Friday, March 31, 2017


From the first nano seconds after the Big Bang, the laws of the physical universe were born. Atoms formed molecules and molecules formed substances in processes that were predictable and understandable, from simple compounds to clusters of galaxies. Then came life and its collision with the laws of the physical universe.

From the beginning, human life has tried to create its own laws to hold itself together in predictable and understandable ways. Tribes, rituals, government, laws, dictatorships, slavery, economic power, political power, religion, God, war, science.

We now live in a world where untold numbers of people are bound by poverty, starvation and brutal repression at one end and the wealth and freedom to consider oneself a universe of one, governed only personal rules and without personal responsibilities at the other end.

All across the world, religion is broken, government is broken, ritual is broken, love is broken. But hope survives in the courageous individual who believes in and acts at belonging.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Thinking black

Born in the South and now 72 years old, I am fully aware of the box I've been attempting to escape from for most of my life. The complexity and persistence of the issue of race does make this a life's work in many ways.

How many times will a white man be called "sir" by a black man compared to how many times a black man will be called "sir" by a white man?

I've heard it said that blacks just don't know how to fit into a white world. How many whites know how to find into or even have an empathetic understanding of a black world? What are such worlds anyway?

Europe and America spend incredible amounts of energy and money to secure themselves against black immigrants, limiting access and fearing terrorism. But this is just one consequence of the brutality and arrogance of Colonialism.

We need good and truthful history, honest dialogue and healthy self awareness applied with earnestness to tackle racial issues. At root, too, we need decent human being engaging decent human being.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A young artist

A young artist needs—in fact, deserves—a safe space to test ways of behaving, thinking, dressing, making, seeing. A safe space to begin to build a personal vision, to fail and to learn healthy ways to give and take criticism. A safe space to acquire technical and conceptual skills to build a creative life.
In some ways this is no different than the space parents should create to prepare a child to become a productive adult. And, in this regard, the safe space must also nurture responsibility and generosity to the world in the young artist. The young artist must realize that the world is not configured to care about him or her. It’s the young artist’s task to take on the world fearlessly and responsibly, make it look at itself, make it reveal a new bit of meaning.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Gun deaths

While one unnecessary and violent death is one too many, we must question the insanity we buy into with regard to terrorism on our soil. Unbelievable sums of money are spent on anti-terrorist and homeland security activities. Are we getting our money's worth? Would the deaths by terrorism be fewer with less such spending?

We get whipped into a frenzy over these relatively small numbers of terrorist deaths through foreign influences, while the numbers of American citizens who kill one another or who commit suicide with guns reaches into the tens of thousands. In businesses, places of entertainment and homes these killings and woundings are little different in outcome from terrorist attacks.

Is it acceptable that we kill one another in numbers which are multiples of those that terrorists kill us? So when Jeff Sessions claims that withholding funds from sanctuary cities makes our country safer, has he forgotten about lax gun control laws? Does he think the elimination of terrorism will make our cities safer? Must knee-jerk responses to security push compassion aside?

And, of course, there's always money. As long as the NRA is stuffing money in the pockets of Congressmen, the overwhelming public desire for sensible gun control will be ignored.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Ask art

Ask art to do the hard work.

Ask art to make the world new for you.

Ask art to infect your brain.

Ask art to challenge you to a debate.

Ask art to show you the big picture.

Ask art to make you uncomfortable.

Ask art to open your eyes.

Ask art to have courage.

Ask art to know what it's talking about.

Ask art to not always be so serious.

Ask art to hang around.

Then thank art for being art.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

It's WE

Artists should avoid any mantra that sounds like: Here I am. Look at me. Rather, it should be: Here WE are in this complicated and messy world, a world desperate for beauty and meaning. So let's start a conversation.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Judging a work of art

Judging a work of art is always problematic. Do you judge it on your terms, on the work's terms or on the artist's terms? And how are criteria developed in relation to these possibilities? Do criteria emerge in conversation with the work or in conversation between those looking at the work? Is the judgement of the professional any more reliable than the judgement of the interested viewer?

In Mixed Blessings, Lucy Lippard talks about "quality" being used a a kind of bludgeon to knock aside art of different races or ethnicities. Rigid criteria of a dominant cultural view just don't work in the climate of contemporary art.

But fluid criteria put more demands on the viewer of contemporary art. It becomes important to recognize that art can draw upon deep, complex and wide-ranging elements as it comes to life and then can give these, transformed, to the viewer.

It's in these cumulative viewings and judgings that the art work matures into a work of art.

Friday, March 24, 2017

NY Times A6,10,13

NY Times, Friday, March 24, 2017
A6: Lina. age 12, "now lives in a refugee camp in Kabul. She says: "After breakfast, I bring water from the well, which is a one-hour walk away."
A6: Zahid, age 8, is from Surkh Rod. He says: "All members of my family sleep in one room that we rent for $25 a month."
A10: "Why shop off the rack when you can buy a custom made tuxedo for $999."

A13: "Estate residencies in Boca/Delray - $700's to
$2 million."

Thursday, March 23, 2017

At home in little Versailles

Before he decided to run for President, Donald Trump ensconced himself in his little Versailles at the top of Trump Tower. He could get orgasmic counting his billions, escaping bankruptcy losses while his workers suffered, being the deal maker and stiffing students of Trump University.
Now things are different. He’s discovering world leaders aren’t as gullible as the folks at this campaign rallies. His tweets turn back to bite him. Members of his party are beginning to have the courage to confront and question him. Bluster doesn’t work any more. Whatever the face of America’s greatness is, it isn’t his.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Trump Tower

No, not that one. The one I'm talking about is the cold stone edifice which is psychological and protective and formidable. The one that requires a dash to the safety of Mar-a-Lago every weekend. The one that requires being surrounded by family members and yes-men. The one that requires a loyal daughter next door to hold your hand. The one that can't allow anything deeper than a tweet. The one that can't allow dissension or failure.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Am I responsible?

Am I really responsible? Ignorance will let me off the hook. Drunkenness will let me off the hook. Drugs will let me off the hook. Twinkies will let me off the hook. White privilege will let me off the hook. Temporary insanity will let me off the hook. Bad parenting will let me off the hook. Testosterone will let me off the hook. My genes will let me off the hook. “I didn’t know it was loaded,” will let me off the hook.

Maybe I should open a chain of Irresponsibility Rehab Centers.

Monday, March 20, 2017


I ask myself, who am I responsible to?

Then I ask myself, who do my actions say I'm responsible to?

Then I ask myself, what kind of person have I become?

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The big upset

Seats for the final event between State U. and Cal Arts were almost impossible to get unless you had a quick $10,000. La Vegas odds makers wavered between the underdog State U. team and the highly touted team from Cal Arts. The anticipated battle was on the lips of just about everyone, and TV ratings were expected to break records.

The pre-event commentary between William Kentridge, Laurie Anderson and Theaster Gates was electric. All agreed that State U. vs. Cal Arts was a classic David and Goliath scenario.

Cal Arts opened with a 3-screen video of a nightmarish and apocalyptic vision of environmental disaster in frightening reds and deep blacks. Frogs rained down on the landscape, exploding on the ground and splashing tadpoles across the screen. A performance followed in which the team members dressed in inflated latex body bags were dropped from the ceiling and exploded one another to the music of Luciano Berio. The audio screamed delight.

It seemed hopeless for State U. Then the slam dunk that none would ever forget. The first screen came down showing an agitated crowd. The another transparent screen with a projected image of a denser crowd. Then screen after screen, layered, denser, colors increasing in intensity, crowds ready to explode. After the ninth screen, the screens began to slide parallel to one another, until, in a split second, the arena went dark.

Soon the State U. performance began, the audience still reeling from the video. The State U. team members rolled two at a time off dual ramps. As their Velcro-wrapped bodies collided in pairs, each pair began an individual battle metaphorically representing the human struggle to love, collaborate, reach oneness, struggle for individuality and be absorbed into the cosmic whole. For each pair the result was different after intensely choreographed interactions.

State U. had become the unlikely Cinderella team. The Basquiettes did the Eiffel Tower and held it longer than they ever had. The hits on the youtube videos were to high to count. Several networks are now vying for the rights to next year’s competition. Crowds at the airport to greet the State U. teams were in the tens of thousands. The next day, the President of State U. announced a 900% increase in the budget of the State U. art department. But best of all, the State U. teams were invited to the White House to meet with the President, who announced a 300% increase in the NEA budget. And now the coveted Golden Urinal sits side by side in the case with State U’s trophies for Division II basketball and Division I curling.

Saturday, March 18, 2017


The State U. art cheerleaders, the Basquiettes, accompanied the Film and Performance team to New York. But they had to pay their own way because the athletic department would only release so many dollars. They took a chartered bus, and on the way practiced their signature formations, the Eiffel Tower, the Di Suvero thrust, the Bourgeois spider.

The night of the first competition, they were legitimately credited with firing up the State U. team, who went on to a decisive win against the team from Pratt. Even the arrest of the Basquietts for performing the Di Suvero thrust drunk and naked in Times Square did not dampen the spirits of the team. They were out of jail in time for next State U. performance.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Go State

For the next 2 weeks State U. will sponsor their 10 member mixed-gender, mixed-race team in the National Film and Performance Art Competition in New York City. In an unprecedented move, the President of State U. transferred funds from the athletic budget to pay for food and lodging for the team at a high end New York hotel.
The State U. team will compete against teams from across the United States for the coveted Golden Urinal award. FX channel will cover the event, and 100 million viewers worldwide are expected to watch the films and performances. Tickets for the live events are almost sold out, with some seats going for as much as $5000.
The State U. team is highly rated, has a good chance to win the top prize and will likely send some of its members on to lucrative national and international careers. Two team members have been making the talk show circuit, and one has signed a contract to star in a Hollywood remake of The Picture of Dorian Gray.
Let’s all root for our State U. team. Go State!

Thursday, March 16, 2017


We spend too much time concerned with the lives of celebrities when our own lives are grander than we think. Every human life is filled with hope, joy, pain, loss and mystery. We need to look for the creative, the heroic, the transcendent in our own lives and live our lives as the rich narratives that they are.
Why do I believe this? It’s one lesson of 50 years fighting bipolar disease.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

New reality shows

Reality shows are demonstrating a steady decline in viewership, so they have to ramp up appeal to their consumers. Here are new reality shows planned for 2017.

Orgasms of the rich and famous: Celebrities talk about how they developed their own unique orgasms and how these experiences have led them to become fuller, more generous and empathetic human beings.

Indigenous chef: Competitors race to make the best gourmet meals out of manioc root and indigenous insects. Losers are eaten by local tribesmen.

Penis envy: Beautiful young female contestants ask 3 non-sexual questions to guess which male has the biggest penis. Winners get a contract for a sex therapy show on youtube.

The Boob-y Prize: World-renowned cosmetic surgeons compete to create the perfect female breast. Winner gets the coveted golden breast award.

Swimming with the sharks: Contestants compete for a million dollar prize to see who can swim naked longest with 3 sharks. The prize is upped to two million if blood is introduced into the tank.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Making fun of Donald Trump

Late night show hosts and other comedians are having a field day calling our attention to Donald Trump’s missteps, stumbles and foibles. They get us to laugh, but they can’t tell us what to make of this or how to respond.
In the midst of this comedic onslaught, we seem to have left behind this crucial question: How did this happen in America? How could we trade a decent, smart, ethical and articulate President for Donald Trump? Are Americans so desperate? So ignorant? Did Hillary, for all her experience, make strategic errors? What about the news media? What about the American psyche and culture? How could we leave legislation in the hands of an obstructionist Republican majority?
The current climate of activism and protest shows it’s time to stop laughing and do something.