash and made crude fliers for bands like Germs.) Reubens didn't attack '50s conventions, though, so much as revise and exaggerate them. ''I saw it as very Norman Rockwell,'' Reubens says, ''but it was my Norman Rockwell version of the '50s, which was more all-inclusive.'' Actors of color dominated the cast, among them Laurence Fishburne and S. Epatha Merkerson. ''The King of Cartoons was black!'' Reubens says. ''Not just anybody. The king! That came out of growing up in Florida under segregation. I felt really good about that.''

''Playhouse'' flouted repressive ideas about sexuality too, in a sly way that still feels fresh. Almost from the moment Reubens became famous, cultural-studies scholars, feminist writers and queer theorists seized upon and celebrated this quality: In 1988 the academic journal Camera Obscura devoted a chunk of its May issue to essays analyzing Pee-wee. In The Village Voice 15 years later, the cultural critic Richard Goldstein hailed Reubens as an emblem of ''anarchic queerness.'' One of the greatest achievements of ''Playhouse'' was that it created a place where desires are not policed, otherness is not demonized, gender roles are juggled and erotic energies attach where they will: Pterri the Pterodactyl ogles Miss Yvonne's breasts, Conky the robot enjoys a robot-nudie magazine, Pee-wee play-acts a date with Cowboy Curtis. In one ''Playhouse'' episode, a monster named Roger appears, scaring the Playhouse dwellers; Pee-wee fixes him a snack and strikes up a friendship. In another, Pee-wee loves a fruit salad so much he marries it, ceremony and all. Reubens told me, ''I've had so much feedback from people saying, 'I was so confused as a kid, and your show helped.' ''

Rewatching old episodes of ''Playhouse'' affirms Pee-wee's comic resilience. Reubens was ahead of his time in his breezily progressive handling of identity politics, which dominate the comedy we consider most relevant today, though his strategies were vastly different. On contemporary hits like, say, ''Broad City'' and ''Transparent,'' gender norms are explicitly and unapologetically assailed, whereas on ''Playhouse'' the sabotage was largely implicit. Because the show's more radical elements were refracted through - and secreted within - an upbeat, candy-colored atmosphere, ''Playhouse'' could be consumed and adored not only by those who ''got it'' but also by ''squares'' (not to mention their children, whom Pee-wee indoctrinated into a cult of extreme acceptance). Judd Apatow, who helped to shepherd ''Big Holiday'' into production, identifies this spirit, along with the ingenuity of Reubens's performance, as central to what he sees as Pee-wee's evergreen appeal, and to a new movie's viability. ''When I was younger, I didn't put my finger on why I liked Pee-wee so much - it just made me laugh,'' he told me. ''But looking back, it's a group of strange people who are having a great time and being really nice to each other, and as a slightly weird kid I must have understood that. I liked watching someone so different whom the audience loved. The idea that unique people were getting applause, that the crowd was going crazy for Pee-wee, made me feel you didn't have to be the football-team quarterback.''

Reubens has been plotting Pee-wee's big comeback for years. He wrote several scripts, appeared as Pee-wee in stray television cameos and amassed nearly two million Twitter fol¬lowers, for whom he posts pictures of gold-plated Slinkys and sleeping bags that resemble pizza. The most important step in this plan was the hit ''Pee-wee Herman Show,'' a stage production that Reubens mounted in Los Angeles in 2010, which led to a 10-week Broadway incarnation later that year. Reubens intended for these shows to drum up movie interest, and they did: Apatow saw a Los Angeles performance, and soon afterward he and Reubens formed a partnership.

Nonetheless, Reubens's desire to return remains in some tension with his bunker mentality - from the start, Pee-wee offered Reubens a way to transform into, and armor himself within, his own ventriloquist dummy; when Pee-wee grew popular enough to attract interviewers, Reubens often insisted on receiving them in character, and in the credits for Pee-wee projects the character was listed as played by ''Himself.'' The reason for this self-erasure, he explains, was that Pee-wee worked better if audiences believed he might be real, but the feint also let Reubens hide in plain sight. Between seasons of ''Playhouse'' - by which point Pee-wee had hosted ''Saturday Night Live,'' appeared on the covers of Rolling Stone and Life and released ubiquitous merchandise (T-shirts, action figures, magnets, windsocks) plastered with his face - Reubens took to growing his hair and wearing a goatee to go incognito: Peter Pan turned bus-stop drifter. ''I once went up to Steve Martin, whom I knew fairly well by that point, and said, 'Hey, Steve!' and he had no idea who I was,'' Reubens recalls. ''Finally he said, 'Wow, you're really lucky - you can go around unrecognized.' ''

Which made what came next feel all the more catastrophic. In July 1991, police arrested Reubens at an adult movie theater in Sarasota, where he was visiting his parents, and charged him with indecent exposure. The media, titillated as ever by the gap between public image and private behavior, seized on Reubens's distinctly un-Pee-wee-ish mug shot: the stringy hair, scruffy chin and white gym shirt of his off-set disguise. The arrest's afterlife, in tabloids and late-night monologues, was toxic, and even though Reubens had already ceased production on ''Playhouse'' (he says he intended a break from show business), CBS killed the final weeks of reruns, adding to the sense that the scandal torpedoed his career. ''I don't have any feeling about it at all that I want to share,'' he told me when I brought up the arrest. ''I don't really think about it - or I try not to.'' He paused. ''The only thing I'll say is that it was stupid not to do anything. I never spoke out. I just went and hid, and in hindsight - I mean, that was my true response, but I don't think it was smart - if I had to do it over again, I would figure out a way to get out there, talk about it, take control of it.'' When he disappeared, he took Pee-wee with him, camping out for a time at the New Jersey estate of the billionaire tobacco heiress Doris Duke, whom he'd befriended, and in the Hollywood Hills, among his funny things. (He has always denied the charges and entered a plea of no contest at the time to avoid trial.)
''Big Holiday'' represents, on some level, Reubens's attempt to refigure the events of 1991 once and for all as a mere footnote in Pee-wee's story, rather than its deflating coda. ''Part of the reason why I wanted to come back,'' he says, ''is that I didn't have a real good ending to my career.'' In the years since, he has delivered acclaimed supporting performances - in the ''Buffy the Vampire Slayer'' movie, ''Murphy Brown,'' ''30 Rock'' and Ted Demme's ''Blow,'' among other projects - but such work has felt minor compared with what he accomplished with Pee-wee, and a whiff of exile, self-imposed or otherwise, has long clung to Reubens. ''To be honest, there have been times when I've had a foot out of the business altogether, with no plans of continuing,'' he says.

''I think, for a while, it darkened him,'' Phyllis Katz, his old Groundlings instructor, says of the arrest's fallout. ''If you're an international star like he was, you have to keep a part of yourself for yourself - and something like this makes people think, incorrectly, Oh, that's who he really is.'' (This dynamic threatened to repeat itself in 2002, when Reubens was arrested on charges of possessing child pornography, which stemmed from his vast collection of vintage erotica and which were soon dismissed.) Certain artists might be tempted to explore and comment on such ordeals in their work, and there are moments when Reubens seems, obliquely, to do so. In his 2010 Pee-wee stage show, Mailman Mike reveals that he has been opening Pee-wee's correspondence - ''It makes us all safer, Pee-wee,'' he explains creepily. When I asked Reubens how this connected to his own experience with the obliteration of privacy, though, he said he didn't even remember the line. Pee-wee is ''probably'' a means for Reubens to plumb the recesses of his soul, he said, but not in any way he copped to being conscious of: ''You'd have to ask a psychologist.''

Reubens and Apatow first floated the idea of a Pee-wee revival to Universal and Sony, where Apatow has strong relationships, but both studios passed. ''Meanwhile they remade every other thing from the '80s,'' Reubens says. ''It was hard to see them remake 'The A-Team' and 'Dukes of Hazzard' and '21 Jump Street,' while I kept getting 'No, no, no.' '' The script, which Reubens wrote with the young comedian Paul Rust, languished. ''I don't know why,'' Reubens says. ''But when Universal passed on it, 'Bridesmaids' '' - another Apatow production - ''was in theaters making a lot of money, and it was hard not to think, Well, they just don't like me.'' Discussing this studio reluctance, Apatow says, ''It's been a lot of years since there was a hit Pee-wee Herman movie - but I always felt that, after the success of bringing back things like the Muppets and the Chipmunks, we'd be able to get somebody to make this movie.''

That somebody turned out to be Netflix. The production arm of the content-streaming service has become a reliable home for well-pedigreed comedy reboots - like ''Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp,'' the fourth season of ''Arrested Development'' and ''W/ Bob & David'' - that might seem too offbeat for more traditional avenues of backing and distribution. The company remains relatively unproven in the feature-film category, however; John Lee, the director of ''Big Holiday,'' surmises that it was partly for this reason that Netflix approved a budget of just under $30 million, on par with comedy budgets at big studios. ''They wanted to be sure that they weren't cheap,'' Lee jokes. (A burly, 30ish guy, Lee grew up a Pee-wee fan and was a creator of the mid-aughts MTV comedy ''Wonder Showzen,'' a demented mock children's show - far darker in its humor than ''Playhouse'' but with some Pee-wee in its DNA all the same.)
The movie they made is of a piece with other Pee-wee projects, each of which takes place in a world distinct from the others. In ''Big Adventure,'' Pee-wee lives in a suburban town and loves his bicycle; in ''Big-Top Pee-wee,'' he's a farmer in rural nowhere; in ''Playhouse,'' he inhabits a fantastical realm called Puppetland. The premise of ''Big Holiday'' is that Pee-wee, having suffered some unspecified trauma earlier in life, refuses to leave his hometown, where everyone knows and likes him. And yet he also feels inarticulably different from his fellow townspeople and yearns to escape. Pee-wee's stifled urge to bust out is drama-tized in a wonderfully bizarre opening dream sequence featuring a naked alien with six moist nostrils, and is ignited in his waking life when a motorcycle-riding hunk - the actor Joe Manganiello, from ''True Blood'' and ''Magic Mike''- rolls through town and inspires Pee-wee to embark on a cross-country pilgrimage. (If you wish to trace parallels here with the traumas, retrenchments and re-emergences in Reubens's career, they are available, but not belabored.)

Production on ''Big Holiday'' lasted 36 days. Last July, Reubens joined Lee and his editor, Jeff Buchanan, to fine-tune the scene in which Joe and Pee-wee first meet, at a diner. The two men bond over their shared fixation with the same uncommon candy (root-beer barrels), and Pee-wee makes Manganiello a milkshake. Decades in, Reubens retains his masterful, almost perverse, sense of comic timing. He distends certain beats you expect to whiz by, accelerates others you expect to linger and exerts precise control over his outsize character; his motions are clipped but surge with weird, spastic joy, and in the diner scene he makes a process as mundane as pouring milk over ice cream riveting. ''We trimmed down the shake-making,'' Lee told Reubens after the scene played through. ''You thought it was a little long. And we leaned on the two-shot more when you and Joe are in sync.'' Reubens told me that the root-beer-barrel motif is set up early in the movie: ''It's Pee-wee's favorite candy, and he has a little red-and-white straw that goes into the barrel. Then there's a red-and-white straw I put in the milkshake in this scene. Then later there's a dream sequence where Joe and I are jousting and our poles look like the straws.''

Reubens called the movie ''a bit of a bromance,'' then quickly added that he had qualms about that portmanteau's implications, Freudian straws notwithstanding. ''It's a movie about friendship, and 'bromance' is a way to take a friendship and put an undertone to it that's unnecessary,'' he said. (Reubens declined, as he has always done, to discuss his own romantic life on the record.) This was only partly convincing. One of the most enjoyable things about Reubens's work as Pee-wee has always been its abundant sexual innuendoes and double entendres - lines about what ''big feet'' mean, jokes about large tools concealed in repairmen's pockets, gags featuring suspiciously stimulating horsey rides. When I referred later to the homoeroticism of the straw joust, Reubens flashed a grin unmistakable in its mischievousness and replied, ''I have no idea what you're talking about.''

The context for such winks and nudges has always been an air of childlike innocence and a storybooklike narrative economy. Like ''Big Holiday'' and its road-trip premise, ''Big Adventure'' needed no plot machinery more elaborate than a nation-spanning hunt for a stolen bike; entire episodes of ''Playhouse'' rested on premises as wispy as ''It's raining.'' For Reubens, plots are excuses to pile up gags and set pieces. In his most famous moment, from ''Big Adventure,'' Pee-wee, in platform shoes, dances with manic verve to ''Tequila'' in a motorcycle bar. The scene's subtextual purpose, to the extent it has one, is to ratchet up and then dissolve the tension between dainty Pee-wee and the macho bikers: It barely registers that the sequence serves zero narrative function.

As Lee and Buchanan examined ''Holiday'' footage, a skin-colored strip of fabric was visible on the back of Reubens's neck; it was something like a tiny girdle, tugging excess flesh back from his sexagenarian jawline. This would eventually vanish in postproduction, thanks to digital retouchers whom Reubens had hired to pore over the film frame by frame. ''I feel I'm too old to be in a Pee-wee Herman movie without that,'' he explained. ''Pee-wee doesn't work, to me, with age mixed into it. So I knew I wanted digital retouching, and that was my biggest concern from the get-go, with Judd, when it came to budgeting, because it costs a fortune. I could have had a face-lift and we would have saved two million dollars.''

If Reubens often seems like a man out of time - his close association with the '80s; the way that, despite owning an iPhone, he still records personal reminders on Post-it Notes stuffed into his wallet - his age is a surprisingly poignant element of the new movie, and he was without vanity in discussing it. ''We're looking at so many images of myself on a giant screen and fixing them, and it's a buzzkill,'' he said. ''I'm not as limber as I was, I'm not as skinny, I don't have that energy, I don't have that body.'' He said that, when pitching the movie, he ''was constantly saying, Get Michael Cera in here to be Pee-wee. Do what they did with '21 Jump Street' and cast Jonah Hill instead of Johnny Depp.''
In the end, software intervened. Reubens called digital retouching ''a huge secret in Hollywood. People aren't really aware that stars have secret riders in their contracts'' stipulating that money will be devoted to preserving their youthful appearances with computers. ''I'm going to be forced to talk about it'' in television appearances promoting the film, Reubens said, because ''Pee-wee's not older in the movie, but I am.'' Lee agreed: ''I think it would be weird to ignore it. It's the elephant in the room.''
Reubens considered this and grimaced. ''One of the elephants.''

Sarasota, Fla., was the site of the worst moment in Reubens's public life, but his childhood there was happy - and the city ingrained in him his adoration of the offbeat. Sarasota had been the winter headquarters of Ringling Brothers, which meant that Reubens's childhood neighbors in¬cluded lion tamers, high-wire artists and little people. Eccentricity was the norm: He recalls hearing explosions boom from one property, where, it emerged, a family of human cannonballs lived. His parents, Milton and Judy Rubenfeld, owned a lamp shop; Milton was one of five founding members of the Israeli Air Force. ''My dad was real swaggery, like a Harrison Ford, Indiana Jones kind of guy,'' Reubens says. Milton died in 2004; Judy is 87. ''My dad was funny, my mother, too, and they were both do-gooder, let's-help-people types,'' Reubens said. ''They instilled that in their kids.'' In 1971, when Reubens's sister, Abby, became the first woman elected as class president at Princeton, The Times profiled her, noting that in high school she helped found a women's center and ''organized consciousness-raising sessions.''

Reubens's focus, from youth, has been on performance. His high-school history teacher, Lou Ann Palmer, recalled for me his ''phenomenal'' turn as Nathan Detroit in a school production of ''Guys and Dolls'' - evidence of a theatrical streak that carried into the classroom. ''I wouldn't call him a class clown; he was a comic,'' Palmer says. ''He would plan tricks and make the other kids laugh - not at him but with him. I loved it. Who laughs in history class?'' In addition to school musicals, Reubens performed in local theater, studied trapeze at circus camp, volunteered at the art museum and was a television fiend: Pee-wee descends from Captain Kangaroo, Pinky Lee, Howdy Doody and Rocky & Bullwinkle.

Pee-wee also owes debts to experimental theater, cabaret and the conceptual prankishness of the artist Allan Kaprow, whose Happenings Reubens discovered in the early 1970s when he enrolled in the theater program at California Institute of the Arts, where Kaprow taught. One of Reubens's friends there was Michael Richards, who went on to play Kramer on ''Seinfeld.'' Richards described the prevailing spirit at CalArts - where the faculty included artists like John Baldessari and Alison Knowles - as one of fecund transgression. ''On my very first day,'' Richards says, ''as an introduction to the faculty, there was a pool party, and everyone was naked. What school do you go to and see that kind of liberation?'' He recalls Reubens's seriousness when it came to doing character work. ''There was a student film where Paul wanted me to play his husband, and he played the wife and wore a dress. His performance wasn't pushed, it wasn't broad - he committed to it. He and I would talk about how a character's doing you, you're not doing the character.''

After graduation, Reubens changed his surname and rented an apartment in Echo Park, on the east side of Los Angeles. He conceived of Pee-wee as a jittery, joke-botching idiot savant, and his other creations at the Groundlings were similarly so-bad-they're-good entertainers. Among these were the ''syndicated Jewish cartoonist'' Moses Feldman, the Native American lounge act Jay Longtoe (the racial insensitivity of which Reubens came to regret) and a hokey sound-effects team named the Fabulous Betty and Eddy, whom Reubens developed with his fellow improviser Charlotte McGinnis: They mimicked leaky faucets and delivered dialogue in the style of old commercials.

''We all grew up with so much cheesy variety on television, and when we got into our 20s we said, Oh, my God, there's nothing organic happening here,'' says Phyllis Katz, of the Groundlings. ''We started making fun of it.'' She recalls Reubens coming up with Pee-wee Herman in one of her classes, before developing the character further with the troupe's founder, Gary Austin, who crucially lent Reubens his glen-plaid suit. ''Pee-wee sort of seemed like a gimmick, and that's what I was looking for,'' Reubens says. ''A simple thing to hang a bunch of stuff on.'' Pee-wee was an instant hit with audiences, and Reubens ditched his other characters; this, he says, angered his friend and fellow Groundling Phil Hartman, who was a writer on ''Big Adventure'' and an actor on ''Playhouse,'' and whose career, through ''Saturday Night Live'' in the '90s, featured an army of personas. Hartman, Reubens recalls, thought he was bowing to crass careerism and squandering his gifts. ''He hated that I was drilling into one character,'' Reubens says. Katz says that Reubens, ''unlike many of us, understood business. Getting your ducks in a row. He had head shots made for Pee-wee before anyone knew who he was!''

In the early days of Pee-wee, Reubens built a stage show at the Roxy that eventually attracted the attention of HBO, which broadcast a Pee-wee special in 1981. (The 2010 stage productions in New York and Los Angeles leaned on the same script.) Pee-wee appeared in interstitial segments on the fledgling MTV and as a favorite guest of David Letterman's. Amid the frequently cynical atmosphere of stand-up, Reubens saw how sweetness could be counterintuitively provocative: Working comedy clubs, he gave out pirate hats and deputized audience members to distribute candy. ''It was one of the greatest performances I've ever seen,'' says Apatow, who caught a Manhattan show.
Reubens's club buzz led to a contract for his first film, ''Big Adventure,'' which earned more than $40 million on a budget of $6 million and, in turn, led to ''Playhouse.'' There, Reubens revitalized Saturday-morning programming, a wasteland of cheap animated series that served mostly as glorified toy commercials, by discovering an aesthetic wormhole connecting late-night comedy and early-morning children's programming. The sensibility of stoned 20-somethings at midnight, he realized - marked by an unreasonable love of repetition, absurdity, narrative disjuncture and jokes that either last way too long or flit by in a short-attention-span-accommodating blink - had significant overlap with that of little kids in pajamas, laughing themselves silly over breakfast cereal. ''Those are the times of the day when there aren't rules,'' Reubens said of morning and night, standing as they do in idiosyncratic opposition to the more conventional prerogatives of the prime-time dial. ''Rules are for the other times.''

One day in Burbank, I met Reubens at a recording studio where he was scheduled to do some voice-over work. As ''Big Holiday'' was winding its way toward completion, he was keeping busy with other jobs. Steven Soderbergh had cast Reubens in a coming HBO project, and he had also booked multi-episode arcs as a guest actor on ''The Blacklist'' and ''Gotham.'' ''When it rains, it pours,'' he said happily.

Reubens was particularly excited about one bit of rainfall: NBC had ordered a pilot for what he hoped would become a brand new Pee-wee prime-time variety series. The pilot was supposed to be taped in October, and he was feeling good about its chances - ''It's one of the best things I've written'' - but in late September he called me to say that NBC had pulled the plug. He cited scheduling and budgetary issues, blaming the network and theorizing that the poor ratings of ''Best Time Ever With Neil Patrick Harris,'' a recently begun and rapidly canceled variety show, had weakened NBC's resolve. ''I'm better off in a situation where people are going to let me do what I want,'' he said, discussing the pilot's demise. ''I had such a lucky, fluky experience with the kids' show, where they never said anything, and I got spoiled.''

Reubens has influential champions - not just Apatow and Soderbergh, but also Todd Solondz, David O. Russell and Tina Fey, who have all cast him in projects. His C.V. also includes a list of credits for voice acting in dozens of cartoons and video games - roles with names like Screwy Squirrel, Bat-Mite and Gnome Ruler. It was a gig of this kind that took him to the Burbank studio: dialogue for a forthcoming Minecraft video game. Inside, an engineer worked a computer while a director, Khris Brown, patched in remotely and led Reubens through his 26 lines. He was to portray a villain named Ivor, who had an argument, and forged a tentative alliance, with the games' heroes.
The session lasted less than an hour. With each take, Reubens shifted emphasis and emotional inflection, offering up different flavors of ham here, unexpected subtlety there. In the darkened booth, hunched over his script with his reading glasses on and his arms crossed, Reubens appeared very small. For Ivor he mustered a voice not so different from that of his best-loved creation: antic, petulant, silly. ''Hey - these attacks are starting to feel a little personal!'' he cried. ''Hey! These attacks are starting to feel a little personal!'' he growled. If you closed your eyes, it was easy to imagine that Pee-wee himself had burst into the room, engaged in some nonsensical game of repetition and that it was him, not Reubens, mouthing every line.

Jonah Weiner is a contributing writer for the magazine and a contributing editor at Rolling Stone. His most recent article was about the future of Comedy Central in the post-TV era.



10. Alice Eve Cohen, FF Alumn, in Tempe, AZ, Feb. 19-20

Alice Eve Cohen will be a guest author and faculty at the Desert Nights Creative Writing Conference, Feb 19-20 in Tempe, Arizona, where she will teach 3 workshops:
"Writing With All Five Senses"
"One Story, Two Points of View: Writing from Multiple Perspectives"
"Writing Monologue: How Language Defines Character"



11. Carolee Schneemann, FF Alumn, at Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria, Queens, Feb. 21

Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria, Queens

Dear Friends, I'd be delighted if you could join me!

Infinity Kisses
Screening & Live Event
Mysteries of the Pussies: The Cat Films of Carolee Schneemann
Sunday, February 21, 2:00 p.m.
Add to my calendar Buy Tickets

With Carolee Schneemann in person
Please note: This program contains sexually explicit material
Mysteries of the Pussies (1998-2010, 5 mins.), Infinity Kisses (2008, 9 mins.), Kitch's Last Meal (1973-76, 54 mins.), Fuses (1964-66, 30 mins.) "The intimacy between cat and woman becomes a refraction of the viewers' attitudes to self and nature, sexuality and control, the taboo and the sacred," wrote Carolee Schneemann, the pioneering film and performance artist whose films often include her cats. Mysteries of the Pussies is based on a performance that incorporates images of the artist's cats and her research on the various implications of the word "pussy." Infinity Kisses was made from a series of color slide "selfies" of Schneemann kissing her cat, made over an eight-year period. Kitch's Last Meal is a condensed version of an epic double-screen diary film featuring Schneemann's beloved cat, who also played a supporting role in Fuses, a classic avant-garde film capturing Schneemann's lovemaking with her partner James Tenney.
Tickets: $12 ($9 for senior citizens and students / free for members at the Film Lover level and above). Order tickets online. (Members may contact members@movingimage.us with any questions regarding online reservations.)



12. Nancy Azara, FF Alumn, at Soho20 Gallery, Brooklyn, Apr. 8

Friday, Apr 8, 2016 from 6 - 8pm
(RE)PRESENT 2016: A Feminist Dialogue Across Generations.
Soho20 Gallery, 56 Bogart Street, Brooklyn, NY 11206 (718) 366-3661
"Intergenerational Online Platforms - Exchange for Feminist Discussion and Communication"
Iris, the Greek Goddess of the Rainbow is associated with communication, messages, the rainbow and new endeavors. In this meeting, we will share online resources (social forums, blogs, etc.) and communication techniques for discussing feminism in online communities. As younger generations grow up with forums online, this has become very important for feminist discourse.
(RE)PRESENT 2016, what do we want from Feminism and how can we achieve it? Continuing in the tradition of the New York Feminist Art Institute, NYFAI (1979-1990) www.nyfai.org. An event of The Feminist Art Project. Everyone is welcome. For more information and upcoming events visit http://www.nyfai.org/currentactivities.html

Best regards,



13. Jacki Apple, FF Alumn, in Fabrik Magazine Issue #30, now online

Jacki Apple writing in newest issue of Fabrik Magazine Issue # 30
https://issuu.com/fabrik/docs/fabrik30?e=1031955/3670505 page 96-101

Journeys to Heaven and Hell features F.F. alum and L.A. performance star John Fleck's Blacktop Highway at REDCAT in Los Angeles. and Japan's leading Butoh company Sankai Juki, Umusuna- Memories Before History at Royce Hall, Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA

Performance and the Art of Conversation features Vortex Temporum the latest work in the Rosas series begun in 1982 by Flemish choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker at Royce Hall, Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA
Also FF alum the late Rachel Rosenthal's Tohubohu! Extreme Theater Ensemble http://www.rachelrosenthal.org

Thank you.




14. Halona Hilbertz, FF ALumn, at Poppers Locarno, Brooklyn, Feb. 19

Come on out to the speakeasy!
Fetzig and our friends Um will be playing poppers locarno this Friday.
Uppermost NE corner of Bushwick. Right by the subway L stop Halsey Street. Free!!!

Friday February 19
11 - Fetzig
12 - Um

x, Halona

poppers locarno
1563 Decatur, corner Wyckoff (look for the little sign at the corner door)



15. China Blue, FF ALumn, at Norman Prince Neuroscientists Institute, Providence, RI, and more

Artist in Residence at Norman Prince Neuroscientists Institute, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, RI
China Blue has been named the Artist-in-Residence for a 2 year appointment at the Norman Prince Neurosciences Institute, at the Rhode Island Hospital. For the residency she is working with Dr. Peter Snyder to develop 3D prints of Amyloid Plaques the cause of Alzheimer's and Ocular blood vessels a possible early stage identifier of Alzheimer's. She is also working with Dr. Daniel Dickstein to explore the therapeutic use of MindDraw to help people with attention. At the end of the residency she plans to create an exhibition of works made during the residency.


AC Institute
February 16th 6:00-9:00 AC Institute, 16 E 48th St, New York, NY 10017
China Blue will be presenting a one night performance of "MindDraw."

China Blue
Founding Director, The Engine Institute, Inc.



16. Barbara Rosenthal, FF Alumn, at Waterloo Action Centre, London, UK, Feb. 27 and more

Barbara Rosenthal, FF Alumn, is in London now to create the mediated performance Ultraviolet Sun with Tom Estes and other London artists at the WAC Waterloo Action Centre, 14 Baylis Rd London SE1 7AA, on Feb 27th at 6pm. Sponsored by MoMM: The Museum of Modern Media.


Barbara Rosenthal in Berlin now, is having a finnisage of her solo show of 50 fotos from between the chapters of her new novel WISH FOR AMNESIA at Studio Baustelle, Berthelsdorfer-str 11 in the Neukolln district, 8-10pm. At 10pm she will read a chapter, and sign copies, and has invited Berlin writers to read their works as well. Her show opened Feb 12, and may be viewed off-hours or you may join the readings, by emailing eMediaLoft At g mail dot com. And see display ad in this month's ArtForum! More info: infoAtStudio-BaustelleDotOrg



17. Penny Arcade, FF Alumn, current events

Penny Arcade is touring her two time Edinburgh Award winning show Longing Lasts Longer in Australia

From February 12 to April 6th


Penny Arcade Longing Lasts Longer Adelaide Fringe Festival

Brisbane Powerhouse


Also Melbourne Comedy Festival


Hobart Tasmania

Sydney Giant Dwarf April 6th -16th



18. Lucio Pozzi, FF Alumn, at allerArt, Bludenz, Austria, opening Feb. 25

Luca Matti - Lucio Pozzi
26 February - 3 April 2016
opening Thursday 25 February
Raiffeisenplatz 1
A-6700 Bludenz, Austria

In this two-person exhibition I am installing a scattering of recent Diffraction paintings. Their colors dialogue with the Black and White works by Luca Matti. The Diffraction paintings are small works on board I started about 4 years ago. In each I improvise adding freely and attentively brushed demi-gloss acrylic areas onto a ground of matte 'flashe' vinylic gouache. The image is divided horizontally in two fields separated by a sharp edge. Each field is interrupted by one or two marks obtained by painting over a narrow masking tape line, the removal of which reveals a bar of the same color as the ground's. The lines don't meet, yet respond to one another. The lines become bodies while the ground is space. The infinite variations offered by this simple format have led me to ceaselessly return to the theme every so often.



19. Annie Berman, FF Alumn, at MoMA, Manhattan, Feb. 20 and more

Utopia 1.0: Post-Neo-Futurist-Capitalism in 3D!. 2015. USA.
Directed by Annie Berman.
20 min.

As the sun begins to set on the once-bustling online pseudo- reality Second Life, filmmaker Annie Berman sends her avatar in to investigate the decline of this utopian world.

For more information and tickets please visit

My best,



Goings On is compiled weekly by Harley Spiller