Monthly Archives: June 2006

After the downpour

Hatched during your mean streak,mosquitoes are Mississippi strong.Hay is wasted.And the doors are swollen stuck.I think a poem -but not because you’ve banished the wet apocalypseand show new clarity.I was writing about June light before you tucked it away into rucksacks of clouds.I was naked beneath a big sun.And, as you know,I was looking good.Now I don’t trust you enough to get back out there.Thanks, butI’ll just forget about how I look.Not only that – I was drawing again.I drew up a storm.*Words by TFD

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The Project: Entries Related to Keith, Himself, and Me – updated links

*During the months of the Keith Haring Exhibition at the Reading Public Museum (through August 6, 2006), I will be posting links to previous entries relating to Keith and me.Here is a link list:Multimedia: Audio and Video FilesWhat Keith and I Held in CommonKeith Haring and Our Quest for Meaning, Part 1The Project in Progress/Keith/Art/MeaningRevisiting what it may mean…The Continuing Saga of Our Very Own Freak FlagKeith, me, and the past 15 yearsAcross the Art DivideUntitled MemoriesThe Haring show: first impressions…About Keith 1Talking with Keith Haring, June 1986, part oneTalking with Keith Haring, June 1986, part twoKeith, himself, and meKeith and usREADING LIES DREAMING – Chapter One*Image: Keith Haring, Bill Jones Dance Poster (detail), 1982Collection: TFD

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nothing is everything

.My concept piece at the current New Arts Program’s seventeenth annual Invitational Salon of Small Works serves as a portal toward what, for me, is a more significant way to proceed in aesthetic work. After decades of working with material, performance, digital media, and text, I find myself particularly interested in executing conceptual experience that is indeterminate, unbounded, and undefined.Creating this type of work for the NAP exhibit was fulfilling in a unique way. I am also happy to see that some folks are getting something out of the experience – purposefully empty as it is.Reading Eagle newspaper art reviewer, Ron Schira, discussed this piece in his review of the show in the Sunday, June 11th edition.Here’s what he had to say:I include this because I found it worthwhile to discover some of the readings this piece evokes. My intention is never to be inscrutable or to produce work that is thoroughly ineffable – even while it may be intentionally abstruse.Schira’s interpretations here work well enough for me to sense that such an evanescent thing as an undefined concept can generate significance in an art context.The main reason I’m working this way is that once an aesthetics of nothing can be experienced, it tends to affirm the possibility of an aesthetics of everything. This would support the viability of an existential Life-as-Art aesthetic, which is my essential intention.*Images: image of words on a piece of paper by TFD at the NAP’s seventeenth annual Invitational Salon of Small Works, 2006image detail of Size Matters at the 17th Invitational by Ron Schira in the Reading Eagle newspaper Sunday, June 11, 2006.

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to say nothing

image: ommanipadmehum TFD, 2006

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The New Arts Program

For the past three decades, the artist, James Carroll, has directed Kutztown’s New Arts Program. In that time it has become one of the nation’s premier organizations for contemporary art. Many of the world’s most significant visual and performing artists have participated in NAP events and/or served on its board of directors. This list of luminaries is far too extensive to represent with a few selected examples. To see for yourself click “Residencies,” Performances,” “Exhibitions,” and “NAP on TV” from this page.The most outstanding aspect of the New Arts Program is its high level of aesthetic significance. It is a “community arts organization” in some ways, but far more. It truly is a cutting edge global resource – a museum, a performance and exhibition space, and a repository of artwork and documentation that chronicles and represents the history of postmodern aesthetics in a uniquely continuous and accessible venue.While multi-million-dollar private and publicly-funded arts organizations are common across the US, they are often no more than symbolic trophies for municipalities and philanthropists to trumpet “arts awareness.” Besides the tendency of these so-called “art communities” to become little more than upscale marketplaces and gentrified real estate, these venues blur the distinction between art and craft. Aesthetically therefore, they do more harm than good.James Carroll’s vision is different. He holds to the evolving principles of the aesthetic avant-garde and has a no-nonsense reputation for presenting the world’s most serious and significant artists and their work in a uniquely intimate and personalized manner. There are no compromises in order to embrace fashionable trends in his exhibitions and performances. Instead Carroll presents the work of one-of-a-kind visionaries by adhering scrupulously to their aesthetic intentions. Currently on view at the New Arts Program is its seventeenth annual Invitational Salon of Small Works. Running through July 15, this voluminous show offers an opportunity to view the works of over 200 artists in a single exhibition area. If you haven’t taken the opportunity to visit Kutztown’s New Arts Program, you’re missing what may be the best resource for an in-depth study of contemporary art from here to New York City.To learn more about the New Arts Program, click here.*Image: James Carroll at the New Arts Program Exhibition Space, TFD, 2006.

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dressing you with my eyes

I’ve been watching you very closelyfor months.You are always up before me.In fact, as far as I can tell,You’re always up.You are therewhen I wake,making yourself more lovelyright in front of me.You do it slowlyso I can’t stare away.New tones of greencover your limbs.Your body disappearslike the landscape behind a peacock’s tail.Then suddenly you’re adorning yourselfwith cherry, lilac, and forsythia.I can hardly bear these differences between us.You are the most beautiful thing.Even I can see that.*Image: TFD, 2006

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Da Vinci Recoded

While reading Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, it occurred to me that its popularity delivers a new and avid audience to the work of Leonardo da Vinci. I thought that had to be a good thing. Now, months later, I haven’t changed my mind.The book has been quite well transformed into a Ron Howard film. The fact that there are some textual differences between the novel and the film is not a crucial issue. They both convey a similar blending of fictional narrative, historical detail, religious controversy, and art appreciation.By inciting controversy among religionists, historians, and aestheticians, Brown has accomplished something of real value. The Da Vinci Code has opened possibilities for critical thinking, self education, and philosophical skepticism. The very manner in which the text presents a complex weave of so-called historical fact, revisionist interpretation, and pure fiction opens both the text and its sources to continual reinterpretation. This is what bothers many religious, historical, and aesthetic scholars. Much historically-based scholarship purports to reveal “objective” facts about what exactly occurred in the past. The Da Vinci Code explodes the notion of what is fact and what is fiction. This ambiguity is its true value and why the book and the film are significant cultural milestones.The open-to-individual-interpretation aspect of Brown’s book does seem to be diluted by his one-to-one symbolic reading of da Vinci’s paintings The Last Supper and La Giaconda. But the fact that his interpretations are used as evidence for some very debatable points in his ongoing tale opens the door to skepticism rather than some sort of aesthetic dogma.Because symbols are context-sensitive and open to interpretation (these points are very well made in the film), we have no necessary reason for accepting a simplistic reading of Leonardo’s work.It is a rare thing these days for skeptical and philosophical discussions of history, religion, and aesthetics to occur at all in public dialog. And as critical thinking is fast becoming a lost art, it can only be positive for it to be happening more than it was before the publication and screening of The Da Vinci Code.*Note: This discussion emphasizes the same open reading of symbols I encourage regarding comprehending the work of Keith Haring.*Images: Leonardo da Vinci, La Gioconda [Mona Lisa], 1503-05, Musée du Louvre, Paris.Marcel Duchamp, L.H.O.O.Q1919, Private Collection

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What Keith and I Held in Common

What Keith Haring and I came to discover is that we had similar views on the nature of reality. This seems to have been based on our having come to art through a philosophical quest for meaning. From our many conversations, it was clear to us that we believed the same thing about the philosophical nature of the delusions that are an integral part of human experience. I can move between our views and credit each one of us with particular sentences in support of these ideas or I can simply type a seamless version of the ideas we held in common. The latter is the simpler and more elegant way to proceed.There appears to be a central fact about human perception and conceptualization having to do with our capacity to be deluded and to delude ourselves. Our brains filter out all information that our senses receive from our environment except the information considered most significant. The problem is that our conceptions of what is significant arise from previous states of delusion. This is not to say that we are not capable of building complex systems that reflect and externalize the various levels of the structure and organization of our brains and minds. We are quite good at this. But when it comes to insight concerning the nature of “reality” or even ourselves, we remain clueless.Some of the reasons for our lack of insight regarding ourselves and the universe at large include parental modeling, social pressure, acculturation, the needs of our bodies, and the utter uselessness of most of what goes on in our brains. The only answer we are capable of giving for the question “what is reality?” is that what we believe to be real is what we experience as “reality.” This is the central paradigm of the world-view known as “solipsism.” An examination of Keith Haring’s work that is centered upon the above tenets, reveals a systematically solipsistic view of the “world.” This is the point of view I brought with me to my first meeting with Keith and it is the point of view that he stated many times was also his own.In other words, what you think is real – is real.*Images: Keith Haring, Bill Jones Dance Poster (3 details), 1982Collection: TFD

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