I just heard another New York peer round up to the decade when asked how long he’d been in New York. His first response was an efficient, “Ten years,” and then went on to say he moved to New York City in the middle of the Kerry/Bush election. It was probably an innocent fib, perhaps even a mathematical oversight, but it marked the bazillionth time I’d heard someone padding their New York tenure, and I’ve taken to recognize the move.
Moved NYC in April ’05: ”Been here about a decade.”
Moved in June of ‘04: ”Been living on the Lower East for the better part of the century.”
Implants in New York are like kids dying to have a double-digit age, or one too eager to become a teenager: “I’m almost 13”
“I’m starting big boy school next year.”
When I mentioned this to my wife, she told me that it was just as petty of me to scorekeep as it was for someone to embellish. Perhaps, but I can’t be punished for merely noticing a trend, can I? It’s hard to tell when one is over-vigilant because it feels exactly the same as observation. I would say I keep an objective mental inventory of all food in our house and she would say I focus more heavily on the number of squares on the chocolate bars that come and go. And to the contrary, I would say that it is she who notices me noticing the chocolate because she’s the one with the issue.
The point is that it’s hard to distinguish between impartial observation and vigilantism..and also that what one is looking for often says something about who he or she is.
I understand the impulse to compete in NYC though. New York is the only city I’ve ever spent any significant amount of time in that has a learning curve steeper than acquiring a language that has a totally different alphabet. There is a genuine satisfaction in finding a suitable apartment and to memorizing the neighborhood’s alternate side parking rules. Knowing how to negotiate the Brooklyn Bridge from the tangle of D.U.M.B.O. sidestreets will give a humble man a full-chest. And knowing how to get navigate Flushing, Queens to get good dumplings makes many an implanted New Yorker feel like Maro Polo.
No one has ever one-upped me in Wisconsin by claiming they’ve been in Fond du Lac for longer than I, nor has anyone bragged that they found an “undiscovered” neighborhood that was yet-to-be gentrified. People don’t chronicle time spent in a particular place in Wisconsin because time isn’t in itself a measure of valor.
If aliens came from a galaxy far far away and were looking for a place to live in the U.S., they might choose to lay anchor in Cedarburg, Wisconsin: the roads are paved smooth, grass grows green in open fields everywhere, food is (too) plentiful, the people are kind, and the living is comfortable even for the marginal citizen. And being from so far away, our aliens would probably be on the margins. But as long as said aliens didn’t exoticize or flaunt the culture on their old planet, no one would question when their ship landed in Cedarburg, just that it chose it willfully and respectfully. And that it didn’t try to stand out too much – Wisconsinites prefer formal over temporal continuity. They’re György Lukács to New Yorkers’ Bertolt Brecht.
Living in Cedarburg part-time for 7 months and 5 days, to the hour, I thought I’d left the tenure pretense behind. A student asked me today how long I’ve lived in New York and I reflexively said “a decade,” even though I only moved there in August of ’02.
In the moment I couldn’t tell whether the slip was due to efficiency or overdetermination. I thought about correcting the technical error, but he was looking at me like I was a painted warrior from the East.
“Really, why’d you come all the way out to Fond du Lac for?”
I avoided quicksand by asking him how long he’d been in Fond du Lac.
“Since I was born..but my family’s been here for almost 200 years.”
Now, we have tried to not pimp people’s Kickstarters. This is for two reasons… We (just like you) have a little “kickstarter fatigue,” and well, sooner or later we are also going to have to do a kickstarter to keep our project going and we don’t want everyone to be completely “kicked out” before we need the help.
That being said, maybe it is time to help out Version Fest as it has helped out thousands of us.
“We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” (Proverb attributed to Native Americans, tribe unkown.)
Late February, I attended the College Art Association conference in Los Angeles, where I ran into my friend Jenny Kendler. She told me about an event she was involved with, “In A Landscape Where Nothing Officially Exists,” at UnSpace Ground, which as I was to discover was situated in the outdoor plaza in front of the Los Angeles Convention Center, where CAA was taking place. Street vendors were selling baggies of sliced mango dipped in lemon juice, cayenne, and sugar, and I managed to buy one before security ran the vendors off, and my friends and I munched mango as the event unfolded. (In the photo below, you can just make me out, in my fancy new sunglasses, chatting with artist Conrad Freiburg, in the upper right.)
For this event, eight artists and one biologist collaborated to create 35 art works representing endangered species living in southern California. In order to spread awareness of the endangered status of these organisms, viewers were invited to sign up to take custody of a work of art, in exchange for a commitment to learn and care about the species represented, and to reproduce or represent the artwork online. This article is my fulfillment of the pledge that I took on that day.
The format ran something like a silent auction, with viewers selecting the work and species they wanted to care for, and signing up on form. As the event unfolded, Jenny announced each species, artwork, and its new caretaker, auctioneer-style. Both Stephanie Burke and I took custody of pieces by Jenny Kendler, a friend of ours whose work we have admired for a long time. Kendler’s work frequently addresses issues of ecology and conservation, but what I’ve always appreciated about its soft, quiet beauty, which has always reminded me of the animated film The Last Unicorn. This delicate aesthetic carries through her drawings and paintings, her sculptures, and makes an important subject palatable, avoiding any possibility of being called shrill or preachy. It is pretty with a purpose.
Kendler’s contributions to “In A Landscape Where Nothing Officially Exists” were rendered in graphite and watercolor on little circles of paper, which were then mounted on vintage ribbons, like one might get for “Best Pig” at the county fair. They are similar to, although I believe separate from, an installation called “Selection: 23 Endangered Species,” executed in the same medium and also mounted on ribbons. Stephanie took custody of Muntz’s Onion, and I went for the Southern California Steelhead Trout.
Steelhead are a unique type of rainbow trout, which are classified along with salmon, char, and other trout as salmonids. Unlike other rainbow trout, steelhead, like salmon, are anadromous, spending most of their adult lives in the ocean but spawning in freshwater streams and rivers. The Southern California Steelhead Trout is an “evolutionarily significant unit” (ESU) of the coastal steelhead/rainbow trout, Oncorhyncus mykiss iridius. Since the end of the last glacial period, some 12,000 years ago, steelhead of the southern ESU have evolved several unique characteristics uniquely adapted to the semi-arid climate of Southern California. Compared with northern populations, southern steelhead have the ability to tolerate warmer water, the juveniles grow faster and migrate to the ocean more quickly, and they may “stray” more frequently from the exact river or stream of their birth when returning to spawn.
Southern California steelhead face two major threats to their survival. Water diversion and extraction cause many streams to dry up for much of the year, much more frequently than previously. Secondly, various barriers can prevent the fish from returning to their spawning ground: dams obviously from a major obstacle but flat, concrete-lined channels and narrow culverts can also create high-velocity “wind tunnels” of water which the fish are unable to pass. The loss of riparian vegetation, the introduction of non-native predatory fish and amphibians, the filling and destruction of estuaries, and pollution from industrial and agricultural runoff have added to the difficulties.
The steelhead was listed under the Endangered Species Act in August 1997, and various populations listed as threatened or endangered. However, the listing excluded any area upstream of an impassible manmade barrier, leaving most of the vital spawning grounds unprotected, and inaccessible. Organizations such as the Center for Biological Diversity, the Audubon Society, the Friends of the LA River (FOLAR), and the California Coastal Conservancy have fought to revive southern California’s steelhead populations. Efforts have included the redesign of channels to slow water flow, provision for means for fish to get around barriers, restoring riparian vegetation, and eliminating invasive predators.
There have been some major setbacks, for example in late January 2011, when the California Coastal Conservancy abandoned its efforts at reviving the San Mateo Creek population, in part because of hindrances presented by USMC Camp Pendleton. There have been successes as well. The Environmental Defense Center of Santa Barbara worked with city planners and the Army Corps of Engineers to redesign the concrete channel framing Mission Creek, slowing its flow, and adding step pools and rock weirs to allow fish to migrate upstream. The Matilija Coalition in Ventura County has been working to remove a dam, modify bridge structures, and restore shade trees along the Ventura River.
The best news is also the most recent. In January 2012, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration completed its roadmap to recovery for steelhead in southern California. For the fewer than 500 steelhead remaining in southern California, this plan outlines the best chance of survival. But the NOAA warns: “Recovery Plans published by NOAA’s Fisheries Services are guidance documents, not regulatory documents, and their implementation depends on the voluntary cooperation of multiple stakeholders at the local, regional, state, and national levels.”
The information in this article comes from the following sources, which should be consulted for additional information on the status of the southern California steelhead, and what still needs to be done:
Work by Carrie Schneider.
Monique Meloche Gallery is locate at 2154 W. Division St. Reception Saturday, 4-7pm.
Work by Ari Marcopoulos.
Kavi Gupta Gallery is located at 835 W. Washington Blvd. Reception is Friday, 5-8pm.
Work by David Salkin.
PEREGRINEPROGRAM is located at 3311 W Carroll Ave. #119. Reception Sunday, 3:30-5:30pm.
Work by Joan Goldin and Susannah Papish.
slow is located at 2153 W 21st St. Reception Saturday, 6-9pm.
Curated by Christalena Hughmanick, work by SAIC MFA students.
Murdertown Gallery is located at 2351 N. Milwaukee Ave. Reception Friday, 6-9pm.
Yesterday I posted something in Art21‘s “Centerfield” column about some of Katie Paterson’s work. One of the works discussed centers on a Morse code broadcast transmitted to the moon’s surface. Paterson then captured and re-transcribed the same message it’s reflected, return journey. In a similar spirit, I read about Agnese Meyer-Brandis’ “Moon Goose Analogue” on We Make Money Not Art and thought I could post it here. Brandis is in the midst of a very long project to breed Moon Geese — geese who are slated to travel with her to the moon in 2027.You can read more about this project by going here, and in the meantime check out this amazing, sometimes Wes-Anderson-feel trailer!
Agnes Meyer-Brandis: The Moon Goose Analogue: Lunar Migration Bird Facility is part of the AV Festival. And for any and all of you who happen to be in the UK, the film and installation in on view through the 31st of March, 2012, at the Great North Museum: Hancock in Newcastle. This project was commissioned and curated by The Arts Catalyst as part of the ACE funded Republic of the Moon exhibition held with FACT, Liverpool over the last few months. For more information about this and upcoming work, please visit: http://www.artscatalyst.org/