Monday, November 17, 2008


What remains salient at this point, after attending yet another art
opening, is that besides never accepting another drink, you just never
know; life will surprise you everytime.

Last Friday I went to Pierre Menard to see Duncan Hannah's show:
Cautionary Tales. Initially I was there to apologize for my hanging of
his work almost 30 years ago in the NewYork/New Wave show at PS1.

DH has to be in every way the anti-Resnick. Why should I have been
surprised? It has been my experience that nevermind what the work
looks like; every artist of even the most minute consequence is a
blowhard and a bully. DH was just like his paintings: mild mannered/
well mannered, and quizzical.

What a pleasant surprise. I wished I hadn't geared up with liquor
because I ended up being the other.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Sun Shines Brightly...

The sun shines brightly when you're up on a pedestal. It is hard not to enjoy it; it is hard not to want it. The sun shines brightly when you're on up on a pedestal, and it is a temptation that is very hard to resist.

It takes falling off of few times to get the message, and it takes longer than that to fully understand. There is a lot going on there. In the end, however, we all get it: beware the pedestal.

Life is filled with traps; pedestals are only one of many. Sure, we let ourselves go there because we're really looking for something else. Love. We only find out it wasn't love when we fall, and we fall far. It is a long way to the bottom. The thing about the pedestal is that it is secretly about the person or people who put you there. They need you on that pedestal; they want you on that pedestal! Why, because they are there! They've put you there for company! Their company! Up on the pedestal with THEM! One happy family. One big party! And it is even easier to knock you off it than it was to get you up there in the first place! You can be replaced! So: beware the pedestal!

You can learn these lessons from parents, family, friends and the workplace. As an artist you can learn this lesson a thousand times, and you can still take the bait in the bat of an eye. We want to be loved, and getting love for our work is almost better. Of course, pedestals are for ideals, and as soon as it is discovered that we are just human: whoops!

Still, it is hard not to go there. Then, of course, on the flip side is how we handle those we've put on our pedestals. No doubt they suffer the same awful fate when they don't conform, or we feel betrayed by their fallibility. Sayonara! The past couple of years we have watched this play out on the political stage. Whatever I may think of Bush, I don't understand all of these people who voted for him, and who have now thrown him under the bus! But there you have it. 

Obama is very careful about being on our pedestal. All of us would have jumped a long time ago. With him it seems that the more he shuns the pedestal the higher we put him, and again, there you have it.

Artists have a similarly tricky situation. It is hard for them to succeed without accepting the pedestal. It is part of the landscape. Many artists have tried to have it both ways. Richard Tuttle comes to mind, and long ago he counseled me to never confuse the two(the work and the pedestal), even as I watched him dancing up there on occasion(do as I do, not...). Staying real, staying down on the ground, well, the only people telling you that often seem more like people who are just envious or jealous of your apparent good fortune instead of people who actually have your best interests at heart.

Picasso tried to have it both ways. He even said something about living like a poor person with money(instead of letting money make you a rich person). He may well have succeeded. Too many of us would jump on that bus so fast that the world would spin out of orbit in our wake.

Richard Tuttle was also smart enough to know that being on someone else's pedestal was just an expression of their narcissism. That it was about them and their needs, hardly about him; and he wasn't about to accept that bargain. He mentored me because I needed it, not because he wanted to be my mentor. And of course he paid too high a price; as "no good deed goes unpunished!" The only mistake he actually made was thinking that I might have been smart enough to get it. I wasn't. At that point I was still not wise in the way of pedestals. Now I just hide from them like a man who can't swim and moved to the desert. Eventually I will drown!

But there you have it.