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Thursday, September 30, 2010

2010: A New Decade of Clay Opening

Below is a slideshow of pics from the opening of "2010: A New Decade of Clay," and from some of the clay day activities that preceded it -- many thanks to Ryland Swiegard for taking them. Click on the "full screen" button at bottom right for the best viewing.

There is also a gallery of all the work included in the show here:

Here are a few select pics:

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Beat Goes On

"Howl," the movie I did some storyboarding for, opened in limited release this past weekend. If not for the obligations of Candy Dance, I would've trekked out to San Francisco see it on the big screen -- it doesn't seem to be coming to Reno, so I'll probably catch it when it opens in Sacramento or Davis in a couple weeks. The reviews appear to be a replay of the reaction it got when it opened Sundance -- opinions are all over the map. And it's not just that opinion is split: there also seems to be general disagreement about which parts of the movie work and which parts don't. Some people find the animation imaginative and striking, others find it over-literal (one reviewer found the animation "pornographic" and "fruity"(!)). Some find the coutroom scenes, detailing the obscenity trial for "Howl," an enthralling re-enactment of literary and legal analysis, others find them stiff and static. The one thing most agree on, across the board, is that James Franco gives a fine performance as Ginsberg, transcending his moviestar good looks to get at his subject's soulfulness (not that Ginsberg would've objected to a cinematic reincarnation as marquee-ready beefcake; and at any rate, he actually was cute when he was young).

A worthwhile piece that uses the release of the film to talk about the social context of "Howl," when the poem first appeared, is How "Howl" Changed the World, by Fred Kaplan. Here's an excerpt:

Ginsberg proved prophetic. The same year that he wrote "Howl," Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns were breaking free from the cage of Abstract Expressionism. Over the next few years, Ornette Coleman and Miles Davis would free jazz from the structure of chord-changes; Norman Mailer would smash the barrier between literature and journalism, the subjective self and the world; Allan Kaprow would stage the first "Happenings," which blurred the boundaries between spectacle and spectator, art and life; Lenny Bruce and Mort Sahl created a new stand-up comedy that rejected mere jokes for jazz-inflected monologues on politics, race, and religious hypocrisy.

(Although I feel obliged to note that Kaplan mischaracterizes Eric Drooker, the designer of the animation, as a "graffiti artist," when in fact he was a street poster artist)

Serendipitously, I was recently reacquainted with an example of beat poetry making ripples in popular culture, when Ralph Carney posted a link to the below clip on his facebook feed. The beats, as Kaplan underscores, were cultural outsiders -- they were also too distinctive to avoid a translation into the more mainstream entertainments of the day. The clip of Phillipa Fallon as a beat poet showed up in the B-movie High School Confidential, two years after the publication of "Howl." It's more or less a square's version of hip, but Fallon brings it all the way back to cool again somehow.

If you'd prefer to hear pure beat performance, unfiltered through the lens of 50s teensploitation, here's Ginsberg himself (click through to youtube for the full performance -- and be warned that the language makes it NSFW):

And lastly, here's a clip of Ginsberg on William F. Buckley's "Firing Line." Though Buckley drips contempt, it's weirdly quaint to see two ideological opposites being civil while talking past each other. It's a transmission that might as well be from another world.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

SNC clay at Northstar

Above is a slideshow of some of the work by SNC students and faculty being shown in conjunction with the "New Decade of Clay" show at Northstar. My apologies to folks whose work has been left out -- I had an unorganized day of shooting, with daughter Julia in tow, in an off mood.

Click the "full screen" button at the bottom right of the slideshow player for the best experience.

SNC Art-Related Events this Weekend

SNC has a contingent out at the Candy Dance Faire in Genoa -- it's an annual pilgrimage for us, flipping & selling burgers to raise some extra dough for the department, in the middle of a giant craft faire. So come on by today or tomorrow if you're feeling a bit crafty -- and if you're also feeling a bit hungry, just follow the column of blue hamburger smoke till you see us.

If you're feeling a bit more musical and less hamburgery, there are also a couple chances to hear Music Prof Donna Axton in a piano recital with Eunice Marion, playing Mozart and Gershwin.

Here's the info via Donna:

This Saturday night (7pm) in Patterson Hall, I will be giving an informal piano recital with another pianist, Eunice Marion. We will be playing “duets” on the piano – meaning 4 hands and one piano. We will start with Mozart and end with Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.

If you can’t make that concert we will be giving the recital again at Squaw Valley Chapel at 3 pm on Sunday

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Art for Park's Sake

A couple weekends ago I heard a news story about Yantai Park in China -- a story of public works being influenced by an artist. According to the source of the story:

Park officials in China have found a way to stop people from hogging their benches for too long - by fitting steel spikes on a coin-operated timer.

If visitors at the Yantai Park in Shangdong province, eastern China, linger too long without feeding the meter, dozens of sharp spikes shoot through the seat.

The spikes are too short to cause any serious harm - but long enough to prevent people from sitting on them comfortably.

Park bosses got the idea from an art installation in Germany where sculptor Fabian Brunsing created a similar bench as a protest against the commercialisation of modern life.

Here's video of the work by Brunsing:

PAY & SIT: the private bench (HD) from Fabian Brunsing on Vimeo.

I have to admit a degree of skepticism toward the veracity of this story. It's been much-disseminated, but thinly sourced. For one thing, it seems like an awfully costly way to keep people moving. I was living in San Francisco when the city changed the design of the bus stop benches -- they went from being normal, static benches to thin slats which, when you stood up from them, swiveled on hinges at the sides so that the flat seating surface dropped vertical.

I wondered what the designer of those benches was thinking when he or she designed them. I'm sure it was possible to rationalize the design as something that returned the benches to their original utility: letting commuters have a place to sit, rather than having that place co-opted by snoozing vagrants. Regardless, the design helped to turn public spaces more transparently ruthless. It was impossible to just think of a bench as just a bench -- it was also politics.

(It should additionally be noted that it was impossible to sleep on them, but it was also uncomfortable to sit on them. In preparation for the commute, you were no longer sitting but perching, in a slightly anxious posture that, in the morning, abetted the nervous jolt of your first shot of coffee, and in the evening gave one final sciatic tweak to a back that had suffered eight or more hours propped by the minimal ergonomics of office furniture. That was the one point at which the design was at least somewhat egalitarian -- it wasn't just the behavior of the homeless that was being modified. )

If the Yantai park story is a fake, the general acceptance of it signals China as a prime imaginative locale into which we can project our anxieties about the future -- our anxieties about the scale at which modern life is pitched. It wouldn't be entirely unearned. The certifiably-true story of the 11-day traffic jam in China managed to make Godard's celebrated traffic-jam tracking shot in "Week End" seem kind of quaint:

If the Yantai park story is true, it's yet another demonstration of the feebleness of satire in the face of the news. The velocity of the imagination can't keep up with the outrageousness of contemporary exigency. In this sort of environment, artists can easily turn from social critics to reluctant "visionaries" -- and it's only a matter of time before Krzysztof Wodiczko's "homeless vehicles" start rolling off an assembly line, as a matter of public policy.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

"A New Decade of Clay" at Northstar, Sept. 18

Just a reminder that "A New Decade of Clay" is coming soon:

Sierra Nevada College, together with Clay Times magazine and Northstar-at-Tahoe, is pleased to be hosting a national juried ceramics show beginning September 18th in the village at Northstar and continuing through October 16th, 2010. The exhibit “A New Decade of Clay: 2010” will feature ceramic pieces from artists across the country to be juried by internationally renowned ceramist Richard Shaw. A kickoff celebration/opening is taking place on September 18th, with events from 1 until 5pm to include ceramic demonstrations, a kids’ clay table, and “pottery Olympics.” A reception will be held afterwards, beginning at 6pm.

More info here:

The Grand Prize winning piece is by Paul F. Morris from Fort Collins, Colorado, and is entitled “Brocca Di Fuoco (Rosso e Giallo).” Dimensions: 24” x 6” x 14.5”; Slips and Glazes on Stoneware; $2400.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Shirt Off Their Backs

The Plastisol T-Shirt show is up for about another week at the Reference Gallery, on the third floor of Prim Library. Check it out in person, and if you're so inspired, purchase a bit of wearable art: