There Is No Obama Chair

The flowers we know, but about that chair…

Last week I went to the Obamas Portraits Unveiling and wrote about it for ARTnews. What I wasn’t able to conclude was what low-key obsessed me the most from the moment I left the National Portrait Gallery: what is up with that chair?

I’m off the sauce now, but there was a time in my life where I was pretty deeply interested in American antique furniture, and so the significance of the chair Kehinde Wiley depicted President Obama sitting in felt like a story waiting to be told. Because no one mentioned it at the National Portrait Gallery event; I didn’t think to ask him about it until later; and none of the hottest takes I’ve seen have really taken up the subject.

Also, that chair felt terribly specific, and yet it is also pretty confounding. Its stylistic details do not line up easily with any period of 18th or 19th century American design. And if it wasn’t American, it might be British, and how did that happen? And if it wasn’t British, well, what could it be? The more I searched archives and museum collections and auction databases, the more convinced I became that the chair held a secret, especially when some of the similar comps out there were mid-19th century Neoclassical Russian. Oh damn, is that why Obama looks so serious? What sort of chair drop was this? [SPOILER ALERT: IT WAS NOT RUSSIAN.]

c. 1890 Russian mahogany armchairs, via debenham

The details: an armchair with curved arms, with scroll ends that don’t reach the seat but have some kind of support, sometimes called an elbow chair. The arms are reeded, aka, they have grooves along the top. The skirt appears to have an inlaid pattern. The front legs are turned on a lathe. The back has both an oval top, which is either inlaid or carved, and a pierced splat below. All of this indicates a fine wood, either rosewood or mahogany. There are elements of Regency style, common in the 1800-10s or so, but most of the similar examples are from England. The round back feels like much later 19th century, though, and one super-savvy designer friend I asked suggested it was an 1870-80s American interpretation of earlier, Regency style.

c.1800 mahogany Regency armchairs, via sellingantiques.co.uk

So what does that mean? Where does it come from? Maybe the historical record is the better way to a solution? Except there is no remotely similar chair in the White House collection, or in portraits of previous presidents. (I think it was LA Times critic Christopher Knight who saw a reference in Obama’s pose to a seated Abraham Lincoln in a group portrait by George P.A. Healy. A salient reference, even if the chair is clearly different.)

George P.A. Healy, The Peacemakers, 1868, image: whitehousehistory.org

I asked decorative arts curators, and an antique dealer, who all felt the chair was unusual, even odd, but no one could identify it or explain its significance. It felt like conceding defeat to ask the artist for the answer, which I did, two days later, via the NPG’s press office, since it’s their painting now.

Word came back, but no detail: Wiley had created the chair. It is an imaginary synthesis of design details for which there is no explanation. At least it’s not me, I thought. And I wondered whether this fixation on decoding stylistic quirks, the foundation of antique connoisseurship, was a foreign language of exclusion and privilege (yeah), and whether that came to bear. Or maybe the point of the chair was simply visual, aesthetic, a requirement for how it functioned in the painting in terms of pattern, form and design (maybe). The flowers may transmit a coded signal, but the ornate particulars of the chair are noise.

Or maybe there’s more explanation to be had some day

Previously, related: On The Unveiling Of The Obama Portraits

On The Unveiling Of The Obama Portraits

The portraits of the Obamas by Kehinde Wiley (L) and Amy Sherald (R) before they are unveiled, NPG

I went to the unveiling of the official portraits of Pres & Mrs Obama yesterday at the National Portrait Gallery, and I wrote about it for ARTNews.

You’ve seen the portraits by now, so I included a photo of them veiled, like fancied up David Hammonses. Which is a hot take I’d love to see.

I discovered that the Obamas created a playlist for the unveiling on Spotify, which I don’t use. But if someone wants to look it up, (“2/12 Obama Event Playlist,” if you can search for that kind of thing), lmk. (Update: it’s apparently not visible.) Meanwhile, here’s a partial track list so far:

Rise Up, Andra Day
When The Day Comes, Nico & Vinz
Matter of Time, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings
Black Gold, Esperanza Spalding (feat. Algebra Bresett)
Sign of the Times, Harry Styles
And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going, Jennifer Hudson
Mi Gente, J. Balvin, Willy William (feat. Beyoncé)
Bang Bang, Nicki Minaj, Ariana Grande
Boredom, Tyler The Creator (?)
Space Boots, Miley Cyrus
Book Of Your Heart, U2

Unveiling Portraits of Barack & Michelle Obama at the NPG [artnews]

Our Guernica Cycle – EB-5, 05.06.2017

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Our Guernica Cycle – EB-5, 05.06.2017, in the style of George W. Bush, 2017, oil on canvas, 50x80cm (20×28 in.)
On May 6, 2017, The New York Times reported, Jared Kushner’s sister met with potential investors in Beijing, trying to raise $150 million for the family’s Jersey City real estate project. She was promoting the EB-5 visa program, which essentially sells US green cards for making a $500,000 investment. Her PowerPoint slide showed photos of “EB-5 Visa Key Decision Makers,” including Senators Grassley and Leahy; DHS Secretaries Jeh Johnson (ex-, obv.) and Gen. John Kelly (now ex-, too, obv., and White House chief of staff); -and her brother’s father-in-law (and boss) Donald Trump.
Jared Kushner still owned major stakes in his family’s business at the time, having transferred only some of his holdings to his other family members when he became a White House employee. He would subsequently revise and refile his financial disclosure forms repeatedly to include previously undisclosed conflicts, contacts, and investments.
Kushner had tried mightily during the transition to secure Chinese investment in his company’s overleveraged flagship property, 666 Fifth Avenue. His efforts failed, and his partner, Vornado, has since declared that their ambitious plan to redevelop the office building into a multi-use megatower-and refinance it at a much higher valuation-was no longer feasible. The property is on track to go bankrupt as early as 2018, putting the Kushner’s equity at risk.
Our Guernica Cycle – EB-5, 05.06.2017 is the second painting in an ongoing series. I now see the Our Guernica Cycle as proceeding in roughly chronological order. It is November, and the outrageous Guernica moments since May are obviously piling up like leaves in the gutter. But the pace of disaster puts us all at risk of forgetting or acquiescing to the obvious wrongs of just a couple of months ago. If painting can do anything at all, it should be able to recalibrate our narrative clocks a bit.
So here is a painting, and a pyramid of prints, of the US president’s family hyping his political power to sell visas in exchange for investing in their private real estate company.
While it is similarly painted in China, in the attempted style of our still-most-relevant painter,
George W. Bush, EB-5, 05.06.2017 obviously differs from the Ivanka / Merkel 03.17.2017 work in several ways. For one thing, it’s done before you decide to buy it. I honestly cannot imagine how this helps. But then, given what we all knew going into it, I could not imagine why anyone, including me, would want to have an awful painting of Ivanka & Merkel in my life, either. Even more than before, this is a case of urgency, of feeling the need for an image of a moment of a crisis to be produced, disseminated, and preserved, even while the crisis continues. To bear witness, to #neverforget.
This work is further complicated by having the actual picture of Trump in it. Could it be any tougher of a sell? On the bright side [sic], the execution of the image is, I believe, more skillfully Bushian than ever. So at least it’s a good bad painting of a corrupt cabal. Right? And anyway, the gradient is probably the best part.
The Modified Kinkade Pyramid is in effect, and all prints will be available in the identical sizes and editions as the first work. However, blighting the image by hand will only take place upon request. So please make a note if you want more blight. The print was made available first to original Kickstarter backers, and now it is available generally, for a limited time. It is discounted 10% because y’all are all VIPs to me, but also to take into account a better sense of actual production and shipping costs. As before, any surplus will be turned back into producing the next images in the Cycle.
Literally no one has asked, but it is possible that the first print, Ivanka / Merkel 03.17.2017 could be made available as well.
Thank you again for your engagement during this ongoing disaster.

Select Print/Edition Size

[via paypal]
Previously: UPDATED: Our Guernica Cycle – Ivanka / Merkel 03.17.2017

Untitled (Mnuchin Gallery), 2017?

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Untitled (Mnuchin Gallery), 2017, printer’s proof. ink on rag, 27×31.5 in., $860., limit one per collector, image: ap/jacquelyn martin via @_cingraham
Art and the Mnuchins can never get too far apart from each other. Today Steven Mnuchin was photographed by the Associated Press holding the printer’s proof for a new print edition, Untitled (Mnuchin Gallery). It is issued in a signed and stamped edition of 10, plus 4 artist proofs.
Half of the edition is a #monochrome painting on an uncut 50-subject sheet of $1 bills signed by Steven T. Mnuchin. If you asked me this second the only possible color would be black, insta goth dom leather glove black, into the conscienceless pits of hell black, fund passthrough tax cuts by raising taxes on everyone else and gutting health care soul black, but that might change.
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Robert Rauschenberg, Untitled (paper painting), 1953, 18x14x4 in., shoe box tissue paper, glass, wood base. lost or destroyed.
The other half is 50 $1 bills signed by Steven T. Mnuchin, shredded by hand, in an appropriately scaled perspex display case inspired by Robert Rauschenberg’s lost Untitled (Paper Painting) of 1953. All examples are accompanied by an engraved, signed and stamped certificate of authenticity.
As moneyfactory.gov [srsly] has only begun producing Mnuchin notes today, and moneyfactorystore.gov only offers uncut notes from 2013, with former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s signature on them, the actual release date for this edition is still to be determined. You may add your name to the waitlist.
Previously: Untitled (Mnuchin Gallery), 2017, pdf
Related: Untitled (Crystal Bridges), 2015
2011: ArtCash by Warhol, Rauschenberg, et al for E.A.T., including bills featuring the ur-print-your-own-money traitor Jefferson Davis

UPDATE: Our Guernica Cycle – Ivanka / Merkel 03.17.2017

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Our Guernica Cycle – Ivanka / Merkel 03.17.2017, 2017, 50x80cm, oil on canvas and associated print editions, greg.org
Happy apparent Birthday, Ivanka!
I’ve been staring at her distorted portrait for so long, it took the shock of the news yesterday to make me realize I have not actually, officially, gone public with the results of the first picture I Kickstarted. “Our Guernica, by Our Picasso,” an historic painting to mark the moment last March when Ivanka Trump turned up in a White House meeting with the leader of the free world, Angela Merkel, executed in the style of George W. Bush.
In the course of production of the pyramidful of print editions, plus some canvases, the project became Our Guernica Cycle, and Ivanka/Merkel 03.17.2017 became the first image, unfortunately, and not the last. I’ve now lived with these images for almost six months. All but two of the project backers have received their merch [the last two canvases are staring at me right now, set to be shipped before the opioid crisis is solved.]
And a new image is complete. It is a moment for reflection. Also a moment to celebrate getting these things out of the house. And I’m still asking the question I started with: what is art supposed to do? What is a painting for? The image I ended up with is terrible. In the process of applying the Kinkade-ian custom “highlights,” I realized they could only and ever make things worse. I started calling them “highblights,” or just “blight.” I gave backers the choice between “more blight!” and “it’s bad enough!” and they split almost evenly. With the last works going out the door, I am still undecided.
What does it mean, too, for an artwork to be experienced only [or largely] privately, by its purchasers? It is the antithesis of a Guernica; it’s My Own Private Guernica. Our Guernica.
The greatest outcome from this project has to be the show of support, the collective, shared outrage combined with an open-eyed engagement with art, even knowing it will not solve the horrible problems looming all around us. 59 people bought prints that didn’t exist of an image that hadn’t been created yet, in order to see it happen. And that is amazing, and I am very grateful. Maybe the real Our Guernica is the friends we make along the way.
Six months later, though, we’re obviously not through this. The world has not ended [I’m writing this at 11:39 on Monday night. Oh, I’m just about to publish it at 1PM on Tuesday.] The world has not ended, but our town square is still being strafed by Nazis. So Our Guernica is Our Guernica Cycle. What does that mean?
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In the spirit of #thisisnotnormal, I’ve been working my way through images and possibilities, with the goal of accurately witnessing and capturing the political horrors and threats that surround us. Even more than Guernica, I’ve been thinking of Goya, whose Disasters of War series, 80+ prints whose creation occupied decades, and which Goya did not anticipate publishing in full in his own atrocity-rattled lifetime. I’ve especially come to appreciate the Chapman brothers’ Insult to Injury project, [above] where their clownish embellishments of a Goya Disasters of War portfolio condemned the folly of Bush & Blair’s Iraq War. [Called it, obv.]
So I expect this series will go on a while. After the backers were taken care of, I used the rest of the Kickstarter project funds to commission the next painting. It, too, has arrived. I think I will invite the original backers to order one first, but it should be available soon. It, too, was created with instructions to look like George Bush had painted it. The Chinese painters I’m working with seem to have gotten a little better at this bad style. Perhaps that will be when we know the Cycle is complete: when the #ChinesePaintMill system designed to industrialize Gerhard Richter’s paint-from-photo tactics can successfully reproduce the clumsy expressionist facture of the man who is still, alas, America’s most relevant painter. So stay tuned.
Our Guernica, After Our Picasso [kickstarter]
Previously, related: On Coming Around on Insult to Injury

Untitled (Presidential Seal), 2017

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The Seal of the President of The United States is the official coat of arms of the U.S. Presidency, and is based on the Great Seal of the United States [below], which is used by the federal government to verify the authenticity of certain official documents. The basics of the current design go back to 1877. After a formal redesign was initiated by Franklin Roosevelt, it was taken up and finalized by Harry Truman in 1945.
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Counter-die for the Great Seal of the United States
In that redesign, based on a painting provided by US Naval Commodore Byron McCandless, the eagle was switched from facing to the left-in the forward direction when used on a mounted flag-to facing right, dexter, the standard direction in heraldry. A press release of October 25, 1945 says the eagle faces “right-the direction of honor-but also toward the olive branches of peace” it holds in its right talon.
The Seal design has been unchanged since 1960, when the 50th star was added to its border recognizing the inclusion of Hawai’i in the United States.
The Seal is used on the lectern for presidential press conferences. It appears on the side of Air Force One, Marine One, and presidential limousines. It is affixed to the balcony of the White House for state arrival ceremonies. The Secret Service is authorized to use the Seal of the President on merchandise it sells for charitable fundraising in its White House Online Gift Shop.
The law governing the use of the Presidential Seal is contained in Title 18 U.S. Code § 713. It is primarily concerned with using the Seal to falsely imply endorsement or support for commercial activities by the Government or the President, and with the wrongful exploitation of the Seal for commercial gain:

(a) Whoever knowingly displays any printed or other likeness of the great seal of the United States, or of the seals of the President or the Vice President of the United States, or the seal of the United States Senate, or the seal of the United States House of Representatives, or the seal of the United States Congress, or any facsimile thereof, in, or in connection with, any advertisement, poster, circular, book, pamphlet, or other publication, public meeting, play, motion picture, telecast, or other production, or on any building, monument, or stationery, for the purpose of conveying, or in a manner reasonably calculated to convey, a false impression of sponsorship or approval by the Government of the United States or by any department, agency, or instrumentality thereof, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.
(b) Whoever, except as authorized under regulations promulgated by the President and published in the Federal Register, knowingly manufactures, reproduces, sells, or purchases for resale, either separately or appended to any article manufactured or sold, any likeness of the seals of the President or Vice President, or any substantial part thereof, except for manufacture or sale of the article for the official use of the Government of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

In 1972 Richard Nixon promulgated regulations about authorized uses of the Presidential Seal by issuing Executive Order 11649. The Seal, it states, may be used by the President. It may be reproduced for “Use by way of photographic or electronic visual reproduction in pictures, moving pictures, or telecasts of bona fide news content.” It is permitted “in libraries, museums, or educational facilities incident to descriptions or exhibits relating to seals, coats of arms, heraldry, or the Presidency.”
In 1976 Gerald Ford amended EO 11649 by issuing EO 11916, further authorizing “Use in encyclopedias, dictionaries, books, journals, pamphlets, periodicals or magazines incident to a description or history of seals, coats of arms, heraldry, or the Presidency.”
Section 2 of EO 11649 goes on to echo 18 U.S. Code § 713 (b) in constraining commercial exploitation of the Seal:

The manufacture, reproduction, sale, or purchase for resale, either separately or appended to any article manufactured or sold, of the Seals of the President or Vice President, or any likeness or substantial part thereof, except as provided in this Order or as otherwise provided by law, is prohibited.

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greg.org, Untitled (Presidential Seal), 2017, digital print on bond in acrylic message holder. Sheet: 14 x 8 in. Folded: 6 x 8 in., ed. 25 + 5 AP
An adaptation of this blog post incident to the description or history of seals, coats of arms, heraldry, or the Presidency is now published as a books, journals, pamphlets, periodicals or magazines, in a signed, stamped, limited edition of 25, with 5 artist proofs, three of which have been placed in or reserved for in libraries, museums, or educational facilities, with absolutely and unequivocally no impression of sponsorship or approval by the Government of the United States or by any department, agency, or instrumentality thereof.
Digitally printed in color on 14 x 8 inch white bond, it is folded by hand and stored in a decommissioned EZ-GO message holder in clear acrylic, so you can hang it on your fucking golf cart.
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Untitled (Presidential Seal) is $20, shipped.

[via PayPal]
ARTIST PROOF UPDATE: It works.
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Untitled (Mnuchin Gallery), 2017

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Untitled (Mnuchin Gallery), title page, 2017, 34-page pdf
Untitled (Mnuchin Gallery) is a 2017 work comprising a 2012 technical paper by four economists in the United States Treasury Department’s Office of Tax Analysis. The paper explained a revision to the Treasury’s methodology for analyzing the impact of corporate income taxes on companies, owners, and workers. It did this by examining the type of income (capital or labor/wage) and the distribution of those income sources across the entire taxpayer population. It was found, for example, that the top 1% of households accounted for 49.8% of total capital income, but only 11.5% of labor income.
The purpose of the study was to understand the impacts of tax-related policies and forecasts more accurately, and in greater detail, in the hope that more accurate data will lead to better-crafted policy and legislation.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has spent several months making claims about lowering corporate income tax rates that are directly contradicted by the findings of the study, and the calculations of Treasury Department’s career economists. So he had the study removed from the US Treasury website, and a spokesman has disavowed the methodology as “the dated staff analysis of the previous administration.” No alternate methodology or analysis has been offered.
Steven Mnuchin, like his father Robert Mnuchin, was a partner at Goldman Sachs. Like is father, he collects modern and contemporary art. One Mnuchin is in the business of conferring relevance on objects by exhibiting them, the other by suppressing and disappearing them. This work is a family reunion of those two tactics.
Untitled_Mnuchin_Gallery.pdf [34pg, pdf, via wsj]

Night In Front Of The Museum

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The NFL Draft is being held tonight at the top of The Rocky Steps. Which is another name for the courtyard of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Which has a giant Greek temple facade. But which apparently didn’t work for the NFL folks’ shot, so they built a replica of a piece of the museum facade into their set, in front of the museum.
I just finished reading some Sturtevant repetition and simulacrum a few minutes ago, and there’s surely plenty to say about mediated images in circulation. But I think the real takeaway here is the NFL’s Sforzian backdrop lighting game is flabby and weak.
THEY BUILT A FAKE ART MUSEUM ON THE NFL DRAFT STAGE IN FRONT OF THE ACTUAL PHILLY ART MUSEUM [csnphilly, h/t @briansholis]

Untitled (I Can See Russia From My House), 2017

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Installation shot: Untitled (I Can See Russia From My House), 2017, 15′ x 10′ x 6′, dye sublimation printed carpet, bolts, washers, lumber.
I’m psyched to announce the public installation of a new work, Untitled (I Can See Russia From My House), in Warrenton, Virginia. It is a dye sublimation print on carpet, mounted on a wood support.
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I suppose it could also be installed indoors, but it would lose a lot of the impact; it really is a piece that is best come upon in the course of daily life.
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Untitled (I Can See Russia From My House), 2017, washer and bolt installation detail
The carpet is affixed to the support using bolts and washers [above]. Longtime Kremlin watchers will note that the image, of the south facade of St. Basil’s Cathedral, is here reversed.
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Although an installation shot from December 2016 shows unrelated works installed nearby. It is the artist’s intention that this piece be viewed and appreciated on its own. Despite what you might assume, it is currently not for sale.

Remember, Remember, The Grift Of November

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The first draft of history. History written by the victors What even is it? The barrage of nonsense comes so fast and thick and is so full of bullshit that the very notion of history feels out of date. Which is probably someone’s point. Or at the very least, in someone’s immediate interest.
Do you even remember the outrage when the Japanese Prime Minister’s Press Office released publicity photos of Shinzo Abe meeting Donald Trump at Trump Tower on November 17th, which revealed that Ivanka and Jared were sitting in on the meeting?
And then like two weeks later, the Times kind of buried the lede that at that very moment, Ivanka’s fashion label was negotiating a licensing deal with a Japanese apparel conglomerate whose majority shareholder is a development bank owned by the Japanese government.
Oh, hands were wrung, potential conflicts of interest were ruminated upon, denials and assurances were floated. And it all turned out to be bullshit, and that was also the same time Jared and Ivanka were in fact preparing to take up offices and jobs in the White House.
So maybe that’s a power of a painting: the ability to slow things down, even just long enough to have an impact, to make something stick, to give some context. It rewards the exercise of looking, looking longer, and looking back.
Campaign Ends April 26th: Our Guernica, After Our Picasso: A Kickstarter

Our Guernica, After Our Picasso: A Kickstarter


I swear, I tried not to do it, but the image was too strong. In the days since I started drafting this Kickstarter campaign, I quit several times. And then history kept catching up to this image. In fact, history started lapping it.
So yes, we need to mark this moment, this look on Chancellor Merkel’s face, on all our faces, when it was still possible to not believe what was happening before our eyes. And there’s only one painter who can do this moment justice. Unfortunately, he and justice are not really in a great spot right now, so we’re gonna use #chinesepaintmill and the Thomas Kinkade Editions Pyramid.
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Our Guernica, After Our Picasso: collaged details from Michael Kappe/dpa photo, George W. Bush painting, and Picasso’s Guernica
In my darker moods, I imagine a series of paintings of such moments will come- Angelus Novus looking back and piling JPG upon JPG at his feet as the storm irresistibly propels us into the future. Can our brush-wielding Chinese allies capture the essence of Trumpian corruption with authentic Bushian flourish? Can we spread the resulting image(s) to the four corners of the warming, flooding earth to bear adequate witness? Let’s start with one and see.
Back “Our Guernica, After Our Picasso on Kickstarter now
UPDATE #1 After just a couple of days the project has gotten over halfway to its funding goal, thanks!
It has also been the subject of reportage by Will Fenstermaker at Artspace [who is also a backer, write what you know!] and AFC [“that’s a lot of layers to unpack for what’s essentially a meme” I do not disagree!]
On the more depressing news front, today, Day 3, might pass without a single new backer. Perhaps everyone’s too stunned at the floating of #Ivanka2024 by The Daily Caller [not linkin’, look it up], and worrying how a painting can somehow head off this meta-disaster. It probably can’t, but there’s a lot to be done in the mean time.
I’ve also noticed that backers are a savvy bunch. Folks seem to prefer the lower-priced, smaller prints at this stage. Possibly, I thought, because you’re reluctant to put up larger amounts of money for an artwork that you’ve 1) not seen because 2) it doesn’t exist yet.
It might be useful to reframe the entire project as a single conceptual piece, in which case, the physical manifestations are secondary to its core expression. But it’s still natural to wonder how it’ll look, especially if you’re contemplating getting a big one. I’m trying to think up a solution for this. Any advice or thoughts are welcome. And thanks again for spreading the word!
UPDATE #2 WHOA IT IS HAPPENING, THANKS! THE BALL IS ROLLING, THE CAMPAIGN IS CONTINUING. LET’S BUILD THAT PYRAMID AND LAUNCH A WHOLE BUSHMASTER CYCLE OF PAINTINGS TO DOCUMENT THIS THING!

Untitled (Sold Out), 2017, Leather Wrapped Stone from Nordstrom

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David Hammons, Rock Head, 1998, image via: hairisforpulling
In 1992 David Hammons took clippings from the floor of a barber shop in Harlem and affixed them to the crown of a melon-sized stone from Harlem. He brought the stone back to the barber shop for a haircut alongside his friend and muse, the Lower East Side poet John Farris. The performance is known as Haircut. Hammons has made several similar sculptures of black hair attached to stone, then trimmed and cut with tramlines, which have been titled Rock Head or Stone Head. They are inspired by history and their surroundings. Black living is at their core. They honor uniqueness and celebrate the individuality of each piece Hammons creates.
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Made Solid is a collection of leather products designed and handmade in Los Angeles by Peter Maxwell and Mia.
Our design is inspired by our history and our surroundings. Western living is at our core.
We honor uniqueness and celebrate the individuality of each piece we create.
“The name Made Solid references the connection we create through our creative process and the end result of our labor. Making a solid connection between the raw leather our hands touch and the well used pieces our friends love is our constant goal.

“We are connected to our surroundings, bringing natural elements to our work. Ocean, sand, stone and sky are referenced.
“We bring our lifestyle to our work.”
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In 2013, Maxwell and Mia conceived “one of their most popular and recognizable pieces” in collaboration with “one of their oldest friends,” Los Angeles designer Cristy Pitoc. Their Leather Wrapped Stones are sourced locally, “selected for shape and color,” and vegetable tanned leather is stretched around each stone with the wet molding technique used in saddle making. The edge is stitched, beveled and burnished by hand. “The leather is bound to the stone for life.”
“Use as a paper weight, worry stone, doorstop, art object – whatever it is to you.”
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Wrapped Leather Stones have been featured in design-appreciative blogstores, literarily themed artisanal and locally sourced menswear emporia, and well curated home and lifestyle shops to, I’m sure, appropriately contemplative acclaim.
For the Holiday 2016 season Made Solid Leather Wrapped Stones were also curated into the Love, Pop-In Stores at select Nordstrom locations and at Nordstrom.com:

A paperweight? A conversation piece? A work of art? It’s up to you, but this smooth Los Angeles-area stone–wrapped in rich, vegetable-tanned American leather secured by sturdy contrast backstitching–is sure to draw attention wherever it rests. A traditional hardening process gives the leather a beautiful ombré effect. Like all Made Solid leather pieces, this one is cut, shaped, sewn and finished by hand in artist Peter Maxwell’s Los Angeles studio. Using vintage leatherworking tools and traditional saddle-stitching techniques, Maxwell aims to create beautiful designs that embody both simplicity and functionality, and that develop rich character and patina over time.

The collaborative contributions of Mia and Pitoc went unmentioned, but the availability of a leather wrapped stone did not, and Nordstrom’s Leather Wrapped Stone went viral in December as an object of superficial, reflexive media mockery and superfluity, the diametric opposite of their creators’ intentions. It appears they also sold out, but at what must be considered too high a cost, or too low a return; at the moment no Wrapped Stones are available in Made Solid’s online store.
Earlier this week Nordstrom confirmed they would no longer carry the licensed merchandise of Ivanka Trump, citing poor sales. Yesterday Ivanka’s father tweeted in outrage over the haters’ and losers’ slights, and the White House press secretary literally said Nordstrom’s decision to discontinue stocking Ivanka was an attack on the president’s policies and family. Discount clearance stores TJ Maxx and Marshall’s also both dumped the toxic, failing brand. Today as I type this, the other White House flack is violating federal law by literally declaring a commercial promoting Ivanka’s brand and telling people to go buy it.
Untitled (Sold Out) (2017) consists of things that actually did sell at Nordstrom, namely a Made Solid Leather Wrapped Stone. So whatever it is to you, it is now also a declared, limited edition inspired by [our rapidly unraveling] history and its surroundings. Though I will endeavor to pin it down, the size and location of the edition is presently unknown. Both small and medium Made Solid Leather Wrapped Stones purchased from both seasonal appearances at Nordstrom are included, but Made Solid Leather Wrapped Stones purchased elsewhere, are not, no matter what their size.
Fakes already abound, but if you believe you have an example of this artwork, please provide images and appropriate documentation of the provenance, and I will gladly issue a signed certificate. Requests for confidentiality will be honored.