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I've been asked to curate a show at 14th Street Gallery in Plano. I quickly considered the notion, said "yes," and 14th Street director Gaby Pruit immediately told me all three persons she'd asked before me turned her down. It will be a lot of work, and we haven't even mentioned the posibilities of a fee. It is a selling gallery. I've been wanting to cure a show for a long time, and that gallery might do well. It used to be a doctor's office, with lots of little and larger spaces, two hallways and two wings, including some large living rooms.
Not a great, tall, white wall blockhouse space like the one at Big As Night, Too or the bigger, nicer Dragon Street galleries like Conduit or Craighed Green. More homey, scaled down vertically. Not much room for large work. Plenty for sculpture but not anything giant — and I'd love to show something really big. More intimate than wide-open museum spaces. I am sensing possibilities.
I'm seeing themes in the different rooms, but that may vanish before it happens. A lot of my early concepts should. Some DallasArtsRevue members will be in, but I don't want it to be specifically or exclusively a DARts show — I think, although we need one in the next year or so and a selling gallery would be a good possibility. I'm torn about DARts Member participation. In many ways, that would greatly simplify everything about the show.
This story will grow as my understandings about this show do.
Don't know if this odd tendency is prevalent in other communities, but a growing number of local art figures and organizations rewrite their histories from time to time. The Texas Visual Arts Association (TVAA) claims to be celebrating their "60th Anniversary" (Later downgraded to their "40th Anniversary) with a show at the 14th Street Gallery in Plano, not their own downtown Dallas digs. It may be a typo but a repeated one. And I quote:
"The Texas Visual Arts Association is a non-profit organization celebrating their 60th year of providing encouragement to and enrichment of artists who create work in painting, pastel, photography, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, and other multimedia forms of 2 and 3 dimensional arts." Quote and unquote.
First there was the Texas Fine Arts Association (TFAA, now Arthouse), which was established in 1911. It had as many as 34 local city chapters by 1933, and probably more than that later in the century. According to one former member of both TFAA and TVAA board of directors, "TFAA abandoned the statewide coverage and restricted itself to the Austin arts scene" in the late 1980s.
When I asked, Arthouse at the Jones Center (what the TFAA now calls itself) Development Director Melissa Berry told me:
The Austin chapter had become much stronger than the Association and wanted to concentrate on creating a Art Museum for Austin [and] deeded Laguna Gloria (museum) to the Austin Chapter in the mid 60s, and things [dwindled] from there. ... I don't think the organization ever gave up its "statewide" mantle, although the limited programming it was able to produce (beyond Art On Tour) was ... centered in Austin."
The Dallas chapter succeeded the TFAA in Dallas and North Texas in 1987, amid much worry that member artists would no long have statewide representation. Much more recently, former TVAA president Candy Howard claimed she was the TVAA's founder, which is close the truth, although that claim handily ignored the fact that the TVAA had been the long- and well-established local, Dallas chapter of the TFAA. She did build the TVAA from there, however.
Why not count all 96 years since the TFAA was ? What happened in 1947 that the TVAA is anxious to fold into their seriously shorter (only since 1987) history? Of course, it could all just be a typo. A six instead of a 2?
Later, TVAA claimed it was their 40th anniversary, which is only 50% off. They've yet to reach their majority. Not even 21.
See the Calendar for
more information about the 14th Street Gallery show. Unfortunately, no artists'
names yet. Odd for an org that claims all the above.
D-Art's historic revisionism has continued for years. They were embarrassed about their real founder failing to insure work in the Flying Red Horse Show — as if there were money for that. And a piece by then Dallas artist Wayne Amerine was broken during the dancing after the opening. So they still ignore their first year, their founder/first president and the first building they officed in (500X).
That confusion is compounded by D-ART's second director Patricia Meadows' intermittent insistence she was the founder of D-Art. I called her on it when she made that claim in public many years ago, and she backed down for a few years, even publicly announced that she was not the sort of person who founded organizations. Then the information resurfaced again in press releases from her office.
Patricia Meadows is a dear person usually not deluded. She gave D-ART life and popularity while carefully sidestepping the organization's actual founder, who created D-ART. It was Mary Ward's idea, and Mary pushed it into existence using the already established Artists Coalition of Texas (ACT)'s tax-deductible status.
The Contemp has since named one other
person, who worked with Mary Ward, as the founder, but that's
such hogwash I won't even list that person's name here.
I heard Dallas Center for Contemporary Art director Joan Davidow claim to be the "Founding Director" of The Arlington Museum of Art (AMA) in the Meadows Foundation Building on Swiss Avenue a few years back. I was there photographing art for a review. I know she saw me, but she said it anyway.
Davidow, however, came to the AMA after that
organization was up and run by a board of directors that originally did not
believe a director would be necessary. I know, because I've spoken with board
members, and I remember Joan announcing her new AMA job at an early
DARE (Dallas Artists Research & Exhibition) board meeting. We'd all heard
about the Arlington Museum and congratulated her on her new job. Joan was
the DARE board member who found DARE's
first building whose multiple expenses
nearly did DARE in.
Businessman and owner of the building now called The MAC (McKinney Avenue Contemporary), Claude Albritton has recently described himself in press releases as The MAC's founder. That claim is iffy, because founding an organization is different from owning the building it's in, or even negotiating with the original nonprofit org to take over its directions.
The MAC's incorporation papers, including the all-important nonprofit tax status, came from DARE (Dallas Artists Research & Exhibition), which itself was jointly founded by Dallas artists Greg Metz and Tracy Hicks. Both founders, I, Joan Davidow, Melissa Berry and other Dallas artists served on DARE's founding (that word again) board of directors.
If, as I have for many years, I claim that D-ART's founder was Mary Washowiak Ward, I may have to accept Claude Albritton as The MAC's historic facilitator. Neither Ward nor Albritton created the institutions or incorporated the nonprofit statuses of their creations' parent organizations.
Mary Ward did conceive and create the organizing principles that became D-ART, and after a long series of other names, The Contemp. She organized community meetings about it, published stories about it, was interviewed about it and presented her ideas to the ACT board, who agreed such a local arts center was needed and changed their corporate name and purpose to Mary's.
Albritton owned a building DARE needed to extend its visions of being an art center for struggling young Dallas artists, and via that space Albritton's staff continued some of DARE's founding purposes. It's been a mixed bag with an admixture of Dallas artists with Big Time Art Guys (and Gals) from Out of Town (the feared BTAGsfOot Syndrome). Legally DARE became The MAC, but philosophically, the two are light years apart.
index of DARE stories
The ultimate dismay for a website is being unavailable to readers, who are met with "[Your browser] can't find the server at www.DallasArtsRevue.com." error messages. That's what I've got since early this morning. Yesterday, access was intermittent but came back within minutes. Today it did not load until nearly noon. I only hope it stays up.
My dictionary defines dismay as consternation and distress, typically caused by something unexpected. I've been feeling deep dismay since 1:30 ayem today Friday August 17.
It's not the first time my web host, the so-called DreamHost, has taken my sites (this and JRCompton.com) offline. But it has happened less frequently in the last two years. This is the first time I've caught them at it this year. It used to happen every two or three weeks but only a few hours at a time. I check often as I upgrade pages.
Contemplating adding a back-up site for the times DumbHost goes offline again, I googled "Web Host Reviews" and checked out the top twenty results. Visiting them, I realized most hype a particular service, probably their own under a different name. A rare few seemed objective. At one of those, I thoroughly checked into the top site listed, Infiniology. I read the review and was impressed enough — especially by their lauded "99.9% uptime guarantee" to visit it, where I discovered the dreaded "can't find the server" error message.
Fat Cow is another service I've been curious about for more than a year because of their name and because they're cheap and advertise in the back of Mac magazines. It was listed on only one review site's top ten. Low but listed. I may yet try them. DumbHost was also listed only on one sites but not in any top ten, 20, 50 or 100 site lists.
I wonder whether Consumer's Reports reviews hosts. I doubt anybody else's honesty. Both my sites were still offline eight hours later when I started writing this. When I checked back with DumbHost's error report page four hours before my sites came back online I saw — you guessed it, "Safari can't find the server."
Finally made it back to the Latino Culture Center, a space always needing more photographs. Like my last visit, the front door was locked. This is a public space, right? Knock loud, woman who opened it did not want me to photograph but wouldn't say it. I assured her nobody had ever complained.
She told her boss who told her boss, who walked into the day-lit gallery (while I was staring in wonder at Juan Hernández' work, which was why I was there) pointedly asking if she could help me. Help me what? I asked. Hold my camera? Steady my thoughts? Turned out she knew this site, was pleasant and let the only person there on a Tuesday afternoon shoot whatever I wanted.
It's not exactly true nobody ever complained. Artists, even ones I don't review positively, haven't, perhaps because I post their work on the web with full caption information identifying art and artist, letting readers make up their own minds, whatever my accompanying words.
A few dark-age institutions have refused my camera. I especially remember a City of Denton fire house snot not letting me shoot work I wanted to promote. Art I was excited about there. So I didn't. Never went back. An artist on the North Dallas Artists Studio Tour was afraid I might be a Chinese rip-off who'd reproduce her work all over the world. I thought her paranoid but she and her fear were real.
Then there was a most unpleasant co-owner at Artists' Showplace insisting upon seeing a business card before she'd let me photograph work for a long-ago Michael Helsem story about that gallery. I didn't have a card but eventually convinced her to let me shoot, although there wasn't much there I wanted to.
For awhile everybody and their dog phoned art openings home, then suddenly I was the only one with a camera again. One especially rude Dragon Street photo gallery claimed I had to get their artist's permission before I shot work on display in that gallery. Then they asked the artist — as they should have all along, and said there was no problem, still feeling a need to dress me down. Another place I don't go anymore.
Hecho en Dallas is impressive with lots of very large, mostly male figures in paintings struggling for political power, but significant work there obviously was not hechoed en Dallas — photo images of a colorful ocean baptism with a giant cruise ship dominating the horizon (We don't get those this far inland.) and a soft, black & white of an angel walking into the French Quarter [not here] oddly contradict the home-grown concept.
Hecho was only up through August 19, 2007. I have not succeeded in writing a review but if I do, I will link it here. I added my photographs from my visit to our beautiful, mostly pictures Latino Culture Center page.
My bird talk at the Heard was fun, apparently funny and well-received. I only ever got my collection of bird images down to 74, and I went through them all in the 45 or so minutes I stood up front and talked about how I came to photograph those birds, whaty they were doing and why and whatever else has gone through my mind about them since.
Like the journal it was a mix of birdology, photography and J R. More than 30 people were in Laughlin Hall at the nature museum, and they alternately listened quietly, laughed out loud and talked among themselves. I had dreaded it until the time it started and then forgot all about anxiety and just did it. Now, I'd like to do it again. Not all the time, but once in awhile. Like I like to teach every ten or so years, then I remember how little I like working for institutions — or much of anybody else, and I go without for another decade.
This DallasArtsRevue thing and my Birder Journal are now my own continuing education opportunities. Bird people keep asking if I know about My Page and other sites where I could post my photographs. Of course. Just that I far prefer doing it on my own, in my own context, following my own rules. Fiercely independent to the core.
Too long resistant to change, The Video Association of Dallas' recent 20th Anniversary Dallas Video Festival may have been its last. I quit going years ago when some selections seemed directed less by quality than who gave money to support this venture. But there was always something amazing to be seen. Finding the gems among the too-much-going-on-at-once in-too-many-places or overly-hyped, however, was a challenge.
Bart Weiss started it small and wildly independent in a pre-Internet era when video was still suspect as an art form. Many others helped along the way, and though both the organization and its annual event have long-since outpaced budget, staff and volunteer base, other programs — like the 24-hour Video Race — may still be viable.
I've only ever written one story about them online, and although I usually trot the link out before each annual fest, I didn't before this last one — even before I learned it might be.
Bart for a quote for this story, and he said, "I am really up in the
air about what I/we will do.
I think I will do at least one more,
but it will probably be smaller."
I surprised me today by responding to a friend who — after I'd invited him to tell about one of his recent pieces — sent me instead a link to a famous photographer's site:
I'm much less interested in famous people's art than in growing artists' work. I don't read about famous artists or photographers anymore. I may watch a movie to better understand history or their part in it. But I am much more interested in my work or your work.
Learning about the rich & famous doesn't help us work our own artistic karma. Doesn't teach us to express the unique individuals we are. Our goal in life is not to express what others have found worthy of expression, it is to express whom we find ourselves to be. The only way to learn that is to express ourselves as ourselves.
It's not in books, it's in u. As both John Lee Hooker and Chuck Berry have sung, "It's in [us] and it's got to come out." Everything else gets in the way.
Unfortunately, my friend must have taken that as a rebuke, and I haven't heard from him since. Then I did. Apparently, I was being paranoid again. We continue to communicate with ocassional hiatuses.
Thunder crashing out, lightning and muggy hot. I can't see out but I can feel it in. Seeing that the day before I'd visited more than 60 web pages, I wondered how many DARts pages I dealt with a day, so I'm keeping track.
This page, of course, and I just updated J R's Bean Slog Salad in the Resources folder since I was in the vicinity. By updating I mean putting in new headers (logo and links at top of page) giving that page the newer, cleaner look. 2
Going back in time, the DARts headers include:
Visual art news, views & reviews in Dallas, Texas, USA
Home Index Calendar Member art Join Ops Resources Feedback Contact us Reviews Search
Visual art news, views, reviews and calendars in Dallas, Texas, USA
Site Contents Search This Site Home Page Contact Us
Supporting Members get a web page to show their art, password access to the big Members-Only Art Ops page, and be eligible for future DARts exhibitions. Subscribers get access to the M–O Opportunities page and the knowledge they are helping to support this community site.
by JR Compton,
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Maybe you can see bottom to top progress, though it looks like it was simple with a weird font, more complicated, then simple again. There's probably more somewhere. I know I did a vertical one for awhile. The fonted words that aren't obvious links are image mapped so you can click and go.
Even if I've updated the top, you can tell you're on an older DallasArtsRevue page by how small the pictures are. Text was never a problem. It DLs quick either way. Pictures were the problem. Less so, if they were small. Now, most people have high-speed net, which is ten to a hundred or more times faster, so everything sucks down, and pictures can be much bigger.
In the slow-modem days I'd carefully limit page DL to 20-30-seconds at 56k. Which was what the experts recommended when those modems ruled the earth. Pity the poor folk in boons without cable or DSL. I talked to an old and dear friend who was a faithful subscriber when DARts was published in black & white on paper, 1979-1996 yester. She said they couldn't get DSL or cable in the foothills to the Hill Country where she lives and complained about slow DL. She also said she might join DARts soon.
Websperts claim some people turn off the pictures in browsers to speed their internet experience. I guess I believe that but being on the net without seeing the pictures defeats my purpose. But I know about slow downloading (DL), because I only got cable this year.
I procrastinate, but I procrastinated high speed, because I didn't want to pay big bucks for a service that was getting cheaper, and I didn't want to be one of those webbers who made pages most people could not download quickly. I still remember downloading tunes at 49k (fast as my 56k modem would go) at the end of Napster 1.0. All my Mozart, old rock and sweet Bluegrass Gospel came down so slow I could almost watch each note. For the ever smaller percentage of people with slow modems now, new DARts pages must still be like that.
Another ongoing update project is putting newer images on established DARts Member Pages and putting up new member pages with all new everything. I'm working on one of those now that's got us thoroughly confused. When it's ready, however, it'll be gorgeous — with beautiful, big, new pictures of already amazing art. Unfortunately, I can't post a link till the page is approved, and they're not happy with it now. I've put a ton of time into that one page, and will put more.
New Member Pages are a matter of getting a new member, A. Then making a page of their work, six images to start, B. Then linking it whenever their name appears on this site, including The Cover, which I update every couple days, and here. Member Pages start when I get the images and text. When the member approves, I publish their link on the Members' Index and elsewhere, so everybody can see.
I just set an appointment with long-time DARts Member Elisabeth Schalij who's driving up from Lancaster to get her latest work shot in my lit-up dining room studio. (From arrival, tote her work in, to page full of all new work — including a long, pleasant chat, took less than two hours — a new record, then we got her page approved early the next day.) I'm still squabbling with another member who wants me to drive 40 miles to Northwest Dallas to shoot for free. Elisabeth is a joy, and 'll be fun showing what she's up to since her recent serious stay in hospital. I suspect it'll be awhile till the other member gets work up.
I continue to push DARts Members to show new work on their pages. I'd love to see what Sheila Cunningham is up to, for instance. Haven't touched her page in years. Think I should stealth their stuff I see in galleries. Same with Sonia King, DARts' longest termed member, both of whose pages I just upped with new toppers, but would rather put new art. Sometimes I post Stealth Pages for people who never get around to putting images and words together for their Member Page. Stealth updates makes sense. 4
The Calendar is an every day upgrade, usually more than twice. It's thrice so far today but only counts once here, and I haven't even checked my postal mail yet. It's wet out there. And dark.
Rain stopped but the boom echoes. "Thunder in the distance" we called it in Nam. But that wasn't thunder. Even in today's deluge I wanted to go to the lake and take bird pix. I also want to see an art show. Not just any. Hecho En Dallas that Juan Hernández is in at the Latino Culture Center. He's got illustrator skill and depth, a fine art sense of community, subtle visual wit and always reminds me of Orozco. His and others' there might suck me into writing art crit again. That'd be a revelation.
[I didna plan to, but I did review a show two days later.]
Sorry I missed Bésame mucho. Besa mi culo at El Centro last February. My Spanish's not good enough to be offended by those last two words. Was in intense communication with a friend whose is, and about to pen a story condemning whatever, when I realized, after hearing from most of the insiders involved that except for some momentary rampant controversy, not much happened. My online translator said culo was ass. As in kiss my, the second half of kiss me a lot in the show's title. Many Latinos considered it obscene, more vulgar — pertaining to the actual orifice, not like Norte Americano's English "ass," which covers that whole posterior area. What Victor Dada used to lilt, "down there."
I've just upgraded The Contemp's Next Space story for the four-dozenth time. It needs bird pix, saw some from there. The Google roof shot explains more in nanoseconds than I could say in paragraphs. I also want to add names of galleries along Dragon Street to the tilt map — there keep being more — maybe pull back the view to include Conduit, Marty Walker, others not on Dragon Street proper. But it's raining and … 6
Tried driving to the lake, with plans to visit the LCC later. Everything out there is wet except the cells in Blue's battery. Grind, grind, sigh. Full quiet except the splatter of rain. I added water to the hollow cells. If it starts, I'll buy a new and install it. If it doesn't start, I'll buy a new and install. Ah the sweet, dependable idiocies of life as we think we know it, then start expecting it nomatterwhat we don't do. My expectation of The Same Old has been continually defeated this week. Over and over.
It didn't start. Anna drove me and I bought a new. Will install it next time there's light enough to plier the bolts.
It only took eight www pages to find "Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these courageous couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds," which is not, it says, the official motto of the US Post Office. Good thing. Mere rain stopped my mailman today. My bills still in the box. Car don't run. Maybe I should watch a movie.
Beats finding art to illustrate this many paragraphs with not nearly enough pertinent links. 15 hours wake time devoted to DARts today, and I've dealt with 15 pages, most of which were upgraded, one way or other. Then I got a nice letter from a teacher complimenting my How to Photograph Art Page, so I posted it on Feedback. 7
Now I'm hankering to write about an art show. Been awhile. I could have done Salon du FIT but I thought I'd done it already too many times. Need something different. Just to see, I checked. I have picture folders named 04, 05 and 06 in the FIT directory but only one elder story. And that was so old it was yellow. I started out making pages yellow, thought they looked cool on my monitor. Early on the yellow I was going for was ivory. Unfortunately, it looked yucky brown on other's monitors. So I upgraded to white, which looks good on everybody's. First I was too distressed by it to fix it up. Then I fixed it up. 8
Since I didn't find a whole story on it, I searched through Short Shows but didn't find it there, either. When I find old pages, I upgrade them, at least replacing the old tops, sometimes turning yellow pages to white, sometimes even rewriting stories. Short Shows 2005 needed the new top, links and a darker gray for the nearly invisible (looks great on my computer) too light gray I used to plant opinions in. Part of the legibility push.
Short Shows 2004, too. Dreamweaver's such a dumb hack, makes paragraphs I scoot left to line up the edge down the page centered instead, so I have to go in, change the HTML paragraph by paragraph all down the page. Useless, time-wasting nuisance. All so all DARts pages feel like the same site (So glad I complained. I found the preference item, and changed it, only 5 years later). 10
2003 Short Shows reminds when Nancy Whitenack moved Conduit into the Trinity Industrial Area thus, even though it's not on Dragon Street or that close, creating the Dragon Street phenomenon that the Contemp thinks it's going to be the new center of five years later just by moving into the area. I remember when Ruth Weisman moved her gallery into Deeper Than Elm Fair Park, then a bunch more moved to the what ended up being called Deep Ellum again after 50 years and eventually Ruth moved to Shallow Elm closer to downtown where that rambling big book store was till the 60s. We all thought that's where the real arts district would end up, and now it may again. Current Deep pushers say there's 16 new galleries in the Elm but won't name them, happier saying they have them than having to promote them. 11 pages
It helped big-time when Craighead Green came to Dragon Street, too. Followed by Holly Johnson and .. uh ... those others — lately including Gerald Peters with a huge new space. 'Course bunch of commercial galleries were already there, had been for years. Except for Joel Cooner, who employs me sometimes, they're forgettable because they don't have public openings or discreet month-or-two shows. Jacques Lamy had one a couple months ago. He employed me once, too to do his site. Not Jacques or Joel, of course, but several of those places sell awful art.
I am scrolling through old pages, removing useless empty vertical space I must have thought necessary once. Short Shows 2002 was so strange I didn't know where to begin, and Friday-Nite_Art — the Jacques Lamy opening link is A.K.A. "Guilty Art Night Mini Tour." Neither name helped find it in this endless (1,081 pages and counting) stack. 13
Much earlier that day I re-edited and slightly rewrote parts of Questions Concerning Edges about the edgier work in our last October (2006) Member Show. Clunk. Typing that, Nightmare Weaver stole my CSS again, and as I am typing it this text looks ugly as I hope against hope to keep a trolly of thought going. Damn! 14
All this in just three hours. Four by rewrite. Eight by the time I think I'm finished writing this Fifteen when I have to fall in bed. Probably a couple days later before I post it. Delete half the words tomorrow. Get a ride for a new battery. If my car'd started, I'd be processing bird photos instead, procrastinating the inevitable. Again. Now I've done it between DARts pages.
When the CSS went away again, I ran DiskWarrior, which I hadn't in more'na a month. Long time for a disassociate iMac with iffy Intel plumbing. A month of minor issues not big a deal enough to mess with. Then it was. Took 40 minutes. One of my all-time favorite quotes is from John Steinbeck's novel, Pippin IV, of which I remember nothing, except the quote, "Everything in life is 5 to 3 against." Grokked that fully and here's another paragraph without a link. I looked everywhere for the page about the last Member show. In vain. I know I linked it recently, looked at it, liked it. Now I don't see what I wanted to see there. Where dit go?
After DiskWarrior, Tech Tool Pro said there are files missing on Fat Lip, my biggest tired old slow hard drive, but because TTP has no idea what was on it, it can't do anything. That after Diskwarrior said everything was fine; it'd fixed everything. TTP lies, hardly ever accomplishes anything but I forget that I'm so tired. Dw is better than armadillos for being the people's friend.
I was halfway through the member page from hell when I learned I'd done it wrong again. Still, it's such a beautiful page I want someone to see it, and nobody can. Yet. Somewhere in the middle of all that, I realized headlining "Paintings by" or the more generic "Art by" in big letters the top of Member Pages may be superfluous. Why not just their name. More direct. Easier. Then again, I suspect artists expect that headline to say that. Hmm.
I desperately wanted to photo birds today (yesterday), was on several edges already, so I listened to Audio Hijack files of Paul Slavens' Eclectic Music Hours 8-10 Sunday nights on KERA-FM, and set about processing my the Kathy Boortz shoot I'd been procrastinating too long already. Art about birds. The Anhinga's on her page now. Calmed me the f down. Slowed ire. May be ready to face tomorrow if it ever gets here. 8 more hours till 24 hours from when I started. Might sleep all of it. 15
Slept 10 hours. Anna drove me to the battery, said this rambled. I agreed, rewrote and appended number of pages messed with. Like me, it probably still rambles. Had oddly inappropriate other pix here when I snapped 'tid be fun to show my latest Home Still Life windows. 15 pages is a lot. Sometimes I do more, up to a hundred or so if I apply me to upping a whole section, often fewer.
Been watching art movies. Not art house movies, but movies about artists. My favorite is still Hiroshi Teshigahara's Antonio Gaudi****. It's exquisitely visual, as I wrote on my movie pages and have added to the DARts Art Movies page. Oddly, the subject of this latest artist movie, Dallas artist Rusty Scruby, mentions Gaudi.
They have visions in common. Both create natural undulating surfaces in service to their art. Both are complicated people who obsessively make complex art. Even elements of the artists' work are similarly interconnected. Rusty is still very much alive, and Antonio has been dead since 1926. Gaudi is world famous. Rusty's working on it.
My understanding and appreciation for both artists deepened as I watched their movies, although Gaudi has been one of my heroes since college. I have seen Scruby's work but had passed on it as gimmicky. Now I see both sides.
Not surprisingly, Hiroshi Teshigahara is more deft a director than Quin Mathews, but Quin's work here is solid, although the lengths of the titles may be instructive. Rusty Scruby - Beyond the Plane, A Portrait of The Artist in Motion**** verses Antonio Gaudi.
Teshigahara's film moves us through the Catalonian master's buildings — and his mind. Quin's shows Scruby in motion as a human, a creator, craftsman, theoretician, exhibiting artist, salesman and musician. I didn't learn about Antonio's personal life, but Scruby's is populated with three-dimensional characters who help.
I award more asterisks to innovative movies on the leading edges of their form. Teshigahara qualifies. Mathews is good at what he does, and I'd give him points for following his form to function, not fashion. But I want more of Scruby talking and less of the people around him — some of whom have not got comfortable with the camera like Scruby has — although it was pleasant to see some old friends we share, and they wouldn't be so 3D if they didn't share who they are, too.
The moments when Scruby talks about his obsessions and how they feed his art are intellectually enthralling. Set my mind to rambling about my own craft's concerns (and more). Many artists don't know what their work is about. Most think they know but get lost in theories and forget facts. When artists speak knowingly from their selves as they make art, it's inspiring.
Difficult to get long-dead artists to give the real skinny or go off on personal tangents. Talking heads, even if they're moving around the screen, don't cut it. In Picasso: Magic, Sex, Death****, a very personable and knowledgeable old friend narrates telling details, but the movie provides rare few short movies of Pablo in action. We see and hear but do not necessarily understand. The master's voice is curiously missing.
Many artist movies screw up talking art-crit nonsense. The narrator of Artists of the 20th Century: Man Ray**/ runs off at the mouth through a long series of slopily-prepared copies of Ray's work, then stops dead at a gleaming phallus. It's wonderful education to see the work of artists, famous or not. Worth the price of admission. Even when a movie fails, getting to see dozens, even hundreds of an artist's work is fascinating, though sometimes we have to turn off the sound.
In the Picasso movie, reflections of people moving in his work on the walls of active places show us it's real and alive, not some stupid slide Ken Burnsed in and out of. Seeing the textures — Scruby's art is vivified by them — like seeing a sly silhouette etched in a Picasso painting, is stirring.
A more recent favorite is Magritte,
An Attempt at the Impossible****, that incorporates
much of the Original Surrealist's work,
intelligent biography, understated art-criticism and surreal vignettes
that reveal and promote understandings of specific work. Similar
to the quick, colorful painting-inspired back-story scenes in Frida, only
better, more intellectual and stranger.
only other Stan Mathews work we've discussed on these pages was his Revolution
in Sight Dallas
originally produced for the Dallas Center for Contemporary Art and part
of the giveaway bag for the Contemporary Art Dealers of Dallas (CADD)'s
Often wished I had someone to draw thoughts, like Dennis Harper did at Dallas NOTES and HOOKA. We'd feed him an idea, and he'd turn it into art. We could almost watch it zing through his mind, into his body, down his arm, and out his fingers into ink on paper, the right size and everything. Now, via treasures from DARts Member Pages I can fancifully illustrate abstruse notions and link member pages to lookers, part of this site's purpose. Nice.
Click names to see more art by DallasArtsRevue Supporting Members.
Learned last night that "Grew like Topsy," one of my favorite phrases, is from Uncle Tom's Cabin. I was about to write it again when I wondered where it came from, who Topsy was and whether it meant what I thought it did. Turns out Topsy was a young slave girl described unflatteringly by Harriet Beecher Stowe, which may or may not have had anything to do with another favorite, Sandy Nelson's drum hit of the 60s, Topsy, Part II.
In the most popular book in America after the Civil War, some white do-gooder asked Topsy about God and who made her.
"Have you ever heard anything about God, Topsy?" The child looked bewildered, but grinned as usual. "Do you know who made you?"
"Nobody, as I knows on," said the child, with a short laugh. The idea appeared to amuse her considerably; for her eyes twinkled, and she added, "I spect I grow'd. Don't think nobody never made me."
How Topsy "just growed" is how I learned, if that's the right word, Cascading Style Sheets. I didn't learn it from a book. I tried. But the intertwined concepts were opaque in ink on paper or text online. I am, finally relearning it from Lynda.com, my fave online program-teaching site, which I pay $25 a month to teach me a variety of soft wares.
Because their lessons comprise QuickTime movies of pros showing how the program works, I can back up when I get confused. Replay the lesson. Or rush headlong through a bunch of the videos to get the gist, then go back, repeat them step-by-step, repeating till I understand and can apply what I think I understand.
Essentially, CSS tells web pages what to look like. Code. You, me, everybody who browses the net, sees pages — the presentation. What puts it there is CSS and other code. I never learned to hand-code HTML. Wouldn't enter the field till a good WYSIWYG (whiz ee wig — What You See Is What You Get) webpage-making program arrived. PageMill. Adobe later bought it and killed it, so it wouldn't compete with their inferior web pager, more recently replaced with Dreamweaaver. PageMill was easy and sophisticated. I still use it when I don't want to futz with Dw's idiocies.
I got used to WYSIWYG with PostScript, a language that describes graphics, usually text in Desktop Publishing. Before the web, I was a typesetter. Since I've been wading through Lynda.com's CSS lessons, I've been thinking about these things. I'd just simplified the text and presentation of two difficult but important DallasArtsRevue pages (below) — difficult for sometimes competing reasons.
While all that was whirling on the back-burner, I watched Quin Mathews' Rusty Scruby — Beyond the Plane, A Portrait of the Artist In Motion video, in which Rusty talks about how he mixes math, engineering, photography and geometry in his work. I had to stop the movie. Start writing this. The DVD is brilliant involving, fascinating on several levels, only slow when other talker's impede. Inspiring and thought-provoking.
Now I want to simplify and visually reorg my code, so DARts pages will be easier on your eyes and my mind and fingers.
Unfortunately, I've had an informally incorrect understanding of CSS for a couple years. So I don't just have to learn how to do it right, I have to unlearn how I've been doing it wrong, then relearn. My meandering self education created page code that grew like Topsy. Unnecessarily complex. If I learn it right this time I can make DARts page code and resulting pages simpler.
This page, constructed with old, mis-understandings has 35 different styles, some that Dreamweaver throws willy-nilly in when I confuse it — and it me. Long lists of styles make selecting the one I want a chore. I fight this stupid program and I'd rather not. The Calendar page will be the first test. Looks complicated but could be simple.
While watching the Scruby DVD (Say that fast. Pronounced screw bee, musta been a challenge growing up.), I set about codifying DARts styles, listing their particulars — size, line spacing, color, weight. Listed the styles I need. Both on one page made it suddenly clear how inter-related all the numbers are. There's a mathematical and geometric pattern growing. What I thought of as gobs of styles are really permutations of four basic rules.
I had called those Big Heds, Page Heds, Subheds and Text. The biggest headline at the top of this page is a Big Hed. The smaller subheadlines above each story is a Sub. The month names on the calendar page are Page Heds. Those three sizes are about to become H1 (the biggest), H2 and H3. Names that are built into HTML, so changing their style on the tiny separate, Cascading Style Sheet, won't change the code of the page itself and can be applied to any web page. Hyper Text Markup Language creates web pages. You can see some by finding "view source" among your browser's menu items.
P is another basic HTML format. I have at least seven varieties of P (paragraph). Any text (not headline) on a page is P. I think I am learning to enter it as P rather than format with extensive CSS later.
I can create the captions, new labels, black, gray, red and green text I use on DARts pages with simpler styles.
Initial capital letters that mark beginnings of stories or chapters used to be bigger than Page Hed letters. Bylines were smaller than subheds. Soon they'll all be the same four sizes in colors lending uniformity to type styles and sizes here. They'll look neater, like they actually belong together. Iit will look simpler and be simpler to make.
First I have to relearn CSS.
A month later, and I'm still struggling with it. Understanding is just out of reach. Like the brass ring on merry-go-rounds that I've never seen or tried, only read about.
I've been invited to show & tell my bird pictures at the Heard Nature Photography Club at the Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary in McKinney, Texas at 1:30 pm Saturday August 11. Anyone who wants may attend. It's free.
I used to be a terrible public speaker. I got scared. My voice shook. My mind went blank. I would have hated to have had to listen to me then, even though I knew what I was talking about and had important information.
Eventually, I learned the less preparation I did, the more natural and human I was. Presented as expert in one of my realms, I could answer questions and engage the audience in meaningful conversation, go long verbally, get lost off tangents, explain entirely too much, eventually find my way back, then discover that's just what they wanted.
My initial response to Membership chair John Yates' invitation was that my words and pictures are already in their ideal format in the full year of The Amateur Birder's Journal on my personal website. It still seems redundant to repeat it in a much less public venue to an audience who are not primarily interested in birds. But he insisted, parrying my every excuse.
I've since got a similar request from a church home for the elderly, so maybe anyone who shows up in the paper is targeted for these things. Too late, I already said I would speak to the photo club in McKinney.
The Heard is not a fine arts venue, and although my initial impetus for photographing birds was hardly art, most of the photos I've got into competitive and invitational exhibitions for the last few years has involved birds.
At first I was timid to show my birds as art, even though some clearly were. Then, when they were selected for shows as often as my other images, I calmed down and went with what I'm most personally involved in. What I recommend others make art of.
in The News
It's always scary to be written about in a newspaper. I woke up sweating the night before publication of Steve Blow's story, His own flight plan, about me, my philosophy and bird blog, The Amateur Birder's Journal in The Dallas Morning News July 12. Luckily, Tiana, whom we got to know at the Gathering of Dallas Artists (story below) wrote a very positive email early that morning. Her positive attitude put my mind to rest. Somewhat.
Probably no story ever gets everything right. Steve Blow asked me to keep my phone turned on while I caught up on sleep the afternoon after our interview, in case he had late-breaking questions. He must have had loose ends, but he didn't call. As all writers must, he made do with suppositions and assumptions. To err is... uh... So this is me setting some of the record straight without lettering their editor about smidgens that don't matter that much.
I talked about seeing the transition from hot lead typesetting to computers. I never set type in hot lead, though I set years worth on other machines. But the story says I did, and now I must have. The local newspaper of record said so. It'll probably be in my obituary.
Steve wrote, "He works some for others, but mostly he makes money from artists who join and post their works on his Web site DallasArtsRevue.com," getting it exactly backwards. He also said that I was Jimmy in junior high, when I was just Jim before I became J R.
While it's true I do "as little as possible," DallasArtsRevue is a lot of work I've kept doing since December 1979. If I were paid even "You want fries with that?" level for this, I wouldn't need social security. Thank goodness for the artists who support this site.
The bird blog takes another 40 minutes to 4 hours every time, not quite daily, and I don't always finish that day's entries quickly. That's more work I don't avoid, but I've always found projects that are time-intensive. I'm probably pickier than I am lazy — I don't like doing the same things over and over, unless it's for way too much money, then I can glue in 10-15 hours a whack till it's over and I can go free.
For the kind of work I choose, joy makes up for the doing. Dealing with artists and birds is reward, and I can do it or not any time. I always have multiple projects going, so I don't get stuck with just one. I'm rarely bored.
Other than those few slippery facts, however, the Steve Blow story was outstanding. I am delighted with it, because now a lot more people get to see my bird photographs without all the clatter of printing or getting into exhibitions. I long ago gave up on selling my work. Nice that they're seen.
See also my story about the interview itself on the Amateur Birder's Journal the day before the story ran in the News.
Finally got to see John Ostdick's White Rock's Second Chance, "my" story in Texas Parks & Wildlife. It was a fascinating article about the lake, in which I was quoted briefly at the beginning, where they put periods where I'd told him they weren't in my name but included the simple version of the Birder Journal link (which must be where Steve Blow got it; I was careful not to give him that link, since it doesn't go directly to "J R's Birds." And quoted again at the end, where the writer spliced two distinct quotes — from conversations about two different species — to make a stirring ending.
If you read it, you'd think there were 40 or 50 Green Herons along the Boat House Lagoon. There weren't and have never been that I know of. The writer combined two quotes. Steve Blow was better organized but did not want to hassle truth into the story online past layers of DMN editors after I pointed out errors. The Morning News, ever the bastion of truth.
I've seen as many as thirty Black-crowned and Yellow-crowned Night Herons on the far side there and seen dozens more camoflauged in my photographs later — which is what I told that writer, but I've never seen more than two Green Herons in one place, ever. You'd think a wildlife magazine would know better.
Back to the Amateur
Birder's Journal or the
A Gathering of Dallas Artists
Left to right: Tiana Wages, Anna Palmer, Bill Verhelst, James Michael Starr, Elisabeth Schalij, a sliver of Kristen Erwin (whose idea this Gathering was) and Susan Lecky at our first official Gathering of Dallas Artists May 26 2007 at 9Eyes Studio. The next one will be at the Bath House 1-3 September 1.
Our first Gathering of Dallas Artists was an intentionally low-key affair. We had no idea who or how many artists would show up, but just enough did. Definitely not a mob scene, but we enjoyed lots of comfortable conversation with a surprising diversity of area artists. Everybody who showed up at the darkish 9Eyes Studio got to talk with everybody else.
Our first Gathering was easy, gentle with a great mix of artists. Many were DARts Members. Some others have since joined, and we got to meet several artists whom I'd written about but never met, which was a pleasant surprise. We set up a great circle of folding chairs then mostly stood up and talked. We'd been careful not to plan too much or much of any, and happy for it.
The next one, 1-3 pm Saturday September 1 will be at the Bath House Cultural Center, and artists may bring a piece of their art. One brought work to the first one and she was very discreet about it, only bringing it out when someone asked. Those two have since done business together around the work, so it, like several others at the event, was a fortuitous connection. We hope for many more there next time. Join us.
The How to Join DallasArtsRevue page may have been our least popular editorial page. I got more complaints about it — It's negative. It's complicated. It's too long. — than any other page. Although some artists quickly read it, absorbed the important bits, and went on realizing there are reasons for all that info, others get bogged by it.
It is important to have potential members believe it is easy to join. If they mistakenly see the process as difficult, they procrastinate. Everybody's experience can be improved if that page is well organized and effective.
Unfortunately, the page has grown like Topsy. I kept adding little bits, forgetting to delete older and obsolete information, and there were more DON'Ts than DOs. I have read and re-read that page till I see what I expect to see rather than what is actually there. Lately, I've removed sections that were obsoleted when I got high-speed internet six months ago.
There was still information there that did not need to be there. And information that did need to be there that wasn't. I thought it might be possible to make that page easier to read and navigable and make it more pleasant.
So we worked on a major reorganization. Anna helped. And the new version of that page and — while we were at it, why not — The How to Send Us Stuff (Submission Guidelines) page, and we now have what we were working toward, a kinder, gentler, more legible page with a lot more member art on it.
We'll probably continue to work on both pages,
but they are a lot more presentable now. Let us know what you think.
Dealing with dorks is difficult. Getting it across to P R people that I need the names of artists and the end date to list events in the Calendar, because artists are important to this site, and that page is arranged chronologically by end date, is a continuing challenge. But I'm used to it. I change and simplify the How to Send Us Stuff page often. I link it on every email I send, specifically ask for those facts often, and still get listings with neither.
I've just gone through a lot of hassle for a dork who insisted I list his Galveston foundation on this site's Dallas-area Museums & Art Centers. Back and forth in email. On and on. After serious re-consideration I placed the listing on the Visual Art Groups page under Texas. Don't look for it though, I deleted it when he wrote back telling me, "U are one foul mouthed man, j r. You are probably as dumb as "W;" that's the kinda thing he says, "I'm the decider."
I used no curse or foul words. Just told him as The Editor, I'm who decides what goes in this site, and where, not him.
Yesterday a team from somebody's (name escapes me) Who's Who called me for my every-other year-pitch to "update" my entry there. First guy, youngish, reading a script, congratulated me for each of a long series of answers like a kindergarten teacher, with attaboys, wows and that's greats. I knew he wanted to sell me something, but I also knew he wasn't going to. There may have been a chance I could get into Who's Who, so I listened, for awhile, but I had a date to watch movies with Anna.
Eventually, he handed me over to number two, a little older, more dishonest, and snide. Smarter maybe but snotty about it. He was going on when I told him I had to be somewhere. He was telling me that I'd been on the phone for ten minutes already, and I didn't have anywhere to go, and I could damned well continue the conversation when I hung up on him.
I get at least one offer a week to do a link exchange with some business or other that's hot to be listed on one of my web pages, not just this site and usually not popular pages. Until this week, I'd never once received such an offer in any way associated with the content of the page they'd selected. This week I got one from Pablo Picasso cubism history (their capitalization), which I found interesting and relevant to this site's readership. This person was not a dork and said they were "very picky of whom we choose for a link exchange." So am I.
Another person, who is a dork, wrote me with boilerplate that must either be taught somewhere or is in a book I get so many requests with the identical wording. She's a wedding photog who insisted her link absolutely belonged on my personal Links page under DigiCams, listing digital camera news and reviews. June 30 2007
Talking with Norman Kary on the steps into Craighead Green at the Dragon Street openings tonight, he told about an art mover friend pointing to an elaborate piece at the museum saying that was an exhibition piece. Not the original made by the artist, which was too expensive and fragile to take apart to ship, then put back together for each new showing, but a piece wholly remanufactured by artisans who do that sort of thing. So any damage won't ever hurt the original or its marketability.
The second concept is of an Art Rating Board much like what rates movies. PG-13, R, whatever. Nice to gather critics to do that, but the movie board is made up of "citizens," so our ARB will have to comprise dolts off the street. No artists allowed. Probably some politicians will edge into it. No teachers or professional thinkers or philosophers allowed, of course. No Constitutional scholars or lawyers. Probably some half-wit preacher and several of the harried idiots they interview on TV who want to stop anybody expressing freedom. Protect our children from being exposed to radical ideas or visual intelligence.
Then there's the Sex & Violence show I've long considered. Failing that, write about one using artist names that sound like, read like, local artist names. Spelled different. A parody of the show concept while describing specific styles without involving their real names. The pieces would fit the category. I'd make them up, then describe and review them. But it'd be too much work.
I've been invited to join the other local art critics in some reindeer play culminating in a group exhibition at UTDallas early next year. The invitation letter:
I am emailing you with an invitation you to take part along with 10 other art writers in the Dallas area in selecting an up and coming young artist for the exhibition "pix2" that I am curating here at UTD. Eight years ago when I first started teaching here at UTD I did "pix1."
It was well received at the time along with a lot of energy and excitement among artists as well as critics. The only negative was that since all the writers took part no one could write about the show due to conflict of interest. But, in spite of that it was a success in many ways for the community.
I would love for you to take part if you are interested. I am asking each writer-critic to pick an up and coming young artist, or it could be an older artists that has no gallery showing their work that people rarely see. It should be an artist that you are interested in and have been watching.
I tend to stress a younger artist that hasn't had a lot of exposure but could have had just one exhibition with a gallery here in the north Texas area. An example would be some of the artists this past year at Road Agent that just got shows such as M, or Raychel Stine, Paul Slocum or the artist showing at 500x. One of the reasons for younger the work is not as expensive and we don't have insurance at UTD for the gallery, so lending is a problem with a more successful artist with EXPENSIVE work.
The other critics and writers that are taking part are;
Charissa Terranova - artlies, glasstire, artpapers, morning news
Dee Mitchell - art in america, morning news, glasstire
Rachel Cook - glasstire
Titus O'Brian - glasstire and ft. worth star telegram
Michael Odom - art forum, artpapers and artlies
Matthew Bourbon - flash art artlies
Fran Colpitt - art in america, artlies
Mike Daniel - morning news
Noah Simblist - glasstire, artlies
Janet Kutner EX morning news. ( I thought it a nice courtesy to invite janet because she has been a writer in the area for a long time)*
So.... I hope you will be interested in taking part and selecting an artist for the exhibition. It will take place in january around the 12th after school resumes session after the holidays. I am asking each selector to write a short paragraph for the nice color brochure I will make with a color image by each artist. I will need your selection by early November so I can get started with the brochure as well as contacting the artist about the dates of the show and the piece or pieces (depending on scale) that you guys choose.
Feel free to contact me with any questions. Look forward to hearing from you. I have contacted everyone on the list except for Mike Daniel and yourself. Everyone else has agreed to take part. I hope you will as well.
I quickly responded that I would participate, and that I had no compunction against writing about something I'm involved in.
I don't believe in objectivity, especially in writing. The only conflict of interest involved is not writing about a worthwhile exhibition. If it's about art in Dallas, I'll write about it, if I'm moved to. I think one of the words for my writing is experiential. Another is probably populist.
I've made stories from being a show's juror and an artist, though not in the same show, at the same time. Yet. So I'll have no issues writing about this show. In fact, I look forward to it.
Then I began considering who'd qualify. Years ago I started Artists Watch of artists whose work I wanted to watch. Then I let it go for lack of energy. The original group included Sheila Cunningham and Kathy Boortz, both since long-time DallasArtsRevue Supporting Members who are still artists worth watching.
The names that came to me almost immediately include:
Bold names are DallasArtsRevue Supporting Members.
Kim Cadmus Owens, whose paintings — especially the big ones — have knocked our socks off twice at Continental Gin Building open studios. She has a edgily contemporary way of representing space and the architecture of industry
Kristen Erwin - a young artist whose child series is child-like, funny and thought-provoking, and her older, college work treats space in interesting ways...
Kathy Boortz (again, still, always) - Her immensely popular and still affordable work knocks me out. I don't think she's had a major solo show in a commercial gallery, although I cannot fathom why. Check out her member page (linked to her name here) to see that her animal and bird art combining found objects and sculpted pieces are just one aspect of her work. Her political pieces combine into comical and astute commentary.
Juan Hernández - Strong compositions, eloquent universal statements in the guise of Latino themes. This guy's got amazing talent, but I can't find him on the internet. He is in the 2007 Hecho in Dallas at the Latino Culture Center July 19 through August 19.
Matt Kaplinsky - See Jim Dolan's interview with Matt, whose work has changed a couple times since, and continues to. Great energy, remarkable intelligence, combined with a powerful ability to sell his own and others' work...
Mark Williamson - His odd textures, amazing materials (like zillions of plastic straws) and intelligent sub themes continue to startle.
There will be more. Probably lots more. I needed something to get me to pay attention. Summer is probably the best time for seeing outside edges.
I don't have to decide till November 2007. I'm keeping my eyes and mind open for new possibilities till at least October. Meanwhile, this is a good place to start this blog I've been thinking about for months, maybe years.
The worst thing about this show is that only one piece from each already underrepresented artist will be shown, utterly maintaining their elligibility status. June 18 2007
We saw Spamalot opening night here, which was not a good night if you hadn't already memorized the dialog. Anna had and loved it, could have sung along. I never cared much for their movies, though I liked the Nod-nod Wink-wink, spam and other skits and have always appreciated the Three Stooges. I did not know Spam's dialog, and something was wrong with the P A, so neither I nor the guy next to me, neither of whom knew this stuff, understood more than every fifth word. Neither of our dates cared; both were big fans. During the intermission, they fixed the sound, and the rest was decipherable, somewhat repetitive but funny.
When I do something art interesting, have ideas or contradictory notions worth bandying or DARts stuff needing writing about, it goes here. Eventually, this page will be the index for ThEdBlog pages, and this URL is the only either of us has to remember.
Another, earlier DallasArtsRevue page called "TheEditor" is my member page with my comparatively recent photographs. I've attempted other editor journal pages previously. The need to express feelings and ideas continues. This is the first blog I've been willing to call that. It will often appear unfinished, because it will always be.
; j r
Continued on ThEd 2
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