Saturday, May 30, 2009

Visit to Marianna, FL, Garage Sale, the Mary Yeti, and Home

We are back in Delaware. Hallelujah!

We just spent two weeks with my Partner’s Sister and her husband. They live way out in the country, the small town of Marianna in the panhandle of Florida, almost 500 miles from south Florida. In fact, it is so far out in the country that I must walk 20 yards into the backyard before my cell phone will work. While there we emptied two storage units of furniture and STUFF, moved STUFF and furniture to a smaller storage unit, cleaned and polished good antiques, and did a garage sale. In honor of our visit to Marianna, and since I have had no time to think about writing the past two weeks, I include here my journal entry from this past Christmas and New Year (2008-2009) because it was also about Marianna, specifically our encounter with the Marianna Sasquatch, Naughty Mary Yeti.

Mary's Footprints

During the Christmas and New Year Holidays I spent more than two weeks at my illegal in-laws in Marianna, Florida. They are not my legal in-laws because I am denied all marital privileges granted to married heterosexual couples by the new amendment to the Florida State constitution. Be that nasty - and I think illegal - amendment as it may, we all had a wonderful time, wrapping presents for two days, piling the red, green, white, gold, silver beribboned packages knee deep under the tree as well as on one side of the living room, and then spending one hour on Christmas day ripping them apart. Of course we did a great deal between Christmas and New Years. We played parlor games, went for walks in the local park, and up and down the hills through the Chipola College campus, watched umpteen bowl games in which I, as the stereotypical gay male, have no interest whatsoever, though my partner could watch college football till the cows come home or better still, until the gay players form their own “Lambda Football Association” (H-m-m-m-m!). We also ate gourmet meals prepared by my illegal brother-in-law, took naps, played cards, told jokes, and occasionally listened to Christmas music. I also meditated and did my prayers in spare moments.

If by some strange chance you regularly read my journal located in this remote corner of the Cyber-void, you know that I am a camera maniac, always toting the digital monster everywhere. * So, when my partner, his sister and I went to the local Jackson County Park to do some fast walking on New Year’s Day I had my trusty shooter with me. As we walked around the southwest corner of the mile-and-one-half pathway through open meadow and woods, we discovered strange footprints in the gravel road. We joked that they had to be made by the Marianna Sasquatch, better known as the Chipola River Swamp Critter, and A.K.A. as the Mary Yeti. “What would such a critter look like,” we asked, and invented all kinds of bizarre descriptions one of which sounds exactly like the photograph I took of the creature that posed for me at the next bend in the road.

Indeed, she was pleasant looking though she almost made me drop the camera as she plugged her ears with fingers, and let out an ear-piercing screech. I was so startled that I spun on my toes and ran, never to see Naughty Mary Yeti again.

I look forward to confirmation of the sighting by other residents of Jackson County, Florida.


*”Remote corner of the cyber-void” – interesting concept – can there be a corner in a space that doesn’t exist, at least, not in the 3-D physical sense – rather a space made of bits and pieces, strings of electronic encoded seemingly random on-off, splattering, scattered among a bunch of memory banks tied together by satellite?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Jan Svankmajer Dimensions of Dialogue: Part 1 and Part 2: A Brief Critique

Jan Svankmajer, a Czech Surreal artist (September 4, 1934) creates humorous though worrisome animated stop-motion images mixed with live action scenes in more recent films. Inanimate objects, clay, and food become living assemblages and create fantastic but dreadful and dreamlike psychological narratives about human interaction and behavior. Some of Svankmajer’s creations remind me of Renaissance artist Giuseppe Arcimbaldo’s food portraits, and I’ve included Summer painted in 1573 below.

Once banned by Czech communist authorities (1972) -Svankmajer remained unknown in Western countries until the 1980’s – today he is considered one of the preeminent animators worldwide.
I must admit to little knowledge in the field of animation, and I stumbled across Svankmajer while doing a totally unrelated Web search. However, I was immediately fascinated by the bizarre imagery and sound in his films. Specifically in Dialogue, Part 2, claymation allows the total assimilation of the subjects each by the other and so beautifully describes two persons becoming one through loving intercourse. At the same time Svankmajer cautions that the same two persons may completely destroy one another as he creates a shocking stop-motion sequence that demonstrates deconstructive processes working in human intercourse. Unfortunately, as I viewed more of his films I became aware that emotional destruction is too often the underlying theme of Svankmajer’s films. Thus, his oeuvre while deserving of its reputation left me depressed.

* Arcimbaldo, Giuseppi, Summer Non copyrighted image, found atRay’s Attic on line at, 9:00 A.M., Thursday, May 14, 2009

Monday, May 11, 2009

Jack Balas

On "The Art of John Bittinger Klomp: Wes Hempel">February 27, 2009 I completed a journal entry about Wes Hempel, and at the time, I promised a future entry about Jack Balas, Hempel’s partner in crime. Dare I say crime? Do I risk being misunderstood?

“Of course you do, John!” My alter ego answers.

Never the less, there it is, the word, “Crime,” and I use the word to refer to Balas' probing beneath the surface of representation, to look at primary philosophical concerns. In his own words, “…reaching beyond the fleeting surface idealization associated with youth and hopefully going far in terms of metaphor, poking around such timeless ideas as: truth, beauty, faith, time, the infinite, what we learn and what we know. It may seem questionable indeed these days to even concern myself with such unanswerables, but in an era when political and spiritual leaders assert that they in fact have the answers for us all, I think that art has the capacity to imagine otherwise, to offer some transcendent spark to bridge the gap between intent and form, between idea and the evidence of our lives.” Balas’ thought resonates with mine, that all art forms can be (indeed should be) so much more than a record and/or interpretation of human history. Great art can be so many things, but one component must be to transcend (intended or not) the time and place in which it was created, and one way to do that is for the artist to create dense imagery, an attempt to describe his/her internalized universe and it’s relation to the actual and / or abstract universe of others and/or the universe as described by constructions within the general culture.

So much of Balas’ work revolves around the idealized male figure/form, a subset of my oeuvre because only the digital photomontages incorporate the male figure. Balas also uses text to obfuscate the surface rendering of the idealized male youth, while I hardly ever use text in my imagery. However, I find an affinity for his imagery that goes beyond my own, and I wish that I were as prolific in my production. I also wish that I had photographed more men for my work in the past. In fact, one of the things that most attracts me to Balas’ work is his use of the camera and models because so much of my own work involves the camera. An entire section of his Website is titled “Photo,” and he often works back and forth between painting and the photograph as well. Additionally, Balas plays with linguistics through color selection, thus punning, and playing with the arbitrary meaning of language (See illustration above).

To summarize, Balas works between text and the male image (painted, photographed, and drawn). The resulting artworks while about the idealized and eroticized youthful male figure are intended to muddle our usual cultural preoccupation with such matters because Balas wishes to create a subversive subtext about deeper philosophical concerns.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Republicans Attack Obama on Foreign Policy and Terrorism

We interrupt this art journal to interject a political comment.

The Republicans have tried to attack the President on domestic issues unsuccessfully, so now they are trying a new tactic. Boehner, McConnell,Cantor, Cheney, and others prophecy a new terror attack like the September 11, 2001 attack against the United States. They say that when such an attack takes place it will be President Obama’s fault.

How charming!

However, since the last Republican’s plan to stop terrorism was all hoax and blunders, offering a new plan to reduce the terrorist threat would be constructive. I give just such an ambitious plan below.

First, predicting such an attack by radical jihadists (or other terrorist brands) is not at all prescient, because it will happen whether under Obama or another president, Republican or Democratic. Second, the only way to prevent such an attack and/or other future attacks is to do some long term strategizing. At least five goals are necessary; 1) to diffuse international tensions where possible, 2) repair the world economy, 3) educate - actually use our vast communications network (motion picture, television, and musical arts) to do so, 4) provide help to build infrastructure and schools for countries where terrorists lurk (When we do good work, we need to announce it – propaganda works.), and 5) work toward the creation of an international anti-terrorist police force inclusive of all nations, races and religions. If the Republican Party should take this plan up, or create a useful plan of their own as a major initiative I might be able to take them seriously. Otherwise, this latest barrage of invective against the President is just so much (Bleep-Bleep!).

How to begin the recuperation of the Republican Party H-m-m-m-m-m!

I realize my plan is a bit “pie in the sky,” and thus too impractical for the narrow focus of Republican strategists. Never the less, my own experience in life tells me that an all out ambitious plan to confront adversity is usually necessary. If I were in charge of things in the Republican Party, I would actually consider proposing such a plan to the nation as part of a multifaceted approach to rehabilitating the party because that approach might actually begin to put the Republican Party on a recovery course.

Yes, Virginia, we do need the Republican Party.

Friday, May 1, 2009

New Photomontage

My love of intense color fuels “Romance of the Tropics #7,” and like all the digital images in that series I created it using Adobe Photoshop software. The file is huge, 253.2 megabytes and is composed of 68 layers. All the photographs are my own images though I have not used models to this point. Thus, there are no portraits in the image, only partial figures that I snapped surreptitiously when walking or relaxing on the beach. To me the cosmography is obvious, and the work is chuck-full of my standard symbolic references to the male body, tropics, and beaches, my favorite place to be. I have signified isolation through the image of the foil man, as well as The division of the picture plane by subtle transparencies, thin stripes of color, paint blobs and objects that cast shadows onto the picture plane that also reference Precisionist and Abstract Illusionist movements in American art. Additionally, I suggest the fleeting nature of youth, sex and AIDS, life and death, flight, September 11, 2001, and outer space aliens through the images of flowers and butterflies, blobs of red and white paint that hover over the picture plain, the flying plane in the upper right hand portion, and the flying saucer. I created the swirling motion of the flowers, clock, butterflies, and spots in the central part of the image to indicate the feeling I often have that most of us are not in control of any part of our lives, including those parts of our person that we should be able to manage.

A short reference to my knowledge of Art History yields these three; Tromp l’oeil, David Hockney, and Joe Doyle as background for my work.