Sheeeeee’s Back

It’s a curse this blogging thing, because as I get caught up with printing for my show opening later this week (invitation to come) and some last minute assignments, I keep thinking about blog entries i should (should?) be writing. So glad i’m not Catholic, cause I have enough problems with unnecessary guilt (just ask my dog — was framing today with the dog at the shop and he kept whining and staring out the shop door, so sucker that i am i took him out [he must need to go bad!] little punk took me next door to the pet store where he planted his preppy ass in front of a bag of pigs ears and looked up at me with eyes full of desire, five minutes later and one bag of pigs ears and we’re back in business rockin’ and rollin’ on the framing – small price to pay i guess [just don’t ask the pig!]).

Anyway, whilst otherwise occupied, was tagged with one of those memes by Liz in which one is supposed to list 7 random things that noone knows about you, and pass the love on to 7 other people.

The Rules
1. Link to the blog of the person who tagged you.
2. Post these rules on your blog

3. List seven random and/or weird facts about yourself. [See below.]
4. Tag seven random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
5. Let each person know that he has been tagged by posting a comment on his blog. (i’ll let technorati take care of that).

Ok, here goes.

1. I had a farm in Lucky Fat. OK, It wasn’t quite a farm (stark wooden building think Paul Strand in To the Sugarhouse) and strictly speaking the name of the town was Tosontsengel, but that’s the Mongol name (where i served an ignominious year as a Peace Corps volunteer teaching English in the hinterlands). The town’s name translates into English something like “Lucky Fat,” which I think is just as telling as the fact that Eskimos have like a thousand words for snow. Unfortunately, during my tenure in Lucky Fat, I did not get lucky, but I did get fat.

2. I’ve picked dandruff off Ted Kennedy’s blazer. All in the name of duty. It happened not during a Capitol Hill nooner, as one may imagine (he is a Kennedy after all), but during a portrait shoot of the senior senator from Massachusetts for a book cover. I got my revenge when I informed him that the makeup artist we were employing got his start in horror movies. The Senator took it all in with equanimity, and unlike Monica, I did not save the evidence.

3. Speaking of Monica, I have what we used to refer to in college as an indirect off Monica, and therefore I am three people removed from sucking face (and then some!) with former President Bill Clinton. It was a short affair (for all of us). (And this was after Lucky Fat!)

4. Speaking of Bill Clinton, right after he was first elected, I almost busted up a double-date with him, Hillary, Al, and Tipper. I was enjoying some Jerry Jeff Walker live at the Birchmere with some friends in DC, when all of the sudden the lights dimmed, there was some commotion at the table next to me, and moments later I spied in the darkness one bomber jacket (remember that bomber jacket?) and four famous faces. Right. Next. To. Me. And. I. Had. Been. Drinking. For. A. Bit. Emboldened by my inebriated state, I made several passes by their table, in which I did not miss the opportunity to talk to them (this was also necessitated by the fact that I had to pass them on my way to the bathroom, and I needed to visit the loo on many occasions due to aforementioned state of sobriety). Well, as I said it was new in the administration, and the secret service played it very nicely with me, so much so that I managed to slip my number to Hillary, slurring “If you ever need any help with healthcare gimme a call.” To which I clearly remember her responding “Great!” (She is the consummate politician after all). Lest you think that Senator Clinton trolls for politically savvy employees at dive bars in Alexandria, fear not, I am still waiting for that call.

5. While in Mongolia, I regularly (once every three months) rode a Russian prop plane back to Ulan Baatar to p/u canned fruits (fiber), and one time, I was on the plane with 30 people, two goats, and three refrigerators filled with berries. By the time we landed it was 29 people, as one person, a prisoner being transferred to jail in UB expired en route. Good times!

6. I make Sean Penn nervous. This was clearly (if rudely) communicated to me when he mistakenly thought I was photographing him at the Vanity Fair after-party of the Washington Correspondents Dinner. (Hello, JFK Jr. is to your right, you moron, you think I’m photographing you?!!! NOT you obnoxious narcissist!). (BTW this is not a gig I enjoyed, and I refrain from doing them now, but one must start somewhere).

7. I am a veteran square dancer. Dancing with the Stars has got nothing on me. (Favorite dance: Ladies Bow, Gents Know How).

That’s it. I’ll tag Imke Lass, Kevin Miyazaki, Timothy Archibald, Alison V. Smith, Matthew Pokoik, Colin Blakely, and William Greiner (even though it doesn’t matter what he says, all that matters is what you see).

Satisfaction Guaranteed

Detail I-95 (Satisfaction Guaranteed Removed) 2007

Detail I-95 (Satisfaction Guaranteed Removed) 2007
Detail I-95 (Camden Woman, Sunburned, with Hands on Hips) 2007

© Zoe Strauss 2007

The inimitable Zoe Strauss is offering limited editions dyptichs via her blog for $200 so that she can create a trust fund for some Philadelphian youth in need. You can buy it here. But Cinderella’s coach turns into a pumpkin Dec. 7, so don’t dilly dally. Just in time for Christmas (or Hannukah or Kwanza or Winter solstice for you pagans), ladies and gents. Step right up.


Rachel Papo sent me this hilarious link from the new Morgan Spurlock venture because “it reminded me of you.” I am touched. Most of my friends know of my aversion to shopping malls (hives) and glossy fashion magazines (nausea) so this is no reflection of any similarity to myself and Imelda Marcos (or Britney Spears – she takes in over $400K /month, saves nothing, and gives $500/month to charity).

My only question is “Is Shopocalypse trademarked?” Sounds like an excellent title for a photobook. The S.Raab presses are moving into production! Reverend Billy? thoughts?

Check it out here.
I especially like the fact that Spurlock poached the Walt Disney studios font.

PhotoNOLA Portfolio Reviews in December

Buddy Vanessa Brown, half of the husband and wife team of Louviere & Vanessa sent me some information of PhotoNOLA which is shaping up to be a fantastic festival of photography, and along with exhibitions will also host portfolio reviews. Don’t have anything going on the first week of December? Want to have your work reviewed by some top industry professionals? Check out PhotoNOLA and spread the good word that New Orleans is back!


Got 44 seconds to lose?

For reasons unbeknownst to me, Bill Owens wants to create a buzz over his new turkey day video and has asked all and sundry to forward his video to everyone on their list. Perhaps he’s hoping to land next year’s PETA Purdue account. Or just spread some carnivorous cheer. I’m afraid this video may create more of a buzz if you already have one. That said, I’m sober (at the moment), but I confess, I smiled in spite of myself – something to do with those hotlights off to the side. You’se guys decide for yourselfs:

Myths about Art, Age, and Genius

David W. Galenson, a professor at the University of Chicago and the author of “Old Masters and Young Geniuses,” writes an interesting piece in Sunday’s Washington Post Outlook Section. Here are five myths he debunks:

1. Only young geniuses produce great innovations.


Pablo Picasso, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Arthur Rimbaud, Orson Welles and Bob Dylan all revolutionized their artistic disciplines before they turned 30. They were archetypal young geniuses. But Paul Cézanne, Mark Twain, William Butler Yeats, Alfred Hitchcock and Irving Berlin made equally important contributions to the same art forms, and they all produced their greatest work at 50 or older.

The differences between these artists’ creative life cycles are not accidental. Precocious young geniuses make bold and dramatic innovations — think of Picasso’s cubism — and their work often expresses their ideas or feelings. Wise old masters, on the other hand, are experimental thinkers who proceed by trial and error. Their work, such as Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” often aims at realistic representations of what the artists see and hear.

So how did the young geniuses upstage the old masters? The word “genius” is derived from the Greek word for birth, and since the Renaissance philosophers and critics have associated creative genius with youth. Mature artists are no less important than budding ones, but the gradual innovations they make over a lifetime are less conspicuous than sudden breakthroughs. The subtle craftsmanship of old age attracts less attention than the pyrotechnic iconoclasm of youth.

2. All great innovators produce timeless masterpieces.

Because young geniuses tend to be conceptual thinkers, they often create iconic individual works. Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,” which he painted at 26, appears in more than 90 percent of art history textbooks published in the past 30 years. Georges Seurat‘s “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of la Grande Jatte,” which he finished at 27, appears in more than 70 percent.

For mature artists, on the other hand, discoveries evolve over years instead of exploding onto the scene in a single masterpiece. Thus no single painting by Cézanne or his friend Claude Monet appears in even half of art history textbooks. Yet no one would question their place among the greats.

3. Successful artists always plan their works in advance.

Young conceptual artists formulate an idea, then plan its presentation. Picasso made more than 500 preparatory drawings for “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,” and 32-year-old James Joyce outlined “Ulysses” so he would not have to write the chapters in the order in which they would appear in the book.

Older experimentalists, on the other hand, value the discoveries that come through the process of creation. They try to avoid preconception. In his most sophisticated years, Cézanne never made preparatory drawings for his paintings. Virginia Woolf, who worked until her death at age 59, acknowledged that she wrote with no plan at all so that each day produced surprises. Twain also struggled to chart plot lines, and he twice abandoned “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” in frustration. Even when he finished the book after nine years of work, Twain considered it unresolved. The last paragraph alludes to a sequel, which he later only attempted to write.

4. Great artists produce multiple innovations.

One-hit wonders are not unique to rock music. Many important artists produced just one great idea, and in almost every case it came when they were young. Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial, originally designed for a class she took as a college senior, appears in 16 of 40 art history textbooks published since 1990 — a number matched by only one other work by an American artist during the 1980s, Richard Serra’s “Tilted Arc.” The radical minimalist form of Lin’s creation changed memorial architecture forever. It also made her famous. Yet she has produced no other significant innovations, and none of her subsequent work appears in any of those textbooks.

Literature also has its roster of one-hit wonders. Jack Kerouac wrote “On the Road” when he was in his 20s, J.D. Salinger wrote “The Catcher in the Rye” at 32, and Harper Lee wrote “To Kill a Mockingbird” at 34. Ralph Ellison produced “Invisible Man” and Joseph Heller, “Catch-22,” before turning 40. It wasn’t old age that doomed these artists to be known for a single great work, but rather their fixed habits of thought. They got stuck in a rut. After making an important discovery early in their careers, conceptual thinkers should follow the Monty Python theorem: “And now for something completely different.”

5. Today’s frenetic art world demands that artists mature early.

The impatient Internet age rewards flashy visual artists such as Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman and Tracey Emin, who became famous at a tender age and rich soon thereafter. But some of today’s greatest artists are nonetheless experimental old masters. The painter Brice Marden, who had a retrospective exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art last year, is 69, and has produced his greatest work in the past two decades. The sculptor Louise Bourgeois, who currently has a retrospective exhibition at London‘s Tate Modern, is 95. She did her greatest work after 80.

There are also important experimentalists at work in other fields. J.M. Coetzee, who did not begin writing fiction until he was 30, won the Booker Prize for novels he wrote at 43 and 59. Philip Roth won a Pulitzer Prize for “American Pastoral,” which he wrote at 64. And Clint Eastwood, who directed his first film after turning 40, won Oscars for movies he directed at 62 and 74. Today’s culture, with lightning-fast transfer of information and correspondingly short attention spans, clearly favors conceptual innovators who quickly produce new ideas. But these artists all show that perseverance remains a valuable asset: Tortoises can sometimes still win out over hares.