After he was booted from his white-on-white-on-white loft when the Bozza Mansion was torn down, John Cage kind of drifted for a while. Apparently it was hard to find a good deal on a great space in Manhattan in 1954 [when you had no money.]

So for a while, Cage moved to The Land, one of the names for the pseudo-commune/art colony started by Paul & Vera Williams on 116 acres in Stony Point, Rockland County, NY. Paul was an architect friend of Cage's from Black Mountain College, and he'd purchased the property after inheriting some money.

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I don't know why, but I'd always assumed Cage and the other The Land folks lived in little cottages. Not quite. It turns out Williams, a student of Breuer, created some classically modernist boxes.

The first pictures I've ever seen are in Brendan W. Joseph's 2016 book, Experimentations: John Cage in Music, Art, and Architecture, which goes into some detail on the development of The Land and its surprising impact on Cage and his work.

Cage shared a building, a duplex, with the Williamses. He lived in 1 or 2 rooms on the left in the image above, separated by a stone wall he and Vera built. It looks quite nice, if simple, a bit like the Black Mountain College buildings everyone built together. Indeed, from Joseph's account, it sounds like Williams was hoping to recapture some of that BMC mojo with his co-op experiment.

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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]

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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.

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The Mellow Pad, 1945-51, by Stuart Davis, co-founder of the American Artists Congress in 1936, image: whitney.org

This edition of Better Read features a speech delivered by Michigan Republican congressman George Donderos on the House floor on Tuesday August 16, 1949 titled, "Modern Art Shackled To Communism." I came across quotes and excerpts from this speech while researching the American Artists Congress, the group that brought Picasso's Guernica to the United States for a fundraising tour in 1938.

Dondero made several fiery speeches against modern art during this, the McCarthy era, repeatedly accusing modernism and all its subsidiary "isms" of being a vile foreign-led Communist plot to destroy American art and values.

Near as I can tell, this is the first time Dondero's complete speech has been available outside the Congressional Record, which turns out to be a lot harder to get ahold of than I expected. I am currently preparing a compilation of all Dondero's art-related speeches, and the responses they engendered from the accused, the threatened, and even, surprisingly, the nominally allied. Because even I have a hard time listening to a robot for 26 minutes, the complete text of Dondero's speech is included after the jump.

Download Better_Read_013_Dondero_Communist_Shackles_20170417.mp3 [26:49, 39mb, mp3 via dropbox greg.org]

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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

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!

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In 1965, before he figured out his Today Series date paintings, On Kawara experimented with several other types of paintings about language, text, and information. They contained a word or phrase, or a graphically encoded text. The National Gallery has a triptych, Title, that weren't, but most of them were destroyed. [image from the Guggenheim's exhibition catalogue via ig/mondoblogo]

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Untitled (Newport Center Monument) IV, 2017, 72 or 84-in. x 108 or 156 in. by 12 in., Ruddy Oak and Bright White on panels, installation image: gmaps

In 2011 The Irvine Company installed two identical monument signs in the grassy quarter-rounds on the East Coast Highway entrance of Fashion Island and Newport Center. They feature the names of three major tenants each, on both sides. Seven feet tall and 13 feet wide, they exceed the maximum dimensions (6' x 9') permitted under the Sign Standards of the Newport Beach Zoning Code, and required a variance. [In person the other day, I would never have guessed they were 7x13; they definitely feel like 6x9. Is it possible they were reduced in size after the permit was granted?]

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Untitled (Newport Center Monument) III, 2017, 72 or 84-in. x 108 or 156 in. by 12 in., Ruddy Oak and Bright White on panels, installation image: gmaps

Though they also exceed the Code's letter size limits, the signs comply with the requirement that letters be "individually fabricated" and of high contrast for easy legibility. At least at their genesis, they were specified to be finished with Reflective Coating #1460 Bright White from Axon Aerospace, Inc.

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No aesthetic delectation here, Ruddy Oak! hashtag Spanish-Mediterranean, hashtag Craftsman, hashtag Perfect Palette®, image: dunnedwards.com

The 2011 permit application [pdf] describes the new signs as having "a faux plaster finish," but they sure looked painted to me. They match the color specified on plans [pdf] for a similar sign for an adjacent Irvine Company office building: a reddish brown from a local manufacturer, Dunn-Edwards Ruddy Oak (DE5188).

I can find no public record of this color being specified or required in either Newport Beach or Irvine Company codes or styleguides, but it is in heavy use for shopping center and commercial signs within the boundaries of The Irvine Ranch. It also appears on the permitted color lists of at least eight homeowners associations (HOA) in coastal Southern California.

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Untitled (Newport Center Monument) I, II, 2017, 43 x 4 ft each, Ruddy Oak and Bright White on substrate, installation image: gmaps

They also match the color and finish of the main signs at the East Coast Highway entrance, a pair of 43-foot-tall pylons installed in 1985. Which is also the first year The Irvine Company used the "sunwave" logo. Over time the text on the signs has changed to reflect the evolving brand distinctions between Newport Center, a massive, multi-use development, and Fashion Island, the vast mall at its center.

For their part, the Newport Center signs also exceed the 20' height limit for pylon signs by 115%, but I presume they predated the creation of the code, and/or that no one will tell The Irvine Company what it can't do in Newport Beach. Their letters are individually fabricated.

There are at least eleven other signs at other entrances to Fashion Island/Newport Center, but they're more architectural than sculptural, with concrete plinths and stucco-finished capitals. Only the four signs on the ECH exhibit this rigorous, minimalist aspect.

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[l. to r.] Untitled (Newport Center Monument) III, I, II & IV, 2017, installation view, image: gmaps

Fashion Island was and remains a leader in the mall industry for experiential design. In an essay called, "The Archaeology of 'Shoppertainment,'" Matthew Cochran and Paul Mullins wrote about RTKL/ ID8, a mall interior design company which worked on the Fashion Island Experience. They quote an RTKL brochure:

[Mall experience is] about storytelling. Great places tell stories, and people love to find themselves in those stories. Often this has less to do with the way a building or a district is assembled and more to do with how we read it...Experience is in the details. If a place tells a story, then the details of that place make the story interesting. The smallest elements-from manhole coves to water features-conspire to create a dynamic, authentically human environment.
What story do these signs tell? What authenticity do they conspire to create, with their approved colors from a gated community on a bluff? Can the gestalt of the minimalist object be achieved from your car, at speed, as you pass the mall, or do you have to turn in?

This ID8 quote, too, turns out to have more to do with how I read it:

What makes us linger, pause, sit and think? The building blocks of place probably have less to do with the buildings and more to do with the spaces between those buildings.
In 2002, the day they flipped the switch, architect Gustavo Bonevardi explained how he and John Bennett arrived at their solution for what became the Tribute of Light World Trade Center memorial:
We're not reconstructing the towers in their original size, but the distance between the two squares of light is the same as the distance between the actual towers. So in effect, we're not rebuilding the towers themselves, but the void between them.
Because I cannot look at the Newport Center signs, and their proportions, and their void, and not see the World Trade Center.

But maybe that's just me. I invite you to visit, view, linger, think, and pause at this installation of new work and pursue your own authentic, dynamic, human experience.

Previously, unexpectedly related, c. 2002: On reading (between) the lines
On's Location

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Just got back from a quick trip to Los Angeles. The John McLaughlin show is as transcendent as everyone said, and all the museums that didn't take it are as clueless as everyone feared. The chairs are a bit twee, though, to be frank, but the sentiment is welcome. If I'd been alone, maybe I would have put them to longer use, but then, I also preferred standing right in front of the paintings. Too many paintings had frames that covered the edges; the subtly different painted edges were my absolute favorite part of the Phillips Collection's McLaughlin. Otherwise, everything about McLaughlin and his work and practice is heartening, even though he's chronically underseen.

The Picasso Rivera show was revelatory. Chris Burden's Metropolis II is still great. Broad's giant Serra Band is like a bunch of holding cells and not in a good way. Turns out you can screw up something that big. Which, we did not go in the Resnick Pavilion at all. Artists give unusual work to this museum; it really feels very local.

The Moholy Nagy show was a labyrinthine confusion in this version, but so much wonderful stuff, including all three of the "Telephone Paintings". The label still says there were five. I guess I will need to look into that situation now.

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I looked at a lot of Robert Watts while researching and writing about his friend Aaron Kuriloff. I really liked it. MoMA has some very nice and interesting chrome Watts pieces on view right now in the 1960s hang of the permanent collection galleries, but I have never seen this in person. Pearl Necklace is a 1:1-scale photo mounted on wood. The wire makes me think it had to have been designed for wearing, which is awesome. In 1967 Kuriloff had his last show, of 1:1-scale photos of office furniture and equipment he called "photo-factuals." He'd been making them for a couple of years, and I'm pretty sure he and Watts were up on/involved in each other's work. I, for one, would like to know and see more.

Robert Watts, Pearl Necklace, c. 1967, acquired 2008 from the Silverman Fluxus collection [moma.org]
Which, yes, My dive into the history of Aaron Kuriloff is in the Spring 2017 issue of ArtNEWS [artnews]
Previously, related: More Aaron Kuriloff, Please

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Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
greg [at] greg [dot ] org

find me on twitter: @gregorg

recent projects, &c.


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Our Guernica Cycle, 2017 –
about/kickstarter | exhibit, 2017


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Social Medium:
artists writing, 2000-2015
Paper Monument, Oct. 2016
ed. by Jennifer Liese
buy, $28

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Madoff Provenance Project in
'Tell Me What I Mean' at
To__Bridges__, The Bronx
11 Sept - Oct 23 2016
show | beginnings

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Chop Shop
at SPRING/BREAK Art Show
curated by Magda Sawon
1-7 March 2016

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eBay Test Listings
Armory – ABMB 2015
about | proposte monocrome, rose

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It Narratives, incl.
Shanzhai Gursky & Destroyed Richter
Franklin Street Works, Stamford
Sept 5 - Nov 9, 2014
about | link

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TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -
about

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Standard Operating Procedure
about | buy now, 284pp, $15.99

CZRPYR2: The Illustrated Appendix
Canal Zone Richard Prince
YES RASTA 2:The Appeals Court
Decision, plus the Court's
Complete Illustrated Appendix (2013)
about | buy now, 142pp, $12.99

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"Exhibition Space" @ apexart, NYC
Mar 20 - May 8, 2013
about, brochure | installation shots


HELP/LESS Curated by Chris Habib
Printed Matter, NYC
Summer 2012
panel &c.


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Destroyed Richter Paintings, 2012-
background | making of
"Richteriana," Postmasters Gallery, NYC

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Canal Zone Richard
Prince YES RASTA:
Selected Court Documents
from Cariou v. Prince (2011)
about | buy now, 376pp, $17.99

archives