I had several adventures with the artist last night, two I remember now as if I could open my front door and walk into them. Rarely do I have vivid dreams to recall the moment I wake up. This morning was an exception. One involved the setting of a placid seashore shared with another Saint Petersburg painter, Andrew Makarov. The three of us were walking on a sand beach discussing the power and the glory of human happiness. We walked out to a pier and jumped in with all our clothes on.
The other was with Lena at a communal dinner in a fine city restaurant where everyone spoke Russian besides me, yet I had to prove my camaraderie with the group, so I cleared and wiped down the table, and went to the kitchen to finish the dishes.
Not much, but there was more, as any stark dream will unveil to the dreamer. To retell it with any detail is folly, as witnessed above.
I have 25 paintings left hanging in these rooms. This one is its own room of cotton. Hang it on your wall and sleep beneath cotton sheets, head on a cotton pillow, and dream of anything you can while you can still dream. Especially if the dream left with its power to surprise you.
Buy this today and I will toss in a swab of true artist DNA which will improve taste in any human gene pool seeking to unwind and uplift its mortal burden. The art market could use a reforming GMO to pop the TIA (tulips in Amsterdam) bubble that floats above all realities, laughing at them. Sometimes the bubble breezes into a private plane, and this painting here shall become an accurate rocket launcher from the ground, from the base, from the real reality where artists pine for an equal playing field. Aim. Fire! That’s some GMO not to mess with!
And the oligarch no longer enters a world he was never invited to. We are the salon of the future but only if we cease with stupid phraseology like “the cream rises to the top”. Cream comes from cow’s milk and after 5,000 years, science tells us that lactose makes our guts turn inside out. Some also declare the milk protein is causing us cancer like it does in rats. So I don’t want cream anymore. Leave it in the cow for the calf. The putrid stench of rot also rises to the top. When we need a new metaphor to share the story of the big city art market, lets embrace our mutual intolerance and call out the oligarchs as the putrid stench that rose to the top.
Amsterdam had pretty tulips to sell as if there were no other perennials to flower in the early spring. The super rich were bored and super stupid.
Nothing has changed, so buy a painting on your own today because unlike 17th century Holland, you, the outskirts peasant, can afford these more colorful tulips, and at the same time ruin the stupid game of stupid rich people spending enormous sums on what nature and the artists give practically for free.
While perusing Twitter this morning I came across the National Gallery feed, and a curator’s post of her excitement at hanging some 11 x 14″ Dutch master of ancient times. And rightfully so! There is a wonderful feeling to hold and view the treasures of generations past. She put on her white gloves, strolled down to subterranean darkness to retrieve the artifact among thousands, and so carefully brought it out to artificial daylight to hang on its alarm nail for a few months, the end.
She got paid, and then tweeted her thrill, and probably went to a delicious lunch in Georgetown, seated next to a table of Saudi diplomats openly mocking the moral elasticity of our politicians and many other game players at our nation’s capital.
Just another art history PhD having lunch in a topsy-turvy world.
Juxtapose her curatorial effort with mine and you’ll see that art is very much alive and well on planet earth, with many more artists in the actual daylight and moonlight striving to bring humanity back up or down to equilibrium.
I made my house a gallery because the National Gallery does not want this nation to see and feel the art of the living. It dots its halls with copy-cat painters to wow visitors who aren’t wowed enough with imagination wrought by their own powers. “Look, a painting by a Dutch master! And look, some amazing painter copying the Dutch master’s painting for an hourly wage! It looks just like that Rembrandt!”
How efficiently federal pretend capitalism shames the living talents of its own visual art makers.
Turns them into monkeys for money.
The National Gallery curator sees no irony because she has a similar working imagination of dead-eyed Saudi diplomats.
Lena Ulanova Entrainment—
Brought to you by reverence. Paid for by it too. And because all avarice has been buried in the yard with the squirrel’s nuts, no National Gallery can hold a candle to it.
Or vice-versa. Two serious clowns—one struggling the anonymous existence and the other trapped in the poisonous web of mega-celebrity. Serious and intense clowns—there are no other types.
One of these is on exhibit and available for purchase, now if you want, Friday if you wait. I’ll give you a hint. It’s the one honoring the man who said “vloek!” not “shazbat!” when nobody bought his paintings.
And it’s for sale at $150 U.S. Metal frame, under glass.
The other day at Sotheby’s billionaire playground, cubicle artist Banksy self-destructed his art as soon as it sold for a million dollars to an idiot. That crazy Banksy showing the world what art is and is not while he improves his brand tenfold and private planes still land in his plan. What a clever outlaw! To be made by the finance mob and then laugh at your makers, fooling them to impress those whom you think you were once like, long ago, as a younger man, when time did not exist, either for future peasant painters or deep-pocket dilettantes.
This photo is art and the person painting in the photo is an artist. Sothebys and Banksy are not art and artist.
I want to bundle up in my Salvation Army coat and walk beneath the gray skies of a Moscow autumn. I’ll stop across the river and have a smoke with Ulanova and Stepanov, and then a coffee somewhere, and a soup on the stove for dinner. We made some paintings and we talked about them, and other things.
Banksy and Sothebys are counterfeit. The Rupert Murdochs of art banking and media. Antithesis of art.
I just finished reading an article about cronyism in art and culture. It provided rare admission on a subject that many unfunded artists know in their hearts to be all too true. The business of art is anti-art. The “good ole boys” club. Paid administrators (curators, gallerists, art faculty) seeking non-paid visual artists who, by virtue of “poverty in the arts”, are forced to either request admission into the club or schlepp a scam they hope will convince the right paid people. Art is defeated on a mass scale. It has become another corporate model, open to collectivism and always in danger of cronyism. No snake-oil salesman ever fell in love with snake oil first and then sought distribution of, not just an imperfection, but also a worthless placebo that only the ignorant believed had merit. On the contrary, the salesman was always a desperate working man seeking pride with a job while struggling with a family in a muck-stagnant economy. It was the snake-oil company that placed adds in farmland newspapers enticing the poor to hawk to the poor a product said to improve health and wellness. The company knew what it was up to. Likewise, the art industry plays the same game claiming to have a soothing syrup for the people’s mental health. The museum, established gallery, Ph.D., multimillion dollar “auction” house, and the billionaire all claiming to possess gnostic insight to the mysteries of art. They have no freaking idea what art is any more than I do, or the article’s author, or kangaroos in Australia.
Picasso and Dali were once household names while they lived. And then Pollock and de Kooning, to name a few. The corporate model had not yet fully “metastasized” into the art world. These artists and others were cherry-picked by influential people and so big media (already well-established) latched on to their individual stories because big media schmoozed at big weekend parties with the influential people. Still, the corporate cancer persisted, as it always will. Kellog’s Corn Flakes added more sugar to the same wet, chewed-like mush twice-baked, added a playful type, and a tiger for a mascot. Voila! Frosted Flakes. The corporate paradigm of the 1960’s and beyond. “The Depression generation brought you Picasso. We give you Warhol. Next, to cement our complete control of an industry, we printed the word “organic” on our cereals, and, to certify the illusion of self-liberation, here is the shiny new pervert Jeff Koons hosting a company of college grads in a Manhattan factory to sculpt many replicas of his penis for you!”
Picasso was a household name because big business, in all of its post-war glory, via the voices of politicians and media, needed to pretend instant sophistication to match its multinational approach to schlepping snake oil around the globe. In one famous experiment, Stanley Milgram proved to the powers that be that control is a breeze. Just give someone a title and a white coat, and kids will follow orders to shoot and kill other kids half a world away. Likewise, starving artists will enter a lottery their whole lives and hope to be authenticated. The new economy spewed more and more lower and middle class kids with art degrees, but lacking the courage to pursue an actual career in expression. Hence the lackeys of art business. The snake oil salespeople. The army of art history professionals getting tenured jobs in corporate universities. They were not to blame. They were folks with families in need of love and care. No criticism would ever be allowed in to undermine their careers as long as there was a living to be had. To them, by virtue of economic survival, art became money. Powerful art administrators not only peddled the snake oil, but controlled the ranks of its production and distribution. But it was never their art to become money in the first place.
There are solutions to cronyism. They can be found wherever art is alive and needs to be nurtured.
Eliminate the middle man. Boycott all third party galleries and museums. From the dinosaur downtown to the humble subsidized gallery at the state college. Take away the eyes and judgment of the third party. Make art for the patron once again. Let them create personal hobbies looking for their own concept of “the diamond in the rough”. Have a show in your living room. Pool monies with artist friends and rent an abandoned gallery for a month. Get back the time you lost trying to impress the gallerist or curator who judged your snake oil by its packaging, its reviews on Amazon, or the accolades on a CV (Latin for “current viability”).
Find the coffee house in your hometown to meet and socialize with other artists to talk about everything. This is a top priority. The business of art fears the merger of artists. Their congruence is its downfall.
To stress how unlocal artists are in my tiny town, I give you the example of our state university art department. The combined art education of the faculty is over 200 years. According to the industrial system, they are recognized, real, credentialed, and of course, paid living artists. They disseminate the knowledge and skills acquired, and are successful in that young people still graduate knowing how to draw a chair and place historical artists into their proper movement. That is their day job. But at night the professors return home, the full timers to the suburbs, the adjuncts to a second job, and then finally to a rented apartment in town. If one ever has a show, a piece or two gets entered in the annual faculty exhibition, or representation is sought in his off time anywhere outside of our small city. At the university, the adjunct suffers second class citizenship, even if his pencil drawing of a tree looks a spark better than the same tree drawn by the full professor. The oneupmanship begets avarice. Avarice begets competition. And competition in art breeds pettiness. So my small city becomes just another “Hey Spike” to the Great bulldogs New York and Los Angeles who have practically eliminated all that was ever good about art, that is, its expressive communication to known human beings. Art in America is the NFL, and no longer a touch football game in the park with Howard, the art history professor, Rita, the painter, and Robert the sculptor, to name a few of the creatives who get together after work for team sports and then later, a beer. To make matters worse, visiting artists are brought in from around the country to “inspire” the students. Yet the students never see the corporate business model which delivered the talented anomaly from New York City—The secret art agent, nor the international C.V. which puts in writing how amazing this guy’s psychedelic paper mache paper wasp’s nests truly are. Believe it. The MoMA said so. Buy him.
We all must share our criticisms and solutions to replace the corporate paradigm with plans better suited to the career happiness of the individual man and woman as artist. No matter where we live, we all are local. The minions running the business of art would prefer we all be loco, separated, howling at the moon, and crushing the fingers of potential friends and colleagues on the ladder of success, always brought to you by a lower humanity seeking your work to bring them to the top.
Autumn has arrived to Lake Ontario. It is my favorite season. It is the book time whenever I find the time. Years back, before Jeff Bezos became a monstrous scourge to humanity, I would wait expectantly for the mailman to bring me my Amazon® order of books, several to read to my daughter, and one or two for my own enjoyment. Nijinsky’s diary came on a late September day like this one, with the fresh chill, the house gray and Canada breeze. I sat on the balcony to watch the busy squirrels, opened up the book and read, “God just wanted us to be happy”.
That’s all I read of The Diary of Vaslav Nijinsky.
I closed the book and never opened it again.
I am so glad to have found sensitive people who paint. Nijinsky would find me laughable in life and on stage. I may exhibit grace under hot kitchen pressure, however, I dance like a brick with chicken feet. And Diaghilev would have thought me a peasant unworthy of his time and influence. I think he would despise my painting even if he agreed with many of my rich thoughts on poverty street.
Lena’s paintings make me happy. I have opened a chapter of her book, and will keep it open all season long for the people to see. Come by Fuel Gallery in October and read Nijinsky’s one-liner with 35 visual subtitles by Lena Ulanova.
Then we’ll sit on the balcony and watch the squirrels dance until winter.