Category Archives: Famous Artists

Six Degrees to Kandinsky

concerning-the-spiritual-in-art-kandinsky“Color directly influences the soul. Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays touching one key or another purposively to cause vibrations in the soul”.

Kandinsky, the Russian born artist said that. He said a lot of profound, unique, soulful things he recorded in his book, “Concerning the Spiritual in Art.” If you haven’t read it, try it, you’ll like it!

It’s a literary dissection of his artistic philosophy which he translated in his paintings. Abstract, Bible based, humane qualities, intricate, color splashed, intensely provocative, Kandinsky painted straight from the soul,  and had a deep spiritual relationship, a connection with the “Creator”  and what we call HIS creations.

will-smith-six-degrees-separationMy first experience with Kandinsky, oddly enough, was a movie I saw in 1993, actor Will Smith’s first, called ” Six Degrees of Separation”. Smith’s character, perpetrates a fraud on a Park Avenue couple, who take him into their home, believing him to be a college friend of their son. Patrons of the arts, Kandinsky is their favorite painter, and two of his paintings become central points of interest in the movie. “Black Lines” and “Several Circles”, depicting the qualities of chaos and control. Chaos and Control. The yin and the yang. The high and the low. The plus and the minus. Smith charms his way into their lives by concocting a lie about his identity, which they swallow hook, line and sinker, fooled, and charmed by Smith’s charismatic personality, and their desperate need to inject excitement into their mundane, sterile, predictable, lives. Smith Reads them, Plays them,  Robs them, and in so doing, causes the bipolar opposites of  chaos and control, as symbolized in Kandinsky’s paintings.  In their intellectual naivety, bounded by their social status and inflated egos, they become easy targets for Smith, and he preys on their vulnerabilities with the sharp sting of the subtle snake, who lies  in wait, ready to pounce, and devour! The “War of Art” in action! The theory of “6 degrees”, is that everyone and everything is six steps away , so that there is a link, invisible, yet profound that connects any two people in six steps! Physically or spiritually this link creates a chain that leads to this connection. Six links is all, it takes!

Crazy!

sutherland-kandinsky-six-degrees-of-separationWhen the film came out it helped push Will Smith into the movie star realm, from his TV fame, a major career leap for him at the time, taking him into the Hollywood stratosphere! It also raised the intriguing question of the  of six degrees phenomenon.  Kandinsky’s paintings highlight this question exposing his spiritual view, seen in his paintings, and posing spectacular questions of time and space. His “Compositions” were based on his “music is the ultimate teacher”, vision, displayed in his  pre  WW1 exhibit, “Degenerate Art”  later destroyed. This was pre Nazi Russia in the 1930’s. A foreboding, dangerous time.

In his “Compositions”, he focuses on The Apocalypse. He describes the artist as “prophet” in his book, “Concerning the Spiritual”. He predicted that the coming war , would forever change society, and he painted what he felt, looking ahead, prophetic, seeing into the future, the chaos of war, the control of government dictators, the powers that ruled the times, the uncertainty of life as it had been leaping into life as it would be .

Wassily-Kandinsky-paintingBible stories, symbolizing the cycle of life, was an important resource for Kandinsky in his personal experience and he expressed it in his art. From Adam, to Moses to Noah, to Jonah, to the Apocalypse, he inhaled these Bible  stories and exhaled them in his supreme abstract imagery , creating the masterpieces we see today! The war years also presented a huge moral and spiritual cataclysm for him, and as an artist that had to come out visually, and it did successfully!

The “internal necessity” is why the authentic artist creates. “This inhabits the top of an upward moving pyramid” looking into the future.

Gazing at a Kandinsky is an emotional experience. Color, shapes, his view becomes our view of feelings and events that only the painter can share through his work. The longer one looks the more one sees, and it’s not a brief encounter. This is NOT a fling, a one night stand, but a serious relationship, a commitment, a love affair!

For example:

kandinsky-paintings-in-MOMAKandinsky at the MOMA. four large ones, kept in their own room, unshared by other artists,  used to line the Park Avenue apt hallway , of the wealthy businessman Edwin Campbell, the CEO of Chevrolet, in 1913. Each one is a spectacular viewing experience! To imagine owning them and having them greet you whenever you entered or exited your home is a surreal fantasy one can only dream! My favorite is #1, found in Gallery 14 at MOMA. The minute you see it, you become transfixed by the multi facets of brilliance color spilling in an hypnotic swirl of hot and cold, posing questions, no answers, and emotions that freeze you in position, reveling in the power of Kandinsky’s  artistry!

small-world-by-barbara-krugerThe pyramid effect he writes about is a natural component of his work engaging his spiritual devotion with his observations of society and humanity during an unsettled time in history. He was obsessed with the soul. The artist as prophet. The artist at the apex of the pyramid making new discoveries, the pioneer standing alone at mountain’ peak, looking out and taking in the inspiration that he absorbs and projects into his work! AGAIN – because I think it’s poetic, profound, passionate, and a perfect characterization of his thought process and his work.

“Color directly influences the soul. Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another purposively, to cause vibrations in the soul.”

Kandinsky-quoteArtist as musician as painter as one entity working, united in harmony creating a composition transfixing the onlooker, the listener, in a symphonic experience of painting, musical harmony, opening up a new world!

This is Kandinsky’s mantra, his point of view. It speaks to anyone who is artistically inclined, whether the Park Avenue millionaire, or the everyday gallery goer, there is a message here that inspires, involves, and invigorates the mind, as we begin to comprehend the spiritual in art as he wished. We stand on the fifth floor, of MOMA, gaze at Kandinsky’s visions, and in so doing we affirm the reality that YES!  We are all brought together by those “Six degrees of Separation ” where art brings us Together through the power of the Soul Spirit Kandinsky knew, lived, worshiped, practiced, and gave to us! This powerful ART magnet creates a togetherness where even 6 degrees becomes unnecessary! And That is VERY COOL!

Walk the Walk Flaneur Style!

flaneur-style-old-nycThe definition of a “flaneur” loosely stated is “the art of strolling”. A flaneur is an “idler, a man or woman of leisure, a street connoisseur, an urban explorer”.

Isn’t that just an inflated way of describing a person who walks? Not really. If you are engaged in the act of walking, practically speaking, such as from train to office, from car to house, from desk to desk, from kitchen to bedroom, That is just transporting yourself from one place to another, usually with a necessary intent in mind. Flaneur, a term coined by philosopher Walter Benjamin in the mid 19th century, is far more involved. It’s a lifestyle, part of Parisian culture that Benjamin discovered, observing the poet Baudelaire, and other so called “dandies” of the time, whose flaneur instinct was an innate part of their personalities as artists in the society. Baudelaire was the first flaneur to appear in the literary world. Benjamin an intellectual observer of society’s nuances in his own right was influenced by Baudelaire’s flaneuristic tendencies. His famous series of poems” Les Fleurs du Mal”, describes Parisienne life in the famous arcades asseen thru the eyes of the flaneur.

From an Nyc painter perspective, flaneur or walker, is a necessary activity when on a hunt for ideas, inspiration, and insight to be utilized in the studio later. Because there is no bounty like the urban environment’s gifts naturally exposed to me on my artist walks, open eyes and open mind the necessary tools, while gathering new material for upcoming paintings!

walking-in-nyc-flaneurThe cities London, Paris, and New York are the flaneur’s heaven. Exploring by foot, at leisure, is not only enjoyable, accessible, and exciting, but is also a way to fill the creative well. One goes out with a blank mind and returns with an overflow of sensory information. The walk is not just a walk , simplistic in  meaning , but a “gastronomy of the eye” as Balzac aptly called it!  Getting out of the studio, the office, ditching the computer , is a welcome journey for the creative to go on, the simple stroll, becomes a hunt for jewels  to fill the treasure chest of the mind !

Paris is the flaneur’s natural habitat. As Edmund White paraphrases in his book, “The Flaneur”, “looking at people go by has always been the Parisian’s favorite pastime; no wonder they’re called gawkers!” Baudelaire says of the flaneur,” the crowd is his domain, as the air is that of the bird, or the fish of the sea” The cafe life in Paris caters to the flaneur’s love of observation or as we call it today, “people watching.”

gerard-de-nerval-walking-pet-lobsterIn the mid 19th century, when the flaneur became a “thing” in Paris, it was associated with the lifestyle of the “dandy”, the idle rich with excess time on their hands to stroll the city’s streets at their leisure. Oscar Wilde, Baudelaire, and Gerard de Nerval, the French Romantic poet, who actually walked his pet lobster around on a blue silk leash, were a few of these “dandys”. When questioned about his unusual lobster walking habit, Nerval retorted, “why should a lobster be any more ridiculous than a dog?” Of course, Nerval was utterly and completely Mad! But an original flaneur in every way!

“The crowd was the veil from behind which the familiar city as phantasmagoric beckoned to the flaneur”

Walter Benjamin, philosopher and essayist, was fascinated with this subject. He noted that there was no English equivalent. Being an observer, of human behavior, flaneur was prime material for his fertile mind.

vivian-maier-photos-art-blog-nycBut what about photographers famous or otherwise? Watching, looking, recording strangers, wars, society, celebrities, buildings, faces, light, scenes, landscapes, the exotic, the banal, the photographer’s work in progress is an on going documentary of life as seen through the cameras eye. Certain Nyc photographer – flaneur’s , like, Diane Arbus, Vivian Maier, Robert Frank, Edward Steichen, Cindy Sherman, were always on the GO, walking the streets , looking for new material, and thousands of photos later, we get to experience the city as they did . In the film “Finding Vivienne Maier”, we are taken on this illusive mystery woman’s  city walks, her camera focused ,watching, walking, and waiting for the photo she wanted.  Robert Franks, in his “The  Americans”, the dynamic expose of our society in the 1950’s, Weegee’s crime scene photos from the underground Nyc life, also pre 1970, Ron Galella, celebrity photographer, stalking his obsession Jackie O, up and down the city streets, Doisneau’s, iconic black & white, photographs of Paris, are spectacular records of the street life, and  give us a view of early 20th century life we can only experience through photos such as his. Amazing stuff, stepping into a time capsule, that only the flaneur, armed with camera, or sketch pad, or journal, can give us, from his street perspective, up close, we get to see what he sees and that is a special experience. Diane Arbus’s freaks, her attraction to the atypical as her subjects, the circus freaks, the retarded child, the vagrant, the downtrodden, city characters she came across during her flaneuring in NYC,  sealing her place in history ! The writer, Edmund White, cites French photographer Eugene Atget, as a “scientific flaneur.” “An obsessed photographer, determined to document every street in Paris, before it disappeared forever in the new construction looming in the future.” These flaneur’s armed with cameras, have the ability to document the city scape as it changes, is torn down, rebuilt, transformed over time, with the photographs left to document what once was. In Vivienne Maier’s stunning collection of thousands of NYC photos, now available in a book, “Street Photographer” one is given a historical photographic journey of a city that no longer exists.

henry-miller-tropic-of-cancerHenry Miller, the charismatic novelist, spent his early writing life on the streets of Paris, with his lover Anais Nin, usually looking for a meal, but also gathering  material for his banned book “Tropic of Cancer”,  and the future tropics to follow. Miller is always walking the streets of Paris, from Pigalle to the Bastille, to Montparnasse, the Right Bank, the Left Bank,  he covers by foot, every avenue, every “rue” of old Paris. Miller, the Brooklyn boy, writer in training, expat, soaking up the sights, the people, the language, living as a true “starving artist”, pursuing his dream, his walks taking him into Zola’s “Belly of Paris”, and giving the world his gritty life view in the pages of his often controversial, raw, rough, provocative novels!

There was a recent study by the medical profession stating that “sitting is bad for you” physically. But I maintain that mentally, it’s not great either. Walking is physically AND mentally invigorating!  It’s healthy  mobility, your body and mind moving in tandem, together it’s a powerful combo where all systems are go, and when that happens, the mind is turned on to the stimuli around you as you walk. The synchronicity, the harmony, walking, gives body and mind, is irreplaceable. This is a process that painters get ideas from, returning to their canvas, full of inspiration, visuals, ideas, potato-planting-Van-Goghprovided by their  walk! Van Gogh’s paintings of the potato planters, his sight holding them in his artist’s eyes, as he walked through the Dutch countryside, Utrillo’s cafe scenes, clearly from his meanderings through the winding Monmartre streets in his absinthe haze, Lautrec’s cabaret posters, his brothel paintings, walking with his infamous cane, that held a beaker of absinthe, or brandy in it’s hook, making his flaneur experience compatible with his drinking. The SITTER has a very different experience. One is stationary, compact, confined. Whereas the WALKER is movement, freedom, mobility, unleashed!” Transitory poetic in the historic” Baudelaire says. As only he could, using his poetic liscence freely.  Yes, there is the possibility to “achieve transcendence” as you wander, walk, stroll stride, saunter the city streets. It’s the unexpected encounter, the surprise event, the sudden illumination, the street action, people, traffic, energy,  all carry the flaneur’s ahead, around, and towards new sights, different views of old sights, and unfolds untapped resources of the mind that your walk inspires!

oscar-wilde-flaneurWhile Oscar Wilde, the poet, playwright, gay icon was serving his prison sentence in 1897, for sodomy, “gross indecency” with other men, he wrote a journal he entitled, “De Profoundis”.

“I let myself be lured into long spells of senseless and sensual ease. I amused myself with being a flaneur, a dandy, a man of fashion, surrounding myself with the smaller motives and the meaner minds.” He was feeling regretful, experiencing a prison sentence, ill, depressed, facing the end of a colorful, if turbulent life.

Wilde was the ultimate dandy. He carried flaneur to another level, where his strolling, or cruising, the modern description, walking the city gave him material for his literary works, as well as his erotic lifestyle as well. He was proud of his “dandy” status, unapologetic for anything he did, giving the social environment he lived in many tantalizing moments! This dress, his curls, his homosexual identity, all made him quite the outrage! Another flaneur about town, artist in the making, personality extraordinaire!

There have been many flaneur’s who have made history, as observers of the city, depicting their imagery artistically since the late 19th century. Walking is not especially newsworthy on it’s own, but the distinct qualities of the FLANEUR set him apart, this unique individual activity, absorbing, the city as a classroom, a studio, a library, a stage, where life unfolds in its personal way, view and viewer merging as one, strolling, wandering, gawking, gaping, while walking your turtle or lobster on a leash, leading to creative vision and fresh inspiration, galvanizing new goals, energizing a wider view, while revealing an expansive horizon timeless and free!

Dream Onnnnn

pop-art-blog-nyc-brooklynGenius & Dreamers. The Yin and the Yang. The Yes and the No. The Up and the Downs, the Roof and the Basement.

So, this very cool writer named Jonathon Carroll in one of his books titled ” Outside the Dog Museum” says This about genius:

“Geniuses are allowed to do anything. Picasso was a big prick. Beethoven never emptied his chamber pot, and Frank Lloyd Wright stole as much money from his clients as any good thief. But it was all okay because they were all “geniuses”. He goes on to say that “genius is a boat that sails itself”.

Braque said that “ones style -it is in a way ones inability to do otherwise…. Your physical constitution practically determines the shape of the brush marks.”

“Bullshit on all that artistic suffering, “agonizing” over the empty page….. Canvas”

Anyone who agonizes isn’t a genius is an idiot! Carroll goes on to say.

And there you go.

There it is.

pop-art-blog-nyc-brooklynCould that be because dreams, are the genesis of art in its multi forms? And dreams don’t involve agonizing or forcing, they just are, like the rose petals unfold, a natural process, like nature shows us, from the caterpillar evolving into the butterfly, to the bumble bee giving us honey, to the sun drenched grapes on the vine providing us with wine in the glass. They just happen. Because they are supposed to.

Geniuses always seem to just BE. Creation is easy and they just Have IT covered! Is it because the “geniuses” make their dreams reality and treat them as such, without the wake up process that most people experience?  Or are certain individuals just inordinately blessed, hit the jackpot, were given that bonus coupon, the extra gift that makes them fly, surpassing the rest of us ordinary mortals?

Most of the greats the Rimbauds, the Van Goghs, Kerouac, Hemingway, Mapplethorpe, were intense dreamers, whose dream – reality state was seamless. A unit. They all knew who they were, what they wanted, and where they were going! Dreams are infinite. They are timeless, with out restrictions or human boundaries, free –  fall experiences of the mind, and could it be that “geniuses” accept that idea, live it without questions asked,  and thus accomplish supernatural things that mere mortals cannot comprehend?

The French writer, a genius so to speak, Cocteau, in his journals says:

pop-art-blog-nyc-brooklyn” Then I realized that my dream life was as full of memories as my real life, that it WAS a real life, denser, richer in episodes and in details of all kinds, more precise in fact, and that it was difficult for meto locate my memories in one world or another , that they were superimposed, combined, and creating a double life for me, twice as huge and twice as long as my own”

That’s pretty heavy stuff. His dream life was more real than his so-called real life.

One wonders. Is this true? Who knows? I don’t. Do you?

pop-art-blog-nyc-brooklynWhere does creativity come from? The dream world is certainly a prime originator of all creative genius. The “Songs of Innocence and Experience”, William Blake’s masterpiece, is essential dream material, as is most of his work, his Dragon series, his mystical dreamy, other world visions translated unto his poetry and artwork as a harmonious symmetry of passionate self expression give us his dreams coming to live on the page.

Blake’s work is the substance of genius no doubt, and breaks through  that magical world, the genius spirit taps into, entertains, envelops, and encourages. “I must create my own system or be enslaved by another’s” was Blake’s fundamental goal.

Are you a dreamer? Or are you firmly rooted in the real world? You know WHO you are. But do you know WHERE you Really are?

Are you thinking of your 9-5 humdrum rat race experience, or are you mentally swimming in the ocean of the I don’t know what, but it isn’t THIS!

Patti Smith, in her epic biography, ” Just Kids “, describes her starving days, with Robert Mapplethorpe, freshly fired from their respective bookseller jobs, persevering in their creative goals, aka LIFE, freezing, broke, hungry, in their Lower East Side walk up, pushed to the max, energy pumped by dreams, youth, and that indescribable “IT” factor that makes certain stars shine brighter in the sky!

Joseph Cornell, the “Master of Dreams” was a dream maker incarnate toiling away in his mothers utopia parkway kitchen on his magnificent dream boxes , the world outside a blur, his inner world manifested within these surreal boxes germinating in his unique and fantastic MIND!

These geniuses, some born, others made, believed in their dreams! Nothing was getting in the way! The yellow caution light was blinking but dreamers don’t slow down, they just drive faster through it and beyond to the green light signaling GO GO GO!

pop-art-blog-nyc-brooklynSo when I look at Blake’s engraving of “Jacob’s Ladder”, or “The Ancient of Days”, I have no doubt that he was tapped in, connected to the dream world inspiring and guiding him on his artistic path. His images came from his spiritual, other world reality far removed from the gritty ugly, Dickensonian London cityscape he was dwelling in at time, late 1700’s -1800’s. His interior world transported him out of his exterior world. Lucky!

Living in the Material World. George Harrison talks about “drowning in the material world”, that he has a lot to do to get out of this place, and he does it by dreaming himself out.  Aerosmith tells us to “Dream On”, Fleetwood  Mac in their “Dreams” tells us that when the rain washes it all away then we see the visions, which set us straight, and many more musicians sing the dream theme, because it’s a popular and powerful message.

pop-art-blog-nyc-brooklynSeveral years ago, in NYC, The New York Public Library produced a fantastic exhibit on Jack Kerouac’s writings. During my visit, I was amazed by the extensive collection  of dreams and visions that Kerouac documented in his personal journals and sketchbooks, diaries, and  stories. Mysticism, Buddhism, Beatism, other world experiences, and (yes he was a victim of alcoholism ), which took him to the “other side ” sooner rather than later,  but his dreams pushed him into his destiny as a “Beat” Writer ,an icon , a representative of the NY  literary cultural dream team along with Alan Ginsberg, Bill Burroughs, Diane DiPrima, Gregory Corsco , Hettie and LeRoi Jones! Kerouac, definitely a dream inspired man On the Road! Death could not stop him. His dream lives on!

Genius mentality can be found in any profession from the scientist to the chef, to the mechanic, to the writer, to the landscaper, it is all about taking the dreams and making them real. It’s about the ones who believe in their dreams as serious goals, life blood, veins of gold , and pursue them. The rest of the world calls them geniuses. The dream weavers incarnate.  The surrealists, the Project Runway contestants, the Chopped contestants, the walking dreamers. They all move towards the endgame, the dream dust the oxygen they inhale every moment of every day.

” Dreaming is an art of pure imagination, attesting in man a creative power, which if it was available in the waking world would make every man a Shakespeare or a Dante”

art-blog-nyc-brooklynThoreau whose dream was to retreat in solitude at Walden Pond, and write about his experiences, tapped into his dream power, making his dreams reality! We can read all about it in ” Walden”, a must for every high school student for the past 60 years.

Cocteau did it all as novelist, poet, dramatist, filmmaker, said ” one of the characteristics of the dream is that nothing surprises us in it. With no regret we agree to live in it with strangers, completely cut off from our habits and our friends.” Like Thoreau he identified the dream life with solitude. While a fertile ground for creative growth the genius often survives in isolation living the “dream” apart from the world around him.

art-blog-nyc-brooklynDiane Arbus, Georgia O’Keefe, George Sand, Colette, Piaf, Suzanne Valladon, Sylvia Beach, Simone de Beauvoir, Freida Kahlo, Sylvia Plath, these women were proof of this identifying quality, living off the grid, pursuing their dreams, often without social encouragement or recognition. Dreaming  is gender oblivious. You are or you are not. You Do or you Don’t.

There are an infinite number of examples where dreams are pivotal in the lives of geniuses and creatives throughout time. That tells me that you can’t have one without the other. It’s a tandem experience. It’s the apple pie a la mode, the wine and cheese, the Billie Holiday and gardenias, the Kerouac and Cassidy, the Frieda and Diego , the genius -dream duo is a made to order duality of creative energy and inspiration propelling certain individuals into the stratosphere where dreaming becomes reality and gives the world a special experience unique, valuable and timeless!  The bicycle built for two!

art-blog-nyc-brooklynWebster defines dreams as: ” a conception or image created by the imagination and having no objective reality. ”

“Dream On”. We’ve all heard that at one time or another, meant to dismiss and demean. When actually it should be used to encourage and enlighten. Dream On. Are you kidding? Dream on. I kid you not.

When Dorothy saw OZ she knew she wasn’t in Kansas anymore! She had a dream that became reality, or was her reality the dream? This is the question of the ages, the one that the dreamers accept, thriving in the OZ of their own making , that world of imagination and fantasy, spinning dreams into reality, birthing geniuses, creating art in its many dimensions and forms, inspiring, sharing, and blessing lives into infinity!

Dream On. Keep dreaming. What? You must be dreaming? YES! YES! And again YES!

And

No – Dorothy you’re NOT in Kansas anymore.

“So What?” from the Pope of Pop

andy-warhol-diaries-pop-art-blog-nycIn “The Philosophy of Andy Warhol”, Warhol, discusses in a chapter entitled, Time, his “So What” theory.

It’ s pretty radical in it’s simplicity, and it’s an awesome freeing message!

Andy says ” sometimes people let the same problem make them miserable for years when they could just say, “So What?”

“My mother didn’t love me.” So what?

“My husband won’t ball me.” So what?

“I’m a success, but I’m still alone.” So what?

He goes on to say that he has no idea how he survived before he learned that trick, but that once he got it he never forgot.

WORD. To. The. Wise.

Andy-Warhol-quote-pop-art-blog-nycSo fast forward to Today Speak, we can translate Andy’s “so what?” Into “whatever”. Right? Nothing is THAT important, that serious! Isn’t it all kind of blown up from that deflated balloon reality where it all begins? Light hearted, whimsical, fun, POP!  The lofty, uber pretentious days can be historically interesting but in real time also a colossal drag!!!

His book, a masterpiece of ingenious witticisms, logic, and unique observations, is a real X-Ray into Andy Warhol’s Head. A head full of confetti. Like one of those old school bubble gum machines with prizes mixed in with multi colored gum balls. Put the penny in and you don’t know what you will get. But you will get something you didn’t have before. And that’s what Warhol’s book gives us – new ideas, a new way of looking at everyday things. It’s all about the NEW, because face it people don’t really dig the old. Not really. They may pretend they do, but actually— Noooooo.

We want it hip, hot, fresh, right off the grill, spicy, the day after Today!

Warhol-marilyn-monroe-pop-art-nyc-blogAnd his art was like that. The pop concept, everyday things become artworks. A soup can, a shoe, a dollar sign, a cereal box, Marilyn Monroe, anything really that caught his eye. And his method of reproducing his art using silkscreen, so there was no possibility of ever running out of a painting with a one time sale. He was guaranteeing the infinite, removing limits, his eternal dollar signs multiplying with every copy the silk screen spun out.  His photographic technique for his portraits of the jet setters he worshipped and who followed him around like the pied piper of NYC, were all inherent components in achieving his  popularity and fame. He turned the boring stuff of life into something exciting and new. But only through art, and his cutting edge, off the grid lifestyle, that attracted everyone from the down and out in Beverly Hills types to the hoity toity silver spooners of Park Avenue. They all wanted to join Andy’s fraternity of pop! Membership guaranteed your POPularity , the ticket to Oz, the trip from dullsville to Crazytown, where everyone wanted to live in the psychedelic sixties!

warhol-factory-nyc-pop-art-nycBut only the Cool could enter. And that could be anyone from his drugged out blue blood friend Edie, to his Factory drag star UltraViolet, to his best bud Samo aka Basquiet, Ingrid Superstar, and of course his telephone mate Bridgette, his alter ego earpiece from “The Andy Warhol Diaries”, his prime requirement is that they are funny and they entertain him. “Funny people are the only people I ever get really interested in, because as soon as somebody isn’t funny, they bore me.”

Who can overlooked the fact that he refers to his tape recorder as his “wife?” I could read so much into that but I am sure you could too, so I will just leave it alone for now.

andy-warhol-soup-cans-art-gallery-nycAnd boy, his pop art certainly fulfilled that need to be entertained, in it’s color, it’s whimsy, it’s humor, it’s cultural relevance, it’s 60’s iconography, they all integrate to promote his psychology, his pov, his kooky perspective, and he didn’t give a shit whether or not you dug him or not. Actually in his “philosophy”, he makes it clear that he goes for the opposite of the current reality. On purpose.  His take on money is beyond the pale because it is sooo radical, he loves money, clearly his shopping excursions on Madison Avenue attest to that, but he also dismisses it and has a voyeuristic attitude toward the rich and famous people he associates with who warhol-factory-party-pop-art-blogclamour around his factory parties looking for the newest kick to amp up their boringly money infested lives. He sells his art with this kind of ambiguous talking point, sealing the deal, because hey it was the sixties, and if it was hip and new , and involved drugs, sex, and rock and roll, it was a hit! Andy managed to do all of this and then some.   Capote got axed when he spilled the dirt on his so called friends in that hated tell all ” Answered Prayers”, taking him into a spiral of doom, as his friends banished him from their social circles, after he betrayed their trusts, in an embarrassing expose. But Andy does it differently because he philosophized from his own point of view about the generalities of people and situations without really getting specific, but you got the message! No harm. No foul. He managed to slide by, while Capote fell off and got stepped on.

andy-warhol-quote-pop-art-blog-brooklynThat’s art! Get the message or don’t get the message! I look at Matisse’s “Woman with a Hat”, and see stuff, that you don’t. Great! So What? Why can’t everything be like a big SO WHAT? Why are we soooo concerned by minutia, the idiotic crap that energy is expended on daily, that’s of no real importance or substance, just time filling misdemeanors?

In the Philosophy of… Everything is simplified according to Andy’s world. He turned his interests into art and business. A joint affair. He loved gossip! LOVED. Hence “Interview Magazine.” Loved celebrities, hence the pop portraits. He loved commercial style, and fashion, from his clerking days in Bergdorfs, and his store window dressing making a living 9-5 days at Bonwit’s,  hence his chosen icons and the neon colors he used coming  straight out of the sixties, and the  psychedelic moroelight show acid trip world he lived in at the time !

philosophy-of-andy-warhol-art-blog-brooklynI can read the “Philosophy of Andy Warhol”, and still get new crumbs from the golden nuggets of pop isms, after the fifth reading, because it’s just one of THOSE books, but for me it’s also a genuine artist book written by the Master of Pop Art, an art legend that the hipsters of today have only read about in art class or perhaps viewed his Gold Marilyn at the MOMA, or strolled by that funky silver statue in front of his old office building in Union Square in NYC.

His breakdown of philosophy into the major life areas: is genius. He is right on. Like what else really matters?

Love. Work. Beauty. Fame. Time. Death. Economics. Atmosphere. Success. Art. Titles. The Tingle. Underwear Power. That’s it!

The beginning. The middle. The end.

You want to paint? Paint. Want to write? Go for it . Act? Yes. Sing? Ok!

Think about cool stuff? Like Philosophy?

“In the 60’s everybody got interested in everybody.

In the 70’s everybody started dropping everybody.

The 60’s were clutter.

The 70’s are very empty.”

What about Today? in 2014, Millennium  years, what have we become? What would Andy call us ? How would he define us in  a chapter in his book, published in 1975? What kind of art would he be making today?

He wouldn’t.

15-minutes-of-fame-andy-warhol-nyc-pop-art-blogIt was a time, HIS time, HIS generation, and HIS mark in history, a pop culture icon, the most famous celebrity pop artist on the planet! He once said , “everyone will be famous for 15 minutes”. It’s a universally known easily identifiable Warhol quote. Reality Shows of today prove his prophecy, as well as people’s personal Youtube videos, sex tapes, and the various computer resources available for publicity hounds seeking attention. Everybody seeks that fame Andy talks about , even if it’s fast and furious, the 15 minute in and out.

In his own case, however he didn’t need any of our super tech assets to stake his claim to fame. And it is a lot longer than 15 minutes! It’s Forever!

Writers & Artists Love Affair

patti-smith-just-kids-art-blog-nycWriters and artists have always carried on a clandestine love affair between the pages and on the canvas. Life gets expressed through the visual, and the literal, and both genres meld as they influence and are influenced in a mutual admiration society giving to the world the unique perspectives through the combined literary and art expression. This is a blending of spirits, of like minded souls, and it’s pretty awesome! Check out “Just Kids” Patti Smith’s, personal expose of her artistic journey with her soulmate, the avant, underground, photographer, Robert Mapplethorpe. These two comrades in their artistic journey into the unknown, wandered through the East And West Village, in the 60’s and 70’s, searching,  dreaming,  ultimately knowing that their future was intertwined in the Netherlands of art, its pain, it’s passion, the fuel driving it’s undeniable rewards. She is enamored of the French poet Rimbaud, and her dual identity as both writer and singer is clarified by her own words, “Please no matter how we advance technologically, please don’t abandon the book. There is nothing in our material world more beautiful than the book.” There. She says it. And she means it. Her story, ” Just Kids ” is pure gold, for us pioneers, the writers and painters, who have walked the walk so to speak. If you are a “creative”, ignoring this book is a BIG mistake! Get it ASAP! It is a love story, a trippy art journey, and it also gives the younger reader a chance to experience a glimpse of the downtown hippie lifestyle of the past, far removed from today’s hipster world of tech, commerce, and astronomical student loans!

patti-smith-quote-art-blog-nycOn the other hand, let’s go on a vastly different trip with Steve Martin as he takes us from North to South, literally speaking, from the authenticity and earthy Greenwich Village experience of Patti and Robert, to the cold culture where Cash is King, and art is a commodity of the pocketbook first, not the innate soul purity of “Just Kids”.

Reading Steve Martin’s, “Object of Beauty” took me into the upscale art world of business art, and the inner workings of the personal lives involved, as Martin illuminates his particular characters, these bodies, who define his novel, in his style, so that the reader not only reads it, but also lives it, meeting the characters, and recognizing them, maybe, or maybe not. His protagonist, Lacey Yeager, hot NY art dealer, social climber, Sotheby’s star, she exemplifies the apex of art world social climber, with dollar signs in her eyes, she is the “Monster Goddess” of Bill De Kooning’s “Woman I”. In “Object”, Martin combine his own personal art collectors vision, residing in this world, with a passion for writing, spinning his tale of the status driven art world, a world that Martin knows very well. He buys. Collects. Spends. Just like the characters in his novel. Included we find prints of images of artists work, from Milton Avery to Andy Warhol. As if to remind the reader that this is all about art, though it’s fiction, the truth is that art is the foundation of his novel! sometimes Truth can be translated through fiction!

gaddis-the-Recognitions-art-blog-brooklyn-nycBut getting into the nitty gritty so to speak one should start with “The  Recognitions”, published in 1955, Bill Gaddis’s, lengthy, detailed, wordy, story of the life of Wyatt Gwyon, art forger, describing his craft of fakery, this book is an expose of the contradictions life offers in Wyatt’s counterfeit world where real is fake and fake appears to be real, and the perception as seen from the outside is everything, similar to viewing a painting, so subjective, yet coming from that intangible mix of the inner and outer mechanisms of mind and matter combined. In this fat novel, books and paintings are intertwined. The philosophies expounded by the characters release so much expertise and insight from the writers, artist, painters, business, point of view, that though a heavy read, it’s challenging, and it forced me to delve in with the persistence of a miner digging for gold in that pit of dirt. The results SO worth it!

“The Horses Mouth”, by Joyce Carey, also another art novel, published in 1944, shows us the life of a painter, who doesn’t cater to the popular fads, and survives by criminal activity in order to afford to maintain his craft. Caught up in his passion, he is willing to do whatever it takes at any cost. Morality, and conforming to the social standards of his time are rejected as the painter, Gulley Jimson, exploits, and tricks his friends and acquaintances in order to further his own ambition driven artist needs. Keeping it Real – Not all artists are saints, not then, not now!

philosophy-of-andy-warhol-art-blog-brooklynLa creme de la creme for me is “The Philosophy of Andy Warhol.”He NEVER disappoints. His philosophy is sooo simplistic, yet in it’s simplicity, abstract and really profound. I just Love his statement on page 112- where he talks about the “So What?” Saying “so what” puts every big awful “thing” in its place and instantly you feel better. This gem is full of nuggets like this one, and if you haven’t gotten acquainted with Andy’s philosophy than you are really missing some cool observations from the Master of Cool. This guy made a soup can famous! Remember??? The brilliant Voyeur whose quote “Everybody will be famous for 15 minutes” made headlines with it’ Andy Fabulous Truth! The Reality Shows of today prove Andy’s prophetic words beyond what anyone would have ever imagined!

max-jacobs-picasso-nyc-art-blogThere are many reminders of the indisputable link writers have with artists and vice versa. Witness Picasso’s best friend Max Jacobs, and the poet Appolinaire, known for his “AlCools,” devoted, bonded in their artistic life, in their Montmartre Bohemia, where eating, and sleeping came far behind creating, and dreaming. The true sustenance being, the preferred art of the subjects at hand, be it Satie and his classical Gymnopedies,Lautrec and his bordello posters, Picasso, and his circus paintings of harlequins and acrobats,  or Valladon and her nudes. Perhaps it was Baudelaire and his absinthe infected poetry, or Jane Avril, friend and model for so many of Lautrec’s posters, celebrity of Montmartre, as star attraction at the Moulin Rouge, they all had a common goal -Art- the making, living, eating, breathing, the food they thrived on that kept them alive, and provided them with nourishment that  no simple meal ever could!

Somerset Maughm’s, ” The Sixpence “, written about the painter,  Gaugin, ” Lust for Life,” Irving Stone’s, representation of painter, Vincent Van Gogh, and of course the famous , made for cinema, Girl with the Pearl  Earring, based on Tracy Chevalier’s novel, the subject originating with Vermeer’s masterpiece,  now prominently displayed in the The Hague. All chains in the link that is soldered together between artists and writers. We get a literary view to back up the visual experience we have while looking at a painting, and we get a complete picture.

henry-miller-pop-art-blog-nycHenry Miller, the novelist of all times, love him or hate him, he can’t be ignored! He was a self taught water colorist, which he claims was fulfilling, in a way that transcended his writing. Thousands upon thousands of watercolors, he produced joyfully, giving away randomly, at his will, to friends and fans.  Talk about a writer – art love affair, Miller, epitomized this duality with his novels , his Tropics series, and his future essays, where he talks as if he’s sitting with us , about his favorite subjects like, art, writing, spirituality, people, Big Sur, Anais Nin, and Paris! In Big Sur, The Henry Miller Museum, is a unique dream place, a stone’ s throw from his old hangout Nepenthe, the former love nest of Orson Welles and his lover Rita Hayworth. It was recreated into a bar, restaurant, hanging off a cliff over the Pacific Ocean, a favorite hangout for Miller and his friends during his Big Sur years. The museum, a picturesque cabin, and the former home of his best friend Emil White, displays his works, paintings, and obscure writings, not commonly found in your local Barnes & Noble. Standing under the majestic Redwood trees, Pacific Ocean crashing below the rocky coast, this humble cabin holds a wealth of artistic bounty, that only the fortunate traveller is led to discover!

henry-miller-canvas-pop-art-nyc-blogMiller’s watercolors are a spontaneous, pure, colorful expression of his thinking, always soulful and pure. In his novel, Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch, he confirms his spiritual relationship to the Divine, as authority for the creative genius he has expressed through his prolific writings, his paintings, and his individual life story, from Brooklyn to Paris to California!

Again, writer, artist, – Seamless!

Yes, IT IS the Love Affair of all time! This writer, artist combo. If you are writing, you’re also probably, in the galleries, or fooling around with your paints and brushes whenever you can. You enjoy a hearty discussion on the merits of Dadaism, and your disenchantment with the Fauve Period. If you are deep in the well of your studio, I know you are hitting the bookstores, and have a couple of novels on hand, and can talk for an hour about why you either detest “Infinite Jest”, or why you love it!

spending-mary-gordon-nyc-artist-blogOne of the most interesting artist stories in contemporary fiction is “Spending”, by Mary Gordon. A sexy, hot and spicy, page turner, depicting a tale of the relationship between a powerhouse commodities broker, who decides to collect her work while also being her Muse.  It’s a lush, witty, sophisticated story of this complex relationship in which art and commerce meet and lead to an emotional quagmire. He spends and she spends and both of them achieve an ambiguous cocktail of experiences as they mix the artist with the money man.

This discussion, highlights that YES, in fact and fiction, art and writers share have a metaphoric womb, like Siamese twins. The poets of the day hung with their artist friends with the common bond that painters and writers intrinsically possess. Gertrude Stein,  with her famous salon in Paris, at 27 Rue de La Fleuris, were legend as the hotspot for all up and coming painters, of the day with only the best writers thrown in, like Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and and while Stein’s talent was writing,  “a rose is a rose is a rose” everyone knew that  she had an insatiable passion for art and collecting! In “The Autobiography of Alice b Toklas,” by Stein, when asked had she ever met a genius, she states that yes, she indeed knew three geniuses: Pablo Picasso, Gertrude Stein, and Alfred Whitehead. Not exactly the humble, shy type, Gertrude made the unknown painters and writers of the day in Ex-Pat Paris, the “Lost Generation” as she coined that infamous phrase; crave her attention, and sit at her feet, beholden to her charisma, intellectual brilliance, and her love of art! These qualities drew those pioneers to her like the moth to the flame! . That’s heady stuff. It’s interesting when I read her quote on genius: “Being a genius means sitting around doing nothing nothing nothing.” Tongue in cheek, so typical of Stein, when what she is really saying is that it LOOKS like they are doing nothing, but their thinking is so far beyond most people, that nothing is actually Everything! Amen to That!

Her writing involves a lot of repetition and perplexing statements. One can only interpret subjectively, because of the vast collection of multi meanings. Always with a question attached. And of course the artists, the painters, flocked to her, she cultivated her favorites, and they went on to great success.  She was one of the highest standards for acceptance, the 27 rue du Fleuris, where Hemingway sought an invitation,  when he arrived in Paris , an unknown at age 24. He got the “word on the street”, that Stein was his ticket into the art world. And he was right, and along with his mentor Sylvia Beach, of Shakespeare and Company, he moved to the head of the line, working hard at his craft, and eventually became a published writer.

Painters and writers. Writers and painters. Ny, Paris, Rome, London, from the depths to the heights, from obscurity to fame, they create an indisputable bond throughout eternity.

john-lennon-quote-art-blog-nycThe San Francisco Beats, hung at the Cedar Tavern, in Nyc with the ab – ex painters of the day like, Kline, De Kooning, Pollock, all sharing a similar life force, mutual interest and ambition. Rarely will you find a division. when people love painting, they usually have a fully stocked library as well. It’s a natural match.

Bookstores adorned with posters is a given expectation. A shared and compatible pairing like wine and cheese. Like Gertrude Stein, and her lifelong roommate, Alice B. Toklas! Like Picasso and Max Jacobs, like, Lautrec and Avril, like Warhol and Basquiat, like KiKi and Man Ray!

The Love Affair, is documented historical evidence of the shared passions between artists and writers. It is and will continue to be a match, an arrangement natural to this psyche that embellishes, and enhances the artistic world, giving it an infinite and profound character, a blending of the written and the painted, the sculpted, the designed, the ying and the yang, the color with the black and white, the multi dimensional personalities that bring these individuals together, in a harmonious blending, providing for everyone, a concert of harmonious notes, entertaining and nourishing the soul.

We experience this Love-In is right here in our city! NYC has cast us into the vortex of a hyper creative atmosphere, as the voyeurs watch the scene, groove to the beat, living vicariously off this powerful synergy, that brings Everyone here and Keeps them here!

Distraction Traction

george-orwell-thought-policeSo word on the Street is that people today would rather be electrocuted than spend 15 minutes alone with their own thoughts! I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at this bizarre yet clearly Orwellian statement. Ok. So for many people today, thoughts, represent pain. Pain that is so excruciating, that jolts of electricity, pulsating through one’s body, would be preferable. WOW! and WOW!

This article on Drudge, HuffPo, and CNN, states that ” people would rather inflict pain on themselves than spend 15 minutes in a room with nothing to do but think” Yea. REALLY?

So let’s go there.

The crazy thing is that I believe it. Or perhaps it’ s not crazy, but rather it’s the “New Normal”. Because the truth of the matter is, that the overload of info people have aiming at, and penetrating their brain today, is a laser beam of intense distracting and detracting sensory stimulation.

Orthodoxy-means-not-thinking-not-needing_1984-George-OrwellThat even the mere idea, of alone time with that thing called “thoughts” is a weird concept, like out of a fairy tale from the 1970’s and before, you know when people actually HAD to think or they were really screwed! Thinking and doing were synonymous with producing anything of value. The empty-headed non – thinker was perceived to be either stupid or mentally deficient. Well, that’s all over.

For example- when I recall the process I would have to go through as a student at NYU, now one of the most expensive colleges in NYC, to research and write an essay for assignment in one of my journalism classes, I feel like I must have been an inhabitant of the Paleolithic cave era, compared to the easy breezy, lazy, sit back and relax methods, students today employ, to smash those college exams, and fulfill their course work. It’s the push- a – button methodology. Then kick back, peruse the screen, while sipping your choice beverage, or, and smoking your choice weed.

“Do a little dance, Make a little love, Get down tonight” as the song goes.

Point is, that the kids are on a track. It’s the distract track to getting it done, making it stick, accomplishing a goal, success seeking, project completing, job achieving, but in Real Time, isn’t the penultimate obsession today making MONEY? It is no longer the dirty little secret people avoided talking about, because how shallow, how banal, how bourgeois, let’s face it how embarrassing! Not Anymore! Comedienne, Wanda Sykes says “I said it!” Thank you Wanda! Because today people aren’t afraid to admit it, scream it to the winds, and embrace the sordid shallow fact of the New existence “1984”-esque style.

blaise-pascal-quote-nyc-art-blogBlaise Pascal. Don’t you just LOVE his name??? I do. No one has a name as retro-cool as that! But more than his uber cool name are his uber cool thoughts. Yea, because Blaise not only had no fear about thinking, or being alone, or creating, or sitting in his room with his thoughts,  he blatantly advertised it, and said all kinds of stuff like:

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone”

Are you kidding me? Today, this concept is an anomaly. Because one must be plugged in. Not to the real brain, but to the faux brain, ie. the machine. Technology, baby! That’s where it’s at!

I am not about to go into my personal M.O. On this subject because I held off for let’s just say forever and a day until I woke up, one day and realized that I was doomed to either become a hermit and have no contact with the world as Huxley describes it in “1984”, or be 1984-George-orwell-quoteone of those Oldie Goldie freakazoids who walks around gloating over the fact that they are computer illiterate like some kind of insane claim to fame, while people are thinking oh right you are really just either stupid or senile but Mostly you are freaking OLD! So, it’s called ” get with the program.” Get hooked up. Don’t have to like it. Don’t have to want it. Just do it, because. It’s a fact, that we are all living in an age of Assange melodrama, hookups, wired, electronically programmed and media mesmerized psyches.

It just makes the pain so much easier, so tear that bandaid off as fast as you can! I mean get real, it’s obvious to anyone who is an observer as am I, of human nature, that artist types hate to follow the crowd. The idea of self identification as sheeple is pretty damn insulting, and as Thoreau says, “follow the beat of a different drum”, except, what IS the beat? Is your beat my beat? Nooooooo.

kanye-west-rant-art-blog-nycLike why is everyone all worked up over Kanye’s rants? Is this really disturbing to you that he actually has an opinion, takes the stage and let’s loose? I mean, I am no fan of his music, really, not my speed, but ok, he clearly is on a venting mission, saturating the public with his thoughts while engaging the media simultaneously. Oh WOW, he thinks? He thinks in surround sound, Bose Sound Amped.  It’s Verrry spectacular in its negative attention, creating dual intention, both of which he achieves. Game On! Mission Accomplished!

And he certainly gets a lot of multi purpose attitude from the masses, consumers, aka The Public. Oh he is on his game, no doubt because hey if we are talking about him he’s relevant!  It’s only when we STOP talking that as a celebrity, he has a problem! People fled the theatre in London, why? Oh yeah, forgot, Kanye’s thoughts exposed were soooo painful! But then, nothing is worse that the silent arena of your own thoughts! Remember? Or is it just thoughts in general?

The “Thought Police” in “1984” certainly believed it.

Pascal also said that “Man’s greatness lies in his power of thought.” Power and Thought have always been synonymous, as the defining link capable, of either destruction or creation.

But that was before we became wired up, to mechanics, designed to get into our heads and force feed us ideas and thoughts that don’t belong to us while also keeping us on a constant entertainment, news, media hype, 24/7.

After all, if you aren’t plugged in, you might miss something: a text, a call, a news story, an e mail, a movie, a you tube joke, a health scare, disaster, tragedy, and the list goes on and on and on.

10-signs-you-live-in-a-police-state-chinese-internetEverything is sooo fake today. The fake is real,the real is fake. Duh. Ray Bradbury, the author of one of the most famous books alive, Fahrenheit 451′ said that “people would rather watch TV, and that means the demise of books”, when literature goes straight to hell, and the screen rules, thinking tanks. Orwell prophesied this concept of the real/fake dichotomy when he describes Doublethink. ” Doublethink”, “when thought corrupts language, and language corrupts thought”

Well, apparently the man knew from where he spoke. And that was a long time ago. Because today, according to the article. Thinking is painful. I get it. The mass consumption of prescription medication, the pharmaceutical companies, pushing this poison on people, has numbed them out, dumbed them down, and literally suffocated their spirit. Now, from the i-phone, to the PC, to the plugged in tunes, to the supersized flat screen, and ring around the proverbial Rosie, again and again, the rat’s maze of uber technology. Life as we know it today.

henry-david-thoreau-quoteIt’s an ultimate buzz kill because guess what?,  dependence on electronics can be like being locked in the ShawShank prison,of technological dependence, with the main concern being, can I pay that Verizon, or Time Warner, Optimum, Vios, because you know all this stuff adds up! Or you take the chance of getting turned off, shut down, and subjected to the pain your intruding and excruciating thought will inevitably cause.  The torture chamber of the mind. Your mind.

So, artists are kind of in a quandary. because we need to be alone with our thoughts, Right?

ginsberg-howl-beat-poets-nycEver heard of a painter who sat in front of his canvas with an audience cheering him on? Or a writer at work surrounded by crowds of adoring fans, waiting desperately for him to come up with his next clever phrase, or for the poet to deliver that perfect symbiotic one liner? hahaha. It’s absurd. It doesn’t happen. It’s a myth. It’s not real, Ginsberg wrote his classic HOWL from the depths of soulful angst, past misery, futuristic visions, and present fantastic dreams. An I phone, a computer, a tv, wasn’t involved. Just Ginsberg and his wild creative, original thoughts!

Can I mention something interesting Picasso said?

“The genius for my artist gift, was when I was punished, I was forced to sit alone in silence and solitude alone in a corner”

No pain no gain!

Artists don’t just need solitude, they require it. This is not an option if you are making art. There’s no “distraction traction” at play. “Reality exists in the human mind, nowhere else.”

big-brother-is-watching-you-orwellLook, Orwell, said it redundantly in his epic, 1984.  The source of creative ideas, thoughts, not the distraction of things, and definitely not when technology monopolizes the individual, to the extent that sitting alone and thinking feels like punishment.

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever.” I interpret this to mean that Orwell is predicting the decline of humanity.

He also coins the phrase “Big Brother is Watching You”. Fast forward those words to the present. We are being watched. NOW. And everybody knows it. When Orwell wrote “1984”, in the year 1949, he was spinning an imaginative fiction from the guts of his own creative minefield.

This was his fictional prophecy based on a combination of fantasy and fact. The reality and truth of his otherworld view as I see it from the view of today’s life is astounding in the intellectual capacity he used to develop his creative storytelling, and actually take us on a futuristic journey into a new reality. The Matrix, becomes the mini reality of “flatlands” where the 2 dimensional universe appears to be real, when actually it’s only an illusion. Orwell, makes sure we know that 1984 is the New Real. Describing, “double think is how we communicate ” Here, nothing is straight forward. Truth is only a word. There is always 2 sides, and no one is allowed to possess Truth, because it is a counterfeit, an ongoing experiment with no conclusive answer. And if you aren’t careful the Thought Police will get you!

Sound familiar? Eerily like today. In 1984 one of the ways, the people were programmed was by the use of posters. They were everywhere, to constantly remind people, what was up! The Power of the Poster! Today the media has that kind of power! Invasive, inescapable, hypnotic!

So, yes, Orwell predicted this new reality, the one described in the recent Us News Report, that electrocution, zapping, with lasers, stun guns, is for most people preferable to thinking, solo, like Thoreau at Walden Pond, for him pure ecstasy, but, that was a long time ago. Ancient history. Long before the “thought police”, disguised as computers, in their various forms, took over people’s minds, and stripped them of their art, their creativity, and any modicum of individuality they might have  possessed!

art-inspiration-blog-nyc-brooklynSo, the next time you are in a gallery, or have a work of art before you, or pick up a book, or start arguing with your buddy about the words of that Ginsberg poem that makes no sense, ask yourself is this coming from ME? Or is these merely messages superimposed unto my mind through my constant hookup to the machines that I am communicating with all day, everyday? Am I hooked up to the distraction traction of Orwell’s fantasy? Is this the media or me?

Is this Big Brother dictating? Is thinking becoming a painful undesirable activity, as the experiment documented????

Better.    THINK      about that………

The Coney Island State of Mind

coney-island-state-of-mind-poemsConey Island is hip and if in doubt there’s always Brighton beach. That’s the new hipster word on the street for Summer in the City. Hot times! Thank you Lovin Spoonfull!  Thank you Lawrence Ferlinghetti, West coast’s answer to poetic genius! His Coney Island of the Mind is an awesome collection of his Summer of Love point of view with the Coney spin working overtime! Check it out! They are cramming the B the A the F the Q, anxious to hit the boardwalk and the gritty pebble filled sand of these two iconic Nyc legendary beach escapes. Oh Coney has the history of the proverbial cat where it keeps coming back to life, over and over, and Brighton, well is it really America? Whenever I go, I know I’m in Kiev, stepping down from the 75 year old steps of the elevated subway platform engulfed by the smell of knishes, the sound of Russian spoken , the sight of the old world shops and inhabitants of a NY village they have claimed as theirs and made it home. nathans-franks-2014-coney-island-cultureI am thinking about M&M, the Russian food store of all flavors and favorites, the liquor stores where they sell the Vodka Standard the Mother of Vodka, and every flavor Schnappes known to man, and the homemade delicacies offered on the sidewalk stands each one looking tempting and appetizing but I have a mission and it’s the beach so I keep walking walking till I see the glory of the boardwalk and the sky and water beyond.

Tatiana is my sign that I am really here. The boardwalk mega restaurant, serving up every Russian delight in mega portions to the sun drenched , beach lover, who maybe didn’t make it to Miami, or Bahamas , or Long Island but hey, made it here and it feels pretty damn good!

Apartment escapee, summer weekend warrior, Nyc homesteader, you made it to one of the coolest beaches around! The other one is of course Coney Island.

mermaid-parade-2014-brooklyn-nycConey is Pop Central! The dreamland of colorful, kitsch, whimsy, childhood fun of past memories, from Mermaid parade to Famous Nathan’s the Emperor of hotdogs, the Polar Bear clubs meeting place every New Year, and those frank photos iconic and so real of the under the boardwalk make out sessions, of the fifties when coney was the cool summer beach paradise everyone who was anyone escaped to whenever they could.

And now? Well now, it’s cool again. Because hipsters loooove anything that’s kind of tattered, rough around the edges, bohemian, gritty, even if it’s seen as dead and buried by the people who lived it when it was Really cool. Like they discovered a rare artifact while on an archeological dig that’s suddenly made them famous. It’s soo ironic how brighton-beach-brooklyn-ny-blog-culture-artold cool becomes new cool only through hype and bullshit, word of mouth blah blah with a dose of the media megaphone thrown in for good measure.

But for me, I dig it because it’s Verrry POP! Couldn’t get better than Coney for POP culture incarnate. That insane looking roller coaster now rebuilt, the fried clam bars and greasy fries, the oddball diverse mix of people crushing the boardwalk for a glimpse of the ocean, a scent of saltwater, a breath of ocean air, kids hysterical with happiness over the sight of cotton candy, hotdogs, and corny blowup toys, all give me and others the feeling of days long gone, called childhood, where the best thing, the most exciting thing in summer was going to the beach, and for city folk that meant Coney Island.

original-70's-pop-art-brooklynI painted Nathan’s in the 80’s, being attracted to the iconography of the hot dog, one of the important cultural foods symbolic of American life. I saw the artsy pop style trending like an electric current throughout the entire scope of the Coney Island fabulous persona. It is and was there , a powerful, je ne sais quois, element of crazy, fun, excitement, individuality, funk, subterranean stuff the stuff that art comes from the stuff that feeds the artist hunger with an ever abundant source,  inspiring, elevating ,and delivering more and more art.  But face it kids, Coney, and Nathan’s go hand in hand. Coney is Americana on steroids! It’s pop culture at its max. It is the beach place for the people. I mean the Real people. brighton-beach-brooklyn-ny-blog-culture-artThe elite hop the jitney, and head for the Hamptons, or hop their Town car without a look back. But for the Brooklyn, Manhattan transplants who are young, voted for Obama, bearded, tattooed, fedora headed, skinny jean, techies, the Hamptons seems kind of square. Stuffy, old, and wayyyyy too rich. I mean these hipsters aka the young, the “are we gonna be able to get hired after we graduate?” kids, are shacked up 3 and 4 in an apartment, in order to make rent. Hamptons? Uh, isn’t that the Mecca of the Wall Street screw ups who basically have these hipsters in hock for life , with unbelievable student loan bills they won’t ever be able to pay ????? Like, really, are they heading for Hampton hell? Nooooo. It’s Coney, it’s Brighton all the way!

mermaid-parade-2014-coney-island-brooklyn-nycA quick train ride, transversing the hinterlands of avenue H,J,M, Kings  Hwy, Sheepshead Bay, graffiti left over from the 80’s providing an entertaining view as the train takes you closer and closer to the seaside amusement park , that’s hard to believe still exists – a place soooo much cooler than the picture perfect, oasis, aka Hamptons.

That’s what pop culture, art, posters, cards, all represent. Youth. Lightness. Fun. Frivolity. Kooky. Divine. Freedom. Drag. Bukowsky. Satie. Jeff Koons. Elvis. Liza with a Z. Blondie with a B. Kiki with a K!

That’s Coney Island!

It’s Nathan’s!

coney-island-old-brooklyn-nyc-cultureIt’s POP all the way, from that iconic boardwalk ingrained in the bowels of history, to the sparkling icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

It’s fifties legends of romance and pure delight.

And 70’s horror stories of gangland wars, neglect, and the junkie haven it became.

It’s now reborn, renovated, and rediscovered by the new New Yorkers, the hipsters, the kids, the newbies

The old becomes young again!

It’s appeal, it’s nouveau, honky Tonk vibe, is IN again. yes and it’s hip and it delivers in spades.

Lucky us, Brooklynites, Lower Eastsiders, Downtowners, we get to experience the beach in the city , get our grooves on in Coney  technicolor Madness, do summer our way, and beach it with the best!

Old school, new school we are all a part of this urban technicolor dream show in which we live!

GO!

My New Favorite Poster

john-waters-art-culture-1Writer, screen director, raconteur, bon vivant, a personality like no other. Let’s call him John Waters, because that’s who he is. He used to drop in the Greenwich Village bookstore I worked in, during a past life, to check on his new book, browse, and inevitably he would attract autograph hounds and fans who recognized him.  He was always very gracious and happy to oblige. A very cool cat!

john-waters-role-models-bookSo I had to check out his book “Role Models”. When I saw we had it stacked up on the main Info counter in the front of the store. It is autobiographical,  and he shares with us a telescopic view into his private world, the one that led him to evolve into the innovative filmmaker, director, fashionista, author, hitchhiker, and pop culture icon that he is today! WOW. I read this book, calling it a page turner is an understatement, and saw the genius in just how deep still “Waters” run. I know. But it’s true because from his chatting about coming out in his home town of Baltimore, his celebrity crushes, his journey to the present, his show biz persona, his lust for literature, the reader gets him as a real guy and not just an obscure character in a literary biographical text.

john-waters-quoteSo I love his chapters – Bookworm, and Roommates. The thing Waters is super passionate about is reading. His collection of books in his personal library is awe inspiring , thousands of  choices, and he makes it clear just how book crazed he is, owning this obsession with pride! Check out his 5 top books! You probably never heard of them but trust me, you will wish you had!

I thought I was book crazy , but he takes it to another level. So when I wandered into the Strand Bookstore recently after fighting my way through the hipster mob in Union Square Park, dodging the chanting Krishnas , and map clutching, sneaker wearing tourists, and was confronted everywhere amidst the stacks of books, with an avalanche of posters, pins, magnets, totes, postcards, all blasting the same message with John Water’s signature.

“IF YOU GO HOME WITH SOMEBODY & THEY DON’T HAVE BOOKS, DON’T  F**CK  ‘EM”

Hahahahaha. Good one I thought. A smart quote put on a poster, perfect for mass consumption. Great!

john-waters-quote-posterLet’s just say I was delightfully, gleefully surprised, and happy to see this sexy message exposed publicly in such a commercial venue, projecting that rare combo of literature and lust.

A real attention getter!

Ok. I get it and I agree. And it’s John Water’s message now reproduced on stuff into eternity. Pretty Cool. In “Role Models”, he emphasizes his rapture with the written word and the intellectual, cultural, and social info,as well as the pure pleasure he gets from his personal library , bookstores, libraries, reminding  us of how his discovery of playwright Tennessee Williams when he was 12 years old was a transforming moment his hometown library, and how this discovery had a lightbulb effect. Meeting Tennessee ‘s dark, twisted, lonely, and ultimately human characters in his novels and plays showed him that it was ok to be different, “Tennessee Williams saved my life”. Yes, Williams provided a door in Bookland that opened into the non conformists paradise of special people who didn’t fit in and had no desire to do so. This chapter, BookWorm, is overflowing with Water’s passion for literature, confirming without a doubt that John Waters LOVES books. I say Hell to the Yes!  Thank God because today john-waters-art-culturepeople don’t read. Not like they used to. The computer has made them lazy. Bookstores have been closing like it’s the end of time in a Sci-Fi novel, and the epic Bradbury classic Fahrenheit 451 doesn’t seem so crazy anymore. Waters talks about how to him, riches aren’t about buying houses and cars and jewelry. Being rich to Waters, the guy who thinks outside the box, means he gets to buy books with a wanton freedom, never having to look at the price and discriminate. In bookspeak that means never having to give up a favorite choice, when you really want more. No need to choose through that hateful process of elimination. An impossible task for book people who love whatever their eye is drawn to, and if you read the first page without putting it down, guess what? You’re hooked! You have to have it. Love really is blind for the book lover set loose in his favorite bookstore. So yes John Waters, it’s good that you can afford to go crazy at the bookstore choosing what you want and not what you can only afford. That does make you really rich!

john-waters-art-cultureBut back to this poster. The one about books and sex. If it isn’t it should be your new standard, your raison d’être, your mantra. This concept of books as aphrodisiac, is off the grid, kinda like, reminiscent of whoever it was who said that the Mind is the sexiest part of the body? The “sexy librarian” mystique didn’t come from nowhere now did it?

The provocative message is chock full of real time substance because if you are a reader, and your lover is not, well, duh, maybe you won’t have a lot to talk about. Because reader people have a whole lot on their minds. A wealth of worldly info resides in the head of the reader. Along with a shitload of useless trivia, and banal nonsense. We get annoyed and frustrated when an acquaintance never heard of Secret History, or Rilke Journals,  or Howl, or Down and Out in Paris and London, or Hemingway’s Moveable  Feast, or the surreal world of Murakami.  Like hey, let’s talk. About some really cool stuff. But as the saying goes it takes 2 to tango. And to have a conversation. Readers and non readers have a communication problem. And according to Water’ s sexy new poster, a sex problem as well!

john-waters-hairsprayMaybe you don’t hang on Crosby Street at the Housing Works bookstore, an old school style bookstore still going strong in the Soho, Nyc neighborhood of celebrities, tourists, and people watchers.

Perhaps the Strand is not your thing, maybe you missed drag queen Divine in Pink Flamingos, Water’s star performer in his cult classics, like Mondo Trasho, Hairspray, Polyester, and other films that, Waters himself describes as exercises in bad taste, but they created a buzz, made Divine, the “Drag Queen of the Century”, and sealed Water’s success in the underground film world as a unique and prolific director.

cy-twombly-art-culture-nyc-2As is true for many writers and readers they also love art. Either as creators, or collectors. Art and books are a match made in culture heaven. In “Role Models”, his chapter called “RoomMates” gives us a look-see into his roomies, and by Roommates he is referring to his art collection, the constant companions he lives with and considers his friends. He seems to choose his “Roommates”, based on personal instincts that have nothing much to do with the going popular trend or fad. He just likes what he likes, and takes it home to live with him.  He is happy he doesn’t live with human beings and happier that the artists whose work he does live with are such an adaptable  match for him and above all, doesn’t take up his “mental space.” Cy Twombly has always been one of my favorites, and after reading this chapter,  I discover he is also Water’s idol. His attempt to describe what it’s like to “read” a Twombly painting is excruciating, because Twombly challenges with a vigor that disrupts and disturbs. It is an exercise in mind opening, head spinning, mind altering craziness. If you want to mess with someone. Put a Twombly in front of them and watch their reaction.

john-waters-quote-art-cultureEverything cool for those of us who think outside the box is in this book. If you are living in the material world you won’t get him, but if you are one of the “special” ones, who exist in their own unique and original boundless life, removed from the matrix of conformist limitations and social expectations, it’s got it all! The movies, the sex, the fashion, the culture, the books, the art, and even Johnny Mathis. An all purpose manual for unique personalities walking their own path. Sheeple need not bother. They just won’t get it!

Waters is the ultimate non conformist thinker, he does it HIS way, even if it makes no sense to anyone else , he doesn’t care. Sounds like a real artist to me. The real deal. No posing involved. His philosophy NOW and FOREVER documented and immortalized on posters everywhere gets it right!

City ReaderThe power of the Poster! For Everyone Everywhere! Where the visual and the literal meet and give us not just what we want, but what we need to expand our dreams, give depth to our lives, inspiring our goals, and challenging our minds, bringing beauty and interest into our world, through message and design, funk and fashion, fun, and fantasy! POSTERS HAVE IT ALL!!!

For those who love cool posters check out my Pop art Etsy store & my original paintings on canvas & paper.

 

The Vanishing Artists’ City

grays-papaya-vintage-nycOne of my favorite blogs is Jeremiah’s Vanishing  New York. In it he he chronicles the latest businesses in NYC to be closed down in lieu of the latest trend of condo buildings, yogurt shops, banks, and drugstores, cupcake shops, and of course ANOTHER Starbucks! We have all seen the change, that is those of us who have called NYC our home for 20 years plus. The newbies, on the other hand,  think that Today is Yesterday, as it has Always been. Wrong. Jeremiah laments as do I , the slow but steady, destruction of the authentic quality we always thought was Nyc, the mom and pop stores, the dive bars, the cafés, the artists lofts, the storefront galleries, and of course the music clubs like CBGB, Max’s, and of course the Bottom Line on West 3rd street. In the village. In another time.

pop-art-nyc-blogUs Boomer types remember Nyc was a place, where artists thrived, and grew on inspiration that came from living in an environment where raw energy pulsated the minute you stepped outside. It was a feeling that was both invigorating, as well as intimidating , the perfect combo for aspiring artists to do different unique things, like make art, make music, or make those ideas come to life between the pages of a novel, a poem, a dance. To stake their claim on that city that Never slept!

subway-graffiti-vintage-nycNyc offered up a  symbolic plate littered with dirt, graffiti covered subways, Bowery winos, Times Square hookers , and Union Square junkies, Washington Square folkies, and the hustler bars of the now mad glam Meat Packing District. Not the sterile, frigid, boring, redundant duplicity of businesses, all controlling, and infiltrating our city with the power of money that is accelerating the city’s artistic and cultural demise. Yea, Broadway is still lit up,but do you have 200$ to pocket a ticket? Culture has become a very expensive commodity where it once was a natural life force available for everyone, not relegated only for the wealthy. James Agee, author of in praise of famous men said in his Letters to Father Flye, his mentor, “the general verdict is that I can do a lot if I don’t write advertisements. If I remain convinced they’re right, I’ll croak before I write ads, or sell bonds, or do anything except write. Little writing as I ‘very done, and little confidence as I’ve a right to, I still feel that life is short and that no other earthly thing is as important to me as learning how to write. And for that you must have time!” Agee went on to write “Let us Now Praise Famous Men”.  Check it out!

overpriced-nyc-apartmentsToday, do artists have the luxury of making statements like that and actually achieving it? In a city that used to be an artists paradise, the point of no return, Greenwich Village,a place the artist could live cheaply and devote himself to his art, where writers like Dawn Powell, Djuna Barnes, Edna st v Millay,  Dylan Thomas, Jack Kerouac, Alan Ginsberg, Eugene O’Neil, Mark Twain, Thomas Wolfe, photographer Diane Arbus, and many more,made their mark as icons of the literary world forever . Well, none of them could afford to live in today’s Village. NYU owns it and it is EXPENSIVE!  Today’s artists don’t live in NYC, unless they are in the minority of the wealthy class, but aside from that, that ” lovin feeling” is no longer here. That Real Thing has Vanished into the abyss of commerce and so called progressand leaving us with a counterfeit, that seduces with the allure of fantastically pricey dreams where celebrities ,models ,and Wall Street tycoons,  abide in lofty penthouses and multi million dollar town houses and uber fabulous lofts sipping Veuve, taking the art out of the equation, and replacing it with the art of the $$$$.

vintage-nyc-building-picVanishing New York?  Yes. Vanishing artists? Ditto. Because the left over artists still here are starting to flee. In a revealing book’ entitled,  ” Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York” ( or any artist ) a group  of individual artists, writers specifically, describe how and why they left NY. Why did the love affair sour? When did the honeymoon end?

So to speak. Check out this book for a real expose of the city’s decline artistically.

vintage-8th-street-nycBeware of the gentrification, the sterilizing process, stripping Nyc of it’s personality, uniqueness, soul, and transforming it into the proverbial Disney-esque shopping mall. For an artist this is Not a good look. A city barren of small galleries, bookshops, music stores, dive bars, diners, small businesses, family owned  shops, is not cool. This glass towered condo dominated, yogurt infested paradise might appeal to the hipster nation who don’t know any better or to the Nouveau New Yorker , but to the pioneers , the locals,  it’s a royal bummer.

Yes, I know the days of Cedar Tavern,  on University Place,the hangout for the ab – ex crowd, the storefront w 10th st galleries, book shop row on 4th avenue, are long gone, as are the rat infested Soho factories, abandoned  years before the painters made them studios and living spaces in the 70’s, the famous 8th st bookstore on Macdougal,  where beat writers like Jack Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Neil Cassidy,Bill Burroughs, hung out, yes this all died a slow , excruciating death , and there is very little left now but fading reminders of a past that is. No More. John O’Hara, poet extraordinaire , cranking out his hip downtown flavored verse while slugging thru his day job at the MOMA bookstore, Jackson Pollock, grinding out canvases in his tiny apt on 8th st, before he had his splatter paint epiphany in his barn on Long Island ; these events were symptomatic of the NYC,  the place artists came to make art in the ultimate creative atmosphere,  where different was good, and the same was boring,  but sadly, that is not what we see today. Today we see a business centric world , in which art is a business like any other. Go Big, Go for the money, or Go Home! The new NYC mantra, calling the sheeple who pose as artists, —- but are they Really?

vintage-nyc-cultureThe hipster, trust fund babies, Wall Street climbers, celebrity bubble wannabes, cell phone addicts, 15$ cocktails slurpers,  shoppers mall paradise automatons,  Starbucks swamped computer mesmerized stool sitters, and tourists, the huge tourist mob crowding our streets, all eager, desperate,  for a taste of the NY State  of Mind. Except it’s really NOT. Now, it’s just a really glitzy, over crowded, obscenely expensive city, with a whole lot of entertainment, all yours to indulge in, if only for a very high price tag. You will be raiding the ATM, and it will empty out faster than you can say “dinner and drinks at The Gansevoort!”

Mudd-Club-Plaque-NYCAnd no, a CBGB would not survive today. or a Mudd Club.  Too raw, too dirty, too rough, for the affected poseur trends that the young hipsters are besotted with today. After all they know today’s Nyc , the new cleaned up version. Because the truth is what Jeremiah document s  every day in his on top of the moment blog!  New York City Is REALLY VANISHING, and with it go the artists, that made their home here, thrived, leaving their footprints, their thumb prints, their DNA, from the days of the Provincetown Players to the Warhol headquarters at Union Square, to the 8th street Bookstore, to the Soho rookies, OK Harris, and Leo Castelli, to LeRoi Jones and Diane diPrima, the Beats, all earned their street cred here in the Art Capital City of the World when it was not only a possibility, but a dream expected to manifest into reality and so it did.

computer-obsession-nycToday, NYC is about Reality, not the dream. The dream, these days, is about another New York, of yesterday, but the harsh reality of today’s New New York hits the ever expanding flock, the minute they begin their  city march, subway bound, plugged in, automatons on the beat, fedoras cocked just so, eyes glued to the ubiquitous iphone, oblivious to the Vanishing Artist City before them, and what is forever lost.

Pop Poet of Greenwich Village

ee-cummings-poet-art-nycE.E. Cummings. Poet extraordinaire. Long inhabitant of 4 Patchin Place, a tiny enclave in Greenwich Village, where he lived most of his life, writing  poetry, next door to his neighbor Djuna Barnes, the eccentric novelist. Cummings was prolific and passionate about his art of choice which was poetry, and he developed a unique style of wording, using grammatical syntax and confusing sequences to make his poems real. Proper grammar interested him not and neither did punctuation or trivialities like capital letters in appropriate places. To say that he claimed his craft with a unique and rare vengeance would be an understatement! There is no mistaking a poem by EE Cummings. When he writes:

Buffalo Bill’s

Defunct

Who used to

Ride a water-smooth-silver

Stallion

And break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat

Jesus

He was a handsome man

And what I want to know is

How do you like your blue yes boy

mister Death

 

What am I reading one might ask?

What is he talking about?

What IS he talking about?

 

A more typical response would just be “huh”?

ee-cummings-poet-art-nycEE was just doing his thing, that is writing poems the way he wanted to. His style, his ideas, his way of taking the inner and transmitting it to the outer, with his own concocted, kooky word play and conflicting images was not only brilliant, it raised his creative power to a higher level.

Fun to read. Like figuring out a puzzle, a poem puzzle. Reading a painting can be like that. Especially if it’s in the surrealist or abstract realm because it’s totally subjective. Who you are determines what you see.  Pop art has especially gotten a bad rap from the self acclaimed art judges who love to call pop, stupid or silly or crazy or just not art period! Why?  Because it looks so free, so colorful, so whimsical? Pop brings out the child in the artist in a special way. All art has that childish liberating component, but  POP especially seems to dominate in that arena of light hearted pure whimsy. Like Andy Warhol said, ” Pop art is for Everyone!”

Reading Cummings: #34 from his collection:

 

“a thrown a

-way It

with some-

Thing sil

-very

 

;bright,&:mys(

 

a thrown a-

way

X

-mas)ter-

 

I

 

-ous wisp A of glo-

Ry.pr

-testily

cl(tr)in(ee)gi-

 

OKaaaaay.

greenwich-village-art-nycWhat IS that? Is he playing with all of us, or is he using poetry to stimulate our minds and force us to rethink, analyze, dissect and then form our own conclusion as to what exactly did we just read?  A common phrase I overhear while gallery browsing, is “Oh my 4 year old could do that, or that’s art?…. Are they crazy”? When facing Morris Louis squiggly lines, or Clifford Stills‘ harsh black canvases of space, or the Albers geometric boxes, the common reactions of scorn and ridicule can be daunting to the emerging artist who knows that his art is also susceptible to a similar humiliating critique. But so what? Like EE and his insane sounding poetry, the painter and his deranged masterpieces will thrive because of, and in spite of the audiences poisonous darts.

That’s the risk the artist takes as a part of the job we have been hired to do by the Divine Source. There is no insurance policy, no job security,for the poet sitting at his typewriter, or the painter, brush in hand staring at the vast emptiness of the white canvas before him. Are we trying to please the others out there, or are we pleasing ourselves from within? The outside people pleasing game is a lost cause for any artist. How can we possibly know what people like?

pop-art-canvas-for-sale-nycThe goal for the artist should be to keep inspiration in high gear and continue to work. EE Cummings, in his tiny studio on Patchin place morphed into one of the most well known poets of the 20th century!  Jackson Pollock threw paint unto his canvases strewn on the floor of his barn and made history. Edward Hopper looked out the windows of his Washington Square North studio and documented the solitude of the city in startling realism. Night Hawks, the painting inspired from his daily walks in Greenwich Village to his favorite diner, now so intrinsic to pop-art-poster-nyc-brooklynAmerIcan culture that Everybody recognizes it. William de Kooning helped make that new crazy art form, named abstract expressionism , more than just a fad of the 1950’s, but a serious new chapter in art, like cubism, impressionism, surrealism, pop, and there are so many more examples, that define the creative genius spawned from that supernatural gift, that says it’s Your making and doing and so what if people don’t get it now one day they will.

So. If you think you are an artist, you probably are an artist. Otherwise why would you imagine such an absurd thing? Play the Monopoly Game of Life, and Just Pass Go! The Being is in the Doing. When someone looks at your painting or reads your poem and says “HUH”?  just think of Pop Poet E.E. Cummings and Buffalo Bill and smile! More importantly Keep Doing it!!!

Translate »