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Rest Area

Dan Graham’s Triangular Bridge Over Water, Laumeier Sculpture Park, St. Louis Mo

Aaron Wrinkle

June 2012


Recently, while departing from the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to my home state of Missouri, I picked up my Dan Graham exhibition monograph from his well deserved 2009 retrospective organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles in collaboration w/ The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.  (An exhibition was also appropriately mounted at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, appropriate in that the artist has a longtime base of followers in the Midwest region).  Being that I was heading to the nature of the family farm, the generational acreage of my lineage, it only made since to re-assert my attention to the chapter of Graham’s writings in his Garden as Theater and Museum.  Although the farm is not a garden, theater or museum, the general notion of immediate nature akin to my family and the recent and partial placement of my own artistic ideas and practice to such an arena seems relevant here.  With this said I don’t totally object to the possibility of viewing a farm as a garden, theater or museum.  After all, all four of these contexts originate in and from nature. As I read through the artist’s writings on  the English Garden’s influence on the French’s own appropriated English garden and the influence that literature, politics and theater had upon the creation of these sites of dwelling, leisure and recreation I became restless as usual.  This is actually cheating the chapter which also includes writings on Disney, Rem Koolhaus-Coney Island’s Luna Park and a great almost romantic and historical exampling on the creation of the writer Rousseau’s burial site.  In short Graham starts with the early model of the Arcadian garden and the evolution and happenings of the “garden” and its connections to creative culture, theatre, politics and nature.  He follows up with the Baroque period and speeds up with corporate American theatre-ism found in the creation of garden-esque atriums in buildings, Venturi’s hand in re-presenting Washington, D.C.’s original city planning in a public art work and of similar corporate frame workings of the garden in Europe.  Finally he reaches the European reality of the fair and of art experience as leisure and vacation with families and children loading up in their cars and traveling to sculpture parks to view contemporary art.  Ultimately it (being the garden) always seemed to originate in relation to the familial or aristocracy and a tandem relationship shaped by government as an almost socialist model.  Perhaps a context of art and life as a seemingly utopia experience, yet through the culmination of societal- political proportions involved it would seem to be more about environments of multiplicity and even dystopia.  Make sense? Dan once commented that he thinks I’m intellectually restless. This is true.


I began to flip through the chapter looking at images, eventually coming to plates of Graham’s Octagon for Münster, his Pergola Bridge for Clisson, France (1988-90) and his descriptive reasoning and explanations pertaining to the history of these sites -supporting such structures relevance for carrying out or creating them.  The previous priming of the historical context shaping his practice in his writing really makes sense in the location of these pavilion works in their own time and place as well as today.  Also, importantly explained here is the artist’s original proposal for the non-realized Two-Way Mirror Bridge and Triangular Pavilion To Existing Mill House for The Domaine de Kerguéhennec (a chateau) in Brittany, France.  The site of this original bridge proposal consists of a sculpture park on the grounds of a old familial estate configured within an old French garden that was converted into an English garden.  Here we seethis cultural and regional transformation as vaguely mentioned above.  Other elements found on the site were a survived Mill House and an old Chinese orientated bridge in which the artist wanted to replace with a new bridge constructed from his now common two-way mirror and other corporate orientated materials.  These left over elements on the property in fact influenced the proposal as found in the roof form of the bridge and possibly the proposed converting of a bridge commented (not critiqued) on the sites own re-configuring of cultural and or regional motifs. This also can be said for the ever changing history of the “garden” in general.  In many ways the proposal acted as an early in situ response or reaction on elements lending themselves to a practice, relative to site specificity.  In reality Graham’s pavilion’s vortex-ual make-up almost always act as site specific in that they absorb the very site they are planted in, but it is important to acknowledge Graham’s relevance in connection to the history of site-specificity and artist’s that tend to get placed under the guise of “institutional critique”. Specifically, the early site inventories of Michael Asher. In possibly a looser or humorous way for the sake of writing about travel or the art fair-here, Asher’s Installation Münster (Caravan) comes to mind. In fact the two artists practices coincided for the exhibition Skulptur Projekte (1987) curated by Klaus Bussmann and Kasper König (the exhibition was the second installment by these curators coming after Skulptur 77 also in Münster and the same year Asher picked his locations for his Installation Münster (Caravan)- ( Donald Judd and Claus Oldenburg also contributed to the 77 mounting).  In 1987 Graham created Octagon for Münster a pavilion consisting of eight panels of two way mirror, a sloped wooden roof, a sliding door and a wooden pole in the middle of the structure supporting the floor (earth) to the roof.  In short the pavilion was placed in the middle of a tree-lined allée on an old park amidst the presence of pre-existing pavilions, a university botanical garden, kiosks and even a palace.  The positioning of Graham’s pavilion acted essentially as an allegorical conductor in that it absorbed not only in production, but in presentation the very essence of the history of the site pertaining to garden-hood (Specifically English-Baroque).  It further commented through its use of natural materials, a step backwards into primitivism and even further through its use of two-way mirror specifically comments on the surrounding contemporary city’s corporate make-up of none other than two-way mirror.


The images accompanying this literary and visual scenario of Octagon for Münster and his Pergola Bridge for Clisson, France (1988-90), like images do, triggered my memory that Dan had created a similar work in my home state.  This all struck a nerve.   It supported my reasoning for taking the book off my shelf while packing my bag.  It was clear to me on the airplane that I would drive across the state, visit the site and do this writing.  It wasn’t important for me to negotiate the gesture as art, as in a way this was my mid-western vacation.  A middle-class vacation if you will.  I’ve still never been to Europe. It only made sense to travel and write about actions that supersede any meandering of if it’s art ort not.  It’s simply a case of an artist traveling and writing.  I picked a bizarre way of starting out and found myself traveling alone.  It was better this way.  More importantly this would be the first pavilion by the artist that I would experience first hand.


After spending the week on my parent’s farm in southwest Missouri on the outskirts of Springfield, the hometown I share with the likes of Brad Pitt and Bob Barker, I packed a bag of clothes and headed to Kansas City where I had studied painting at the Kansas Art Institute.  Here I stayed with my friends Neal and Lacey and their cats Mildred and Mr. Butters in their turn of the century 4 story duplex in the historic Westside district, with a special bonus to their hospitality always found in their dinners from the garden, Neal’s bread baking and a huge record collection and library.  One favorite in this area is Lou Reed’s New Sensations track on the album of the same name, which I normally play at least 5 times over after a few beers or to introduce the drinking of a few beers.  I realize this didn’t happen this time and we stayed primarily out on the back porch over conversation, Miller High Life, and a nice breeze w/ Mariah, Timmy and Phil.


Previously the sun had highlighted the back yard and the clothes on the line in a golden amber I haven’t seen even in California.  I was finally breaking out of an almost de-mobilizing neurotic and manic episode I’d been having for over a month with Maria as my witness at least in Kansas City.  Actually she helped me end it.  Even though I was aching to leave L.A. for a bit I had to drag myself to the airport just a week prior.  I hadn’t felt this immobile since CalArts.  We all talked about lots of things that night and I selfishly talked on and on about the trip I would take the following morning.  As Neal had looked through the Dan Graham book earlier in that evening in the front room, I flipped through an older Mike Kelley one that prompted a smile yet melancholic feeling towards my studio in Los Angeles- towards Los Angeles in general.  I was here to travel and write though. It also got me thinking of what I wanted to do with all of those ball cards under the bed at my folk’s house… That was good. I needed to focus on a different outlet and take a needed break from what seems to be an overarching energy focused on what is success in L.A. I admit it drains me. This inspiration lending to studio could wait for now, but sleep couldn’t.  It was already approaching 3 am.


It was morning and the sun blanketed the front downstairs library room.  It was a lot brighter than the amber one from the sundown the night before. Being summer I slept with only a sheet and pillow in a floral design similar to Warhol. Mildred kept me company and woke me up by jumping on my back, while the mockingbirds played rooster.  It was 8:30 or so and approaching the upper 90’s already.  I was anxious, shat, showered Bronners style, brushed my teeth Toms style (neither my own), grabbed some printing paper (not mine), a pen (not mine either) and left the house (I really came prepared).  It was time to travel again.  I grabbed a water and headed to the local snack shop YJ’s for some fruit (a banana and an orange), said hi to my old professor Jack Rees who was eating his breakfast in close proximity to where we once held a conversation on Max Jammers Concepts of Space and the elementary foundations on geometry several years prior.  I told David Ford a local artist and owner of the café I’d possibly be back through in the evening and he invited me over for a studio visit, wishing me a safe travel. The day would be packed.  I was on my way.


St.Louis is a straight line from Kansas City on Interstate 70.  The destination would be approx 250 miles and end 4 hours later.  I turned the radio onto hear Felony’s Fanatic, a fitting song for the trip and a great rhythm to approach the pavement regardless.  It was a 96.5 the Buzz’s resurrection segment that wouldn’t last much longer after the song, as once it got heavy into the popular music of 80’s I changed the channel for obvious reasons. Most music or creative things coming out of the 80’s that I can appreciate relate more to the aesthetics of the 70’s. Punk and pre-alternative seems relevant to my own interests. That and rap.  Not thirty minutes into my trip I began to question my driving for the first time a lone to a city I’ve only visited not even the number of fingers on one hand.  The last time I rode in a car on I70 was to see Sonic Youth, Wolf Eyes and Hair Police in Columbia.  On the way back we listened to And Justice for All by Metallica. We stopped in a gas station in Booneville to be called a bunch of faggots.  I was wearing a Men’s Recovery T-Shirt.  My cousin Kristen once went to military school there. So this time I drove, I peed, I drove, I peed, I drove and I arrived.  I also stopped to buy batteries for my camera- my mother’s camera-a fuji.


Laumeier Sculpture Park is located on the outer edge of St.Louis off of I44 (198 miles west of the artist’s birthplace of Urbana, Illinois and 188 miles north of Springfield, Mo) on 72 acres on the former land of the park’s namesake Matilda Laumeir. She donated the land to the county in 1968.  Between 1975 and 1977 the artist Ernest Trova via Pace Gallery donated 40 works to help form the Park and other donated works were later offered by Robert Morris, Alexander Calder and Mark Di Suvero.  The Triangular Bridge Over Water (1990) was part of the park’s Ten Sites Program from 1980-1990, a unique program that facilitated a collaboration between artists and the county’s trades people from the Parks Department.  It was commissioned w/ funds from the Mark Twain Laumeir Endowment Fund and the National Endowment for the Arts.  In 1989 the year before the Bridge’s installment the park founded its first children’s summer camp.  Obviously the new installment added a proven treat then, over time and now for children visiting the park and as with most of Graham’s structures and own admittance makes for great photo opts for couples and families.


After parking my car I snapped a photo of a Harley Davidson Motorcycle with veteran sticker tagged helmets sitting freely on the seat. I then approached a man driving a golf cart, asking where to find Dan Graham’s bridge work.  He offered me a lift in the now 102 degree weather.  I explained that I was visiting via Kansas City via Springfield via Los Angeles, my connections to Missouri and that I know the artist.  I jotted down the dates of the park’s founding, inquired of the works 1990 installment and before I knew it we were at the location, or at least right above it. He told me, “It’s a steep incline to walk down, but you’ll find it.” I smiled and laughed inside and told him thanks!  I didn’t get his name, but I’m going to write a thank you letter soon.  It was indeed a steep concrete stairwell, with long black handles that winded down a hill that turned into a beaten down dirt path with wildflowers and surrounding woods.  The structure began to reveal itself mid way.  A child might think there’s a house down there.  It felt very Hansel and Gretel. I could see its peak.  Its two decade old white frame still quite stark for the mostly dual palette of green and brown found in these particular Missouri woods. The sun sparked off the structure.  The sun was a spotlight in this garden of a museum.  I once joked that I thought Dan’s pavilions were the perfect culmination of two of his past relationships.  It wasn’t meant as a cut down obviously, but more so an appreciation for Dan possibly acknowledging his influences subversively. Actually the artist has never been one to hold back from admitting influence or admiration for others or support for that matter.  Basically, it was that Dan borrowed a general aesthetic from Smithson through glass by replacing it with corporate two-way mirror and reconfigured Flavin into the sun that shines upon his works. I must say that the full credit goes to Dan and not on a whimsical or even absurd observation, but more so the very fact that his pavilions are proof to the evolution of art in general (this isn’t an academic approach it’s strictly natural-almost scientific and or supernatural).  Knowing that Dan’s generation despised Duchamp it can safely be assured that such a natural and elemental shifting upon say the view of fluorescents being replaced by the sun can be spouted. It is my opinion that Dan’s work is the perfect example of a capturing of the everyday activities of humanity and materiality, specifically in relation to art and nature and more specifically in the hybrid- non predictable or given viewing of all of the above.  It’s alive! In Dan’s own words- “I’m skeptical of models that implicitly recognize the world as it is.”(1)  Sometimes these activities of production, thinking and viewership are captured literally through documentation and sometimes not.  Whatever the case a pavilion on its own does this- It sits there, it participates, it has a conversation with nature (which is anything, but natural), with kids playing, it might even reflect a police car with sirens flying by- ultimately it reflects upon the societies surrounding it.  It is this that is in complete alignment with the evolution of the garden, museum and theatre-this is not sociology, but rather a culmination of varying humanities. With this said I find The Triangular Bridge Over Water and its placement at Laumeir Sculpture Park to be a very important work in relationship to Graham’s Garden as Theater and Museum and although some may argue the second French site that was realized (Pergola Bridge for Clisson, France (1988-90) makes more sense to the original proposal (Two-Way Mirror Bridge and Triangular Pavilion To Existing Mill House for The Domaine de Kerguéhennec) not only in it’s location, but in it’s regional posterity- I propose that the Midwestern placement in relation to the sculpture park, the existing homestead of Laumeir, along with other architectural structures, including a country style bridge honoring a bird sanctuary- makes more sense in alignment to the original proposal.  But what also stands out to my personal experience is how photographic the work looks.  Aside form the fact that the thing is alive in all that it does- it really just feels like a great snap shot from a distance.  Maybe I’m bias on best case scenario, or maybe this is a question for the artist and a needed visit to the French location on my part.  Whatever the case the book to life experience feels somewhat one to one.


The dirt path has now turned into a curvilinear gravel one surrounding and defining the perimeter for Triangular Bridge Over Water.  There’s a faux wood bench to the right, but I walked into the work, took in a few glances and for the moment opted to sit in the middle of the structure instead of on the outside. It was a place to rest and a place to write. (The last time I had been to a rest area or park in St.louis was speed induced as I recall an old friend losing his knife in a game of throwing it at a tree while another drew blood and pushed it back in, while a possible cheating couple on their lunch break fornicated on a park bench).  The thing about nature is it is always reminding and revealing, especially when you come from a place with a lot of it.  It’s not always good. A lot of times it is weird, but this time it was pleasant.   Actually, this time it was great (Laumeier Sculpture Park)


I began to take note of the elements making up the work and their and the works overall collaboration with the nature surrounding it. The Bridge’s make-up consists of two large concrete walls placed on each side of a cavity where a run-off from two large drainage pipes spring exists.  The structure is reflected in the shallow water below and in the current climate looks similar to a sheet of glass itself laid flat across the earth (this is very interesting in relationship to the properties along the streets to the park where the water comes from as low-tier corporate buildings with two-way mirror glass line them).  Sitting atop this common support system for bridges are three black high beams, a black metal grate like frame acting as the surface you walk on, over and in which you can look down into the space below (both the original proposal and Brittany work had two-way mirror flanking the grate walkway whereas the St.Louis work is solely the black grating).  There’s some minor flaking of the paint on the edge of the black edging, revealing an orange primer and some small cob webs also exist. Both entry and exit sides are flanked by aged, but still very sturdy and approximately 8×2 raw-non-stained wood pieces / base boards. On the south side four large sheets of two-way mirror extend from one edge, the sheets of glass are seamed and held up by long industrial and flanged like aluminum struts and held in place with a few replaced bolts that are raised and octagonal in shape and mostly secured by the original rounded phillips style heads (the cross kind) that are now rusted.  It all makes sense the way it is.  The cycle makes itself.  No need for restoration, but fix anything that might jeopardize the standing of such a structure, this being a very common view in the likes of repairing things in this part of the country with work skills originating from the Great Depression.


On the other side a 20 panel frame out and grid (equilateral to the two-way mirrored one) akin to an open garden trellis or lattice for vegetation (English Ivy) to possibly run up supports the north side.  It’s very Sol Lewitt. The trellis built out of approx. 2×2 cubed welded and painted white steel beams is currently and has been presumably empty and patina-ed with a couple of run off rust drips right at the seams.  It has been sweating. A similar description aside from the mentioning of somewhat arbitrary disrepair supports my St. Louis experience and findings as stated by Graham on the Pergola Bridge, “My Two-Way Mirror Pergola Bridge from 1988-90 consists of a four-meter-long equilateral triangle bridge, one side two-way mirror glass, the opposite side an aluminum lattice planted with climbing vines.  The spectator can walk through the triangle over a water canal across an open steel grid.”(2) Although the setting of the French work is probably and arguably a more desired setting by many as its location is more grandiose, it is obvious the two works share very much in common in their production and placement in nature.  More importantly the grate like walkway relates to Graham’s original proposal for Two-Way Mirror Bridge and Triangular Pavilion To Existing Mill House for The Domaine de Kerguéhennec more specifically- in that it is based off of the French use of similar materials in their vents found in the Paris Metro. (“The bottom of the triangle-the walkway surface-was to be the steel grating with an open square grid, the same surface used for Paris street air vents over sewers and the Metro). (3) Grating was the first word that came to mind as I took my notes on the Bridge’s materials.  Visually the grate is very optic-al and another example of a practical material used by the artist to lend itself to something other than what it is.  Importantly here, it reverberated- focused upon to the visual vibrancy of a Bridget Riley painting in monochrome of course.   More importantly it was a pluralistic suggestion on post minimalism. Aside from these assumptions, as usual Dan’s referencing to materials and site is right on and strangely very specific. This can also be said for the general make-up of the surrounding nature found in the water and foliage of greenery. This thing is alive in nature as indicative of its general make-up and the aforementioned rustic patina, the peeling of paint and I now remember – the fogged up glass.  It has become if not already in the beginning part of nature.  Actually the nature surrounding Dan Graham’s work is something I don’t believe to be written enough about aside from the artist’s own words.  People tend to get caught up in the corporate appearance, which is hilarious in that the very material Dan is referencing or possibly critiques, people generally fall in love with. This is all fine, but I suspect that the greater relationship found in the work is of hybrid if not of multiple sensorial relationships between humans, objects and natures.  However, maybe it is the fact that these works can be viewed anyway one likes that make them so special and for the matter by anyone and I guess in some cases there isn’t literal nature at all.


Back to the site- The non presence of ivy running the trellis is replaced in the reflection of nature upon it in its reverse, as the grid acts as a window in to normal viewing as well as in its reflection found in its reflecting counterpart (the four-panels consisting of two-way mirror).  As a reflecting image or reality the grid juts out appearing as a propped open window in its two-way mirrored counterpart.  This is actually what happens when you create an equilateral triangle that is reflective on one side.  Meaning it pulls the overall form up to the reflecting surface, essentially suspending the object partially in mid air.  At least visually it appears that way.  It is a kind of geometric substantial magic, a weightless pendulum. The setting of this thing is appropriate and fitting, even if strangely literal for the imagination of a summer window opening.  We had a place we went to as teenagers that we called trip land.  We played baseball with hedge apples.  I ran through a Lewitt-ian landscape of multiplied grids being chased by a Doberman-Pinscher.  On another occasion a friend humped a tree, shaking its leaves as another threw a cinderblock through a large black corporate window.  In nature anything can be seen and can happen.  I glance through the trellis to find a woodpecker and three squirrels running up a tree in the nature surrounding the trail.  They are real! I turn around to see my own morphed projection and reflection onto the two-way mirror.  I’m not on anything.  It is true Dan’s works are of psychedelic relations.  No drugs needed.  Extra priming might make it more intense though.  Everything is still moving for me. It’s similar to my father’s copy of the Byrds Greatest Hits album, which consists of an overlay of psychedelic foliage transposed onto the band member’s images. This connects to Dan as well.  Dad is ten years younger.  Good early music taste though.  Another tangent but, in my opinion, which many may disagree, the Stones were actually Punks in a good way.  Punk goes back to blues and jazz and even further into ancient tribes. A somewhat more recent pop-cultural example coming to mind is the Predator’s appearance in the jungle as it dives in and out of combat blending itself into nature.  What I was trying to say is the Rolling Stones were an early punk band, but became popular.


A tour is approaching.  It is the man who gave me a lift.  “You found it” he declared to me and the group with a friendly gesture of his hand to the work.  He then stated, “And here we have a friend of the artist.”  I’m on the stage, the bridge.  I’m wearing rose colored shades.  I step out onto the path.  He asks, “How do you know the artist?”  I explained the gallery I once ran and the fair conversation, Dan’s generosity in conversation and ideas, but more importantly the conversation began to act as some kind of a locative performance between myself, the two docents and the 3 couples riding in the empty golf cart I had rode in before.  What I mean is we began to talk about the work.  I realize when I say performance this sounds as if I’m describing it is an artwork. I must stress I don’t view this as such. I think it is safe to say I share Dan’s distaste for such institutionalized conversational gestures of say Tino Sehgal.  The only thing else I could say is, “Yes this is a great location for this work.”  The man exited the cart and stepped into the bridge as I followed him in he said, “Tell Dan that on tours rambunctious kids always go to the middle, see their reflection and calm down and it really takes to them.”  I acknowledge the sites great ability to possibly do this for anyone and the fun house nature and corporate joke as well.  I also say there could be a good Frank Lloyd Wright joke in here somewhere, with this quasi architecture over water.  The female docent goes into her tour speech declaring-“This is a perfect place where nature just melts.”  The tour is wrapping up their viewing of the bridge as they leave the man energetically says, “Only a friend of the artist would be caught viewing the piece in rose colored shades.”  I explained I was born and raised in Missouri.”


After the tour left I decided to snap some images through my rose colored shades of the perimeter and even of the bridge.  I must say I didn’t experience the work with my shades on, but the remarks by the tour guide prompted production.  I wrapped up my tour of the piece as well.  I made two passes in and out of it.  As I reached the top of the stairs I glanced down at the peaking roof again.  The brush was making noise to my right by way of a chipmunk.  I snapped a photo and walked away.


Although I visited Laumeier Sculpture Park to view Triangular Bridge Over Water, I wasn’t necessarily traveling to see art.  Actually I was trying to escape it temporarily.  Out of respect for the park I walked around and the land, its history and installments are impressive.  With this said I’m not dis-recognizing Dan’s work as art or even the importance of a park I will most likely visit again, it’s just that sometimes we just need a place to rest.  I guess I should pack my bags.  It’s time to go back to Los Angeles.

(1) Back of Book Manga Caption (Fumihiro Nonomura and Ken Tanimoto)- (2) p.252  and (3) p. 253, Dan Graham Beyond, Simpson and Iles, Editors, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, The MIT Press, 2009

A Portrait of an American Family or This American Life

(for notes on looking)

Featuring Paul McCarthy, Unknown Stunt Double ( Male ), Elyse Poppers, Suzan Averitt, James Franco, Jay Yi, Heather Vahn, James Deen, Jimmy Lifestyles


Written at Home in My Bed


Dean is my middle name. It was handed down to me via my great grandma.  Aaron Dean they’d call me.  It’s a flirtatious audacity to connect it to James Dean, but nonetheless I have.  His looks, his fame, his portrayed reckless behavior and even his death.  But we all have in one way or another, especially James Franco.  Dean’s is a classic story of an American tragedy as was Rebel Without a Cause.  America is tragic today and lately so is the L.A. art world.  The McCarthys have exceptionally repositioned artistic tragedy by commenting on the former.  Specifically Hollywood.  One can’t help to think of the intentional mirroring that this all places onto the current state of things.  When times are bad or weird make it funny or weirder.  But do it right.  Do it like the McCarthys.


Rebel Dabble Babble makes me want to Rebel Dabble Babble in my head, out my mouth and nearly out of all ends.  I once saw a classic video documentary on Marilyn Manson where Twiggy the guitarist is simultaneously puking, shitting and pissing himself. Luckily you didn’t get the smell through the t.v. set to create the domino effect, but it’s just enough like Rebel Dabble Babble to give you an idea.  An idea and a glimpse.  Ideas and glimpses into what it’s all about.  New ideas and feelings altogether.  Glimpses on what might or might not have led up to the event and what is happening in the present.  Enough to know that something is wrong, but being dealt with accordingly or to the best of one’s ability. Sometimes one must pull one’s pants down to make a point or simply do so to relieve oneself or to get off. Even if faking it.  Sometimes one has no other choice and it’s a career choice. It’s a paycheck.  No judging here.  Ever.  Sometimes we are fortunate enough to experience or come in contact with the people responsible for these acts.  To see or hear them tell their stories.  Sometimes it’s all re-articulated via someone else or through art. Sometimes it’s like a re-created reality akin to Unsolved Mysteries with the people and places changed to protect their identities. Sometimes people and their ideas can’t be replaced.  Just like love.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Sometimes it’s an intervention.  I met Marilyn Manson and his band as a teenager after they opened up for the band Clutch.  Marilyn drew me snake eyes and 6′s on request.  I took it back to the household of my American family. It’s framed now with all the others. The faces and places have now changed.  Or have they?  It’s beginning to feel like one big scene.  A scene you have to learn to live and work with.  Something about Rebel Dabble Babble reminds me that everything is going to be o.k. even if the shit has already hit the fan.


Being the first major exhibition I’ve encountered by McCarthy and his son, Rebel Dabble Babble makes me think back to my first interactions with McCarthy senior’s work, literal examples from my past, why I was and have become re-interested in his practice and now his collaborations with his son Damon in relation to my collaboration with my own father.  I’ve always been a late bloomer. It’s kind of a flipped example in relation to my own story, but the conversation or link is relevant.  My father and I restored a car together…   I’m interested in family collaboration in general. It’s like farm work or doing chores.  It’s very blue collar.  Wet sanding the fenders with my dad.  Dinner is ready. It’s really about team work.  I’m interested in the American family, my own family and the family of art.  Not necessarily pedagogy, but lineage and birthright.  There’s a certain reality to a kind of reversed adoption as well.  A kind of forced idol logic.  Some welcome your friendship.  You look up to mentors and influences or you desire to destroy them.  Here is more of a token of appreciation for the foreman on the job.  Sometimes you don’t get along with your peers.  Sometimes that’s constructed.  But, I’ve never been one to desire the destruction of anybody except my self and even that was involuntary.  For good measure, I’m interested in the artist as self therapist who also gives their kid play dough or possibly Plato when they’re ready.  We’re getting into the plot now.  The thought of a kid not having either is bothersome.  But there are always alternative replacements for these things.  A family should work together and figure it out and the McCarthys seem to be doing a great job of this.


I’m quite fascinated by the idea and reality of a family operation.  Through Mara McCarthy’s gallery ( Paul’s daughter ) the Box and her curated  projects existing outside of Los Angeles with artists such as Simone Forti and Barbara T. Smith, she has proven an admirable dedication to issues and influences not just easily tied to her father, but in the greater scheme of things art related.  Specifically through advocating artists connected to feminism and performance.  It is a unique reality that gives us glimpses into great relationships and artists sometimes historically under-appreciated. It’s hard to imagine the Los Angeles art scene without this reality. With so many others involved, including younger artists and staff, It isn’t really fair to call it a family operation altogether, but a collaboration has unfolded currently at the Box that is worthy of noting.  Maybe that is a family.  Ok it is.  It’s also this connection presumably influenced by her father that allows one to reconsider just using the common critique of female objectification, shock or machoism attached to McCarthy’s work.  Meaning there is an understanding of the information the artist is dealing with that goes way deeper than just the immediate or presumed information commonly being viewed or associated to his work.  He is aware.  Basically, women aren’t just objects here, but rather contribute to the overall story very importantly.  There is a nod too by the artist to his roots and influence from feminism, performance and his relationship to Los Angeles’ art history.  Sometimes he even plays dress up.  He has always held up a mirror on his past.  He continues to do so.  The male position is generally always absurd or pathetic and there has never been a moment I’ve seen a denial of this kind of failure.  A acknowledgment of possibly needing help. Has this character and portrayal been brought on or triggered by critics?  I believe it is more sincere than that, but I can also sympathize with a predicament of being misunderstood.  Sometimes we play out if provoked.  Of course Paul has many followers as I’m sure he has haters.  Seems like a no brainer to me though of his importance.  There’s a certain co-dependency throughout Rebel Dabble Babble, which in common relationships is generally looked down on, but here it’s one model of making failure a success.  Does McCarthy desire to fail or succeed?  The question of success is irrelevant in the stature of one’s career here.  We’re talking about the act of making and presenting things. Remove the leg support.  Failure is accepted.  Here it is a matter of looking at failure and success as possible equals.  Either way you look at it the importance is in the examination of what is being learned and negotiated whether good or bad.  With all of this said it is also important to acknowledge that McCarthy is considerate of all the subjects and individuals at hand.  From my understanding he has always surrounded himself with strong women and challenging artists, which any smart artist should do. He has also supported others, which all artists should do.  Not all can do this, but McCarthy is a good example of an artist who supports what he believes in with the support he’s been provided.  This is still the case with the cast of Rebel Dabble Babble.  Regardless of rumors on how the collaboration might’ve gone with Franco, Rebel Dabble Babble is a good example of utilizing all roles and actions for their real worth. There is also the relevance of time and place to consider.  The 60′s and 70′s provoked a certain working together that some of us seem to forget.  This forgetting is caused in part by a critique placed on indifference instead of a critique of the whole picture that ultimately connects us.  I’m not interested in isolating gender and activity in art.  You’re trying to make me you as much as I’m trying to make you me.  I’d never do that to anyone. What do you want – diversity or equality? You’re trying to be you just like I’m trying to be me.  I’d do that. Identity politics can sometimes create gaps. Rebel Dabble Babble fills in the blanks.


Opening Scene ( Viewing the Exhibition Opening ) w/ Extras


The director of the museum is leaving.  He’s looking for his car.  We are arriving. Me, Margaret and Adam.  Margaret drove us here.  I was annoying her and being a back seat driver.  I was expecting we wouldn’t get in.  We walk in welcomed by Jason and production posters behind the gallery desk.  My eyes skim them quickly.  No real registration of names, titles etc.  They are props really.  I’m relieved the place isn’t exclusive.  Artists should be let in to any art event. The place was already packed.  Paul has drawn a map with numbers and a more common description sheet on the works is also provided.  It’s nice to have these things to take home as keepsakes.  As always you can go left or right.  I go left, get a glimpse of some projected scuffling around a dinner table. I’m jumbled, a little claustrophobic, it’s a low ceiling.  Mr. Kersels head is nearly touching it.  We say hello.  I break from my party and proceed to the spacious main gallery.  More scuffling. This time familiar. Not a family necessarily, but it’s there, it’s hinted at.  The beds, the inverted house hold, the stains, the altercations, the recordings and presentations of such abstractions on all of the above and much more.  Like a martini party gone bad, but this time it’s home cookin’.  Like Pollock pulling the dinner cloth off the table.  Mark Grotjahn passed out and laying in a median at an AIDS benefit telling women to fuck off.  Similar to the unraveling in Hitcock’s Rope or Chris Burden being pushed down the stairs.  Ask Jean Milant.  The stairway to heaven was now the stairway to hell.  It’s about Hollywood, but not TMZ.  It’s more involved than that.  It’s not about James Franco joining the ranks of the art world either.  That time has passed.  I’m an artist and I’m in a movie.  Everyone is too involved now.  It’s not a bad thing necessarily.  There’s no turning back.  We’re all here participating and viewing.  It all mirrors America and the art world, past and present.  It’s the best intersection of art and Hollywood that I’ve ever seen!  Inside and out.  Domesticated Public.  Public domesticated.  Colonel Sanders.  Would you like crispy or original recipe?  Extra Gravy?  There are too many exclusive dinner parties, events and happenings in art today.  Who is anyone to hold one? This is all a good critique of that crap.

Everyone is here now as well as some new ones. Girls on film. Celebrities.  Old teachers.  Museum personnel.  The one’s you don’t see at yours or your friends openings. The ones consumed by history and the artists already convenient for their projects.  The one’s that don’t return your emails.  Who can blame them?  It’s psychological and not in general, but in depth like an episode of Hoarders uncut.  The part where you tell your mom to throw out that box of shit and she ends up telling you to shove it up your ass in her own way of saying just that. The father might step in, but will probably keep his mouth shut.  He knows when to speak.  When to have the family sit down and deliver the sermon.  It’s critical and not in negativity, but in honest meanderings and excavations of the issues at hand. Gender, consumption, digestion, frustration and a celebration of the tragically absurd.  Everyone’s shit stinks you know. You don’t necessarily smell your own until that day on the freeway.  You usually blame it on someone else.  I bet even you have a spanker chief under your pillow.  A favorite toy maybe.  You ever feel like humping your pillow?  Maybe you bite things.  There’s no such thing as a safe word.  It’s an involvement worthy of attention and an involvement that requires attention.  It’s full of surprises.  Around every corner and every moment.  If you blink you might miss it, but you’ll find the other “it” around the way with that “round the way” girl or boy. Or hear about it now and later. You might even trip and fall.  You might fall on purpose. It’s memory oriented, it triggers memory.  It memorializes and celebrates time.  Even Franco is standing there recorded and learning from Paul.  He looks somewhat frustrated.  He should be.  He’s playing a character, a role. We are all students and participants here.  You signed up for this shit and you love it.  We all do.  Time to renew your membership. Art is about collaboration just like the family household, the gallery, the museum, the film set and even KFC.  Some people sure know how to pick their collaborators.  If only everyone was so lucky.  Remember though, you’re always a part of it.  Always.  Most people love a good conversation or something worth talking about, but even I’m not going to waste my time thinking whether or not you’re an artist.  It’s somewhat irrelevant.  Just do what you do and I’ll do what I do.


Better Description


It is definitely Paul in a disguise.  It’s a really good disguise.  Everyone is in character.  They are playing Hollywood.  They are good actors.  Paul and his stunt double both resemble a mix between Slick Willy ( Slick Willy is what my grandpa calls Clinton ) and Hank from King of the Hill w/ grey hair.  Or an aged John from Garfield.  Maybe even Ed Rooney getting kicked in the face.  He did fall down the stairs there.  Kind of like a shop teacher mixed with a bible salesman.  The principal gets his leg humped and bitten by the Rotweiler.  No dogs here.   Only metaphorically.  There is some harassment occurring from all parties. Both ends.  There’s a tall male figure wondering around fighting with an unidentified woman.  Possibly  the mother.  It’s the “housewife I will beat” type of shit. Pseudo morals.  I am the VHS, record me with your fist ( these are all Marilyn Manson lyrics ).   < It’s easier citing it this way.  On second thought it’s the daughter and her father.  Fuck you.  Fuck you.  Fuck you.  More than that.  There’s a fight occurring in the room on camera that’s still felt in the props left behind, now presented to us as art objects.  A chair was pulled out from under her ass.  She wasn’t the same woman on the other screen being fondled/fondling James.  She was a stunt double. That one wasn’t the same woman either.  At the opening she had long dark wavy hair and a skin tight black dress on.  Her smile and eyes were there though.  She was recognizable out of costume.  She said this is my dad.  At least I think that was Elyse, the one playing Judy.  Judy’s mother is Suzan Averitt.  Jim’s mother too.  She’s a mother period.  Her and Paul’s double – the body snatcher are in a slap session.  I didn’t see them at the opening.  Didn’t see them anywhere else really. The skin has been broken.  Blood sticks.  Judy is stabbing him with her heels.  It’s like the victim in a horror film killing the already dead to make sure he’s dead.  Already dead.  There is also an apparent male to male ass raping being projected. It is a forced entry.  There is grunting. It’s like WWF.  Sleeper hold.  The opposite of the Oedipus complex full filled.  Franco is raping Paul.  Father yes son.  I want to fuck you.  Jim Morrison reversed.  The table is slightly turned back though.  Don’t fuck with a vet. Neck squeeze. The only thing not present is the rectum in the flesh.  It’s on the screen though.  It’s definitely a brown eye.  There is a lot of red present too.  I wonder where all of the other clothes went. The men seem to being wearing most of theirs.  The women have stripped down a bit in one episode.  There’s a single bed.  There are some linens and garb on it.  A family photo too. Jim’s original father in mom’s cleaning garb.  It’s a drag.  It’s represented on the screen too. This time it’s Paul. Cleaning house.  Getting yelled at.  The scrapes and the breasts aren’t visible anymore though.  The leftover chicken is still hanging out.  A splattering of sorts.  The inverted dresser/stand with a plant on it  mimics its projector counterparts.  All recorded actions are projected on the wall in video and in vivid color. There’s a lot of movement throughout.  Cyclonic.  The physical presentation is an altered altar of sorts.  The room has been christened.  Sanctified.  Time has stopped.  Things have been broken down and reconfigured. There’s a chair with a harp design resembling a W.  My namesake. It’s enough to know that the situation was mad wrong, whether fabricated or not.  But the pieces were being put back together.  A possible tape to include into the trial or to put under the couch.  As a sick get me off.  Why are they fighting?  Has he had enough with her games?  Her the same?  Did she break curfew.  He’s restraining him self.  She just keeps telling him to fuck off mother fucker. He’s about to lose it. Who invited the other guy to the party? It was a triangle of sorts, more than that actually and the camera crew had to witness it all.  A lot of mirroring.  A whole lot of shaking going on.  Paul carried a tray of chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy.  It was inevitable. The food would soon become waste.  It would be a waste to waste it though. Let’s put it in the gallery.  Serve it to the customers anyway.


Elyse Poppers as Judy / Natalie Wood and James Franco as Jim / James Dean,  Jay Yi as Sal Mineo / Plato ( with Environment and Leftover Altercation, Paul as Nick Ray / Father,  Suzan Averitt / Jim and Natalie Woods Mother )


She has beautiful breasts and a pretty smile.  Elyse.  He has wavy hair like Jim.  It sits weirdly on his head though.  I wonder if he wanted to do it without the wig on.  James.  The nighty was a pale copper-ish rose as were her toe nails or at least the color was reflecting. Soft and pale.  Cream possibly.  It could’ve been dirt. It all goes well with that golden brown mid length wavy hair.  All glistened.  On second view they were clear.  The toe nails and the fingernails.  The dirt acted as a patina.  The residual flowers, dirt, glass and dust were all left as traces on parts of furniture.  Those eye lashes were proper too.  She’s an actress, it’s o.k. to describe how she looked.  Her mouth was kissing his lips.  His lips were kissing her mouth.  The saliva pulled from both of their mouths like string.  Social lubricant.  Franco happily played the role in a somewhat sedated mood.  Blue jeans and all.  He looks like someone out of Happy Days.  Henry Winkler.  She is I love Judy not Lucy.  He’s telling her about his dreams of being an artist.  Don’t be so selfish.  She puts his nose in her mouth.  Nasal cavity.  His head is teetering back and forth. He already fit the part.  At times it’s hard to do that for both I imagine.  Play a part. Their hands guided each other.  They were both content.  It’s fortunate really.  An outlet to be intimate.  Lucky guy or Lucky girl.  If it’s not going good at home go to the set.  If you’re not happy with who you are be someone else.  It was all still blurry though.  As a viewer you can only imagine what it was like as a re-enactment.  It was still real though.  It was like any desirable presentation of love.  They were embracing each other.  Life isn’t always like the movies, but the McCarthys and these actors were definitely proposing that parts of it can be.  Art imitates life and vice versa.  A love story I suppose, but something was still off.  Things were spilt into the crowd.  We were behind the scenes in a way.  Blue Boy was on the wall pervertedly hung.  Jay Yi plays Sal at the top of the stairs.  It’s kind of like the blue ape w/ his dick between his legs.  It’s just blurred.  He’s at the top of the stairs. Lost.  Is James dreaming bi-curiously?  His penis dangles.  It’s hallucinatory.  Fairytale like.  Identity crisis.  Androgynous Male.  I barely saw him at all.  Supporting actor.  Blue tape marks the floor for the furniture placement.  There’s an area highlighted by light coming through the oscillating air vent in the gallery.  It bounces on the floor like a yo yo. There’s a dark brown liquid stain throughout the grayish brown carpet.  A non-working t.v. set.  A relic.  You make your way upstairs possibly smiling.  The girl is on the bed.  She’s pulling you in.  Finger in her mouth on her tongue.  You are projecting now.  The men are nowhere in sight.  Actually there are only men in the room.  She’s asking you all to come closer.  What are we all thinking?  She wants you near her.  You’re already there.  Or maybe you are afraid?  Nothing else matters now.  Everything matters now.  Just give her what she wants or let her beg.  Maybe you should comfort her in your mind.  But maybe she just wants to be close to you.  It doesn’t have to always be so perverted.  She is innocent.  You are guilty from birth.   Maybe there’s a chance.  You can still hear the fight though.  It’s downstairs.  It has escalated.  If someone wanted to start a fight at the opening it might go unnoticed.  Seriously someone might call the cops.  The neighbors might complain.  All of these things go through your head.  I go downstairs.  There’s slapping involved again.  Dude you’re way out of line. Punching.  I might have to step in.  She stepped into a man’s place.  That doesn’t exist.  Hair Pulling.  Kick in the shin.  Where am I? What room?  The tone has been set.  It’s violent.  It’s sexual.  Someone is going to get hurt.  We’re being confronted by some kind of American demonology.  Fuck the police someone call the Exorcist.  The second time around they’re in the tub. He’s in the tub.  It’s like the old days.  Self portraiture as woman.  Documentation.  Like a Fish Called Wanda.  The demon has spewed a very cold liquid.  It’s orange cream.  Ghost Busters.  They shiver.  Teeth clacking. The real facial of commercial goo.  Paul has his blinders on. Fogged up Lens Crafters. A propped-up door to bump into.  It’ll fuck you up.  Weiner on Reinhardt.  Lawrence, Ad.  A pillow wrapped in plastic.  A recycling bin wrapped in plastic.  Don’t open it.  Just put up against the wall.   A tie around his eyes in the other room.  Her’s too.  A baseball bat.  Drywall – let me out of here!  James and Elyse under the bed.  Daddy’s home.  Get a beer and run for your life.


Personal Example 1. The Family Fight, Domestic Scuffle, Family and Academic Merger, McCarthy Era


The spilling of beans was chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy here.  We used to have family dinners there.  They sold memorabilia glasses with the dwarves on them. KFC.  Maybe it was McDonalds.  Now they eat together at the nursing home.  The food isn’t the same there, but the same here.  Eat it off the floor.  My father as grocery store manager.  You know all of the ketchup and shit.  Actually, there’s a lot of shelving things to that.  Even robbery.  The kids driving mom crazy.  Mom driving the kids home from the theme park.  I won’t stop singing So Alive by Love and Rockets.  She’s upset now. Broken furniture at home.  My brother Brad spilt chocolate milk on the beige carpet.  It started to stink the second day.  Repressed and then overly presented sex and anger.  Here. Things continue to get thrown around literally and metaphorically.  He’s older now and listening to Morrissey and drawing on the walls. Dad calls him a fruitcake.  It wasn’t anyone’s fault.  Our house was haunted.  It didn’t help that the babysitter wanted and carried out a threesome with your child.  They possibly gave him drugs.  His view is skewed.  He’s experimenting. He’s in high school now.  Then.  He later made it with her sister.  Then.  Welcome to adulthood.  Now. Make a choice. Go to college if you can’t handle the real world. Jack off in the paint to make it glossy.  Take it to show and tell. Art school might help.  Then.  It didn’t.  Now.  It’s better.  Now what?


Wrote a paper in History of Modern Design.  Somehow I wanted to adhere ad hoc aesthetics to a critique of modernism.  I was naive.  I was a kid.  It had already happened.  This issue.  It didn’t matter. But I was onto something.  I stumbled upon a surrogate depiction on parts of my life at the Kansas City Art Institute in the painting program.  To be exact the library fact sheet/check out record I had printed out before graduating says so. 9/02/03 to be exact.  3:32 pm to be exact.  Two books exact. One on Paul the other on Mike. They were the opposite of Takashi.  It was too late to do the research on the facts.  It’s all visual.  Might’ve already happened.  I was engulfed by bodies of work more chaotic than my own.  It was picture perfect.  I wanted them to be my peers.  Buszek marked that paper with red several times.  Maria.  She might do it to this one too.  I made them kids again.  I was finding my voice.  I was telling a story.  Making things up.  I forgot their birthdays.  Although the parts were mostly plastic and ketchup there were also saws, drill sets, a sander, a blue extension chord to be exact.  These were mine.  Blood too.  I rammed that drill right into my hand the year prior.  My future roommate demonstrated the rotation of my flesh to the class on the drill as I laid passed out. He was driving screwdrivers into doll parts. Paul. I used to use dad’s grinder to make spears from the broom handles.  I shaved the cabbage patch dolls head.  Doll parts were coming out of his head. Paul. He stuffed those sausages down his throat.  Paul.  A self inflicted binge.  Paul.  There was gauze and mayonnaise.  Paul.  Dad always puts mayo on the burgers.  Bossy Burger.  All of these things printed out by my student id # 1334 or in my head. Now we’re back to my own dad with the air compressor, even the blue extension chord.  There’s that blue again. It was definitely blue as was the little chair.  Not the broken one, that was a rocker. The lava lamp was blue too.  I stuck a knife in it.  It blew up.  I saw blue and it knocked me out.  Coach Hawkins used to call me smurf.  I didn’t mind other than the fact that the worst referee in high school history was also called that by my dad and everyone else.  This was Nixa, Missouri.  The rocker actually rocked one night by itself.  The mother had committed suicide there or somewhere else.  There’s someone in that house.  A witch kept me from peeing.  Always traces left behind.  My brother as my witness.  Back to dad.  Fuck the grocery store.  He just buys things there like everyone else now.  He’s a little more conscious w/ his budget though.  He was once a manager after all.  Once his co-workers gave him a fake turd as a gift. The fridge was always full.  Grandpa Wrinkle was a milk man.  He carried those glass containers like James drinks from in Rebel Without a Cause.   He harvested beef though, at home on the farm.  He still does.  The freezer is always full too.  Slaughter crippled beef.  Sailors Meat. Paul.  The grocery store and farm are stand-ins for the prop house Paul as was the childhood home, but my dad’s real passion is painting and rebuilding cars.  Hot rods and classics. 55, 56, 57 Chevys. They used to drag race on the farm roads.  Chicken.  I was led to here, this place of the McCarthys by him and then it was de Kooning, Rauschenberg and Nauman. All teachers whether they like it or not. Those are all recorded too.  As is Dennis the Menace and the Art of Walt Disney.  This is the reality. I’m speaking the truth.  All my connections before have been figured out later or fakes.  I admit it.  This connection is real though.  I have the proof. The familial genes don’t necessarily matter.  Sometimes it helps.  Usually that’s the case. But it’s a hybrid of art and literal family here.  I learned it from watching you, dad. We are all taught to appropriate from birth.  Drew an alien at the age of 5.  Drew a doll at the age of 7.  Took Brad’s drawings to show and tell as my own at 8.  Don’t know what happened at 6.




Intermission on the Lawn (actually the Parking Lot) There’s a house (recreation of Bungalow #2 at Chateau Marmont) It’s time for that beer now. Hollywood Upside Down, Everyone was there, You had to see it, Please let me explain…


The sun was setting.  Everyone is confronting the crazy neighbor. Paul.  There was a house on stilts.  It was that sage green like the Cobain accents in Seattle.  It was lit from all angles.  The windows were open.  Notches were cut out similar to that bathroom door from The Shining or the front door of the Texas Chain Saw Massacre.  There were conventional windows too, though.  I looked through one.  I saw friends looking through another.  Please let me into your house I need to wash myself ( Men’s Recovery Project ).  We exchanged laughter.  When does a person get to have an exchange of looking through and into someone’s house, to see others doing the same?  Have a conversation.  What does it mean to watch a room?  A set? Take a picture it’ll last longer.  You could see the props.  There was a bath tub covered in a poopy tar like substance, a lamp, a couch, a wooden floor.  Gel filters.  A hot water heater. The walls were lemon yellow.  The roof had been pulled away from the second story.  Actually probably never placed on it.  It was a fabrication after all. No tornadoes in California.  I could sleep up there I thought.  Hold a solo slumber party.  I mentioned that to Karolina and Margaret.  Pass out.  Presumingly a retrieved Hollywood Video sign hung upside down on the back side of the structure.  That’s surely where it’s from Sara said. I move through the crowd and grab another beer.  I say hi to Andrew. He kindly says hi, but is in a rush.  Where are you going? I have to take pictures for Artforum.  You can take my picture.  Me. He did.  Nice blank stare.  Him. You gotta act serious w/ these contexts.  Me.  Not really.  Me.  Of course it was a promotional stunt.  Me.  One that I’m sick of.  Me.  Time to look at the work again.  On the second time around it was like a construction site.  One like we used to have balloon and water gun fights in.  I looked through the opening to the stairs for the first time.  Back to heaven.  Daylight helps.  The only safe place perhaps.  I could still take a nap up there.


Personal Example 2 / Personal Example and Exhibition Merger 1, Artistic Porn / Adult Entertainment Go Back into the Box, See a metaphorical box get played with by it’s owner who I’m unaware of until…


When I came upon one of the small back galleries ( gallery 10 Adult Entertainment ) to find a woman’s back side propped up by her knees, her face turned away, with that same hair, I assumed it was the woman ( Elyse Poppers ) portraying Judy from the scenes before. I was amazed that the scenes had escalated from teasing and common foreplay, to the woman now playing with herself.  She was doing the v.  The butterfly.  The shape her fingers made.  The gesture.  Men do it with their moustaches.  Enjoying playing with herself.  Acting?  Maybe the best kind.  Doing it for us, you and them and for herself.  Is this the case?  I’m sure she enjoyed it.  Who doesn’t?  Masturbation. There is a logic.  Who is she?  I can’t see her face.  Maybe she’s in the other room.  Sometimes I feel dirty afterwards.  It made me smile this time.  It was flirting with something I was insecure about publicly.  Something I wouldn’t dare do before going out socializing.  I’d still feel that perverted grime.  The dirt again.  I’ve reminded myself before just walking down the sidewalk that if others in the art world were weirdos or perverts then I could be too, but it never changed the fact of feeling pathetic when viewing art after I’d surfed porn a half hour before.  It’s all in will.   Is this something to feel bad about? No.  You have to clean up and present yourself as educated and professional. Everyone is acting and playing the part.  But here I was being confronted with it.  It was in my face. It was in all of our faces.  This action.  This activity of sexual pleasure.  From the viewer and the actress. Speak for yourself you say?  But it was calming this time.  Almost meditative.  Something was definitely changing my views of pornography, art and myself.  It was a marriage.  It was a good thing.  I was unaware of what was happening in the room behind me.  She was there all along.  In control.  it was still about teamwork though.


Extended Title, Climax, Heather Vahn as Judy / Natalie Wood /  Elyse Poppers,  James Deen as Jim / James Dean / Franco, Paul as Nick Ray / Director, Jimmy Lifestyles / Director, When I saw her face, I saw her standing there, Now I’m a believer, I’m in love, Just call me Angel in the Morning ( I used Angel here before seeing the actual footage of Jimmy Lifestyles calling Heather / Judy Angel- Pop Cultural ESP, more on this later maybe )…


I left the room and decided to take another stroll around, arriving at the front of the gallery.  Here I saw her face. There she was standing, smiling, dressed wonderfully, very cute. It was Heather Vahn- a face and body I knew on film and now she’s real, not just a virtual fuck buddy.  An all natural woman I must add.  She was accompanied by women.  They were cute and happy as well.  They were there together.  It was a night out for Heather.  She had a glow to her, her hair was pulled up and back, almost in a bun, very proper, she was dressed for an event.  She had entered a context of art very happy, ready to participate and excited.  I miss that excitement of coming to art.  Things were changing again. The art scene was different.  Thanks Paul.  Thanks Heather.  If only everyone could be so happy to participate with art this way.  There are a select few.  Maybe I’m just jaded.  Not at the moment though.  She’s a natural.  Beauty.  Her dress was light and a paisley type of pattern in purple, pink and white.  Would make for a good portrait or painting.  She was wearing wedges propping up her petite stature. She looked great like a girl next door dressed for a special occasion.  I would happily take her home to mom and dad.  I took all of this in just in passing.  I wasn’t objectifying her.  I’m sticking to my story. I was appreciating the energy she presented.  She lit up the room.  Although my memory of her was based in a zone of lust from before, my position was now one outside of her role or my common view upon her.  She was no longer an actress. I understood the difference.  The attraction didn’t change though.  Why was she here?


It’s all starting to fall in place.  The work is peaking.  The tent has been pitched.  The McCarthys aren’t one pump chumps.  The foreplay has turned into something else.  So has the imagination.  I’m feeling star struck and weird.  I’m still playing the role as artist though.  It’s my ego.  It’s an important club to belong too.  Give her the opportunity to stare me down like I have so many times to her? Hardly.  What gives me the nerve?  Maybe she’ll notice me. Notice me for what?  Girlfriends have called me handsome.  Others have called me a freak.  I begin to feel slightly pathetic.  I don’t follow her or anything.  I continue to go through the show again getting new glimpses and revelations.  I go back into gallery 10, it has definitely progressed.  I can’t believe it, It’s Heather Vahn as Judy instead of Elyse as Judy, now flipped around like that girl upstairs, that beautiful smile almost laughing and getting kissed downstairs / eatin out by her on screen companion James Deen playing Jim. You listened to her. Paul did too. You took her up on that offer from before.  She is glad you’re close to her again.  She’s playing out that fantasy you had before.  Or it is that fantasy again.  The one from your own bedroom.  Which is it?  I’m absolutely amazed, but I still haven’t connected the overall story board.  I’m blown away and all I know is this is something very important happening.  My insecurity in perversion meets my life of viewing, making and thinking about art.  I get a well deserved beer.  The only thing I now know to do is share this all with Jason the gallery attendant. “This” meaning my feeling of complete surprise and almost disorientation or embarrassment.  What is your art orientation?  Not to him.  To you the reader.  What is your preference?  Not to him.  You the reader.  He laughs at my revelation knowing who the actress is. I told him she’s so pretty / great and “smart or nice too”, I think he replied.  Of course I didn’t go up to her and to my knowledge I didn’t stare her down.  I’m not that type of guy.  We’ve all been around celebrities.  It’s common behavior.  You act normal.  What are you really thinking though?  I read the paper and Flea eats his meal at Stella twice a month usually.  I’m actually there everyday next door.  Good coffee.  All I can picture is him playing Woodstock naked.  I don’t look at him.  I read my paper on the steps.  It’s a form of respect.  I had my chance as a kid and got all those autographs.  I learned you don’t get in Henry Rollins face and Danzig gets in yours. Maybe that appreciation of bands and pop culture is the same appreciation I have for her.  To be fair I’m not sexually aroused by that stuff though.  I believe me and her had a moment though.  Non sexual.  Or at least I had a moment with her.  She was having her own moment with the show.  Had anything changed?  I’m not a stalker. If anything I’m intimidated.  This wasn’t a gross moment on my part.  It was a celebration of her work.  Her job.  Her acting.  As she passed my way she looked in my general direction, she threw a black coat over her to bundle up.  It was getting chilly.  I think she was on her way.  It could’ve been a scene itself.  Actually it was.  I’d shoot that scene for sure.  Her walking slowly by throwing over that black coat.  It was beautiful.  She was beautiful.  It was Hollywood.  I’d shoot the one from before too.  Maybe even participate. I guess it would I’d be considered amateur.  By the time I convinced myself to say hello she had disappeared just as quick as she came to be revealed. I wanted to show Margaret who she was.  Margaret wanted to see her too.  maybe so I’d shut up.  What made me want to say hi to her more than other celebrities that I ignore everyday?  Even the man of the hour McCarthy I don’t bother.  It was an attraction that’s not about objectifying her, but rather an experience of normal human desire.  She had helped change my views on art and life.  I at least owed her a thank you. Maybe we could be friends or get to know each other.


I walked back into gallery 10.  This time Heather and James Deen are engaged in full intercourse.  To be crude it’s a plowing.  Yeah fuck me James Deen.  Beat up that pussy. Heather. With a laugh here and there.  I’ve been there.  The show me what you got.  Tempt me.  I don’t want to go too far scenario.  You’re faking.  Get it over with.  James is somewhat macho.  I guess that’s his job.  Sometimes I disagree with the male counterpart.  Take better care of the girl.  It’s not my gig though.  Someone else’s clock and cock.  I’m not into the mean stuff. I can’t watch it.  Who am I to claim anything?  Judge.  I understand it’s acting.  Paul and Jimmy Lifestyles are surrounding the act.  Mumbling and reminding of a porno genre typically referred to as GONZO.  It’s a kind of scene where they talk to the actress, ask her questions and ask how she likes it.  The mumbling kind of critiques that line of work as did Heather’s blurt outs.  It was actually hilarious.  Like she was taunting the dude.  Everything else is gibberish.  Get to the point.  We’re here to do one thing.  Everyone gets off.  Everyone gets paid.  I’m surprised Heather isn’t making fun of him.  Not in real in life.  It would fit the plot.  I cannot move.  I’m kneeling down.  I’m frozen. This is unbelievable.  It was a moment of throwing myself in and throwing myself out.  I couldn’t decide what I should do.  Good art does this to you.  It throws you around like some puppet.  Not the girl in the video, but you the viewer.  It throws you through a loop.  This isn’t what one would normally do. You’re being mirrored.  You can see yourself active, but immobile at the same time.  Put yourself in her shoes.  In the bed.  On the couch.  In his shoes.  In the bed.  On the couch.  It’s an action.  A scene.  It’s all a fantasy.  It’s a work out.  Terrible wig.  Hers is nice though.  Pretty feet too.  Nice hands as well.  He’s doing freestyle.  Look mom no hands.  There are things you can think about to make it last longer.  She said she was going to cum.  I believed her.  I wasn’t going to though.  Not the time or the place.  Pee Wee Herman.  Another guy was in the gallery with his head turned as if planted in as some kind of decoy or performer to play the I’m not looking at this character. The money shot came.  They did it together. We all did it together. You did it! It was important that it wasn’t a facial.  This was a collaboration.  It is also important to bring up that this was greatly choreographed.  Maybe improvised.  These are professionals.  Please don’t try this at home.  More like please do.  Heather jerked Deen’s stick till it squirted. It was like champagne.  It was like a pillow fight.  The feathers flying. The semen was like water.  Splashing someone in the swimming pool.  Fun and games.  We’re getting paid good to do this.  Everyone gets paid.  Grab the soapy sponge.  Lather it up or simply just wash your hands.  It was theatrical.  It was candid.  It was fun.  It was slap happy.  Those are great actors.  They make me want to hump.  Why was I so amazed to find Heather so pleasant you might ask?  Honestly, I wasn’t.  It was already something I knew. I was more amazed by the revelation that we are all in this together now.


On the second time around, Gallery 9 ( Sorry I’m Sorry ) -  ( A lot of Mirroring Occurring ) Paul McCarthy, Heather Vahn as Judy / Elsye Poppers / Natalie Wood, Jimmy Lifestyles as Director / Paul McCarthy as Nick Ray, and Gallery 10 (Adult Entertainment), Paul McCarthy, Heather Vahn as Judy / Elsye Poppers / Natalie Wood, James Deen as Jim / James Dean / Franco, Jimmy Lifestyles, Cross Examination/, *Superimposed Dan Graham-ian Projection, Performance Audience Mirror,Two Way Mirror, Oral Reversal, Closer to solving the case, Stories Overlap, She is him,  He is her, Back and Forth, Yesterday is Today


I went back to Rebel Dabble Babble.  Round two.  It’s a Wednesday.  Retrace my steps.  I’d never been into Gallery 9 ( Sorry I’m Sorry ).  Throughout all of Rebel Dabble Babble there is a sense of mirroring.  The characters mirror each other.  There are body doubles.  Art mirrors reality.  Even your thoughts are mirrored.  Galleries 9 and 10 are split by a window.  It is reflective.  A mirror that you can see through.  Like at a hospital, a bank or an interrogation room.  There are videos in each room.  Their actions become mirrored.  They also meld into one another.  If you view one video through the window you see the other.  It’s a superimposition.  A kind of cross examination.  A delay as well.  Future.  Past.  Future Past.  Present.  Present.  What you see is what you get and got.  What you have.  Dan would be proud. There’s a conversation occurring in gallery 9.  Heather is playing mommy to James and Jimmy in both rooms.  In gallery 10 James sucks on her tits like a baby. In gallery 9 Jimmy begs her like a boy begs his mom to take him to the circus.  Please Please.  Sorry.  Paul as his witness.  Their witness.  I gave you everything.  It’s too late she’s gone.  This seems to be the case.  You’ve messed up to many times.  She found someone else.  We’ve all been there.  He cheated.  She cheated.  It’s over.  She’s in control now.  Paul as her witness. Their witness. James too. She rides on his back.  She’s fish hooking him.  Finger pulling his mouth.  How’s that?  You like that?  Looking through the window to gallery 10 you see James Deen is doing something similar.  He’s in control.  Paul as his witness. Jimmy too.  He’s throwing her on the couch or the bed.  She’s playing along with it.  Turning her over.  It is all simultaneously merged together.  It is all turned over on itself.  The manipulation of meaning if you will.  Content.  The art.  Here any objectification reading is balanced.  It saves his ass.  Paul as his own witness.  But it’s not just that.  It is a a conscious understanding.  A choice in the installation.  It’s somewhat of a conclusion.  The story has come to a head.  All of that foreplay before became something.  All of the fights.  They were settled down a bit.  Working on something together.  Whether in agreeing or not. They ended up doing it to each other.  It became another game.  Jimmy is telling Heather she’s an angel sent from heaven.  Heather spits on him at some point.  It was an order.  In the reflection there is more saliva.  Oral reversal.  She wipes him down.  She’s sick of hearing the same thing.  Do you understand what it means to look at you?  She’s dressed like the innocence of the 50′s.  In the rearview she is getting undressed. That bra looks great on you.  My baby does the hanky panky.  Him and her.  She and him.  Them and us. Us and them.  You and you.  Ed Templeton was there too.  The Foundation of Swank had switched industries. Look him up or down.  Which ever you prefer.  I’m talking about skateboarding though… This all seems like good therapy.  I’ll do it for free.  There’s a price for everything.  The biggest importance in the intercourse scene is in it’s relationship to the violence in the rest of the scenes.  That it resolved somethings in the plot.  It was a contrast to the slapping, yelling and chaos everywhere else.  It’s quite obvious, which line of communication works best.  Kiss and make-up.  If this isn’t a conclusion please put me in the sequel.  If this is wrong I don’t wanna be right.


Literal Example 1. My Excuse, Disney Orientated Porn, Vintage Porn, The Beginning / Penthouse Under the Sink, Aaron what are you doing in there?


Porno nation evaluation. What’s this time for segregation. Libido, Libido, fascination.  Too much oral defecation. ( Marilyn Manson’s Cake and Sodomy- A Portrait of an American Family, 1994 )


Fuck it.  I was influenced by dirty magazines and I’m not going to apologize for being born.  Thank you for the advice Raymond.  Present tense.  A threesome at 6.  I situate it somewhere between my first acid trip and dripping in my pants in english class.  The neighbor asked what did you do today.  Played sex.  What did you do today? Just an experience.  A flash.  With the other babysitters daughter it was 69. There were wooded experiences too.  Forts.  Like fox holes.  Boys will be boys.  Girls will be girls.  Children will be children.  Boner under the hide a bed.  Babysitters sisters are freaks.  Adults will be adults. There’s a pre pubescent window you know.  A time to figure it all out.  You’re still shooting blanks. Don’t pigeon-hole people on experiences.  Let them make up their own minds.  Admit it to yourself.  It really helps.  It’s all child’s play.  Some don’t experience it at all.  Good for them.  Very good for them.  I mean that.  Some experience it a lot worse. You only live once you know. Don’t be a product of society.  A book on a shelf.  The categorical proportions of identity bother me.  Disney is teaching your kids lessons on what? Open your eyes.  Disney replaced by Vivid and MTV. Put on your makeup. Stick out your tongue. Just let it sit there.  Change the subject.  Kind of.   From time to time the adult industry likes to do parodies.  This wasn’t any different in the 80s and 90′s.  So as a teenager stumbling upon an old rated x tape, me and my friends sat around smoking weed and watching a man dressed up like the Beast gruntingly give it to his beauty.  I didn’t know if I was supposed to get off, laugh, cry or puke.  There were times when I puked.  It was the weed though.  Everyone’s parents had these things.  He has a sock around his hand, but what is that thing he’s holding?  Ones uncle had a busted magazine.  Funny to put it in your friends back pack as a joke.  What do you know about gays?  It was part of liberation.  Change your views.  Freedom.  Respect people.  Even the videos had the American flag waving. The saying run it up the flag pole doesn’t come from nowhere.   It was about Flynt. There are toys, pamphlets and self help groups for this kind of shit.  Nikki and the pom pom girls.  A turd on a silver platter for Ron Jeremy.  Peter North was in all of them.  I now believe adult entertainment to be the ultimate embodiment of art meets life.  My brother Brad laughed on the phone the other night calling it performance art.  I realize that might sound naive to some, but I couldn’t agree more.  I always took advice from my brother.  He painted first and everything else.  I followed close behind.  Now he has his own family.  The kids paint pretty pictures.


Conclusion/ More Traditional Review


Paul and Damon McCarthy’s Rebel Dabble Babble is exactly what it’s title says it is.  Again it made me wanna Rebel Dabble Babble.  Every single element in this show has some kind of significance to the family situation and relationships in general.  That is a hard thing to achieve with anything these days.  The fact that an artist can bring his family along to a party, invite guests and tell a story from the wreckage of a completely backward and corrupt society ( art included ) and make it meaningful is a fact that is well worth celebrating.  I also think it’s fair to let that celebration be one that gets out of hand as a kind of mirroring.  Writing on such acts should be no different.


Paul has been a rebel in the art world all along and I’ve only been privileged to witness a small portion of it.  He has dabbled and babbled.  Again, I’ve only heard some of it.  He continues to do so.  I’ll continue to listen as should you.  It isn’t running in circles in the pedantic way.  It’s running in circles and retracing those circles to find the blind spots in the dirt.  What I mean is Paul McCarthy churns things.  He shakes that chicken box to reveal the gizzards.  You might not like the taste.  You might not even be hungry.  But you will eat.  You will help with the dishes even if that means throwing them across the room.  Of course after cleaning your plate. His direction is one any artist or actor should love to participate under and take notes on.  I honestly don’t have anything bad to say about this work.  It’s an extremely good exhibition stemming from a genuine practice.  It’s a masterpiece in failure at the same time.  That’s the point I believe.  Failure needs to be portrayed and reenacted.  So do common acts of love, sex and simulated violence, debauchery and corporate bingeing.  An art practice enables one to explore this terrain.  I’m not just sugar coating or kissing ass.  It is of no doubt that this work has problems.  That’s why it is important.  It’s a kind of problem solving.  If people don’t see that they are pessimists.  Paul and Damon being approached by Franco to collaborate couldn’t have worked out better in terms of what the McCarthys chose to create.  I’d like to imagine Paul very happy about interacting with the original content of Rebel Without a Cause to inspire not only Rebel Dabble Babble, but to serve as further exploration in the issues he’s mined throughout his career.  To give credit to his son is of importance here also. Who better to know the activities and interests of a father better?  This isn’t sexist.  All the characters play their roles.  Remember it’s a family affair.  Damon surely helps fuel his father’s instincts.  He encourages new ways of seeing and participating.  A good father will embrace that.  If allowed a good son or daughter will be grateful.  The choices that this father and son created along with the whole family including all of us, give room for improvement on our conversations and interactions on art and humanity.  It all proposes we reconsider our judgments on our immediate impulses and viewership.  That we take the time to be patient and explore.  That we don’t just give up on the family down the street because we’re the family down the street too.  That your neighbor might like to dress up like a woman, but so does your wife.  That James plays with dolls and so does Judy.  A family that works together stays together.  There are all kinds of families.  There are all kinds of couples.  As for the violence, I hope it’s something that can be worked out.  It’s all fun and games until someone gets their eye put out.  It’s a lot safer to reconsider love.  All acts of love.  Not just missionary.


A Fine Example

Julian Hoeber, The Execution Changes, Blum and Poe, Los Angeles, Ca




Comparing the language of the press release to the reality of experiencing Julian Hoeber’s current exhibition “The Execution Changes,” leaves one feeling a little confused. According to the PR, Hoeber is cited for using a fixed set of operations like Sol Lewitt (specifically the late artist’s wall works) to build his compositions and an oppositional use of color and texture to reveal irrationality in a rational system. We shouldn’t focus extensively on press releases, largely written by beleagured gallerists, but the above comparison is pretty problematic as color and texture aren’t enough to break the stern geometric properties and right angles of rationalism. Besides, there is nothing irrational about these paintings, aside from their proposed affiliation to the Conceptual Art of the 60s and 70s.

Although there is a little bit of Lewittian geometry, most will relate the paintings as multiplied and skewed variations on the geometric abstraction of Josef Albersseries Homage to the Square as well as with his relationships to the internecine German Bauhaus school (as seen in Hoeber’s Endless Chair, 2010, a greatly designed and rationally assembled modern piece of modular furniture depicting a black to white value scale). It is only fair to say that although the execution changes for Hoeber, which seems to happen often, the real and actual historic forms of its educational origins have not. The Execution Changes, the series that lends the show its title, is also mentioned (via PR) as being part of a larger, open-ended project where Hoeber plans to make 1,000 unique objects in various mediums. While being unique is still in question, these are objects and not wall works; to acknowledge them as something unique even in regards to Lewitt is absurd as they still present themselves as serialized: traditionally and formally intact.

Julian Hoeber Installation View, 2011 Blum & Poe, Los Angeles

Julian Hoeber, Installation View, 2011, Blum & Poe, Los Angeles

If one actually carried out an exhibition of literal textured wall works it’s easy to imagine what that might look like and if we were to argue that what has changed is an object in place of an idea, then we are simply peddling backwards. In the press release Hoeber writes,

“Since my system hasn’t developed a rule for limiting method of execution, it is my responsibility to behave as if I have no rules in this regard. Call it conceptual art made like a craft project, because craft is what conceptual art repressed. And also because it is just plain beautiful.”

Craft is used rather loosely here in relation to an already complicated position attached to the work and there is little to do with craft here unless subversively manifested, located perhaps in the formal craft put into the works. What is suggested is that what has changed or been replaced is the repression of craft by conceptual art. But is the artist speaking of craft projects like yarn and popsicle sticks, the Arts and Crafts movement, or is he speaking of craft as in skill, refinement and aesthetic properties of objects? If “The Execution Changes” is hinting at the craft of an object, which I believe it is, then the works have actually declined in relation to Lewitt’s wall works and Albers’ painterly precision.

—Aaron Wrinkle

(Images: Julian Hoeber, Execution Changes 7 (VS Q1 CJ DC Q2 BCJ DC), 2010, Acrylic on panel, 62.5 x 44.5 inches framed (158.8 x 113 centimeters). Courtesy of Blum & Poe and the artist)


This doesn’t mean they (Hoeber’s) are bad paintings because they are not. His furniture is reminiscent of Lewitt’s sculptural aesthetics; whether machine made or handmade, craft, materials and aesthetics have always been blatantly obvious in so-called Conceptual Art and or Minimalism and I’ve never bought the idea of discarded worth of materiality and object-hood. The statement, “it is just plain beautiful,” speaks more towards the works context than anything with the exhibition reading like a collection:  the upstairs gallery evokes a private viewing room supported by the conservative open face framing of the paintings as if they’ve been presented before, already engulfed by the museum or being prepared to be re-sold and placed accordingly.

I enjoyed the exhibition and commend Hoeber for his ability to do as he pleases, but was turned off by the writing supporting the work as well as the bypassing and non-admittance to direct historic references and more remote influences in closer proximity. Mike Kelley is relevant to Hoeber’s chaptered-like titles and painting approach in the former’s Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction Series, his relearning to paint Hofmann-esque and his Missing Time Paintings; all locations of his original trauma of education.

Julian Hoeber Execution Changes 8-15, 2010 Acrylic on panel Eight parts; 24 x 17 inches framed each (61 x 43.2 centimeters)

Julian Hoeber, Execution Changes 8-15, 2010, Acrylic on panel, Eight parts; 24 x 17 inches framed each (61 x 43.2 centimeters)

Regardless of trauma, we are blessed and cursed with our formal understanding and don’t suffer from a permanent educational complex of amnesia. If anything, the contemporary art world needs to forget its education altogether. This said, you might come to further Kelley-esque subversion in Hoeber’s His and Hers, 2011, shaker-like wooden rockers w/ stuffed animals switched out for needle-point pillows and sheets mimicking the forms of their painterly counterparts. If Kelley’s aesthetics were read as abuse then Hoeber’s are necrophilic as the rockers remind us of coffin like beds.

For Kelley and Hoeber these kinds of strategies have proven fruitful but the consequence of such gestures is unforgivable in regards to their influence upon the persuasion of emerging artists fixed to scenes, textbooks and art magazines. For sometime, Los Angeles and abroad has seen endless reinterpretations in the 90s into the early 2000′s of Kelley’s perverted adhoc-isms, Jessica Stockholder’s redundancy of mixing painting and design and more recently a new found glory of ancient modernism, photographic formalism and the aesthetics of conceptual art, if there are such aesthetics of the latter.

Contemporary art and its history have simply become readymades, acting as stand-ins for some pretense. It is this situation that causes an over abundance of similar neo-academic art being made today because it is supported extensively. If the Execution Changes was conceptual art made like a craft project it would look more like Mike Kelley (old or new) than Josef Albers, but to Hoeber’s credit the exhibition ultimately can be viewed as conceptually derived, being that the critique of it’s objects and forms are heavily reliant on the artist’s choice of language or what Lewitt would refer to as the “idea.”

—Aaron Wrinkle

(Image: Julian Hoeber, His and Hers, 2011, Plywood, fabric, needlepoint, foam, Two parts; 25 x 30 x 80 inches each (63.5 x 76.2 x 203.2 centimeters). Courtesy of Blum & Poe and the artist)

Frieze Writer’s Prize Submission 2010

Aaron Wrinkle

Support Group

Organized by Michael Ned Holte

Thomas Solomon Gallery at Cottage Home

Chinatown, Los Angeles, Ca

“It’s all about… Gaylen Gerber!” is painted on stacked billboards outside the gallery, this introduction to the Los Angeles exhibition Support Group, a work of Kathryn Andrews, is a false statement..

You have to navigate the exhibition around Andrews’ Friends and Lovers, an enclosed chain length fence taking up the majority of the gallery. Here guests are forced to approach what they know: conversation with friends or surrounding artworks. Inside this jail of sorts on two identical concrete block walls facing each other are matching cartoonish bear portraits painted by Andrews, yet appropriated from Phil Lumbang, a local street artist. Unfortunately, Lumbang isn’t mentioned anywhere in association to Support Group. This is problematic, but nonetheless sets up a framework for the exhibition and this review as most support groups tend to reveal problems.

Adjacent to Andrews’ oversight is Mateo Tannatt’s Monster Model: Bluescreen Version, a re-contextualization of his Gallery Project Pauline. Acting as a stand up sculpture for exhibiting art, its flat vertical surface is covered in bright blue paint, rock climbing fixures, post pictures generation artworks and jigged cut outs for viewing video art, all credited in the gallery checklist along with others represented by Tannatt in the gallery’s reception room. Connecting all of this was Drawing for Monster Model: Blue Screen Version After Paul Sills, (original director of Chicago’s The Second City) a process drawing indicative of Tannatt’s other use of Cottage Home, the casting operations for a horror film carried out in the office upstairs when the gallery is closed. This mimics Sills’ historic role as a director and the mundane activities to occur in a gallery’s off hours, but also delves into the gallery’s former life as a cinema house replacing film w/ the actors themselves. Tannatt has a grasp on Cottage Home and the content within it, understanding what activities are deemed ok for the public.

Chicago artist Gaylen Gerber’s contribution to Support Group was painting the north, east and west walls of the gallery grey and putting transparent gels on the north part of two part fluorescent units. It should be noted that Tannatt’s works are the only works that exist outside of Gerber’s contribution, existing on the white walls of the gallery and reception room and escaping the altered lights. This is an important distinction in regards to Gerber’s past claims that his work is “institutional and true even if the architecture it goes on isn’t.” Gerber’s grey walls fail to support anything as the white walls of Cottage Home act as the true “institutional” support here even in Gerber’s attachment of paint. Gerber’s contribution is further complicated with his decision to remove his name from the gallery’s title sheet, only to list that: the gallery includes latex paint and transparent light gels. In the past Gerber has always supported others, but here he has taken on the role of the rest of us by, dare i say, giving allowance to an institutional support.

We cannot very well forgive Andrews for her negation of Lumbang or believe her painted words, but we can acknowledge her blatant evocation of the institutional through her fence unit and Tannatt stood proud, chipper and sober delivering his speech of past recreation with friends, while Gerber challenged himself and the group, proving even a veteran-ed spokesman on the institution of art can relapse. Even after stepping out those grey walls were still there though, reminding me that they were part of the institution after all. Tucked away under the gallery stairwell was Ned Holte who had apparently fallen off the wagon. He was smiling though so I knew it must have been a successful meeting.

The following day Mr. Solomon whispered Lumpang’s name in my ear proving once again the institution reigns.

Image Kathryn Andrews, It’s All About Gaylen Gerber, Billboard Painting, Cottage Home, Los Angeles, Ca, 2010



DAN GRAHAM Press Release 2009

1842 Glendale Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
By Appointment Only



Dan Finsel and Cary Georges
Dan Graham
October 2 – October 30, 2009
Opening Reception: Friday, October 2nd, 8–11 pm
Live Performances by DG (Aaron Wrinkle and Laura Kim)
and The Order (Cary Georges and Davey Shook) at 10 pm

On October 2nd, 2009 a portion of a revamped storefront in Echo Park is being presented as an exhibition space called Dan Graham. Dan Graham, the inaugural exhibition, will include works by Dan Finsel and Cary Georges. This exhibition proposes new ways of re-examining historical presentations of monochrome painting and performance and conceptual sculpture through contemporary presentations of pop-cultural, art historical and conceptual production and analysis.

The mission of this site is to function as an exhibition space, to facilitate research, lectures and critiques. The aim is to create a context that’s conscious of the past, present and future contents and forms of art.

“We should readily ask ourselves if we regularly take the content of a given show for granted? Do we have the tendency to overlook work in it? Or the work that went into its making? Or the making of the work in it? Aaron Wrinkle’s Dan Graham space takes its first steps as a gallery and a “gallery” after many were taken in its making…to ask what constitutes the foundation of a gallery, as architecture designated for a specific use and as a framework to explore in and of itself…Wrinkle’s choices to pursue this project involve generating this very question.” (excerpt from “Dan Graham 1842: A building can only ever come from (a) building” written by Adam Feldmeth)

In his psycho-sexual performance video work, Dan Finsel investigates the structures of digital video production through sampling, editing, gender flip dress-up and strategic presentation. He has managed this through side-stepping digital video production’s common animated use value of green and blue screens by simply using them as background wall paintings in his videos and video installations. This framing puts emphasis on the appropriative narratives FInsel presents so chillingly in his excavations of the pop phenomena television series Beverly Hills 90210 and his oedipus like predicament with the recently deceased and side-stepped celebrity Farrah Fawcett (before her death).  In a recent presentation of his 90210 derived video at the Malibu Art Fair with Parker Jones Gallery, Finsel left the blue and red plaid carpet, which the rest of the fair hosts’ chose to remove from the site, in an office like room of a once-school for troubled youth. He threw a monitor up to present his video and painted blue screen paint in recta-linear form/fashion on a newly built wall. This turned out to be the best case scenario for Finsel’s work as it solidified the potential for content and contextual overlapping to occur. Imagine the room here was once the principal’s office, the monitor displaying evidence of the troubled teen and the wall painting an art history lesson on monochrome painting.

For Dan Graham, Finsel has put away plot and video presentation to give the viewer a more immediate relationship solely with the green screen through the means of material nurture and an acknowledgment of monocrome painting. This choice highlights the essential visual sameness of a green screen and a monochrome while simultaneously allowing both contents to differentiate themselves, proposing an exorcism of modern visual meaning through the tactics and tools of a pop cultural and postmodern toolbox. This all being projected on and in a white wall context.

Cary Georges, an artist /musician, is the perfect candidate to re-represent, validate or give proof to the contemporary worth of conceptual art. For his thesis at CalArts, Georges gave a finger to the normalcy of academic pretension through his manipulation of attributes relative to conceptual, performance and post minimal practice. By exploiting the tropes akin to conceptual art’s performance documentation and forms of post minimalist sculpture in videos of weight lifting and jump roping mixed with a little bit of weed, grafitti and tie dye, Georges reconstituted what good conceptual art can be. This notion was elevated by a video of the artist stacking cinder blocks on a football field, which were then placed in the gallery with  “let’s fuck”, “death awaits you” and a pot leaf scrawled across them to accompany the other performance videos and a tie dyed banner that read “real”. Although, a distinction could be seen here between the difference of making art in an art institution and the more athletic, almost military context of a football field, this conflation of usually proposed oppositional contexts, that being the academic and the athletic along with Georges’ choice of words or “language”, advocates for a much needed focused language-driven and socially rich art form. What is real here is the notion of art-making itself with its representations of the now and then. By manipulating this historicity and challenging typical reads and presentations of conceptual art and minimalist gesture Georges actually ends up supporting and elevating these forms by attaching meaning. This meaning gets back to the commonalities of what actually was and is occurring, which is fucking and dying, not non-meaning or so called non-representational object making.

For Dan Graham, Georges has created a similar manifestation in the form of time based sculpture.  Here he has fabricated a sculpture to grow marijuana. This piece highlights recent progressive thinking in California legislature for the decriminalization of the drug, while at the same time shows Georges’ determination to continually examine and shift the ideas of what is contemporary conceptual sculpture.

-Aaron Wrinkle

This exhibition is accompanied by two essays by Adam Feldmeth.

A Letter to Purple 2010

Dear Purple,

In your Spring/Summer issue you credit a photo of the artist Paul McCarthy as AA Bronson. I can see where the mistake could occur w/ similar beards, but there’s a whole spread on McCarthy’s work leading up to this photo’s appearance. If you don’t mind please include the correction in your next issue as an artwork of mine. Titled Artist as Editor 2010.

Thank You,

Aaron Wrinkle

Los Angeles, Ca

p.s. I really appreciate your magazine so please don’t take this as sarcastic, but more as an extension of creativity.

A Los Angeles Gallery Correspondence 2010

Dear -,

Thanks for your call and invitation.  You might remember our conversation about LACMA in regards to my relationships to restoration and building. I think I joked about getting some of their walls.  My interests w/ LACMA now are relative to your understanding of my works w/ other artists. The desktop works I mentioned to you on the phone are architectural drawings of different L.A. art sites with LACMA being one.  After starting the LACMA one I realized it didn’t need to be finished, but rather carried out with a photograph of the West Wing to be installed in the West Wing’s atrium, proposing that it be hung permanently throughout the construction and finalization of the site’s future design.  This essentially would section off my work and the previous state of the site w/ that of it’s assumed change.  I’m positive in my interests to these changes, but interested in preserving some history as well.  But this is a proposal for LACMA.

For – I want to mix my interests w/ artists and the museum.  I’m interested in the gallery’s direct physical relationship to LACMA , its visual position to the public works by Burden and Baldessari and the museum’s overall evolution. I’m also interested in the potential it has to act as a hub for my proposals attached to the museum and most importantly how the project space can manifest itself as a site of viewing my investigations/artworks and LACMA’s overall make-up.

I would like to remove a section of the project room’s wall nearest LACMA to be removed for the viewing of LACMA as an artwork (This would obviously be returned back to normal).  If this isn’t possible due to position or placement of architecture and or practicality I would like to find a way to direct gallery goers through a partition of sorts to the windows already provided in the area accessible. This would give them a unique way of looking at the museum and if relayed through the project space will automatically position it as an artwork in a traditional gallery setting.

The accompanying work will be the proposed photograph of the West Wing’s current state with the original architectural drawing.  Both framed and behind glass. This will further highlight the viewer’s relationship of looking in or through to the site even if in re-representation. I would like for these works to go to LACMA.  Along w/ these will be projections of Burden and Baldessari’s wikipedia profiles.  These will highlight the history in these artist’s works and their current relationships as well as my curating of them and the displaying of them now as non-objects and ephemeral projections opposed to past placements of actual works.

On one designated wall I will paint a specific color drawn from LACMA’s palette.  This will exist essentially as a monochrome painting that can be commissioned and painted in any home or site at any scale. Adjacent to it can hang a proposal of the idea in the same color framed. Both works will be for sale. A performance can be carried out by myself or a docent on to view the project through tours and lecturing as well as through the use of a potential security guard if needed for the backroom.

As sidebars and if possible I’d like to accomplish the photograph proposal and install it in LACMA’s West Wing and acquire a specific work from their collection to be installed in — (temporarily) at the time of the install of that work. I’m also interested in working w/ my friend Adam Feldmeth if he agrees to discuss his project on Blinky Palermo that dates back to the artist’s work in the historic Venice Biennale in the 70′s w/ that of it’s remake at the most recent Venice Biennale and also Adam’s tour at the recent retrospective at LACMA.

I must say that although this idea is coming at you very quickly from our phone conversation, it feels very evolved from what I’ve been thinking about. It feels right to me. I’m interested in doing this work or something relative to it if the opportunity is there. I hope this is’nt too much for you to sift through…

I will also be doing an architectural proposal drawing for your site.

Thanks again for your invitation and I’m looking forward to more conversations.

All Best,


hi aaron,

I could get more excited the more actively you involve Baldessari and Burden.
FYI, the wall contains a door so cannot be moved.


I have to decline an invitation if it is to prioritize Baldessari and Burden’s work over my own.  It would be unrewarding for me to set aside my investigations on these artists, LACMA and my involvements with a peer to merely involve myself with Baledessari and Burden within the typical standards of how their work is presented and advertised.

There seems to be a misunderstanding of my practice as my involvements with artist’s and their works are examinations of how they’re represented not acts of promotion unless related to how they’ve been supported by others.

What would be the basis of curating a show on these artists? Where would the work come from? Is this what you are suggesting I do?

I do appreciate your interest in my practice.



hi aaron,

I am not suggesting you do anything. Projects interest me or they do not, and I am always ready to say yes to those that do.
all best,