9/22/09

Museum Autobiography

My earliest museum experiences started at an early age, when I was about 5 years old. Living in New York (Westchester County) and having a very energetic and cultured family, I was fortunate to have visited the many museums both locally and in the City. While my first encounter with a museum resulted over 20 years ago, it must have had a lasting impression on me, because I have always found solace, nostalgia, and thrills visiting museums to this day.
The first museum I had gone to was the Museum of Natural History, with my Mother and my Grandparents. To this day I feel that such a museum is apt for any youngster’s first museum encounter. The sheer size of the museum suggested to me that this was something of immense importance housed inside the neo-classical fa├žade. I remember being both intimidated and fascinated, however the latter emotion would completely take over once inside. I was rapidly fascinated by the size of objects in relevance to myself. At first glance I couldn’t separate reality from fiction. I had thought and remarked that the objects such as the animal taxidermy and sculpted Native Americans were real. When I was told that they were only renditions of reality or historical non-fiction, I was completely enthralled by how much consideration had been placed on presenting a realistic sense of display.
The second museum I had gone to was the Manhattan Children’s Museum. At the time they had an exhibition on forensics, studying how crimes are solved, but it was the exhibition on bugs on which I would spend hours in. I remember never wanting to leave, there was so much to see and do. The interactive and educational experiences became a great factor in my school education where I would relate what I saw and did to my studies. Throughout my early childhood trips to various children’s museums, The Smithsonian and the Hudson River Museum, whose planetarium fascinated my visual and auditory senses, would be constant highlights of my childhood.
It wasn’t until I got a little older that I enjoyed works of art as much as the archeological and interactive installations. Although two early artistic revelations came from the Museum of Modern Art’s interactive color wheel and an installation by Red Groom’s (Red Groom’s bookstore) at the Hudson River Museum. I think the reasons for this was because I could tell that a painting wasn’t in fact real but I had a hard time separating reality from the museum taxidermy and dioramic installations at the history and science museums. Originally I had only appreciated the sections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art that had the mummies and the fantastic examples of pyramids and ancient structures of the early Mesopotamian and Asian civilizations. Once I began to appreciate paintings and sculpture I spent countless hours looking at works by Renaissance painters and became mesmerized by the salon style galleries of 18th and 19th century European paintings. My first favorite painter was Rembrandt, so it was vital being so close to the Metropolitan Museum and getting to stand in front of the Dutch Master’s dark and moody canvases.
My mother’s side of the family came from various artistic backgrounds. While there were no professional artists in my family, my Grandfather’s father was an antique dealer who restored, created and collected fantastic pieces of 18th century furniture. It was very important to my mother and grandparents that I be exposed to various cultures at an early age. My brother who was just an infant during these early museum adventures had a different experience. I recall his restlessness and desire to leave these institutions. It has taken him a while but more recently he has taken an interest in the positive social aspects of art museums. Being so close to MoMA (he works at Rockefeller Plaza) he has made various trips to the Museum in recent months.
I am proud of my early beginnings and interests in museums. It has led me to a deep profound love of art, history and global culture. I know that I want to make museums are part of my career and I know that I want to become both a museum curator and educator. I know that I made the right decision in attending City College’s Museum Studies program. Through this program I am learning to think both artistically and critically, my writing and proposals have vastly improved, and I have begun to develop a great list of contacts.

9/15/09

The Product

So, I thought that if I make blanket statements it would attract attention. And it did. Well not on here because so few people actually know about this. On twitter I posted the same message I wrote below: Kanye West hates white people (hates was added for drama). I received a barrage of replies both positive and negative. So in a way I achieved what Kanye achieves on a constant basis. But I did so mockingly. Obviously.

I know that Kanye West doesn't "hate white people," or anyone for that matter. Stating something without positive evidence beyond a reasonable doubt is pure idiocy. That is why I don't believe that Kanye's comments were driven by anything other than his own ego.

Kanye West is a product. He is a brand. MTV, VH1, the print and television media, have brought this item to the masses and the people bought it. This is a perfect example of the collective ideologies that are often misrepresented in popular society. Most people can't think for themselves, they rely on these various sources to tell them what to do, what to buy and how to behave. Without thinking about it they are consuming. This uniformed consumerism is a definite downfall to civilization. People become to comfortable with their status qou and they will unknowingly let various outside sources take control and take advantage of their lives.

Why do we like Kanye West? does it have any sort of power to activate or inform our youth? I don't really know, I am not an avid listener or supporter of this type of hip-hop. I do know that generally these songs are about fitting a certain ideology, money, power, sex, and belonging. The last part is positive. Looking at some of Kanye's lyrics it would seem that occasionally he addresses the importance of belonging to a group, people you can relate to. However how many people can relate to Kanye West? The answer is very few. Kanye is just like us, human. Despite what he might be projecting in some of his lyrics and more obviously in the public eye, Kanye West is just like us. He isn't fooling me, but he is fooling millions of American sheep. People are buying into absolute consumer mentality, you have to dress a certain way, listen to certain music, watch specific television programming and movies, and read certain news, (TMZ, Fox News, ect...) in order to be an American. When you leave this country or go to remote places in the world you get a much different perspective. America has warped it's identity (the American Dream), we are less and less about the individual and more and more about the collective mainstream whole.

We need to take back our individuality, our spirit and our minds. We need to find solutions for ourselves and then we can find solutions for the greater picture. These results go hand in hand. Don't lose yourself to the corporations, the institutions and the people who want you to be something your not.
Kanye West doesn't care about white people.

Oi Vey

Im a little faklempt, talk amongst yourselves. I'll give you a topic: Outdoor smoking ban: healthy progression or fascist overtaking?

9/14/09

Glenn Beck Wants My Job

See this video for yourself and then proceed to act shocked, confused, and even enraged at the insanity of this man's rants. Glenn Beck The Art Historian

So Beck is using an attack against progressive "propaganda" to project his own regressive propaganda? I am going to need a lot of Tylenol to keep up with this man. Beck needs to review certain terms like propaganda and he needs to take a look into the history of art.

HITLER WOULD NOT HAVE LIKED RIVERA'S ART. NOR WOULD MAO and STALIN (if you recall they had a cultural revolution, similar ideals to what Beck is preaching). If this painting had been created for a building of the third Reich, it would have been destroyed, burned and Rivera would be sent to a death camp. The part that Beck leaves out (or misinterprets) is that Rockerfeller removed this painting just as fast as he premiered it. He shamed Rivera and paid him thousands of dollars to stop painting the mural on his building. This outcome obviously produced no lasting product for his building, there was nothing to gain other than the fact that he stood up for his own ideals. Rockerfeller lost big, but Beck presumes that he was creating a "progressive" and even socialist movement that spawned from his building's architecture and artwork. This couldn't be further from the truth. Even further embarrassment comes when Beck alleges this art has something to do with Obama and today's "progressives."

Huh?

Mr. Beck you are the Fascist here. You are proposing that we degrade and destroy artwork because you decided that it somehow ties into today's progressive politics. Please stop and think before you rant and ruin great cultural artifacts and history. If you can't do this, kindly remove yourself from national television.

In other related news I have a new found appreciation for Keith Olberman, his response is by far the wittiest. He wins.

9/8/09

Lets Go America!

Public option or bust. Reform means not appeasing those who hate progress. Lets make America a progressive nation. Too all you scumbags in Washington who oppose social-cultural reform: get your old, stiff, money hungry hands off my country!

What I Learned From Washington D.C.

The capital city may seem clean and the downtown streets are devoid of the garbage so visibly seen in New York, but I was still very suspect. Sure enough I saw it, in Dupont Circle (a rather nice part of town) a HUGE rat. This rat rivaled New York's monster rats, it was about the size of a football. So yes, I am here to report first hand that New York's bad rep for it's rats is not unique or a fair judgment. One can also make the argument that D.C. is full of human sized rats in flesh tone guise.

Another thing that bothered me was the fact that they are so proud of the cleanliness. I mean sure its great to be sanitary but to boast that their subways are free of artwork and street performers doesn't strike me as a winning statement. What is great to me about New York is the abundance of subway art and performers. Its nice to come out of work, class or a meeting and have some moderately talented individual entertain you while your waiting for the rush hour train. Sitting in the metro station in D.C. made me feel like I was in an institution. I guess that is ultimately the vibe that I get from the capital city.

There is not much nightlife around the touristy parts and the federal buildings. This is perfectly expected. There is a great diverse scene in the areas north of the Central city. Adams Morgan was by far the most cultural and interesting. Bar hopping alone will bring you a spectrum of people, white, black, hispanic, European, American, Middle-Easterm, Asian, gay, and straight. There is something for all in this section. The streets, clubs, cafes and bars were filled with characters more eager to strike up a conversation with you. It was one of the more exciting and rewarding environments I have been around.

D.C. to me is important more for its arts and music than anything else. The museums are generally free and substantially cheaper than New York and Boston. The artwork is incredible. I simply couldn't chose which museums to cram into our trip and I will certainly be making return visits to see them all. The National Gallery is a great museum, the East wing is devoted to modern art and their collection includes numerous Picasso's (from his earlier periods), DeBuffet, wonderful cut-outs by Matisse, and a special exhibition of Phillip Guston which had shown his shift from abstraction towards the figure. The West Wing has a great collection of paintings and sculpture from 13th-19th century Europe and a nice collection of early American painting.

The ultimate contribution is not politics, we all know that more often then not big time politics and it's institutions can be more a manipulative game than a socially progressive cause; but rather music. Washington D.C. had the opportunity to change the course of modern music and it set the foundation for the underground sounds that are made today. Take a look back at any DIY movement of the 1980's that is still strong today and you will find more than a hand full of bands that had originated in D.C.

Hardcore had it's best roots in New York City, SoCal, and Washington D.C. Each location produced it's own unique voice that reflected the social-cultural environment. It was a great honor to have hung out with Miguel and Yancey, both are deeply involved in the community music scene. Yancey was there when everything went down, he experienced it first hand and pointed out some places where it happened.

So I look forward to returning to D.C. but not to experience the corrupt and institutionalized history that is forced fed through kitschy landmarks and monuments (not referring to all. I do respect some of the architecture a la Washington Monument and of course I respect the memorials for the fallen soldiers); I look forward to discovering more of the REAL side to D.C. The PEOPLES side!

And there are still about five great and FREE museums to see!
Taxation without representation.

9/4/09

Evolution of Damien Hirst


Damien Hirst's Human Skull In Space (the cover of the commemorative edition of Darwin's Origin of Species)

So art's bad boy Damien Hirst has returned to the studio and without the help of his assistants is creating artwork but more importantly (as he might like it) controversy. The choice for the cover of Darwin's commemorative edition of Origin of Species has been the source of many angry bloggers and art critics lashing out against Hirst...Like almost everything else regarding the mainstream art world: what else is new?

Hirst has come full circle, in his return to painting, we see the common themes that helped make Hirst the richest and most famous living artist. In the painting Human Skull In Space (Oil on Canvas), Hirst recycles subject matter that he is well known and probably branded for in his oeuvre. The dots bring to mind his early abstractions, the ashtray was an early post-minimalist construct, and of course the skull is indicative of Vanitas paintings of the Old Flemish Masters but more importantly (in a post-modern conceptual context) it recalls the reason the masses heard of Damien Hirst....For The Love of God.

Does this work support the survival of the fittest or is it a conceptual degradation of society? The painting to me is very indicative of a modernized stance on Darwin's theory of evolution. Hirst has championed themes of life and death and nature in almost all of his works so it doesn't surprise me to hear that Darwin is an influence in his work. What makes both these figures analogous is the no fear attitude regarding their work. Darwin never flinched from his stance when critics mocked his research, Hirst has never regressed from similar critical backlashes regarding his art. In fact to me it is that brashness and attitude that makes Hirst successful. Hirst's greatest impact comes from his statements and then trickles down to some of his concepts. In the latest ArtNews, Hirst's dialog with Murikami and Richard Prince show his philosophical side, which translates into a very brash and crude dialog on the Human Condition. He brings up simple but timeless themes in his artwork like life and death, good versus evil, hot and cold, love, sex, death, desire. He is in tuned with religion and science, all signs point to an individual who is a progressive thinker.

Certainly Hirst is one of the fittest. His survival in the art world is on par with Andy Warhol, although Warhol has a couple more decades on him. However Hirst shows no signs of slowing down. And he is doing it all in a time where the art world has completely changed. In the Post-Modern era when art and ideas struggle for relevance, Hirst has crossed boundaries and styles, creating art that is a direct result and consequence of being alive and realizing the importance of life.

I have to admit, I like Hirst's return to painting. These new works come as a huge relief. Its nice to see that an artist can still paint figuratively and conceptually while still maintaining a high profile. Even if they aren't the most technically stunning works.

Don't hate the player, hate the game.