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.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

More Dogstars at the Museum

Thanks to young sleuth/art terrorist Daniel Hawkins for pointing out another celebrity/M.A. Peers-space-dog-painting conflation, in the recent BBC interview with everyone's favourite German -- oops! Bavarian! cinematic auteur Werner Herzog. In this case the muttnik in question is Ugolyok, the last of the canine cosmonauts, who set the record of 22 days in orbit in 1966. As a bonus, Werner takes a spin through the Athanasius Kircher exhibit, where the camera catches a glimpse of our late greyhounds Albert and Reyna as hunting dogs accompanying your humble narrator in a stereoscopic optical tableaux depicting the conversion of St. Eustace, first century C.E. Roman general who saw a miraculous vision of the crucified Christ between the antlers of a stag.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Are You Washed in the Blood of the Hole?

...or is that just grape Kool-Aid? Tonight, as part of the opening celebrations for the Aspects of Mel's Hole exhibit at the GCAC in Santa Ana, Rev. Ethan Acres, direct from his retreat in Alabama, will give his first LA-area performance in 4 years, The Sermon on the Hole. If you've never caught the Rev's powerful and funny discourses, make the effort. Above, the Rev performing his sermon Tinky Winky at Le Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France in April 2003.

Once you've absorbed your moral medicine, you are free to partake of the roots country stylings of local hootenanny terrors Triple Chicken Foot

...not to mention the amazingly designed installation (courtesy GCAC's Andrea Harris and Dennis Cubbage) of works by 40 international artists, including a new cinematic tableaux by Marnie Weber, a stained-glass sculpture by the Rev, a site-specific installation by Jeffrey Vallance, and new works by Elliott Hundley, Nate Lowman, Georganne Deen, Steve Roden, Craig Stecyk, The Center for Land Use Interpretation, Brenna Youngblood, and more!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Cromatic Mess Syndrome

The latest addition to my lengthy "St. Sebastian" series recently made the trip to Burning Man as part of the Sarah Cromarty-curated It's a Celebration %?(#&$! . The mixed media sculpture is entitled St. Sebastian Ann Coulter Daniel Radcliffe Mandelbrot Set and is accompanied by the following didactic panel:

When this oedipal directive is followed, the viewer activates the embedded torso of a talking Ann Coulter doll which says things like "Even Islamic terrorists don't hate America like Liberals do - they don't have the energy. If they had that much energy they'd have indoor plumbing by now."

The piece is on display at Circus Gallery alongside the rest of the Burning Man veterans in conjunction with Sarah's latest solo exhibit, opening tonight, Friday Sept 5 from 7 - 9. Sarah, one of the GLALAWBs (Gorgeous Lady Alumnus of LA Weekly Biennials), just keeps getting better - I visited her studio a couple of weeks ago and took a few snapshots of the new work.

The funniest thing about Sarah's oeuvre is that she is openly indebted to Peter Doig (to whom the above piece is a direct homage) and Daniel Richter, both considerably overrated painters as far as I'm concerned -- and neither as interesting as Sarah. 

A more compelling referent is Paul Thek, whose seminal Death of a Hippie installation is the subject of another of Cromarty's homages - an update/self-portrait entitled Death of a Raver which will be installed in a closet and lit with 200 glow sticks.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Some Validation at Last!

Thanks to Lex at Coast to Coast AM, who has posted a feature story on the Aspects of Mel's Hole exhibit on their official website. It is indeed an honor to receive this recognition from the Ground Zero (or Ground One, I guess - the Hole itself would have to be Ground Zero - but it ain't acknowledgin nothin) of the Mel's Hole phenomenon.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Conceiving the Void

Apparently Swiss physicists are planning the end of the world in conjunction with the Aspects of Mel's Hole exhibit! Participating artist Avigail Moss sent us a link to this NYTimes story about the impending (9/10) startup of the Large Hadron Collider at the European Center for Nuclear Research, or Cern, outside Geneva, with the potential for generating a black hole that will devour the Earth! Kudos to author Dennis Overbye for opening with a quote from one of my favorite post-apocalyptic novels, Walker Percy’s Love in the Ruins.

Above: Title card from Gordon McKimson's 1955 Looney Tunes anomoly The Hole Idea in which well-intentioned inventor Calvin Q. Calculus nearly immanentizes the Eschaton via his invention of the portable hole.

If you have trouble logging on to their site, see comments for NYTimes text.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Imminent Laffoley Sighting

In a late-breaking development it has been revealed unto me that visionary artist Paul Laffoley will be in attendance for the opening of the Aspects of Mel's Hole exhibit this Saturday night. If you are unfamiliar with his work, avail yourself thereof at his extensive website, where you can purchase a poster of his classic alien contact artifact Thanaton III, pictured below. Above: Mel's Hole, 2008, 51.5" x 51.5", oil and acrylic paint, india ink, vinyl letters, sand, surface constructions, magic mirror effect (built into the canvas) on linen.

From the Aspects of Mel's Hole catalog:
Visionary artist and architect Paul Laffoley was born into an Irish Catholic family in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1940. He spoke his first word, "Constantinople," at six months, then remained silent until the age of four (having been diagnosed as slightly autistic), when he began to draw and paint. In 1968 he moved into an 18 X 30-foot utility room to found a one-man "think tank" and creative unit called the Boston Visionary Cell where he continues to work on multimedia renderings of his visions of alternative futures and complex realities. Laffoley has an alien nanotechnological laboratory implant in the occipital lobe of his brain, near the pineal gland, and a prosthetic lion foot.