Mike Nichols 1931 – 2014

November 20th, 2014
elves’ faire

Screen shot 2014-11-19 at 1.26.01 PM
Acorn Man, 2013

Saturday, November 22, 2014, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Pasadena Waldorf Elves’ Faire

November 19th, 2014
Lunch with Agnes

The New Yorker Published July 14, 2003

Agnes Martin, the Saskatchewan-born Abstract Expressionist painter—a contemporary of Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Barnett Newman—whose tranquil paintings are in the Whitney, the Guggenheim, moma, and other museums, abandoned New York a good three decades ago to live spartanly and to work, somewhat reclusively, in New Mexico. Now residing in Taos at the age of ninety-one, she was due the other day to be called on at the small bungalow she lives in near the big Taos Mountain, by her friend and neighbor Tony Huston, in his white pickup truck. He is a master falconer and a screenwriter (of, among other movies, a film of James Joyce’s “The Dead” made by his father, John Huston).

“Every now and then, I get to have lunch with Agnes,” Huston said. “There’s such solidity in her presence. She’s not wobbly. She occupies all the space given to her. In 1997, she was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale. The next year, President Clinton gave her the National Medal of Arts. Her paintings sell for millions, her dealer says. She spends a lot of time just sitting, painting in her head.

“She finds serenity and power in the Taos Mountain, as so many of us here do,” he went on, driving bossily over a sun-blinding, narrow dirt road leading to Martin’s home. “Either the mountain likes you or it doesn’t, and I’m sure the mountain likes Agnes.”

He turned off the dirt road into a circular enclave called Plaza de Retiro. A spotless white E320 Mercedes was parked in front of her place. “Her car’s here,” he said. He knocked on the door and peered into the window. “But she’s not home. She probably got a ride to her studio.”

Not long after, he found her, in her studio, in a three-hundred-year-old adobe cottage half a mile away. The studio has white walls, a skylight, and a small window with shutters, and inside it was arranged simply: a work table with paintbrushes and three rulers; a couple of chairs. Hanging on a wall was a painting in progress—a five-by-five-foot white canvas with one blue stripe at the top.

Agnes Martin has a full, strong, sun-browned face that looks as if it belonged on Mt. Rushmore. She has gray hair, cut straight with bangs, in what used to be called a Buster Brown style, and she is muscular and full-bodied, with large, strong, thick-fingered hands. She was wearing black sneakers, bluejeans, and a blue tunic of thick Guatemalan cloth, with four engraved silver buttons going down from the neckline. “The silver buttons come from Tony Reyna’s shop on the Pueblo reservation—no tax,” she said. “I want to get more of these silver buttons.

“Tomorrow, I’ll drive myself over here,” she said. “I have twenty-twenty vision. A policeman just gave me the driver’s test. He said I was a good driver.”

Huston and Martin started talking about painting, and he asked whether she allows her dealer’s opinions to influence her work.

“No, I paint to myself,” she said. “It comes from outside. I don’t believe in that inner stuff. You sit and wait. I’m always painting in my imagination. They go so quickly in your imagination. I only work three and a half hours a day. Painting is hard work. It’s very hard to paint straight. You paint vertically, but the paintings hang horizontally—there are no drips that way.”

The happiest part of making paintings, she continued, is “when they go out the door and into the world. They go straight to my dealer, Arne Glimcher, at Pace Wildenstein. It used to be simpler. They used to fly and get there in one day. Now they have to be in fancy crates, and they go by truck to New York. Takes five days.”

It was well before noon. She had eaten breakfast, she said, at her routine time, 6:30 a.m., in the communal dining room at her enclave.

“I don’t eat supper,” she said. “And I never watch television. I have no television. I have no radio. For news, I read the headlines on the local papers. I listen to music. On CDs. Beethoven’s Ninth. Beethoven is really about something. I go to bed at 7 p.m. I go to sleep when it gets dark, get up when it’s light. Like a chicken. Let’s go to lunch.”

At Huston’s truck, she hoisted herself nimbly into the front seat for the drive to a restaurant, close to the Taos Mountain. It had grown cloudy. There was a distant rumble of thunder. At the restaurant, a waitress poured water. Martin drank almost a full glass. “This water is so good,” she said. “I’ll have the mushroom-filled ravioli. Yesterday, I had bratwurst and sauerkraut.” Huston asked whether she ever missed New York.

Without skipping a beat, she said, “They tore down my wonderful studio there. They put a Chemical Bank in its place. I worked for thirteen years in that studio. A sailmaker’s loft, on Coenties Slip. It was right on the East River, so close I could see the expressions on the faces of the sailors. That’s when I was friends with Barney Newman. We’d talk about Picasso, who was a good painter because he worked hard. But he had a lot of goofy ideas. I liked Andy Warhol, but I was afraid to go visit him because of his friends. Barney would do wonderful talk with me. He’d say about painting, ‘It’s transcendent.’ A lot of people didn’t believe him. But I did. It has to be about life. Barney and the other Abstract Expressionists gave up defined space, and they gave up forms. They all liked my paintings. I feel as though I owe them a debt. Barney hung my shows. Too bad about Barney. The doctor told him to stop, to give it up. Because it’s hard work. So he gave it up, but he started again, and he died of a heart attack.” She drank another glass of water. “This water is so good,” she said again.

Thanks to Sam Sweet

November 19th, 2014

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356 Mission

November 16th, 2014

November 15th, 2014
‘Selected by…’

magdalena tiger 2014
Magdalena Suarez Frimkess
Untitled Tiger, 2014
6 x 4 x 3 inches

Opening Saturday 22 November 2014, 3 – 5pm

Through Saturday 20 December 2014

‘Selected by…’ Michael Marriott and Jesse Wine is a group exhibition of ceramic-based work.

Caroline Achaintre / Alison Britton / Lubna Chowdhary / Viola Frey / Magdalena Suarez Frimkess / Ryan Gander / Tom Gidley / Jim Gladwin / Cassie Griffin / Ineke Hans / Tony Hayward / Tom Humphreys / Pontus Lindvall / Jean Marriott / Nao Matsunaga / Ian Mcintyre / Emily Jane McCartan / Ian McChesney / Kate Owens / Richard Slee / Renee So / August Sorenson / Jackson Sprague / Frauke Stegmann / Hans Stofer / Ricky Swallow / Francis Upritchard / Jesse Wine / Bethan Wood / Dawn Youll


November 14th, 2014
Don’t Ask How to Feed the 9 Billion

NY Times Published: NOV. 11, 2014
By Mark Bittman

At dinner with a friend the other night, I mentioned that I was giving a talk this week debunking the idea that we need to grow more food on a large scale so we can “feed the nine billion” — the anticipated global population by 2050.

She looked at me, horrified, and said, “But how are you going to produce enough food to feed the hungry?”

I suggested she try this exercise: “Put yourself in the poorest place you can think of. Imagine yourself in the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example. Now. Are you hungry? Are you going to go hungry? Are you going to have a problem finding food?”

The answer, obviously, is “no.” Because she — and almost all of you reading this — would be standing in that country with some $20 bills and a wallet filled with credit cards. And you would go buy yourself something to eat.

The difference between you and the hungry is not production levels; it’s money. There are no hungry people with money; there isn’t a shortage of food, nor is there a distribution problem. There is an I-don’t-have-the-land-and-resources-to-produce-my-own-food, nor-can-I-afford-to-buy-food problem.

And poverty and the resulting hunger aren’t matters of bad luck; they are often a result of people buying the property of traditional farmers and displacing them, appropriating their water, energy and mineral resources, and even producing cash crops for export while reducing the people growing the food to menial and hungry laborers on their own land.

Poverty isn’t the only problem, of course. There is also the virtually unregulated food system that is geared toward making money rather than feeding people. (Look no further than the ethanol mandate or high fructose corn syrup for evidence.)

If poverty creates hunger, it teams up with the food system to create another form of malnourishment: obesity (and what’s called “hidden hunger,” a lack of micronutrients). If you define “hunger” as malnutrition, and you accept that overweight and obesity are forms of malnutrition as well, than almost half the world is malnourished.

The solution to malnourishment isn’t to produce more food. The solution is to eliminate poverty.

Look at the most agriculturally productive country in the world: the United States. Is there hunger here? Yes, quite a bit. We have the highest percentage of hungry people of any developed nation, a rate closer to that of Indonesia than that of Britain.

Is there a lack of food? You laugh at that question. It is, as the former Food and Drug Administration commissioner David Kessler likes to call it, “a food carnival.” It’s just that there’s a steep ticket price.

A majority of the world is fed by hundreds of millions of small-scale farmers, some of whom are themselves among the hungry. The rest of the hungry are underpaid or unemployed workers. But boosting yields does nothing for them.

So we should not be asking, “How will we feed the world?,” but “How can we help end poverty?” Claiming that increasing yield would feed the poor is like saying that producing more cars or private jets would guarantee that everyone had one.

And how do we help those who have malnutrition from excess eating? We can help them, and help preserve the earth’s health, if we recognize that the industrial model of food production is neither inevitable nor desirable.

That is, the kind of farming we can learn from people who still have a real relationship with the land and are focused on quality rather than yield.

The best method of farming for most people is probably traditional farming boosted by science. The best method of farming for those in highly productive agricultural societies would be farming made more intelligent and less rapacious. That is, the kind of farming we can learn from people who still have a real relationship with the land and are focused on quality rather than yield. The goal should be food that is green, fair, healthy and affordable.

It’s not news that the poor need money and justice. If there’s a bright side here, it’s that it might be easier to make the changes required to fix the problems created by industrial agriculture than those created by inequality.

There’s plenty of food. Too much of it is going to feed animals, too much of it is being converted to fuel and too much of it is being wasted.

We don’t have to increase yield to address any of those issues; we just have to grow food more smartly than with the brute force of industrial methods, and we need to address the circumstances of the poor.

Our slogan should not be “let’s feed the world,” but “let’s end poverty.”

November 14th, 2014
Big Bank Hank dies at 57; founding member of Sugarhill Gang

LA Time Published: November 11, 2014

Henry Lee Jackson, one of the founders of the pioneering New Jersey rap trio The Sugarhill Gang whose 1979 single “Rapper’s Delight” proved that hip-hop could have mass-market appeal, has died. He was 57.

Jackson, who recorded as “Big Bank Hank,” died Tuesday of complications from cancer at a hospital in Englewood, N.J., said David Mallie, business manager for the two remaining members of the original Sugarhill Gang.

In a statement released by Mallie, Guy “Master Gee” O’Brien and Michael “Wonder Mike” Wright mourned Jackson’s death.

“So sad to hear about our brother’s passing. The three of us created musical history together,” the statement said. “We will always remember traveling the world together and rocking the house.”

Jackson was born Jan. 11, 1957, in the Bronx. He first planned on a career in oceanography, earning a degree after being inspired by the films of Jacques Cousteau. Jackson was working as a bouncer and a waiter at an Englewood pizza joint and rapping at local parties when Sylvia Robinson, a singer and label owner interested in documenting the nascent hip-hop music and party subculture in New York, found him after her son Joey Jr. pitched him as a rapper.

With his large physique and vivacious charisma, Jackson was a natural performer. Jackson free-styled some lyrics for her over a cassette tape in a car outside the pizza shop while two other rappers — O’Brien and Wright — also vied for the job. Robinson decided to sign all of them and form a group. Though few rap performances had ever been professionally recorded at that point, she booked them a session where they riffed over a 15-minute instrumental track borrowed from Chic’s dance single “Good Times.”

It was just astonishing, it really was something ‘new’ formally. It created a dividing line between what came before it and what came after.
- Bill Adler, hip-hop critic, on the Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight”
The song was a lighthearted, boast-filled track inspired by the freewheeling tradition of trading lyrics over DJ sets at block parties and nightclubs. It was soon selling 75,000 copies a week and cracked the Billboard charts, peaking at No. 36 on the Hot 100. But its influence was even wider. “Rapper’s Delight” proved that the hip-hop genre wasn’t just a regional flash in the pan, but a larger musical and aesthetic sensibility that could have broad appeal.

“There’s no way to overstate it. It was one of the first rap records ever made, and it was just gigantic,” said Bill Adler, a hip-hop critic and the original publicist for the hip-hop label Def Jam Records. “It was just astonishing, it really was something ‘new’ formally. It created a dividing line between what came before it and what came after.”

The song was the breakthrough release for the Robinsons’ Sugar Hill Records. The new label would go on to release records by Grandmaster Flash and Grandmaster Melle Mel that would become genre classics.

The “Rapper’s Delight” single did generate some controversy in hip-hop circles. Jackson’s verse on the song was widely believed to have borrowed lyrics from another local MC, Grandmaster Caz, who had lent Jackson his book of rhymes as a favor to the novice musician. Jackson even left in the portion of the lyrics where Caz spelled out his hip-hop alias, Casanova Fly. But as a first record taken from hip-hop’s communal party culture, it was an appropriate origin.

“I did not think it was conceivable that that there would be such a thing as a hip-hop record,” said the rapper Chuck D in Jeff Chang’s history of hip-hop, “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop.” Then, “Bam! They made ‘Rapper’s Delight.’ … It was a miracle.”

Sugarhill Gang’s achievement was to capture hip-hop’s live, spontaneous essence in the studio and introduce audiences outside New York to the culture of rapping. The trio never replicated the top-40 chart success of “Rapper’s Delight” in America, though other singles including “Apache” and “8th Wonder” made the Hot 100 and became popular in Europe and in U.S. nightclubs.

The group’s original lineup dissolved in the early 1980s, though Jackson continued to tour as Sugarhill Gang with Joey Robinson Jr. as “Master Gee.” The Grammy Hall of Fame added “Rapper’s Delight” to its catalog in 2013.

Jackson is survived by his wife, Valerie Jackson; his children Alea Ramsey, Thomas Washington and Keshah Washington, and a stepdaughter, Jacquelle Ramsey.

“He was such a humble person, he would call from the road and say he’d had a good show, but he never talked much about his music,” his wife said. “He would have been amazed at how many people truly loved him.”

Thank to Jonathan Maghen

November 12th, 2014
julia rommel

Screen shot 2014-11-09 at 7.37.37 PM
Friday Night, 2014
Oil on linen,
17 x 15 inches


Sorry Were Closed

November 9th, 2014
Living Life Secondhand

Jun Cen

NY Times Published: NOV. 8, 2014

“LIFE is an ecstasy,” Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in an essay called “The Method of Nature,” a founding document of American transcendentalism. Life is also electricity, as our minds’ synapses and heart muscles would testify if they could.

Living molecules bear a charge and thus can intersect with others of their kind, as molecules of rock do not. We marveled at electrical displays plunging from watery clouds in the sky as perhaps divine until we finally learned to manufacture and wire electricity ourselves, lighting the dark, then muzzling it for mundane use, to the point of blotting out the sky.

To forgo seeing the firmament, as many of us do, for Netflix and the blogosphere, is momentous — nature “unfriended,” enjoyment less impromptu than scripted.

Does life become secondhand when filtered through a tailored screen? Text unenriched by body language or voice box timbre, film omnivorously edited. Is our bent straightened or warped more deeply? That’s our choice in what we Google, but in the meantime, will we notice the birdsong diminishing?

I like Gene Kelly dancing in the rain as much as anybody, and geniuses from Mozart to Fellini on call 24/7, but has electricity become part-Frankensteinian, a force for segmented myopia? Not a fist, it’s an explosion, hurling society toward Brownian motion, and coalescing Roman Catholicism with yoga. Fusion yet fission: Email is a fine way to query experts in your field en masse, but for somebody feeling suicidal it’s no substitute for a hand on the shoulder and the voice of a friend.

And that friend who might hurry over to comfort you may have difficulty in distinguishing the tenor of your texting from the spaghetti of other people’s commentary. Blather is precious in natural amounts: Like lubrication, it greases the gears, yet in excess can gum up the works.

I live on a mountain without utilities for a third of every year, so for nearly half a century I’ve swung back and forth to and from electrification. In the summer, living by the sun couldn’t be simpler. There’s more daylight than I can use, and I revel in the phases of the moon, the conversation of ravens, owls, yellowthroats and loons. The TV and phone calls resume before winter, though life itself does not seem richer than when I listened to the toads’ spring song or watched a great blue heron fish, amid the leaves’ ten-thousand-fold vibrancy.

The difference of course is that leaves, heron, loon and toad would not remain as glories when I returned to electricity. They are “electrifying” only when Vermont is temperate. I appreciate the utility of power in the winter, but many people seldom see a sunrise or sunset nowadays; they’re looking at a screen. What will this do? The Northern Lights, the Big Dipper — are they eclipsed like the multiplication tables? There was a magnetism to aurora borealis or a cradle moon, to spring peepers’ sleigh-bell sound or spindrift surfing toward shore under cumulus clouds, that galvanized delights in us almost Paleolithic.

Are we stunted if we lose it, a deflation associated with migrating indoors to cyberspace, Facebook instead of faces? It’s lots of fun, but will ecstasy remain in play in front of a computer screen? With microscopes and telescopes we are able to observe unscripted reality, or (if you prefer) Creation.

“The cloud” is not a cloud, however. Wild animals are filmed in Africa but edited in New York for nature programs, although the glistening tree trunks — raindrops trickled down the collar of the cameraman — become invisible. Online, does one even have a neck? Electricity brings us the joy of music performed elsewhere, and sports heroics, but the happiness of lying on one’s back in a summer meadow flowers in us like photosynthesis, perhaps, and as innately as hugging a child. Will cyberspace sidetrack us from not only outdoor but direct experience?

November 9th, 2014
Takuro Kuwata

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November 14 — December 13, 2014

Pierre Marie Giraud

November 8th, 2014
chris martin

A spiritual tradition: an untitled work by Chris Martin.

NY Times Published: November 6, 2014

Chris Martin’s first solo show at Anton Kern feels like a breakthrough, although he’s been painting for decades. Big, glittering and ethereal, the canvases were made upstate last summer, and they have the sun-drenched, baked-on look of the desert, a frequent touchstone in Mr. Martin’s work. Many include a shimmery dusting of glitter, and not just any glitter: the holographic kind used by showgirls in Las Vegas, whose living depends on transfixing their audience.

Mr. Martin (who has a concurrent show at Half Gallery on the Upper East Side) traffics in a different kind of transfixion: the slower, seismic kind that painting affords. Among the works on view here are blatantly geometric paintings that hark back to modern precedents, as well as to vernacular practices like quilting. Virtually all of the paintings, even the ones with batik-looking skeins of paint swirling across their surfaces, have a geometric substructure that anchors the composition. Others include sinuous shapes and forms that rise from the bottom of the picture plane, like plants or stalactites. Mr. Martin can go too far, though. “Space is the Place,” in the back gallery, is excessive in its application: a glitter blackout that’s like too much frosting on a cake.

Mr. Martin continues the abstract tradition of artists like Forrest Bess and Paul Feeley, but also the spiritualist-abstract one of Hilma af Klimt, Lee Mullican, Agnes Martin and Helmut Federle. He’s not just painting, but searching for a way to “be” painting, to experience rather than understand the medium; to be a medium himself.

In a 2005 essay built around the conceit of a conversation between Buddhism and Painting, Mr. Martin admiringly described Richard Tuttle’s work: “One does not imagine him actually making the paintings,” he wrote. “Rather he steps aside and allows them to pass through to us.” Clearly, this is the plane on which Mr. Martin is operating, and he wants us to join him there.

Thanks to Matt Connors

November 7th, 2014
Triumph of the Wrong

NY Times Published: NOV. 6, 2014
By Paul Krugman

The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet midterms to men of understanding. Or as I put it on the eve of another Republican Party sweep, politics determines who has the power, not who has the truth. Still, it’s not often that a party that is so wrong about so much does as well as Republicans did on Tuesday.

I’ll talk in a bit about some of the reasons that may have happened. But it’s important, first, to point out that the midterm results are no reason to think better of the Republican position on major issues. I suspect that some pundits will shade their analysis to reflect the new balance of power — for example, by once again pretending that Representative Paul Ryan’s budget proposals are good-faith attempts to put America’s fiscal house in order, rather than exercises in deception and double-talk. But Republican policy proposals deserve more critical scrutiny, not less, now that the party has more ability to impose its agenda.

So now is a good time to remember just how wrong the new rulers of Congress have been about, well, everything.

First, there’s economic policy. According to conservative dogma, which denounces any regulation of the sacred pursuit of profit, the financial crisis of 2008 — brought on by runaway financial institutions — shouldn’t have been possible. But Republicans chose not to rethink their views even slightly. They invented an imaginary history in which the government was somehow responsible for the irresponsibility of private lenders, while fighting any and all policies that might limit the damage. In 2009, when an ailing economy desperately needed aid, John Boehner, soon to become the speaker of the House, declared: “It’s time for government to tighten their belts.”

So here we are, with years of experience to examine, and the lessons of that experience couldn’t be clearer. Predictions that deficit spending would lead to soaring interest rates, that easy money would lead to runaway inflation and debase the dollar, have been wrong again and again. Governments that did what Mr. Boehner urged, slashing spending in the face of depressed economies, have presided over Depression-level economic slumps. And the attempts of Republican governors to prove that cutting taxes on the wealthy is a magic growth elixir have failed with flying colors.

In short, the story of conservative economics these past six years and more has been one of intellectual debacle — made worse by the striking inability of many on the right to admit error under any circumstances.

Then there’s health reform, where Republicans were very clear about what was supposed to happen: minimal enrollments, more people losing insurance than gaining it, soaring costs. Reality, so far, has begged to differ, delivering above-predicted sign-ups, a sharp drop in the number of Americans without health insurance, premiums well below expectations, and a sharp slowdown in overall health spending.

And we shouldn’t forget the most important wrongness of all, on climate change. As late as 2008, some Republicans were willing to admit that the problem is real, and even advocate serious policies to limit emissions — Senator John McCain proposed a cap-and-trade system similar to Democratic proposals. But these days the party is dominated by climate denialists, and to some extent by conspiracy theorists who insist that the whole issue is a hoax concocted by a cabal of left-wing scientists. Now these people will be in a position to block action for years to come, quite possibly pushing us past the point of no return.

But if Republicans have been so completely wrong about everything, why did voters give them such a big victory?

Part of the answer is that leading Republicans managed to mask their true positions. Perhaps most notably, Senator Mitch McConnell, the incoming majority leader, managed to convey the completely false impression that Kentucky could retain its impressive gains in health coverage even if Obamacare were repealed.

But the biggest secret of the Republican triumph surely lies in the discovery that obstructionism bordering on sabotage is a winning political strategy. From Day 1 of the Obama administration, Mr. McConnell and his colleagues have done everything they could to undermine effective policy, in particular blocking every effort to do the obvious thing — boost infrastructure spending — in a time of low interest rates and high unemployment.

This was, it turned out, bad for America but good for Republicans. Most voters don’t know much about policy details, nor do they understand the legislative process. So all they saw was that the man in the White House wasn’t delivering prosperity — and they punished his party.

Will things change now that the G.O.P. can’t so easily evade responsibility? I guess we’ll find out.

November 7th, 2014
Peter Shire


Opening Reception Saturday November 8. 6-9PM
November 8 through January 31, 2015

Architecture and Design Museum

November 7th, 2014
Danish chamber orchestra goes viral with chile-eating stunt

Musicians of the Danish National Chamber Orchestra perform Jacob Gade’s “Tango Jalousie” under the influence of chile peppers.

LA Times Published November 6, 2014

A chamber music ensemble in Denmark has gone viral with a video showing its musicians consuming hot chile peppers during a performance of a classical-music number. The spicy peppers cause the musicians to wheeze and writhe in pain, but they manage to finish the piece.

The video was posted online Oct. 31 and has received more than 2 million views. The Danish National Chamber Orchestra performs the opening of the popular “Tango Jalousie” by composer Jacob Gade before each musician consumes a pepper. The ensemble then performs the rest of the piece under the influence of the spicy food.

“I think chile is a good ingredient to have in many parts of your life, and also music,” says concertmaster Erik Heide in the video.

The video is hosted and created by Danish entertainment personality Claus Pilgaard, who goes by the name Chile Klaus. Pilgaard is known in his native country for his enthusiasm for chile peppers and his videos featuring celebrities and chile tastings.

The Danish National Chamber Orchestra consists of 42 musicians and is based in Copenhagen. The ensemble has been around since 1937, according to its official website.

November 7th, 2014
3 mules

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3 Mules

More Information Here

November 5th, 2014

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David Kordansky

November 5th, 2014
90-year-old Florida activist arrested for feeding the homeless

Arnold Abbott
Homeless advocate Arnold Abbott, 90, prepares a salad in the kitchen of the Sanctuary Church. Abbott was arrested along with two pastors on Tuesday for feeding the homeless in a park. Photograph: Lynne Sladky

By Richard Luscombe
The Guardian Published: Wednesday 5 November 2014

Church leaders in Florida were preparing for a second confrontation with Fort Lauderdale police on Wednesday over a controversial new ordinance than bans them from feeding the city’s homeless.

Pastors from two local churches and the 90-year-old leader of a long-established food kitchen were arrested at a park on Sunday, two days after the law took effect, for attempting to serve meals to homeless residents. Each received a citation threatening 60 days in prison and a $500 fine.

Dwayne Black, pastor of the downtown Sanctuary Church, said he and church members would set up their regular feeding station at Fort Lauderdale beach on Wednesday in defiance of the ordinance. He said he expected to be arrested again and to spend the night in jail.

“We have been feeding the homeless for a long time. It is our calling and our duty to not let another human being go hungry. But now it’s a crime to feed a hungry person,” Black told the Guardian.

“The city says that it creates an eyesore; they are saying that human beings being fed is an eyesore. What they are doing is wrong. It lacks all compassion.”

Despite the opposition of religious groups and activists, Fort Lauderdale commissioners, led by mayor Jack Seiler, have voted through a number of new laws this year intended to clamp down on the city’s estimated 10,000 homeless people. They include restrictions on roadside panhandling, sleeping on public property and the storage of personal belongings in public places.

The latest ordinance, approved four to one in a midweek commission vote that took place at 3.30am, effectively stifles any group-feeding project within city limits. Organisers must first seek permits or the permission of property owners next to the proposed sites, which cannot be within 500ft of residential property. They must also provide portable toilets and must also comply with state imposed food safety standards.

Opponents say the rule outlawing the public sharing of food is an “atrocious and disgusting” law. “The city is choking out every avenue for the homeless to survive,” Haylee Becker of the Food Not Bombs advocacy group told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “They’re all terrible ordinances, but together they’re a death sentence.”

According to observers of anti-homeless legislation countrywide, Fort Lauderdale is following other municipalities in an increasingly popular direction. The National Coalition for the Homeless reported last month that at least 31 cities had passed bans or restrictions on food sharing, or were acting to do so.

“These laws disregard the first amendment right of religious organisations to exercise their faith and assist their less fortunate neighbours,” NCH community organiser Michael Stoops said in conclusion to a 29-page report on the criminalisation of feeding the homeless.

“Budget cuts and criminalisation efforts are misdirected, narrow in scope, and neglect to make long-term policy changes that work to eradicate homelessness.”

City officials in Fort Lauderdale, however, insist the new laws were necessary to maintain public health and safety. Mayor Seiler told reporters that anybody who defied the ordinances could expect to be arrested.

“Just because of media attention, we don’t stop enforcing the law. We enforce the laws here in Fort Lauderdale,” he said.

One of those cited by police on Sunday, Arnold Abbott, 90, a second world war veteran and founder of the interfaith Love Thy Neighbour non-profit group, said he would continue to try to feed Fort Lauderdale’s homeless and planned to file a lawsuit against the city to try to get the ordinance overturned.

“I know I will be arrested again, I’m prepared for that,” he told Fox News. “I am my brother’s keeper and what they are doing is just heartless. They are trying to sweep the poorest of the poor under the rug.”

Black, the Fort Lauderdale pastor, said he expected to arrive at the beach later on Wednesday to find police waiting for the church group. “They were already there at the park on Sunday with lights flashing. We’d handed out four or five platefuls and they demanded we put our utensils down and come with them,” he said.

“They’ve planted their feet in the sand and it will probably be the same today. But we have a lot if support. The phone hasn’t stopped ringing with offers of help and money for a legal defence fund. We are going to feed people.”

Thanks to Jonathan Maghen

November 5th, 2014
Terra Firma

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Jennifer Rochlin
“Black and White Scraffito Tile”, 2014
Ceramic tile with underglaze and glaze, acrylic paint on linen
18 x 16 inches

Joanne Greenbaum ● Jessica Jackson Hutchins ● Jennifer Rochlin

November 7 – December 24, 2014

Opening Reception
Friday, November 7, 2014
7 – 9 pm


November 3rd, 2014
Javier Tapia & Camilo Ontiveros

Screen shot 2014-11-03 at 7.06.52 AMJavier Tapia & Camilo Ontiveros, Travelling Dust research image (installation detail), 2014, unknown photographer from 1970s Mexico, courtesy of the artists

Travelling Dust
Opening Reception: Friday, November 7, 6-9 pm
November 7 – December 12, 2014

Travelling Dust is a collaborative project by 18th Street Art Center’s Visiting Artists in Residence Javier Tapia and Camilo Ontiveros. Concerned particularly with economic and cultural exchanges between Latin America and the United States, Travelling Dust unveils and rearticulates assumptions about trade, geography, nature, and the people of three communities of the Americas: Chile, Mexico, and Los Angeles.

Tapia and Ontiveros investigate labor, informal economies, and migration from a multifaceted perspective, exploring themes of cultural adaptation, homeland, displacement, diaspora, borders, and minority status that speak directly to Los Angeles and its communities as paradigmatic sites of exchange. Via film and installation, Travelling Dust uncovers alternative and hidden histories to inform the contemporary moment by excavating differences and forging connections between Los Angeles and Latin America.

The project brings the discrete sites of Chile, Mexico, and Los Angeles into conversation through the display of collected objects from those places. The installation of objects is exhibited on a custom-made sculptural platform, recreating a museum display. Considering questions of authenticity and origin, the installation includes original and archeological objects provided by pivotal collaborator, San Gabriel’s Mission Museum in East Los Angeles.

Part of the installation at 18th Street Arts Center’s Main Gallery is a simultaneous three-channel film, which will offer insight into the complex web of relations and influences stretching between Latin America and the United States. Through footage from interviews, portraits, discussions, parties, meetings, work sites, markets, schools, and landscapes, the film develops a visual and symbolic language through which to approach the relationship between the Americas. Travelling Dust is a departure from accepted modes of cultural reference and representation, opening up new channels of thought and taking a renewed look at what these places mean to one another within the realities of geopolitics. The collected footage, created with filmmaker Nicolás García (Chile) and photographer Ruben Diaz (US), has been assembled into two versions: a three-channel film installation and a single-channel 20-minute short.

18th Street Arts Center

November 3rd, 2014

Thanks to Steve Hadley

November 1st, 2014
Peter Callas

Untitled #1, 2014
wood fired stoneware
17.5 X 16.5 X 7 inches

Peter Callas | Sculptures and Vessels

Opening Reception: Sunday November 2, 3-5PM
November 2 through December 2, 2014

Peter Callas (b.1951) built the first Anagama Kiln in the United States in 1976. He introduced Peter Voulkos to wood firing shortly after. Callas and Voulkos worked together for 23 years, with Callas doing all the wood firings.

Callas lives and works in Belvidere, New Jersey and continues to work “ashen glazed surfaces to communicate the mysterious sensibilities of nature on fire.”

South Willard Shop Exhibit

October 29th, 2014
Amie Siegel

Screen shot 2014-10-29 at 2.53.16 PM
Provenance (still), 2013.
HD video, color, sound;
40 min., 30 sec.

Through January 4, 2015

For the past decade and a half, Amie Siegel (American, born 1974) has worked between film, installation, photography, and performance, questioning the tropes of cinematic forms. Siegel’s three-part installation, Provenance, will be shown in its entirety for the first time at the Metropolitan Museum. Provenance is a touchstone in Siegel’s work, with its accumulative, cinematic representation of economic and political cycles. The work enacts a slow reveal over multiple parts, stripping back the layers of patrimony that influence the cultural value of objects to ask a broad set of contemporary questions about the speculative markets of art and design.

Provenance focuses on an emblem of mid-century modernist design—the furniture designed by the Swiss architect Pierre Jeanneret for the buildings of Chandigarh, the controversial modernist city in India. Beginning with the furniture’s present circumstances as decoration in wealthy homes, the work then traces the furniture’s journey in reverse chronology through warehouses, on display at American and European auctions, at a furniture restorer’s, on a cargo ship, and, finally, back to their origins in Chandigarh. In their original context, these prized pieces function as everyday office furniture. Their migration as the spoils of modern design discloses the gulf between disparate settings, mapping the undercurrents of larger movements of capital. On view with the video, Provenance, are two works that complete the project: Lot 248 (2013), a film that documents the frenzy around the auction of Provenance at Christie’s in London, and Proof (Christie’s 19 October, 2013) (2013), the printer’s proof of the Christie’s auction catalogue paper for Provenance embedded in Lucite.

The Met

Thanks to Daniel Payavis

October 29th, 2014

October 29th, 2014
Death Ship: Tribute to H.C. Westermann


Opening Sunday, November 2 from 4PM – 7PM

November 2 – December 13, 2014

Death Ship: Tribute to H.C. Westermann

Billy Al Bengston, Meg Cranston, Roy Dowell, Zach Harris, Adam D. Miller, Laura Owens, Jon Pylypchuk, Matt Paweski, Andrew Sexton and H.C. Westermann

Death Ship brings together the works of nine LA based artists to be shown alongside a woodblock print by seminal artist H.C. Westermann (who at one time was also an LA native). The artists in the exhibition, spanning three generations, have all been affected or influenced by Westermann’s artistic output.

H.C. Westermann specialized in sculpture and printmaking both emphasizing his masterful skills as a wood worker. His overall practice functioned as a critique of many aspects of modern life including war, the military, and materialism. Though his subject matter was often heavy, he handled these themes in a playful and lighthearted way infusing his sense of humor. One may find cartoons of soldiers killing innocents alongside sculptures depicting desert plants and wildlife, or prints of aliens in flying saucers. Westermann unabashedly incorporated his autobiographical experiences, surroundings, and personality into his work.

Westermann’s work impacted many young artists during his lifetime and beyond. He is considered to be a forerunner of the Bay Area “funk art” scene and has been credited as a major influence over the incredible “Hairy Who” group and the Chicago Imagists. Like many today, these artists were drawn to Westermann’s use of cartoon and pop imagery, his bizarre sense of humor, his free use of personal experiences, and his insistence on craft along with his rejection of formalism and minimalism and his desire to challenge contemporary trends in art.

For the exhibition Death Ship: A Tribute to HC Westermann, The Pit has curated the works of 9 LA based artists who carry on aspects of Westermann’s tradition and we are thrilled to be able to exhibit one of his iconic Death Ship woodblock prints.

The Pit

October 28th, 2014
Reversing Course on Beavers

In Washington State, beavers are being trapped and relocated to the headwaters of the Yakima River. Credit Manuel Valdes/Associated Press

NY Times Published: OCT. 27, 2014

BUTTE, Mont. — Once routinely trapped and shot as varmints, their dams obliterated by dynamite and bulldozers, beavers are getting new respect these days. Across the West, they are being welcomed into the landscape as a defense against the withering effects of a warmer and drier climate.

Beaver dams, it turns out, have beneficial effects that can’t easily be replicated in other ways. They raise the water table alongside a stream, aiding the growth of trees and plants that stabilize the banks and prevent erosion. They improve fish and wildlife habitat and promote new, rich soil.

And perhaps most important in the West, beaver dams do what all dams do: hold back water that would otherwise drain away.

“People realize that if we don’t have a way to store water that’s not so expensive, we’re going to be up a creek, a dry creek,” said Jeff Burrell, a scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society in Bozeman, Mont. “We’ve lost a lot with beavers not on the landscape.”

For thousands of years, beavers, which numbered in the tens of millions in North America, were an integral part of the hydrological system. “The valleys were filled with dams, as many as one every hundred yards,” Mr. Burrell said. “They were pretty much continuous wetlands.”

Beavers are in high demand across the driest parts of the United States for their innate abilities to keep water from draining away. David Corcoran and Jeffery DelViscio
But the population plummeted, largely because of fur trapping, and by 1930 there were no more than 100,000 beavers, almost entirely in Canada. Lately the numbers have rebounded to an estimated six million.

Now, even as hydroelectric and reservoir dams are coming under fire for their wholesale changes to the natural environment, an appreciation for the benefits of beaver dams — even artificial ones — is on the rise.

Experts have long known of the potential for beaver dams to restore damaged landscapes, but in recent years the demand has grown so rapidly that government agencies are sponsoring a series of West Coast workshops and publishing a manual on how to attract beavers.

“We can spend a lot of money doing this work, or we can use beavers for almost nothing,” Mr. Burrell said.

Beavers are ecosystem engineers. As a family moves into new territory, the rodents drop a large tree across a stream to begin a new dam, which also serves as their lodge. They cover it with sticks, mud and stones, usually working at night. As the water level rises behind the dam, it submerges the entrance and protects the beavers from predators.

This pooling of water leads to a cascade of ecological changes. The pond nourishes young willows, aspens and other trees — prime beaver food — and provides a haven for fish that like slow-flowing water. The growth of grass and shrubs alongside the pond improves habitat for songbirds, deer and elk.

Moreover, because dams raise underground water levels, they increase water supplies and substantially lower the cost of pumping groundwater for farming.

And they help protect fish imperiled by rising water temperatures in rivers. The deep pools formed by beaver dams, with cooler water at the bottom, are “outstanding rearing habitat for juvenile coho salmon,” said Michael M. Pollock, a fish biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Seattle, who has studied the ecological effects of beaver dams for 20 years.

Restoration is not usually as simple as bringing beavers in; if left unchecked, they can do serious damage. Here in Butte, for example, beavers constantly dammed a creek where it ran through a culvert under a pedestrian walkway, flooding nearby homes and a park.

Enter the “beaver deceiver.” Beavers have evolved to respond to the sound of running water by trying to stop it, because their survival depends on a full pond. (A Yellowstone National Park biologist reported that when he briefly kept a beaver in his basement with plans to reintroduce it to a local stream, it kept frantically clawing at its cage to reach the sound of a flushing toilet.) So local officials installed the deceiver, a large wooden frame covered with stout metal mesh that blocks beavers’ access to the culvert but allows water to keep flowing. Even if they try to dam up the box, the water will still flow, and eventually they give up and move on.

Meanwhile, big, prized cottonwoods and other trees are being wrapped in wire or covered with paint that contains sand to prevent beavers from gnawing them.

In some other places, humans are building beaver dams minus the beavers. On Norwegian Creek, a tiny thread of a stream that flows through the rolling grassy hills on a cattle ranch near Harrison, Mont., volunteers came together recently to build a series of small structures from willow branches to slow the flow of water that had been eroding the banks to a depth of 10 feet or more. In just a year the stream bed has risen three feet, Mr. Burrell said, and in a couple more years it could be entirely restored at virtually no cost.

New dams, even natural ones, can have unintended consequences. Julian D. Olden, an ecologist at the University of Washington, has studied new beaver ponds in Arizona and found that they were perfect for invasive fish such as carp, catfish and bass to displace native species.

“There’s a lot of unknowns before we can say what the return of beavers means for these arid ecosystems,” he said. “The assumption is it’s going to be good in all situations,” he added. “But the jury is still out, and it’s going to take a couple of decades.”

October 28th, 2014
Daniel Payavis

Lapsed Connection, 2014
Oil on linen
45 x 35 inches


6 – 8 PM

Thomas Duncan

October 26th, 2014
Artist Ready to Strike Back After Vandalism of Sculpture in Paris

Paul McCarthy’s sculpture, pre-deflation

NY Times Published: OCTOBER 23, 2014

PARIS — Spectators scandalized by an 80-foot lime green sculpture resembling a sex toy that was installed – and then deflated by vandals — in the Place Vendôme may soon be in for another jolt from its creator, the American artist Paul McCarthy.

A press preview of Mr. McCarthy’s “Chocolate Factory” exhibition at the august Paris Mint scheduled for Thursday was delayed by a day, Mint officials said, because Mr. McCarthy was inspired to “react to the violence that happened to him and his work” at the Place Vendôme. Mr. McCarthy had described the sculpture as a tree, but critics here likened it to an anal plug.

After the sculpture was installed last week a man slapped Mr. McCarthy three times, yelled at him that he was not French and told him that his degenerate work had no place in Paris. Angry reactions surfaced on social media, and conservative Catholics criticized it. The sculpture become a totem for artistic freedom, and was defended by President François Hollande.

Guillaume Robic, the spokesman for the Paris Mint, which is opening its doors after three years of renovations, said Mr. McCarthy had decided to install a bed in a labyrinthine room, with a video of his hand writing violently and a recording of agonizing sounds, including his voice shouting the insults that had been lobbed against him on the Place Vendôme, including “You dirty American,” “You shouldn’t be here,” “Your work is degenerate!” and one final expletive, Mr. Robic said.

“Mr. McCarthy was sad and shocked by the violent reaction to his tree sculpture,” Mr. Robic said. “But he is excited for his new exhibit, which will be a cross between a dream and a nightmare.”

Mr. McCarthy, 69, a Los Angeles artist, has been derided by some critics as a cultural shock jock, master of spectacle and perverse purveyor of American Gothic. In the 1990s he depicted Santa Claus as a dirty old man, with a bloodied face. More recently he cast himself in “WS” (“White Snow”), an X-rated film and sculpture installation at the Park Avenue Armory in New York, as a sinister Walt Disney who rampages partly naked in a conga line with dancing dwarfs.

The Chocolate Factory exhibition, which opens to the public on Saturday, snakes through the mint’s sumptuous 18th-century interiors. Visitors will be greeted by a fairy-tale forest of giant inflatable Christmas trees. The centerpiece, Mr. Robic said, is a luxurious marble and gold-adorned room with all the splendor of Versailles filled with actors playing workers who labor at a chocolate factory that will produce 200 10-inch chocolate Santa Clauses a day.

Mr. Robic said the inflatable trees at the Chocolate Factory have a more complex form than the tree that had provoked so much ire. “For the uninitiated they can still be interpreted as looking like sex toys,” he acknowledged.

Mr. Robic said the mint was ready to defend Mr. McCarthy and his oeuvre. “For 200 years we have been fabricating money, gold and silver pieces,” he said. “So security is something we know how to handle.”

October 25th, 2014

Thanks to Jonathan Maghen

October 25th, 2014
The Neanderthal Inside Us

In 2012, Dr. Paabo and his colleagues took samples from this thigh bone to search for DNA. To their surprise, it held a number of genetic fragments. Credit Bence Viola/Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

NY Times Published: OCT. 22, 2014
By Carl Zimmer

Scientists have reconstructed the genome of a man who lived 45,000 years ago, by far the oldest genetic record ever obtained from modern humans. The research, published on Wednesday in the journal Nature, provided new clues to the expansion of modern humans from Africa about 60,000 years ago, when they moved into Europe and Asia.

And the genome, extracted from a fossil thighbone found in Siberia, added strong support to a provocative hypothesis: Early humans interbred with Neanderthals.

“It’s irreplaceable evidence of what once existed that we can’t reconstruct from what people are now,” said John Hawks, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Wisconsin who was not involved in the study. “It speaks to us with information about a time that’s lost to us.”

The discoveries were made by a team of scientists led by Svante Paabo, a geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. Over the past three decades, Dr. Paabo and his colleagues have developed tools for plucking out fragments of DNA from fossils and reading their sequences.

Early on, the scientists were able only to retrieve tiny snippets of ancient genes. But gradually, they have invented better methods for joining the overlapping fragments together, assembling larger pieces of ancient genomes that have helped shed light on the evolution of humans and their relatives.

In December, they published the entirety of a Neanderthal genome extracted from a single toe bone. Comparing Neanderthal to human genomes, Dr. Paabo and his colleagues found that we share a common ancestor, which they estimated lived about 600,000 years ago.

Recently, Dr. Paabo and his colleagues got an opportunity to test their new methods on an exceptional human bone.

In 2008, a fossil collector named Nikolai V. Peristov was traveling along the Irtysh River in Siberia, searching for mammoth tusks in the muddy banks. Near a settlement called Ust’-Ishim, he noticed a thighbone in the water. Mr. Peristov fished it out and brought it to scientists at the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The Russian researchers identified the bone as a modern human, not a Neanderthal. To determine its age, they sent samples to the University of Oxford. Scientists there measured the breakdown of radioactive carbon and determined the bone was about 45,000 years old — making it the oldest modern human fossil ever found outside of Africa and the Near East.

In 2012, Dr. Paabo and his colleagues took samples from the bone to search for DNA. To their surprise, it held a number of genetic fragments.

“This is an amazing and shocking and unique sample,” said David Reich, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School and co-author of the new study.

The researchers used the DNA fragments to create a high-resolution copy of the man’s complete genome. A Y chromosome revealed that the thighbone belonged to a man.

The scientists then compared the genome of the so-called Ust’-Ishim man to those of ancient and living people.

They found that his DNA was more like that of non-Africans than that of Africans. But the Ust’-Ishim man was no more closely related to ancient Europeans than he was to East Asians.

He was part of an earlier lineage, the scientists concluded — a group that eventually gave rise to all non-African humans.

Homo sapiens, our own species, appeared in Africa around 200,000 years ago. Previous studies, both on genes and on fossils, have suggested that they then expanded through the Near East to the rest of the Old World.

The Ust’-Ishim man’s genome suggests he belonged to a group of people who lived after the African exodus, but before the split between Europeans and Asians.

Dr. Paabo and his colleagues also found that the Ust’-Ishim man had pieces of Neanderthal DNA in his genome, just as living non-Africans do. But his Neanderthal DNA had some important differences.

Fossils indicate that Neanderthals spread across Europe and Asia before becoming extinct an estimated 40,000 years ago. Today, the Neanderthal DNA in each living non-African human is broken up into short segments sprinkled throughout the genome.

Dr. Paabo and his colleagues have hypothesized that this arrangement is a result of how cells divide.

During the development of eggs and sperm, each pair of chromosomes swaps pieces of their DNA. Over the generations, long stretches of DNA get broken into smaller ones, like a deck of cards repeatedly shuffled.

Over thousands of generations, the Neanderthal DNA became more fragmented. Dr. Paabo and his colleagues predicted, however, that Neanderthal DNA in the Ust’-Ishim man’s genome would form longer stretches.

And that’s exactly what they found. “It was very satisfying to see that,” Dr. Paabo said.

By comparing the Ust’-Ishim man’s long stretches of Neanderthal DNA with shorter stretches in living humans, Dr. Paabo and his colleagues estimated the rate at which they had fragmented. They used that information to determine how long ago Neanderthals and humans interbred.

Previous studies, based only on living humans, had yielded an estimate of 37,000 to 86,000 years. Dr. Paabo and his colleagues have now narrowed down that estimate drastically: Humans and Neanderthals interbred 50,000 to 60,000 years ago, according to the new data.

The findings raised questions about research suggesting that humans in India and the Near East dated back as far as 100,000 years ago. Some scientists believe that humans expanded out of Africa in a series of waves.

But Christopher Stringer, a paleoanthropologist at the Natural History Museum, said that the new study offered compelling evidence that living non-Africans descended from a group of people who moved out of Africa about 60,000 years ago.

Any humans that expanded out of Africa before then probably died out, Mr. Stringer said.

Thanks to Jonathan Maghen

October 24th, 2014
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