Going to America, 1999.
By WILLIAM GRIMES
NY Times Published: MARCH 9, 2017
Howard Hodgkin, a British artist whose lush, semiabstract paintings, aquiver with implicit drama, established him as one of the most admired artists of the postwar period, died on Thursday in London. He was 84.
The Tate Galleries announced his death but did not specify a cause.
Mr. Hodgkin was a relative latecomer to fame. A slow, methodical worker who could spend years building up a painting’s surface, he did not have a solo show until he was 30, and for years thereafter toiled against the grain, his work at odds with prevailing fashion.
His globs and stipples and smears — seemingly brisk and impulsive, but painstakingly applied and endlessly revised — ravished. On the Tate’s website, Nicholas Serota, the departing director of the museums, called Mr. Hodgkin “one of the great artists and colorists of his generation.”
But his coded emotional settings seemed elusive, even baffling, as did his stylistic relationship to current art. In Britain he was seen as an abstract painter, in the United States as representational — a puzzle.
“I never expected anyone to be interested in my pictures, and there were years when I couldn’t even get my friends to look at them,” Mr. Hodgkin told The New York Times in 1990.
His paintings in the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 1984 propelled him into the top echelon of international artists. Seductive and arresting, they showed an artist at the height of his powers, and audiences responded.
“Not since Robert Rauschenberg’s appearance at the Biennale 20 ago has a show by a single painter so hogged the attention of visitors, or looked so effortlessly superior to everything else on view by living artists,” the critic Robert Hughes wrote in Time magazine.
He added: “Here the wearisome traits of much contemporary art, its honking rhetoric, its unconvincing urgency, its arid ‘appropriations’ of motifs, are left at the door, and the slow-surfacing complexities of mature, articulate painting greet the eye.”
Mr. Hodgkin won the Turner Prize a year later, and as major gallery and museum exhibitions in Britain and the United States followed, one after the other, his distinctive blend of bravura brushwork, emotional depth and sense of mystery began to hold sway. He came to be seen as a highly original interpreter of the dramas that unfold in intimate, interior space, an heir to Bonnard and Vuillard.
“On the subject of sitting rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms and balconies neither Hodgkin’s eye nor his hand has ever failed him,” the critic John Russell wrote in The New York Times Magazine in 1990. “He is all-seeing on the subject of hotels, restaurants, private collections, public parks, costume jewelry, human exchanges of all kinds and day-to-day weather reporting. Manners and mores, ups and downs, ins and outs — all have their place in his paintings.
“He can make a wet afternoon in summer feel like the most blissful thing that ever happened,” he continued, “and when he summons up the quintessence of a restaurant (in London, by the way, not in Paris) he makes us want to stand up and shout for the menu.”
Gordon Howard Eliot Hodgkin was born in London on Aug. 6, 1932, to a Quaker family with an illustrious pedigree in the arts and sciences. His father, Eliot, was a manager at Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) and a well-known horticulturalist. His mother, the former Katharine Hewart, daughter of the Lord Chief Justice of England, Gordon Hewart, was a homemaker and botanical illustrator.
With German air raids looming, Howard was evacuated in 1940 with his mother and sister to Long Island, where he stayed with family friends for three years.
After returning to Britain, he attended a variety of expensive schools, including Eton, and ran away from most of them, finding little encouragement for his determination to become an artist — his goal since the age of 5.
He painted on his own, and during a return visit to Long Island in 1947, he began going to galleries and museums in New York City, looking closely at the work of Matisse, Degas, Bonnard and Vuillard. One of his earliest works, the 1949 gouache “Memoirs,” served as a marker for the themes that would preoccupy him in the coming years.
Judith Higgins wrote in Art News in 1985, “Highly stylized, fiercely outlined and angular, humming with erotic currents, ‘Memoirs’ announced the subject of all Hodgkin’s subsequent work: the great tradition in French painting — figures in an interior — transmuted, in Hodgkin’s case, by memory.”
In 1949 he gained admission to the Camberwell School of Art in London, where he studied briefly under Victor Pasmore and William Coldstream, the leading figures in the Euston Road School. He spent four years at the Bath Academy of Art in Corsham, where he studied with Clifford Ellis.
In 1955 he married Julia Lane, a fellow student at Corsham. They later separated. He is survived by their two sons, Louis and Sam.
Mr. Hodgkin was given a one-man show at Arthur Tooth and Sons in 1962, but for years he depended on teaching to make a living. In the mid-1950s he began lecturing at Charterhouse School. He later taught at the Bath Academy of Art and the Chelsea School of Art.
He produced mostly small-scale works until late in his career, on canvas at first but, beginning in the late 1960s, only on wood, usually old boards scavenged from London antique shops. In violation of the tenets of American abstraction, he embraced the frame, emphasizing its presence by painting on it directly, or including framing rectangles in the painting.
The strongly geometric forms of the early painting evolved into looser, brushier images that teased the idea of figuration. In “Jealousy” (1977), a red mass, barely human, coils angrily within a frame-like rectangle. The leaning, spotted rectangles in “Dinner at Smith Square” (1975-79) suggest, just barely, two people conversing over a table.
“I am a representational painter but not a painter of appearances,” Mr. Hodgkin told the critic David Sylvester in 1976. “I paint representational pictures of emotional situations.”
His reputation grew. He had his first show in New York in 1973, and in 1976 Mr. Serota organized his first museum exhibition, at the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford. In 1995 the Metropolitan Museum of Art organized the traveling exhibition “Howard Hodgkin: Paintings 1975–1995,” and in 2006 Tate Britain mounted a 50-year survey of his work.
If Mr. Hodgkin never quite rose to the celebrity rank of Lucian Freud or David Hockney, by the time he was knighted, in 1992, he stood at the threshold of “living treasure” status.
“To be an honest artist now, you have to make your own language, and for me that has taken a very long time,” he told Mr. Sylvester for the catalog to “Howard Hodgkin: Forty Paintings, 1973-84,” a traveling exhibition that incorporated many of the paintings from the Biennale.
Mr. Hodgkin was an interviewer’s nightmare, notoriously reticent about his work and unhappy analyzing its meaning. He made it clear that art was a slow and painful business. At the same time, he confessed to feeling a sense of exhilaration in his final years.
“I don’t care a damn about what happens when I’m dead, but I do have a sense of increased urgency,” he told The Guardian in 2001. “And I think it’s made me more courageous.”March 9th, 2017
two figures, 2016, (detail) Flashe and neon on linen, 117 x 104 x 4 1/2 inches (297.2 x 264.2 x 11.4 cm)
like the land loves the sea
Opening reception: Friday, March 10, 2017, 6:00-8:00pm
Through May 6, 2017
By Charles M. Blow
NY Times Published: March 9, 2017
Donald Trump has spent his whole life overselling an overinflated vision of himself and his success.
He was the outer-borough boy whose father’s “boxlike office” was on Avenue Z in Brooklyn; he always dreamed of making it to Manhattan and breaking into the big league.
With a hustler’s spirit and some sleight of hand, he made it, but not in total.
He made the move, made the money and made his mark on New York’s skyline, but he never quite made it into the inner sanctum of New York high society.
I’m convinced that this is part of his obsession with former President Barack Obama. Obama was quickly granted the thing Trump never had: upper-class acceptance and adulation.
For Trump’s part, his sin was even worse than being new-money: He was tacky rich.
No amount of money or success could completely rid him of the odiousness of being coarse and crass.
He upset social conventions.
For him, things had to be gilded to be glamorous. All modesty — either real or contrived to guard against exposure — was absent from the man. He was a glutton for attention and adoration. He chased the spotlight and pimped celebrity for profit. He valued flaunting over philanthropy.
In New York City’s elite social circles, Trump was persona non grata.
As many others have pointed out, he became the idiot’s image of an intellectual, the coward’s image of a courageous man and the pauper’s image of a prosperous man.
But rather than being crimped by his ostracism, he wore it as a badge of honor.
He became the Everyman of rich men. He was the outsider, too authentic and even acerbic to be tamed by the convention of the elites. He was the populist billionaire, still engaged in the rough and tumble, at home on reality television just as he was in overpriced real estate.
He was impolitic in the way that many average Joes would be if they came into wealth and not from it.
He swept into politics at just the time that message had its greatest resonance, when there were enough people leery of institutions and weary of the establishment; the wealthy, social, cultural and intellectual elites were on the outs, and there was an opening for an outsider who knew how to work his way in.
The elites who had rejected Trump were now the rejected class. They were the 1 percent, the Wall Street barons, the manifestation of the evils of income inequality. This was the time for a populist, or at least someone who could pretend to be one.
It was in that environment that Trump swept into the presidential election, with the same bluster and bravado, aggression and subversion that had worked well for him in business.
He was not book smart or well mannered. He was all gut and elbow and verbal barbs. For too many, he was refreshingly anti-polish and anti-convention.
And, as is Trump’s wont and calling card, he oversold his voters a bill of goods that he would never be able to deliver. The Pied Piper of pipe dreams did in politics what he had done in business: He got people to buy into a success mythology in which he was a wizard. In this mythology, ethics, honor and truth are casualties.
Everything is going to be the greatest and the best and the most successful simply because he deems it so.
But now, the legend of Trump, the one most rigid in his own mind, is rubbing up against the harsh reality of presidential politics, where cooperation is needed and accountability is demanded. In this new world, Trumpism appears brittle, hollow and impotent.
No matter your politics, Trump’s first weeks in office have been a disaster, as his rush to action, lack of focus and absence of acuity have led him to calamitous missteps and conspiratorial misstatements.
And now his oversold promises are being exposed for the lies they were — draining the swamp in Washington, forcing Mexico to pay for his ridiculous southern border wall, the incredibly defective Obamacare repeal and replacement proposal.
In January, Trump oversold again in an interview with The Washington Post about what he would deliver. The Post reported Trump’s comments this way:
“We’re going to have insurance for everybody,” Trump said. “There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us.” People covered under the law “can expect to have great health care. It will be in a much simplified form. Much less expensive and much better.”
But the plan just announced and endorsed by Trump doesn’t even come close to delivering on this promise. Not only would prices most likely rise for many Trump voters, but millions of Americans would be at risk of losing coverage under the plan.
Not only that, but as NBC reported last month:
“Donald Trump’s most ardent supporters are likely to be hit the hardest if he makes good on his promise to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and embark on trade wars with China and Mexico.”
The report continued:
“An analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 6.3 million of the 11.5 million Americans who used the A.C.A. marketplace to buy their insurance last year live in Republican congressional districts. Policy analysts say that a rollback of the A.C.A. would hurt older and rural Americans — two populations that favored Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in the presidential election.”
As he has done his whole life, Trump has sold those who follow him as some sort of money-drenched messiah a bill of goods, but this time the lie is likely to manifest in loss of life, as sick people lose coverage.
Donald Trump has sold his supporters — and by extension, this country — a ticket to hell.March 9th, 2017
Oil and faux pearls on canvas
180.3 x 127 cm
71 x 50 in
March 9 – April 22, 2017March 9th, 2017
“Hanging S sculpture (open),” 2017, Patinated bronze, 52 x 9 x 7
March 3 – April 22, 2017March 9th, 2017
Mike Kelley’s last major piece is installed on the grounds of the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, not far from his real childhood home (top right) in the suburb of Westland, Mich. Credit Nicholas Calcott; inset: Courtesy of the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts and Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit
By M.H. MILLER
NY Times Published:MARCH 8, 2017
THERE IS A GLISTENING white ranch-style house on a small grassy lot behind the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, adjacent to the institution’s gravel parking lot. It is architecturally generic, like countless other homes scattered across this part of Michigan, and yet it also happens to be a work of art, the last major piece by the artist Mike Kelley. “Mobile Homestead” — a to-scale recreation of the house where Kelley grew up in Westland, a suburb 30 minutes from Detroit — is open to the public, a community exhibition space managed by the museum. Scarcely seen, though, is what sits far below it: an intricate underground lair often referred to, in a remarkable understatement, as “the basement.” Kelley planned on using it himself as a project space before committing suicide in 2012.
His admirers still speak of his passing with great regret. “What a huge presence he created, seemingly out of a sense of inadequacy,” his friend the musician Kim Gordon told me. The artist was a self-described “blue-collar anarchist,” and cited Iggy Pop and Sun Ra among his primary influences. His impact has been widespread and profound and perhaps unexpected. Kelley’s subjects were marginalized figures — janitors, comic book characters, lonely teenagers. His work rested somewhere between conceptual art, pop culture and the foggy memories of his own working-class upbringing; he was attracted, he once said, to “places that the majority of men would close off as degraded and disgusting.”
In many ways, “Mobile Homestead” was the culmination of his singular career. From conception, Kelley thought of it as a project having two parts, public and private, with the basement accessible only to his friends and other artists. The idea was to create a piece that would be simultaneously geared toward community service and also, in part, closed off to the community.
The completed “Mobile Homestead” opened in 2013. In keeping with Kelley’s intention, it quickly became an unofficial town hall, hosting everything from book drives to A.A. meetings to quilting workshops to a lawyer offering a lecture on obtaining house loans. During the 2016 presidential election — with a show mounted on the walls of the house featuring political memorabilia from local collector Morry “The Button Man” Greener — the debates were screened in the garage, and people got into arguments in the driveway. Meanwhile, the basement below the house functioned according to Kelley’s plans as a space reserved only for, in the artist’s words, “private rites of an aesthetic nature,” an antisocial space within the public work.
Kelley’s old friend Cary Loren is the de facto caretaker of the house’s subterranean lair — “the basement curator,” in the words of Elysia Borowy-Reeder, MOCAD’s executive director. I met Loren one afternoon in February at the bookstore he co-owns, inside a strip mall in the suburb of Oak Park. Loren and Kelley founded the influential noise band Destroy All Monsters with the artist Jim Shaw and the singer Niagara in 1973, while they were all studying at the University of Michigan. (At the time Shaw and Kelley were living together in a house in Ann Arbor called God’s Oasis; Kelley’s room, where the band also practiced, was, somewhat predictably, in the basement.) Since his friend’s death, Loren has helped to oversee “Mobile Homestead,” offering suggestions for exhibitions in the house and handpicking the few artists who have been allowed to work, in secret, underground. Calling the space a basement is a bit of a misnomer. It is more of a complex maze of tunnels, ladders and cubbylike rooms, a sort of habitable sculpture.
Loren and Kelley began talking about purchasing property for an artist’s refuge back in the ’90s. By this time, Kelley — who left Detroit in 1976 to attend CalArts in Valencia — was considered the quintessential West Coast artist, but he remained devoted to Michigan. “Mike had this idea of buying his childhood home,” Loren said, and turning it into a band house, with tunnels beneath, “burrowing,” as Kelley described it in 2010, “into other people’s private space.” This was an unfeasible concept that the artist pursued anyway. Whenever he visited Michigan, Loren said, “we’d stop by his house and he’d go up there with a checkbook and try to buy it from the owner, who never wanted to sell.”
KELLEY WAS BORN IN 1954 into a Catholic working-class family. The artist John Miller, a classmate at CalArts who has written extensively about Kelley, traces Kelley’s interest in secret chambers back to his father, who worked as a public school janitor. Kelley once described how the job granted him access to “hidden underbellies,” like the boiler rooms and maintenance closets of banal public buildings. He would revisit the tension between the visible and the unseen, the conscious and the unconscious, in much of his work. The strongest precedent for “Mobile Homestead” was his 1995 architectural model “Educational Complex,” a tabletop representation of Kelley’s childhood home along with every school he attended. Kelley claimed, perhaps deceptively, that the majority were blocked from his memory because, as he put it, “80 percent of these buildings that I had been in for most of my life were the site of some kind of repressed trauma.” The failure to remember was Kelley’s modus operandi, a method apparent in his final work’s stark and nondescript interior.
As an installation, “Mobile Homestead” ties together the various strains of Kelley’s career, including his obsession with isolation and loneliness, and with domesticity and familiar structures (including the repressed darkness lurking beneath every happy home). The only thing most people know of the space, since no photo of it has been publicly released, is that it is reached through one of two hatches, one inside the house, the other out front. That the basement is essentially invisible only adds to its power, casting the entire project as a series of unanswerable questions: If an artist creates an intricate underground studio beneath a replica of his childhood home and virtually no one is able to see it, does it exist? Who is it for? What is it for?
In 2005, the London-based nonprofit Artangel, which funded “Mobile Homestead,” approached Kelley about doing a public art project. As the years went by, Kelley was doubtful the project would ever be completed, according to various people who helped with it; there were too many moving parts. And yet he worked away at it up until his suicide. Despite the heavy personal subtext of the project, Kelley didn’t want it to become a tribute to himself, and he asked that his own work not be shown inside.
UPON THE BASEMENT’S completion after Kelley’s death, the first thing Loren did was to cover a wall with Destroy All Monsters artwork. That was followed by a sort of “christening” by Loren and Shaw, who recorded some music in the space, including a demented cover of Andy Williams’s “Lonely Street.” Since then, Loren has mostly invited Kelley’s friends underground, including the artist Paul McCarthy and the band he plays with, Extended Organ, which performed in one of the rooms. “I can’t say it’s inviting,” McCarthy said of the space. “I like it, but it’s not cozy. I don’t think it’s meant to be cozy.” McCarthy was as surprised as anyone by the existence of the basement: “I never knew he was doing it until literally the day of his memorial, and he’s already gone.”
MOCAD and the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts have a strict policy about maintaining the privacy of the basement, in keeping with Kelley’s wishes that “the underground zone will not be open to the public and the works produced there would have to be presented elsewhere, or not at all.” One cannot simply walk into MOCAD and ask to see it. Perhaps one wouldn’t want to. Amy Corle, the curator at the museum who runs the programming for “Mobile Homestead,” had told me that fear is not an uncommon reaction to standing over the hatch that is in what would have been Kelley’s childhood bedroom closet. “A lot of people think they want to go down,” she said, “and then they look and say, ‘No.’ ”
This reaction is understandable. A clunky and awkwardly placed ladder leads to a concrete room with another ladder leading farther downward. There is a path at the bottom with more ladders that go up into tunnels that connect to different rooms. Some of these chambers have extremely low ceilings that an adult of average height could not stand up in. Light comes from small fluorescent bulbs in caged fixtures, the kind found in a submarine. One of the tunnels leads to the space where Paul McCarthy played with Extended Organ. It is covered in cheap Halloween decorations. In another room, Loren installed a God’s Oasis sign. Elsewhere, he stored some of Kelley’s ashes.
The space is both claustrophobic and improbably vast, and panic can set in quickly. Standing there, staring into the dark of one of Kelley’s concrete tunnels, about 40 feet beneath the ground, with only blackness visible ahead, it helps to think of home.March 9th, 2017
Untitled # 1, 2017
Stoneware and Watercolor
26 X 14 inches
Opening Reception: Saturday February 23, 2017. 3 – 5 PMFebruary 24th, 2017
Ancient pottery, like this jar from Iron Age Judea, can record our planet’s magnetic ebb and flow.
By Marcia Bjornerud
The New Yorker February 13, 2017
Of all the environmental amenities that this hospitable planet provides, the magnetic field is perhaps the strangest and least appreciated. It has existed for more than three and a half billion years but fluctuates daily. It emanates from Earth’s deep interior but extends far out into space. It is intangible and mostly invisible—except when it lights up in ostentatious greens and reds during the auroras—but essential to life. The magnetic field is our protective bubble; it deflects not only the rapacious solar wind, which could otherwise strip away Earth’s atmosphere over time, but also cosmic rays, which dart in from deep space with enough energy to damage living cells. Although sailors have navigated by the magnetic field for a millennium and scientists have monitored it since the eighteen-thirties, it remains a mysterious beast. Albert Einstein himself said that understanding its origin and persistence was one of the great unsolved problems in physics. Today, the scientific consensus is that the field arises in Earth’s outer core, where the movement of liquid iron creates a giant, self-perpetuating electromagnetic dynamo, and that the geometry of the field is approximately dipolar, like a bar magnet, with the two ends coinciding, on average, with the geographic North and South Poles.
In detail, however, things are much messier. The global magnetic field also has quadrupole and octopole components, which make its actual geometry something like a playground jack with extra spikes. The strength and orientation of the field can change without warning, over millions of years or in a few days. Since 1990, the magnetic North Pole has migrated almost nine hundred miles, from Axel Heiberg Island, in the high Canadian Arctic, to a site close to the true North Pole. At the same time, the over-all intensity of the field has been falling at a rate of about six per cent each century. Changes like this do not always happen steadily; since 1969, there have been four well-documented “geomagnetic jerks,” in which the rate of change in the field strength abruptly accelerated before, months later, settling back to normal.
Direct measurements of the magnetic field now span almost two hundred years, and iron-rich volcanic rocks on the ocean floor provide a lower-fidelity chronicle of its erratic behavior—including wholesale reversals in polarity—back about a hundred and fifty million years. But reconstructing the field’s behavior between these two extremes has been difficult. The trick is to find an iron-bearing object that locked in a record of the magnetic field at a well-constrained time in the past, in the way that wine of a given vintage preserves an indirect record of that year’s weather conditions. For this sort of remnant magnetism to form, the object generally must have been heated and then cooled through its Curie temperature—the threshold, named for Pierre, at which iron-oxide particles will align themselves with the ambient magnetic field. At best, however, young volcanic rocks can only be dated to within a few thousand years. Fortunately, natural rocks aren’t the only ones with magnetic memories; archeological materials like fired pottery and even smelting slag may bear similar information. On Monday, in a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of Israeli and American archeologists and geophysicists reports the most detailed reconstruction yet of the magnetic field in pre-instrumental times, using a set of ceramic jars from Iron Age Judea.
The clay jars, which were likely everyday vessels for wine or olive oil, do not appear to have been made with particular care. Although they exist now as fragments, they can be dated with unusual confidence because of the royal insignias stamped on their handles; they were made between 750 and 150 B.C. The team’s analysis suggests that for much of that time the magnetic field was relatively stable, and about forty per cent stronger than it is now. But the oldest jars reveal that, just before 700 B.C., the field’s strength briefly jumped by half, to almost twice its modern intensity, then fell rapidly in the next three decades. Today, such an event would cause catastrophic disruption of the electrical grid and satellite communications. It’s unlikely that the Judeans even noticed it.
The new findings, with their clear evidence of a geomagnetic spike, may help archeologists date pottery from other Iron Age sites, particularly where stamps are lacking. The study could also be useful in a second, less direct way. Carbon-14, the isotope that archeologists use in radioactive dating, is cosmogenic—continuously created in Earth’s uppermost atmosphere by cosmic-ray collisions. As a result, its rate of production fluctuates with the strength of the magnetic field. At times when the field is weak, more 14C is produced, and organic materials (wood, peat, seeds, textiles) soak up more of it than usual, making them seem younger. When the field is strong, the same materials’ ages will skew old. By understanding the past dips and rises of the magnetic field, archeologists can reduce the uncertainties in their calculations.
But, in the geophysical community, the tales told by the Judean jars may cause unrest. Both the height and the sharpness of the spike they recount push up against the limits of what some geophysicists think Earth’s outer core is capable of doing. If the eighth-century-B.C. geomagnetic jeté is real, models for the generation of the magnetic field need significant revision. Given the importance of a stable magnetic field to our electricity-dependent, communications-obsessed culture, these questions are of more than academic interest. The makers of these old jars, diligently stamping handles with the royal brand, had no idea that they were contributing to a twenty-first-century debate about the very heart of the planet. One wonders what unintentional messages the objects we leave behind will carry into the future.
Marcia Bjornerud is a professor of geology at Lawrence University, in Appleton, Wisconsin, and the author of “Reading the Rocks: The Autobiography of the Earth.”February 20th, 2017
A charcoal drawing by Miné Okubo, who was incarcerated in the Topaz internment camp in Utah at the same time as Fred Korematsu. Okubo studied fine art at Berkeley and in Europe, and worked on government art projects (including a W.P.A. mural with Diego Rivera) before the government interned her and other Japanese-Americans on the West Coast. In 1946 she included hundreds of her drawings in a memoir, “Citizen 13660.”
By KAREN KOREMATSU
NY TIMES FEBRUARY 17, 2017
When President Trump signed an executive order temporarily banning travel from seven majority Muslim countries, he hurled us back to one of the darkest and most shameful chapters of American history. Executive orders that go after specific groups under the guise of protecting the American people are not only unconstitutional, but morally wrong. My father, and so many other Americans of Japanese descent, were targets of just such an order during World War II.
Seventy-five years ago on Sunday, under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, all people of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast were forced to leave their homes and report to incarceration camps. Two-thirds were American citizens. Fred Korematsu, my father, then 23, refused to go. A proud and loyal citizen, he had tried to enlist in the National Guard but was rejected and was wrongly fired from his job as a welder in an Oakland, Calif., shipyard He was arrested and tried for defying the executive order. Upon conviction, he was held in a horse stall at a hastily converted racetrack until he and his family were moved to a desolate camp in Topaz, Utah. My father told me later that jail was better than the camp.
He appealed his conviction to the Supreme Court. In his case, and in cases brought by Minoru Yasui and Gordon Hirabayashi — among the most infamous cases in American legal history — the court in 1944 upheld the executive order. Justice Frank Murphy vehemently opposed the majority decision, writing in a dissenting opinion, “Racial discrimination in any form and in any degree has no justifiable part whatever in our democratic way of life.” In the hysteria of war and racialized propaganda, my father’s citizenship did not protect him. For him and the 120,000 other Japanese-Americans incarcerated during World War II, there was no attempt to sort the loyal from the disloyal.
In 1982, almost 40 years after my father’s conviction, evidence was discovered proving that the wartime government suppressed, altered and destroyed material evidence while arguing my father’s, Yasui’s and Hirabayashi’s cases before the Supreme Court. The government’s claims that people of Japanese descent had engaged in espionage and that mass incarceration was necessary to protect the country were not only false, but had even been refuted by the government’s own agencies, including the Office of Naval Intelligence, the F.B.I. and the Federal Communications Commission.
With that evidence, my father reopened his case. In November 1983, he stood before a Federal District Court judge, Marilyn Hall Patel, and said, “As long as my record stands in federal court, any American citizen can be held in prison or concentration camps without a trial or a hearing.” Judge Patel overturned my father’s conviction, declaring that his case “stands as a caution that in times of distress the shield of military necessity and national security must not be used to protect governmental actions from close scrutiny and accountability.”
Around that time, the federal Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians declared that the Korematsu case had been “overruled in the court of history” and found that my father’s incarceration was based on “race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership.”
Although his conviction was vacated, my father was keenly aware that his case was never formally overturned, even though it was widely discredited by scholars and even the courts. He was a quiet, soft-spoken man, but he spent the rest of his life speaking around the country about the government misconduct that led to incarceration, in hopes of preventing it from occurring again. In 1998, President Bill Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom for the brave stand he took against an unjust government action.
In 1991, President George H. W. Bush declared, “The internment of Americans of Japanese ancestry was a great injustice, and it will never be repeated.” But it can happen again. Since my father’s death in 2005, I have taken on his work to remind Americans what happens when our Constitution is ignored in the name of national security. We need to scrutinize Mr. Trump’s executive orders and any other attempts to single out groups for repression. Let us come together to reject discrimination based on religion, race or national origin, and to oppose the mass deportation of people who look or pray differently from the majority of Americans.
“Stand up for what is right,” my father said. “Protest, but not with violence. Don’t be afraid to speak up. One person can make a difference, even if it takes 40 years.”
Karen Korematsu is the founder and executive director of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute.February 18th, 2017
Closed today for National General Strike
By Paul Krugman
NY Times February 19, 2017
The story so far: A foreign dictator intervened on behalf of a U.S. presidential candidate — and that candidate won. Close associates of the new president were in contact with the dictator’s espionage officials during the campaign, and his national security adviser was forced out over improper calls to that country’s ambassador — but not until the press reported it; the president learned about his actions weeks earlier, but took no action.
Meanwhile, the president seems oddly solicitous of the dictator’s interests, and rumors swirl about his personal financial connections to the country in question. Is there anything to those rumors? Nobody knows, in part because the president refuses to release his tax returns.
Maybe there’s nothing wrong here, and it’s all perfectly innocent. But if it’s not innocent, it’s very bad indeed. So what do Republicans in Congress, who have the power to investigate the situation, believe should be done?
Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, says that Michael Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador were “entirely appropriate.”
Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, angrily dismissed calls for a select committee to investigate contacts during the campaign: “There is absolutely not going to be one.”
Jason Chaffetz, the chairman of the House oversight committee — who hounded Hillary Clinton endlessly over Benghazi — declared that the “situation has taken care of itself.”
Just the other day Republicans were hot in pursuit of potential scandal, and posed as ultrapatriots. Now they’re indifferent to actual subversion and the real possibility that we are being governed by people who take their cues from Moscow. Why?
Well, Senator Rand Paul explained it all: “We’ll never even get started with doing the things we need to do, like repealing Obamacare, if we’re spending our whole time having Republicans investigate Republicans.” Does anyone doubt that he was speaking for his whole party?
The point is that you can’t understand the mess we’re in without appreciating not just the potential corruption of the president, but the unmistakable corruption of his party — a party so intent on cutting taxes for the wealthy, deregulating banks and polluters and dismantling social programs that accepting foreign subversion is, apparently, a small price to pay.
Put it this way: I’ve been seeing comparisons between the emerging information on the Trump-Putin connection and the Watergate affair, which brought down a previous president. But while the potential scandal here is far worse than Watergate — Richard Nixon was sinister and scary, but nobody imagined that he might be taking instructions from a foreign power — it’s very hard to imagine today’s Republicans standing up for the Constitution the way their predecessors did.
It’s not simply that these days there are more moral midgets in Congress, although that, too. Watergate took place before Republicans began their long march to the political right, so Congress was far less polarized than it is now. There was widespread agreement between the parties on basic economic ideas, and a fair amount of ideological crossover; this meant that Republicans didn’t worry so much that holding a lawless president accountable would derail their hard-line agenda.
The polarization of the electorate also undermines Congress’s role as a check on the president: Most Republicans are in safe districts, where their main fear is of primary challengers to their right. And the Republican base has suddenly become remarkably pro-Russian. Funny how that works.
So how does this crisis end?
It’s not a constitutional crisis — yet. But Donald Trump is facing a clear crisis of legitimacy. His popular-vote-losing win was already suspect given the F.B.I.’s last-minute intervention on his behalf. Now we know that even as the F.B.I. was creating the false appearance of scandal around his opponent, it was sitting on evidence suggesting alarmingly close relations between Mr. Trump’s campaign and Russia. And nothing he has done since the inauguration allays fears that he is in effect a Putin puppet.
How can a leader under such a cloud send American soldiers to die? How can he be granted the right to shape the Supreme Court for a generation?
Again, a thorough, nonpartisan, unrestricted investigation could conceivably clear the air. But Republicans in Congress, who have the power to make such an investigation happen, are dead set against it.
The thing is, this nightmare could be ended by a handful of Republican legislators willing to make common cause with Democrats to demand the truth. And maybe there are enough people of conscience left in the G.O.P.
But there probably aren’t. And that’s a problem that’s even scarier than the Trump-Putin axis.February 17th, 2017
February 17 through March 26February 8th, 2017
By Peter Schjeldahl
The New Yorker: Feb 13, 2017
The enigmatic, fantastically erudite artist Raymond Pettibon takes to Twitter like a bird to sky. My favorite of some fifty tweets that he posted on a recent day offers a reason that Donald Trump can’t be the Antichrist: “Not charming, goodlooking, endearing enuff.” In his art, Pettibon only sometimes addresses topical politics, or topical anything, but he knows his archetypes, and it’s nice to have eschatological expertise on current events. How seriously to take it is an uncertainty that haunts all of Pettibon’s art, which is surveyed in “A Pen of All Work,” a retrospective at the New Museum of some seven hundred creations, mostly drawings with text. He has intrigued and befuddled a growing audience since the late nineteen-seventies, when he emerged, in Hermosa Beach, California, as a bookish surfer who made flyers and album covers for the punk band Black Flag (his older brother Greg Ginn was the founder and guitarist) and a flurry of zines. His fame took hold slowly, and it remains confined largely to fine-art circles. Seeing the show is like being lost in a foreign but strangely familiar city, where polyphonic disembodied voices whisper, yell, or sputter wit and wisdom that you’re rarely sure that you heard quite right.
The title, “A Pen of All Work,” is from Byron’s “The Vision of Judgement,” in which the mediocre poet Robert Southey proposes to ghostwrite a memoir for Satan and, upon being rebuffed, extends the same offer to the archangel Michael. This befits Pettibon, who says that roughly a third of his texts are lifted, or rephrased, from cherished writers: a pantheon in which St. Augustine consorts with Henry James and Mickey Spillane. But every Pettibon phrasing sounds like a quotation from someone else, often in the formal, slightly stilted tones of a Victorian wordsmith.
Take the inscription on an inky drawing, from 1992, of a shut eye with long lashes: “Where the record is one of emotions and sentiments, delicately traced and disentangled, one blush may do more than enough to expose the immediate view.” That sounds true, but what is the question that it answers? An inscription on a 2015 image of the formidable St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson, in mid-delivery, reads, “The fruit of the foreign tree is shaken down there with a force that smothers everything else.” Pettibon loves baseball, with a mystic’s intensity; surfing, too. In a favorite motif, a tiny surfer rides a monstrous wave, as philosophical thoughts attend: “The sand and water to which we are reducible are as a rock to me” or “Don’t complicate the moral world.” Pettibon’s way with words, somewhat like the poetry of John Ashbery, instills a conviction of cogency untethered to understanding.
The images that Pettibon draws are also either borrowed or look like they are. Comic-book characters have been a frequent source: Batman, Gumby, and the little guy from the old “Felix the Cat” television cartoon series, whose face is all gaping mouth and whose vocabulary consists of the single locution “Vavoom!” Another recurring persona is Jesus, who, in a 1990 drawing, appears on the Cross, musing, “I am after eight years’ hammering against impenetrable adamant, become suddenly somewhat of a success.” Pettibon’s graphic style is no style, a clunky mélange of cartooning and illustrational modes that lack honed skill and nuanced feeling. It works extremely well, appearing gauche only until you accept its service to blunt statement: manner at one with matter. Though never employing caricature, the work’s effect updates a tradition of pointed grotesquerie that has roots in Hogarth, Goya, and Daumier and branches in the modern editorial cartoon: aesthetic pleasure checked by the absurdity or the horror—the scandal—of the subject at hand.
Pettibon’s approach is also reminiscent of the directness of children’s art, a quality emphasized in the show by drawings that he made as a kid but only recently inscribed. (A wild battle scene, which he drew as a preteen, now bears the confession “As a boy I passed my life in day-dreams of military glory. There will be a war for you, my Father said, when you grow up.”) Curators and critics often group Pettibon with Mike Kelley and Jim Shaw, California-based contemporaries who display similar veins of punk-seasoned satire and poisoned narcissism. But he differs from them in the ruminative and sensitive qualities of his work, which suggest at once the sagacity of an old mind and the vulnerability of a young heart.
Pettibon was born in 1957, the fourth of five children. His father, who taught English at a junior college in Los Angeles and published the occasional spy novel, nicknamed his son “Petit Bon,” which the artist adopted as his surname at the age of twenty-one. His mother was a housewife. He earned a degree in economics from U.C.L.A., in 1977, and briefly taught math at a junior high school. He then plunged into artmaking, living in his parents’ basement, in slacker fashion, but he was compulsively productive. When I spoke with him recently, he said that his mother had been more or less his only admirer at the time, when his first zine, “Captive Chains” (1978), a racy noir narrative now highly prized by collectors, sold just a few copies.
Pettibon is a big, doughy, shambling guy, who, when he’s with you, can seem also to be somewhere else, but he’s cordial. In 2011, he moved to Manhattan with his wife, the video artist Aida Ruilova. They now live near the Brooklyn Bridge, with their five-year-old son. Pettibon’s parents were Christian Scientists, though the faith didn’t do much to form him, he said, except for its ubiquitous reading rooms, which “helped with my relationship to reading.” He has made his way “many times” through the Bible and—I believe I gasped when he said it—“Finnegan’s Wake.” He absorbed aesthetic theory from Edmund Burke, prosodic elevation from John Ruskin, and social description from John Dos Passos. But Pettibon responds to instances of rhetorical glamour in any sort of writing that strikes his ear with the “raggedy-assed edges of the sublime.
I have had spells of swearing off Pettibon, owing to the exhausting onslaught of things to see and read, from a sum of works that the New Museum show’s co-curator, Massimiliano Gioni, estimates to number around twenty thousand. Pettibon sympathizes. He said to me of his drawings, “Even to look at them can be an ordeal, like reading Milton at a sitting.” Each one demands absorption. After fully contemplating a few, you inevitably numb out. But there’s no help for an art that, as fast and as loose as it appears at first glance, distills long periods of conception and reflection. Pettibon told me that images can await the right words for years, and vice versa.
The new show, on three floors of the museum, eases a viewer’s toil by grouping works according to theme—sports, religion, sex, politics, nuclear apocalypse—though items that fit no genre are necessarily scattered throughout. There are videos made with friends, for which Pettibon wrote the screenplays. In one, “Judgement Day Theatre: The Book of Manson” (1989), a band’s guitarist drops dead, but his guitar keeps playing until the plug is pulled on it. A survivor remarks, “Guess we’re a power trio now, huh?” The script is a jumble of profane, stoned rants and the occasional Old Testament prophecy. Amateur actors deliver it woodenly, reading from cue cards. Stupid? And how. With his videos, Pettibon positively luxuriates in brainlessness—as he does on Twitter, in raunchy bursts of uncorked id. He thereby usefully disperses impulses that his pictorial work disciplines.
Charles Manson, the Symbionese Liberation Army, and the Weathermen preoccupied Pettibon early on, as aspects of the ruined hippiedom and misfired far-left militancy that punk scorned. But a signature tone of quizzical detachment marks even his most violent imaginings. In a drawing from 1986, a naked Manson girl, with the group’s signal “X” on her forehead and brandishing a switchblade, comes with a sociological gloss, likely imported from somewhere: “Kansas prepares them for it perfectly.” In another drawing, a pot-smoking cool dude gravely testifies, “I’ve never heard so many nuances in Donovan.” Pettibon didn’t express the era so much as seem to struggle through it toward air more breathable, with humor that was a recourse from discomfort.
Far left himself, to the extent that he is political, Pettibon subjected Ronald and Nancy Reagan to some obscene mockery in the nineteen-eighties. In a drawing from 1986, he hit on another public figure, viewed from behind against a moonlit city skyline; the work is inscribed, at the top, “A certain Donald Trump” and, below, “The first real gentleman I’d met in years.” But his pitch deepened in reaction to the Iraq War. True rage informs a burlesque, from 2007, of the iconic Second World War photograph of marines raising a flag on Iwo Jima. In Pettibon’s version, the men are naked but for peaked hoods. The inscription reads, “For once Cheney bows to multiculturalism etiquette, adds representatives from Al Qaeda, Iran to flag taking-down monument.” Elsewhere, a group of naked American torturers with erections, surrounding a hooded victim, is laconically lamented: “They brought their game with them, and what they didn’t learn back in the States in their black box of growing up, they learnt as they went along.” The blandness of the language intensifies the awfulness of the scene—a device that recalls Goya’s dry captions on his “Disasters of War” series. It’s not a note that you can hit by wanting to. Pain must administer it.
It’s odd that work so teeming with aspects of contemporary popular culture should stir associations to remote art history, but the contrast points up Pettibon’s singularity. I think, too, of medieval paintings that garland the actions of saints with scrolled scriptural passages, bracketing meanings, between image and word, for a community of the faithful. Pettibon’s coarsely robust picturing and suavely refined prose do the same, but for initiates who are more strictly fanciful. The fiction of an audience that knows what he’s about may be his chief invention. ♦February 8th, 2017
By MATT FLEGENHEIMER
NY Times: FEBRUARY 7, 2017
WASHINGTON — Republican senators voted on Tuesday to formally silence a Democratic colleague for impugning a peer, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, by condemning his nomination for attorney general while reading a letter from Coretta Scott King.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, had been holding forth on the Senate floor on the eve of Mr. Sessions’s expected confirmation vote, reciting a 1986 letter from Mrs. King that criticized Mr. Sessions’s record on civil rights.
Sensing a stirring beside her a short while later, Ms. Warren stopped herself and scanned the chamber.
Across the room, Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, had stepped forward with an objection, setting off an extraordinary confrontation in the Capitol and silencing a colleague, procedurally, in the throes of a contentious debate over President Trump’s cabinet nominee.
“The senator has impugned the motives and conduct of our colleague from Alabama, as warned by the chair,” Mr. McConnell began, alluding to Mrs. King’s letter, which accused Mr. Sessions of using “the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters.”
Mr. McConnell called the Senate to order under what is known as Rule XIX, which prohibits debating senators from ascribing “to another senator or to other senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a senator.”
When Mr. McConnell concluded, Ms. Warren said she was “surprised that the words of Coretta Scott King are not suitable for debate in the United States Senate.” She asked to continue her remarks.
Mr. McConnell objected.
“Objection is heard,” said Senator Steve Daines, Republican of Montana, who was presiding in the chamber at the time. “The senator will take her seat.”
The debate appeared to center, in part, on whether the rule allowed exemptions for quoted remarks — Ms. Warren had been reading directly from the letter from Mrs. King, the widow of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — to demean a sitting senator.
In a party-line vote, 49 to 43, senators upheld Mr. Daines’s decision, forcing Ms. Warren into silence, at least on the Senate floor, until the showdown over Mr. Sessions’s nomination is complete. He is expected to be confirmed on Wednesday.
Immediately, Democrats took up Ms. Warren’s cause, urging on social media for Republicans to “#LetLizSpeak.” Ms. Warren said on Twitter that Mr. McConnell had “silenced Mrs. King’s voice” on the Senate floor, to say nothing of “millions who are afraid & appalled by what’s happening in our country.” Within hours of being shut down on the Senate floor, Ms. Warren read the letter from Mrs. King on Facebook, attracting more than two million views — an audience she would have been unlikely to match on C-Span, if she had been permitted to continue speaking in the chamber.
Democrats argued that Mr. McConnell was enforcing the rule selectively, citing examples of Republicans appearing to test the boundaries of Rule XIX. In one instance from 2015, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas accused Mr. McConnell of lying “over and over and over again.” In another, last year, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas described the “cancerous leadership” of Senator Harry Reid, the former Democratic leader.
Republicans accused Ms. Warren of violating the rule repeatedly, saying she had been warned before Mr. McConnell’s objection. Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, suggested that Ms. Warren had been rebuked over “a quotation from Senator Ted Kennedy that called the nominee a disgrace to the Justice Department.”
“Our colleagues want to try to make this all about Coretta Scott King, and it is not,” he said.
But when Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, sought clarification, he was informed that while a warning was issued over the letter from Mr. Kennedy, the ruling itself hinged on Mrs. King’s letter. That judgment came from Senator Mike Rounds, Republican of South Dakota, who had taken over as the presiding officer.
In either event, Republicans suggested, the episode spoke to Democrats’ inability to accept the results of the 2016 election — and, more narrowly, to adhere to the rules of a body where decorum has often fallen away.
“She was warned,” Mr. McConnell said of Ms. Warren. “She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”
Democrats planned to hold the floor into the wee hours of Wednesday to protest Mr. Sessions’s nominationFebruary 8th, 2017
Felix Plate, 2016
ceramic and glaze
4 1/2 X 4 1/2 inches
January 20, 2017 – February 23, 2017January 22nd, 2017