Friday, March 13, 2015




I'm old school. Even when I was a young punk I held fast to the romantic version of art and the long suffering artist. It was a relatively solitary pursuit, pursued by putting in time. You didn't have to have a big studio, or even make anything for that matter. But what you did have to do was sit your ass down and think about the next piece. And that piece could take any form: painting, drawing, sculpture, action, video, film, song, or if one was lucky enough, a new approach. Then, through word of mouth, you inform the world that you are an artist. It's a slow process. It can take decades.
   Everything gets in the way of this. You gotta pay the rent, eat, drink, woo women, buy drugs, etc. That means if you are not selling work, you have to work. So it goes. The work continues (art and otherwise) sporadically. Now, the other way of being an artist is to come out of some hot MFA program at BugFuck U. and hit the ground running with big shows, big sales and get a big name instantly. It happens. Then you have a long career ahead of you (that goes well or not).  Bingo! You're an artist. But there's a third way. And that's where The Bjork comes in. Bjork may not be a household name, but she's pretty famous. She was all over MTV in the 90's with her quirky songs and wore that silly swan dress at some awards show. You know the one? Well, The Bjork has a major retrospective  at MOMA. That's the Museum of Modern Art. The one in NY. Didn't know she was an artist? Well, neither did most of the rest of the world.
   Facebook mavens like Kenny Schachter and Walter Robinson are all up in arms over The Bjork getting a MOMA prime spot. And rightfully so. I'm fucking flabbergasted as well. And to me it's personal. Here I am nursing my little passion, all on my own, willing to take any kinda crumbs that may fall from the banquet table . And then there's The Bjork. She was married to Mathew Barney. Now I'm no big fan of his either, but hell, at least he's a big successful artist, not a pop star. Now, I'm not delusional. I can't compete with anybody anymore.  I know that. I've been melting into a little stagnant puddle for some time now. Soon I'll be only the memory of the stain. Unless I live to 150, forget my MOMA retrospective.
   Now maybe if I went and saw The Bjork Show I would change my mind. But there's no way I'm gonna plop down $20 to go to MOMA for anybody. And maybe that's the bigger problem. The public has to be lured. And I'm sure The Bjork's packing 'em in. Celebrity that can be re-packaged as art is there for the taking by any curator or museum board that is willing to take the chance. Critics are hollow voices in the wasteland. No one gives a shit if The Bjork is bashed by the critics. The bottom line is ticket sales. There's a wiff of PT Barnum and Madame Tussaude in it all. And a certain sacrilege in her inhabiting this MOMA sacred space. But when all's said and done, it really isn't my church anymore (if it ever was). I'll never see The Bjork at MOMA. It's already old news. And she'll never see my 3 days in Brooklyn in June. Lets call it even.    

Friday, March 6, 2015




Years before I bought a cow, went to seminary and hired prostitutes for performance art projects, I did little pen and ink drawings. I grew up in a world of Christmas cards and Mad magazines. Snowy landscapes and tumble down barns were all around me. In the summer, mechanics still worked on cars under big maple trees, in the backyard and Norman Rockwell hadn't yet been rolled over by 60's cynicism. With my limited draftsmanship and stilted line, I tried my damnedest to copy anything from an old family photo, to an Al Capp cartoon, to a tropical cruise menu- all in india ink.  My mom loved them. But as my work matured I left the medium behind, preferring to dive headlong into the abyss, much to mom's dismay. "Why don't you draw in pen and ink anymore?" she would whine. I would just smile. As any artist with a mom knows......moms don't know shit when it comes to art.

    This past Monday, nursing a bad back and leg, trying to keep the cats from killing each other, while Shewho was in London, rubbing elbows with the real art world, installing Leon Golub at The Serpentine and going to Stone Henge with Hans Haacke, I dug though her shit and found some old dried up ink and paper. As the cats looked on in perplexed curiosity, I ripped the paper in small rectangles and set about returning to my roots.
   I had returned to drawing a few years back, fucking around with paint and pencil, but I bet it had been 50 years since I dipped a pen in an ink well. Damn that felt good. Before I knew it, I'd cranked out a dozen little gems. Then another twenty were laid out on the table. I was on a roll. I only had black, red and a little dusty blue ink. But this was enough. The limited pallet worked. A couple of photos and uploads later and they were on my fb wall. This seems to be the only wall available to me these days, so I try to make the most of  it. My pathological need for audience seems to be partially satiated by daily postings. Little groupings of three went up. And, just like my mom, people seemed to respond positively.
   I'm not one of those people with thousands of "friends", so if I get ten or so "likes" I'm ecstatic. Pathetic or not, this is just the way it is. The ease with which one can do a little drawing and show it to the world, receiving a small degree of approval cannot be overestimated. In lieu of representation, a market, or any venue with which to get this work out there, I'll happily keep posting it on fb and love every "like". Mom's been gone a few years now. I miss her desperately. But somehow I think there must be wifi in heaven and she's smiling a self-satisfied smile, elbowing my old man, as he peruses the Wall Street Journal (that magically appears every morning in his hands). "Look at Michael's new drawings dear. I always told him he should go back to pen and ink." Maybe she's right.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015




I don't kids. I have cats. At least I had cats. By last summer the 3 cats I loved had disappeared without a trace. Ray Gilkey, Nicole Ritchie and Spooky Cat were all gone. I can only assume that the pack of coyotes that run behind my house had finally found a way to get them between their teeth. If I did have kids I'm sure a few of them would've been torn apart by now also. Hell, who can keep their eye on 'em 24/7. It's nature's way.
  Then in August, Teehoo presented me with a noisy box for my birthday. Out popped a big eyed, creme colored, fluffy ball of fur. It was the last thing I wanted. A stray cat had followed a friend of hers home in Brooklyn Heights and had kittens. The bitch was wild and my little SOB was a chip off the old block. You'd think a kitten from the Heights would have better manners. Nonetheless we bonded and before you knew it the kitten was crawling up in my beard and falling asleep. Awwwwwwww.

   That was summer. Now the kitten is a cat and in this bone chilling cold we are both in exile out at WSSP. Shewho is in London and Cheeky and I are looking after her house and cat Mojo. Mo is old and fragile, has all kinds of health issues and needs constant care. As I prepare a syringe of medicine for him, Cheeky raises his backside, arches his tail, and flies full force at skinny Mo. He never has a chance. Mo moans, falls over and tries to escape, Cheeky up his ass. This is my life: go to the Dr. with my bad back, try not to freeze to death, and do my best to keep Cheeky from killing Mo with his exuberance. Thankfully I'm unemployed. Who would have time for a job? They have separate rooms, food dishes and litter boxes. Last night as I petted Mo's fragile frame and apologized for my cat, Cheeky bum rushed the door, jumped in Mo's litter box and took a giant, stinky crap.  So fucking rude! I'm at my wit's end. Maybe it was his lenient upbringing and late breast feeding. As i write this he jumps on my keyboard. The fucker can read my mind.
   We're still over two months away from turkey season. My planned trip to Cuba is on hold because of my back and the winter shows no sign of letting up. I know i should be concerned more with world affairs or at least try engage the art world, but I just can't work up the enthusiasm to give a shit. Cheeky cocks his head and stares wide-eyed up at me. Oh OK. I fluff up my beard and he crawls right in, as Mo moans in disgust. I just can't stay mad at him. He may be an SOB but he's my SOB. I'm thinking of getting a snake. Maybe a little diversity would be a good thing.      

Monday, February 16, 2015