#636 Smash the State!

22″ x 20″ Black acrylic, white gouache, watercolor, pen and ink on 140 lb cold press Fabriano paper .
I’m turning to the idea of titles that simple reflect my mood, or extraneous thoughts at the time; these may or may not be descriptive of the work. In this case, the title appears in the painting, but so does ‘Train Wreck,’ ‘Sing,’ and several letters and numbers. As long as Trump is in the White House, and until we have a real revolution — I might name all my pieces, “Smash the State.”

Black Block!

proxyBreaking windows and burning limos isn’t in itself, revolution, but those humans out there on the street, those multi-pronouned humans all in black, with their AntiFA flags, were doing important work for the revolution to come. That kind of action doesn’t build alternative structures, but they demonstrate what courage looks like, and their actions FUCK the taboo around property. How do we destroy capitalism if we are horrified at breaking a fucking window!?!

We can’t build a new world, the world we want, with the old rules and laws and taboos. Those are all there to protect the wealthy, to suck wealth from the masses, to oppress and destroy marginalized people and all who oppose them.

Fuck their rules! Fuck their taboos, their laws–all of which must be be judged by their consequences, and by nothing else! The rules and laws were made by humans; humans can accept or discard or make them new, as is fitting and just for all!

The Black Block today were out there breaking, not just windows, but the cordons of our thinking, of how we perceive our present world, burning the effigies of Property! I tip my hat to them–and thank them. I call them, Comrades!

Solidarity! Love! Imagination! RESISTANCE!


#92 Beauty is Where you Find It

Another older piece, an assemblage of debris found on the street around the Ox, the collective warehouse in Kensington, where I lived in 2012. This isn’t a celebration of decay–but of what I imagine we must do: reclaim from the ruins of capitalism, a vision for a new world!

(I don’t want to call these ‘assemblages’ anymore. My motives are not those of Rauschenberg, who I think, was the first to use that term. I don’t use ‘everyday objects,’ I use debris, the decay of consumerism, and my purpose is transformation. I was thininking: reclinations, a portmanteau or transformation, and recycle.
It would be nice if I had photoshop, and could make the background neutral.)

Not to This We Turn But When #630

I understand better what I feel when I think about the Consolation of Philosophy. Are we not as Boethius was, at the end of a world he could nor surrender, yet unable to imagine what might come after? I understand better, why I turn away from either, ‘realist’ fiction, or representational figuration in art; that world is no longer real—and no attempt to represent it now can hope to succeed.

We can look back at the works of the Renaissance, of the Enlightenment, like Boethius at the gateway of the Middle Ages looking back at the Classical world he knew was gone, hoping, through his translations, that he might preserve some memory of what it had been.630.
This is our Dark Age. But the old world is too much with us, museums and libraries filled with its ghosts. We need to find the way to what is to come… but there is no way. No path. No prophetic guiding word or vision. And yet—if we wish to break free from the death grip of the old world, the death grip of endless repetition of the same, with word, or gesture or image, we have no choice but attempt to render—to image forth—that world we cannot yet imagine. We have no choice but to try, and fail. I see myself coming to this realization in my work—that what I’m doing, is bringing out an image of the new through the ruins of old—though only the ruins will be visible. Like Beckett, that’s the failure that draws me closer to the goal–failing better.


I am I was I will be


I find that can only read John Berger’s essay in Landscapes, Revolutionary Undoing: on Max Raphael’s The Demands of Art, a page, or paragraph at a time, without being brought to full stop. Here is one of those passages, where I have to close the book to take it in.

“There is not a significant artist in the world who is not asking himself whether his art is justified — not on account of the quality of his talent, but on account of the relevance of art to the demands of the time in which he is living.”

I have to stop because these thoughts have been troubling me, and the more assured I am–the more confident I become in my creative powers, the more troubling they become, trouble me to the point, that I’ve come to believe that that to make art for our times is impossible, or rather–that there can be no validation here in the making of art–not in this world, for us as artists. Justification, if it’s to come, will have to wait for the new age.

To go on making art, then, is–must be–an act of faith–that against all evidence–or in its absence, which comes to the same thing, what we do will have to find it’s meaning elsewhere, in the world we must create if we are to survive for long on this planet. A world that does not now exist, except as a dream and a necessity.

It isn’t enough to be ‘topical,’ to be what others would call, relevant–that is, to make art that serves the revolution–an impossibility, because the revolution, whatever form it will take, is still invisible, and the best we can do to directly serve the cause–is make propaganda–pieces to encourage and embolden our would-be revolutionaries. There is nothing wrong with that. Such efforts are needed. But whatever is of use now, will not have the power to resist being usurped, and put to uses antithetical to the revolution, and to the world we are called upon to build.

This is different than the old hope in posterity, a posterity that would be like us, but with greater understanding. This is a faith in a new reality. What we make now, we see only with the eyes and mind of this reality. That which will exist in the new reality, is present now, present in the art we are making–and yet, but beyond our ability to in the eye of our imagining. That’s the nature of our faith, the faith we must have. That if we are true to the promptings of our own vision, we will bring forth work that exists now, both in and beyond our time, visible in the present only as a work of the the present–but pregnant with a future no eye as yet can see.

John Berger: Who is left to speak for us?


So sad at the loss of John Berger. I would so love to have been able to meet, and talk and… just spend time, mull shit over with him. So few… like, almost none… of those who write about art, or even those who DO it… when it comes to thinking, and talking about it… who I feel like… get it.

Capitalism–and who got this better? –fucks up our minds–as artists. There is no model for what constitutes ‘success’ for an artist in this capitalist world, no collective model, but … like our art, that which we make for ourselves.

One less now… who did get it.

More alone than ever.
Yesterday I went to Penn Book Center and bought a copy of Landscapes… opened it on the El on the way home… pages flipped to chapter 3. The Basis of All Painting and Sculpture is Drawing.

In March of 2015 I wrote THIS POST

I sat there the rest of the way home… and felt like John Berger was there beside me… holding my hand.

#622 – with page from Goby’s Journal: Stasi Trump Jesus and the Subjunctive Voice

18″ x 24″ Acrylic on wood.
Layering. Interested in giving an impression of depth, without resorting to geometric perspective. Pollock, of course… but also, the illusion that one is looking at something… both real, and mysterious, like Hubble photos, or electron microscopy… in color. right click on photo for more detail.


… I’m thinking of using this piece of a packing crate for a frame. Paint it black.


Goby’s Journal: December 23, 2016

Stasi, Trump, Jesus and the Subjunctive Voice

In an age when anyone who hears us speak, in person, or through social media, students in our classrooms, our patients or customers–when anyone might feel empowered by the Trumpocracy, to report you, to troll you, to try to get you fired, blacklisted, kicked off a plane…
It would be well, were we to revive the long neglected subjunctive voice.
To polish our skills at not quite saying what we mean.

If one were to imagine oneself, say, in 1956 East Berlin, one would find ways, even in front of a class, of speaking to those who “had ears to hear,” without giving cause to those who would take you down, were they so inclined. Which brings to mind–that phrase, “those who have ears to hear” — the language used by Jesus in the Gospels: speaking in parables. Jesus, too, lived under a hostile power. How much of that language was made to pass safely through the Roman occupation?

We aren’t at that level, yet… of Stasi, say… where no one, not even our most radical friends, can be trusted, because anyone can be made to be an informant. Let them only describe what will happen to your children, your aging parents, should you refuse. But this is where we are headed.

I have heard stories. Some reported in news, some seen on social media. Would that it were true that nothing of the kind had happened to anyone I know.

Be careful. Don’t say anything in private you wouldn’t say in public, cause… nothing is private. Learn from poets how to say more and less and other than what you mean.