Saturday, July 20, 2019


OK so it's been a while since I posted here, and I think the reasons for this will become clear in short order.
Basically, we've been busy. More on that in a moment...

But first...

Every kind and color of leather you could ever want...

and nothing but zippers... in every color and length and type of metal...

Yes, these pictures are from New York! 
There's just so much of everything there... good bookstores, good art, good resources, and for me... family.

One of my favorite large-scale street art pieces from Berlin was Tristan Eaton's interpretation of the "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman," ...

and it was great to see two more of his pieces in New York.

I dragged Kodiak into a lot of art galleries in the big city...

Even he liked this one with the boat....

Kodiak didn't actually see this image, although I wouldn't have shied away from showing it to him. (I'm that kind of father) Anyway I happen to love this one... It's pretty clearly a direct reference to "L'Origine du Monde" and in my opinion this piece is a comment on censorship, or what it means to make art in a culturally repressive environment. Of course the artist might have had something totally different in mind...

And near the end of our trip we spent a really lovely afternoon in Central park.

We even found one or two spots with NO PEOPLE!

OK that's it for New York. Let me just say here that I think this recent pattern of mine... in which I cover most of a trip or event (such as EDC or NYC) in a single blog post and then wrap it up in a later post is really not a good idea. I think it's bad form - too fragmented. So, sorry about that! I'll try to nip this in the bud!

Now... back to New Mexico. As most of you already know, Christina got a grant from Burning Man to build a new sculpture this year. (Don't forget to check her blog once in a while to see the great progress being made) So while she is in the shop every day working, I am doing just about everything else and also helping her when I can. The 'everything else' is a pretty significant amount of stuff, especially with a kid on summer break and no grandma in town. As a result, my summer has had a very 'scattered' feel - not much time to get involved in anything in a sustained way. I've had no time to ride motorcycles, no time to paint, I was invited to join a book club but I couldn't even find time to read the book.

Considering how scattered I've felt for the last month or so, the blog post might feel that way as well.

I will say that flip-flopping roles from what has been more 'normal' for us in the last few years is, although not easy, probably a really good thing for our relationship. With me taking on most of the domestic duties this summer, I believe I will have a better understanding of and respect for this role in the future, and I believe Christina is having a renewed understanding of how all-consuming is the experience of building big art on a short time-line, and how difficult it really is to be present in the other parts of one's life in a time like that. Like I said, I think this kind of role-reversal is good for us and would probably be good for any couple.
I will also say that, back when we proposed our respective sculpture projects for this year's festival, I thought we could both successfully build our visions, simultaneously. I was wrong. There would be no way. These Burning Man sculptures really are group efforts.

OK now for a few random thoughts...

I sometimes think about the interplay between the Apollonian and the Dionysian. This is a dichotomy that Nietzsche fleshed out in his early book "The Birth of Tragedy." Basically, the Apollonian is all that is ordered, coherent, pragmatic, practical and intellectual, while the Dionysian is all that is wild, revelrous, disordered and emotional. Nietzsche postulated that the true secret of the success of Greek tragedy (he thought it was the absolute apex of artistic production by anyone, ever) was the fragile balance between these two impulses, the Apollonian and the Dionysian. I think about this dichotomy as it relates to art production and I agree with Nietzsche that the best works strike a balance. My sculpture The Hand of Man, as well as the entire artistic output of my alma mater Survival Research Laboratories, both demonstrate great balance. In each of these examples sophisticated engineering (Apollonian) is used to evoke emotion and awe through chaos, unpredictability, and violence (Dionysian.) In painting I think it can play out through the balance of tight versus loose brushstrokes, or through emotive or abstract subject matter (Francis Bacon), and it manifests in many ways in music, notably through those little flourishes of intensity or extra emotion that the singer might insert into live versions of your favorite song. There's a reason we love that stuff... it's just a bit of crazy... it's the Dionysian flash coming through the Apollonian framework. The best art balances the two.

One little theme that emerged in my trip to New York was the importance of drawing skills as an underlying fundamental for art practice, especially painting. Painting is often referred to as "drawing with paint." One of my current favorite painters, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres*, (whose work I was lucky enough to see at the Met) was a fantastic draftsman and made many preparatory drawings for his paintings. I also chatted with my friend Rachel about the central importance of drawing.

Now, despite the fact that I am slowly working my way towards being a painter of the human figure, I have never been particularly good at drawing the human figure. A sad irony, and one that needs correcting. Lucky for me, Taos has a bona fide underpinning in the arts (for such a small town) and there is a weekly live-model drawing group that I've started attending. I've been four times now, and I feel that my skills are genuinely improving.

These are two of my more successful drawings..

*(I like Ingres for several reasons. One is his subtle idealization, reminiscent of Jassans. Another reason is the significant erotic component of his oeuvre - very tame by today's standards but nonetheless a pervasive interest of his. And thirdly I love his technique - very clean and precise, no visible brush strokes. I would love to be able to paint like that. Ironically, the painting class I am taking in the fall is taught by a talented guy who loves brush strokes, and loves John Singer Sargent - master of the loose brush stroke. But hey, maybe I should open myself up to the Dionysian power of the uncontrolled brush!)

I have managed to complete several little projects here and there, during the off hours...

I made the Wonder Woman bikinis for the mannequins...

I made a new hat...

And I've done a fair bit of picture framing. Normally I just buy framed art from thrift stores, toss the art, and put in whatever art I want on my wall. Even that requires some skill and some work. Recently, however, I bought some un-cut frame moulding and built a frame from scratch, because the frame was for a new Wicked Wanda image I bought (above) and I wanted the frame to match the frames of my other Wandas. My small collection of original comic/illustration art can be seen here

And lastly, Taos is a paradise. Yes I've been feeling that way lately. When the coming environmental apocalypse fully manifests, Taos will not be underwater (we're in the mountains), will still be relatively cool (we're in the mountains), and will not be totally overrun by Texans or Californians (we have no interstate highways, five-star restaurants, or shopping malls). There are no forest fires (at least where we live on the mesa), no tornados (yet) and no earthquakes. Taos will likely always be politically liberal because it is multicultural, and will likely always have an arts community because artists like this kind of place, I guess. In 30 minutes or less I can be in the woods, on a mountain, or at a river. We have a good community of friends here. The air is clean and the aquifer (our well water) is pure. Drinking water is probably the achilles heel here, so let's hope that aquifer doesn't run dry, or get poisoned by the Los Alamos labs or those fracking frackers.
No place is perfect (where is the Taos Metropolitan Museum of Art?) but Taos has a lot going for it.

Plus, we get skies like these...

And post-lastly, I'm gonna get off Facebook soon. I can no longer see a reason to stay on it. It makes me feel creepy and anxious when I do visit, which I do increasingly rarely (logged on the other day for the first time in about 6 months... didn't like it). Plus, I think it's morally wrong to be on there. If you don't know what I'm talking about or don't agree, click here and here.

(Remember how I said I was busy and scattered? It took me 4 separate sittings of 20 - 40 minutes each to get this post written...)

Hasta la próxima vez
Bis zum nächsten Mal
Tills nästa gång

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The Flybrary needs You!

My amazing, and amazingly talented partner Christina Sporrong is building her biggest project ever, and it's called The Flybrary.

I think it's probably going to be the best thing at Burning Man this year. Seriously.

And even though we are cranking on this big beautiful sculpture daily, we could use a bit of help getting this project to the finish line. 

Please click HERE to see more about her project, and help us out if you can.

And please share this page with your friends, your networks, and your groups!
We appreciate any help you can muster!