Friday, May 09, 2008

Gary Panter interview

Earlier this week I posted a link to my review of Gary Panter’s exhibition “Daydream Trap” at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum and excerpts from a public talk he gave at RISD in 2006. Below are excerpts from my interview of Panter at his Brooklyn home on April 11, 2008:
  • “I thought the next generation of pop artists would put things into the media and then pull them back out of the media. … And then it would be a warmer kind of pop art. In some way it’s about images running through systems.”
  • On his art: “I think it’s a self-discovery. You’re your own shrink. … I can find out what I like and don’t like about my interests and I can sort of evolve in that way.”
  • “It’s really trying to make a hieroglyphic of my experience as a human in a way.”
  • “It’s got characteristics of infantilism and arrested development and nostalgia. I just tried to find images that were powerful to me in my life. And the funniest.”
  • “It’s a bower bird kind of instinct. … Put the shiny stuff out front of it that I think will be the greatest attraction.”
  • “I want it to be seductive. I want it to control the mood. Because I think that’s what painting does. It tries to emanate or resonate and make some bell tones.”
  • “These things are landscapes. They’re inhabited. … I really like thinking very simply about things. If it’s blue and it’s up high, it’s sky. And if it’s green and it’s down low, it’s grass.”
  • “There’s this kind of mark I want and it comes from a short stubby brush. … This is kind of a really human hand-made printing process.”
  • “When I took LSD in the ‘70s I was really shocked by how everything was in there. I thought I was going to have this organic religious experience. And I was just full of synthetic commercials. It was horrifying.”
  • “Aesthetics are about seduction in some way. It’s coming out of mating symbols in some way. … And then we can use it in different ways.”
  • “If you’re going to be dealing with imagery as a painter it should probably be primal. So it speaks to the species in some way.”
  • “A lot of things is is it poetic or not. If it connects too readily it becomes entertainment. And if it’s poetic it’s probably a little less determined to you. I don’t want to make dead art. I don’t want it to be a TV show.”
  • “Low tech is important in a way. I like cave men art. I think we’re cave men, we’re gophers pretending to be something else.”
  • “It’s a pretty horrible world. You can scream, you can cry, you can laugh or all of the above. … I think humor is wise. If you talk to Sufi and Zen masters, they’re pulling this way. And it’s a way of reconciling opposites. … Zen humor short-circuits your assumptions.”
Pictured: Gary Panter, “Where Was the Air Force,” 2001 from “Satiroplastic” sketchbook, 1999-2001, courtesy of the artist.

Sister Corita Kent

From my review of “Corita Kent: We Can Create Life Without War” at Breslin Fine Arts:
Sister Corita Kent was something of a celebrity. Newsweek put her on the cover as “The Nun: Going Modern” in 1967. She drew up a rainbow-striped “Love” stamp for the US Postal Service in 1985. She’s best known locally for designing the rainbow stripes painted across the giant National Grid gas tank off Route 93 in Boston in 1971. But she was never quite part of the fine art world, and since her death in 1986, she’s all but disappeared from art history.

So you might not know that Kent was one of the best artists to emerge in the ’60s. Her giddy, neon pop art screenprints featured jitterbugging commercial slogans and long poetic quotations that vividly advertised her Catholic faith, called for civil rights and social justice, and opposed the Vietnam War. Which got her in trouble with the conservative Catholic hierarchy in LA, where she taught art for 20 years at Immaculate Heart College before leaving the order and settling in Boston in 1968.
Read the rest here.

I’ve previously written about Kent’s work here and here.

Corita Kent, “We Can Create Life Without War,” Breslin Fine Arts, 187 Main St., East Greenwich, Rhode Island, April 12 to May 15, 2008.

Pictured from top to bottom: Corita Kent’s screenprints “Come Alive,” 1967, and “News of the Week,” 1969.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Gary Panter talk at RISD in 2006

Yesterday I posted a link to my review of Gary Panter’s exhibition “Daydream Trap” at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum. Here are excerpts from a public talk he gave at RISD on Sept. 20, 2006:
  • “There used to be an underground and only the right people would find it. But now there’s the Internet and everybody finds it. My dad reads it. He’s part of the underground now.”
  • “The Red Hot Chili Peppers used to live on the same street that I did in LA and they used to march bare-chested into traffic … because they were tripping and they wouldn’t have known if someone hit them with a board. Or they would have thought it was interesting.”
  • “In punk rock, how do they look so serious in those pictures? They really know how to stand there and glower. How do they do it without cracking up? I don’t know how they do it.”
  • “I like Bill Gates. I can send e-mail now. I don’t know if he invented it, but I’m going to give him credit because he’s the only computer guy I know. Charles Burns was in junior high with Bill Gates and said he was an okay guy.”
  • “Commercial art is not personal art. For me it’s not. I can try to make it interesting or good … but I’m in their service. … I’m just trying to do whatever they want to do whether it sells corn flakes or uranium.”
  • “In commercial art, I just can’t put my heart in it because someone will say change it, do it over, and I’ll get hurt.”
  • “People think you’re a rich and famous illustrator when you do one of those [Rolling Stone illustrations]. But it’s only 1,225 bucks, so it’s pretty sad around the ranch if that’s all you do all year.”
  • “Once you do a Jack Kirby rip off then suddenly they want big hands on everything you do.”
  • “I was a kid who was doing two things. … ‘You’re going to burn in hell because you’re going to the wrong religion.’ I was that kid on the playground. … The other thing I was into as a kid was dinosaurs. Which was great because it helped me unthink the whole religion because there’s this verse that says dinosaur bones were just put into the ground to make wise men look stupid. That didn’t make much sense to me.”
  • “Some people believe chocolate milk is a gateway drug. … I guess you can do ecstasy. But it made me feel like there was an anvil on me. It didn’t make me love anybody. I just wanted to have the anvil off me.”
  • “My father found [my] ‘The Asshole’ [comic] on the Internet. He was trolling around for stuff. … He said, ‘You must be really proud of that comic.’”
  • “I think painting can stop time. I think it’s a mood control device.”
  • “Elvis was from another planet … the Sun Ra planet. He and Sun Ra came down together. … Why wasn’t Elvis ever in a monster movie? He could have been any monster.”
  • “There’s a lot of people before the age of scanning that aren’t there [on the Internet]. … So go to libraries. They’re throwing out all the books, I know. So wait by the garbage can.”
  • “If you want to fuck up white people, call them pink people.”
  • “I’m very emotional. I cry easily. Every movie I go to I cry.”
More wisdom from Gary Panter tomorrow.

Pictured: Gary Panter, “Traffic,” 2004, courtesy of the artist and Clementine, New York.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Gary Panter

From my review of “Gary Panter: Daydream Trap” at Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Connecticut:
In the 1980s, Gary Panter was an Emmy-winning designer of fabulous sets for "Pee-wee's Playhouse." His illustrations have appeared in Time, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and The New Yorker. One of the most important cartoonists to emerge in the late 1970s and '80s, his work was featured in the "Masters of American Comics" exhibition that opened at Los Angeles's Hammer Museum and Museum of Contemporary Art in 2005.

All this time he has painted, too, but somehow, while operating in plain sight, the 57-year-old has been one of those artists who float under the art world's radar.
Read the rest here.

Coming soon:
Excerpts from Panter's 2006 talk at RISD and my recent interview of him.

“Gary Panter: Daydream Trap,” Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, 258 Main St., Ridgefield, Conn., March 9 to Aug. 31, 2008.

Pictured: Gary Panter, "Flypaper,” 2004, courtesy of the artist and Dunn and Brown Contemporary, Dallas.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Mass. House supports MCC budget increase

The Massachusetts House of Representatives last week voted to recommend increasing the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s budget by $400,000 to nearly $12.7 million for the fiscal year beginning July 1, according to the MCC. The House also budgeted $6.5 million for the state Cultural Facilities Fund, down from $12 million in the current fiscal year.

That puts the House higher than Governor Deval Patrick’s recommended budget for the MCC (a $100,000 increase to $12.4 million), but somewhat below his proposed budget for the Cultural Facilities Fund ($7 million).

The state Senate has yet to weigh in. The Senate Ways and Means Committee is expected to release its version of the state budget later this month. The two chambers must then agree on a budget before sending it to the governor for final approval.

Portland Museum director switches roles

Portland Museum of Art Director Daniel O’Leary “retires” today, the museum announced this morning, to instead lead the institution’s restoration of Winslow Homer’s studio in nearby Prouts Neck, Maine.

Deputy Director Thomas Denenberg has been appointed acting director, while a search committee, to be formed this summer, seeks O’Leary’s replacement.

Homer’s studio (pictured below), which was created in 1883 by Portland architect John Calvin Stevens and acquired by the museum in 2006, served as the artist’s home and studio until his death in 1910. The museum says it has raised more than $5 million in gifts and pledges toward the expected $8.3 million cost of the acquisition, preservation and an endowment. The restoration is expected to be completed in 2010, the hundredth anniversary of Homer’s death, and studio and surrounding grounds opened to the public.

O’Leary has lead the Portland museum since 1993, coming from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, where was assistant director for five years.

“The acquisition and preservation of the Winslow Homer Studio represents one of the most meaningful and significant projects in the history of American art,” Dr. O’Leary said in a press release. “I am very pleased that the Board has enabled me to give this activity the full effort and commitment that it so richly deserves.”

Photo of exterior of Winslow Homer studio by

Julie Chae: “We are not closing”

Julie Chae tells me by email this morning:
No, we are not closing. We had to unexpectedly move out of the 450 Harrison Avenue space and I have a temporary display space which will be open by appointment. I am planning an awesome photography show on Martha's Vineyard in August of Jayson Keeling's portraits of Harlem which were commissioned by the Studio Museum of Harlem in the past year. Then I will be reopening in the fall. I am looking into South Boston as a potential location and I am also looking into the possibility of having gallery presence in both Boston and New York.
My previous report on this is here.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Julie Chae closes?

Julie Chae Gallery, which opened last September at 450 Harrison Ave., seems to have closed. The gallery’s sign is gone and the space appears to have been emptied out.

More details to come.

Chae says, "We are not closing."

My review of Alexander DeMaria and Natasha Bowdoin’s show there from December to January.

Walid Raad

Walid Raad’s exhibit “We Can Make Rain But No One Came To Ask” at Brown University’s Bell Gallery, as I write in my review,
feels like a Borgesian detective story in which truth is elusive, and cities themselves shiver with post-traumatic stress disorder.

For several years, the Lebanese-born New York-based artist has made art about the Lebanese Civil War of 1975 to 1991. This installation, Raad writes, focuses on a single car bombing in Beirut in 1986. The gallery is filled with five long tables, with 44 sheets of paper laid atop them like evidence. A fractured, impressionistic 17-minute video projected on a wall of the gallery seems to cover some of the same territory.

“My photographs [of Beirut] began to manifest colors and lines that were, at times, significantly different from the ones available to my eyes,” Raad writes in a group of pages that depict buildings mirrored, turned upside down, cut-up, and blurred. “I came to believe that something in . . . the time and space of the [bombed] neighborhood may have been affected not only by the 1986 detonation but also by every other war, skirmish, and assault in Lebanon since 1975 . . . I decided to print my photographs even if I still doubted what I was seeing in them.”
Read the rest here.

Walid Raad, “We Can Make Rain But No One Came To Ask,” Bell Gallery, Brown University, 64 College St., Providence, April 10 to May 25, 2008.

Pictured: “I Feel A Great Desire to Meet The Masses Once Again,” which a sign says was painted by Elly Boueri at Raad’s request. Supposedly.