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There is an old waitress in me
sitting in the small place
between my ribs, reaching up
to my hands, palms looking
for pies to slice, tables
to clear. She knows the heavy
weight of the waist apron
at the end of the day, how the strings
tug down at the lower back,
make imprints on expanding hips.
Her feet are always tired,
but she never mentions her bad
instep, the high arch that shallow
shoes never seem to reach.
She knows that the manager
has a blow up mattress
in his office crunched into a ball
between the desk and shelves
for when he’s tired of his wife,
and that it smells like wet food
from being too close to the dishwasher.
The wrinkles on her hands
match the crumpled napkins
she picks up all day from the
table top, the booth seats,
the floor. I thought I left her there,
between the cracks of the fake plastic
on the red chairs split from wear,
or on the water-stained tongue of the butter knife.
That on the last day I washed her
down the drain with the dried bits of food
and peeled off skin,
that she swirled away,
instead of burrowing deeper, waiting.
When I See Steven King
walking the white sand beaches of Siesta Key,
his floppy hat, skin to match the sand, socks
pulled up to fleshy kneecaps I want to press
my lips to the jarring output of his cheekbone
and tell him that my mother used to go to bed
at seven p.m. just to read his books for hours,
the kids finally in bed, the house a dull ache
as my stepdad snored to the news in his
I want to tell him as I see him drive by
in that little red car up from Casey Key,
the road you can barely fit two cars on,
how I stole her books, the ones she stacked
under the nightstand, to find out her secret,
to see how she spent her time alone. With
a flashlight next to my check and covers
pulled up over my head I read Pet Cemetery,
The Green Mile, Carrie, The Body,
and whispered fuck, shit, with just a wall
between her head and mine, two open books,
the quiet settling around us like a fog.
After Poppy’s Wake
Aunt Pam’s trailer smells like hamburger helper.
A deaf cat slinks through the few rooms
of the trailer trying to find someplace to hide
among legs and feet and sneakers squeaking
on laminate flooring. I hover over the veggie
tray, bat away comments from uncles and cousins
about my vegetarianism. Poppy never noticed
what I did or didn’t eat, but only tucked nectarines
into the palm of my hand.
I sit in the wood chair because the old fabric ones
likely have mites or fleas, and the last time
we were here visiting Poppy in the hospital
my stepdad complained of a welt on his butt
the entire ride home, and all I could think
as we passed Rosco’s Diner and signs for
deer processing was that I had never heard him
say the word butt before, hadn’t even thought
about his butt, that he might have one.
My brother stands next to me at the table
poised and ready for attack at the flies
buzzing and moving around us.
Unwashed curls stroke the top of his ears
as he bobs and weaves, his wide hands
smacking the table, the wall, the sides of chairs.
The flies line the ceiling fan, dip down
to the cheese plate, find the pepperoni.
I say nothing but make eyes at my mother
who passes out Poppy’s belongings
from the nursing home: a teddy bear
to cousin Ty who screams Fuck,
fuck as Timmy holds him in an MMA pin;
a book to my younger sister who hasn’t
moved from the couch, tissues lining
the pockets of the coat she still hasn’t
removed; a picture in a frame to
cousin Sylvee who is screaming at the dog;
a coffee-stained sweater to my brother.
I lose track of what goes to the rest,
hold a hymnal book she places in my lap
even though I haven’t been to church since
Catholic School, since before they asked me
to leave. My brother whack-whacks
next to my face, my hand in motion
to a carrot. I dodge him, the flies,
the small things I feel crawling
up my ankles.
I want to put my coat back on,
I want my brother to take off
Poppy’s sweater that he tightens
around his neck, the stain
of coffee like a corsage on his chest.
He screams and shakes his hips
lifting both palms to show
how he hit two flies at the exact same time—
the first time the room falls silent.
But it is late October
and flies should be gone by now,
it has already snowed, the ground
frosted, and things
are supposed to have seasons,
something we can rely on.
About the poet:
Marissa Schwalm is a Ph.D. student in English Literature and Creative Writing at Binghamton University in New York, where her fields of study include contemporary poetry and creative nonfiction. Her research interests most recently include understanding how the evolution of the circus in the United States reflects changing social anxieties. Her creative work has been published most recently in Clockhouse Review, Decompression, and others. She is current co-editor in chief of the Binghamton University graduate run journal Harpur Palate.
June 29, 2012 Comments Off
Chicago Sounds –
Gooey’s Hold on Tight
By Jeff Katz
You think you know a guy.
Tom Hickey has been a financial adviser of mine since 1989. Now don’t get the wrong idea that I’m Romney-rich with a cadre of experts to manage my great fortune. Not so. But I did have a decent run in the 1990s and found myself in need of setting up a pension plan and learning about the tax ramifications of Illinois college bonds.
So when Tom told me last year during a conversation on rolling over maturing zero coupon bonds that he was, as of 2009, the bass player for a Chicago band named Gooey, I was stunned. I knew he was a musician, but assumed he was a dabbler. When I learned that Gooey played gigs at famed Chicago haunts such as House of Blues, The Elbo Room and Schuba’s, I was intrigued.
The Fed Ex truck pulled up to the door a couple of weeks ago with a package from Merrill Lynch. I was a bit concerned. One never knows what to expect in a mysterious delivery from a financial firm. Nothing to worry about, it was just the new Gooey CD, Hold on Tight.
Now some might receive a disc from a friend and dread listening to it, but not me. I couldn’t wait. From the opening track, a Cars’ infused hand clapping hoot called “Watch Out,” I was impressed. Juan Avila’s songs are infectious power pop, from start to finish. Gooey is Avila’s band through and through – his songs, his vocals. And that’s good. He’s got solid skills.
There’s a distinct ’80s’ vibe here, the good kind. There’s the aforementioned Ocasek influence for one. “That I Were” has a bit of jangly R.E.M. (I know “jangly” is the go-to adjective for that clanging guitar sound, but there’s not another good word for it). Bowie looms large in “Long Time Ago,” both in sound and vocal, and there’s even a cover of “Moonage Daydream.” T.I.’s “Whatever You Like” gets Gooeyed too. That one’s a kick. I’m a sucker for unexpected takes on well-known songs (Aztec Camera’s version of “Jump” springs to mind). Avila taps into his roots with a trio of Spanish language songs. “Talking to Myself” is a great song, but there are many.
As you would expect, my attention was often on the bass. Tom is the hook and foundation on “Long Time Ago.” His playing is solid throughout.
Hold on Tight is a hook-filled treat, very reminiscent of recent favorites of mine, The Baseball Project (specifically TBP’s Scott McCaughey of The Minus 5 and Young Fresh Fellows fame). Legendary Chicago rock critic Jim DeRogatis is a Gooey fan. You’ll be one too.
And what other band can help you prepare your financial future?
June 29, 2012 2 Comments
By Jeff Katz
Every Patti Smith album is required listening. There are few artists as endlessly fascinating and compellingly interesting. Whether it’s singtalking her own work, or interpreting someone else’s, Smith is emotionally all in. Always.
Banga is the latest. There’s a lot of searching going on, from the leadoff track “Amerigo,” about the explorer Vespucci, to “Tarkovsky (The Second Stop is Jupiter”). Patti joins director Andrei Tarkvosky with Sun-Ra in the song’s tribute title, two artists who went further than any seafarer ever did. There’s a sadness permeating the entire album – girls crying, mothers on the run.
As Smith gets older her voice has mellowed into something quite soulful, and there’s less of a leap from her speech to her singing. That’s not to say that she herself has become complacent, resting on her classic canon or her recent mainstream public acceptance via her memoir, Just Kids. And she can still kick it; listen to the title track.
But there’s also a sweetness here, especially on “This is the Girl,” a moving tribute to Amy Winehouse. And, of course, a rampant intelligence. Any album that gives a nod to Bulgakov’s novel The Master and Margarita (Banga is Pilate’s dog), has won my heart.
June 29, 2012 2 Comments
Out of the Box
Bruno Lucia is an internationally renowned comedian with talent to burn. When I was offered this particular session, I was (as always) evasive in my ‘vision’ to his agent. I like to allow my work to evolve rather then create comfort through total control. This is a difficult thing to do when using alternative photographic processes such as wet plate collodion as so many environmental factors can affect the resulting plate. Worked into the whole scenario is the time to sensitize the plate and develop it while it is still wet, all the time avoiding traffic congestion and the inevitable muscle cramps from holding a pose just a little too long. This particular shot was 4 seconds long, not easy but he managed it in one exposure. I was and still am working with comedians using this process as I find the long exposures somehow revealing of their true character…perhaps it’s the logistics of such a shoot that is the more valid revelation of their temperament…and mine.
Bruno is a ‘character’ in every sense of the word. His material is definitely ‘out of the box’ and we wanted to represent that whole concept. This sitting came together really well and we thankfully managed a few laughs along the way.
Nude #7348 which was shot in my Highland Park, Illinois, studio was very much a collaboration between the model and me. Although I had the set built and lit, and the camera locked down on the tripod before the model arrived, I hadn’t really thought about how I would pose her. I had never worked with Angela Marie before, but when she saw the set-up, she instinctively walked on the set and struck this pose with virtually no direction. Sometimes it’s that easy.
One of my favorite elements of the photograph is the unfinished edge of the backdrop in the foreground, which I feel adds to the mood of the photograph. A number of viewers have suggested that I crop for a clean, finished edge. I wouldn’t dream of it.
A Perfect Reflection
On our last day of a stunning rainless holiday in the South of France suddenly the heavens opened in Toulouse. We sheltered in the door way of an empty office building waiting for the summer shower to pass and watched in awe as people were soaked through in a matter seconds.
I have never seen rain drop as big or as fast as these ones. They left a flowing film on the black footpath which rendered a perfect reflection of the bus stop and work go-ers in front of us.
The floating leaves and the stillness of the water on the footpath make what we see a true illusion.
Baseball players talk about the “sweet spot” of a bat. Audio engineers refer to a sweet spot in terms of acoustics. I talk about sweet spot in terms of shutter speed. This image is from my Ephemeralities series. The series grew out of a presentation I prepared for my students. I wanted to show how changing the shutter speed changes – often dramatically – how moving water is recorded. I found a compelling scene with moving water in a stream near my home in Whitney Point, NY, and took several frames, adjusting shutter speed to see how it affected the representation of water in motion. I was intrigued by the results and I continue to explore the possibilities through my Ephemeralities series.
I never know in advance what shutter speed – duration of exposure – will produce the most appealing representation. The water is in constant motion. The light is often changing. I simply bracket my shutter speed. Sometimes that means adjusting aperture and ISO settings to accommodate the speed. The exercise becomes more than a study of shutter speed. It turns out to be a study of time, motion, light and form. At one of those shutter speeds, there might emerge the most enchanting and alluring depiction of the water in that moment. That specific shutter speed is the sweet spot, revealing a latent image that, otherwise, can’t be seen because our visual perception is in real time. This is another example of how photography opens “the doors of perception” and offers the joy of discovery.
My sweet spot shutter speed for Ephemerality #9 was 1/4 second. My aperture was f/16. The ISO was 800. I used my Nikon D300 with a Nikkor 80-200mm lens fully extended.
Hina Matsuri is part of a series of images that explores the permanently evacuated zones around the Fukushima nuclear plant, one year after the disaster. These places were inhabited and are spaces to which people have a right to belong. It is this massive loss of permanence that I portray through photographs of abandoned personal items. I use triptychs in tribute to the Japanese haiku.
Every item found tells a story, and the entire zone felt like an archeological site. Scattered clothes and dirty dishes indicated a hurried departure; broken windows spoke of the looting. Yet there were things I saw whose meaning escaped me, although I knew they were significant. This triptych is precisely such an example.
Many homes had dolls laid-out in celebratory displays. Indeed, the week prior to the disaster was “Girls’ Day” or Hina Matsuri. Families with daughters decorated their home with dolls, often showing them the entire week. The dolls in this image are likely Korean, and speak of the family’s trip there at some earlier time. The tradition started during the Heian period, when straw dolls were floated downstream to the sea. As they drifted they snared troubles and bad spirits, taking them away.
June 29, 2012 1 Comment
Haiti Batik Class 2012, Jonathan, Beth & friends
Saving Haiti, one kitten at a time
By Jonathan Evans
They say that Haiti is 90% Catholic and 100% Voodoo. But it was the 10%, the Episcopalian Church, which sponsored my wife Beth McCoy Evans’ and my trip to Haiti this spring. Our mission: teach batik workshops to women in Haiti’s third largest city, Gonaives. Our goal was to set up a small cottage industry in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, to teach the ancient art of batik in an area where the ancient craft of textile decoration is not indigenous.
Haiti has one of the most unique and unfortunate histories of all small Caribbean countries. Colonized by the French who brought in African slaves to work sugar and coffee plantations, it contained the first slave culture to rise up and seize independence. The declaration of independence was announced in Gonaives, earning the city its reputation for independence and radicalism. The whole island has paid for its freedom ever since, brutalized by dictators and manipulated by outside nations and forces. Gonaives has also suffered cataclysmic natural disasters, floods, hurricanes and most recently a terrible earthquake. In spite of huge amounts of aid sent, there are signs everywhere of awful destruction. As we passed Port au Prince on the way to Gonaives, we saw the ruined Presidential palace. Everywhere we looked we saw trash, bad roads, homeless people and a lack of infrastructure. We had the overwhelming sense that Haiti could use whatever help we could bring.
We stayed in the slightly claustrophobic Rectory, a cemented compound on a dusty backstreet in Gonaives. The other inhabitants included Jan, the project co-ordinater, Father Max, several young men, two skinny dogs, two one-legged chickens and a mother hen with six chicks in tow. We had come to teach batik to a group of some twenty women, the poorest and neediest of St. Basil’s congregation. We created classes, two groups of ten and started teaching on Monday, after spending two days running to buy materials in the market.
The first day’s class was total chaos, leaving us both exhausted. The problem: our art was completely alien to our group of ladies. Many had never gone beyond fourth grade and some could neither read nor write. Their French was rudimentary and my Creole non-existent. Some of them were just not used to sitting down and learning. As a result, the first day was a blur of tjantings, dyes, wax and cloth. In the end, we just left them to play with the materials.
Day two was a bit more focused– Beth did drawings on cloth for our students and we managed to push several projects through to an uneasy and messy conclusion. On day three, we decided to cut down the numbers and to get serious. It was easy to see which ladies were serious about wanting to learn the process and which ladies had patience and aptitude. Interestingly, there was a correlation between poverty, patience and a need to learn. We ended up with five women from this group, all older ladies without jobs, who would continue our course. They were a delightful bunch. We had very little time to impart our accumulated seventy years of batik experience. We had to push fast every day. This was truly going to be a “Become a Batik Master in Five Days” workshop!
By the end of Day 2, the class had settled and begun to focus on process. With a core group of only five ladies, we went into real production on Day 3. We taught dye mixing where they made their own dyes. Those proficient with the tjanting tools began to understand batik. We boiled the wax from their finished pieces and most importantly, started to have some real fun with the art. We hung strips of cloth on the line and showed them how to paint different colored dyes and then use cut sponges to paint patterns of wax on the cloth. Results came quickly. The ladies loved what they were achieving. The first results were surprisingly Haitian in character– bright reds, yellows and greens with vibrant patterns. We were finally getting somewhere.
Evans & McCoy-Evans-Batik in Haiti
That night in bed, battling droning mosquitoes and drenched in sweat, I heard sounds like young children shouting and playing. The sounds came from the direction of a club that had been playing hot soukous music until the early hours every night. This night was different. Women wailed so that, at first, I thought I was listening to domestic violence. But then the staccato drums started, punctuated by handclaps and shouting. This continued for what seemed like hours. When the music stopped suddenly, a high woman’s voice shouted “Hallelujah!”over and over before I finally dropped back to sleep. Was this the “old” religion, the much vaunted Hoodoo Voodoo of this island? I was beginning to feel that I had no idea what was really going on here.
Day 4 dawned hot, bright and dusty. It turned out to be our most productive yet. Our core group of ladies went into scarf production in a big way. Working mostly with sponges, immersion and painted dyes, they managed to complete four new series of batik scarves. Huge progress.
On Day 5, our original group of five ladies came back and continued with scarf production while an additional six would-be-batikers showed up for class. We quickly descended into chaos when the power went out and we were forced to improvise with drawing lessons, pep talks, tie dye and desperate Evans antics to keep the spirit alive. By the time a generator was found to heat the wax pots up again, the schizophrenic nature of the class was apparent– we were trying to deal with beginners and more advanced students at the same time. Beth and I were stretched in every direction and run ragged that afternoon.
Luck was with us, however; two of the new batikers showed an instant affinity for the tjanting. One lady, Mamoune, came up with a fantastic hieroglyphic design with great potential. We quickly had her working on a scarf using the same design. Another, Caircilia, immediately started to skillfully emulate Beth’s spiral designs, so we directed her to create them on a scarf.
The core team came up with two more brilliantly colored series of abstracts and had a lot of fun. By six, we were all fried; we pulled all eleven women together and explained that due to our limited time in Haiti, we had to concentrate on a basic group of seven women but that all could get involved once the project got underway. We would need more batikers to do scarf production, sewers, washers and ironers and some ladies to focus on marketing the Batik products. Hopefully, with financing, there would be work for many more.
That evening with the power still out, a young man, Remy, invited Beth and I to come and look at his garden with him. There was a sudden welcome shower of rain as we left the house. We walked quickly past tiny cement block houses, goats, Haitians and curious stares until we hit the garden’s vast acres of irrigated palm forest with cultivated patches of eggplants, okra, corn and fruit trees. We met our guide’s father and brother grazing the family cow. This was a large area of very fertile soil, owned and worked by many families who ate what they grew and sold the rest. It was a veritable Garden of Eden; a totally different side to Gonaives.
As darkness descended, we made our way back. The long fast walk had done us both good. Had our young guide not hit me up for a laptop on the way home, it would have been an idyllic experience. Often, in such a poor society, it can be hard to tell who is friend and who is looking for personal gain. But, by another miracle– was the intense religiosity of Haiti starting to get to me?– the power came back as we reached the Rectory and Beth and I washed off the day’s dust and dyes to crawl back under our mosquito nets.
We had a breakthrough on Day 6. We came up with our first “products”– ten beautiful finished scarves, wax boiled off, ironed and pristine in cellophane packets. We were happy to have finished saleable batik work in under a week from start to finish. We got several new scarf series underway—one, a design with ripe mangoes.
Sunday dawned like Groundhog Day (the movie version where the same day repeats) — the dust and the heat and same old dreadfully monotonous food was getting to us finally. Every new day began to feel horribly like yesterday. Beth and I thought of home for the first time, of our pets who we were starting to miss, of being anywhere but inside the hot cement compound of the Rectory with starving dogs, one-legged chickens and the new tiny kitten tied up in the storeroom who cried nonstop. When would we begin to get it all right and be able to move onto another day?
We went from church to a meeting with the women of our group to talk about their progress and what was still to be achieved. Manufacturing the batik was only the first step– Beth and I would not be around much longer. It was up to the Haitian women to keep this project alive and to get the business going. There was still the financing of the batik business to consider, the packaging of their products, and marketing. We badly needed an organizer and a spokesperson yet none of the ladies seemed up for it. If our whole trip to Haiti was not to be a futile gesture, the women would have to show some initiative. This had to be a Haitian project, run by Haitian women– we were doing all that we could to get them started but that was as far as we could go.
We retired to the Rectory to rest, hide from the growing heat, and continue our indeterminable Groundhog Day. Jan found herself ill that night. Heavy storm clouds were gathering– we had been lucky with the weather so far- but the first summer rains were due. Perhaps some cracks were beginning to show and it was time to wind up the project and head for home. We still had three days of workshops to go.
Day 7 was finally different. It rained hard all afternoon. We worked under increasingly bad conditions. The tent leaked, water ran off the roof and collected at first in puddles then streams at our feet while the electrical connections to the hotplates were dangerously wet. We kept moving and working where we safely could but conditions were appalling for this kind of work. We did final black dyes on mango design scarves and boiled a lot of wax out of finished scarves. In spite of the weather, we managed to keep scarf production up. A lot of credit must go to the ladies who were clearly into their work. It was amazing that these ladies, mostly unschooled and having no artwork experience, produced such attractive scarves in such a short period of time and really enjoyed themselves doing it. We had succeeded in inspiring them to go far beyond anything they had ever done before. They had confounded all our expectations– and it had all been done in a foreign language! It was debatable who had learned the most in the process– the ladies of Gonaives or Beth and I.
It was incredibly intense week. At the end of Day 8, I felt ten years older. In addition, the tiny, four week old kitten that had been brought to the house days before had been locked into a storage shed for protection from the dogs. The shed had no windows, no light and the poor thing cried continuously. She had no water and was far too young to have been separated from her Mama in the first place. In most poor countries, animals are neglected or abused. Regardless, I could stand it no longer. I found the key to the shed, took the kitten to our room, fed her, gave her water and some much needed affection. She quieted down and was great fun to play with.
We finished that day’s class having completed a bunch more scarves and a monster wax boil-out. We had twenty-five finished and packaged scarves. We were all tired, saturated with wax. It was time to bring the workshops to a close.
Kitty slept with me under the mosquito net that night– I was doing all I could to keep her out of the shed. I knew Jan and the Haitians at the Rectory thought my attention to the kitten was unnecessary. I also knew that this kitten would probably be neglected again as soon as we left. Perhaps we were only setting her up for a greater fall. I felt that with the kitten I was damned if I did and damned if I didn’t but I had no other option but to care.
That night, around midnight, the voodoo drums started up again. The women started to wail and we heard the incessant Hallelujah chorus. The little kitten slept happily in my arms. But Beth woke in the middle of the night and started to cry, saying over and over, “This is the only love the kitten will ever get. She will never be loved again.” It was heartbreaking.
On the final day, all the women involved in the batik project gathered at the Rectory for a final meeting– we praised them for their dedication and hard work. We discussed batik production, finances and the importance of training more women. There would be work for everyone– from cloth washing, sewing, batiking, boiling out wax, and final marketing. The women asked various questions. We answered as honestly and realistically as we could. Beth and I bought ten scarves from them to sell in the U.S. Any profits we received would be sent back to them in the form of new dyes. When they thanked us, we said the only thanks we needed was for them to continue after we were gone. If they did, we promised to come back and help again. We said fond goodbyes and they were gone.
Before we left, I begged the boys at the Rectory to feed and cherish the kitten. They assured me they would. Father Max told me that he liked cats and would take good care of this kitten. But whether the Haiti Batik Project will continue and flourish and whether the kitten will survive and have a happy life is anybody’s guess. We did everything we could with the time that we had to ensure the survival of both. In the end, everything lies in the hands of our Gods, the hands of the Episcopalian Jesus Christ and the far older, much darker, African Voodoo priests.
June 29, 2012 Comments Off
by Mark Levy
As every precocious 8-year-old undoubtedly knows, a palindrome is a word or sentence that reads the same forward as it does backward. Among the many palindromes for nouns, like Mom and Dad, lurk some proper names: Anna, Eve, Hannah, and Otto, for example. The one I’d like to discuss now is Bob. You know, we’ve had five Jameses, four Williams, and even a Barack, but there has never been a U.S. president named Bob. Now Scotland had King Robert the Bruce in the early 14th century, about the time the fork was invented, but that’s an essay for another time.
Jon Bois, the Kentucky sports writer who spells his name B O I S, recently made an interesting observation. It appeared on SB – as in “sports blog” Nation.com: “Across the histories of Major League Baseball,” he wrote, “the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, and NCAA football and basketball, there have been a total of 1,884 athletes who primarily went by the name Bob. Not Robert, or Bobby, but Bob.” What Jon Bois found puzzling is that today there are precious few professional sports figures named Bob. But the name, Bob, comes up in many other places. LakeBob, for instance, is located just outside of Baker City,Oregon. In Africa, an entire country is called Zimbabwe, get it?
We don’t have Linda-heads or Donald-heads, do we? But we sure have a huge variety of spring-necked bobble heads. Socks named after Bobs are called bobby socks. And some hair pins are known as bobby pins. The Bob haircut comes and goes as a popular hairstyle for women. We also have the plumb bob, shish-ka-bob, the fishing bobber, apple bobbing, a carnivorous bobcat, a bobsled, a bobtail, and a bobstay for holding a ship’s bowsprit down – something you might wish to keep in mind if you chance upon one of those untamable bowsprits. We also have a sewing machine bobbin, of course, instructions to football players and boxers to bob and weave, the Bobbsey Twins series of books, and the North American bobolink blackbird, or Dolichonyx oryzivorus, for you ornithologists.
Bob and wheel is a type of alternative music rhyming pattern not too different from what you might see in a book of Ogden Nash poems. But back to Bobs. Bob’s gym, Bob’s Famous Roller Coaster in Chicago’s Riverview Park, Bob’s discount furniture, Bob’s skateboarding tricks website, and the chain of Bob’s stores that sell clothing and footwear – not necessarily made by Bobs – are just a few establishments that use Bob as a business name. Have you been in a Bob’s Steak & Chop House somewhere in the western states or in Australia, or the K-Bob Steakhouse in Albuquerque, or Billy Bob’s Texas in Ft. Worth, reputed to be the world’s largest honky-tonk? When you get there, say “howdy” to a Bob for me.
Bob Evans restaurants are not to be confused with Bob’s Big Boy Restaurant, which is a restaurant chain that Bob Wian founded inSouthern Californiain 1936. The oldest remaining Bob’s Big Boy location – and here comes the trivia part of this discussion – is in Burbank, California and is now a historical landmark. As delicious as they sound, Barbecue Bob and the Spareribs serves up not food, but country songs. Hurricane Bob struck the northeast coast in 1991, but I don’t think it made quite the lasting impression the Bobbsey Twins did. Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina and Oral Roberts University in Tulsa have a combined total of about 7,000 enrolled students. Of course, not all students are named Bob.
There are a few Robertas, too. The letters, B-O-B, as you world travelers must already know, form the three-letter ID code for the Bora Bora airport. Billy Bob’s Huntin’ & Fishin’ is a Nintendo Gameboy game, probably by now obsolete, or should I say, “bobsolete?” The bobwhite is an attractive, usually brown, ground-dwelling bird with a loud cheery song. It has great value as a destroyer of some 60 different species of weed seeds and 116 species of insects. So thank goodness, I think we can all agree, for the bobwhite.
In England, police are called Bobbies. And, “Bob’s Your Uncle” is British slang meaning “simple as that.” I happen to have an Uncle Bob who chews with his mouth open, but we call him Uncle Bawb, and you can tell he doesn’t really fit into many polite discussions, much less this one. This is a shout out to you, Uncle Bawb! See you at Thanksgiving. The BOB Motor Oil Recovery System is a handy garage gadget you’ll want, along with some towels, when you get around to changing the oil in your car. You turn oil cans upside down and drain them on this device. The BOB in the name stands for “bottom of the barrel.” And after a tough afternoon changing oil, you might want to relax with Bob’s Pickle Pops, made in Dallas, Texas. They’re frozen pickle juice treats that, I understand, taste incredibly and exactly like they sound.
Have you had a Bob’s burger in Washington State or tried BOB brand foods in Sweden? They make gourmet juices and jams. Bob’s Candies are claimed, by the company, at least, to be the world’s finest peppermints. A Beer Named Bob is brewed by the Bitter Creek Brewing Company in Rock Springs, Wyoming. Meanwhile, Bob Moore and his Oregon company, Bob’s Red Mill, offer vitamins and natural, whole grain products. In theU.S., there are estimated to be more than 86,000 people named Bob. The name, Bobby, belongs to another 362,000. And there are 20,000 Robs. If you look up Robert, you’ll find 4,941,502. That’s more like it. Almost five million of ‘em. In certain parts of the country, you can’t throw a pickle pop without hitting a Bob.
There seem to be a lot of Bobs in the music industry: Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Bob Seger, Bobby Vee, Bobby Vinton, Bobby McFerrin, Bobby Darin, and Bobby Rydell. I know I’ve left out a few, but you get the idea. Only Bobs can join the exclusive Bob’s Club, whose goal is to create the world’s largest list of famous Bobs. Don’t even think about joining it, unless you’re one of the five million Bobs. In 2011, neither Bob nor its variants made the top five male names for babies in any state. In fact, nowadays, a boy is more likely to be named Mason or Jacob or Elijah or Liam.
And 25 years ago, in 1987, no Bobs made the top five list of male names, but there were a lot more Michaels and Christophers. Roberto showed up then, but its rank was 156, way below, oh, such popular appellations as Travis and Zachary. The name, Bob, didn’t make the list of the ten oldest people in the world, either. But then again, the oldest people in history were all women. The youngest Bob is, oh wait, another Bobby has just been born while I’m speaking. “Hi Bob!” was a college drinking game, in which TV viewers had to take a drink every time someone said, “Hi, Bob” on the Bob Newhart Show. Legend has it that no one ever completed the game before passing out. And now that I’ve shared so much more than you ever wanted to know about Bobs, feel free to pass out yourself.
About the author: Mark Levy is a Florida-based attorney with the Binghamton-based law firm of Hinman Howard and Kattell. He is a contributing editor to Ragazine.CC of “Feeding the Starving Artist,” and “Casual Observer.” Read more about Levy at “About Us.”
June 29, 2012 Comments Off
The Things I Want to BelieveI want to believe that drunk men go to the bowery and bathe in puddles that they drown in their own vomit I want to believe that my father spent his childhood tied to a swing set or that my mother was forced to eat dinner in a dark coat closet I want to believe these things because I need an excuse for the time I robbed my parents I need an excuse for the time I broke into their house crawled across the living room floor I got distracted by the white fuzz on the carpet I thought it was crack and ate it I disappeared that night with my mother’s jewelry and my father’s wallet I need to believe that someone else has experienced what it’s like to starve I need to know that drug addicts and drunks don’t die alone on their parents’ floor in the middle of the night What Stands Behind Me Now What stands behind me now in line at the grocery store is not just another person but an old man waiting to pay for his prunes. I notice the long wispy hair in his nose and ears and lose my appetite. Behind me is another constipated life an attempt at freedom and maybe an old neighbor I don’t recognize. I didn’t know all my neighbors on Massachusetts Ave. because no one mowed their lawns or trimmed their bushes. They were afraid to come outside. When I was five on Massachusetts Ave. a man drove across the neighbor’s lawn it was a reckless get away. I saw his face in the rearview mirror a split second his hairy nose was frightening it was like a monster crawling out of his head. The black hairs like a thousand spider legs took over his face Behind me now are monsters that look like innocent old men standing in line. I want to empty my grocery bag and put it over their heads to suffocate the memory of Massachusetts Ave. where all the houses appear empty all except an unmade bed or a refrigerator turned upside down as if someone broke in and searched for an answer or a piece of jewelry or a child in a yellow sweater waiting for her mother to come home. This is what bloomed in winter: children sprout from yellowed linoleum floors on Massachusetts Ave.
Emptying Out the HouseThe only thing we found under her bed was a note taped to the bed frame that said who should inherit the mattress and in the top drawer of the dresser there was another note that had your name on it the lamp she tried to send you home with every time we visited had a note on it too there was a list of names on the liquor bottles under the kitchen sink we never heard her mention Bobby, Lou Anne, Madeline and there were picture frames with price tags on them in her closet the receipt was in her wallet the least we can do is return them to put something back where it came from
About the poet:
Nicole Santalucia is currently working toward her Ph.D. in English with a concentration in poetry at Binghamton University and she is the Poetry Editor of Harpur Palate. She received her M.F.A. from The New School University in 2008. Her work has appeared in Pax Americana, and the Paterson Literary Review. She has also been featured on The Best American Poetry Blog in 2011-12.
June 29, 2012 Comments Off
By Paul Sohar
“Me?” the Mediterranean-type young skinhead with heavy gold earrings stared at me with big brown eyes. “Me? Lewis Hamilton. Sure. Just give me one of those cars, a Ferrari or a McLaren, or a Merz, and I’ll show you. I drive better than Lewis Hamilton. No joke.”
I was his captive audience on a connecting flight from CDG to JFK. He was sitting on my right. I thought I was safe in a window seat with no one on my left, but what good is a window over the Atlantique? Especially with the sun blinding and roasting my left side. Down with the shade. Let me have my notebook and see if I can make sense of my latest impressions of the Old Country in a soulful, poignant and yet unsentimental poem or flash fiction/creative nonfiction – whatever genre spurts out of my pen.
“What car you have?’ the young man on my right insisted and I confessed to having a Honda Fit.
“What’s that? A car or a baby carriage?” he answered in his somewhat angular, American-oriented and yet foreign-tainted but fluid English with hints of French in the background. “Why not a Porsche? Or at least an Alpha Romeo? You an American?”
Even if I could afford one of those sports cars, I’d prefer a cheaper model with good fuel economy. Do you realize how much fuel you waste in a sports car? I was teasing him but he just laughed.
“What? You worry about see-oh-two in the atmosphere?”
Not only that but droplets of uncombusted hydrocarbons and their pyrolysis products such as benzidine and other polycyclic aromatic compounds that tend to be mutagenic and even carcinogenic, in addition to adding to the greenhouse effect.
“You another crazy American,” the young man made a deprecating gesture in a wide arc with his Coke. With his baseball cap and loud voice, he presented a parody of the typical American in spite of his guttural accent. “The climate change? Yes? Warming, yes? So stupid. Americans are so stupid. Automobiles do not warm up the world. It’s people. I’m telling you, it’s people. And their crap. More people, more crap. How many billions now? Seven? Ten? Wait a minute now, since I asked the question there’s a billion more. And each one producing 9.5 tons of crap every year. You know how many tons that makes all over the world? No kidding, you can look it up on Google, how much crap. And you can see it too. All that food waiting to turn into crap. Food equals crap. And all that crap ends up in the oceans. Directly or indirectly. And then what? What happens to crap? It decomposes and makes more crap, more global warming. And that includes your crap too, even if it goes through a sewage treatment plant. What happens to it in a plant? Crap ferments. And at what temperature? At 36.5 degrees Celsius, at human body temperature. That’s what warms up the oceans and the whole world. Not cars. That’s so stupid.”
But what if everyone started driving Ferraris with 12-cylinder 5-liter engines? How much crap do racing cars leave behind them?
“I’m Lewis Hamilton. I am the champion and I can prove it. I’m better than the Lewis Hamilton you see on TV.”
Maybe they should abolish those Formula 1 races, and all car races, if it comes to that. They are like fiddling when Rome is on fire. Worse, it’s like burning the Sybillian parchments, the secrets of the future, burning books of science and meteorology while our Rome burns.
“Who’s burning books? You say nonsense, nobody’s burning books. To hell with books. Burning rubber, yes, I like to burn rubber when I drive, smoke and all, yes, I am Lewis Hamilton behind the wheel. Just give a car, any car and I’m Lewis Hamilton.”
“Chicken or pasta?” the stewardess appeared with the dinner trays, and the conversation came to a halt for a while. But not long enough.
“You feel the temperature rise? All these people – how many? Three hundred? Four hundred? – they all eat and then what? They’re full of crap. And what does crap do? Ferments. At what temperature? At 36.5 degrees Celsius and that’s what keeps the human body at that same temperature. Don’t you get it? It’s people and their bellies full of crap. And not one belly but three or four hundred in this plane. Don’t you feel it getting warmer? No? Well, that’s because the captain turned down the heating system to save fuel. But it’s getting warmer. Here and outside too. Out in the world. The earth is a big, big plane with ten billion passengers, all eating, digesting, fermenting, crapping and warming up the oceans, the air, the glaciers, everything. That’s the problem, not cars. And do you know what happens when people breathe? See-oh-two comes out of their mouths. Ten billion mouths, day and night, more gas than all the cars can produce, they don’t run all the time. And ten billion assholes crapping. And ten billion what? People pissing, five billion standing up and five billion squatting while they pee but it doesn’t matter, because the piss comes out at what temperature? You should know by now, yes, at 36.5 degrees Celsius. Didn’t you know that piss was warm? Didn’t you ever piss on your hand accidentally in the wind? Or on your legs? That’s because you always piss indoors, in a proper toilet or a bathroom, never outside, out in a farm field or in a desert. You never plow, you never sow, you never tend a flock of sheep. What do you know about real life? You just sit at a desk trying to figure out how to make people more miserable. What to take away from them. And you come up with cars. For you cars are at fault, nothing else. I’m telling you, it’s crap. Try doing away with crap and everything will be fine. But as long as you have people you have crap and you have global warming, climate change, storms and more misery. So instead, let’s have a big car race, let everybody get into all the cars of the world and we have a huge smash up and it will be all over. No more crap, no more cars, no more see-oh-too, no more nothing… Is that what you want? Nothing?”
I want a zero net growth economy, steady-state conditions and electric cars.
“You go ahead, poke along in your electric baby carriage but we normal people want Formula 1. I’m Lewis Hamilton and I want to win. It’s my destiny. My destination. The world champion.”
The dinner over, the movie started and our conversation ended. My fellow traveler soon fell asleep watching the screen with a sweet smile on his muffler. I mean mouth.
But between the two films he woke up, stretched his arms out over my head and started speaking again.
“What’s the fastest you ever drive? One hundred? One-fifty? You know what it feels like at 200? Three hundred in kilometers? No, you have no idea. You compete not for speed but for mileage. If you get 30 and your friend gets 45, you go out and get 60 with a new car. That’s how it goes. And you probably eat health food too. Organic. Bio food. Veggies. But I’m telling you, your crap is crap, the same crap as mine, comes out at the same temperature as mine. And even if you eat crap it still comes out as crap. I know you call it sheet in America but you see, I want to be polite. So I say crap. But it’s the same thing. One day soon this whole world will be all crap, the earth, the oceans, everything. And worms. You know a worm dumps a hundred times its size, that’s how much crap it makes every day. Because worms eat crap. And they will be the only ones to survive. Worms will inherit the earth. Too bad they cannot drive though. We’ll all be nothing but crap. But the worms will be happy. Eating crap.”
Yes, I agreed and asked the stewardess for a cognac to kill whatever it was wiggling uncomfortably in my stomach. After a little sip I was able to ask the young man what he proposed to do about the problem.
“Problem? What problem? Who cares about the earth? I care about one person. Me! And I’m not going to turn into a worm. I’ll probably crash one day and go out with a big bang and a cloud of smoke.”
But what if you become only crippled and unable to move?
“Maybe then, yes, I too will start eating crap and become a worm. You know there are secret societies already eating crap in preparation for becoming worms, getting ready for the end of the world. You ever taste crap? I mean real crap crap, not just lousy food like we get here?”
I took another sip of my Remy Martin and nodded with a sneaky smile designed to turn him off. A wormy smile. Perhaps better a live crawler than a dead homo erectus.
It was time to pull up the shade and take a look below. The squiggly Atlantic coastline was slipping vast green forests under the plane. My neighbor, obviously tired of me, turned to his friends across the aisle in a rapidly rattling language I could not understand and I turned my attention to my notebook. But the poem remained frozen in the blank page in front of me. Not even the restful view of the vast wilderness below could dispel a queasy smell that somehow befogged my mind.
An hour later we landed at JFK and I soon lost sight of my traveling companion in the cavernous halls of Terminal 4. I don’t know if he crawled off into Jamaica Bay or roared away in a Ferrari.
(With apologies to the real Lewis Hamilton who in 2008 at the age of 23 became the youngest driver ever to win the Formula 1 world championship.)
About the author:
Paul Sohar ended his higher education with a BA in philosophy and took a day job in a research lab while writing in every genre and publishing seven volumes of translations. Now a volume of his own poetry (“Homing Poems”) is available from Iniquity Press. Latest is “The Wayward Orchard”, from Wordrunner Press: www.echapbook.com/poems/sohar online. His prose work: “True Tales of a Fictitious Spy”, Synergebooks (2006). Magazine credits: Agni, Gargoyle, Kenyon Review, Rattle, Ragazine, Salzburg Poetry Review, Seneca Review, etc.
June 29, 2012 Comments Off
As the Twig Is Bent
By Rosebud Ben-Oni
I might be some old fool selling quick breads on this side of Playa Muiramar next to the other fool selling sweet rolls but I can tell you two things: his are three-days old, and there was a time when he and I ruled these waters. And that other fool you just bought the menudo from? Well, I’ll tell you all about him too if you buy my bread, squeeze for yourself, don’t skimp on the goods, as Marcos Reyes always said. Marcos Reyes, El Rey de Guaymas. The descendant of five generations of fishermen. He’d been in his prime when our way of life came to an end, long before the maritime laws changed and we lost control of our port. You see, our government likes to speak on behalf of the people and then contract out to private firms. And soon they’ll clear out all the old fools and turn Guaymas into another resort. You’ve arrived early, my friend. There’s no Playa de Cortez motel and fishing excursions with a certain “Captain” Arturo, although why not skip the pricy beaches of San Carlos and take in some local color while you can, no?
Hey– where are you going? I told you already; his bread is made with unfiltered water, there are bugs in the wheat, three days old and he’ll pick a fight with you.
Here, take one. No, no—it’s on the house. I was generous once, when there were still generous men like Marcos Reyes around. He had our respect up until the day he disappeared, not even forty years old. Let me tell you: after a long day of work, he’d treat us to a few rounds at a local bar. He himself could drink half a bottle of the fiery, local spirits, go home to sleep a few hours and then awaken clear-headed and longing to take to the water.
I still remember the day his son César was born. A few days after the birth, Marcos Reyes came home hauling a marlin that could’ve easily capsized his boat. It was so large it took all of the women in his house to prepare it. That evening he invited all of us for dinner and we feasted right on the beach. I remember how tightly he held the newborn in his arms, his face flushed as he swore up and down the men in his family had seawater for blood and gills for lungs. We still believed in things like that then.
The infant grew into a healthy, gangly child who didn’t look much different from our sons. And yet from an early age, we noticed that little César could barely stand the swaying of a boat tied to the docks. With one foot still on the pier, the child would double-over and throw up more than anyone thought a little boy could.
Marcos Reyes tried to be patient with him. One morning he wouldn’t let César eat; he told us that morning that in solidarity, he too forewent breakfast. I remember the sky was clear and the water was calm that day, but they’d barely set off before the boy vomited a thin sliver of water and then bile. We smelled it on his boat for weeks.
When he wasn’t dragging his son across the pier, Marcos Reyes tried to teach him to swim. I witnessed this once, when I was sneaking out of a girlfriend’s house before my wife woke up before sunrise. I watched him carry his still-sleeping son in his arms and march the hundred or so meters from their home to the water. I followed them at a safe distance, too curious to go home, even to avoid my wife’s wrath. Once he was thigh-deep, Marcos Reyes tossed his son into the water; it wasn’t too unlike the manner in which our fathers had taught us to swim and our fathers’ fathers had taught them and so on. Only we were awake when they threw us in.
Marcos Reyes shouted to his son that he had to swim past the breakers which would crash down and sweep César back to the shore. But it seemed the boy never made it out that far.
This went on for almost a month until one day, frustrated but undeterred, Marcos Reyes sat down next to his son who, still sopping wet, was scarfing down his breakfast. My wife and I were over having coffee; she was expecting, apparently, something very blonde and blue-eyed which you can see I am not but at the time I didn’t know this. We were still happy and hopeful we wouldn’t have a child like César, who caused a great man like Marcos Reyes to squeeze his eyes shut and rub his temples.
After a while, Marcos Reyes took his son’s head in his hands and asked him if he had any idea how to fix this.
And let me tell you, I almost spit out my coffee when the boy told him that he didn’t like the way his father was pressing his cheeks so hard. That he wanted his face back and to wake up, for once, in his bed and not in the water.
Marcos Reyes sighed, and asked his son how he’d ever learn to swim.
The boy told him he hated that water. He wanted to continue on with school.
When Marcos Reyes was too stunned to say anything, his son added that after his classes, he could always sell cold drinks and snacks at one of the stands in San Carlos. He’d heard gringos were more likely to tip children.
At that Marcos Reyes stood up, so quickly the chair fell behind him.
My children aren’t beggars! He shouted and stormed off.
His son followed him to the front entrance, the curtain blowing in the wind. Like the rest of us, Marcos Reyes rarely closed the front door during the day, preferring to push the curtain pushed back to one side on its rod.
I’ll never forget that moment because when Marcos Reyes finally disappeared from sight, that little son of a gun reached down and tied the corners to the long nails in the doorway, so the wind blew into the middle of the curtain until taunt and stretched to its limits. Then he looked to my wife and asked for water, since swallowing so much saltwater had made him thirsty. My wife rubbed her belly as his mother scolded him.
That night Marcos Reyes asked for my help. This time I’d carry the boy and throw him in the water. Usually César was still sleeping when he was carried out, and perhaps the element of surprise would startle him and force him into action.
But the next morning, something had changed in the boy. This time, just before we were waist-deep in the water, the boy jumped from my arms, pushing off my chest with his feet, and leaped up on his father’s back, twisting himself around his body.
At first Marcos Reyes just stood there, as if feeling César clamber around his torso and locking into place, he couldn’t tell his body from that of his son’s. Then the boy gripped him harder, with a confidence that seemed almost painful. Ripples of nausea swept through me as Marcos Reyes tried to shake off his son. He slapped him on his back. Then he slapped him harder. He called his son a coward, a woman, a donkey, and then slapped him in a frenzy but the boy, who now was howling like a coyote, would not let go.
Marcos Reyes seemed ready to fall over. He looked over at me and shook his head. We trudged back through the water, toward the surf where some other fishermen had gathered.
Once we were in the surf, his son loosened his grip. Marcos Reyes threw him down him in the wet sand. Cursing him once more, he marched back to the house at a pace he knew his son could not match. The boy sat splayed-legged in the sand and continued to howl as we stared for a moment longer. Then we all walked away, not wanting to embarrass Marcos Reyes further.
All that noise drained several nearby houses. The boy’s mother broke through the crowd and scooped him up. When, in the faint morning light, she saw the red handprints and bruises already forming on his body, she was ready to give Marcos Reyes an ear-full. We tried to calm her down and even followed her into the house, but there was no need. She stopped when she saw her husband’s wet eyes. She put their son down but César hid his face in her skirt.
So Marcos Reyes had to speak to the back of his son’s head. The boy had shamed his father but that was beside the point. He must learn what it feels like to have no ground underneath him. It was a matter of survival. Nothing on this earth provokes a larger fear than the waves of the ocean. He didn’t expect his son to conquer such a fear, just face it:
In facing fear, we each must get past the breakers. For what seems to be in our way is also the way. These waves carry you, but they are also in opposition with you. And always remember: you can never carry the wave.
César never learned what his father meant by that. Soon after, a storm appeared without warning one afternoon; by then Marcos Reyes had been too far to arrive back safely. Neither he nor his boat was ever found.
About the author:
Rosebud Ben-Oni is a playwright at New Perspectives Theater, where she is currently developing a new play, “Shamhat,” as part of their 20th Anniversary Season. Her short story “A Way out of the Colonia” won the 2010 Camera Obscura Editor’s Prize for Fiction. She has recent and forthcoming work in Review Americana, Cura Magazine, The Tidal Basin Review, Poecology, Off the Coast, and DMQ Review. Find her at rosebudbenoni.com
June 29, 2012 Comments Off
It Wasn’t Just Barcelona
By Fred Roberts
One of my most vivid concert memories is standing in a small music club hidden in the catacombs and passageways of Barcelona, a purely Catalunyan club that few tourists ever find. It was the first autumn night of 2010. Maia Vidal, performing as Your Kid Sister, assisted by Giuliano Cobelli, played and sang a set of songs including her covers of punk band Rancid, chansons in French and some new songs she planned to record later. Maia played toy piano, accordion, violin, and a foot-operated drum, wore a wolf hat and pastel-colored party dress. The aura of sweetness was strong: her look, the melodies, the innocence of her voice, as given by the persona of a kid sister. Giuliano, inconspicuously dressed in a white t-shirt and jeans, added drums, toy xylophone and sparse accompaniment on trumpet, playing out of the shadows. The overall affect was magical. Maia Vidal sang with emotion and passion so rare, it pushed every other singer I’d heard out of my mind. One of the Rancid songs she interprets, “Daly City Train,” has a line, “Have you ever seen an angel / well I know I have / yeah they stay here for a while / then they fly awaaay-ay.” The way she sang that added so many levels of meaning. Maybe it’s that Maia conveyed the transition of that one moment so compellingly that one actually “sees” the angel flying away, or maybe it’s the feeling that hearing Maia sing is as close as one can ever get to that supernatural presence that symbolizes pure aesthetic. As she sang the climax of “Alphabet of My Phobias,” it was one of those moments when everything suddenly stops and an entire audience stands transfixed, mesmerized by the power of what is happening. There is only that song and her outpouring of emotion so expressive and intense, it proves that souls exist.
“God Is My Bike”
In the summer of 2011, after months in the studio, Maia finished recording her debut album God Is My Bike, songs she crafted into their final form during her frequent concerts in Barcelona, France and occasionally in New York. Many of these concerts are documented in YouTube videos. With the exception of one Rancid cover (“It’s Quite Alright”) Maia wrote the songs herself. The compositions, arrangements, the lead and backup vocals and most of the instruments, even the album artwork itself are of her hand. That alone is testimony to what human imagination and artistic vision can achieve if allowed to flourish on their own, unfettered by commercial interests, agendas or competing egos. Maia recorded 12 beautiful and intimately personal songs the way she wanted to record them and the result stands for itself. She was poised to self-release the CD but in the last minute was smartly signed by Crammed Discs of Belgium which released the album October 2011 in Europe and Japan. The debut received positive reviews in country after country in Europe, airplay and interviews followed, so many that it is hard to keep inventory. Since then she has been touring all over Europe, Japan and Russia.
But what of the music? God Is My Bike is a set of songs that achieves the impossible, much like the film Life Is Beautiful, in which a father preserves his child’s innocence and wonder of the world despite the horrific nature of their surroundings. “Waltz of the Tick Tock of Time” intros with an East European accordion melody heard out of the distance, Maia singing the notes playfully. That gets our attention, then begins the song’s spell with “Come now let’s hide in our childhood for a while…”. That same childlike innocence and wonder is in Maia’s voice as was captured in that film. The warmth of her voice, the sound of the toy instruments and old world accordion melodies resurrect a world where one is still a child. All the sounds, the magic, the security, the make believe places of childhood – they exist again. Maia reigns over the song as a playful spirit whose magic causes marionettes to dance and play the instruments we are hearing, sounding from the imaginary place that has opened to us. That song leads us to the brink. “Alphabet of My Phobias” shoves us over the edge. It takes us by the hand past all the horrors of modern life into a reconciliation with and celebration of life, no less powerful than that time in Barcelona. These two songs combine to create a compelling affect.
After that stunning beginning the remainder of the CD teems with highlights. The title song embodies the metaphysical mood of feeling close to God, and the disillusionment as that feeling is lost. Marc Ribot, a friend of her father, recording from a distance, contributed electric mandolin. Altogether it has a vaguely Eastern sound to it, and great depth. To “Le Tango de la femme abandonnee” Marc added guitar, magnifying the timelessness the song conveys. Giuliano, who co-produced the album, added occasional trumpet lines which are at the same time sensitive and deferential. “Follow Me” is an homage to Billie Holiday, one of Maia’s favorite singers, on which she sounds uncannily close to her idol. It is a song about a girl who takes the initiative, picking up the boy she wants and leading him back to her apartment. That alone may keep it off commercial radio in America but it is especially memorable. “Je suis tranquille” sounds like a cousin of any number of songs on Sgt. Pepper or The White Album. “I’ll Sail All Night” is a tender song about the very human search for love. It has rarely been put down with such elegance and charm as Maia presents here. The incredible line, “I’ll search this world for that perfect boy or girl,” alludes to the universal message that love is entirely independent of gender. This belongs on the list of greatest love songs of our times.
God Is My Bike is one for the ages. It is music that transcends the aural experience, awakening images and memories of the world as seen through the eyes of innocence and hopefulness of childhood. Every note sits right, and for all the stories these songs tell, they could form the soundtrack of a cinematic masterpiece. Maia’s voice is pure magic, tender and fragile one moment, conveying complex emotion the next, and always distinctive. Rather than specific musical influences Maia’s compositions, voice and instrumentation combine a number of other influences, mainly an upbringing surrounded by music – her father, Franck Vidal is a singer, DJ and music enthusiast – but also the lovely surroundings of Ithaca, New York, the place of Maia’s own childhood and teen years, as well as Barcelona, her home since 2009. Both locations are epicenters of culture, attracting and nourishing artistic minds and impressing all who visit with a sense of the idyllic. Interesting to note, this is Maia Vidal’s second venture into the world of music. In 2003, at the age of 15, in Ithaca, she formed a punk band called Kiev with high school friends, and in 2004 recorded a CD, Get Out of My Basement, a collection of rough diamonds that only confirm, when one listens now to God Is My Bike, that imagination and artistic vision are independent of genre.
Photo © Loïc Warin – http://gallery.mrlo.be/
About the reviewer:
Fred Roberts is a native of Cincinnati who has lived in Europe since the ’80s. He has published occasional articles and short stories, and has received Google’s Blog of Note citation, as well as numerous awards for his artificial intelligence system Elbot, developed at Artificial Solutions. He has a passionate interest in music, film and literature.
June 29, 2012 Comments Off
Reese’s-Rosie, by Mel Ramos
PAY IT FORWARD:
Mel Ramos and Gabriel Navar
By Dr. José Rodeiro,Coordinator of Art History, New Jersey City University, Jersey City, New Jersey.
The “Pay It Forward” art exhibition is an inspiring look at a remarkable mentor/mentee relationship initiated in 1991, when Gabriel Navar enrolled in Mel Ramos’s “Painting 1” course at California State University, East Bay. Additionally, the show provides insight into the California School’s stylistic legacy: a continuum from one generation to the next, charting an art historical trajectory marked by the four great sequoias of Bay-Area painting: Richard Diebenkorn, Wayne Thiebaud, Mel Ramos and Gabriel Navar. Thereby acknowledging “a” generous artistic inheritance genially passed down from Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993) to Wayne Thiebaud, and then from Thiebaud to Ramos, and manifesting in the 21st Century in Navar’s oeuvre.
Express Nonsense 2, Gabriel Navar, 2012
Since the 1960s, Ramos (more than any other US-artist) vividly envisioned imaginative Pop Art fantasies (which in truth) pioneered an early groundbreaking form of radical-Postmodernism. This merger of Pop Art with radical-Postmodernism is evident in his images that ingeniously reference the old masters (i.e., Botticelli, Velazquez, Boucher, David, Ingres, Manet, Bonnard and Modigliani). In fact, not since Modigliani and Matisse has a painter so appropriately apprehended the sublime sensuality of feminine beauty as Ramos has. Ramos’s signature Pop Art style consistently depicts sensual female subjects posing (in pin-up poses) alongside icons of “The America Dream” (i.e., commercial products, groceries, animals, and other mass-media props). A sublime Neo-Classicist unconsciously inspired by muses (especially Erato, the muse of sexuality and music), his art is simultaneously lyrical and monumental; these marvelous contradictory aesthetic tendencies are also apparent in all the great California Rock ‘n’ Roll songs generated by The Beach Boys, The Mamas & the Papas, The Grateful Dead and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Ramos is unquestionably the only contemporary visual artist that has boldly endeavored to metaphorically portray the Jeffersonian “The Pursuit of Happiness,” while symbolically approximating or pursuing (via his art) an authentic and unfeigned California-version of “The American Dream.”
Richard Diebenkorn’s “Cityscape”, 1963
Unlike Ramos, muses do not inspire the disturbing and bizarre images of Gabriel Navar, whose motivation, according to Federico Garcia Lorca’s essay The Play and Theory of the Duende (1933), probably derives from a confluence of angels/devils. Yet, despite Navar’s obvious fascination with the apparent (although poorly veiled) underlying Gothic horror of American life, which is described throughout US literature, i.e., Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allen Poe, Henry James, Edith Wharton and John Updike; Navar’s viewers must be warned that (like a cobra) he captivates his audience with shocking images that intrigue, and then, unexpectedly forces unsuspecting viewers to confront their deepest fear(s). Via Youtube™ references and “platforms,” he generates innovative and new “push/pull” effect(s) that satirically afford an iconological critique leveled against high-tech media-culture with its glut of visual information, intending to brainwash, control, side-track, seduce and/or sell something to intended audiences. Navar’s Web-based imagery examines 21st century technophilia, which utterly permeates contemporary social-consciousness, manifesting as web-surfing; participating in numerous social networking sites, enjoying chronic Youtube™ viral-phenomena, or roaming through the vast world of “apps.”
Pay It Forward
If Ramos is lyrically (musically) and harmoniously painting the “American Dream,” then Navar is poetically depicting the “American Nightmare.” By analyzing 21st Century digital communication, smart applications, and other Habermasian ideal-communication EtherNet intrusions, Navar offers a techno-world where sadomasochistic self-victimization and hyper-alienation accentuate isolation and paranoia, similar to the prophetic Mexican Surrealist poems of Octavio Paz, Juan Rulfo, or the Italian Metaphysical School paintings of Georgio DeChirico, as well as is evident in Diebenkorn’s lonely and abandoned stark California coastline vistas. Thus, the California School is split between the bright hopeful optimism of Ramos and Thiebaud; and the empty tragic despair that haunts the paintings of Diebenkorn (conveying distant vast sociological alienation) or Navar’s panache for dramatic confrontation (devising and divulging intimate domestic psychological alienation).
app_4_beingdistrac2, Gabriel Navar, 2011
Notwithstanding their clear distinctions, Ramos and Navar have numerous things in common, e.g., they both challenge innate US-Puritanical-conservativism; both create prolifically with an energetic inborn work-ethic; both utilize “high-key” clashing, pulsating, and intense “punchy” chroma; both predominantly employ human figures in their work (unlike Diebenkorn with his vistas and Thiebaud with his bodegones), Ramos and Navar exploit advertising, billboards, logos, products (subliminal merchandise sales-strategies) and their art is constantly alluding to pop-culture. Their formal compositions rely generally on “centralized” monumental heroic figural images, replete with subtle or abrupt emblematic iconology (for Ramos, sexuality, sensuality, seduction and erotic-fantasies are key elements); while Navar transmits, in a “tongue-in-cheek” manner, prospective horror-film-scenes, which capture both sinister and, at times, comical human dramas. These Navarian dramas are disturbing scenes from a “new” hyper-technological Neo-Theater of the Absurd, signifying irrational, nihilistic, and anxiety-ridden Post-Information Age vignettes that fosters alienation, and “Neo-neosurrealism.”
* * *JOYCE GORDON GALLERY 406 14th Street. OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA Curated by Eric Murphy and Woody Johnson June 1- July 28, 2012OPENING RECEPTION: June 1 (6:00 PM- 9:00 PM) Contact: Eric Murphy, 510-465-8928 Gabriel Navar interviews mentor Mel Ramos!
May 25, 2012 1 Comment
Mel Ramos, left to right, Woody Johnson, Eric Murphy, and Gabriel Navar, in Ramos’ studio. Ramos is signing a print that will be on exhibit in the Ramos-Navar exhibition “Pay It Forward”, curated by Johnson & Murphy.
When a student learns
Gabriel Navar Interviews mentor, Mel Ramos
Navar: When did you decide that you wanted to make art your life choice? What artists did you admire as a young artist that inspired you and contributed to your early style(s)? Who (specifically) inspired you most in your early years to become a painter? How did you first determine your initial, personal artistic direction?
Ramos: I decided I wanted to be a painter when I was in high school after I heard Wayne Thiebaud give a talk to high school seniors in my class about careers in art. My first big influence was Salvador Dalí, who I discovered when I was 14 after seeing his incredible technical virtuosity with the paintbrush. At first I was a proponent of Abstract Expressionism which was being taught in the art schools at the time. Eventually I realized this was a dead end for me so I decided to paint portraits of my favorite comic book heroes and heroines. The rest is Art History.
Navar: Why did you choose to become a teacher? Was there a specific individual (or individuals) that sparked your interest in teaching?
Ramos: When I decided to make art as a profession I realized I would need a day job to support my activity and knew that teaching art would be the best way to do this.
Navar: As a professor, what was the main thing (advice, message, set of values, etc.) that you wished to instill in your students?
Ramos: The importance of hard work, dedication and clear thinking.
Navar: As an artist working for the most part in California; does West coast painting signify a unique entity? In terms of the contemporary art world, what role does The California School of Painting play? Are “its” unique traditions and values still significant within the contemporary art world? And, why?
Mixed images of the two artists...running in short interview prior to show in Oakland.
[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/ramos-gallery/thumbs/thumbs_mr-1505_emailfile.jpg]120Mel Ramos
[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/ramos-gallery/thumbs/thumbs_tootsie.jpg]140Mel ramos
Ramos: California does have a distinct identity but I don’t know why.
Navar: Mel, I clearly recall being in your painting class, sitting in a class critique, and you stating something very positive about my work along the lines of, “Gabe, paint 10 more like these and you will have a great opportunity in the art world.” I took it to heart and have made it one of my main life challenges. I am still pursuing opportunities and am enjoying the journey and the challenges. A question here, Mel, if I may, what was it about my work habits, painting style, etc., as a student of yours over 20 years ago that caused you to see promise in my work and/or career?
Ramos: I was impressed by your PASSION to succeed.
* * *
Editor’s Note:The Pay It Forward exhibition is scheduled to take place in Oakland at: JOYCE GORDON GALLERY 406 14th Street. OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA Curated by Eric Murphy and Woody Johnson June 1- July 28, 2012 OPENING RECEPTION: June 1 (6:00 PM- 9:00 PM) Contact: Eric Murphy, 510-465-8928 For more about the exhibition, see: http://ragazine.cc/2012/04/pay-it-forward/
April 29, 2012 1 Comment
Meet the professor:
At the end of the day,
by Mike Foldes
John Tierney is a British painter whose subjects are most likely to be scenes from places where his three sons live, Los Angeles, New York and Helsinki, than his home in Durham, nearer Edinburgh than London. It’s the light and the way it plays off his subjects, as much as anything, that determines what he paints, with subjects ranging from natural rock formations in the desert, to flamingo-pink buildings under clear blue skies of Los Angeles on a perfect day, to the sun-soaked streets of Brooklyn, if you can imagine that, with neighborhood backdrops of theaters, bridges and streets, in ways that capture both the eye and the imagination. Tierney’s working background includes a long career as a university-level criminology professor whose “retirement” has allowed him to nourish a lifelong interest in art. Not only is he engaged as a painter, he’s an accomplished musician who can jam with the best, and – when in L.A. – does. When his L.A.-based son Ben asked if we might be interested in featuring his father’s work in Ragazine, it hit a sweet spot – largely because we wanted to know more about this cat who does indeed appear to have nine lives. You can make what you like of the art, as many have with comparisons to David Hockney and Edward Hopper; but in other terms, what he sees and what he paints are as much derivative of his existential approach to “nature vs nurture”. Read what the professor has to say.
Ragazine: I’m as interested in your career path as where you are today as a painter, so if some of the questions seem to come out of left field, I’ll leave it to you to answer as you like. As an aside, our politics editor Jim Palombo has studied and taught criminology internationally for many years, and has written a couple of books including From Heroin to Heresy and From Criminal to Critic. I just completed a book, Sleeping Dogs – A true story of the Lindbergh baby kidnapping. See the connection… So, how did you happen to take the criminology career path, as opposed to studying art and teaching art at the university level?
Tierney: I was born into a working class family in the industrial north west of England. There was no history of further or higher education in my immediate or, indeed, extended family. Everyone had left school at the minimum legal age. When I was a boy this was 15 years. I did, though, show some aptitude for school work and stayed on at school for an extra year, gaining some basic qualifications. The education system reflected the class system: the vast majority of working class kids were ‘selected’ at 11 for the type of secondary school that I attended. These were called secondary moderns and, in fact, around 70% of the population attended these. In general, they prepared pupils for manual jobs. I was quite good at, and enjoyed, art at school and would have liked to have pursued a career in, for instance, commercial art. However, at 16 I received little encouragement for this and believed that I wasn’t talented enough for a career in art. So, when I left school I began an engineering apprenticeship, which involved attending a local college for one day a week. I continued to paint and read about art and artists, but I also developed a keen interest in social and political issues. Sociology seemed to offer an opportunity to explore these things in depth. Thus at 23, and by now a qualified draftsman, I decided to apply to university to study for a degree. Although I didn’t have conventional entrance qualifications, my engineering qualifications (and perhaps enthusiasm) convinced a couple of admissions tutors that I was worth taking on. The rest, as they say, is history. I got my degree, followed by post-graduate qualifications, and entered into, firstly, further, then later on, higher education as a lecturer. By the late 1970s I had developed a particular interest in the sociology of crime and deviance, and this became my specialist field. To me it was inherently interesting and as a field of study appeared to incorporate all of the major sociological debates and issues. I retired from Durham University in 2010 and this provided an opportunity to engage with my painting in a more serious way than previously. Throughout my life as an academic I had continued, on and off, to paint.
Q) Did you ever paint or draw in another style than the one you’re working in today? Was there ever a time abstract expressionism had an appeal?
A) Over the years I explored a variety of ‘styles’ and techniques (including abstract expressionism!). However, what I am doing now is, I suppose, my ‘default’ mode.
Red Car in the Valley of Fire, NV | 12″ x 9″ | Oil on canvas
Q) If you paint from photographs, do you ever manipulate the images, or do you remain pretty much true to the “visual events” you work from?
A) While some painters are reluctant to admit that they use photographs, for me they are the basis of the work I do. It it not my intention, though, to simply reproduce a photographic image. I work on these images. Sometimes this means manipulating them in the simple sense of moving things around, but more importantly, ‘manipulation’ occurs through the use of technique and colour. Looking at my paintings, the viewer is obviously aware that they are seeing a painting and not, say, a textured photograph. Most of my work is based on the urban landscape of Los Angeles and the desert landscape of Joshua Tree National Park (I’ve visited each on many occasions – one of my sons and his wife live in L.A.). I’m attracted by the light and shade, the architecture of L.A. and the sharp delineation of sky and buildings/mountains. Some of my paintings, though, are of New York and Helsinki – where my two other sons live. Two major influences are Edward Hopper and the earlier, L.A.-based paintings of David Hockney. Edward Hopper said that he was fascinated by the chance events found in nature. I am fascinated by the chance events captured by the camera – in the broadest sense a sort of serendipity. This involves, for example, light, reflections, and the deportment of people. To illustrate, one of my paintings is of the Cobble Hill cinema in Brooklyn, N.Y. I took a photograph of parents and their kids following, I presume, a morning show. Only when I began to draw out the scene on canvas did I notice a girl in a flamboyant red dress, and with one of her arms in an odd position. She became the focal point of the painting.
Q) Do you spend a lot of time searching for images or scenes to paint, or is choosing your subjects a more casual undertaking, where you engage in customary activities like going to the grocery store and suddenly are taken by what you see?
A) I usually take my camera with me when I’m in the US and out walking, and I’m always on the look out for interesting images. My three sons have also been important sources – they know the kind of stuff that appeals to me.
Q) I don’t see any paintings of London on your website. Don’t you like painting in shades of gray, or are these stored somewhere?
A) At the moment none of my paintings are of locations in the U.K. I suppose that one dimension to this is that I visit L.A., New York or Helsinki as an ‘outside’ observer who is fascinated by the differences between these places and, say, London.
Q) Do you have more than one studio, meaning, in L.A., or in London or New York? Where is most of your work (painting) produced?
A) I have one studio and it’s in the UK.
Q) Have you spent considerable time in the museums in London or elsewhere in Europe? Which is your favorite, if one can have a favorite?
A) A ‘considerable’ time would be an exaggeration. However, when in a European (or U.S., for that matter) city I do like to include a visit to the major galleries, or a minor one if something has caught my eye. I live some distance from London, so I’m not able to routinely visit the many galleries on offer there. I don’t have a favorite, but when in London I like to visit the usual suspects: The National Gallery, The Tate Modern, Tate Britain and (for its Summer Exhibition) The Royal Academy. One gem I’ve discovered outside of the U.K. is the Ateneum Art Museum in Helsinki, Finland.
[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/john-tierneyartist/thumbs/thumbs_large_marmont2.jpg]00Chateau Marmont (#2), LA | 20" x 16" | Oil on canvas
[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/john-tierneyartist/thumbs/thumbs_large_formosa_wide.jpg]00Formosa Café (#2), LA | 20" x 16" | Oil on canvas
[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/john-tierneyartist/thumbs/thumbs_large_29_palms_inn.jpg]00Twentynine Palms Inn, Twentynine Palms | 20" x 16" | Oil on canvas
[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/john-tierneyartist/thumbs/thumbs_large9.jpg]10Long Island Bar/Restaurant, Brooklyn Heights, NY | 20” x 16" | Oil on canvas
[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/john-tierneyartist/thumbs/thumbs_large5.jpg]10DUMBO, NY At Dusk | 20” x 16” | Oil on canvas
[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/john-tierneyartist/thumbs/thumbs_large2.jpg]80Go Gaga Go | 36" x 24" | Oil on canvas
[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/john-tierneyartist/thumbs/thumbs_large16.jpg]60No Parking, LA | 20" x 16" | Oil on canvas
[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/john-tierneyartist/thumbs/thumbs_labrea_large.jpg]10Street Art La Brea, LA | 20" x 16" | Oil on canvas
Q) You’ve written at least two books about criminology. Do you still have a desire to write, and if so, is the subject the same? Do you see yourself analyzing art and artists in the same way you drilled down into criminology? Is it environment or DNA that makes men artists? Criminals?
A) To a large extent writing has been put to one side since I retired from the university. I do enjoy writing and have various ideas, though none are in the area of academic criminology. One project, roughly sketched out, is a novel dealing with a crime theme – I quite like the idea of writing in a genre that frees me from any concerns with evidence and footnotes! While I’m happy to respond to questions such as these, it would be presumptuous of me to embark on a project aimed at a serious engagement with art and artists. The last question you’ve included in this section is (to put it mildly) a big and complex one! However, it is an interesting one, so I’ll respond, albeit in broad terms (and I do discuss it in much more detail in my book Criminology: Theory and Context). Basically, you are referring to the long-standing debate about nature vs nurture. Stated simply: does someone become a criminal (or artist, which I’ll return to) because of a genetic predisposition, or as a result of social experiences? It thus lies within a context of debates about the so called causes of crime. To begin with, any reference to the ‘causes’ of crime based upon a simple A causes B model should set the alarm bells ringing. Over the years a steady stream of politicians, journalists, criminal justice personnel and academics have apparently tracked down the causes of crime. As a result we have a bewildering galaxy of causal explanations, taking in bad genes, chromosome deficiencies, deformed personalities, trendy parents, lone parents, trendy lone parents, simple greed, deprivation, blocked opportunities, peer group pressure, status frustration, too little money, too much money and artificial coloring in fish fingers. The corollary of these has been an equally bewildering galaxy of treatment/punishment packages: offenders have been incarcerated in hulks on the River Thames, transported from Britain to Australia, hanged, pelted with eggs in village stocks, tortured in dungeons, given short sharp shocks in detention centers, sterilized, injected with mind-altering drugs, made to face their victims, sent on wagon trains across America and (nowadays especially popular in the U.S. and U.K.) locked up in prison. To illustrate the complexities raised by this debate, you refer to ‘men’ in the question – though I assume you include women. Most crime, especially violent crime, in the U.S. and U.K. (and many other societies) is in the main committed by men. Thus gender – masculinity and femininity –defined as socially constructed understandings of maleness and femaleness, is one of myriad factors that need to be taken into consideration. I’m skeptical of the idea that criminals are predisposed towards criminal behavior because of their genetic makeup. No ‘criminal gene’ has ever been tracked down. As a social scientist I have always been more interested in the social, though I am critical of social (as well as genetic) explanations based upon deterministic causal relationships. Thus the notion of ‘bad’ genes or ‘bad’ environments propelling some individuals into crime seems to me to be far too simplistic. Clearly, the relationship between genetic make-up and social experiences is extremely complex. Furthermore, the concept of social experiences is shorthand for what has to encompass a vast range of social structural factors, social interactions, cultural, political and economic considerations, subjective understandings and creative responses on the part of individuals. People are both shaped by, and help shape the social world. Where and how one is brought up, one’s opportunities in life, how one is treated by others, how one sees oneself and one’s place in society and how one subjectively understands and gives meaning to the social world, etc., etc., all have to go into the mix when attempting to explain criminal, or any other, behavior. And, when focusing on specifically criminal behavior, it is important to note that ‘crime’ covers a huge range of activities. There is a danger of conceptualizing crime simply in terms of so called ‘conventional’ crime, such as burglary and street robbery, and ignoring the significant amount of white-collar and corporate crime that exists. In some ways it is more productive to approach these debates about criminality from the opposite direction, that is, by recognizing that ‘crime’ is a relative, not an absolute concept. No activity is inherently criminal. What is defined as criminal depends upon the criminal law, which varies from one society to another, and in one particular society changes over the years. The fact that nothing is inherently criminal makes any attempt to construct a universal explanation of criminal behavior highly problematic. Similar issues (based on the notion of relativism, rather than absolutism) are raised if we turn to ‘artists’, as referred to in your questions. I’m not at all sure what an artist is. Anyone can call themselves an artist. One thing they do, though, is produce what they consider to be ‘art’. Therefore, I think it is art, not artist, that is most relevant to the debate you have raised: is genetic endowment the key factor explaining an individual’s ability to produce what is defined as ‘good’ art? The problem here is that just as no behavior is inherently criminal, so no piece of artwork is inherently good. Whether or not it gets recognized as such is contingent upon many evolving factors: for instance, taste and expectations vis a vis ‘good’/’legitimate’ art during a particular historical period, social, political and cultural contexts and the nature of a specific audience who have the power to define a piece of work as good. What is defined as good, marketable art varies enormously in terms of type of expertise, technique, materials and intention – think of cubism, abstract art, abstract expression, videos and all sorts of installations, for example. Obviously, an ability to produce accurate representations of things, as conventionally understood, is not a prerequisite for the creation of ‘good’ art – nor should it be. Therefore, if we cannot pin down a specific ability necessary to create good art, then searching for the source of good art in an individual’s genetic make-up is a chimera. If I may, I’d like to make a final point regarding genetics and criminality. During the 1920s and 1930s the eugenics movement achieved a significant following in continental Europe and the United States. Essentially, it was concerned with ‘improving’ the genetic stock, which meant devising ways of preventing those defined as ‘degenerate’, of low intelligence, or otherwise judged as deviant/criminal from having children (through sterilizing them, for example). This mission to ‘purify’ the genetic pool, however, was somewhat sullied by those who during World War 2 took the arguments to their logical conclusion in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.
Q) Have your interests, including art and music, rubbed off on all of your sons?
A) It’s difficult to say with certainty what has ‘rubbed off’, but my middle son is a social science professor at an American college. All three have dabbled with painting and drawing over the years, though none, so far, has engaged with these seriously. They all, though, have a good eye for photographs. My eldest son, in fact, is a very accomplished photographer and has produced work commercially (he provided the image for one of my books, for instance).
Q) You’ve gotten a lot of play for the painting you did of the Paul Smith Store in Los Angeles, and his hallmark scarf. How did this experience come about?
A) I gave Paul Smith one of my paintings of his store as a present and he thought that it would provide an interesting image for use on a limited edition silk scarf. My forthcoming exhibition at the store in May is a knock-on effect.
Q) If you had to do over, would you have been an artist first and a criminologist second?
A) I have no regrets about entering into the field of criminology. However, if I could go back and do it over, I’d probably choose art, simply because I would have already experienced the world of criminology and would like to try something different.
Editor’s Note: This interview was conducted via e-mail in February and March of 2012. For more information about John Tierney, including links to his music, visit http://www.john-tierney.com.
April 28, 2012 Comments Off
Priscila De Carvalho
“Off-duty Militias” | 2008 | 24″ x 34″ x 2 1/2″
Acrylic, ink, foamcore, photo collage, sharpie on canvas
Simultaneous Outbreaks | 2010 | 0.64×0.75m – 1 of 4 pieces
Printed mirror vitrine
Glocallica Series XXIII | 2010 | 100 X 100 CM (39″ X 39″)
Acrylic on canvas
Three “Hot” Brazilian Artists
Priscila De Carvalho, Duda Penteado, and Gersony Silva:
Caught Up in the “WE ARE YOU PROJECT INTERNATIONAL’s”
Emerging Global Initiative(s)!
By Dr. José Rodeiro
Anyone with a full “art historical” understanding of emergent contemporary Brazilian visual art in both the United States of America and Brazil would instantly affirm that the dominant “stars” (in terms of popularity in the USA) are Vik Muniz, Romero Britto, Priscila De Carvalho, Duda Penteado and Gersony Silva. Recently, in the USA, these five prominent Brazilian 21st Century transvanguard visual artists are ubiquitously affecting American culture within the context of US Latinization. What is fascinating (about these five Brazilian artists) is that their art often reflects current urban themes such as over-population, class-segregation, alienation, globalization, the body, self-gratification and individualism. Yet, these urban themes are pursued by each of these Brazilian artists with distinctive character and personality. For example, all five have a history of large public-works and community projects, while Britto (with his Leger-esque signature-style of thick black lines surrounding pure-hues, connoting tropical delectation) appears less drawn to or affected by Brazil’s recent “national” propensity for cooperative communal artistic endeavors (i.e., articulations and/or interventionist art – both concepts are defined and described in the next paragraph). Nevertheless, Britto has become a cottage-industry, whose fashionable designs appear everywhere. On the other-hand (like Vik Muniz), Duda Penteado also generates cooperative public-projects, actions (“Neo-Happenings”), and other civic or group-endeavors; although, he also creates fascinating, lyrical, highly-imaginative imagery, which ingeniously examines Apocalyptic “&/or” prophetic Bosch-like realms in a vibrant Picasso-esque style reminiscent of Belgian CoBrA-master Pierre Alechinsky, as well as Puerto-Rican Neo-Surrealist Epson Espada.
In the early 21st Century, Brazil’s various artistic communities were encouraged to create large-scale Post-Fluxus (“Neo-NeoDada”) Articulations and Interventionist Art works, involving thousands of participants in the formation of the “work.” Of course, the focus on “art-as-work,” “process,” or “making” over “finished product” is a throwback to the Neo-Marxist “socialist” aesthetic ideas of Harold Rosenberg, Joseph Beuys, and other social action-oriented concerns and methods, which also manifested in Brazil, as a variant of action-art, in the late-1960s and early 1970s as evidenced by urban group-performances orchestrated by Lygia Clark and Lygia Pape and other major Brazilian contemporary masters. Ideally, these group projects involve large cohorts of people; neighborhoods, districts, “art-communes,” “teams” or “art collectives.” Ultimately, the Articulations and/or Interventionist Art dream (or “wish”) was to get the entire nation of Brazil (or, ideally an even bigger, or greater democratic “geo-estetica” ambition, aesthetically involving a la Kant “everyone on earth”) engaged in creating one work (or one activity). For example, Penteado in collaboration with Mario Tapia (Chilean-American) and Dr. Carlos Hernandez (Puerto-Rican American) creating a coast-to-coast national US-art endeavor known as the “WE ARE YOU PROJECT INTERNATIONAL” exhibit, an enormous art movement-esque work of art that simultaneously combined film, visual art, poetry, music, performance-art, socio-political-activism, etc., which had implications throughout both the USA and all of the Americas, drawing in (directly or indirectly) three prominent Brazilian artists: Priscila De Carvalho, Duda Penteado, and Gersony Silva.
In a way, Vik Muniz’s enormous Waste Land garbage-portraits (with images derived from art history), reflect similar Brazilian collectivist artistic-strivings (communally creating a vast Intervention and/or massive public Articulation); although, in the end, the entire work (“series of images”) is/are (nevertheless) indicative of an individual vision, which is clearly identified as a “work-of-art” created both directly and indirectly by Vik Muniz, by means of his remarkable vision, and a talented crew of assistants, including randomly selected on-site “garbage-pickers.” Ideally, perhaps, in time, the whole nation of Brazil will do a universal Interventionist piece, presumably during the Brazilian Olympics; or during the Brazilian World Cup, or maybe during some future unforeseen enormous “Carnival.”
Today, the “hottest” Brazilian Artists in the USA that are manifesting profound awareness of the “WE ARE YOU PROJECT INTERNATIONAL’s” emerging global initiative(s) are Priscila De Carvalho, Duda Penteado, and Gersony Silva. These three highly-gifted masters will be examined “alphabetically” (below)against the background of the We Are You Project International, aptly described throughout this URL: http://www.weareyouproject.org/6201.html.
Priscila De Carvalho
“Settlements” | August, 2010 | Medium: 39″ x 58″
Enamel, acrylic, ink, permanent maker, photograph collage on canvas
Priscila De Carvalho
Fresh from her 2011 Museum of Modern Art’s PS-1”Studio Visit” selection, Priscila De Carvalho displayed her art at the Museo del Barrio’s 2011-2012 “Bienal.” Born in Brazil in 1975, De Carvalho attended The City College of San Francisco, as well as UC Berkeley. Additionally, she attended New York City’s Art Students League.
As one of the leading lights of Brazilian visual art in the USA, she was awarded the fêted Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, as well as attaining support from Artist in the Market Place at Bronx Museum, Queens Council on The Arts Fund, along with an Aljira Emerge 10 Fellowship. She has held artist-residencies at Jamaica Center for the Arts and Learning, and at Utica, New York’s Sculpture Space. In recent years, major exhibits of her art abound, including a solo-show at the Jersey City Museum, and other shows at The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, Pulse Art Fair in New York, Pinta Art Fair in London (UK), Deutsche Bank and various other respected galleries and museums. Her involvement in the WE ARE YOU PROJECT INTERNATIONAL exhibition (2012-2018) is reflected in her remarkable image titled: Off-Duty Militias (2008, acrylic, pencil, ink, foam, photograph collage on canvas, 24″ x 34″ x 1/2″ (Collection of the artist)).
Via her 2008 image “Off-Duty Militias,” De Carvalho creates a work that combines various media including acrylic, vinyl, permanent marker, pencil, and photo collage. In her imagery, De Carvalho creates fantastic worlds in which colors, forms, and elements of fantasy all meld together. The work combines the influence of Pop Art, Spanish Informalism, the monumentality of mural painting, and a reverence for architectural forms. With these varied sources, the artist overlays a complex variety of objects and shapes together, creating a frenetic, turbulent, escalating and heavily laden urban landscape.
Priscila De Carvalho / 3 Artists from Brazil
Title: “Close To Home”Date: March, 2007Medium: Sharpie, boxes, photograph collage, acrylic, vinyl on wall.Dimension: 8 feet long by 8 feet wide and 34 inches from wall[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/priscila-de-carvalho-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_08prisciladecarvalho.jpg]150
Title: "Parachutes" (Detail Image)Date: January, 2009.Medium: Acrylic, Ink, photograph collage, pencil, foam on canvas.Dimension: 34" x 100" (86.36 x 254 cm)[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/priscila-de-carvalho-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_02prisciladecarvalho.jpg]90
Title: “Close To Home” (Detail Image)Date: March, 2007Medium: Sharpie, boxes, photograph collage, acrylic, vinyl on wall.Dimension: 8 feet long by 8 feet wide and 34 inches from wall[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/priscila-de-carvalho-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_03prisciladecarvalho.jpg]90
Title: “Stairways to an odd secret world” Installation ViewDate: June, 2008.Medium: Sharpie, shoeboxes, photograph collage, tape, acrylic, vinyl on wall.Dimension: Variable[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/priscila-de-carvalho-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_04prisciladecarvalho.jpg]60
Title: “Stairways to an odd secret world” (Detail Image)Date: June, 2008.Medium: Sharpie, shoeboxes, photograph collage, tape, acrylic, vinyl on wall.Dimension: VariableDescription: This installation piece is focus and titled in reference of "The favelas" (shantytowns) in Brazil. These residencies grow haphazardly and do not have basic amenities. In the 1990s the government started projects that provided paved streets and stairs -- in the favelas everything is stairs up, stairs down -- as well as water and electricity.[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/priscila-de-carvalho-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_05prisciladecarvalho.jpg]50
Title: “482 Approaching Mermaid Parade”Date: September, 2008Medium: Acrylic, pencil, ink, foam, photograph collage on canvasDimension: 18" x 88" x 1/2" (45.72 x 223.52 cm)Description: I took photographs of the "Mermaid Parade" in Coney Island, Brooklyn. The images of a military-helicopter approaching the parade suggests the battle between the local people and real state companies.[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/priscila-de-carvalho-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_06prisciladecarvalho.jpg]70
Title: “482 Approaching Mermaid Parade” (Detail Image)Date: September, 2008Medium: Acrylic, pencil, ink, foam, photograph collage on canvasDimension: 18" x 88" x 1/2" (45.72 x 223.52 cm)Description: I took photographs of the "Mermaid Parade" in Coney Island, Brooklyn. The images of a military-helicopter approaching the parade suggests the battle between the local people and real state companies.[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/priscila-de-carvalho-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_15prisciladecarvalho.jpg]80
Title: "Platforms"Date: June, 2011.Medium: Enamel, acrylic, ink, permanent maker, photograph collage on canvasDimension: 50" x 120"Location: El Barrio Museo, New York, NY.Commissioned by The El barrio Museum[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/priscila-de-carvalho-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_07prisciladecarvalho.jpg]90
Title: "Parachutes"Date: January, 2009.Medium: Acrylic, Ink, photograph collage, pencil, foam on canvas.Dimension: 34" x 100" (86.36 x 254 cm)[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/priscila-de-carvalho-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_09prisciladecarvalho.jpg]100
Title: “Passageways”, Site specific InstallationDate: January, 2009.Medium: Paper boxes, foam, wires, poles, painted canvases, photographs, drawings, and collage.Dimension: Approx 10 feet long and 35 feet wideDescription: My images are collected from the realms of memory, documentary films, the internet, and photography. The narratives presented are personal interpretations of a world that seems at times to be humorous, intense, contradictory and chaotic.Location: Jersey City Museum[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/priscila-de-carvalho-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_10prisciladecarvalho.jpg]100
Title: “Passageways”, Site specific Installation (Detail Image)Date: January, 2009.Medium: Paper boxes, foam, wires, poles, painted canvases, photographs, drawings, and collage.Dimension: Approx 10 feet long and 35 feet wideDescription: My images are collected from the realms of memory, documentary films, the internet, and photography. The narratives presented are personal interpretations of a world that seems at times to be humorous, intense, contradictory and chaotic.Location: Jersey City Museum, New Jersey[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/priscila-de-carvalho-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_11prisciladecarvalho.jpg]90
Title: "Down By The Sea" Site specific Installation, Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA)Date: June, 2010.Medium: Acrylic, Ink, enamel, photograph collage, boxes, foam on wall.Dimension: Approx 7 feet long, 7 feet wide and 30 inches from wall.Location: Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA), Brooklyn, NYCommissioned by The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/priscila-de-carvalho-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_12prisciladecarvalho.jpg]110
Title: "Wonderland"Date: August, 2010.Medium: Enamel, acrylic, ink, permanent maker, photograph collage on canvasDimension: 52" x 120" (132.08 x 304.8 cm)[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/priscila-de-carvalho-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_13prisciladecarvalho.jpg]90
Title: "Wonderland" (Detail Image)Date: August, 2010.Medium: Enamel, acrylic, ink, permanent maker, photograph collage on canvasDimension: 52" x 120" (132.08 x 304.8 cm)[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/priscila-de-carvalho-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_14prisciladecarvalho.jpg]70
Title: "Settlements"Date: August, 2010.Medium: Enamel, acrylic, ink, permanent maker, photograph collage on canvasDimension: 39" x 58"
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She is perhaps most inspired by the ever-expanding and sprawling urban growth in the cities of her native Brazil, particularly the labyrinthine favelas rapidly encircling Rio de Janeiro. Revealing the sense of a huge population constantly on the move, her works are marked by intense colors and the upward-thrusting lines of ever-present winding streets and stairways. When confronting her improvised shanty vedutes, some Anglo-American viewers occasionally invoke Led Zeppelin’s haunting lyrics to Stairway To Heaven. Importantly, in her piece Off Duty Militias, she was inspired by gang-driven drug-trafficking in the slums of Brazil, as well as the innate (or inherent) theme(s) of superfluous make-shift fence-building projects, connoting human-separation amid chaotic barriers and watchtowers, which directly relate to the current surge of “rightwing” ethno-racist US-border issues along the Rio Grande and Sonoran Desert.
Beyond the acclaimed exhibits and awards already described above, De Carvalho has also shown in UC Praxis International Art Gallery in New York, Gallery 64 Bis in Paris, France, and in Deutsche Bank, the AIM Program at the Bronx Museum Biennial and at the (S) Files’ “Bienal” of El Museo del Barrio, New York, NY. Her work has been reviewed by The New York Times (August 2009), Art Aldia International (March 09), Art Nexus (August 2009) and many others publications. Further information on Priscila De Carvalho is available at http://momaps1.org/studio-visit/artist/priscila-de-carvalho and: http://www.priscilasoffice.com/ .
Glocallica Series XXX | 2010 | 110 X 130 CM (43″X 53″)
Acrylic on canvas
Duda Penteado’s innovative and revolutionary Glocallica Series affords viewers rich undulating waves of dark Lorca-esque duende, encompassing (in 2012) some of the Brazilian master’s most intriguing imagery to date. In the Series, his use of hands and feet allude to Oscar Niemeyer’s giant 1985 Memorial to the Americas’s hand sculpture (Sao Paulo, Brazil).
Art historically, Penteado’s emerging Glocallica imagery implicitly alludes to a mere handful of exceptional duende-filled abstract works that were created since 1945 by approximately eight modern masters: Pablo Picasso’s heroic post-War Charnel House Series examining the Jewish Holocaust; Pierre Alechinsky’s Cobra imagery; Franz Kline’s action-paintings; the renowned Ecuadorian painter and sculptor Oswaldo Guayasamín, as well as the New York School Abstract Expressionist artists: Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and William Baziotes. From these eight modern masters, it is clear that Penteado’s Glocallica Series references Federíco García-Lorca’s theory of the duende (a term best defined in this URL: http://duende-art.com/page1.html), which also lurks behind Motherwell’s Elegies to the Spanish Republic, as well as probing Rothko’s two astounding aesthetic ideas: 1). The Sublime in visual art, and 2). The tragio-dramatic in visual art, which pertain to recent Penteado Glocallica works.
Consequently, as an intrepid manifestation of the “here-&-now,” (and, in devotion to Lorca’s duende-present: the “now”) each Glocallica image simultaneously represents what Salvador Dalí characterized as timeless binaries or dichotomous conflict(s) between the legi intimus and the legi promiscuitus; with both boldly battling (in the present) to join the local and the global (the street and the universe), the intimate and the distant. Hence, Penteado’s Glocallica Series constantly unites in the eternal-present both the “far-flung” and the “very close,” connecting them together with what Martin Luther King called, “The fierce urgency of now.” Hence, against the empty-void of today’s dismal and fruitless Neo-Philistine ‘Malthusian-world,’ which appears perpetually caught between constant war(s); pending global Depression(s); imminent man-made disasters, and unavoidable pandemics, Penteado erects a symbolic large “tree-like” HAND(s) branching, grasping, reaching and struggling. By means of these heroic hand-images, The Glocallica Series valiantly confronts myriad Neo-Philistine-adversaries, for whom he symbolically raises an emblematic hand to stand like a tree against them. This emblematic hand has root-like feet and branches resembling fingers. This anthropomorphized “hand-tree” has humanoid features: feet-roots, branch-arms, branch fingers, and other human characteristics, which brilliantly derive from Oscar Niemeyer’s giant 1985 Memorial to the Americas’s hand sculpture (Sao Paulo, Brazil). And, through the depiction of that emblematic black/white hand(s), Penteado reveals humanity’s urgent need for greater feeling, emotion, imagination, spirituality, love and redemption. Throughout The Bible, hands and feet often play significant roles that relate to each of these above-stated aspirations. For example, in The Apocalypse, St. John the Evangelist describes his heartfelt reaction during his first glimpse of the risen Christ, saying:
“I fell at his feet as though I was dead, but he placed his right hand on me and said, ‘Do not be afraid! I am the First and the Last, and the one who lives! I was dead, but look, now I am alive – forever and ever – and I hold the keys of death and the dead” (Rev.1-17).
Duda Penteado / 3 Artists from Brazil
Glocallica Series III 2009 | Acrylic on paper | 48 x 36" (122 x 92 cm)[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/duda-penteado-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_4507058058_0cb7c941c2_z.jpg]20
Glocallica Series X | 2009 | Acrylic on paper | 36” x 48" (92 x 122 cm)[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/duda-penteado-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_4507078334_a400a2cce5_z.jpg]20
Glocallica Series V 2009 | Acrylic on paper | 36 x 48" (92 x 122 cm)[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/duda-penteado-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_4507081290_dc4c26a0ac_z.jpg]10
Glocallica Series IV 2009 |Acrylic on paper | 30 x 19" (76 x 49 cm)[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/duda-penteado-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_4507070760_dd0e05d0d3_z.jpg]20
Glocallica Series VII 2009 | Acrylic on paper | 19 x 30" (49 x 76 cm)[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/duda-penteado-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_4507066674_02ffa7d302_z.jpg]10
Glocallica Series VIII 2009 | Acrylic on paper | 40 x 50" (102 x 127 cm)[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/duda-penteado-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_4758858079_293e362023_b.jpg]20
Glocallica Series XVIII | 2010 | Acrylic on canvas | 18 x 24" [img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/duda-penteado-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_4758875993_efc726a58c_b.jpg]20
Glocallica Series XVII | 2010 | Acrylic on canvas | 18 x 24"[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/duda-penteado-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_4759503952_c72e24cd88_b.jpg]20
Glocallica Series XVI | 2010 | Acrylic on canvas | 18 x 24"[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/duda-penteado-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_5304412139_f0de9137f1_b.jpg]20
Glocallica Series XXIV | 2010 | Acrylic on canvas | 150 X 80 CM (59” X 31”)[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/duda-penteado-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_5305009926_ce7b014bdb_b.jpg]20
Glocallica Series XXV | 2010 | Acrylic on canvas | 150 X 80 CM (59” X 31”)[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/duda-penteado-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_5305012378_96ca6b8e81_b.jpg]30
Glocallica Series XXVI | 2010 | Acrylic on canvas |150 X 96 CM (59” X 37”)[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/duda-penteado-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_5304998226_a9884dfca6_b.jpg]30
Glocallica Series XXII | 2010 | Acrylic on canvas | 100 X 100 CM (39” X 39”)[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/duda-penteado-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_5304988210_4a9b0b5863_b.jpg]30
Glocallica Series XX | 2010 | Acrylic on canvas | 93 X 73 CM (36” X 29”)[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/duda-penteado-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_5304430131_6131c51398_b.jpg]20
Glocallica Series XXVIV | 2010 | Acrylic on canvas | 150 X 100 CM (59”X 40”)
Furthermore, due to its firm-grounding in Lorca-esque Duende, The Glocallica Series stands as a viable antidote against contemporary visual-art’s and contemporary life’s mundane daily grind (or present-struggle), Glocallica’s symbolic hand is the tragic-sublime Mark Rothko-esque and Motherwell-esque “heroic-shape” confronting a host of iniquitous villains (i.e., the zealous post-industrialists, the hyper-conceptualists, the fanatic-anarchists, the anti-visceralists/anti-emotive non-humans, anti-art anti-artists, the enemies of human-civilization, the terrorists, the pro-mechanistic techno-militants, the outcomes-obsessed educators and the foes of “true Hegelian-faith,” who attempt to replace ART and SPIRITUALITY with their glib fixation on hyper-media, hyper-technology, gluttonous-capitalism, fanatic false-religiosity and bogus non-faith; or even worse, unwarranted faith in mere science, sybaritic machines, or totalitarianism (especially the current glut of malevolent religio-despots addicted to fatality and their mindless congregations (“the herd”)); as well as all other illicit 21st Century vulgarities and criminal excesses (i.e., a banquet of fiscal greed; transgenic art (bio-art); regurgitated Neo-Dada conceptualizations, and other spurious attacks on primordial and eternal human values). To all these lugubrious stupidities and evils, The Glocallica Series says, “NO!” Furtively, all this Glocallican-negativity is actually a positive affirmation of human life, faith, love and art. Also, most importantly for Penteado, Brazil (itself) is a manifestation (or a constant reminder) of God’s outstretched hands symbolic of what really matters to all people living on the planet Earth: human life, human faith, human love and human art.
Penteado was born in São Paulo in 1968, and studied at FIAM – SP. Throughout the 1990, he exhibited in Brazil, then he moved to New York City, where he obtained a position at Muriel Studio in Soho, NYC (NY) as an assistant to Sheila Marbain, the inventor of a new “silk monotype” technique, which was employed by many leading contemporary artists. Active in both Brazil and the USA as well as in Europe throughout the late-1990s and the early 21st Century, he showed in The Jersey City Museum, Jersey City, NJ; Biennale Internazionale Dell’Arte Contemporanea, Florence, Italy, 2009; Monique Goldstrom Gallery, NYC; The Museum of Art and Origins, Harlem, NYC (NY); BACI-The Brazilian American Cultural Institute, Washington, DC; Museo de Las Americas, Denver, CO; CITYarts 272nd Mural, “Nature is Love on Earth”, New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, The St. John’s Recreation Center, Crown Heights, Brooklyn, NYC, 2008, 2009; Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, NY, New Jersey City University, Jersey City, NJ, Kean University, Union, NJ; Monmouth University, West Long Branch, NJ; Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, NJ; Drew University, Madison, NJ; Middlebury College, Vermont; UFES- Universidade Estadual do Espírito Santo, Vitoria, ES; UNESP-Universidade Estadual Paulista, SP, and SESC – SP.
He was President of the Artist Certification Board, Jersey City, NJ, until 2010. Received awards and recognition from various institutions in the United States, including: Urban Artist Fellowship Award, Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT; Goldman Sachs Student Art Project Grant, Jersey City, NJ (2006, 2007, 2008); Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, The Robert Flaherty Film Seminar, Claremont, CA; Special Guest for Artistic Achievement & Commitment to YMCA Greater, NY-Youth, NYC; American Graphic Design Award, Interactive Multimedia Installation, NYC; Humanitarian Award from the Hudson County Chapter of the American Conference on Diversity, Jersey City, NJ, and received a Kappa Pi International Honorary Art Fraternity Award, Eta Rho Chapter, New Jersey City University, Jersey City, NJ. Along with Mario Tapia and Dr. Carlos Hernandez, he has been at the helm of the We Are You Project since 2005. For more about Penteado art and career explore this URL: http://www.dudapenteado.com/ .
Your wave: The other side | 2008 | 1.80 x 1.50 m
Object-art / scene – wood, laminated print blanket styrofoam, mirror, lights
Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 1973, Gersony Silva lives and works in her native city. She studied fine arts at the Academy of Fine Arts, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, she also attended the Pontifical Catholic University (SP), The University of Sao Paulo, and The Art School of The Museum of Art of Sao Paulo.
She has exhibited extensively in Brazil, Spain, the USA, and other locations that are listed in her Website: http://www.gersony.com.br/v4/ As a child, she bravely faced a debilitating illness, precipitating the onset of possible early paralysis.
Intrepidly, as a way to confront her illness, she studied classical dance – as a therapeutic means to strengthen her body. This shamanic awareness of the therapeutic power of art resides in her spectacular creations as a means of promoting (enhancing) her well-being, and by so doing, also enhancing (like a true shaman) the vigor and vitality of everyone around her. In the fall of 2011, she participated in various We Are You Project events in Brazil, achieving a friendship with Duda Penteado and other members of the US-based We Are You Project sojourning in Brazil
Ultimately, the highly insightful and provocative imagery of contemporary Brazilian master Gersony Silva represents a stunning, intriguing, and poetic art, which is often self-referential, highly evocative, and frequently focuses on various parts of her body (e.g., knees, feet, elbows, joints, toes, folds, bends, curves and other corporeal components). She pursues this uncompromising analysis of her body via various “cinematic” sequences of images that rely on unique perspectives, distortions, perceptions, symmetrical mirroring(s), repetitions, manipulation(s) and adaptations. Her straightforward and monumental abstract designs hint at motion, choreographed movement, and dance. Yet, as all great artists, she has a well-spring of allusions to art history, which are ingeniously evident throughout her work, proving Pablo Picasso’s maxim that, “Mediocre artists borrow; but, great artists steal!”
Among the contemporary artists that are significant to her, we find Georgia O’Keeffe, Louise Bourgeois, Rebecca Horn and Anish Kapoor. This brief critique will examine each of these art historical allusions, as well as Silva’s unique relationship to Ana Mendieta. For example, the exquisite and inviting overlays of bending and folding flower-petals in O’Keeffe’s various “Flower” images reemerge in the sensual bends and folds inhabiting Silva’s signature monumental monochromatic dark blue installation-pieces, as well as manifesting in the Brazilian’s assorted conceptual body-oriented photographic series’ figural-elements, which from time to time suggest Alfred Stieglitz’s famous 1930s photographic-analysis (series) of every part of his wife’s (O’Keeffe’s) body.
Also, of equal significance (to Silva) are Bourgeois’s courageous erotically-charged sculptures representing abstracted (organic-surreal) humanoid or mutated genitalia-forms or genitalia-beings, which allude to the Brazilian’s conceptual-photographic manipulations of her own body-parts (e.g., knees, feet, elbows, joints, toes, folds, bends, curves and other components). The use of light and shadow in Silva’s installations have a direct relationship to the dramatic lighting effects spotlighting captivating performances and installations by Rebecca Horn. Like Silva, the German-born artist Horn is a master of properly lit astounding performances and installations. Permeating Silva’s work is a profound concern for color (chromatic hue); shimmering and high-key surface-effects, utilizing design precision (meticulousness); these above-mentioned elite or “classic” qualities are equally pervasive in the works of Anish Kapoor, the Anglo-Indian contemporary sculptor and installation-artist.
Gersony Silva / 3 Artists from Brazil
Journey of flight | 2006 | 4 m2 instalation, wood, acrylic and steel objects, lights[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/gersony-silva-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_2.jpg]60
“Péssaros” series flights and landings | 2006 | 0:28 x 0.17 x 0.33 to 0.41mSteel -8 pieces[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/gersony-silva-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_3.jpg]100
“Péssaros Alados ” series flights and landings | 2006 | 0:28 x 0.17 x 0.38mMobile - 6 pieces[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/gersony-silva-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_4.jpg]100
Feet in the Sand | 2006 | 0.55 x 0.83mPhoto printed on acrylic [img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/gersony-silva-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_5.jpg]260
Masterpiece- Series of Female Issues | 2007 | 0.30 x 0.20mPrinting on acrylic and steel cable-20 pieces[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/gersony-silva-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_6.jpg]200
Safe House- Series of Female Issues | 2010 | 0.40 x 0.30 mAcrylic / Patterned wall paper with chrome, acrylic box- 4 Artworks[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/gersony-silva-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_7-a.jpg]90
Simultaneous Outbreaks | 2010 | 0.64x0.75mPrinted mirror vitrine- 4 pieces [img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/gersony-silva-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_8.jpg]150
Fluxus | 2009 | 4m2Installation - Fabric hose, light, concertina iron and plastic, light[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/gersony-silva-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_9.jpg]140
Fluxus | 2009 | DetailInstallation - Fabric hose, light, concertina iron and plastic, lights[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/gersony-silva-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_10.jpg]110
Fluxus | 2009 | DetailInstallation - Fabric hose, light, concertina iron and plastic, lights[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/gersony-silva-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_11.jpg]110
Connection | 2010 | Video Performance - 2 minutes[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/gersony-silva-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_13.jpg]100
Your wave: The other side - Detail | 2008 |1.80 x 1.50 m Object-art / scene - wood, laminated print blanket styrofoam, mirror, and lights [img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/gersony-silva-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_14_0.jpg]100
Endless blue folds I,II,III,IV | 2009 | 0.80 x1, 3m eachSeries of Hidden Streams - Acrylic on canvas [img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/gersony-silva-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_15.jpg]100
Movement | 2008 Performance - Sequence of photos , 16 acts [img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/gersony-silva-3-artists-from-brazil/thumbs/thumbs_16.jpg]110
Movement | 2008 Performance - Sequence of photos , 16 acts
Unlike the hyper-expressionistic oeuvre of Mendieta, Silva’s gorgeous, classical, elegant and “muse-filled” imagery is far less raw, gory, or as agonizing as the extremely chthonic feminist performance pieces that Mendieta’s duende conjured-up. Despite this one significant difference, both Mendieta and Silva manifest four essential art historical similarities, which are: 1). a general reliance on their own body as the subject of their art, as well as 2). creating works that exude a sublime self-awareness and self actualization, revealing 3). a shamanic need to create animistic rituals that invoke greater health and well-being for themselves and the world. Lastly, both artists bravely 4). challenge monotonous and entrenched “merely” Minimalist aesthetic trends in the late-1960s and 1970s, which included such mind-numbing “minimal” artists as Carl Andre, Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, etc., etcetera.
Lastly, throughout the USA, in the 21st Century, enclaves of Brazilian artists are working alongside US-Latinos in their collaborative struggle for US civil rights and equality. For example, in the above critique, three Brazilian artists (Priscila De Carvalho, Duda Penteado and Gersony Silva) are involved directly or indirectly with the We Are You Project International (“WAY Project”). The best way to define this 21st Century WAY Project initiative in terms of Brazil and all of Latin America would be to recall that twice in 1936 and again in 1943, Joaquin Torres-García (in Montevideo, Uruguay) portrayed America’s Southern Hemisphere utilizing an Antarctic-perspective, as though an anticipated polar-inversion [(anticipated around every 640,000 years)] had transpired. In fact, he wrote “Polo S” across the top of both drawings, entreating viewers to adopt this “new” South Pole point-of-view. The We Are You Project endeavors the same drastic reorientation of Latino cultural and artistic values, asking Latino artists throughout the world to rediscover their own culture and to confront (in their art) all the socio-political and economic issues that affect all Latinos. Hence, “WAY” is a courageous Sisyphean effort to address (via art) the myriad 21st Century opportunities, restrictions, and risks, which all Latinos (i.e. Brazilians) face.
About the author:
Dr. José Rodeiro is Coordinator of Art History, Art Department, New Jersey City University. A deconstruction of his recent painting, “Hips don’t lie,” appeared in Ragazine, Volume 8, Number 2.
April 28, 2012 Comments Off
Éducation | acrylic on canvas | 40” x 30” | 2012
Garbage Pail Kids
come of age in Montreal
By Michael Foldes
Ragazine: Xavier, thank you for contacting Ragazine about featuring your work, and for agreeing to this interview. We trust our readers will be as intrigued by what you are doing as are we.
Landry in his studio in Montreal.
You’ve done a wonderful job of updating Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There. Your paintings are poignant commentaries on, and painful reminders of, what contemporary culture is doing to us. Would you say this is an accurate appraisal?
Landry: Definitely. It’s about the creepy nature of men forged by our cultural experience. It is contemporary by the references I use but at large, men have always the same problems and wills.
Q) Your Christophe Colomb image is very disturbing in a direct way (he looks to me like someone who came out of a leaking nuclear power plant); Exode, La patrouille s’amuse and Manipulation are more frightening in the sense they combine readily identifiable and common imagery with nightmarish qualities. Where do these “dreams” come from?
A) I dream a lot. As many of us, I wish. Some themes are more than others forced to fit with an aesthetic that I want to show, but usually the images just come by themselves. The brain is a bank filled of all kind of souvenirs that make our personal culture. I mix those feelings and personal fantasy with real events or popular behavior. Then in my case, the image left depends on the way the ideas were interpreted. It could be soft but I don’t feel things that way.
Q) Your commentaries on fast food in Hotdog and La passion de Wendy, and ‘fast shopping at big box stores” in La Patrouille s’amuse, get right to the point. Are you a vegetarian? Do you shop at the local grocer’s?
A) I don’t go to McDo or that kind of fast food restos, but I like the way they look. They popped out from an acid trip. That’s a hook that works. Even their food looks like toys. I’m not a vegetarian. I eat vegeterians.
Fuckoshima! | acrylic on canvas | 2011
Q) I am totally amused by the title of your painting, Fuckoshima!, but obviously it’s nothing to laugh at when an event scares the crap out of you. You appear able to turn anything, including censorship, into biting satire. How long have you been painting in this mode?
A) I prefer to show things different as they are. I imagine the marriage of Kate and William as a total mess with a negative issue. As far as I can remember I do it that way since college.
Q) Did you draw much as a child? I noticed the pack of crayons being thrown from the helicopter in Liberation figurative. Why crayons and not sticks of dynamite?
A) When I was a child there were color crayons everywhere. Some uses bombs, some don’t. I use crayons and brushes and I bet I could blow up myself with it. It’s a painting about the destruction of abstract by figurative art. Figurative has the advantage of weapons; intention, meaning, story telling, etc… That makes culture.
A) It’s more about the shaken baby syndrome than a religious critique, but what about those child molestor priests?
Q) Xavier, where are you living now? Do you have a live/work studio space?
A) I live and work in a semi-industrial neighborhood in Montreal. It’s a nice and quiet place. It is also pretty funny because it’s situated between a metal shop and a high class commercial street. There are skunks and racoons everywhere that share our barbecues, and finally, there is the absurdity to have one of the biggest art gallery for next door neighbor and get f***king cold in winter nights. It’s really cool. Plenty of artists around here. But they will pull down the entire neighboorhood to build luxurious condos.
Q) Did your work receive positive support while you were studying at University of Quebec, Montreal?
A) When I was at Université du Québec à Montréal, I was on an exploration path. I knew art was the only solution but I had to try some techniques. At first I did paintings because I already did some since I was a child. But teachers told me that I was doing illustration. Figurative is not welcome in Montreal. Then I did some almost life size sculptures of whitetrash characters and finished my BFA that way, which was much more appreciated.
Q) Who would you say had the most influence on you becoming an artist, or in expressing yourself as you do?
A) My father who is a graphic designer, my uncle who was a painter and maybe Garbage Pail Kids trading cards.
Q) I can see you merging Goya, Bosch, Bacon and Freud. Any favorite artists, living or dead?
A) I took back the brushes a few years ago after seeing the work of those in the famous American lowbrow magazines. By now I can’t say I have favorite. It depends on many factors but I like it figurative for sure.
Q) Is your favored medium acrylic? oil?
A)Acrylic. I have no patience for oil. Especially for cleaning brushes. Some think “I work with oil because the result is slick,” but I don’t.
Captain Spit waiting for the bus | acrylic on canvas | 2012[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/xavier-landryartist/thumbs/thumbs_manipulation.jpg]00
Manipulation | acrylic on canvas | 36'' x 24'' | 2011[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/xavier-landryartist/thumbs/thumbs_exode1.jpg]00
Exodus | acrylic on canvas | 40'' x 30'' | 2011[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/xavier-landryartist/thumbs/thumbs_wendy1.jpg]00
Wendy's passion | acrylic on canvas | 40'' x 36'' | 2011[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/xavier-landryartist/thumbs/thumbs_fatgirl1.jpg]10
The gift fat (censored) acrylic on canvas | 2011[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/xavier-landryartist/thumbs/thumbs_george_cloune1.jpg]00
The bitch of Lord George Cloune | acrylic on canvas | 40'' x 30'' | 2011[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/xavier-landryartist/thumbs/thumbs_pastourelle1.jpg]00
Pastourelle plague | acrylic on canvas | 60'' x 30'' | 2011[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/xavier-landryartist/thumbs/thumbs_patrollfun1.jpg]00
The patrol has fun | acrylic on canvas | 30'' x 40'' | 2011[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/xavier-landryartist/thumbs/thumbs_phone1.jpg]00
The guy with the phone | acrylic on canvas |40'' x 30'' | 2011[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/xavier-landryartist/thumbs/thumbs_cawiche1.jpg]00
The latest Cree | acrylic on canvas | 48'' x 36'' | 2010[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/xavier-landryartist/thumbs/thumbs_stalinedion1.jpg]10
Stalin Dion | acrylic on canvas | 40'' x 30'' | 2010[img src=http://ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/xavier-landryartist/thumbs/thumbs_unwanted1.jpg]00
Unwanted | acrylic on canvas | 36'' x 24'' | 2010
Q) How much of your indelicate worldview was shaped by your being a French Canadian growing up in a disputed ‘territory’?
A) Hum… I didn’t see the time when the anglophones and the francophones was fighting and living in distinct neighboorhoods. Nowadays there are relics of it. The rich buildings and English university are on the Mount-Royal and the working class public French factories surrounded it. But now English-speaking students are poor, too, so we all mix in the slums. I’m influenced by what is surrounding me so since I evolve in the “bad” sides of town, my inputs are prostitutes, drugs, drunken guy that crap in public at 10 am etc… I could paint the portrait of an old rich English lady suffering of many neurosis and it won’t be better.
Q) I am familiar with the catacombs in Paris, but not the catacombs in Montreal. What is the provenance of the show you are in that began in March?
A) The Katacombes is an alternative cooperative bar downtown. We were a dozen local painters to interpret the novels of Patrick Sénécal, a horror writer. He is a kind of Stepen King in Quebec. It last only one day. We had fun!
Q) I am still intrigued about what kind of childhood you had that you are meticulous enough to paint visions that are so disarming. What were – or are – your parents’ professions? They seem to have imparted to you a strong social conscience that one might say makes you an activist painter for your social commentary.
A) My mom is in the death industry and my dad is retired. He was a graphic designer. I played a lot with his markers when I was a kid. That’s where the visions come from. I’m not calling myself an activist. I’m just a cynical guy.
Q) What kinds of things do you enjoy doing when you’re not painting? Do you work in other visual media?
A) I really love cooking! Really! I try to make everything myself. I almost get sick by eating my own bacon and cheese. There’s some things I’m better at. I don’t do other visual art seriously. I did a few stupid drawings and some crazy teddybears for children.
Q) What do you think of the Occupy Movement that has spread from the States to many other parts of the world?
A) Some occupied with intelligence and some not. Some homeless people that were already occupying the park were kicked out by well-equipped activists that have bank accounts. Just nonsense.
Q) What do you think of the Occupy Canada Movement that is starting in the States, much the same way that the Occupy Iraq and Occupy Afghanistan movements started? I think they call it the Keystone Pipeline, because it’s the keystone to the U.S. controlling all of North America.
A) I don’t know. Here the movement is dead. I think it’s a fashion. Utopia or civil war, I don’t know.
Q) I really appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts and work with us. Good luck to you for a most promising career!
A) It was a pleasure.
The interview above was conducted via e-mail from January 2012 through April 2012.
April 28, 2012 Comments Off