Monday, April 30, 2012


  I'm not very good with birthdays. I forget how old people are. My sister has turned 50 a half dozen times. It's not unheard of for me to forget that special day of the one's closest to me. Sorry mom. I'm not proud of this. Just the way it is. Death days are even worse. I don't even try to remember those.
   A couple of years back I watched my old man die. He'd been on the downward slide for some time. But then that slippery slope turned to grease. We were taking turns on the 24 hour vigil, just to get him up and to the bathroom during the night. He was a big man and as his body gave way it became increasingly difficult for him to do the simplest of things. I remember it was in April.

   The Old Man and I had a complex relationship. He was smart, loving, opinionated, honest to a fault and completely boneheaded about many things. We had a few things in common. Although he was a successful business man, he never showed that side to the fam. Once the dark suit and shiny shoed uniform came off he was "ramming around" in duct taped boots and tattered trousers, mowing the lawn or cursing a power tool, planning a hunting or fishing trip. When I opened a gallery we bonded on the business end of things. Since I never sold much, that patch of common ground was rather small. When I started hunting again, he took me turkey hunting. This, above all other things, expanded our common ground to deer and turkey season. We both loved to hunt. Hunting turkeys in Spring drove us both to distraction. During the month of May my father and I talked or hunted together almost every day. He'd call- "What's the report?"
  Used to be I'd drop every thing- work, relationships, previous commitments, Mother's Day......just to get up at 4:00 am and chase gobblers through the woods. I'm not so bad anymore, but I still look forward to May 1st. with the giddy excitement usually reserved for a 4 year old on Xmas eve. It's a time when all else falls away. I don't worry about money, career, world peace or the lack thereof. My only concern is the weather and finding birds. Let everyone and everything go to Hell. I'm going hunting. So it was when the Old Man was at death's door, barely able to breath, let alone form sentences, that he moaned, gasping for air, unable to lift his head and summed up the miserable pain he was in. His only escape was sleep. We all moved in to catch his words, as he grimaced with a slight smile and closed his eyes. "Wake me up opening day." He died in April. Tomorrow is opening day. I sure do miss him.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


I started my career in California in 1975. I'd been to art school (and had dropped out) and even taught a printmaking workshop in Woodstock, but didn't start doing mature work until moving west. My 1st wife and I got a little apt. in Haight-Ashbury and I found a studio in Sausalito. My knowledge of Cali art was nil. I didn't realize how late I was to the party. The Haight was beaten down and sad, lost between the flower children and the punks yet to come. Even in those days I was a working man. I had a pickup. When I wasn't putting up redwood decks for gays and little old ladies, I was in my studio trying desperately to figure out what exactly it meant to be a young artist in the 70's.
   My appetite for recent art history was insatiable. I read everything I could get my hands on in order to get up to speed. I had no degree and felt confident I could do it on my own. The prob. was that the scene I had dropped into was very similar to the scene I had escaped from in Woodstock. Many in the Gate 5 ICB community were of the "art colony" variety of artist. They were involved in batik, bad painting and plant hangers. I liked many of them, but they weren't breaking any rules. I was stymied. Then my studio mate, a rich Marin Co. housewife, suggested I have a show in the Mill Valley Library. Sounded good to me.
  To this day when i mention a library show, my mom brings up the Mill Valley Library. I chose to show a series of photographic self portraits called "Priapism". Look it up. The photos showed me naked, yanking on my limp dick in various directions- one to form a triangle, another a circle, which I traced over the photos. In retrospect it was incredibly lame. But I didn't think so at the time. I was a serious young man. I put up the work fully expecting good reviews and accolades. By the time the library closed on the first day the photos had come down. I can still smell the eucalyptus trees. I'd been censored right out of the box. I was on my way.

Fast forward 37 years. I'm about to show my work alongside 19th century portrait and landscape painter Ethelbert B. Crawford in the Library of the same name, in Monticello, NY.  Less of a career arch, than a straight line, it's not like I had an International art career only to end up sadly showing in some small town book depository. Unlike an episode of BEHIND THE MUSIC, my story has way fewer peaks and valleys. My career has gone from library to library, bypassing the big stage. Hell, a crack addiction would barely ruffle this trajectory. And already I'm having difficulty with the powers that be at The EBC Library. I promise no dicks......or for that matter anything that could possibly be considered controversial. Still, the library ladies look at me suspiciously. I hear them whisper "What's this guy up to?" Did someone  from Mill Valley drop a dime on me? The show is sched. to open May 26, 2012 11:00. Better see it fast. Who knows how long it will be up. I still have a hard on for libraries.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

HOLIDAY MT. RD.- $10,000


  I just got off the phone to Shewho. She's thinking of putting two pieces from her collection up for sale. There's a museum interested in one and the other may go up at Art Basel. It's a tough decision for her. Both of these works have sentimental value. But the art market is strong for the time being and may not be much longer. When we started The White Sulfur Springs Project in 2007 the hope was that the real estate market would remain strong and her house/piece would at least retain its value, if not increase. Well with no "art" value yet attached to 192 Midway Rd., the real estate value went right in the dumper. Money dried up and Shewho's kitchen remains raw sheet rock and a conglomeration of odd ball shelves and cabinets. Could selling art be the answer?
    I've spent an entire career not selling art. My church burns dollar bills. Selling work either through galleries or out the back door has never materialized. Thankfully this hasn't been much of an issue in regard to producing more. I make my money working for the man (or woman) and fund my art with that. Many artists my age (and much younger) sell for big prices. So it is when I do consider putting a monetary value on pieces I have to look at a "successful" artist's prices in order to get an idea. Forget Cady Noland's $6 mil. range. That's an aberration that no one can explain. I look more to the $ a relatively obscure artist in the artworld would command for say an abstract painting. It's not unheard of for these works to bring something like $60,000 to $80,000 for a good sized canvas. They talk about things like paint vicousity and gesture. I know it sounds ridiculous. But that's art.
    So with Memorial Weekend Social Sculpture coming up I've decided to put a price on a few things. My most accessible work is the Kristan Kohl series. These are canvases I've done since 1984 under the name Kristan Kohl (a dead German woman artist). Each piece is dated 1952, no matter what year I completed it. Some are recent. Others go back decades. I started small- book covers. Then I did all different sized ones, settling on a comfortable 54"X 90". So lets start with these. A 54"X 90" will run you $12, 000. I know it sounds like a lot, but for someone of my age and lets face it- "talent", I can't let 'em go for less. Many works like the tattoo prints, meat from my dead cow, and the ashes from hundreds of burned dollars I refuse to even put a price on. You can't afford them. Think about it. Could selling art be the answer? We'll see.    

Monday, April 23, 2012


  In 1999 Tony Labat and I established THE OLD SCHOOL FOR SOCIAL SCULPTURE in a one room school house that I owned down the road from the church. Labat teaches at The SF Art Institute. Through negotiations with him and SFAI administrators we were able to bring about 20 undergrad. and graduate students east for a 10 day summer session. I was married at the time. Those 10 days of informal communication with artists like Robin Winters, Linda Montano and Kiki Smith, meals, road trips to the lake and shooting range, and late night partying were incredible. The students loved it. Labat loved it. I loved it. My wife was so stressed out and overwhelmed that it was the final straw laid onto an already shaky legged camel. The marriage fell apart soon afterward.
   Now I don't blame The OSSS for my trouble in paradise. It just sped up the process. The reality of doing such a piece is that it becomes more a summer camp than a summer school. The logistics of feeding and caring for twenty something people in tents for 10 days is a real struggle for people with staffs. Without a staff it can be nerve racking. So it is that now the Old School has come back in the form of a much more manageable "correspondence course" Free University. Once again I have a great faculty- Labat, Winters, Montano, Spencer Tunick, Sally Webster, Samm Kunce, Marta Hoskins, George Holz, Tessa Hughes-Freeland, Carlo McCormick, Marrianna Rothen, Sharon Glazberg, Eduardo Cure, Hollie Witchey, Mike Edison, Rob Kennedy...and more. The problem now is forming the student body.
   The idea is to hook up one student with one teacher. The boundaries are intentionally blurred between teacher and student. Some students are on par with the teacher. I want them to ask- who's teaching who? Of course any person can contact another these days. The lines of communication are wide open between cell phone, email and social media. The OSSSFU is a vehicle set up to formalize, expedite and hopefully keep the lines of communication open. Even though the faculty is diverse, there's nothing that says a student can't request a faculty member not listed. Recently a prospective student asked about Stelarc. I contacted him and although he applauded the school, he honestly realized he could not devote the time required to take on a student. I'd much rather have this response than someone all for it and then drop the ball. As dean of admissions this is a constant problem. Like any budding relationship, the string between soup cans must remain taut.
     So, if any readers of this blog would like to go to school let me know. I'm not teaching any courses myself but I will be turkey hunting and trout fishing as much as time allows in the month of May. If any supermodels would care to accompany me, just drop me a line. To my faculty I want to express my sincerest gratitude for once again participating in another one of my crack-pot ideas for no money. And to the students a great big THANK YOU. Now get to class.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


First a little anecdotal name dropping. Back in the 90's i worked for the high end construction firm Strasser and Assoc. One of our prime sources of income was THE DAKOTA.  And one of our best clients was Jane Rosenthal and investment banker Craig Hatkoff. Jane produced WAG THE DOG. Both her and Craig were big Dem. fundraisers at the time. Right before King Bill got popped for the Monica Lewinsky "not sex" BJ, they had a fundraiser for him and Hil Dog. I installed a piece of flooring next to the fire place. On the back I scrawled- "Here stood President William Jefferson Clinton". I always try to do a little piece in everyone's pad. Jane also started Tribecca Films with buddy Robert Deniro. One day he knocked on the door. "Hi. I'm Bobby." He said, sticking out his hand. I knew that. "Is Jane home?" That's the end of my name dropping. I wanted to talk about the Tribecca Film Fest. film "FIRST WINTER". You can't make this shit up.

    I first heard about this film a couple of weeks ago. I caught an interview with the director Ben Dickinson on some fluff news show. He'd plopped a bunch of his Brooklyn stereotype friends down in a big empty house in Orange County and filmed them for the winter. He was happy as a clam that his film was being hyped. He'd shot it for less than $100k and it was getting the buzz. All good. It looked stupid, but Hell I was glad when any film shot on a shoestring got press. I wanted to like the guy and his project. That didn't last long.
  Now comes word that the clueless hipsters shot a couple of deer in Feb.- well past the end of deer season and included it in the film. "We are idiots." Dickinson told a reporter. "We didn't know how to do this hunting stuff. There were so many deer weak from the winter and getting eaten by local dogs, we didn't even think about it." I agree with the "idiot" part. I'm about to face my 70th winter. And I can honestly say I never shot a deer out of season for any reason- art, food or otherwise. These guys give artists and hunters a bad name. How hard is it to find out when deer season is? I grew up in Orange County and if the public thinks it's some sort of post apocalyptic landscape of starving deer and roving, bloodthirsty dog packs, let me clue you in. The OC, NY is the suburbs. All deer are scruffy looking in Feb. And most look healthier that that yoga teacher in the cast of cliched characters (whom I'm sure were fed well when the camera turned off.) Not since a  Cady Noland multiple sold at auction for over $6 mil. have I been so incensed. IFF! I'm fucking flabbergasted that people can be this stupid.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


   You wouldn't know it by looking at me, but I'm no hippy. I'm old enough to be one, but philosophically speaking I'm much more aligned with punks than their body painted, flower waving elders. My cynicism runs too deep. This said, I spent last evening at Andy Mephisto's birthday bon fire, on a hill overlooking Ellenville, with a bunch right out of 1967- not in age, but in spirit. Andy shares the farm with his wife Drekes and little girl Junie Moon Beam. Kids and dogs froliced. Veggie keesh was served. Thank God the drum circle didn't develope. There was a flute that a guy pulled out and half-heartedly played for a couple of minutes. Then all went silent.  The fire crackled, swirling sparks dancing, disappearing into heaven's inkwell. Hey.....any of you been to "Occupy"?

    Turned out that amongst the group was Echo. I'm not up on the personalities of the movement, but it seemed apparent that this was one of the movers shakers. I'm fascinated by OWS. Aside from The Black Block anarchists of the 90's, OWS is the only movement of youth that has had any effect on the political machine daily grinding up our souls. The group (and esp. Echo) came to life at the mention of OWS. All talk of the dry conditions that the big fire of cedar boughs could ignite into a blazing inferno at any moment, turned to politics. I'd been hitting the beer keg pretty good and the eye medicine was being passed freely, so I don't remember much. But to have OWS royalty amongst us was fascinating. I do remember his haircut.
    I'd brought a package of hot dogs and a six pack of beer to this shindig. In retrospect it wasn't the proper gift. I told Echo about the piece I wanted to do last deer season down at OWS and how it was poo-pooed by the group. I wanted to take a freshly killed deer downtown, string it up on a tree branch, skin it, butcher it, cook it and feed it to the movement. No one seemed interested. But maybe I was just talking to the wrong people. In a leaderless group it's a bit hard to tell who's running the show. Echo seemed hyped about the piece. A couple of other people expressed interest in how rad it would be to kill a deer. Like Hunger Games Kids, I'm not so sure I want these guys sharing my deer woods. By evening's end I was drunk and bathed in the fire's glow, as well as the possibilities of a new generation of positivists. I'm still no hippie. But I wish them well. Good luck kids. It's your world. I left the six pack, grabbed my dogs and drove home. Turkey season is right around the corner. I'll be occupying those woods soon. Ain't no politics out there. Gobble-gobble.      

Monday, April 16, 2012


  With Memorial Day weekend looming the Catskill Social Season is already heating up. A small wrinkle in our plans is the cancelation of THE WAY TOO GAY NOT BLACK ENOUGH EMERGENCY CIRCUS FOXY BOXING CHURCH. Even though the last church was way back in October the CLGM's unpreparedness is predictably in effect. A hastily called meeting of the elders in order to discuss the "issues" involved in working with an evolving theology, with no concise mandate, doctrine, dogma nor direction, left us with more shrugged shoulders and crinkled eyebrows than usual. My suggestion of more rehearsals was met with stoney silence. As far as "acts" were concerned all we had was Sister Nun of Your Business' willingness to strap on the gloves and wet down her habit in order to take on all comers.....when she was unexpectedly called away on family matters. This left us with nothing. In the old days this would not slow us down, but it's a new world order and THE BAND OF ALL FAITH lynch pin Sarah "Birka" Budde's condition of "ready to pop out a spawn", as well as the other member's lacksidazical attitude forced my hand.
   But not to worry. Over the weekend I had dinner with famed smut peddler Sailor Ricky and his lovely wife Tinka out at Chuck and Tessa's WSSP II. The Sailor is about to launch a line of panties in Japan and Tinka is working on a show of her "essence" for a NYC gallery. This church power couple agreed that we should move services to Solstice weekend- which would make it Sat. June 23: a Temple. Far from being carved in stone, this could work. One of the big complaints regarding services has been too few themes. So I thought I'd add Electric Solstice to our existing line up. Chuck thinks he has a caterer for the condiments. Stick out yer tongue. By then the little Budde will be plenty old enough to baptize, Sister NOYB will be in fighting shape, Mystery Girl will have her pants off and hopefully the Band of All Faiths will be rehearsed. Pencil in the date.
   In the meantime Memorial Weekend is still on for the artsy stuff. Kristan Kohl will be showing work from 1952 at Diamond Dave's BARn on Sat. May 26, 6-8 pm. Then on Sunday I figured we can do a relaxed sunset BBQ and disco up at the church, where I will show work nevershown before. Remember bring your own meat, drinks and drugs. I'll supply the fire. Also if I can get the library board's approval, I plan to show my work alongside Ethelbert B. Crawford at The Monticello Library. In an attempt to get more art fags to appreciate EBC's amazing work, hidden in this obscure outpost I'll hang my equally obscure work alongside his. The social season is upon us. Gas up the minivan and make your reservations now. Summer will be over before you know it.

Sunday, April 15, 2012



Saturday, April 7, 2012




   With the advent of the occupy movement last fall, a faint light has been shined on the "artworld" and all it's boils. The big money, the obnoxious sense of privilege, the superior attitudes and of course the slick, vacuous, overpriced art are periodically held up to ridicule by dred wearing, unwashed white kids, fresh from the drum circle. Of course it has little affect on a group so monied and powerful that anything short of a grenade attack on Sotheby's barely gets their attention. Where's the dinner party after the opening and are we invited?- is really the only concern.
   I had a small taste of this world as I was coming up in the 80's with my gallery MO David in the East Village. I would sit behind the counter of my little storefront space, watching cartoons, smoking a joint, a group of artists like Tony Oursler, Harry Kipper (Brian Routh), Robin Winters, Karen Finley, Richard Kern and others, coming and going, waiting for that limo to pull up and buy art. It was retail art sales in all it's glory. Once in a while the big stretch would stop on 9th and A and some fur wearing, jewel dripping, grande dame would step out and enter- nose in the air. Christ, I think they even wore monocles in those days. I'd quickly snuff out the joint, wave the air, turn off the TV and smile. It never worked. The rich saw right through me. They somehow sensed I wasn't one of the club. I'd hear them whispering. "Lets go to International With Monument or maybe Nature Morte." After three years as an art dealer in the art world, showing great artists, (who later went on to big careers) I barely sold a work. Disgusted, I closed the doors and started a rock band.
   The problem is it's easy to close a gallery, but not so easy to stop being an artist. In these heady times of twitter and facebook and whatever the next big thing is, being an artist is simultaneously easier and more difficult than it has ever been. Sure you can you can go to art school, have shows, get reviewed, sell work at big prices and die rich and famous. Or you can be an artist. Like the word "nigger" we some how have to take back this term and use it against those who would defile us. "Artworld" has less and less to do with art, as it does with money and hype to keep it worth something. Critics are no help. They just hype what sells perpetuating the cycle. Curators all have their heads up each other's asses. And collectors, museums, galleries? They have all let society down. They have no clue. They have so insulated themselves, filling every moat with hungry gators, that it would take the cast of SWAMP PEOPLE bum rushing the gates, .22s blazing, to even get an audience. What's the answer you ask?
   I'd say it's not to give a shit.....but that really doesn't work either. An artist does care. An artist wants to share his or her work. It's hard wired into all but a very few of us. Maybe Henry Darger and Ethelbert B. Crawford didn't care if their work was ever seen, but they are in the minority. My answer is to show. But show on your own terms. Show in your parents' basement. Show in the woods. Show off the road, around the bend, under the water, out back in the shed, up in a tree down by the river. Make it as tough for people to see your stuff as it is for them to pigeon hole you. Don't cow tow, suck up or kiss ass. Stick to you guns, until they pry them from your cold dead hands. And when the world beats a path to your door, put up the posted signs. And most importantly "my niggers"- fuck the Artworld. They know not what they do.    

Thursday, April 5, 2012


   For years I've tried to find a way to contextualize my tedious, boring, day job as a carpenter as art. As I don't really show in galleries or museums, this contextualization is merely for my state of mind. It's a way of tricking myself into believing that getting up and going to work, and busting my hump all day can really be an art work. I shy away from using the term "performance art". I always found it lame and pretentious. It's like calling yourself a poet or philosopher. For now lets call it "country conceptualism".  In spite of myself I have actually succeeded in some regard in re-classifying my work day- setting it apart from the norm. WSSP and WSSP II and The Hollie Witchey Project are all ongoing sculptural works fueled by my hourly wage, yet exist as art in my expanding inventory, not merely old jobs.
   Now along comes my neighbor Diamond Dave and his offer for me to redesign and brand his hang out as The BARn. Usually I work closely with a client's vision of what they want, then intervene with my own vision. DD gave me free reign from the start. Damn. This was a first. It was up to me to groove it up, buy the furniture, fix the lighting, pick the paint and as almost an after thought- choose the art.

Last night, with the place almost done we christened it. Pigpen Rothman, Levi, GNJohn, New Bird, Slomo 17, Rachel the new intern, DD and I gathered over freshly killed chicken, good herb and a giant bottle of Grey Goose to see how the place shook out. If my head is any indication, the atmosphere is completely in place. The bar hasn't been fully stocked and the pool table is in the wrong place, but with a giant Kristan Kohl hanging on the main wall and three more canvases ready to round out the room, THE BARn is nearly ready. On Memorial weekend Trussbridge Farm (DD's organic farm) will take over the old Denniston Ford bridge as a farmer's market, The CLGM will have a service and THE BARn will officially open with a Kristan Kohl show. Is it art? I think I can honestly say I'm having way too much fun to care anymore.