Tuesday, April 14, 2015

HOLLIE WITCHEY


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ROLL UP YOUR SLEEVE

Blood has always fascinated me. It started in the 1970's with the "bloodprints". Trained as a printer early in my career, I left the anal approach to traditional intaglio and lithography behind, to see it with fresh eyes, through the prism of conceptualism. The "bloodprints" consisted of rounding up 12 previously untattooed people (6 men and 6 women), and convincing them of receiving a tattoo. While the tattoo was fresh I laid a large sheet of rice paper on the tattoo, "pulling" a blood print. In a way I asked the subject to withstand a calculated amount of pain and donate blood to my cause/art. Not a small request.
    Over the years i continued with the tattoo prints (now on my person) and also have used the blood of a cow and deer in the printing process many times. It remains central to my work. Another element within my conceptual oeuvre is the use of institutions (established or invented) in order to contextualize a gesture as art. I've "adopted" children from established relief agencies, attended seminary as a sculptural practice and even established a school and church. So when the artist Whitney Lynn presented me with the opportunity to show for three days at a little alternative art gallery in Brooklyn in June, I began to rack my brain. What to do? I could easily load up the truck with recent work, drive to town and install a nice little art show. But why? Isn't there enough fucking art in NYC? And the impotence of art these days seems incredibly obvious and depressing. Why add to the dung heap?
    So I decided to revert to my old school conceptual roots. Instead of concentrating on the space, I decided to concentrate on the 3 day time frame and the mission statement of the gallery to "engage the community".....and do it with blood. June 11-13, 2015 I will appeal to the artists of the world to donate blood. If all works out I will have the cooperation of either the Red Cross or The NY blood bank on-site at The Open Source Gallery in order to draw blood from the Brooklyn art community. There is no political agenda in doing this BLOOD DRIVE. It is a simple request that hopefully will resonate with enough individuals that this "art" will have a real effect in a positive way. I've established a facebook community page facebook/artistblooddrive and soon will start spreading the word, through whatever venue I have at my disposal. The parameters of the piece are very simple. If you are an artist I am asking you to give blood anywhere it is convenient, within that 3 day period in June. If you are not an artist, I would borrow from Joseph Beuys and say "Everyone an Artist" (at least for those 3 days). Roll up your sleeve. The world will thank you.    

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

SPIT


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"WHAT SOME CALL ADDICTION I CALL ENTHUSIASM"

This quote is from Shewho. I know. She seems like the last one to say such a thing. This classic gem was uttered in response to my ragging her about her growing dependency on marijuana edibles. What i call dependency she calls bullshit. Recently i have been ordering up a couple of laced energy bars and little pies along with my monthly eye medicine. Although Shewho doesn't smoke, I'd hate to come between her and her edibles. Enthusiasm is putting it mildly.
   Unlike Shewho, I do have my addictions.  They go way beyond enthusiasm, right over to dependency. I gotta have my beer. I gotta have my pot. I gotta hunt deer and turkey. I gotta make art and obviously i gotta blab all about it. I know a lot of workaholics. But that's one addiction I seem to have in check.  Oh, and I gotta have my facebook. Pick your poisons, I say.
   HWS has been silent of late. I had my reasons. The bad leg got better, only to be replaced by a debilitating bummer of a depression, along with a hot run of prolific production. You'd think the ability to crank out work would release me from the head disease, but that's not always the way it works. In fact, puking out a couple of hundred drawings, with no show venue, only seemed to make it worse.  That's why i stopped writing the blog.  My face turned to stone. My eyes had that 1000 yard gaze. Even the cats knew better than to get close. I figured nobody needed to hear me bellyache.
    Shewho came back from London only to be greeted by my sourpuss. While she was away I'd hunkered down at WSSP, working and watching HULU. Now that she was home I knew I had to get out of the house (at least during the day), for both our sakes. So began my routine of driving back the shack in Glen Wild, starting a fire on the porch, taking a crap in the freezing cold outhouse, and working all day there. For drinking water I tapped my maple tree and rigged a plastic bottle under the spout. I'd draw little drawings, photograph them and immediately put them up on facebook. It was the 17th meets the 21st Century and I felt like shit. Back to addiction.
    For some reason all i have to do is sign up for social media and I'm instantly hooked. After leaving facebook for about a year (for the same reason), after deer season was done in Dec., i went back on. At first it was cool. But it didn't take long before i was plastering posts and expecting responses. It was as insidious as it always was. I couldn't check my email without hitting "f". And I couldn't check myself. I could not refrain from putting up work incessantly. If I didn't have a "like" or a "comment" in the upper right, soon after a posting, I felt dejected. If I did.....I never had enough. Why am I so susceptible to these needy, negative emotions? I have no clue. I didn't have enough "friends". I wasn't clever enough in my "comments". And obviously my work wasn't good enough to garner the proper amount of attention. I was spiraling out of control. Then about 2 weeks ago I quit.

  Maybe it was the maple water, or the promise of Spring, Shewho being back, or my leg feeling better, but slowly the fog lifted. Nothing had really changed. The reasons I had for being depressed were still there in all their "stump the experts" glory. All, except for one. I was no longer on facebook. And now that 14 days has passed they promise to delete my page. I was proud of myself. I'd done it again, cold turkey. Sure I'll lose those readers too lazy to put HWS on their favorites list, relying on fb to tell them when I write something new, but wtf. To those of you that are my loyal little HWS family, on fb or not, I'm back. I feel better. Opening day for turkey in one month. As I write this it's snowing like a motherfucker. Shewho's in Venice and I'm back at the shack. Hopefully my enthusiasm with prevail. Don't worry darlin', I haven't touched that energy bar in the freezer. xx
   

Friday, March 13, 2015

SARAH


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BASHIN' THE BJORK

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

MARTYNKA


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