Thursday after work I was under-dressed for the cold-ish weather but still hustled over to Paul Kasmin gallery to see Kenny Scharf's opening. It was fantastic, and warmed me up. I just love Kenny Scharf's work (like duh), the new show is giving me some retro club-night Abstract Expressionist, Pop-Art-You-Can-Actually-Feel-Good-About effects. A perfect pick-me-up. I didn't spend a whole lot of time in the show, I must say. Not that I didn't enjoy it or that the work doesn't bear long periods of gazing. I had to go and I feel like I was getting recharged or something. I plan to go back and look at it again. Totally cool and highly recommended. Funny and fun, I can't unravel the connection between Scharf's visual output as a Fine motherfucking Artist and his joyfully chaotic nightclub organizing. It informs my experience of the work.
I guess I've seen some stuff and been to some parties. I often think of myself as more or less totally uninformed and illiterate, so it's nice when I have the opportunity to remind myself of the context I'm actually working with. I ran downtown to my Analyst's office and talked about that old chestnut of how I blame myself for the fact that sometimes people treat me in a weird way. Like, people often tell me they have dreams about me. I'm not bragging. We all have dreams about everybody, it's pretty normal. What my beef is is that I actually pretty much remember my dreams and really wish I did, so I feel fucked up being in other people's dreams instead of my own. I think sometimes people treat me in a way that's kind of a projection of their own stuff (again, not bragging, we all do it). I do wonder though if I'm somehow subconsciously inviting this from people, or encouraging people to treat me a certain way which I then come to resent. Like, my whole thing is let me be a real person. I'm like Pinocchio in a world full of wooden puppets. People don't get me. Some people don't. There's no controlling these things, I guess. The conclusion I always have to come to and to broadcast to the world is that, despite everything, you're probably not responsible for the way the world treats you. I need to remind myself that it's not my responsibility.
And I get the whole thing of making it your project to DETERMINE your fate. Like, decide for yourself. Make the world take you seriously and give you want you demand. That's a nice thought but unless you're Napoleon it won't work forever and then even then you lose. Worrying about getting what you deserve is a way to live a miserable life. let yourself off the hook. Whatever. I came home from my Analyst and I cooked a really gigantic meal of tempeh and it felt really appropriate somehow. Epic, like creating something big and nourishing in place of understanding my feelings. I am totally fine with that as a stopgap solution. If I can't understand my feelings then I am totally fine feeding myself in the meantime.
Friday I went to BAX to see RoseAnne Spradlin's showing of a new work she's been making, studies for disappearence. It features this song which has been stuck in my head all weekend. Did you know Barbara Lewis was a) still alive b) still sounds amazing and c) wrote her own songs, including this one? A digression.
I've actually never seen Roseanne's work performed live before. I'd only read about it and seen clips online. I've enjoyed getting to know her at BAX, as she's very nice, smart and seems really clued-in. Her work was fucking amazing. I am often kind of flummoxed by what I perceive to be challenging or "real" dance work. i feel like I don't have the vocabulary, and therefore also lack the basic human facility to understand or respond to dance in the way it deserves to be engaged with. But whatever, studies for disappearence hit me on a few different levels, really strongly. I was surprised, I got scared, I was touched. I got bored for like one second, and was swiftly snapped back into the performance the very next second. The pacing, the precision, the fucking complexity of the movements, scenography, theme, etc. were really inspiring. Watching how the elements of the show seemed to come together and interact made me really excited. And then to watch the elements of the work slowly shift in relation to one another. It was like watching someone doing a really amazing magic trick; it seemed kind of unbelievable and kind of obvious but both at the same time. Really awesome. I feel like a total fool for having missed her show last fall and will make it a point to see her work whenever I possibly can. I think you ought to, too.
Saturday I got up extra early, went to the gym and listened to lots of Stereolab (preconscious, and yet yearning for my right brain), watered the houseplants, forgot to eat breakfast, and was blessed with a visit by the ever lovely Miss Jiddy No-No. She's finishing up her first year in grad school, and I'm absolutely salivating to see her new work. She said she's been working a bit more painterly, and on clear cellophane, so a bit of a departure from the Utopian drawing/paintings I fell so much in love with last year. I am urging her to register with the Bushwick open studios this year so we can see her work. I hope she does!
We went gallery hopping in Chelsea. Jiddy's the best person to go with cuz she has good taste and is super smart (but not a snob) and also seems to know what's on view and where everything is. Also she has good snack ideas all the time. Kinda a perfect buddy? The first thing we saw was Mark Dion's "Drawings, Prints Multiples and Sculptures" at Tanya Bonakdar. Which I liked but not too much. I don't know. I'm so rarely in the mood to be wowed in that way? There were totally pieces (or collections) I liked in and of themselves, which seems entirely antithetical to the show. This collection below was my favorite because it looks like a mixture of sex toys and those cool plastic rubber balls I use in the dryer instead of dryer sheets.
The collections and installations were probably my favorite parts. There's a ton of drawings upstairs which I did enjoy as well, but only about half. half of the drawings, individually, were pithy, dark little maps or graphs of ideas, which I liked a lot. The other half, a whole room of line drawings, seemed a bit too cutesy for me. It felt, as Jids noted, a little Wes Anderson-y. And I like Wes Anderson, I guess I just don't want to be lulled all the time. Some of the work disposed with such niceties and I felt appropriately called-upon by those. Give it to me straight, you know? Sometimes you want to be slapped in the face instead of hearing someone apologize for wanting to slap you in the face. It's rare, but it's there.
Mountains and Sea
Next we went over to see the Helen Frankenthaler exhibit "Painted on 21st Street: Helen Frankenthaler from 1950-1959" at Gagosian. Frankenthaler is obviously great, you cannot fuck with her. I wish I had more to say on that score. I think of Helen Frankenthaler as not unlike Unwound versus Sonic Youth, where Unwound was the West Coast version, slightly less intellectual but probably better in many ways. The type of thing where if I spent the time getting into it (I do) I'd probably find I prefer it. Frankenthaler is like that but with American painting, right? It's this thing that's kind of too iconic for its own good, it gets in the way or how and why it works. Anyway I'm totally smitten, it's a sprawling and wonderful show and definitely makes me feel very old and unproductive and as if I've wasted my youth. Which, I think, good art ought to do. It ought to be the domain of a kind of good art, to lovingly push that existential crise button. That's what we need it for. So, thanks, Helen!
And then hey: speaking of art that makes you feel bad, we went over to see the new piece by Miroslaw Balka at Gladstone Gallery. It's called "The Order of Things" and it's a monster. It's pretty, but it's huge and loud and imposing and sort of mean.
The Order of Things
I definitely didn't think we were allowed to sit on that little wood pedestal. I thought it was like an altar. No matter, I didn't really want to sit and beautifully contemplate the piece. I mean: it works, it's great. But it's unpleasant. It's not meditative. It's kind of oppressive, it dares you to sit peacefully and ponder one's mortality and the life cycles of the natural world, decay, waste, etc. That's all well and good, but it's really fucking loud. That is, I imagine, the point, I thought it was cool. We spent some time circling it, talking about it, and then escaping it.
We went over to the BLACK CdG store where I got the new fragrance that just came out. Like you knew I would.
I've been wearing the CdG3 scent since I bought it last summer on my birthday and it's basically empty now. Since they've stopped making my favorite perfume (the Series Six Synthetic ones) I wanted to try this new one. I'm so obsessed with the BLACK CdG concept (classics but cheaper, somehow optimistic, an evolution of their guerilla store project). The perfume is great, a little weirder and butch-er than I would normally like to be. Kind of woodsy and masculine and mean. I like it. I feel put-together. Assembled. It may not be pretty, but there you do.
I stopped off at home after our epick Chelsea adventure to get changed and then high-tailed it over to Dixon Place to see Joseph Keckler's brilliant new show "I am an Opera". I went into it as a fan so I gotta say that I'm biased. I just adore Joseph's work. He brings a tremendous set of technical skills (as a writer, an actor, and a fucking SINGER) to a really complex, subtly gorgeous script. I had seen tiny bits and pieces of some of the songs surface in past performances, but they were barely recognizable here. His work is newly pared-down, slick, muscular. It was taut and tense and spare and really wonderful. The ending song was especially gorgeous, and his three curtain calls were the least we could do. Not a dry seat in the house. It's playing weekends throughout April at DP so you should definitely go see it.
I had a lot, too much even, fun hanging out in the Dixon Place lounge after the show with dear heart Erin Markey and Max Bernstein, chatting with bartendrix Damon and cutting loose. I had so much fun but I was so tired! Look at this photo Erin took of me. Look how tired I look.
That is a boy who needs a nap. For no reason. I slept the night before. I used my apparent exhaustion as an excuse to blow off not one but three different parties I was supposed to go to on Saturday night. I spent all my energy loving Joseph from the audience and drinking and telling jokes with my friends. So sue me. I'm going out tonight, and actually almost every night this week. So that'll be okay. Maybe I shouldn't count it as going out. I'm just rehearsing my show, but it feels like going out because it's fun and exciting and I don't get home until late. And I'm always starving. Tonight I'm actually going out though.
Sunday I walked over the Williamsburg bridge listening to old Taja Sevelle songs and really feeling relaxed and joyful and windblown. Yikes. I was supposed to get a haircut but it got postponed, which is okay (these things happen) and was sort of glad to have the day off to myself. I walked for hours and hours. I went to the Artists Space book sale and contemplated buying million things but ultimately left empty-handed. I went to the Sadie Benning show at Callicoon Fine Arts in the evening.
It was called War Credits and in addition to the film, there were some painting/installations as well. It was great, deceptively complex. Cerebral and guttural. Let's go there. Sadie Benning's work is so cool; I always think things are kind of going in this one facile way, pulling my dumb Californian blonde art appreciation routine, and then I realize what's going on in the video, or why something looks the way it does, and I have to remember how the world is infinitely more nuanced than I think. Benning's work usually forces me to shut up for a second, take a step back, and think for a minute about what I'm seeing. Isn't that fantastic?
Tonight I am going straight from work to the BAX studio to work on my show after having taken a ludicrously long break from the piece. And then going home to change. And then going to Hotel Chantelle for Earl Dax' birthday party. I'm excited / exhausted. Here we go.