Sunday, January 30, 2011

a few thoughts on L&M ARTS New York show of David Hammons work , January 26 - February 26, 2011

Spontaneously I found myself yesterday at David Hammons' show at L&M Arts on 78th and Madison with some friends, and I was really taken by the excellence and clarity of formal composure in the work. The first piece one sees is a giant canvas thoroughly draped with drop cloth, as if the gallery hadn't unpacked the show yet. There's plastic hanging from the door frame. There's a smaller painting, maybe 4x5ft, with a yucky brown towel seized to the surface covering what appears to be an urgent and loosely painted abstract. But as I discovered throughout the downstairs the painting isn't the heart of the matter Hammons is aspiring to realize in these works.

One can see only little bits of the painting's edges and reveals in holes that have been cut out roughly in the tarpaulins. They appear like marks bitten out or burned, torn... The second room pushed me further into inquiry. Why are they covered? One can see enough of the actual paintings to realize that they're particularly attended to, defined enough, to say "I am a painting" but that's it. So what's that about? It appeared to us that the cover or veil is the subject. And occurred to me that these efforts are attempting to draw our attention to our own obstructions to being fresh when we look at a work of art. We all have this experience of expectation when we look at a work of art. We ascribe to ourselves the imposition of our own ignorance or intellectual knowing that, I believe Hammons is suggesting in the work, prevents us from actually seeing the work at all or in it's true entirety. Because we are not fresh. Our senses are cut off by our concepts of things. The downstairs works suggest to this viewer that is is I who is wearing a tarpaulin over my head, attempting to bite through to see the world fully.

There's one piece that really cinched the deal downstairs where the draped material on the surface doesn't totally cover the seemingly randomly attended to painting, and the fabric appears like some lushly green Issey Miyake shawl. Decorative, not tarpaulined, draping. David Hammons has made mirrors, I think. We lovingly drape ourselves with our concepts of ourselves and our worlds, preventing our eyes and our hearts from seeing and feeling and being seen and felt again and again.

My amazement about this show in reflection is how extraordinarily simple Hammons' means are to convey such powerful context. They are so raw and just right.

Upstairs, Hammons decides to change the project incorporating the tarpaulins and paintings to make sculpture. He says there's nothing to prevent you from seeing these materials as whole. The first piece upstairs is giant, a painting almost entirely covered with black-green plastic, leaning on a cobblestone, from a west village street or somewhere, on just one side, and the plastic falls to the floor. There's an almost figurative lean to the piece, to my eyes, like a lurching giant, the color of the plastic sucking all the light into itself....

There are two other pieces I'd like to reference. To the left in the 2nd gallery upstairs is a piece that shimmers. It's a woven tarp, purple-green, almost silvery, and it has been sewn a bit with what appears like a pocket even. A vertical tear reveals an equally shimmery painting, reminiscent of silvery water, or lightening in the sky. The tarp and painting seem in concert with each other, made of the same essential stuff, and I couldn't help but feel comforted by it. But in retrospect I really wonder what David Hammons intends to elicit with this piece. It is, in comparison to the other draped paintings, the loveliest. We all felt it, I think. But the painting is largely still covered. I don't know.

My personal favorite, the one I'm taking home if I could, is a piece made by two cloudy clear tarps, holes chewed away, hanging on a clean white wall from grommeted(sp?) holes. The torn edges of the holes captured in light appear silvery, almost painted, and I felt like Hammons wanted to show us something simply beautiful....No artifice, no concept, no intention but the pursuit of loveliness...And he really gets it. The transparencies of overlaid plastic feel like flesh or layers of winter lake ice, wax...naturally quite beautiful.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

"Every bit of every piece of every split second" a poem

Every bit of every piece of every split second
I am born again anew.
It takes some getting used to
(I'm not yet used to it)
my chrysalis becoming and becoming...
I ride the air of phenomena like the fragile butterfly that I am,
easily dried out, pinned down by time,
readily crushed to dust and left to ride those very same winds into nothingness,
and I forget that simultaneously as I look and listen and feel about
that I am also again and again reborn anew...
the light in my eyelashes as I look into the midday sun,
for the first time, beyond time,
because the next time, as a flurry of snowflakes dropped from a nearby tree branch tickles my cheeks,
I look into the light, and the world, quite differently,
bleeds bright gold white.
I am not what I seem to be,
a man with
I am illusion, a wisp of a thing that's not a thing,
I grasp my recollections of self only to claim anew a different story,
a different face,
a different mind about everything and nothing at all....
I've nothing to say
with nothing on the tip of my tongue.
Awash in an ocean of endless difficulty,
astray in a world of concepts that simply don't apply,
in flight in an expanse that offers a vista that is nothing at all ,
and I rest in this no place like a big  reflective butterfly hovering effortlessly,
displaying a world in my wings....
each flutter an illusion,
a mark of some new beginning.
Noticing this...
It's happening.

Anew, anew, anew…

“Hello, hello, hello?
Are you there?”
“Am I here?
…no place.”
“Where are you going?”
“No place to go.”
“Here already...”
These are whispers of understanding
that disappear like tiny flumes of leaf smoke on a windy day,
or like dried butterfly wings
on a crisp, bright winter's day...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The State of the Union Address: a few thoughts

Everybody's talking and reading about Obama's speech last night, applauding his attempt to reach beyond the language of partisan politics, and I agree that his ability to do such a thing is impressive and important. I can list a dozen policy considerations that the President made that I agree with...stopping subsidizing oil companies and use the money to invest in clean fuel technology was big to my ears...High speed rail and internet, VERY GOOD....

But I honestly have no faith that our representatives represent our best interests, that they will make the cuts that need to be made to invest in investments that we need for the future to create jobs and a more prosperously healthy and educated population.

There is one thing that comes to my mind that is a necessary but incredibly opposed cut to be made.

The first, of course, is military spending. All you have to do is Google it and you'll see that we spend close to, before private contracting which doesn't get included, over 700 Billion Dollars a year for military. It's more than all annual domestic spending including social security, medicaid and medicare, municipal pensions, etc...., ok? And for what have we created a fully fallow economic environment? Are we actually stemming the tide of Islamic fundamentalism? I think not even close. We can't kill enough, and we can't persuade these people because we tried to kill them first before persuasion(they don't trust us, and who can blame them), and even if you think there's a chance for success(what does THAT look like?), how long's that going to take, really? It's a dead end. Military culture is fundamentally a dead end culture that costs untold sums of money and Precious Treasure on both sides of whatever war we're fighting, and it does absolutely nothing to create true Freedom and Liberty for beings. Cut it!

Here's some ideas from Kevin Hassett who is director of economic-policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. His column is distributed by The Washington Post News Service with Bloomberg News.

"First, it’s finally time to take on farm subsidies, which topped $15.4 billion in 2009, according to the Washington-based Environmental Working Group.

This doesn’t mean America’s farmers have to be left to fend for themselves.

Canada has experimented with a program that provides government matching funds for farmers’ deposits into savings accounts that help them buffer their incomes against the ups and downs of farm prices. Such a program in the U.S. could achieve the objective of helping family farmers survive while enabling policy makers to withdraw billions of subsidies to big agriculture.

These changes, plus closing the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Foreign Agricultural Service, would save about $19.5 billion. Not a bad start.

Next, target energy subsidies, which might make us feel good but make little economic sense. If Congress wants to encourage innovation in energy, it should tax carbon, not subsidize politically favored approaches such as ethanol. Riedl says cutting energy subsidies would save about $6.5 billion.

Justice Department block grants — annual sums given to state and local governments, which largely get to decide how to spend them to achieve a certain goal — have also been targeted for cuts, and then saved, again and again. That’s $7.3 billion in savings.

Would Americans really suffer if taxpayer-funded travel by federal employees was slashed? I doubt it. Riedl counts $22.5 billion in savings from that and from cutting in half the cost of maintaining vacant federal properties.

The easiest cuts are to money not yet spent. There are various competing estimates of how much remains unspent from the great stimulus of 2009. I’ll take the most conservative estimate, $12 billion — the biggest chunk of which would go toward high-speed rail.

We’re two-thirds of the way to $100 billion.

Just because we’re all tired of hearing about alleged “waste, fraud and abuse” doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of it. Riedl estimates that a $5 billion investment in updated computer systems could halve errors in government payments, saving $44 billion. That lifts our spending cuts to $111.8 billion: target achieved, with wiggle room to boot. "

Also, after talking to a friend about Municipal Pensions and their costs, states going bankrupt, one has to ask the question if this can be sustained? I recommend guaranteeing current municipal union contracts. But effective immediately we should make contracts 25-30 years. People live longer, and are perfectly able to work at the age of 45 and 55 years old. If you get a job at 25 the idea that you'd get Municipal pension at 45 is preposterously early. I can maybe imagine making exception for high stress jobs like Policeman and fireman, but people should not be encouraged to leave a working life before retirement age unless they have some spiritual journeying to do. Most American folks end up on the golf course and in front of a tv when they retire.... sorry, it's true.

I have other thoughts that I'll share later. If you have any to share I'd be happy to have them posted.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"One day closer to death" 10/29/09

One day closer to death,
The autumn leaves barely holding on to their branches this October day
Remind me of my own tender grasp on this life.
The wind coming out of silver skies seems to expedite the deterioration of my mountain like sense of self...
Blowing the cellular dust off my exposed skin...
A hint of smoke from a passerby's cigarette, a touch of rainbow in my eyelashes, step, step, step, cars moving,
A breath under too many clothes, too much epidermal 40 something flesh,
A glance from some anonymous Arabic guy,
"Was he saying 'hi'?"
The day and its moments unfolding, they are stacking up...
Fleeting something’s,
I don't know who or what's or whose…
Sparrows seem restless with the scent of winter in the air;
Trying to fatten up,
Scooping up someone's tossed donut or meatball sub in the gutter....
It's not frenzied for me…
The coming of Winter…
I attend to the changing of seasons with sober deliberateness;
Layers of cashmere,
A change of shoes,
Reintroduction of socks…
Death is a little harder to prepare for,
But I feel equally unmoved about its relative imminence.
What's to do?
I reach to the moon
And the sun,
To jazz and Aretha and the JB's
And the open sky over the Hudson,
In the space between my fingers,
In my breath
Little moments and big,
I look to the Guru
And my own Ordinary Mind…
I'm always being born
Every time I look,
And Feel,
And Inhale,
And Exhale,
And Touch my sweet dog on my left,
Or hear the cabs beeping in traffic,
Or moving my hips to the soul music in my studio or rubbing the bristles of my brush against a woven canvas,
Painting the invisible,
Looking for the beginningless spark that reminds me of my true nature
And when I'm doing,
When I'm letting it all hang loose
And free,
And I'm seeing and knowing,
And living,
And watching and, well, the bones in my body, their weight, and the coursing blood in my limbs, my beat, beat, beating heart, blood red, I imagine, well, they soften up a little, lighten up…and my mind
Like the silver autumn winds rustling up those golden leaves,
Makes music
And my heart takes wing,
My eyes sparkle a little bit
Cuz I'm feelin alright about wherever I am...

"There is no invitation to make"

There is no invitation to make
But we make the invitation anyway.
There is no special plate to offer because all plates are offered
But we offer them anyway.
There is no substance to taste because all taste is substance
But we taste it anyway.
There is no Guru to dissolve into you because there is no you
But we dissolve the Guru into our hearts anyway
until we realize the Guru is all there is.

Give the people what they want

After hearing two years of all the complaints about the exceedingly liberal, socialist agenda of the Obama administration I have begun to understand the point of view of our Red state compatriots, and I actually feel sorry that they have suffered so much under a rule of law that they believe has hamstrung their Liberty so greatly. I have a solution. I haven’t come up with a proper acronym or slogan yet. I was thinking of calling it People’s Prosperity Opportunity…but the directive is clear: “Give the people what they want.”

I would like to propose a program that would empower states more and to establish their citizen’s constitutional rights to have what they really want. These Red state cultures don’t want taxes, they don’t want government interference with their way of life, they want more autonomy to fashion their own ideal of American Independence and Values. I say let all states sign on a dotted line and choose the form of government they want.

This State Freedom Act (I like the sound of this) would of course empower both sides of the political philosophical divide equally.

The Red states would keep all state tax money within their state and pockets. They of course would receive absolutely no federal money for subsidization of anything as a result of this great Liberty. They would finally have a real free market society! Yay! What’s really great is that they will be able define their own culture of how to pay for health care, education, police and fireman, supporting the businesses they want or don’t want, roads and bridges. They can have as many guns and as much ammunition as they can carry, bring them to church and schools, hunt and fish in the city centers if they want. They can deregulate their own businesses to encourage growth. These great Red states can live and prosper with their own hard work and fortitude, encouraging bootstrap pulling and integrity and values.

The Blue states will pay their own Federal taxes as they always have, establishing a Blue federation of states, and liberal places like New York and California, Oregon and Massachusetts, won’t have to pay thirty cents of every tax dollar to support red states as they have which is really great. They will be much richer keeping money within their Federation borders, and instead of subsidizing huge businesses in the Independent Red states they can use that money to establish a Great Society Citizen Well Being, providing Universal Health Care, ever more money to schools, developing an energy efficient culture, and establishing new models for healthy organic local agriculture. Blue states would have an even greater opportunity to create the kind of culture they have been prevented from establishing because of so much conflict between states. They can regulate business to provide greater public safety and health and encourage new concepts of progress and productivity. Food would be so much cheaper locally because we wouldn’t be financing big agribusiness elsewhere…. and more…

Of course we would still be the “United States of America”, but Red State citizens would have to submit ID to enter Blue States, like entering another country. There would be no guns allowed, and a very large fee would have to be paid upon entering to provide for that Red State citizens blue state benefits (health care, police, fire, roads, food safety, energy, etc etc), which is only fair. Interstate – Federation Commerce could still be realized, but, of course, any money made by Red State citizens in Blue Federation State territory would necessarily be heavily taxed before it was released.

All in all I think it’s a wonderful idea to let people live the way they really want. Red States would be richer in Liberty if not in wealth. They have largely been the greatest recipients of the Liberal Agenda of Socialized Government over these many decades, and they don’t want it or like it. Blue States have been very generously giving a large proportion of their tax moneys to the poorer states, subsidizing businesses that would otherwise fail and infrastructure in other states, and they could now apply their money as well as their Liberal Moral Values to their own constituents ever more realizing the Great Society so many Blue State residents aspire to.