Monday, December 8, 2008

The Labyrinth Wall at Exit Art

The Labyrinth Wall: From Mythology to Reality is an exhibition in which 51 artists will respond to the turbulent times in which we live, the complex — and often confusing — financial, military, and cultural crises in the United States of America. Responding to the sagging economy, the continued American presence in Iraq, and the crisis facing ordinary people who are losing jobs and homes, we at Exit Art, as a cultural space, felt the urgent need to present an exhibition that explores these aspects of our country and our cultures. The Labyrinth Wall is an immediate reaction to these issues — as our exhibition schedule was shifted to accommodate this show — and uses the labyrinth as a metaphor for the difficult and tangled problems that the Americas face.

Exit Art will be re-configured into a maze constructed of fifty, 8 x 8 foot panels. Each artist will be given one wall on which to respond to the metaphor of the labyrinth and offer instructions on how to escape the issues we are confronted with. The labyrinth serves as a metaphor for the vexing problems that America, under a hopeful new presidential administration, must now navigate.

In Greek mythology, the labyrinth was an elaborate structure designed to hold the Minotaur, a creature that was half-man, half-bull. Designed for King Minos of Crete by Daedalus, the labyrinth was so serpentine and difficult to negotiate that Daedalus himself could barely find his way out. Today, America seems to have found itself at the center of a metaphorical labyrinth. We’ve become so deeply wound into an economic and political maze that our situation seems impossible to escape.

This exhibition also calls attention to the wall as a representation of a political barrier, used for either fortification or for segregation (such as the Berlin Wall, Great Wall of China or the many walls we are building on our Mexican border), or as a form of communication (such as the activities of Chinese Democracy activists on what became known as the ‘Democracy Wall’).

Responding to these metaphors in 2-dimensional media – such as painting, collage, photography, drawing, and stencil – the artists in this exhibition attempt to navigate the complicated issues threatening the way of life in the Americas.
The process of artists creating the walls of the Labyrinth will be open to the public from Tuesday, December 9 to Saturday, December 13. During that time Exit Art will be open 10am – 10pm, Tuesday to Friday, and 12pm – 10pm on Saturday.

Curated by Jeanette Ingberman and Papo Colo. Concept/Design by Papo Colo.

Participating Artists:

Josh Abram Howard; John Ahearn; Madeleine Arthurs and P.S. 274, Brooklyn; Francisca Benitez; Liz Brown; Luis Camnitzer; Russell Christian; Tyler Coburn; Papo Colo; Ernest Concepcion; Anton van Dalen; Robert Danderov; Iliana Emilia Garcia; Mike Estabrook; Teo Freytes; John Fekner and Don Leicht; Scherezade Garcia; Rico Gatson; Guerra de la Paz; Peter Hildebrand; Vandana Jain and Doris Caciolo; Charles Juhasz-Alvarado; Jayson Keeling; Fawad Khan; Saeri Kiritani; Matthew Kirk; Christopher Knowles; Charles Koegel; Peter Kuper; Nora Ligorano and Marshal Reese; Joan Linder; Miguel Luciano; Yucef Merhi; Bryan Mesenbourg; Paul Miller; Marcus Morales; Irvin Morazan; Rune Olsen; Kevin Pyle; Beau Rhee; Rudy Royval; David Sandlin; Jacolby Satterwhite; Seher Shah; Dan Tague; Seth Tobocman; Lucretia Knapp and Lynne Yamamoto; Heeseop Yoon; Daniel Zeller


Chaos is the payback…for arrogance.

Glory is never there…because it is in other places.

So where are we going, with this disappearing wonder,

condescending into a moment of confusion?

What is this state that invented us,

with the collective solitude of patriotism?

What are nations if not walls that become a labyrinth?
-- Papo Colo, 2008

The world economy is in trouble and we have to resolve this
situation from the Americas point of view, collectively and
soon. Nations are dying, continents will be unified, the banker’s
culture will refine its repression and the marginal will grow into
an explosion. And there we are with more time to worry about vanity,
investment and decoration.

-- Juana Gallo, 2008, ‘Loose Thoughts’

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cardboard Guitar

Today I start teaching a class of 6 to 10 yr olds how to make things out of cereal boxes! This takes place at Sparkhouse, a new local toystore with big ambitions for little beings. Cardboard sculpture is something I love to do and I want to share! It isn't hard to do. The hardest part is getting over one's own expectations. I'll encourage the approach of allowing things to happen, going with the flow, staying loose and relaxed. For class progress, lesson plans and how tos: I'll be posting at my Creative Bloc blog:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Red Letter or Pink Slip, and Old Letter

Working with more than likely highly toxic mystery hardware store paints I achieved some curious effects. I later realized I'd combined oil based enamels with water based enamels so causing the crackling or curdling you see here, in these two paintings

Training Camp

This is a large acrylic on paper recently bought by my friends Rick and Lisa. They are also MAJOR patrons!

Michael's Peace

What do you say when a good, kind man is taken away by cancer? A friend in the community, Michael Graves, talented furniture designer and architect, and father of two teenage boys, died this week after a long struggle with, I believe, a form of blood cancer. His wife, Joan, got this piece for Michael as a gift this past year as together they fought this terrible beast. A sweet man who leaves behind a huge space and a lot of heart.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Mythical Town of Silver Birch


Voynich manuscript

Voynich manuscript
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Voynich manuscript is written in an unknown script.
The Voynich manuscript is a mysterious illustrated book written in an indecipherable text. It is thought to have been written between approximately 1450 and 1520. The author, script and language of the manuscript remain unknown.
Over its recorded existence, the Voynich manuscript has been the object of intense study by many professional and amateur cryptographers, including some top American and British codebreakers of World War II fame (all of whom failed to decrypt a single word). This string of failures has turned the Voynich manuscript into a famous subject of historical cryptology, but it has also given weight to the theory that the book is simply an elaborate hoax — a meaningless sequence of arbitrary symbols.
The book is named after the Polish-American book-dealer Wilfrid M. Voynich, who acquired it in 1912. As of 2005, the Voynich manuscript is item MS 408 in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library of Yale University. The first facsimile edition was published in 2005.[1]

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bing Lee's tiles at Canal Street Q train stop

link to Bing Lee tiles
Beautiful tile work based on "he pioneering expedition of the American merchant ship, Empress of China, which in 1794 returned to New York harbor filled with silk, tea, and porcelain (commonly called china, due to its origin). Through the artist's lighthearted use of Chinese-derived icons, the tiles illustrate aspects of the then-new trade with Asia and celebrates today's Chinatown."
Click on above link for more.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Art and Commerce

Two things I recently heard on the radio have helped me greatly with my work. Gary Panter being interviewed on Leonard Lopate (WNYC), talked about resenting the hippie notion that art for sale is art sold out. He argued that art was hard enough to make without worrying constantly if one is "selling out" or not. It is a crippling concept and personally I have struggled with the push and pull of drawing for hire and drawing for self. He draws, paints, writes, does light shows, illustrations and comics, and straddles all these mediums as called upon to do so from without or within. The other thing I heard (also on WNYC-Studio 360) was a Chinese art critic comparing the relationship of art and commerce to a boat on the ocean. Art is supported by money as a boat is kept afloat by the water. Just best not to let the water get in.

Being constantly broke the pressure to make money hangs constantly and it can be hard justifying the seemingly antithetical act of "doing a drawing". I find it now helps, when doing so, to think of it as "making money". Then I relax and simply get on with it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Art is an empowerment tool

We are all makers and the things we make (those that exert a continuing fascination for the maker) are objects that give one the strength to make more objects that then have a similar effect on others who then go on to make inspired objects themselves be that what it may—thing, thought, music, writing, dance step, soccer play, consumer choice...

Monday, May 12, 2008


Found this image particularly compelling

Images from Ellis Island

The walls of Ellis Island are covered in graphitti. Most of this is now covered up but some patches have been kept exposed-very moving. The other image is of Dr. Knox's visual comparison tests which were one of the many tools used to figure out the illiteracy/mental deficiency of immigrants. A third image is of some of those who were denied entry on grounds of mental defficiency, poor health, their status as day laborers, or radical political histories.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bishop's Boat and Lean Time


The influence of Outsider/fringe/untaught artists (etc etc) on Contemporary art is a powerful one. For my part, I have still never recovered (and don't particularly wish to!) from my first encounter. The show Outsider Art, at the Hayward Gallery on the South Bank in 1979 curated by, I think, Roger Cardinal, BLEW ME AWAY. But I have struggled somewhat with how one absorbs such an influence as one who has passes through the stomach of the art school system and cannot, in all honesty, claim Outsider status. Doesn't really matter. As long as the art hits one on a gut level, viscerally, you can be richpoormentallystable ornot. The following exhibition, which addresses this issue, is at the American Folk Art Museum from April 15th to September 21st, 2008. The writing below copied without permission but due credit is given.

Brooke Davis Anderson, curator

The American Folk Art Museum is home to the single largest repository of works by one of the most significant artists of the twentieth century, Henry Darger (1892 - 1973), who created nearly three hundred watercolor and collage paintings to illustrate his epic masterpiece, The Story of the Vivian Girls, in what is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion, which encompasses more than fifteen thousand pages.

There is a long history of academically trained artists drawing inspiration from self-taught artists and thus freeing themselves to think in unexpected ways and on their own idiosyncratic terms, almost in defiance of what they were taught. "Dargerism: Contemporary Artists and Henry Darger" examines the influence of Darger's remarkable and cohesive oeuvre on eleven such artists, who are responding not only to the aesthetic beauty of Darger's mythic work -- with its tales of good versus evil, its epic scope and complexity, and even its transgressive undertone -- but to his unblinking work ethic and all-consuming devotion to artmaking. This exhibition demonstrates Darger's pervasive influence on the contemporary art discourse and how an examination of the work of self-taught artists is essential for a full understanding of art history. By leaning into the boundaries of the Western canon, "Dargerism" illustrates how one self-taught master has spawned a new movement, a wholly new "ism."

"Dargerism: Contemporary Artists and Henry Darger" is made possible by support from the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation and Agnes Gund.

Museum exhibitions are supported in part by the Leir Charitable Foundations in memory of Henry J. & Erna D. Leir, the Gerard C. Wertkin Exhibition Fund, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

New York Times review (4/18)
TONY on Grayson Perry Talk (4/17)
New York Sun review (4/17)
New York Sun preview (4/11)

Monday, April 28, 2008

My Addiction to the COBRA Movement

With the recent creation, by Yors Trooly, of the Bowl Movement, an innovative ceramics experimentation group with roots in Merceresque Tile making and concrete pouring, and RAW mark making (AKA unmediated? Scatological? Pataphysical?)) We are reflecting once more on some of the groups that were initial inspirations for the ongoing pursuit, down cul-de-sacs, (always) of the precipice approach to art making. This approach requires/demands no pre-planning. This is not necessarily the same as ‘automatic’. Thought goes into the bucket hand in hand with gut feeling. The famous judges (with us all our lives) now are embraced and in return attempt to work cooperatively in the execution of works that will be compelling and unrepeatable.

Asger Jorn, Pierre Alyechinsky, Karel Appel, the Lettrists, so on…Twombly (my brother cannot stand him although personally I have to admit a high degree of envy). There are many more. Have they squeezed out all the juice? Can I squeeze out more? Is my writing oblique? Is that a bad thing? Is that a failure of communication? What is communication—being blunt, in your face, direct, immediate, clear? RAW is pretty blunt, or ugly blunt. It all depends on perspective (a horrific word in the annals of Modern Art!!)

PS Yes, I’m having fun.

Monday, April 21, 2008

What is this Place? (A Guide-book)

I didn’t set out on purpose, one day, to discover myself. That isn’t how this began. I was in the bathroom when I happened to look out of the window and suddenly wondered where I was. It was that simple. I knew I was in the village of South Persimmon and that I needed to pay my mortgage. I wasn’t confused. That wasn’t it. But suddenly I had no idea where my insides were heading exactly.

An old acquaintance was now a lifeless body awaiting a toxicology report either in the flophouse where he’d died, or in a city morgue. He had no family to speak of. A good friend would claim his body, save it from Potter’s Field. But that still left Allen. Where was he off to now? These questions have a habit of rebounding. Where were any of us—in our heads, our toes, the sky, the dirt?

And how did you get there? Was it walkable? Did I give you a key? Or did you have to buy a ticket? Did I even ask you to come? Did you get lost on the way? Was it dark by the time you arrived? Was I still here? I need to know the answer to all these questions so I can write it all down, make it easier for others later on. It’ll be a guide-book.
I’ll have a chapter on the sights, the best restaurants, eateries and pubs. I’ll keep it manageable and add a link to Google Maps. Of course I’ll have to explore the town thoroughly—leave no stone unturned, no street unwalked, no body untapped. Tapping bodies is an art in itself and requires dexterity and sensitivity—if you’ve got little fingers all to the better.

The stream that runs through this town is called Consciousness, which is certainly a sweet name. You should all dip your toes in it someday. That way the gloom of rising gas prices, the cancerous cough of the swindle, the searing pain of trust dying in your lap as you are ripped off yet again, is tempered by a golden light that shows us a few of the exciting things going on in our own backyard, outside the box, on the dirt side of the coffin, where there are still gems yet to be uncovered.



Tortegisms and Red Eye


Friday, April 18, 2008

Test Subjects

Smalltown Woodshed

For a while now I have been hoping to perpetrate a large—scale drawing or *picture writing in a public space. Clearly I am obsessed with rows: abstract, figurative and everything in between, and I always build grids to hang them on. New York City provides the biggest, most varied grids of all—grids and panels are everywhere.

The chance to draw/apply my images on a monumental scale using limited means (e.g. house paint brushes, rollers and scrapers), would be a departure and a challenge.
I’d also very much like the opportunity to create these forms by cutting out metal, creating woodblock prints, or drawing on and firing tiles—all approaches I long to explore.

The way I build my pictures (or write them) is rarely preplanned. I prefer to approach the surface and simply begin. I believe I am a strong editor of my own work. I’m not interested in offending for the sake of it. However the imagery I employ is open ended and may well be political or contentious and offensive to some. I am trying to hear through, disentangle, the strands and layers of my thinking. We are all constantly being bombarded by ideas, sights and sounds and sorting it all out is a project without end. As I attempt to organize these thoughts I am interested in avoiding the obvious, preferring to lay down forms that take a while to digest. Frequently I end up with somewhat enigmatic signs/forms/symbols. I hope they are open to multiple individual interpretations. I like to believe the forms that insist on returning again and again are particularly potent on an archetypal or universal level, and that a mural built of such forms would instinctively or unconsciously resonate with a wide audience.

This is a scary and exhilarating approach and perpetrating such in the Public realm would require a huge amount of trust on the part of the Public/Space.

*The analogy to writing is appropriate. Here are two reasons why:

1. Just as words like “and” and “the” will appear almost inevitably on a printed page, there are forms in my drawings that are similarly ubiquitous. Certain motifs keep reappearing in the drawings that appear to serve a similar purpose—as bridges between narratives or links in a chain.

2. We all instinctively recoil if the kerning or leading of type on a page is off and I feel the same need to balance the forms on the given page. Page can mean any given surface from theatrical drop cloths to building site hoardings, and tile walls.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Page from Atlantic Highlands Notebook

Ink Blot Drawings

Inspired by current Drawing Show at MOMA: (text copied without permission)
Glossolalia: Languages of Drawing
March 26–July 7, 2008

The Paul J. Sachs Drawings Galleries, third floor

Some artists have always functioned beyond the "isms" of art history, following personal and unique paths, sometimes shaped by biography, but just as often informed by devotion to a specific subject matter, medium, or technique. Glossolalia: Languages of Drawing, featuring selected works from MoMA's drawings collection, reveals the underlying and unexpected links between the works of a diverse group of artists. Ultimately, the exhibition suggests that even amidst iconoclasm, isolation, or the pursuit of invented worlds and obsessions, shared methods can lead to a common visual language.

I love these shows. In particular I was responding this time around to (Bruce Connor's?) Rorschach ink blot drawings. The drawing shown is done by my six year old.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Phenomes and Phosphates

Phenomes and Phosphates

George unbuckled his pants and then buckled them up again. He had bills to pay. The way he worked meant last minute minimal payments on numerous credit cards in the box before the mailman came, which was soon. But he did have an hour. He’d worry about phosphates instead. The washing machine and the dishwasher were both churning away, spewing those phosphates into the public water supply. He didn’t have time to hand wash. No stream ran past his house with glistening mountain water, pure ice melt, in which to wash his shirts using washboard and, ideally, large submissive woman with cracked hands. He didn’t have time to squeeze a bunch of lemons so he could replace the evil powder with juice. The evil powder was a lot, lot cheaper. He had more pressing matters to deal with. The three year old in the living room was sucking on a toy made in China. He gently removed the toy from her little, chocolatey mouth, and half-heartedly put away some toys. The three year old was sucking on the toy again. She was addicted to phenomes, or lead, transparently becoming less intelligent by the minute.
George went back up stairs and tried to recall what he’d been doing before he’d thought of bills, couldn’t, lay down on his bed and went to sleep.
Then his eyes snapped open.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Tank and Waterboards

Quanson Huts

When I write these rows I do so with no other agenda than to fill the page to my satisfaction. I have to feel a good physical response to what I have drawn. I do not know why the poem works though I do know the balance of marks to the blankness of the surface has to be right just as type on a page has to look right. I suspect what emerges-the subjects, objects, have a resonance in the realm of the shared unconscious, Jung's collective unconscious...

Friday, February 22, 2008

asemic sketchbook

Me and my obsessive rows.... A site that addresses or picks up on picture writing, asemic writing and various esoteric info graphic formulations can be found at

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

To Mangle Will Oldham

To severely paraphrase, mangle, Will Oldham: If there is something you can do and you are not doing it you're bad! I'm thinking of all those drawings and paintings that never got made or finished, and finally gave up on me. Well I'm walking back now to retrieve them because I must.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

This is a drawing

This is a drawing. I’d know because I’ve been drawing all my life. I even think it is quite a good drawing but that is not what this is about. My ideal drawing doesn’t know where it is heading. It just eventually finds itself someplace. This one is finding itself in an Indian restaurant. It has just arrived, or, as it is still in the midst of being perpetrated, is in the act of arriving— to be precise in the Taj Mahal. Bits of scattered prose, sprawl like pappadum crumbs next to the condiments. A cross out, an erasing has no shame and sidles up to a bottle of Maharaja Premium Pilsner. My words are thirsty. They’ve been walking all over the place. A line, broken or continuous, that has gone for a walk, is a drawing that has inevitably tripped upon the automatic realms of the imagination. This drawing is tapping a surreal vein but is grounded in a chicken and spinach curry on 6th Street. We are enjoying our food, the drawing and I. The drawing needed this especially. Full of ideas, bursting with ambiguity, jam packed with nuanced passages and yet…. The question is when will it end? The drawing needs another beer. Having a bloated artist for company is not this drawing’s idea of fun. Frankly it has become tedious so the drawing takes control rapidly concluding itself with a scribble. The pen, thankfully, has just run out of ink.

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Doing Lines

Asemic writing