Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Gorgon's Riddle Updated and Remixed

And what exactly is the Gorgon's Riddle that has endured the sands of time and is that which takes us to this present day? 

The Gorgon (one of the ones who incidentally did not lose its head) gave a riddle for those who wished to seek safe passage and to avoid instant petrification upon sight.  The riddle was and remains the following:

"When exactly is a man most like a beautiful flower? 

The correct answer which allowed for safe passage and denies instant petrification was and remains the following simple and direct answer.

"Man is perhaps most like a beautiful flower when he plays soccer with his fellows (who include children and young women) in springtime.

Dear reader, you now have the answer to an ancient riddle that will allow you to travel far and wide in safety and humility. 

Under the most beautiful conditions (and actual pre-conditions) of fellowship with others, man may perhaps remember that he has become as if a flower playing on the astroturf in springtime. 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Ralph Ellison Essay in PDF Format Below Via Paul Devlin

Ralph Ellison essay I picked up today and wanted to share with you.  It comes from the Root online.  The America Artist and His Audience, was a gift waiting to be plucked today, the day of the approaching Rapture.  :)

I am looking forward to reading the above Ellison esay as soon as time allows and thought you should know of this. 

The article regarding Dr. Cornell West and his well reported beef with President Obama is a must to read elsewhere on as well and the subsequent commentary at the Root which says quite a bit.  I will reserve any comments because as it is, I love both men and hold them in the highest esteem.  No side taking here. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Inner City Mousie Story

Out for a morning walk with my pit bull dog, the two of us walked into a woman looking down and a little friend of hers there, brown and still and very small.  It was an adolescent mouse, not too big and not too small with his round back very still there in the middle of the sidewalk.  He wasn't moving and we both spoke about how he might in fact be dying. 

The city is overrun with rodents now worse than ever or so it seems.  They squeak around and do some not nice scary running, creeping in my neighbors bed for one thing and scaring me by scurrying around so if you live in a brownstone and don't have a cat, you're likely having visitors.  You've likely had uninvited visitors since the cold winter where they look for food and shelter like every other critter. 

We suggested that the little critter might make his move because someone walking by would probably step on him and the hard concrete is a very undignified way for any living animal to leave this world. 

The neighbor, a lovely and mature Latina said she hated it when she saw animals sick or dying.  We both felt the same way.  She pointed to the fact that she even went so far as to share a piece of the apple her friend had given her.  She shared a chunk of apple with the small mouse.  He stood there not moving and she said that he was eating it. 

Finally, and with the both of us feeling sorry for the little mouse - she spoke to him and suggested he move over to the nearby garden and not in a hurry and not entirely slow either, he managed his way over to the garden, believe it or not, as if he understood the necessity to do so. 

He left his chunk of apple behind him which my neighbor quickly picked up and placed near him in the garden.  By necessity, we left him in the garden on this beautiful spring day to make his way.  To make it and go on or to end his days which may have come to an end with the possibility of a stomach somewhat filled with  a friendly neighbor's apple. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Stories From the Past Looking Forward

Many years ago when I was a student of Tai Chi, and while lunching with friends from our group in Chinatown, I entered a small trinkets shop to ask, why were they selling small figurines of African, Black males, on display in the window? 

It didn't make sense to me, I couldn't on the surface of things and as I stood outside the shop wondering, why would an Asian shop owner have such items for sale?  When I entered the store and after looking around a moment or two, I asked the question of why?  Why sell black figurines? 

The shop owner was an elderly man who was kind enough to answer my question and with insight and at the same time; the shop owner also taught me a little something about Han culture.  He said that the Han saw American Blacks who had been oppressed for so long, but who had fought oppression, he said the Han saw them as role models, that their struggle to overcome suppression and the seeming timeless hatred and discrimination against them.  Blacks had survived so much against them and Blacks were to be admired.  His answer did surprise me, it was unexpected.

The Han shop owner went on to correct something I was completely unaware of as well and that was, my use of the word, "Chinese."  In our discussion, I must have used the name Chinese but, he was quick to note and to inform me politely that the "Chinese" were not really "Chinese." He informed and educated me to the fact that the so called "Chinese," are really of the Han people and call themselves Han. 

(Doing some research just yesterday on this, I found that there's more to what is involved and there are divisions of the Han people based on Dynasty periods and so forth but that's a side issue). 

Suffice to say, I treasure the memory of that day in the shop with my friends.  It was a moment and point of contact, and a sharing I never would have otherwise dreamed of. 

Alternatively, in another completely different context - yesterday, I shared a story with my neighbor as we made our way over to pick up some groceries.  I hadn't seen her all winter and we talked over ourselves often in our conversations but, I shared with her another story that I will share with visitors here. 

I told her of a young girl, perhaps twenty five years ago who lived in my neighborhood.  She was African American and lived in one of the less than luxury tenements in our neighborhood of million dollar brownstones. 

I saw this long ago neighbor one day and barely recognized her, she had grown up.  I hadn't seen her in twenty years more or less.  She told me she had just stepped off a plane from Japan and that she was a Japanese resident for many years.  She moved to Japan years ago and began teaching, started a family with a Japanese man she fell in love with but that day she was visiting relatives in New York. 

(Oddly, I saw her again on her last day of the visit, as she was preparing to board a plane back to Japan with her daughter who of course was fluent in Japanese.) 

She explained to me that she was making a nice living in Japan, teaching and singing in Jazz clubs. She also had other business interests of starting her own school, in other words, she had a whole new life. 

She also shared how her daughter was ostracized, made fun of for being African American and Chinese but you might think, that would be expected.  The Japanese are conservative people with certain set views on any number of things, interracial marriage with one of their own is one of their social taboos apparently.  Who can say? 

At any rate, she told me something I will always remember.  Her in-laws didn't particularly like her at first.  They were afraid of her and for their son.  She was American.  She was African American.  She had a gun.  All African Americans own and carry guns.  In parenthesis, all African Americans are violent. 

Why wouldn't the Japanese consider that the overwhelming majority of Americans across the country own and carry guns and that they are not African American but Caucasian Americans? 

My former young neighbor told me that, Japanese TV always showed Blacks in America as "being violent."  Her in laws were frankly afraid for quite a while, of her and what a life with her would be for their son.  Blacks were always involved in some violent crime or other, they had seen this countless times on Japanese television. 

I contrast the two scenarios here because they are fresh in my mind and because, they point to the importance of perspective

Yes, perspective, a right (or wrong) way of thinking, thinking freely or being brainwashed and, the necessity for each of us in our own way and time, for each of us to be be tolerant with each the other and to be free thinkers as much as possible.  If we could only get a handle on that, we as individuals and the we of nations would have come a great distance in terms of peaceful co-existence, brotherhood, fellowship and outright evolution of the species. 

Despite propaganda media, despite our obvious phenotype differences and freedom of restriction of freedom of thought and expression - we can chose the high road and thankfully many of us do on a daily basis. It's something that requires constant vigilance though.  I know, the statement above may sound too simplistic and maybe even, unsophisticated and naive but, be that as it may. 

One thing seems clear to me, when we let go of our God given ability to be free thinkers and fellows in this world of a multitude of others who do not think like us or look like us but who are "us" in the final, human analysis - we have lost our humanity or some vital part of our humanity. The loss of humanity is one thing.  The poor thing is barbaric or uncivilized or stupid or backwards or whatever but pathological fear of others who are different makes it easy and by necessity or by extension, some would say, easier to destroy or look to destroy the different ones and those who think differently.

Xenophobia is a pathology state.  A sickness that stems in part from from fear and misinterpretation of others who are different and who think and live differently than we do and those in our race, our group, our clique, our church, our club, our neighborhood or hood. The list goes on and on, doesn't it? 

We should not only struggle ourselves but actively teach our children to think clearly and freely as much as possible even as, we go globally into a darker period in our collective global times.  It is more important now than perhaps ever that we try harder to have the correct perspective and to teach our young ones the same.

But back to the story, apparently, the Chinese do not have the same media coverage that the Japanese do or if they do, at least some portion of the people chose, I should repeat they used their free will and chose (certainly at least in this instance of one Han man in New York city selling black male figurines); to  see American Blacks as heroic and not violent! Perspective.  

All joking aside about the media, it is one that has and does focus on Black crime and violence as we all know - somewhere in there, current day Han people put it together in small art objects, little black figurines, in order to make a statement and pass it on through display and sales to others.  They chose to see after coming to know that the struggles for equality and freedom of African Americans in America as heroic and worthy and beautiful. 

The Japanese don't hold all the conservative cards though, do they?  Han society is in many regards also conservative and there are present day issues with the arts and in other areas that point to the severity of government of China in terms of blocking information, Internet, discourse etc. With their long history and tradition, they too will have to grow up and let go of some of their conservatism as the future unfolds for them as well.  The growing up for the Han going forward will be more as a rejuvenation, a youthful turn of the tide away from conservatism. 

(They have a new relationship with Africa which is also interesting as their country grows and expands going forward.) 

Perspective and a lifetime of struggle to reach a correct perspective for ourselves and our loved ones who are presumably the future of this world is everything.  In contrast to the commercial of some recent times in which the slogan was:  "The right relationship is everything." 

Honestly, if the right relationship is everything it may only be in the context of the right perspective in relationships being everything. 

We owe it to ourselves not to be brainwashed as much as it is within our power to be free and, as much as it may go against the grain of society as our collective societies reach a decline (or as the kids say, "burst of the bubble"). 

Han China and Japan may need to grow up but we need to grow up in the traditional sense of the world. Our country is young.  America needs to grow up but in the true sense of the word, grow up from our our own brand of fears and class differences, of the threats and horrors of our past racist history, etc.  Tolerance, tolerance and more tolerance of others because, we live with so many different cultures and ethnic groups, our case is perhaps a special one. 

The correct perspective, so hard to come by perhaps but now more than every, correct perspective is what is so necessary.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Art World Turns

The Evangelicals say that the Rapture is rapidly approaching and I am not sure what to make of the end of the world and the start of the evermore on earth (my interpretation of the Rapture here with apologies if I got it wrong).  What has already arrived is the long awaited day when Europe and their yearly art festivals would open entry to other neglected artists to represent their disregarded nations of the world.  Africa, the Middle East and I suppose everyone is welcome now at major art festivals, the Venice Biennale, case in point.

Visitors don't get me wrong, I love the Italians and European culture but my question is, why now?  Why ever?  Why not before, the Middle East artists, the African American male artists and so on?  Although I am not sure I will be able to find answers to these questions, it is interesting that now, even the N'words from the United States can participate!  Imagine that.

Is it that the art world has grown up that it has decided to make a bit of room for other viewpoints, other visions and other standards of beauty as well as sheer ugliness (these modalities are universal after all). 

Since I am not an art historian, I may not be able to on my own get to the answer of the questions I pose here but that does not stop me from wondering and from looking to find answers.  I know, it might be like asking why did the end of slavery end when it did?  Why not sooner?  Why not later?  That too would take a historian to put perspective and all that goes with it, in order to answer the question. 

Whatever the case may be, I leave this as an open ended discussion for future analysis and hopefully the trend marks a true beginning.  A crew of African American (male) artists show this year in Italy at one or another main art events.  This Venice Biennale may be the location, I'm not entirely sure but then, my question goes to why just males?  Where are the African American female artists who could represent (but please, not the usual suspects, KW (I'll use initials here but you can figure it out, I'm sure) or other regressive and stereotypical types)?  Where are we in the mix?  The obvious answer is that we are not in the mix, not that I know of, as yet.  Ah, left out even until the end, what does that say?  Wouldn't it be thrilling that when the time did arrive for African American artists who happen to be women, when the best of the bunch had the opportunity to represent overseas in Europe (if we'll ever "represent" very much here at home). 

One can hope and wish and pray and hold one's breath but, I have the feeling when the time arrives for Black women, the old worn, tried and true to the stereotype visions of slavery times in one context, one form of another will be there representing the United States and where exactly will the forward looking visionary African American artists who just happen to be women be in the mix?  I think we will see what is put forward as American culture, beauty and meaning will be a backwards looking one when the world turns to spotlight the best that our country has to offer.  It doesn't have to be the case and it will be interesting to see who the curators will be to perpetuate the same, old, weary and tragic American legacy or a forward looking, visionary contribution that is alive in the work of American artists who look to the present day and perhaps, just maybe, a more glorious future for themselves and for all of us vis-a-vis, the creation of an American art history of caliber and worth. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Youth Culutre & The Same Old, Art Players: Intro to a Perspective

Americans and (I will say 'their' and not 'our') their proverbial focus on youth and youth culture have it all wrong. 

It makes sense from the viewpoint of fresh and beautiful or young and lovely or up and coming or nice and new but from another perspective, youth culture is sheerly a commercial fabrication and a false purveyor of what culture Americans should be passing on as art history when; it's often the low ball and low road of what it is to be creative and contribute to a culture of art in our country and by extension, to the exporting and global reach of artists who the Europeans and Asians will often not buy at auction. 

What's wrong with the picture?  Why aren't the artists of a true caliber or worth being brought forward?  There are any number of questions we can ask whether we are in the world of art, viewing it from the outside or strictly outsiders on the fringe. 

I ask myself these questions when I see what goes for awards and honors and it is not bitterness or sour grapes that I am disgusted in many instances.  Why are the key players always the same?  Why are they always in the press receiving awards and making art history?  It just doesn't make sense. 

The names hardly need mentioning, those who follow the arts already know who they are for one thing, there are no others or very few if any others there to compete with the same, tired, "icons" of American art. 

It is not just the same "old boys," either.  Now we have the "old girls," a few select over rated and inferior artists who dominate the scene.  From one perspective and I will venture to say from a critical art historical perspective, it is obscene but more on that in upcoming commentary. 

What is your take on this topic?  I'd love to know. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

"Time To Chat," Said the Cat in the Hat

It looks as though photography has taken over my opinion and commentary blogspot!  Isn't it high time I posted some commentary, some gossip or advice, some literary content of some kind? 

As it is, when I'm out walking my dog, parading the neighborhood, all sorts of things occur to me to write but by the time I'm back at the crib, I've forgotten what occurred to me.  I need a voice recorder. Talking to myself doesn't help either, I've tried that but my mind wanders. 

Life has so many distractions and as the days go by and more opportunities and temptings are dangled (art openings/art parties, warmer weather and other opportunities to get busy with something new) before me in one form or fashion.

I have a new portfolio and items for purchase online that I would like to mention now.  I am now also located at Fine Art America, a wonderful merchandising venue for artists.

I've embedded (sounds sexy but it's not really) the PayPal payment button on my three photography blogspots here on Blogger.  It was easy enough to put that together and now, I hope you'll purchase something!  I hope this doesn't sound like so much shameless self promotion but, you'll be glad you bought something for your home or office that reflects a bit of the leading edge in special effects photography.  I just know it.  :)

But I'm back to promotions and art photography, I want to suggest that when you visit today or the next time you stop by, please leave a comment and consider joining my group as a friendly follower.  If it's one of the two, just leave a comment or criticism regarding what you see.  I'd love your  feedback.  It's easy to do and something that can be done quickly enough.  The best part of it is that it's free to do!

Remember that the art or photography you purchase today could compliment your man cave so something having to do with sports or action on the playing field would fit in nicely. 

My ongoing soccer series underway for some time now highlights the anonymity and beauty of local soccer players who from my viewpoint look like living, moving flowers that scramble for their beloved soccer ball on astro turf that grounds them even as they race around chasing that ball to reach their goal. 

I am an abstract person so the game itself is not the most interesting aspect of being in the park.  I don't know the rules.  I do know the beauty of these athletes who kick and bounce the soccer ball off every part of their bodies and slam right up against each other without injury from what I can see, screeching something all the while in a Jamaican lingo (from what I have been told by one of the players). 

Men as brothers.  Men in fellowship.  Men who share a closeness that is a sporting form of unity.  I enjoy the game from that viewpoint with a camera that can appreciate the players nearby and closeup or at a distance where their size is overshadowed by the immensity of the playing field and buildings nearby. 

The soccer players are beautiful and it is my business and privilege to make them more beautiful still when I am in a position to do so, later when I am at home at my computer making them sparkle all the more beautifully.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Skateboard Jumpers (Sand), Photograph, 2011, 30" x 40"

existential youth, photographic, 30"x40"

While waiting to meet a friend for lunch, in the area just off of  Wall Street recently, an ethnically mixed group of skateboard jumpers appeared out of nowhere.  They made several jumps off the ledge which I was privileged to snap into action and photograph as quickly as possible.  I have applied special effects so that the daring young daredevils are unrecognizable however, their youthful vigor comes through somehow even in these abstraction images.  I said a few words, "Can I take some pictures?" or something like that that may or may not have registered but they were kind and did some stunts before wandering off to some better location for their daring leaps. 

Dynamism with Dots, Photographic Print, 30" x 40"

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

From the Wonderful Advertisement Series, Photograph 30x40 inches

The Wonders of Advertising Photography Series, 30x40 inches

What you see here is a hybrid photograph that combines visual and or graphic elements of photography, illustration, advertisement, the appearance of watercolor and/or drawing of some kind. 

I am currently exploring special effects and hybrid art photography in a number of series that are underway including: Existential Dog, The Wonderful Advertisements, Soccer Players and Beautiful Neighbors to mention a few. Ongoing this summer will be a continuation of the Amusement Park, Boardwalk and Firework Series underway for some time now.

Enlargements of these photographic images are available so contact me if you are interested in sizes from small (10x12 inches) to large (30x40 inches).

Please join me as a friendly follower and drop me a message with feedback. I'd love to hear what you think of this unconventional take on life as I know it to be from a quantum and or existential viewpoint.