What is “Structure?”

It’s one of those, “I know it when I see it” words. Not ‘composition.’ It’s the difference between pieces I will like a week after they’re finished, and ones I’ll want to paint over. It’s what’s missing in #704

WIP 705 underpainting.JPG

It’s what I’m working to correct here–the underpainting of #705–another canvas stretched on an old window frame.¬† The painting below, #693 (now at International House) — has structure.
#693 Cityscape

This is my current obsession.

Why burn the flag?

stock-photo-usa-america-burning-fire-flag-war-conflict-night-d-215464030

Burn the flag for 4th of July!
The USA is NOT North Korea. So why, one might ask, why–and what is the point of burning an American flag on the 4th of July?
The neoliberal, capitalist police state have developed a different strategy for control than the totalizing states like North Korea, the GDR before the fall of the Berlin wail, or the USSR in its worst periods. It’s, obviously, highly selective in its oppression, by class and race, but the harsher realities and more visible suppression imposed on blacks and other semi-marginalized people, are a prime instrument of control of ‘favored’ classes.

This lesson is always clear: ‘this is what will happen to you if you take it on yourselves to exercise the rights you believe you have. Like … read the comments.

You know how they go: “If he’d not made eye contact with the cop! If she’d not asked for a warrant! If they’d just let the cops do what they…. ”
And after that, It doesn’t take many arrested, beat up flag burners, to create a powerful incentive to restraint, from acting on this perfectly legal act of free speech, an act, the only harm of which, is to cast doubt on oppressors and annoy their unthinking, patriotic supporters. Or any other act of legal dissent–it gets people thinking–even people like me, who don’t give no FUCKS… “is this an action (however legal), I’m ready right now to take on the several years of legal wrangling, post arrest–that will justify the disruption?

So burning a flag–involves a kind of legal triage. A totally legal act! But one, living in 2017 America, one has to weigh the significant consequences.
There are people now facing charges that could bring up to 70 years in prison, for begin swept up in a cop kettle at the J20 inauguration protests. Some, caught as observers, who had no part of the actions; some were street medics, there to treat and give medical aid to ANY who needed it, some were journalists–doing their constitutionally guaranteed duty.

Nope. This is not North Korea… but look how it works out. Look how effective it is in silencing dissenters. Those who might otherwise bring to light the horrific, violence being perpetrated across the planet on those we would exploit… and in push come to shove, exterminate! On those calling to account our rape of the environment, and those demanding that we stop our drive to pump gasses into our atmosphere–that will end human life on this planet!
So don’t think, cause I can burn that fucking flag–and you a million others do the same, that this is sign of how much better ‘we’ are…

Cause “we” aren’t. “We” are the ultimate machinery of Money and Death.

Prepping to make art, from found materials

A few weeks ago, I picked up an 8×7′ piece of heavy, cotton duck canvas, painted on one side. Cut into 4 pieces. Been thinking how to use a couple old, wood window frames I found. I’ve used them as frames, before, both for paintings, and assemblages, so thought I’d try stretching a piece of canvas to the back side–using it as both stretchers and frame. The painted side, a thick coat, so couldn’t do much ‘stretching,’ but got it reasonably tight. Canvas wasn’t seized, and really soaked up the gesso. That’s a second window frame behind in the photo.
Window frame with canvas.JPG

Art & Capitalism: the problem won’t go away.

The interface between making art, and making a living, is the most politically charged area in the life of any artist. This is where the artist engages most directly with the monster of capitalism and Empire, both as a maker of art, and as a citizen of the human community. I don’t understand why so many artists are so reluctant to seriously engage with the problems we face in this arena. This is something I’ve been thinking about — for years, and yet, the most typical response I get from working artists: on commodification of our work, on how to live by our art, of the corrupting influence of investor driven gallery gatekeepers–is a curt dismissal, as though I were an impertinent 12 year old. “I need to make a living–what am I supposed to do?” But of course, never asked as a serious question.
And of course, I have no answer. No one person does, because it’s not the kind of question that any individual can answer alone. —

¬† Artists have to figure out–together–how to control the outcome of our work–or we will be controlled and used to the ends which the Empire of Money and Death sees fit.

First–acknowledge the problem. Then, pledge to work together to applying ourselves to find cracks in the walls where we can expand and live. We cannot continue to be artists under capitalism. Because, under capitalism, we will only be permitted to do what supports capitalism–that is, no longer artists, but technicians of the machine, and entertainers, distracting the masses.

A Revolutionary Artist Collective

I have this dream… of a collective of artists, who don’t “sell” their work, but … sort of… ‘rent’ it. That is, Someone who makes a contribution (sliding scale) has right to the work in perpetuity… but not ‘ownership.’ the collective, legally, retains ownership. What that means, is the one who takes the work, agrees never to sell for profit. They can exchange for another work, or accept an exchange at current value, if they want to offer it to someone else–ok…but wherever the work goes, the collective retains “ownership” rights.
The idea being, to prevent a work from becoming a commodity, an item of exchange value taken in expectation of profit by future increase in monetary value.

A network of such exchanges–drawing in more artists, removes more and more art from the fucked up , utterly corrupt gallery to investor gatekeeper system we have now.
The idea–however this might actually work out, is that artists take control of the distribution of our work, withdrawing our work from the market system, but creating together ( I envision networks of these collectives), a system outside the capitalist system.
No artist has any hope of bucking the system alone. This can only happen if enough artists come together, and work out a system of distribution, and sustainability–by consensus. By USING OUR CREATIVE IMAGINATION for how we LIVE IN THE WORLD, and not exclusively in devotion to our work.

Thoughts?