Thursday, October 22, 2009

Woof. Long time since the last post.

I was back in Indianapolis over the weekend. Flew in Saturday afternoon and left Tuesday night. Overall, a decent visit. Ghosted about the usual haunts--Half-Priced Books, Value Village, Goodwill, etc. Bought a few things here and there--a $400 jacket on sale for $48, a few used t-shirts in eye-jiggling color combinations, and some books--including In The Studio: Visits with Contemporary Cartoonists by Todd Hignite. Other than the author's introductions to each of the cartoonists--which are completely overblown and stuffed with academically-specialized verbosity--it's a great book. It offers a wealth of insight into the philosophy and techniques of each of the artists, as well as illustrated selections from the cartoonists and (to me, more importantly) their influences. I've easily have a dozen new names to dig into.

One thing that struck me about each of the artists was how much though and care went into the work--but rather than publish a long accompanying essay about all of that (or get a curator/critic to do the same)--the cartoonist lets the work stand on its own. Chris Ware in particular talked a great deal about trying to fold all of this thought and nuance into the drawings and his hope that all of it somehow came through. And that's what I feel is missing from about 90% of the fine art I'm exposed to these days--that sense of care, of (dare I say it) craft, the willingness to let something just stand under its own strength. In contrast to the Studio book, I watched the Matthew Barney documentary No Restraint (excerpt here). Now, I'll admit to a limited exposure to Barney's work--I've only seen one of the Cremaster films, and I did see the exhibition related to the documentary--but I do enjoy some of the more bizarre visual aspects of his work. But in listening to him describe the work during N.R., it became clear that he was practicing the fine bullshittery of critical theory, of tying together essentially nonsensical and unrelated aspects of his work through a thin skein of doublespeak. Pretty remarkable that his approach has become de rigueur in the art world during the last 30-40 years.

Anyway, I'm totally getting in over my head here. But I'm also having this minor (and mostly harmless) crisis about what I'm doing and where I should be trying to show it.

Photos: mostly from a walk Eagle Creek State Park with my mom (a walking stick bug, a turkey vulture in a cage) and, of course, a photo from the plane.

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