I am sitting outside on a porch. Although, I know there is much more to come, it already feels like the height of summer – hot, humid, rumbles of distant thunder, tomatoes and cucumbers ready to be harvested. I have a lot to learn about my new home. If I had moved here 250 years ago, it would have taken weeks to hear about the Stamp Act, and it would have been even longer before I learned about the opening of the Uffizi. We are fortunate to live in a time when it is easy to connect with people and activities around the world. We virtually see exhibitions across the country; we draw connections between seemingly isolated acts of police violence; we link weather extremes, changing temperatures, and global water crises into a new epoch; I follow art sales and art fairs in New York and London and Shanghai.
I have been tantalized, enthralled, and engaged by the seemingly endless streams of photos from NADA, Frieze, and other fairs – the paintings that are not paintings, the snack-cum-knapsack, the crowds and crowds rubbing shoulders, drinking, filling the fairs with that mutable substance that enlivens them long after the lights are off and booths packed. We remember the laughter, handshakes, the attempts to meet and be met long after the objects on the walls have transformed into new objects. That conversation about the relevancy of painting will return next year with new paintings; that objet du jour will be replaced with something else of the moment, but the people and the relationships built and maintained are what last, build, and enliven these events. This moving, living, breathing series of moments is not and cannot be transmitted in tweets, favorited photos, or lenghty write-ups. I keep up with the news, but I miss the substance. I see what has happened, but I cannot experience it happening. For all of the speed with which I receive the information, I am not present.
To reconnect with that presence, with the lived experience of making and co-living, I recently went to the Chattanooga Zine Fest. I met vendors and zine makers from across the country. I touched and read the painstakingly written, photographed, photocopied, printed, folded books, pamphlets, zines, and stickers. Each object held a story in its creases and staples, in its hand drawn cover and intimate looks into experiences of depression, motherhood, anarchism, or robots. These connections, conversations, and shared experiences enliven the objects in my hands. They unfold the complexity, longevity, and deeper understanding that I cannot experience online. They magnify those digital experiences, transforming words and images into the artists, gallerists, collectors, reporters, revelers, and visitors I know live behind them.
I am more connected to the global contemporary art world than ever. I have the luxury and privilege to have that multitude of information at my fingertips. I can be in multiple places around the world in seconds, yet I wake up in one bed among the mountains. I live in a world where someone can easily buy a painting for more money than I know how to imagine, yet I see the daily lives of people trying to move from one to the next. I see highlights of art fairs, exhibitions, and performances from across the country, yet I live with creators, makers, and doers who intellectually, creatively, and financially sustain themselves here. Holding those contradictions while moving through, with, and beyond them towards the future that is continually made real by us is the great challenge before us. The mosquitoes are biting, leaving red welts along my mistakenly bare ankles. The condensation from my glass is dripping onto the ground that has been continuously inhabited by humans for 12,000 years. I have a lot to learn about my still new home; I have a lot to learn about this life we all lead.
I received a copy of Arty Party in the mail a few weeks ago. Created by Sara Drake and James Payne the comic came about while taking both an art history and comic class at the same time. As their website notes; “Arty Part started when Sara was having trouble writing one panel gags for her comics class. The easiest answer to this was, of course, to make fun of artists. I posted the initial three we made togetherÂ here. We were tonally and visually inspired byÂ The New Yorker cartoons but also by the over-the-top stupidity of Johnny Ryan’sÂ Angry Youth Comix and Ivan Brunetti’sÂ Haw!. The material came directly from the History of Art 541 course taught by Kris Paulsen that I took last fall. The class was based on David Joselit’s bookÂ American Art Since 1945.” I have seen some of Sara’s other work and enjoyed the quick read. Banalization has a pretty sweet viewer set up for the comic itself, but if you are interested in purchasing a copy either check out the following locations:
I just started reading Six Nonlectures by E.E. Cummings and I love it. Each time I set down my book I fantasize about being a Harvard grad class of 1936 (or earlier) and I want to write in that canonical W.A.S.P.-yÂ literary style. A style first introduced to me in middle school through The Great Gatsby and Catcher in the Rye, and later impressed upon me in college through Burroughs, Stevens, Kerouac, and other dudes. These frequently referenced stories are part of an American myth that I can’t seem to shake.
My friend Paul Cowan knows what I’m going through. He recently released a collection of short stories entitled The Music and the Wine that follow a series of unnamed protagonists through everyday scenarios. The vignettes are about “nothing,” meaning ideas that are hard to describe: why your favorite pants are your favorite or what it feels like when someone steals your jokes. Paul once told me that he thought reading fiction was indulgent and his writing is decidedly enjoyable.
The Music and the Wine is a bizarre homage to the great American novel. In Wilke Dairy Co. Cowan acknowledges his indirect nostalgia for a time that only really exists in retrospect. He celebrates the Midwest and the 1950s. In Wilke Dairy Co. the narrator recalls a perfect night making out with Ann Wilke, a dairy heir, in her parents’ basement. The narratives are funny, nearly satirical, and my favorite is about a divisive social butterfly. It begins, “Itâ€™s a thin line between love and hate. And I never walk that line.â€
The Music and the Wine is available from Paul Cowan and Golden Age. On Saturday, March 27th 7-10pm please join us at Golden Age for Alla Prima, a show of new works by Paul Cowan. Visit www.shopgoldenage.com for more information.
The kind folks across the pond at The Wizard’s Hat sent me two copies of Issue 03 (The Magic Number) of their illustration zine to give away. “The Wizard’s Hat is an illustration house & zine created by Jeffrey Bowman and Andy.J Miller as the platform for producing collaborative projects under one name. The house focuses itself on self initiated projects involving many of today’s most established illustrators as well as producing its own body of projects based on their love of illustration.”
Jim Stoten, Olimpia Zagnoli, Gemma Correll, Will Bryant, Nick Deakin, Nousvous, Robert Loeber, MrGauky, James Gulliver Hancock, C86, HeyHeyHey, Zeptonn vs. Welmoet, Kipi Ka Popo, Edward McGowan, Ashkahn Shahparnia, John Ringhofer, Andy J.Miller, Jeffrey Bowman
John Ringhofer, Half Handed Cloud, Jim Stoten, Jimtheillustrator, Andy J.Miller, ‘Ponstinople Clones’ feat Nick Philpin
Hit me up if you want a copy. First two people will get one.