30 June 2007

New Orleans Elegy At Socrates Sculpture Park!

Hey, so there is going to be an opening July 27, complete with other people and food and a big latex tentmold of a real house from New Orleans and Michael Mercil. Details will be posted on this blog. I hope to meet you there!

For the time being, this is my tire connection, Dudzai. He used to be in the Foreign Service. But the political situation being what it is in his native Zimbabwe, he is now in the second-hand tire business here in Queens, right across the street from the park.

I feel very fortunate to have met Dudzai, and not just because he gives me all the tires I need. He thinks a lot, and has a lot of interesting things to say about everything from global warming to the value of working with your hands to why we are in Iraq...

...and of course, I appreciate the primer on African Dictators.

What A Difference Three Weeks Makes!

I don't mind admitting that I post these pictures in an effort to cheer myself on. The middle knuckle on my left pinky finger is getting a little swollen. And I have a muthah of a welding burn on my right calf.

It's over seven feet tall now at its highest point. Total length is about 23 feet.

There are only two real goals left. It needs to grow toward the wall (that large structure covered by the tarp), oh, between 6 and 30 inches, depending on where you look.

And it has to get a solid connection to the ground. Right now it's on dollies, which are basically the same as the steel footings it will be welded to. And it's developed a little bit of a wobble because of the distance between most of the rubber and the concrete below. This will probably get solved when the real foundation gets covered with topsoil and grass. But why chance it? The rubber should drape over the footings and act as a big stabilizing skirt.

Oh, and finishing. So three goals.

29 June 2007

Gioia To Graduates: Art Is Political

Thorough exegesis of this great commencement speech by Dana Gioia, who heads up the NEA, can be found on Artblog Comments this morning.

I have nothing to add but vigorous fist pumps and shouts of "Amen!"

We lose our capacity to dream, engage and resist when school-aged children don't get the opportunity to explore in art class; become band nerds; dream at least briefly of becoming dancers; or find the only balm I can think of for being a teenager--becoming involved in a production of Sarte's No Exit.

I don't think it's a coincidence that we live increasingly in a world chockablock with passive entertainment even as we live in an empire over which we have no control.

27 June 2007

Confession Time!

I am one of those assholes who, for the last four years or so, has been sending the AIM Program ten of my hard-earned dollars along with a really stupid answer to their requirement:

Artist statement describing your work and professional goals (maximum 200 words)

And I am posting this because I know I can't be the only one. I generally chafe so bad at the Professional Goals part that I wind up writing some 100-word Taoist treatise-in-a-teapot about how having goals as an artist equals creative death.

I know... And then I send them ten dollars. Only an artist, right???

It's that time of year again. And I was looking up at the J train at the corner of Lorimer and Broadway when suddenly it dawned on me that I was responding to rigidity in a stupidly rigid way.

So, what the fuck? I actually believe what I wrote this year, and perhaps that is an end in and of itself. I'll share it with you:

I am in the inspiration business.

A lot of things must change because our democracy is broken and we are cooking our planet.

There are no answers yet; just questions and problems. With that in mind, I want to be a decent pre-revolutionary.

I am looking for specific truths by looking at the way the earth builds itself, and how it decays. So far, I have found:

Everything we build is destined for the rock record
Corrosion is a powerful metaphor
Everything has a narrative arc of creation and decay. Sculpture should too.

I work to contextualize my current body of work in three important ways:

1. Middlebury College’s Environmental Studies building provides an excellent context for my work and contains my core audience--the next generation of thinkers who are putting this questioning into action. I want to place more large public installations like Solid State Change in this academic context.

2. Many other cities that will be under water because of human activity should be publicly represented in a way that brings the future into the present. I want large-scale bronze and steel sculptures like New Orleans Elegy to be commissioned by the Netherlands, the Maldives, New York City, Miami, etc.

3. Companies like BP, ExxonMobil and ADM should back up their eco-friendly advertising dollars by buying my art for their corporate offices. I want every corporate headquarters to own a huge corrosive crystal map, similar to Garden District, of their home city, so that decision makers can watch their own beautiful home slowly decay while they make huge decisions that affect our collective future.

(Ummm..... Don't tell the good folks at the Bronx Museum that it's actually 260 words.)

21 June 2007


Check out this interesting article about freegans in the Times.

I am fascinated by aesceticism, but I don't trust it. What do you think?

17 June 2007


This press release is copied and pasted directly from my inbox. Please do read it in its entirety, follow the links... and God Bless The Yes Men!

June 14, 2007

Conference organizer fails to have Yes Men arrested

Text of speech, photos, video
GO-EXPO statement
Press conference before this event, Friday, Calgary
Contact: mailto:fuel@theyesmen.org
More links at end of release.

Imposters posing as ExxonMobil and National Petroleum Council (NPC)
representatives delivered an outrageous keynote speech to 300 oilmen
at GO-EXPO, Canada's largest oil conference, held at Stampede Park in
Calgary, Alberta, today.

The speech was billed beforehand by the GO-EXPO organizers as the
major highlight of this year's conference, which had 20,000
attendees. In it, the "NPC rep" was expected to deliver the long-awaited
conclusions of a study commissioned by US Energy Secretary
Samuel Bodman. The NPC is headed by former ExxonMobil CEO Lee
Raymond, who is also the chair of the study. (See link at end.)

In the actual speech, the "NPC rep" announced that current U.S. and
Canadian energy policies (notably the massive, carbon-intensive
exploitation of Alberta's oil sands, and the development of liquid
coal) are increasing the chances of huge global calamities. But he
reassured the audience that in the worst case scenario, the oil
industry could "keep fuel flowing" by transforming the billions of
people who die into oil.

"We need something like whales, but infinitely more abundant," said
"NPC rep" "Shepard Wolff" (actually Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Men),
before describing the technology used to render human flesh into a
new Exxon oil product called Vivoleum. 3-D animations of the process
brought it to life.

"Vivoleum works in perfect synergy with the continued expansion of
fossil fuel production," noted "Exxon rep" "Florian Osenberg" (Yes
Man Mike Bonanno). "With more fossil fuels comes a greater chance of
disaster, but that means more feedstock for Vivoleum. Fuel will
continue to flow for those of us left."

The oilmen listened to the lecture with attention, and then lit
"commemorative candles" supposedly made of Vivoleum obtained from the
flesh of an "Exxon janitor" who died as a result of cleaning up a
toxic spill. The audience only reacted when the janitor, in a video
tribute, announced that he wished to be transformed into candles
after his death, and all became crystal-clear.

At that point, Simon Mellor, Commercial & Business Development
Director for the company putting on the event, strode up and
physically forced the Yes Men from the stage. As Mellor escorted
Bonanno out the door, a dozen journalists surrounded Bichlbaum, who,
still in character as "Shepard Wolff," explained to them the
rationale for Vivoleum.

"We've got to get ready. After all, fossil fuel development like that
of my company is increasing the chances of catastrophic climate
change, which could lead to massive calamities, causing migration and
conflicts that would likely disable the pipelines and oil wells.
Without oil we could no longer produce or transport food, and most of
humanity would starve. That would be a tragedy, but at least all
those bodies could be turned into fuel for the rest of us."

"We're not talking about killing anyone," added the "NPC rep." "We're
talking about using them after nature has done the hard work. After
all, 150,000 people already die from climate-change related effects
every year. That's only going to go up - maybe way, way up. Will it
all go to waste? That would be cruel."

Security guards then dragged Bichlbaum away from the reporters, and
he and Bonanno were detained until Calgary Police Service officers
could arrive. The policemen, determining that no major infractions
had been committed, permitted the Yes Men to leave.

Canada's oil sands, along with "liquid coal," are keystones of Bush's
Energy Security plan. Mining the oil sands is one of the dirtiest
forms of oil production and has turned Canada into one of the world's
worst carbon emitters. The production of "liquid coal" has twice the
carbon footprint as that of ordinary gasoline. Such technologies
increase the likelihood of massive climate catastrophes that will
condemn to death untold millions of people, mainly poor.

"If our idea of energy security is to increase the chances of climate
calamity, we have a very funny sense of what security really is,"
Bonanno said. "While ExxonMobil continues to post record profits,
they use their money to persuade governments to do nothing about
climate change. This is a crime against humanity."

"Putting the former Exxon CEO in charge of the NPC, and soliciting
his advice on our energy future, is like putting the wolf in charge
of the flock," said "Shepard Wolff" (Bichlbaum). "Exxon has done more
damage to the environment and to our chances of survival than any
other company on earth. Why should we let them determine our future?"

About the NPC and ExxonMobil
About the Alberta oil sands
About liquid coal

13 June 2007

Takashi Horisaki

There's a project space at Socrates, over where the fishermen hang out along the fence, that will have an interesting show July 27 through October 28.

I'll have a little bronze piece, a map of New Orleans, fastened to this ancient old pier that's been buried in the park forever.

Takashi Horisaki, on the other hand, is doing something much more ambitious. He is in New Orleans right now, taking a latex mold of a house ravaged by Katrina. And he's rolling up the whole thing in a couple of weeks and coming to the park, where this big latex bag of a house is going to become a kind of a large tent.

Check out pictures and stories of this process on his blog.

He's already jumped through some serious bureaucratic hurdles to get it done, made friends with the Army Corps of Engineers and found tremendous local support. And I am sure he is also cursing the humidity and inevitable rain as he waits for each coat of latex to dry!

If anyone wants to help him get his piece installed at Socrates, click here to find out how to give him a tax-deductable donation, and how to get in touch with him if you have time to donate.

His budget is tight and his aims are noble. He needs all the help he can get!

11 June 2007

Ease On Down The Road

If you're in LA, and missed seeing my work at Dangerous Curve... and if you let the show in Pasadena pass you by... fear not!

"High and Dry, Smoke and Fog"
A group show curated by Price Latimer

June 15 – July 6, 2007
Opening Reception: Friday, June 15, 2007 • 6 – 9 pm
Open to the public on Fathers Day, June 17, 2007 11am - 5pm in for "Concours on Rodeo."

featuring work by:
Jason Adams, Mattia Biagi, Jennifer Celio, Deborah Fisher, Whitey Flagg, Adam Harteau, Cheryl Kelley, Michael Markowsky, Doug Martin, Blue McRight, Joel Morrison, Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Reynolds,
Ed Ruscha, Eddie Ruscha, Salvatore Scarpitta, Lola Scarpitta, Kim Schoenstadt, Christoph Schmidberger, Chloe Sells, Shelter Serra, Nikki Van Pelt and Jeremy Wagner

Free cocktails
Music by DJ Mike B.

269 N. Beverly Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Continued tusky walrus-sized thanks to Tim and Kathy at Dangerous Curve!

05 June 2007


So with about two months to install... it's starting to look a little like the concept drawings. It's a little over 20' long as of today, and about 5'3" tall (almost as tall as I am).

It's just got to get taller. And a little longer. And tidier. And it has to get installed in a way that makes sense. No problem!

Of course, I can't be satisfied. I wish the back was in the front. I like the steel.

01 June 2007


So when I am not screwing tires together, lately I've been:

reading Al Gore's Assault on Reason
chipping away at Slouching Towards Bethlehem
and chatting with Mark diSuvero a little bit about art and structures--he's making a big structure at the park.

And I have a few observations.

Mark diSuvero and Joan Didion are very different kinds of structuralists. Mark is all about defying gravity by starting from a flat place and controlling geometry--drawing upward in space. Didion is more of a moldmaker or an enameler, collecting observations that do not seem to have any structural integrity on their own, until they are laid in or over an idea, describing it, with little bits of Didion's conclusion stippled in like hardware cloth, lending lots of rigidity or truth.

They are both creating structures using external ideas about truth. Flat surfaces and geometry are external. The tackiness of Vegas or the meaning of some woman's dress and its tattered hem are external. Cultures create these things--they are not intrinsic.

The art comes out of a belief in these structures. Mark has a passion--a zeal--for the way he works and for structural integrity that is almost ecstatic. It is a beautiful thing about him. And Didion believes enough in the power of this storyfinding and this process of turning stories into ideas that she applied it to the most terrible set of stories--the sudden loss of her immediate family.

This kind of work is what I think "reason" means. diSuvero and Didion are reasoning people. And this is making me realize that there has to be a certain amount of belief operating in order to reason.

In a world that is increasingly relatavist, increasingly belief-less, this orientation is less and less possible. But does that mean that structure or reason is impossible?

I am only at page 40, but so far Al Gore is structuring his argument about reason (and the structure of the Senate) on a romantic, backward-looking vision of print media being good, and television being bad. Ugh!

He has a television company, so I am hoping that he is just warming up.

I do think that there are other ways to create truth and structure, but they are not as flashy or grand as the belief-way. And I think that Gore might be well-positioned to figure out this paradigm shift, because he's a super-practical guy, and because he digested global warming.

We'll see.