Michael Kimmelman has an interesting piece about large-scale housing developments in the New York Times. He takes a look at the fate of the infamous Pruitt-Igoe projects in St. Louis and draws a comparison to the Penn South buildings in New York’s Chelsea, which have been largely successful as a housing development. He discusses how economic and other urban development factors can affect the success or failure of architectural design. All around an interesting piece. But while I dig Kimmelman’s focus on publicly-minded design (a breath of fresh air after Ourossoff’s era of mega-projects), it seems like a bit of an oversight to pen a very long story about these types of constructions and not even mention places like the Marcy Houses in Bed-Stuy or Red Hook Houses in Red Hook — two places with a history that is infinitely less rosy than that of Penn South.
In an essay in Vanity Fair, Kurt Anderson says we are in a period of cultural stasis — relentlessly remixing everything that came before, but not necessarily adding anything new: “In our Been There Done That Mashup Age, nothing is obsolete, and nothing is really new; it’s all good. I feel as if the whole culture is stoned, listening to an LP that’s been skipping for decades, playing the same groove over and over. Nobody has the wit or gumption to stand up and lift the stylus.” Sure explains a lot of the art I see…
“The main thing to remember is the sunlight, and the immense expanse of sky and earth that it illuminates: it sucks the color out of everything that it touches, takes the green out of leaves and the sap out of twigs, makes human beings seem small and of no importance.” — Mystery writer James Cain, on California in the 1930s.
My friend Baghdad Bobby is currently running around Egypt on assignment and he sent me a few pictures of the graffiti in Tahrir Square in Cairo that I find rather inspiring. Above: pawns defeat the king.
I like the digital reference on this one. It means “Power to the People.”
My partner-in-crime, Celso, was running around Central Park’s North Woods when he stumbled into this (uncommissioned) carving of a face on a rock. I like the Olmec head aspirations and that someone decided to carve (rather than spray) one of the park’s boulders. If you’re the artist and you’re reading this: keep up the good work. (Photo by celso_nyc.)
On Occupy Art Museums
There’s been a lively debate online about the whole Occupy Museums protest (starting with Karen Archey’s piece on ArtInfo, Will Brand’s rebuttal in Art Fag City and Hyperallergic‘s follow-up here). As is usually the case, I’m not in 100% agreement with anybody. But I did want to speak out about the blanket way in which the word “museums” seems to be identified with institutions such as MoMA and the Gugg. Those institutions are more the exception than the rule, cultural juggernauts connected to the super powerful. But there are countless other smaller, community-minded institutions — places like El Museo del Barrio, the Bronx Museum, the Queens Museum, teaching museums like the Vincent Price and the Fowler, places that show the kinds of artists that never get seen anywhere else. There’sa lot of grey in this debate. Personally, if there’s one area of the art world that I think needs occupation it’s the art fairs. I can’t think of an atmosphere that’s less amenable to art and ideas than those overpriced flea markets.
“The wealth of resources we apply to entertainment serves only to shield us from the poverty of the product.” —Tony Judt, on austerity.
This story about the growing use of emoticons is fucking hilarious: “If anybody on Facebook sends me a message with a little smiley-frowny face or a little sunshine with glasses on them, I will de-friend them. I also de-friend for OMG and LOL. They get no second chance.” LOL.
Love digging up old stories on the internetz, such as this 1993 New York Times article about “The Art World Bust.” The piece is entertaining all around (and strangely relevant). But my favorite bit has to be the quote from Julian Schnabel’s assistant, to Deborah Solomon of the Times, who was seeking an interview: “Julian says he doesn’t have the mind space to think about your questions. He’s busy with renovations.”
This is a good one. The kind folks at Abrams have given me five (yes, five!) copies of Jay Edlin’s Graffiti 365 for giveaway on the blog. This is a hardback doozy (it retails for $32.50), clocking in at more than 700 pages and weighing as much as a small boar. It’s an excellent compendium of graffiti and street art: an exhaustive alphabetical gathering of the movement’s players, large and small, with lots of pictures to boot.
Leave a comment below and you could be one of five very lucky people.
The New York Observer has an interesting profile of Paula Cooper, SoHo’s pioneer gallerist: “It’s still difficult for women. There’s a whole bunch of these men who never—they’re so rude. You know, Gagosian, Mugrabi, what’s his name who owns those wonderful buildings? Lever House? Aby Rosen. They’re these macho guys who are really rude.”
Speaking of which, the Observer also has a new arts website called Gallerist NY. I expect it will give good hype.
Rich companies behaving badly: Sign the petition against the Sotheby’s labor lockout.
This essay makes me feel infinitely better about being continually irritated by Ryan Trecartin’s work. (@artfagcity.)
Joerg Colberg is right. The New Work series by Natalie Krick is dang rad — a tribute to awkward sexuality.
Thanks to Salon, Jezebel and Mediaite for picking up/linking to my piece on Jennifer Dalton’s installation at the Winkleman Gallery. Interestingly, as Mediaite points out: Jon Stewart’s lady ratio is even worse thus far in 2011. To make up for the inequity, male members of the program should all be required to get bikini waxes — the full back, crack and sack.
Not as Futuristic as It Looks: Christopher Hawthorne rawks it on this critique of Apple’s proposed new corporate park in Cupertino, which is designed in a not terribly cutting-edge, car-centric suburban style. Brings to mind Lewis Baltz’s photos of Irvine’s office parks from the 1960s and early ‘70s.
From a story on the slipping American Middle Class
“Over time, the United States has expected less and less of its elite, even as society has oriented itself in a way that is most likely to maximize their income. The top income-tax rate was 91 percent in 1960, 70 percent in 1980, 50 percent in 1986, and 39.6 percent in 2000, and is now 35 percent. Income from investments is taxed at a rate of 15 percent. The estate tax has been gutted.” — More inThe Atlantic.
And America’s Hero Complex
“’America needs heroes,’ it is sometimes said, a phrase that’s often uttered in a wistful tone, almost cooingly, as if we were talking about a lonely child. But do we really ‘need heroes’? We need leaders, who marshal us to the muddle. We need role models, who show us how to deal with it. But what we really need are citizens, who refuse to infantilize themselves with talk of heroes and put their shoulders to the public wheel instead. The political scientist Jonathan Weiler sees the cult of the uniform as a kind of citizenship-by-proxy. Soldiers and cops and firefighters, he argues, embody a notion of public service to which the rest of us are now no more than spectators. What we really need, in other words, is a swift kick in the pants.” — From a must-read by William Deresiewicz in the New York Times Opinion section.