Monday, July 31, 2006

Bubble Wrap

Little Bunny Foo Foo

Today I share with you the work of my friend Cecilia Johnson, who has just returned to Columbus after recently braving the wilds of Manhattan. Like me, she is a film school graduate - but whereas most people are generally, and appropriately, impressed when meeting a graduate from her prestigious institution (NYU) they inevitably respond to my alma mater (UNLV) with the always charming, “Oh, really? I didn’t know they had a film school in Las Vegas.” Nevertheless, she is a kindred spirit.

And not only do we share the stripes of a cinema past, she also constructs fiction, and is currently working on a novella that sounds passionately magical. Last month she received her MFA in Fiction from the Ohio State University, where she also served as fiction editor of The Journal.

Visit her spot to see more paintings and read some of her stories: Down the Rabbit Hole

Sunday, July 30, 2006


Because recently my brother clued me in, over at his spot, to the fact that MGM's slogan, found around the roaring lion, "ars gratia artis” means “art for art’s sake,” I got to thinking about this idea again.

Art for art’s sake: a release from the tyranny of meaning and purpose, is something I firmly believe in and honestly support.

But in my personal experiences thus far in academia, I’ve noticed a palpable fury arise in the eyes of many whenever someone shows signs of supporting this viewpoint. It is beyond the capacity of many professional educators to understand something from a purely aesthetic point of view. This is in part due to the fact that these people are not themselves creators of art, but instead merely parasites wearing critic’s clothing, who would have no livelihood whatsoever if it weren't for artists who created things for them to find meaning in. To these folks everything is political, everything is “about” something, some underlying social meaning or interpretation, and ultimately, if I may exercise my right to speak candidly, everything eventually leads back to some kind of woe-is-me, superdidactic whine-fest where touchy-feely intellectuals sit around in stuffy libraries agreeing with each other about how “real art” must convey a message and about how some oppressed group needs their genius help to become better represented. I call it the Cult of Cultural Studies.

Many times I have attempted to battle these particular petty bourgeois ideas in the corridors of the ivory tower, and I have suffered the consequences without fail. One professor at my previous institution was so dumbfounded at my assertion that art has no obligation to relevancy that he could barely comment on one of my essays. You could see by the shaky penmanship scribbled across the top of the title page that his brain was smoking like a broken robot as he wrote something to the effect of, “How dare you have the audacity to try and release yourself from moral responsibility and political obligation by claiming art for art’s sake!” I can see his beady little eyes bulging right now, the sweat just dribbling down his forehead as he fanatically asserted his wan intellectual fervor. Poor guy. He really and honestly believed that Conrad’s Heart of Darkness could be reduced to a “racist objectification of the Other.”

I agree with Nabakov when he says "...there can be no question that what makes a work of fiction safe from larvae and rust is not its social importance but its art, only its art.” And I echo his sentiments that, “A work of art has no importance whatever to society. It is only important to the individual.”

True that, Vladi, true that.

Learn more about Art for Art’s sake here, here, and here.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

To get down properly, I bump the explicit poetry of the Wu-Tang Clan. It’s true. Whenever I need to feel the electricity inside me, the beat of my heart, I go to RZA, GZA, U-God, Masta Killa, Inspectah Deck, Raekwon the chef, Ghostface, Meth, and rest his soul, ODB.

Specifically, I couldn’t live without their two disc masterpiece Wu-Tang Forever. Each track is a separate planet, weaving kung-fu samples into infectious beats and perfectly placed lyrics steeped in beautiful slang idiom. Stories. Thoughts. Ideas. Perceptions about the world that are understandably much different than mine. Vibrant imagery and creative verbal gymnastics. Wordplay for the sake of wordplay. It confronts me like a game, a challenge. Can I decipher their code? Can I get into their bloodstream, ride their rhythm, join in their circle? It’s an interactive experience, something I truly engage with wholeheartedly. Every time I hear those dirty drums kick in, the cymbals, I instantly begin to bob my head and slip into the world they have created. I put my shoulders back with a new air of confidence and feel the surge of words rumble through me. Yes, their music has a tangible effect. And particularly as a writer, they inspire me incalculably.

Here are three of my favorite snippets to whet your whistle. Notice none of these selections contain profanity, drug references, or misogynist undertones - three major things that mainstream media often attempts to make synonymous with hip hop.

[Inspectah Deck - “Triumph”]

I bomb atomically, Socrates' philosophies
and hypothesis can't define how I be droppin these
mockeries, lyrically perform armed robbery
Flee with the lottery, possibly they spotted me
Battle-scarred shogun, explosion when my pen hits
tremendous, ultra-violet shine blind forensics
I inspect you, through the future see millenium

[RZA - “Impossible”]

Fusion of the five elements, to search for the higher intelligence
Women walk around celibate, livin irrelevant
The most benelovent king, communicatin through your dreams
Mental pictures been painted, Allah's heard and seen
everywhere, throughout your surroundin atmosphere
Troposphere, thermosphere, stratosphere
Can you imagine from one single idea, everything appeared here
Understanding makes my truth, crystal clear

[U-God - “Deadly Melody”]

Psssh, yo
Pile-driver Tut boulder face blow Hulk
Anger rap book causin chess blade smoke
Minds the trunk, punk, elephant gun poke
Jaw-breaker humanoid vice-grip, choke
Face the inferno, maestro, pull it
Pipe hard slang, bite the golden bullet

Friday, July 28, 2006

First, if you click here you can read an interview with one of my favorite living writers, Gary Lutz. Here's a taste:

“What interests me is instigated language, language dishabituated from its ordinary doings, language startled by itself.”

Lutz, like Amy Hempel, who I mentioned not long ago, is a writer concerned more with language and sentence construction than anything else. Pick up his collection of short stories called Stories in the Worst Way. Click here to peruse a sampling.

Now then.

I've decided to post a couple pieces from places I've found on the net. Enjoy, and go visit these folks.

From California artist José Antonio Colón-Almodóvar's Art in times of Anger :



From Brazilian artist Mauricio Planel's spot El Collage:

Traje de gala para un futuro mejor

¿Cómo es estar en el fin del mundo?

From the site of Italian artist Gabriele Pennacchiol who works as an Animator/StoryArtist/Designer at Dreamworks:

Marvin and Company

The Elephant and the Old Lion

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Illustrator Matthew Woodson goes by the moniker ghostco. He graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago, and currently lives in the windy city with his girlfriend.

The Fisherman's Wife

You Win Again Gravity

The Hare and The Dove

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Le Veilleur II

Paul Delvaux

This painting adorns the cover of Julio Cortázar's now out-of-print collection of essays entitled Around the Day in Eighty Worlds. I was lucky enough to find a nice copy the other day at Half Price Books, and boy am I happy about it. Loaded with pictures and sketches and little anecdotes, this sucker has tidbits about his friends Thelonious Monk, Louis Armstrong, Marcel Duchamp, Salvador Dali, and many others. It's seriously a treat.

Cortázar was certainly a monumental writer, giving us such dizzyingly brilliant books as Blow-Up: and Other Stories, which director Michelangelo Antonioni turned into a film, and Rayuela (Hopscotch) - a work so innovative in its experimentation that it literally turned the art of the novel upside-down and shook all the boring out. Imagine a free form jazz prose poem mashed with a Choose Your Own Adventure book, and voilà.

If you don't believe me. If you think I'm over-hyping the guy, take a look at what Pablo Neruda said about him:

"Anyone who doesn't read Cortázar is doomed. Not to read him is a grave invisible disease which in time can have terrible consequences. Something similar to a man who had never tasted peaches. He would be quietly getting sadder, noticeably paler, and probably little by little, he would lose his hair. I don't want those things to happen to me, and so I greedily devour all the fabrications, myths, contradictions, and mortal games of the great Julio Cortázar."

Now run out and find a copy of anything written by Cortázar...sit down wherever you feel most some blueberries...drink some water...and enjoy the feast of his artistry.

You'll be more human afterwards. I promise.

ps - new photo over at Cityscape Junction.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Today I bring you the conceptual artwork of Josh Greene, a man with loads of outrageously creative ideas. If you enjoy these things, I encourage you to click here to see more and find out more about him and his work.

A few of his previous projects include:

The Living Room - A full-scale, two-walled living room deposited on a vacant lot in downtown Seattle.

Unlicensed Therapy - A special venue dedicated to conversation.

One U.S. Dollar - Where he sold money for less than its face value.

Eat - A fine-dining restaurant located in his studio apartment.

A Letter to Miuccia Prada, where he asks to trade letters for shoes: (click image to enlarge)

And my favorite, his Letter to Sophie Calle, which he sent shortly after his girlfriend broke up with him, requesting the use of her bed. Approximately one month later he received a full size bed: mattress, frame, linens, pillows, and comforter from Calle. He then slept in it for the next six months and corresponded with her via email regarding his emotions and experiences of being in her bed.
(click image to enlarge)

Monday, July 24, 2006

I’m in a portrait mood today.

So, I thought I'd showcase the Smithsonian Institute's Annual Portrait Competition. You can see all of the pieces if you click here, but these are a few of the entries that caught my eye:


Sam Messer

Magnet #3

Nuno de Campos

Portrait in the Composition of a Jackson Pollock Painting, Echo No. 10, 1951

Marc Dennis

ps - I posted a self-portrait today at Cityscape Junction.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

As a founding member of the seminal Los Angeles punk band, X, back in the late 70s, Exene Cervenka has become a cult icon.

But besides being a rock star, she’s also an artist. And right now she's getting her first New York exhibition at the DCKT Contemporary Art Gallery:

Love Swing

4 Marys in One Hour

Saturday, July 22, 2006

For the last week or so I’ve been savoring this graphic novel called Put The Book Back On The Shelf: a Belle and Sebastian anthology. It’s basically a very cool collection of stories by independent comic creators and cartoonists, inspired by B&S’s music.

I’m about halfway through the book, and so far my absolute favorite is “Fox in the Snow” by Jacob Magraw. It feels more like a collage than a comic. It’s dreamy and multilayered. The colors and shapes are inviting, and the words are incorporated into the illustrations in a very curious fashion. It’s quiet and humble, but at the same time there's a lot going on.

So today I decided to showcase some of his other work. Here are two pieces from a recent gallery showing, and then two untitled paintings. If you like this, you can see more here and here.



Friday, July 21, 2006

The Elephant Swinger

(The Emancipation of the Internal Struggle)

Altmann graduated from the Illustration Department at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan with a BFA. His work has recently appeared in Spectrum 13 and in Exposé 4. Currently, he lives in Long Island with his wife and son.

So, today I went to see Linklater’s version of Philip K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly.

It was ok. Parts were too chatty, but I guess that’s to be expected with Linklater. More than anything, it looked cool. The animation was much more sophisticated than his earlier attempt, A Waking Life. All in all, it was worth the matinee price. Plus, I got to see the full trailer for Michel Gondry’s new film The Science of Sleep, which I mistakenly told you was in French awhile back when I first heard about it…Correction: it’s in English. And it looks ridiculously splendid. I got chills while watching it.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Today I’d like to introduce the work of Jennifer Osborne, who describes herself as “… a twenty-nothing Canadian artist currently un-settled just outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia." She goes on to say, "I like kittens, and moonbeams, and mint chocolate ice cream.”

self portrait

your touch, like ten thousand spiders on my skin

heart study 04

I'd also like to mention a new on-line literary journal called Poetry Mountain, edited by a guy I went to grad school with in Lincoln who is now a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford. You should check it out; he updates daily, and is currently accepting submissions.

Now then.

I'm a fan of this site called A Dress A Day, where, you guessed it, the author posts a different dress everyday. Today, she's put up this fun coaster dress from Anthropologie. ------->

Also in the realm of clothing, Moscow Street Fashion is a sweet spot to check out. Gotta love former communist couture!

And lastly, What To Wear This Very Second is cool partly because author Emily Richards does her own cartoons, and partly because it claims to be the only site available for fashion emergencies.

PS - Let me draw your attention over to grrlsweat's spot, where today she accompanies her always gorgeous photos with a cool write up on Baroness Else von Freytag-Loringhoven. Click here.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Why have I been neglecting the Fridge Eph Reissue album? Have you been neglecting it, too? Sure, it’s from 2002, so maybe you’ve got it in your stacks or on your racks collecting cobwebs. Maybe it's been so long you've forgotten all about it. Now is the time to remember! Dust that sucker off and give it a spin! Do like me and swap out the Eric Satie. Let that Fridge play. Groove to it. I promise it’ll put the happy on you.

Whoa. Hold on. Thanks to a link from my brother, I’ve just learned that the UK is planning to initiate a precrime division! Wicked! Click here to read the article.

And in sad news, hardboiled detective writer Mickey Spillane died on Monday. Read more here.

Did you know that actress Julia Stiles owns the rights to Sylvia Plath’s novel The Bell Jar? Looks like she’s found a Producer and a Writer and is now in preproduction. Read more about it here.

Click here to watch the classic mashup of Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" synchronized with "The Wizard of Oz."

Click here to watch a sweet demo for the next generation of blue screen techniques, courtesy of Ohio design crew Leftchannel and Ohio DJ RJD2.

Oh, and did you know that Nabakov held a lifelong passion for lepidopterology, the branch of entomology that focuses on moths and butterflies? Read about it here.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Here are three images from a site called As Found - a place where, basically, these two editors Thomas Eberwein & Marc Kremers find random images on the internet and collect them like art:

Click here to visit their site and read the introduction to their project.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Today, I give you two artists who deal with the idea of consumerism.

The first, Pasi Kolhonen, takes the city out of his photos and leaves the advertising:

The second, Matt Siber, does the exact opposite: he takes the advertising out of his photos and leaves the city:

Oh, and CNN today offers this candid footage of our fearless leader cussing like a drunken frat boy at the G8 convention when he thinks the microphones are turned off. Gotta love being represented by a hick who drops the s-bomb in a room full of world leaders. God bless America!

PS - Come visit Cityscape Junction.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Thanks to the Wooster Collective, I came across this anti-graffiti campaign created by BBDO West. This propaganda is being used in San Francisco to support the Mayor's Graffiti Abatement Program. The funny thing, to me, is that these pictures seem to glorify graffiti, not vilify it. I mean, if it’s suppose to make me feel like “oh, look at that horrible vandalism” - it’s not working. If anything, it makes me more interested in the art of tagging. Just look how pretty these otherwise boring domestic spaces have become now that they have art on the walls. I, for one, think it's magnificent. And I can't understand why other people don't see the beauty.

Got an email from some guys I went to grad school with in Lincoln. Seems they've put together a literary pamphlet they're calling The Cupboard. Check it out. Print it off. Go and distribute it in your city. And heads up to all writers: they're currently accepting submissions. Both editors are cool and they have good taste.

Today has been all about me and Eric Satie. His album After the Rain is on permanent repeat in my stereo because it is perhaps the ultimate music to write to, and I am in the midst of an important revision.

Thanks to CSP, here is a link to a fascinating article at New Scientist called "13 Things That Do Not Make Sense."

Saturday, July 15, 2006

I rarely post pictures of myself, but I just got this nice train conductor’s hat.

Yesterday I posted an important link to a 9/11 video and someone in comments suggested I go to youtube and watch something called "Screw Loose Change." Curiosity got the better of me, so I went to investigate. Basically, what I saw was a really pathetic attempt to punch holes in the film. Truthfully, it makes me sad when I see people going out of their way to defend our government; it also makes me feel embarrassed for them. It reminds me of something like slaves sticking up for their masters.

But I should leave it at that, while sharing a salient quote I read last night, from an interview in Juxtapoz Magazine (July 2006):

Some people have said to me, “Getting on the whole anti-Bush bandwagon - that’s good for business in L.A. isn’t it?” It’s not good for business anywhere to have an opinion.

- Shepard Fairey, artist and mastermind behind the OBEY campaign