Art in your life.

I am almost 61 years old. I was treated as if I was a prodigy from as early as I remember or earlier. Odd now that I look back on it as at 61 I am still struggling to find my voice. I read in a New York magazine recently titled “How To Make It In The Art World”, that a college BFF was still in NY making art. When we last parted 1974, he was off to go back to Narlins to marry his girlfriend and go back into banking as he was educated in this at Tulane. So to find out he stayed in NY and is a well known artist and teacher at the New York Institute of Art ( I admit I haven’t heard of it) – but anything in NY is heads and tails above any other school outside of NY save a few exceptions of course. Yet he was a serious and is a serious artist and I am still looking for my “voice”. Yet here we are. Two guys 38 years later who are making art. As a living. Different. He has works in the Met!! No shit and the Whitney, according to his web site. I have a piece in a Boston Museum’s permanent collection but I have many pieces in private and corporate collections throughout the world. Yet I am envious. I can’t seem to make enough money to be beyond the worry of a middle class guy. I mean I am lucky I live in a resort community and my wife has provided the steady income we have needed for over twenty years try as I may to make a buck, but still, hey, 61 really when is it going to happen?? Then I thought that it is or has happened. I have commissions, I have the respect of my peers, I have had some very successful projects and I have fans. I just have to work every day. Then I have to step back and with the understanding I have acquired I realized I am an artist and everything I do whether it is getting dressed, having lunch with friends, being with my wife, teaching my children, taking care of my parents, I do it with the mind of an artist. I approach my life, the mundane the routine with the mind of an artist. I don’t have to wait, I have always been AN ARTIST!

A First??

The National Portrait Gallery announced that it will acquire what is believed to be the first portrait of a cross-dressing man, the legendary spy, diplomat and transvestite Chevalier D’Eon, The Guardian reports.

The portrait, which had been lost since 1926, and was rediscovered in a New York salesroom by British art dealer Philip Mould last year, was exhibited in April, at which point it was reportedly already under consideration by the National Portrait Gallery.

When Mr. Mould purchased the painting, which was attributed to Gilbert Stuart, at an antique paintings auction at Thos. Cornell Galleries in New York, last November, it was believed to be the portrait of a hefty lady. The work even bore the title Portrait of a Woman with a Feather in her Hat.

But after further research and restoration, it was revealed that it wasn’t a lady at all—but a man dressed like one, and a celebrated one at that. Chevalier D’Éon, the revered “Patron Saint of Transvestites” as he has come to be known, is the source of the term “eonism,” which according to dictionary.com is “the adoption of feminine mannerisms, clothing, etc., by a male.”

Murals

It’s a big week for news about murals.

Over at Pennsylvania State University, in State College, Pa., artist Michael Pilato has just finished painting over the image of disgraced football coach Jerry Sandusky on a large mural that shows various members of the university community. Sandusky was found guilty on 45 counts of child sex abuse last week. The Associated Press has the story:

Sandusky was removed from the mural days after his arrest in November. But Pilato returned to the work on Sunday, painting in Dora McQuaid, a Penn State graduate who is a poet and an advocate for domestic and sexual violence victims and issues. The blue ribbon was added on Monday.

Also replacing Sandusky were two red handprints — one belonging to Ann Van Kuren, one of the 12 jurors who convicted Sandusky, and the other belonging to a sexual abuse victim.

Closer to home, an as-yet-unexplained fire at Graydon Carter’s Waverly Inn restaurant has damaged Edward Sorel’s iconic mural in one of its dining rooms. The piece includes caricatures of some 40 icons who have lived in and around Greenwich Village over the years, including Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollock. The restaurant is currently closed for repairs.

Women in the art world

There has been a lot of press about women in the art world recently, but for some reason this talk has been for the most part limited to women who work in galleries. Vogue profiled Gagosian’s female employees (the “Gagosiennes), New York magazine’s fashion blog, The Cut, recently looked at the sartorial choices of gallery assistants and a piece in the The New Yorker questioned their very existence.

And of course there is the upcoming Bravo reality series Paint The Town, which, according to advance promotion, will follow the trials, tribulations and, presumably, the night life of a bunch of young gallery assistants.

What gets left out in the current discussion is the fact that women hold positions of real power in the art world. Many may have started out as the women who work the front desk, but now they are the ones who decide whether or not you get to buy that painting, or have that museum show. They raise money for museums, source pictures and write reviews. Attesting to the power of women in the art world, this was an excruciatingly difficult list to narrow down. Also, we would like to emphasize that the order is random: the list is not ranked.
Part of a discussion from Observer.com

Whistler

In 1885 one of London’s most famous if not the most famous artist living was the American ex-patriot James McNeil Whistler (Whistler’s Mother – and shame on you if that is the only painting you know of his). He wrote and gave a lecture that brought the lecture houses down. These were times when people actually listened and paid good money to do so!

He was flamboyant and not one to suffer those that disagreed with him. (The famous trial against John Ruskin – then the most respected art critic and author of his generation. Who at this time was considered by some to be exhibiting dementia and rapidly lost his audience after he lost the libel suit to Whistler (who won a farthing (a penny) and went bankrupt for his art).

Whistler fought for his work and for art and true artistic expression his whole life and still through his will was a force to be reckoned with. Yet ( and this is important – history lost site of his accomplishments and place in the history of art….One reason to read about the life of a man whose thoughts on art are relevant today!

Photography, ugh!

There is a peculiar heroism abroad in the world since the invention of cameras: the heroism of vision. Photography opened up a new model of freelance activity—allowing each person to display a certain unique, avid sensibility.
Susan Sontag On Photography

Even with so many images available there is an unrelenting sameness to the way photographs show us the world. The lens/program treats everything in the same way. It works with predictable and unbending codes. It makes no distinctions, offers only certain choices. Absolutely EVERYTHING it appropriates becomes Art – flattened, abstracted, quantified and composed. It doesn’t matter what one photographs, there is an egalitarian sameness to every photographic image. It makes us all connoisseurs of choice. We admire someone’s selections, collections and displays – tumblr pages, flickr sites, and photo networks. Today most of us carry a lens at all times. We use it to extend our memories and document our existences for the program. However these captured moments LOOK and FEEL the same. We use the lens to present the human figure in exactly the same way that we do food products or automobiles. Look at these videos – watch HOW the camera works, HOW it levels all vision to the SAME vision:

A point of view and in this is a kernel of the meaning of life. I suspect most of us anywhere in the world, rich or poor would live a life of utter mundane and predictability if not for imagination and fantasy. And yet there is so much out there in the form of imagination that nothing is original. Just look at most high school art students and their work. Mimicry, copy, and predictable as is fashion. So I disagree with Susan that the camera like the DADA movement actually numbed the sensibilities of artists and those that were awed by art.

Excerpted from James McNeil Whistler’s Ten O’Clock Lectures

“…A teeming, seething, busy mass, whose virtue was industry, and whose industry was vice!
Their names go to fill the catalogue of the collection at home, of the gallery abroad, for the delectation of the bagman and the critic…”

“…Therefore have we cause to be merry !–and to cast away all care–resolved that all is well–as it ever was–and that it is not meet that we should be cried at, and urged to take measures !
Enough have we endured of dulness ! Surely are we weary of weeping, and our tears have been cozened from us falsely, for they have called out woe ! when there was no grief–and, alas ! where all is fair !
We have then but to wait–until, with the mark of the Gods upon him–there come among us again the chosen–who shall continue what has gone before. Satisfied that, even were he never to appear, the story of the beautiful is already complete–hewn in the marbles of the Parthenon–and broidered, wlth the birds, upon the fan of Hokusai–at the foot of Fusiyama…”