The American poet Ogden Nash once wrote, “Every New Year is the direct descendant, isn’t it, of a long line of proven criminals?” This past year certainly had its share of iniquitous events, in spite of that, we can still find evidence of joyous affairs and incidents in the wreckage of the year now passing. Yes… “life is good.” As we dust ourselves off and prepare to shamble into 2013, here is my annual offering of this blog’s top posts from 2012.
Gustav Klimt: At The Getty
“I felt compelled to write this article when confronted with captions the Getty provided for Klimt’s so-called Faculty Paintings, descriptions that merely stated the works had been ‘destroyed in 1945′, while the catalog book mentioned that the paintings had been ‘burned in a fire’. Amazingly, no further details were offered.”
Robert Hughes: the last art critic
“Robert Hughes died on August 6, 2012, at the age of 74. He passed away at a hospital in New York following a long unspecified illness. There are more than a few obituaries written for Mr. Hughes… you can ignore them all. Let Hughes’ sharp-witted writings and proclamations be his obituary; his lacerating words are enough to understand why he is still an indispensable force in today’s money besotted art world.”
The Cradle Will Rock!
The Oberlin Summer Theater Festival (OSTF) of Oberlin College in Northern Ohio, requested permission to use my painting Amanecer (Dawn), in the promotional campaign for the Oberlin’s summer season production of the rarely performed musical, The Cradle Will Rock by Marc Blitzstein.
For Greater Glory: In the name of Christ
“This article is a critique of For Greater Glory, the latest film by director Dean Wright that purports to tell the ‘true story’ of the Cristero War, the armed uprising of Catholics against the Mexican government that began in 1926 and lasted until the late 1930s. Touted as a ’sweeping historic epic’, the film presents only the viewpoints of the fundamentalist Cristeros (Fighters for Christ), an outlook that distorts a complicated period in Mexico’s history.”
Ray Bradbury, Flame of Metaphor & Myth: R.I.P.
“Ray Bradbury, the great writer of science fiction, fantasy, and mystery stories, died on June 5th, 2012 at the age of 91. (….) A favorite author of mine, Bradbury penned numerous short stories and novels, but it was his 1953 dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 that continues to haunt me.”
Coit Tower Crisis
“I visited San Francisco, California in late 2011, for the most part to photograph the impressive murals in the Bay Area that were painted in the 1930s and 1940s. (….) In months to come I will publish on this web log my photographs of a number of the murals, along with biographical information on those artists responsible for their creation.”
“Wal-Mart certainly wants the ‘public limelight’ when it comes to their new museum, but when it comes to exporting America’s industrial base to China, bribing shady Mexican government officials for special treatment, or buying favor with U.S. politicians from both the Republican and Democratic parties… not so much. No matter how sophisticated the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art might be, nothing can conceal the pernicious crimes of Wal-Mart.”
Elizabeth Catlett: dead at 96
“The largest part of her oeuvre was given to tender and compassionate observation of humanity. Catlett’s works spoke of, not just oppression and injustice, but the capacity of people to create a better world. When searching for an artist with a deep-rooted commitment to social justice and equality, one need not look any further than the immortal Elizabeth Catlett.”
On the Death of Thomas Kinkade
“Here is what is so perplexing; while the elite art establishment dismisses Kinkade’s work as so much vapid kitsch (though Kinkade was unaware of his being a kitsch artist), major art museums are exhibiting and acquiring vast collections of - vapid kitsch (albeit from artists who self-identify as being kitsch). Such is the state of today’s art world.”
LACMA’s Levitated Mass at a Rock-Bottom Price!
“Instead of paying $10 million for Michael Heizer’s 340-ton granite boulder, LACMA can purchase my 100-ton, 10-foot high boulder, titled ‘Alleviated Masses‘, for the amazing low price of only $1 million - that is an incredible savings of $9 million dollars! With such a sweeping reduction in expenditure LACMA can take the amount left over to help create a critically needed first-rate arts curriculum for Los Angeles school children, put into action an expanded artist residency program, and have enough left over for the purchase of artworks from contemporary artists having a hard time due to the economic downturn.”
Faraway, So Close: ’80s L.A. Photos
I exhibited six never before shown photos at Faraway, So Close, a group exhibit of photographs on the theme of Los Angeles as it existed between the years 1980 and 1989. The show ran from February 4, 2012, to March 31, 2012 at the Morono Kiang Gallery in downtown Los Angeles. Also featured were the photos of Sara Jane Boyers, Edward Colver, Ann Summa, May Sun, Richard Wyatt, and Willie Middlebrook. Sadly, Middlebrook passed away soon after the exhibit, and typical of the ever shifting landscape of Lost Angeles, the gallery no longer exists.
Review: Four Los Angeles Exhibits
“I started 2012 by taking in four exhibits in the Los Angeles area; Art Along the Hyphen: The Mexican-American Generation and The Colt Revolver in the American West at the Autry National Center, as well as Places of Validation, Art & Progression and The African Diaspora and The Art of Miguel Covarrubias: Driven by color, shaped by Cultures at the California African American Museum. What unites these seemingly unrelated exhibits are the deep insights they provide into the American experience.”