#619

20″ x 16″ Acrylic on canvas
There’s no message here. Just colors. Useless… because, to pursue what is of no use, in a world where nothing is valued, and everything is used…a world where Death, with all leaders and all parties as its agents,  uses us all, this, in itself, is an act of defiance and rebellion.
619

View GALLERY HERE./>

Advertisements

This is my faith: bones of a Radical Manifesto

Nothing here about petitions, phone calls or emails to “leaders” begging them to do something for us. Or supporting candidates. Or elections. This is a radical agenda. The simplest outline of a Radical Manifesto. The basics. No NGO’s. No Gov. approved non-profits. Go where permit and license not needed–or if they are, do without, and call it Resistance. Start with the basics. The foundation. Work for change from there.
—–
In these dark times–what can we do in the world?
Ask … what matters, always, everywhere?
Food.
Medical/health care.
Shelter/clothing
Education (in the broadest sense)
… and the arts: poetry, dance, music, the visual arts… because without language that has the power to remind us how to be human–we are lost.
Imagine, then, what each of these might be in the world we want to live in.
Join hands with someone. Together, begin to clear some space, small or large, for that to happen. To plant the seeds, that will become our garden… the garden we thought had been lost to us forever.
If your hand is empty now–if you are not within reach of someone whose hand you know you can grasp–acting in resistance and solidarity to make that world… how could one not but feel helpless? And if you feel helpless–so does someone else.
Find them…
They need you, as you need them. Believe in yourself–that they need you, as you need them!
Speak up. Reach out. When we find one another, we will know what to do. Trust that this is so.
That is my faith.

Standing Rock: The Most Important Struggle of Our Age?

images
It’s not the flow of oil that’s at stake at Standing Rock, it’s the flow of money. I was thinking about why there’s not been a massive shift of investment to renewable energy: wind, solar, wave, when it’s been pretty clearly established that renewables could replace virtually everything we get from oil but lubrication and plastics, both of which also have alternatives; and watching the battle over the pipeline, it occurred to me that the answer is right there in front of our eyes: oil flows. As oil moves from source to refinery and production, to all the points of distribution, capital follows, multiplying at every stage. Renewables are far more than alternative sources of energy; they represent, forgive the cliché—a paradigm shift for economics, and existing structures of power.

The renewables truly do belong to a different world. Think of Israel, as just one example. The oil based money pipeline that flows from the Middle East to Houston to New York to Israel—without it, without that flow of American capital, in the form of money and weapons, Israel would not exist as the rogue colonial power that it does. There is little resemblance with wind and solar, to the complex, capital multiplying networks of supply and distribution that exists with fossil fuels. Why? Because… wind and sun are everywhere. Generation favors locality, and what follows, is nothing less than the dismantling of the pipeline-tanker-refinery-banker system, and with it, the vast military complex used to control and defend it. The very fact of universal delivery presages the failure of the present system ( SEE — Niklas Luhmann: So-Called System Failure)

In this light, what an amazing confluence of interests and circumstances is happening now in North Dakota! The emergence of native peoples, the blocking of the pipeline, which is the blocking of the flow… the Flow, the power driving the one civilization blocked by this beautiful eruption of spiritual power from another, one that is both a reassertion of what existed before European dominance of the continent, and promising yet another, a new world that is indeed, possible! This confrontation in North Dakota has become, materially, symbolically, spiritually—the focal center of the most important struggle of our age—on the outcome of which hangs nothing less than the survival of our species… and the many others we will take down with us if we fail.

(I would very much appreciate feedback on this, and if you think it worth while–please share)

Call for a National Day of Reparations

imagesI‘m a son of parents who were children of immigrants, not a native of this continent, even so, knowing what I do about Columbus, this holiday deepens my depression and angry indignation. We can’t undo history, but neither will be free of its burden until we collectively, without reservation, acknowledge our complicity in what we have done and vow to make a new beginning. That goes both for the genocidal theft of land that was the mother of our indigenous peoples, and for the theft and enslavement of humans from the lands where their mothers bore them into the world.
Because so much of the wealth of this nation was purchased by their deaths and suffering, there is no, can be no, meaningful acknowledgement without reparations.
Let this day be known, not only as Indigenous Peoples Day, but The Day of Reparations for all those we have wronged.

Art and the Machines of Power: Connections

images

 

It’s difficult, when those in power, those with power over the lives of others, expose themselves as hateful assholes–difficult to not slip into the belief that it’s the fault of these assholes that we are, collectively, in such terrible trouble. If we could only be rid of the assholes–give power to ‘good’ people, everything would begin to improve!
But when I can manage to set aside my anger, my entirely justified anger, at these figures, I see that they do what they do, not because of character flaws, but because they follow the rules of the system, of the roles they have been assigned. Whether they have taken on those roles for selfish, or class serving motives, or because they sincerely believe that this is what works, that this is ‘reality,’ and if you are a ‘realist,’ you act accordingly. If Dick Cheney exemplifies the former, Obama might exemplify the latter–but what they do, the killing, the destruction of our supportive environment, the endless war, their support of the vindictive surveillance state, where whistle blowers are punished–when you measure them by what they do, there is little to tell them apart.

The machines of consumer capitalism, the war machine, are in a real sense, not metaphorical–self generative, independent actants. It’s those complex social/political/economic machines that determine the actions and ideas; it’s those machines that manufacture the assholes they need to keep them running.

Those of us of more progressive or radical views, have no problem recognizing how, in poor and marginalized classes, material and social conditions make criminals, create anti-social behavior, and yet we too easily fail to see how the capitalist myth of the individual, and personal responsibility, shape how we react to the assholes of the oligarchy–even when we understand ‘class,’ even when in our mouths and heads, we know it’s “The System,” and that it’s the system we have to change–that we waste our energy and thinking when we rail against individuals in power, instead of demonstrating how the system works to create the assholes, and dictates to them what they can and cannot do within it.

In my art, I think of this in terms of representing, not objects or ideas, but connections. Even when objects are represented–I am drawn to emphasizing the connections, and leaving the objects partially erased, covered over, and secondary to what is more real than the “thing” … the connections between that create, destroy, and create them again as something new.

#511 5 black holes metalpoint

 

My (brief) experience with Artfinder.

We all need to make a living
It’s not my problem
I was only following orders.
I thought I could stay under the radar. After getting kicked off  Wetcanvas for using the word ‘Queer’ (to describe myself!), I thought… just play it cool. Chill. Fuck, I need the money.
I answered questions on the application, sent photos of my art, was accepted. It was going ok, until I had a problem with a required field in setting up my “shop.” They wanted a phone number. But only a cell would do… Skype wasn’t going to work. The help FAQ suggested I look in the forums. Big mistake.
I came across a thread where several artists were complaining about ArtFinder’s exclusionary promotions. Of the 6000 some members, only a handful have their work selected to be foregrounded, to be posted on FB, etc.
“What do you expect, it’s a business. It’s not about equality,” someone wrote.
I replied to one of those–that, this was to be expected. AF is a virtual gallery, so it follows the rules of the system. It’s how the gallery-to-investor system works. One of its primary purposes is to exclude–to secure the value of a very few “brands” for investors. That’s where the money is. It’s capitalism. Capitalism corrupts the whole process of distribution of art as a “product.”
I’m called an idiot. That AF is for “real artists,” and this is how “real artists” make a living. What kind of person am I, biting the hand … etc.
Bye bye ArtFinder.
Why are artists so often, so compliant, so unthinking, so docile and willing to be used by their Masters?
After this most recent difficult encounter with the establishment art world–I’m most grateful for A-Space and the radical community for providing a place for our work to be seen–I mean, for artists who don’t want/can’t make themselves, be part of the capitalist artist branding, gallery-to-investor system.
It’s a form of political censorship. And don’t tell me, “it’s my choice,” cause if it’s a choice for me, it’s so only because I chose to look the other way and not see the many for whom there is no choice, how for those who are suckered into the con game, it’s overwhelmingly white men who make up that 5 to 10% whose ‘brands’ are trending, and so appalingly few blacks and marginalized people even get let in the door.
It’s an utterly corrupt system–the same system that sends drones across the world to bomb hospitals and wedding parties, and call it “collateral” damage
… interesting, inn’it … the other meaning for that word, “collateral.” If you don’t have the collateral, you become the damage.
Capitalism has colonized art. That’s the reality. Suck up to the bloodsuckers, or you got no future in the system.

The Neoliberal/fascist War Machine

war
When we think of the war machine, the focus tends to be on the horrors of war itself, on the cost to social programs when so much of the national budget goes to military and arms makers, of our treatment of veterans… but these are only parts of the machine, and not the machine itself

When you see the figures for contributions to candidates and political representatives, the larger structure begins to emerge. Isn’t this the very heart of 21st C. neoliberal/fascism–that the war machine has become the real owner of the State, that the oligarchs we want to see as our owners and rulers, have themselves lost power over the War Machine–that to maintain their wealth and the illusion of influence, they are free only to act as operatives of and for the War Machine?

… a machine that has no goal but increasing destruction–of everything subordinate to it, until there is nothing left to destroy but itself… and all human life with it?

In the long run, all the Presidential candidates, are servants of the War Machine. There is no hope for survival, or significant change, within the orders of established power. We need to find the fissures in the walls, the cracks in the foundation, to build in spaces still invisible to The Machine–alternative lives, organizations and relationships in what, from within the orders of power, are but figments of the Unreal. Microspaces of imagination, resistance and love.

Street Sketching and Territoriality

MiniMarketStreet sketching is a new thing for me.  I love how it brings my vision into focus–how I can lose myself for an hour or two in utter concentration. While I don’t think about more than what I’m doing while I work, I find that it stimulates so many questions, provokes my mind–no small part of what fascinates me, though some of those questions are troubling.

This is drawing from life. Being there. One of the things I’ve been thinking about, is how demanding this is, developing and perfecting skills, and yet, it’s not that alone. Like with figure drawing–there are comic artists who are superbly skilled at rendering human figure from imagination–think of the forshortened points of view of those superheros. Or illustrators… was looking at the cover of a book, a street of Philly row houses drawn from an acute angle,  all with ariel bays in perfect perspective.  You learn that well, and you can do it from imagination–maybe with the aide of photo references. I both respect and admire the skill, knowledge and facility of these artists, but that isn’t where I want to go, or what I find most interesting. There comes a point, a level of skill and knowledge, when one can draw on what has absorbed without further encounter of the kind of immediacy I want when I’m working from life. Robert Beverly Hale, the great teacher of anatomy and figure drawing summed up the learning process like this: “first you draw what you see, then you learn to know what you see, then you draw what you know.” But that leaves out the last, and most important step: returning to the subject you’ve learned, and seeing more. Beginning again that process of discovery–seeing ever more fully, more deeply. It’s possible for illustrators and cartoonists, to get to a point where they can coast on what they know–but they don’t have to. I look at the illustrations of Charles Dana Gibson, or cartoonists like Walt Kelley or Bill Watterson, who, even when using basic templates, never surrender to mere tracing of what they’ve done before. I’m not trying to distinguish between ‘high’ and ‘low’ art; I’m trying to understand something about process.
In street sketching, it’s not their technical mastery of perspective or penship–it’s that going back to the beginning that’s the life of those drawings– of those who do it well. There’s a freshness that I love, like coming across a scene for the first time–it’s a way of seeing… but this is where I begin to question what it is I’m doing. What else is going on here.
There’s a blog, Urbansketchers. org. You’ll find there work by many of the best. But you will also see another pattern… these are world travelers, who go to cities around the world, and draw… rather than taking snap shots… to see the world, one drawing at a time, I think is their phrase. While I love these drawings… I’m uncomfortable with them–with the conceptual framework that binds them. I can’t help but think of dogs… marking territories.
Vision… as a kind of ownership. A foreclosure, more than an opening. What we see–is territory, the ‘normal’ world of the capitalist tourist: this is beautiful … and ours. This is fascinating… and ours.  Not the possession of the artists, but of those they unconsciously, or at least, uncritically, serve. A theme-park world for the enjoyment of the power elite, and their upper echelon servants.

Court artists of the capitalist leisure elite.

I don’t like that–that I can’t escape this thought. I really do love this body of works. I aspire to it! To render such life in my drawings, my art!

But so much else about my art –about where I want to take it–is about escape–escaping the Master’s Hand and Voice, escaping the “Art System,” the capitalist gallery to investor universe of gatekeepers and Owners–finding my way to a revolutionary, ‘anti-art,’ in as much as so much of what we–what art history–defines as ‘Art,’ is but a captive of Euro-Patriarchal art making, colonizing the traditions of other cultures–serving the Masters.
Street sketchers stand on a border… I love that there is no pretense here of “higher art,” I love the individualism, the freedom expressed by these artists.. but I despair at what I see as ideological captivity. And I don’t know what to do… or what I would like these artists I admire, to do.
I only know that it’s a problem. And that you can’t solve any problem, without first seeing it, recognizing it, defining it for what it is.

Where is my community of believing dissenters?