Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Give the Pouple What They Want

Recent polling efforts suggest that people prefer cute puppy pictures to bitter addled art criticism, so in the interests of capitulating to the lowest common denominator, I herewith proffer these two photographs: Above: first shot of Portfolio, flanked by Diesel and Phoebe Couture. Below, Portfolio attempts the Whippet Power salute in mid-gallop. Behind him, L-R are Chloe, harbinger of Death (note the scythe-like ear, and the "go into the light" effect), Diesel and Phoebe Couture. These photos were taken at Dr. Suzy's Whippet Emporium on Nov 4th.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Most Whatever of Whenever

"I have to start this listmaking thing by putting aside a few categories. First, the favorite things I’ve already written about this year for L.A. Weekly – The Center for Land Use Interpretation’s “A Trip to the Dump” bus tour; Martin Kersels’ “Heavyweight Champion” at Santa Monica Museum; Amanda Ross-Ho’s “Half of What I Say Is Meaningless” at Cherry and Martin; China Adams’ “Flights of Fancy” at Steve Turner; Peter Saul’s OCMA retrospective; Kippenberger’s “Problem Perspective” and “Allen Kaprow” at MOCA; “California Video” at the Getty, and so on (at this point I don’t want to look at art, let alone write about it, unless it rocks my world).

There’s also the favorite things I can’t write about – M.A. Peers at Rosamund Felsen Gallery because I’m hitched to the artist; the Third Annual LA Weekly Biennial “Some Paintings” at Track 16 and “Aspects of Mel’s Hole: Artists Respond to a Paranormal Land Event Occurring in Radiospace” at Grand Central Art Center because I curated them; Scotty Vera’s “Eat This” at Track 16 because I hooked it up; “Untidy: The Worlds of Doug Harvey” at Los Angeles Valley College because I was the subject – just being honest here; one as aesthetically evolved as myself must operate from a place beyond both false modesty and false pride alike, and anyone who says they aren’t more interested in their own work than that of others is either feeble-minded or unfit for their job.

What’s left is a mishmash of shows I’d like to have written about, books and other pop media artifacts, and other remarkable stuff that fell through the cracks.

Jeffrey Vallance’s awe-inspiring Track 16 installation honoring the 30th anniversary of the interment of grocery store–bought Blinky the Friendly Hen at the Los Angeles Pet Cemetery. The “life-size” Blinky Chapel contained dozens of artifacts from a replica fryer lying in state to elaborate reliquaries featuring bone fragments from the 1988 exhumation and forensic analysis of Blinky’s remains. Even a bad joke becomes transcendent if you keep telling it long enough, and Blinky was no bad joke. Snag the limited-edition catalog reprint, bumper sticker and Frisbee — a sound investment in these spiritually shaky times."

Read the rest of Mixed Media 2008 (except for that second paragraph) here, or ATJ

Pictured: David McDonald's UN 2008; Scottie Vera's Autobody Experience 2007; Jeffrey Vallance's Blinky Trifecta 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Shawsaulbrown Sausage

"Curating isn’t always as easy as it looks. It’s rare to find a group of concurrent solo projects that genuinely complement one another — just because two artists happen to use images of trees or refer to cartography or have Photoshop doesn’t necessarily mean their work will have anything more than a superficial verbal resemblance. Museums regularly stumble over this sort of literalism in spite of their long-term scheduling and art-historical resources, and commercial gallerists — with their relatively fast turnover and propensity for attention-grabbing sound bites — are particularly prone.

Which is why, when a triple whammy like the current lineup at Patrick Painter crops up, it’s worth looking a little deeper. On the surface, Jim Shaw, Peter Saul and Glenn Brown seem like an almost arbitrary selection from the gallery’s stable — artists from three distinct generations, two of whom work at opposite ends of the U.S., while the third hails from another continent altogether. L.A.-based Shaw works promiscuously across the media spectrum, from highly rendered figuration to abstract video, while recently ensconced Manhattanite Saul is strictly a painter’s painter. Londoner Brown is also an old-school painter as far as materials go, but his near-obsessive appropriationism (which landed him in legal hot water with one of the science-fiction illustrators from whom he cribbed) lies at the opposite pole from Saul’s seething pop expressionism.

Maybe appropriation is the key? “That’s not really a factor with Peter,” says Shaw, whose own works are frequently chock-a-block with obscure pop-culture references, “and I’m not exactly an appropriator in the way that Jeff Koons or Glenn are. I do occasionally utilize something that somebody else did. But not in a direct way where the appropriation is important to it. For example, I’m thinking of taking pictures of children similar to the ones in these Christian calendars — often I’ll set up a photograph that looks similar to the preexisting things that inspire me, which is a somewhat different action from Glenn.”

Read the rest of Agree to Dis here.

Images: Untitled Scribble (Magician); Wooden Heart; Real Estate Agent Going Crazy - all works 2008

See the shows at Patrick Painter through Jan 10.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Sudden Flurry of Whippets

Apart from disassembling my show and keeping up with writing chores and waterproofing my outdoor stashes of raw Flash Fudd materials, things have been extra hectic due to the recent addition of two 12-week-old whippet puppies to our household. The whole litter turned out to be fluish and unable to keep food down, so we had to spend Monday night at Dr Suzy's nursing them back to health. Pictured are Portfolio's star turn at the All-whippet Mini-Westminster; Chloe with a biscuit (or piece of a tree or something); Nigel and Portfolio in a tableau of now-unlikely intimacy; Chloe - and then Portfolio and Chloe - this afternoon checking out the Mayberry schoolyard. Chloe's a chick with one disqualifying blue eye, Portfolio's a dude who likes to wear Chloe's pink sweater, and we support him in his lifestyle decision.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A New Spin on an Old Chestnut

I had to buy a memory card reader to finally get my video of Nic Waterman's l'il gig at the Echo Curio off my Canon Powershot, onto the computer, and finally up on youtube. But given the seasonal nature of this song -- his creepy detournee of 'My Favorite Things' performed in October at Echo Curio (partly in response to seeing 'St. Sebastian Doubting Thomas Singing Nun' - my own creepy detournee of 'My Favorite Things' included in my retrospective at LAVC- video TK), it had to be done.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Outsider Holiday Music Again

I had a request elsewhere to re-upload these compilations of unusual seasonal recodings (songpoems, celebrities, novelty, developmentally different, amateur, etc) so I thought I'd offer them here as well.

"You may order your pastels from Alaska,
Imported, as the Igloo, in review"
- Evelyn Christmas (songpoem, Vol 2 track 4)

Download Outsider XMAS Vol 1
Download Outsider XMAS Vol 2

Tracklists in Comments

As my invitation to the LA WEEKLY 30th anniversary festivities on Saturday night seems to have been lost in the mail, I wound up attending the much more exclusive Dr. Suzy All-Whippet Mini-Westminster in Agoura Hills (pictures to follow) with MA & Nige. Stopping by Echo Park on the way home, we ran across the above (from across the lake) and below (creeping up on them) depicted cluster of ragged Cacophonic Santas, the dregs of what I understand to have been a jolly debauch. Ah, 90's nostalgia. One angry, pink mohawked S'antirchrist took offense to me taking their picture, demanding "Who are you with?!" "It's OK," I said. "I'm with Nigel."

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Dogs & Boy by Train to SF

I think this was in Merced. AKA negative space heaven.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Weird Hours and Moldy Slides

My solo retrospective, Untidy: The Worlds of Doug Harvey, closes next Wednesday, Nov 26th, just in time for Thanksgiving! However, many who have sought to amplify their imminent feelings of gratitude with an actual physical encounter with my parallel oeuvres have been frustrated by their assumption that the LAVC gallery operates on a typical gallery schedule. It does not. For starters it is NOT open Saturdays. Or Fridays. And Monday through Thursday they have the unusual schedule of being open between 11 AM and 2 PM, then closing until 6 PM, then reopening until 9 PM. So that's Monday - Thursday 11-2 & 6 - 9.

In related news, we've finally managed to book the LAVC art history lecture room for a screening of moldy slides, examples of which are included above and below. I've been showing a selection of these around for a few years, but I recently began working on Rhizomatic Transmission - a completely new show, which was debuted at the Museum of Jurassic Technology with a live soundtrack by Mannlicher Carcano. I recorded the improvised soundtrack and borrowed the MJT's remarkable Bell & Howell Tandem-Matic slide projector, and now that we have the room booked we're good to go!

The slides were recovered about 5 years ago from a dumpster-bound pile outside the house of our local crazy hoarder dude who had apparently suffered an intervention of some sort, as bin after bin of moldering bric-a-brac kept finding its way to the curb over a period of months. I was able to resist the broken lamps and deflated soccer balls, but when several cardboard boxes filled with 35mm vacation slides (apparently originally acquired somewhere else - crazy hoarder dude wasn't actually in any of the pictures) I ceased to resist.

After discovering the remarkable visual properties of the disintegrating emulsion, I sorted the plain from the fungal, then washed and dried about 1000 mold-altered images, and began organizing them by relative fabulousness and pictorial intelligibility (notice the car in the lower right corner of the top image? My favorite.) The result was very satisfying - a stochastically linked collaboration between the original vacation photographer, crazy hoarder dude, the mold, and me - plus the found and improvised soundtrack elements.

Rhizomatic Transmission will be projected on Tuesday November 25th at 8 PM in Room 103 of the Art Building at Los Angeles Valley College, located near the corner of Fulton Ave and Oxnard Rd, at the NW corner of the LAVC campus. The gallery will be open between 6 and 9.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Heavy Rotations

"The first body of work presented in detail here actually takes a step back from the uncanny allegorical puppetry in favor of a cooler and more art historically–precise exploration of physicality. In his photodocumentation of various acts of tripping, falling, smacking, tossing and spinning — probably his best-known work — Kersels lays out an incremental, encyclopedic examination of the paradox of performance art’s cultural afterlife in the form of reproductions in magazines and books.

It is in this once-removed form that an aspiring performance artist comes to know the lineage of their chosen medium. Kersels’ decisive-moment framing of his staged traumas dovetails neatly with Performance’s wryly self-reflexive engagement with its own compromised evidence trail, particularly through his UCLA mentor Paul McCarthy’s 1968 action Leap, a re-creation of Leap into the Void (French trickster Yves Klein’s notorious 1960 purported self-defenestration whose documentation turned out to be a faked photograph which, at the time of his performance, McCarthy had never even seen.)

Added to this house of mirrors, Kersels’ cibachrome pratfalls ought to beg the question of authenticity. In truth, their sense of immediacy and spontaneity is belied by the lengthy photo sessions and elaborate editing involved — Kersels often selecting a couple of shots from scores taken by his wife, Mary Collins. And I have to admit that when I saw his black-and-white Falling photos in 1995 — the ones where you can’t see his feet — I suspected there might be some hidden structural support propping him up. But aside from those deliberate formal ambiguities, Kersels’ work manages to convey a sense of both high theatricality and militant authenticity.

It all comes down to the body. Gifted as he is in this area, Kersels has created work hinging on physical presence and/or absence since his days with XXXL 80s performance troupe Shrimps. What comes across most clearly in “Heavyweight Champion” is the progression from the doomy, goofy isolation of his early sculptural surrogates — works like Monkey Pod, MacArthur Park and the artist’s punching-bag clown as oceanless Buoy (1997–98) — to the more recent social work, like the handmade Foley art instruments for his Orchestra for Idiots (2005), which, if not exactly optimistic, leaves the possibility open for some kind of connection."

Read the rest of The Big Frame: The Other Martin K here.

These images have been modified for greater torqueleptic Angemessenheit. The middle image is not Paul McCarthy's 1968 Leap, which was apparently undocumented, but his 1972 work Face Painting-Floor, White Line.

"Heavyweight Champion" is on view at SMMOA through Dec 13.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Day Breaks

"I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea of paintings as mechanisms. I recently met the eccentric visionary artist Paul Laffoley, who insists that many of his two-dimensional mixed media works are, in fact, interactive devices capable of distorting local space-time – with a variety of effects including time travel, group telepathy, and contact with alien consciousness. Form follows function.

What really got me thinking along these lines are the recent paintings of Linda Day, whose elaborately composed 2003 digital glitchscape Pulse series I characterized at the time as “intricate stripe paintings saturated with the spectrum and perceptual idiosyncrasies of the Southern California landscape.” While these works still bear up to that reading as analogous representations of a localized sensorium, in retrospect they seem less illustrative, and more like – well, mechanisms.

Oddly enough, this interpretive shift was triggered by a reduction in the compositional complexity of the Pulse project, from the information superhighway boogie-woogie of the original 2004-2005 paintings to the striated freeze-frames of the recent Flesh and Between/Beyond series. The effect is similar to the cinematic special effect known as “Bullet Time” where a flurry of action is suddenly slowed down drastically, or frozen entirely, but the viewer’s perspective – as mediated by the camera of course – continues to move through the virtual pictorial space, allowing for careful detailed examination of events and processes that were previously only a heady blur.

Of course the key phrase there would be “as mediated by the camera,” which puts the finger on the point where these technologies of visualization diverge: at the exact juncture where the creative participation of the viewer becomes a possibility. For whatever special effects are being offered up by a painting – optical, pictorial, spatial, kinaesthetic, spiritual, what have you – depends enormously of the volition of the viewer to establish and maintain contact between the artifact in question and their own perceptual systems.

Much of Linda Day’s work is directed toward the activation of this co-creative feedback loop, and her aesthetic decisions can be traced in part to the gradual tweaking of the parameters of this relationship. The shift from the streaming grid of the first Pulse series (via passage through the architectonic Chime and Corona series) involved the disappearance of the hovering, interwoven vertical rectangular tab shapes which – while articulating the complex and ambiguous spatial characteristics of the horizontally striped “ground” – also suggested a horizontal (though not necessarily left-to-right) reading.

Although this quasi-informational signal pattern added a further layer of dimensional complexity to the already intricate and subtle effects created by the bands of luminous saturated color along which it was arrayed, it also triggered the narrative centers of the viewer’s mind as well. Hardwired (and continually conditioned) as we are to surrender ourselves to the most linear and teleological of entertainments, the prodding awake of our brain’s storytelling subroutine often has the effect of derailing less privileged and more contemplation-dependent modes of perception, persuading us that we have had a physical experience that we have not."

Read the rest of Kicking Away the Crutches in Bullet Time: Day’s Long Journey into Now in the catalog (and on the poster) available in conjunction with Day's solo exhibition at Jancar Gallery opening tonight, Sat Nov 8, 6-9 PM in Chinatown.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Pate 'n' Place

I've been doing more studio visits than I used to - sometimes for writing I want to do, and sometimes for the hell of it. A couple of months ago I visited Chris Pate's studio for the first time. Chris, whose work I included in Some Paintings, is one of the most underrated contemporary painters in LA.

Chris' subtly modulated 70's design-referencing abstractions have recently started incorporating more and more pictographic information ranging from his appropriated tourist souvenir scarves and vintage roadmaps to quotations from recent art history for example John Baldessari. Flyover -- Pate's current show at Chinatown-adjacent Jail Gallery -- includes Los Angeles pictured here, but the red Texas number above (my picture from the studio visit) didn't make the cut (Note: Chris has subsequently informed me that the Texas piece was in"State Line," his two-person show last year at Jail with Bill Kleiman.) Chris Pate's fusion of cartographic content and formalism grounds the transcendentalism of modernist abstraction in a net of local and historical specificities. But speaking of time and space, Saturday Nov 8th is the last day to see the show, so git on down.

"All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up."

Thursday, November 6, 2008

What's This Mess?!

Since the shredded but resuscitated Joe's Temper #26 seems to be the most popular piece in Untidy: The Worlds of Doug Harvey I figured my first actual post (!) concerning the show should be about it, and the Joe's Temper phenomenon in general. The Joe’s Temper series is based on a 1939 comic-strip style advertisement for Soft-Weve Waldorf brand toilet paper found in a romance magazine. This saga of spousal abuse and dysfunctional relationship healed through brand preference was first the basis of a series of improvised vocal compositions by the text-sound group Rainbow Chug Bandits, which eventually evolved into Mannlicher Carcano. Discrepancies between the textual content of the original and some of the language-based works are attributable to the fact that the earliest derivations were based on an off-register memory of the narrative and dialogue, which I had wandered around muttering to myself during the autumn of my first marriage.

A large number of JT works followed, including collages, prints, performances (including a collaborative chamber music piece with the group Gnu Music), a mail art campaign, the curation of a JT themed group show, and numerous paintings, including Joe’s Temper #26 and the modular, infinitely self-replenishing installation painting Joe’s Temper #31.

Friday, October 31, 2008

But what does it MEAN?

I had one of those incredibly elaborate cinematic dreams last night, some sort of Asian revenge/action movie with this really complex structure. It started with me as this aging musician helping this blind sculptor finish this big public artwork he had left unfinished years before, and there was a younger artist (who had his own story, pretty involved, that I don't remember) who didn't understand the background, so there's this flashback to when the sculptor wasn't blind, and he and I are attending some cultural conference at an enormous 70s style convention center, which is virtually empty but also seems to double as a poorly guarded armory for the military. The not-blind sculptor had to interrupt his work on the big unfinished sculpture to attend, and was already in a bad mood, but the bureaucratic niggling pushes him over the edge and he starts killing off the conference attendees. At first he does it surreptitiously, leaving a little monogram in blood - it's like an E or W - then he finds a cache of weapons and starts picking us off with a high-power rifle. I manage to avoid him and sneak up just as he's setting up some kind of futuristic laser weapon. I knock it over and the laser cuts across his eyes, blinding him. By then there are all these cops and military around, but in the chaos I manage to sneak him out. The funny thing is that I woke up at this point and my brain sort of compelled itself to shut down again so it could finish the story, circling back to the opening scene, the finished sculpture, and me playing the haunting theme music on some pan pipes made out of animal horns.

That's Zatoichi, the blind swordsman, pictured above.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

One Kippenberger with everything, for here

It's been a pretty hectic week what with the amazing Mel's Hole panel discussion, taking Nigel to the chiropractor and happening upon the nextdoor offices of the speech therapist who arranged for us to get him in the first place, trying to see Martin Kersels' show at ACME on Tuesday, booking Mannlicher Carcano's Gala 20th Anniversary West Coast Mini-Tour 2008, and assembling and installing my solo retrospective Untidy: The Worlds of Doug Harvey. More on that shortly, but now this:

"A sleazy trickster version of German multidisciplinary “social sculptor” Joseph Beuys, Martin Kippenberger seems to have been always on, treating all areas of his life as opportunities for creative disturbance — including everything from barroom brawls to, well, graphic design. When painters are annoyed by the deliberately confrontational awkwardness of Kippenberger’s oil paintings, I point out the formal elegance and spontaneity of his design — a formal elegance that underlies all of his work, no matter how superficially repugnant.

This is probably due to graphic design’s relative lack of academic baggage and vastly lower threshold for visual osmosis when compared to the Fine Arts of painting, drawing, sculpture and printmaking — to whose conventions Kippenberger regularly administered vigorous corrective debasement. Recent papal bulls concerning Fred the Frog notwithstanding (in early September, Pope Benedict reportedly condemned Kippenberger’s 1990 statue Feet First, which depicts the artist’s totem amphibian crucified but clinging to his mug of beer, and which is currently on display in the Italian city of Bolzano), it seems unlikely that any young folk are going to see anything more outrageous in the artist’s provocations than a catalog of the dominant experimental strategies of the last decade.

It may be less a question of influence than of prescience — Kippenberger’s relentless skepticism, globetrotting career, impatient and idiosyncratic social/political engagement, and refusal to disavow poetics and beauty (however stripped down or wonky) were all a few years ahead of the curve, but his reputation as a boozy, ridiculously macho troublemaker made him a difficult role model in the go-go ’90s. Many stylistic facets of his all-encompassing Euro-slackerism have since found their way piecemeal into the mainstream of contemporary art in the hands of more compartmentalized (and socially presentable) practitioners. But encountered as a totality, the singular stylistic innovations of his work become secondary to their unifying underlying identity as outbursts of creative insurgency — an example much harder to follow than, say, making funky furniture out of weird shit and calling it art."

Top to bottom: 1995 Track 16 Gallery Exhibition Silkscreen Print; 1990's Feet First (not in MOCA show);1987's 1st Prize painting.

Read the rest of Enter the K-Hole here.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Thursday, October 2, 2008

"The Hole Truth and Nothing But"

Aspects of Mel's Hole Panel Discussion

Curator Doug Harvey leads an informal discussion (and catalog signing) with artists and writers Jeffrey Vallance (whose Melwork is pictured above), Christian Cummings, Brian Tucker, Victoria Reynolds, and Judy Spence on the strangely inspiring bottomless hole in rural Washington that is the subject of the current exhibit at GCAC. Free and open to all

Saturday, October 4, 2008
7:30pm - 8:30pm
Grand Central Art Center Theater
125 N. Broadway
Santa Ana, CA

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Let Your Kato Light Shine

I remembered that Bridget Marrin had acquired this shaved-funfur portrait of Kato Kaelin from the Skipping Formalities collection, so I got her to dig it out for my upcoming retrospective Untidy. Unfortunately the side bars of the stretcher had busted off so it's currently hanging curtain-stylee over our side window, with the sun shining through. And this is what it looks like.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Compulsory Figure Drawings

I had this idea that the gap between the openings of Mel's Hole and my solo retrospective would be like the eye of a hurricane, strangely calm. Wrong again! Just went and laid out most of Untidy today with Diana Zlotnick and Dennis Reed, and finished a review of the Kippenberger show at MOCA. Now this:

"As the philosopher Jack Handy once advised, “If you ever discover that what you’re seeing is a play within a play, just slow down, take a deep breath and hold on for the ride of your life.” Amanda Ross-Ho’s combination of conceptual depth and virtuosic formal instincts — albeit using deliberately trashy post-slacker materials, and with the referential reverb turned up to 11 — has fueled a meteoric art-world ascent that has kept her in the state she luckily seems to find most productive: breathlessness.

This may be attributed, at least in part, to the figure skating. Born in Chicago to a Chinese-American painter dad and Italian-American photographer mom (now a conservation ecologist), Ross-Ho was a disciplined “ice ballet” competitor from age 5 to 17 — rising daily at 5 a.m. to explore the boundary between formal mathematical precision and physical self-expression, compulsory figures and free skating.

“I think that’s where the idea of a practice literally developed in my brain, because it was six-days-a-week training, before and after school. And it’s not as goal-oriented as it seems. We skated in shows and in competitions, but really it was about working every day at this thing. And I think that really sunk into my brain.”

Read the rest of Free Skating: Amanda Ross-Ho's Fourth-Dimensional Axel Jump here. Above: the artist's studio. Below: the artist in her studio.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Mel's Blowhole?

The Inter-Tribal Medicine Man Red Elk was on Coast to Coast with George Noory last night speaking about, among other things, Mel's Hole! I fell asleep before they got to that part of the show, and although I recorded it, I had to erase it to make more room on my dictaphone as I was getting the story of Paul McCarthy's failed attempt to purchase Santa's Village.

The Coast to Coast website offers this summation of the pertinent segment: "He spoke of his visit to Mel's Hole across the Yakima River, many years ago. Taken there by his father, he described the hole as around 9 ft. around and somewhere between 24–28 miles deep. It's a blowhole for Mount Rainier, he added."

I did manage to catch something about Mount Rainier blowing up, which seems to be part of Red Elk's prophecy: "NO YEAR WAS GIVEN: Mount Rainier blows - fall time frame. Just under 1/4 of top shoots straight up - flips over - slams back into the crater, plugging it. This causes compressed air to blow holes in Kitticas County etc., well over 100 miles away. Holes from only an inch to over six feet. This occurs just prior to or early in Elk (gun hunting season) season."

Anyone with more info or a subscription to the podcasts, please feel free to expand on this is the comments section.

Pictured above: Kenneth Arnold, responsible for the first widely reported UFO sighting in the United States near Mount Rainier, WA on June 24, 1947. Below: The View from the Monorail, Santa's Village, Skyforest CA (detail).

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Browbeaten: High, Low, Uni, No

"Even among art that aims to be free of traditional categories and definitions, there is an ever-present danger of calcification and rampant commercialization," warns a recent dispatch from Atwater Village gallery Black Maria promoting its upcoming "No Brow" exhibit. "These dangers threaten to turn even the most unorthodox of movements into an exercise in mainstream banality. The very success of the Lowbrow movement may curb those features that once distinguished it from 'Highbrow' art, with its rules and value judgments." I've actually been hearing this line of critique for a few years now — particularly since 2006 with the sudden departure of longtime Juxtapoz editor Jamie O'Shea and equally untimely demise of the Lowbrow journal of record's publisher Fausto Vitello.

Juxtapoz, which claims to be the most widely read art magazine in the world, was completely synonymous with "Lowbrow" for a time. But the once-hermetic underground comics/hot-rod/tattoo/graffiti scene has exploded more than anyone could have imagined, with a bigger tent that includes digital artists, sneaker designers, collector's-doll manufacturers and several generations of commercial illustrators — and an increasing number of gifted young artists from the Highbrow art world. Many of the past decade's art-world stars were exploring the same mass-media-savvy sex-'n'-surrealism-tinged figuration that is Lowbrow's bread and butter — and I'm talking everything from John Currin's oily Russ Meyerisms to Matthew Barney's self-lubricating architectural symbol orgies. With borders dissolving all around it, and lucrative cross-marketing with such Hot Topic–promoted lifestyle brands as "Goth," "Skateboard," "Punk Rock" and "Outsider Art," the Lowbrow movement may have expanded beyond any identity distinguishable from the hipness-saturated mainstream. It's just so hard to get a handle on the big picture."

Read the rest of Juxtapalooza: The Lowbrow sickness continues to spread, from Burbank to Laguna here, and be sure to click the "Show Comments" button at the bottom of the page to check out the lengthy comments on the whole Stu Mead/Hyaena Gallery controversy.

Top to bottom: Robert William's In the Land of Retinal Delights; Geoff McFetridge's Oneify campaign for Pepsi; Disneyland Enchanted Tiki Room poster; Stu Mead's At the Factory

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Opening of the Hole

Thanks to everyone who made it out to the Aspects of Mel's Hole opening. I'll be posting some photos of the show later, but in the meantime James Rojsirivat of the OC artblog has posted a sampling, also viewable on his flickr page. Those who didn't make it may have heard that the Rev. Acres, having been run off that ol' Amarillo Highway by the ghost of Dave Hickey, exhausted himself into the emergency room piecing together his shattered Satan's-butthole coin funnel donation receptacle for wombat restoration (sketch above; James' photo below) and could not deliver his Sermon on the Hole. Rest assured that every effort is being made to arrange for an audition of this most important thought-styling, possibly at the end of the Aspects of Mel's Hole exhibition run in October. Check here for updates.