Arts, culture, ideas & expression of a few wild art monkeys living in an arts loft in Jersey City.

Monday, January 31, 2011

My current "chores/priorities" were once my NEW/Exciting projects. What happened??

Ever wake up and realize you have ALOT to do and haven't got a clue where to start? I am the KING of unfinished projects and this year have promised myself that I would finish 2010's projects by my birthday this March. I think I'm on schedule,but then I of course went and gave myself a new project to do by that date as well, not to mention the random projects that naturally pop up affiliated with 660.

The past year has taught me alot about managing my time better, but I inevitably take on more then I can chew, partly to challenge myself and overcome my fears, but I think I also need NEWness and excitement intertwined with my chores/priorities. What happens to that initial interest/excitement? Where does it go?? How does it dwindle down and become a chore and unfinished obstacle? ADHD?? Could be- Adderall certainly helps, but I don't have that scrip, so what to do in the meantime? It seems that somewhere in the middle of an exciting project, my attention gets diverted and then getting back on track becomes an obstacle, which in turn means now I'm stuck trying to get myself enthusiastic about turning that project into an exciting endeavor. The winter doesn't help either. Working on projects for only a few hours at a time because of the coldness of the loft limits just how much time I'm allotting towards such projects. Maybe if the work was alive and I thought of it as a creature needing to be fed, I'd take better care of them. My lil art animals, living in my studio, waiting for daddy to feed them and keep them alive. hmm. This might work. I'll let you know if they make it through February.
** ART by NC Winters and poetry on wall by Cris Nyne.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Kickin it old school with Mistress of Burlesque Ms. Melody Sweets.

JF- I first saw Melody perform in the back room of the 58 Gallery here in J.C. It was for local Artist Rob Piersanti's opening. I was blown away by her voice and the diverse cast of Burlesque performers she came through with that night. I remember keeping her card with hopes we'd be able to hire her down the line for one of our events.

Hearing your voice the first time was like jumping in a time machine to the days of old Hollywood or the prohibition night clubs.

- How long have you been singing?
MS- Wow, the 58 Gallery! That feels so long ago. . I've been singing for almost 10 years now but only 5 of them professionally.

JF. When did you decide that Burlesque was the vehicle for your voice and your artistic expression?
MS.I didn't decide! Burlesque decided it for me. I was in a band called GOODFINGER ( & we decided to take a break from playing live shows in order to concentrate on the recording of our debut album... I really love to perform & missed the stage so when a friend asked me to be a part of his burlesque show, I wrote my first song to take my clothes of to, Slice of Heaven & the rest is herstory! :)
What was the draw? It was simple. I could keep singing. I also love the creative process of it all. I get to write music, work with musicians, record, come up with a concept for an act, design & make the costume, choreography... it's fabulous. It's alot of work, but it's still fabulous. :)

JF- Your act includes a variety of other dancers as well as elaborate props and even silver body paint with a futuristic element. Do you decide the themes of your performances or is it a collaboritive process between you and the performers.?
MS- I'll come up with the theme, etc., but anyone I work with, if they have a suggestion that makes it better, I'm all for it.

JF- You perform regularly at Duane Park and recently were part of the Dos Equis- Most Interesting Man's party. Which do you prefer, the smaller venues or the big elaborate events?
MS-I love them both, but I LOVE the big elaborate events. The smaller events are a really great way to showcase burlesque. It's more intimate this way & easier for the burlesque performer to connect with her audience.

JF- I've noticed that Pin-Up and Burlesque is really seeing a resurgence these days, especially in the tattoo world. What do you think has invigorated this reemergence?
MS- Hot babes.

JF-The music you sing may not be the same type of stuff you listen to, what sort of music are you listening to these days?
MS-I"m all over the place! I love jazz, reggae, classical... some of my favorites are Nina Simone, Bob Marley, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Edith Piaf, Blondie... I can go on for days..

JF- How about art? Any type of visual art do it for you?
MS-Yes, there's this artist John Fathom who's art I'm quite fond of. ;)
Also, artists like Kala Mandrake, Henry Horenstein, Steve Ellis & Luma Rouge are all wonderful artists that blow me away...

JF- ha your too kind. I have to warn you, I am VERY susceptible to flattery. I know you recently cut an album where can people hear/ buy it and what is the mood behind this one?
MS-We have ONE more song to record! It should be out this spring... I'm more than over-excited to release it! It features some phenomenal musicians: The Dap Kings (Amy Winehouse, Sharon Jones), Jesse Elder, Scott Tixier & more..
& John, you know I'll alert the masses once it drops! xoxo

Please do, it would be our pleasure to spread the word!
Thanx Melody!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Normally we're much nicer to each other.'s just that dressin up like were in the 40's gets us all worked up.

I dont have money, but I have my art...

When did the arts turn into a venture only for the well off? I guess it has always been this way to an extent, people with money have the luxury of spending their time creatively because they don't have to worry about putting their nose to the grindstone. They don't have to get real jobs or have a constant voice in the back of their heads asking where their next paycheck is going to come from.

This leads to the inevitable question of how 'good' are their artistic ventures? I know good is a relative term... but take a moment and consider it. Yes, raw talent is raw talent, when some people create (whether it be visual art, music, or performance) its just damn good. But for those who have no urgent need to sell that next piece to make rent or finish that album, does the lack of need help or hinder? Perhaps a drive to create as a means to an end is what makes something work, or maybe the freedom of having no earthly wants allows for complete release into your work. I can only speak from the standpoint of I need to live and unfortunately its been a rough ride as of late.

I also start to think about the transition between artistic mediums, actors who start rock bands and musicians who go into film ect... sometimes I think its great that people can move so swiftly between the two mediums and sometimes I think its absolutely ridiculous.

Example of ridiculous:

Miley Cyrus - This little rich bitch started her career because Daddy paid for it. AND her whole career is based on the fact that she is two different people. She is the product of being a well off spoiled child. If she had said "I want a chinchilla farm" instead of a TV show she would have got it, and we all would be better off. Nevertheless she chose fame and fortune and its unfortunate for the world that she got it. I do not really want to get into the whole 'Hannah Montana' discussion because I will get very worked up, but lets just say she is a joke and leave it there.

Example of good:

Rilo Kiley - Now I have been on a bit of a Rilo Kiley kick as of late, they are a band comprised of Jenny Lewis, Blake Sennett, Pierre de Reeder, and Jason Boesel. Long story short, Jenny was a child actress who made cameos in many films and TV shows and was in one of my fav's 'The Wizard' (1989) and Blake was in two of my all time favorite TV shows 'Salute your Shorts' and 'Boy Meets World'. So Jenny decides that she has the time, the drive, and the means (lets not discount the talent)... why not start a band. And it worked for them.

There are tons of other people to talk about on the good/bad spectrum, and please remember that this is just my opinion. I definitely think there is room for so much more debate on this matter.

Right now I feel that endless amounts of worry free time would really help my artistic endeavors, but that isn't the world we inhabit. I wish I could go live in the woods and not have a job and hide from my debts and taxes ect... but I can't do that today or anytime soon. And I hold no grudges for not being born into money. If my dad was a country rock star I could have some shitty TV show and millions of my own, or maybe I could be making awesome indie tracks in a basement somewhere. But he's not (he's an engineer who retired from the Navy a couple years ago) and I'm so glad because he's great the way he is and I HATE country music.

I think this is the end of my rant. I have no real conclusion other than to say my goal for the day was to analyze nothing and I already failed. So I leave you with the quote I started today with:

Analysis is the death of the creative process.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Let em worry. Be an Artist anyway.

Lets face it, if you want to worry your friends and family, piss off your folks and disappoint people in general-drop everything and become an artist. Whether you decide to become a photographer that refuses to shoot weddings, a painter, sculptor or musician; you're gonna make people worry. You have to accept their worries are based on their fears, their preconceptions, perspective and their assumptions on your abilities. None of these things actually have any baring on whether you will succeed at becoming a successful artist though. Not one bit.

First off lets define success, because the term Artist is so vague and malleable. Synonyms of the term success are achievement, fame and triumph. A common definition of success is the attainment of wealth, position, honors, or the like. Even this definition is too vague, so you have to define the word further for yourself using that skeleton. Success as an artist obviously has many levels leading towards national recognition, freedom and wealth. For me the first real level to aspire towards is freedom. Recognition may be the stepping stone towards that freedom, but working towards recognition can blur why we choose art in the first place. I prefer working towards freedom, because freedom is what is going to allow you to make that art.

Freedom can be - only having to work 3 days a week to get your bills paid, or freedom can be having art pay those bills. What we do with that freedom is where discipline comes in. I won't go on record and say I'm all that disciplined, but what I can say is I have manufactured an environment that supports the way in which my particular style of discipline flourishes. That's my freedom. When something fails, or my freedom wanes- I know it's my fault and up to me to change. Getting excited about discipline is way easier when you know it's that discipline that affords you your freedom. It's like having a savings account for "time". You might say-"but time stands still for noone, you can't have a savings account for time". Well you're right, but stop being so picky. What I'm saying is; the work you put in towards discipline now IS what provides that freedom. Sometimes you spend that freedom right away and sometimes you don't even have an ounce of it until you've been working at your discipline for years. I've only personally been handling my freedom efficiently for the last few years. In the past I squandered it and mismanaged not only my $, but I also mismanaged ALOT of my time, and time is money and money pays the bills.............oh wait, but artists don't care about money.

So lets talk about that quickly. MONEY: Fuck money or whether you like it or not. It makes the world go round and you can't pay people in art until your on the Jasper Johns, Picasso level. So quit rebelling against everything you suck at and just let it be what it is. You must create a means that will regularly bring in a minimum amount of cash to pay your bills, whatever they may be. Bottom line; make sure you have enough $$ to handle the basic human needs like food, water, shelter as well as phone, internet, utilities, laundry, transportation and recreation or you will be one of those MISERABLE artists that blame the world for their problems and lets face we don't need another one of those. ...SOoooOOoooo. Ya got yer basics covered..I'm talking the minimum. If you can barter your way into those things great, just be sure to have them covered because if you don't YOU are limiting your freedom. YOUUU... Not an outside unseen force, not your boss, not your daddy or Mercury in retrograde, YOU. Once you have those basics covered you have an idea of what sort of TIME you have to play with. Thing about TIME is it's in a loving relationship with SPACE, so you should think that way too. What sort of space do you have to work in? This is important because if your current space limits your work, you end up limiting your freedom. Limitations can be inspiring for sure, but make sure your not making excuses for why you cant work because of the size of your space or you will be yet again limiting your own freedom.

If your basics are covered, you got yer time/space figured out, so then whats left to worry about?? Nothing. From this point on it's you and your art and what you want out of it. If you have the discipline to get these things in order then you can muster up more discipline to focus your goals if success is what your after. Your friends and family may still worry about you, but with the main concerns out of the way your now able to pursue your dream without all the typical collateral damage that comes with brushing off responsibilities to chase fame and fortune. You can play all you want, spend days thinking and brainstorming, walk through a park, visit other artists studios, go to a museum or whatever inspires you. Bottom line is success is freedom first, wealth later. Work towards that and let the worriers worry, and the doubter doubt. It's what they were gonna do anyhow.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The dull blade: first punk, now fetish.

Ahhh the good ol days: Back when bad was bad and good was good. Now it seems that bad is good and good is just a game of roleplay. It used to be that people would gasp at the word fetish, which brought on images of men worshipping women's feet, women being paddled & spanked or men being humiliated in womens undergarments.. Fetish clubs were underground, peoples sexuality hidden. These days fetish is no different then regular pornography, often having a category on any mainstream porn site, right between "female friendly" and "fisting".

Don't get me wrong, the acceptance of dominance, fetish and pornography in general is positive jump for society collectively, but what comes of a fetish when it's so easily accepted? I would argue the edge is dulled down and soon after a newer, darker, more foreign fetish will arise in it's place. I'm certain it already has and when dark fetishes become easily found and imitated by unknowledgeable/irresponsible perpetrators theres alot of opportunity for people to be hurt, but lets try to focus instead just on the watering down of the idea of "fetish"... When every girl owns a school girl outfit, and every guy has had hot candle wax dripped on his genitals...whats next?
Guess I'm a tad conservative. I know the arguements...ofcourse Im happy that you and your lover engage in regular romps of public indecency and couple swapping. I know it's safer for women and the bondage gear and the manners of torture/humiliation have gotten way more creative, but tattoo removal can now be done at home, and fetish clothing can be purchased at Spencers Gifts! Just like the watering down and eventual demise of punk music, its only a matter of time before the guys with lizard tongues and horn implants become the next batch of mainstream proud eccentric fetish folk.

It's ok , Im not mad, and I'm not gonna take your latex away from you, I just hope this is a knife that can be resharpened year after year or pretty soon yer mom will buy you a ball gag as a gag gift on your birthday that she picked up off a street vendor on her way to church. BTW if your in yer late teens or early 20's....yer parents are even bigger freaks than you.
Yikes. Check out the ultra lame Rihanna video where she pretends to be into fetish/dominanace. Fake ass watered down pop versions of fetish.-

*pic from: freedom of fetish

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Super Mamika

I was looking at my various feeds this morning (seeing what everyone else I know is interested in right now) and I stumbled upon this link... and I absolutely find it amazing. I can only hope when I'm old my colleagues and I are still doing crazy photoshoots, or that younger artists feel the need to include me or 'cheer me up' by putting me in crazy photos.

This series is by photographer Sacha Goldberger, and the posted is one of my favorites from this shoot... it was hard to pick though. This is his grandmother Frederika, and she's a real life super hero... click the link (its the blue text below) to see all the other shots and read about her heroics during the war.



Monday, January 17, 2011

Be good to yer fellow man and woman.

I deleted my original post, which was of a dream I happened to have the morning of MLK day. In the dream I was being attacked over segregation issues by a young white man, I guess in a pre MLK world. In my dream I was black.

The dream was brief, but the content was strong and in after some retrospection I worried it may be considered too offensive for a community blog. If your'e interested in reading it just email me at or on facebook and I can fwd it to you.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Interview with globe trotting mystery man:Artist/Painter-John Ruddy

JF-You've been with 660 for like 6 yrs now, or is it 7?

JR-I think 7 years. Or 1 dog year.

JF-We met because I registered for the JC Artist's Studio Tour for the first time and invited Greg Brickey of City Halls Cultural Affairs department, I asked him for the best talent to add to the space and he named only one name. John Ruddy
That's pretty impressive.

JR--I appreciate those people like Greg who have followed my work over the years. To me it's more valuable to cultivate a loyal group of fans than a horde of dispassionate passers-by.

JF-What is it about the community aspect of working in a collaborative that interested you enough to jump on board with us when I invited you to that first RockSoup Meeting? Because otherwise your a fairly insulated guy.

JR-The energy you find amongst a community of artists can be creatively nourishing. It's part competition, part exposure to new aesthetic influences , and perhaps most importantly, the opportunity to exhibit work in a receptive environment. Art objects need an audience to come to life.

JF-Back when we met you were painting in the same style, but these days you've been working more on the details of your frames, which have a more sculptural intent. Can you tell us about that transition and what you get out of each process?

JR-I find myself increasingly drawn to sculpture. The sculptural quality of the frames I've been making was originally intended to augment or 'complete' the existing work, but I found that it has fundamentally transformed those pieces into something altogether new and different. It's a synthesis of disciplines, if you like.

JF-I know you also began a portrait series where you painted some of your friends, what can you tell us about that project and what you intend to do with it?

JR-I hope to have this new series of portraits completed this Spring for a possible exhibition at Paul Vincent Studios. People's faces are tremendously mysterious to me. They possess the echo of the countless generations of ancestors who lived and died to create this current form. Every face is a time machine of sorts. It's my hope to pull something from deep inside my subjects and put it there on the surface for examination. Not always a comfortable proposition for the sitter involved, however.

JF- HA! I'm Glad I turned down the opportunity to sit for you then. I knew you were up to something.
JF-Your work has quite a bit of religeous and political symbols and text, your clearly interested in travel and language as well, what prompted you to put it into your work?

JR--Travel is the greatest education. There is no substitute for the immersion of oneself in a foreign culture. The curiosity and confrontation one experiences while traveling can be a powerful inspirational force. Religion and language are a group's collective expression of identity, unique to that group, yet somehow universal. The more I expose myself to those disparate cultures the more I see how similar we are as a species.

Many people see your work and are drawn to the rich colors and beauty but are also completely mystified by the meanings of the language and symbols in the work. Do you enjoy giving your fans somewhat of a history lesson when your asked about your work or do you prefer to leave it with a sense of mystery?

JR--I consistently struggle with that. Certainly my images are the result of some kind of 'personal mythology' that are strung together as a result of my interests and passions. That being said, I go to great lengths to construct forms that are appealing and attractive to the viewer whether they are aware of the specifics or not. Mystery can be a hook to get people to explore further the meanings of a piece. I'm not so much interested in giving a history lesson as much as I am in inviting people to follow the Myth that one of my paintings represent.

One of my favorite pieces of yours is 'Al-Ghaffar'. I love the piece but know nothing about its meaning, what can you tell us about that piece?

JR--The title and Arabic text of the piece 'Al-Ghaffar' is one of the traditional 99 names of Allah as expressed in Quranic literature. It translates roughly as 'The All-Forgiving'. The painting was inspired by a trip I took to Indonesia in the wake of the Bali nightclub bombing by islamic extremists. The primary image in the piece is a portrayal of a Balinese dancer showering a mosque with marigolds. The Balinese represent a small Hindu minority in the overwhelmingly Muslim Indonesia. The reaction of most of the Balinese people to this horrible incident, apart from grief, was a visible effort to find compassion and forgiveness for both the perpetrators of the crime and the greater Muslim society which envelops them. I saw very little anger or rage, which is something that was certainly not the case after our own terrorist catastrophe in New York.

JF- With topics such as these, your sure to cultivate not only a loyal group of fans like you mentioned, but also a passionate group. You have a show coming up at Paul Vincent Studios soon. When is that and what can we expect?

JR-The show is currently scheduled for sometime in May. If all goes well, I hope to exhibit a whole new body of work which takes a creative approach to portraiture. Should be interesting...

Thanx John.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

BATTLING MR.SELF- A brief interview with Artist Nyugen Smith

JF.You've been with 660 practically since it's inception. How would you define 660 and it's role with the Arts in Jersey City?

NS.Definition of 660: Home base. It's the NWA (during the time of Rick Flair, Lex Luger, Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson, Dusty Rhodes and all ' them) to the WWF. 660 is another channel. People tune in to see what's happening. The program changes message stays the same. Sometimes it's 6 in the morning and the "do you know where your children are"? commercial comes on. Sometimes Snoop comes on. 660 is that kind of morning. Hot summers brings phone calls for charcoal ice and friends, cold winters require check-ins. Layer up, work steady. It exists as long as creativity exists among our friends, comrades, family, and some traveling through.

JF.When we first met you were doing paper garment sculptures inspired by the Tolkiens rugged aesthetic brought to life in the L.O.R trilogy. I noticed your work became larger almost instantly after you moved your studio here- can you talk about that initial departure from the garment sculptures into what has now become your signature style commonly known as "bundle house"

NS.Yep! Garment Sculptures. Those were great times. Once I moved my studio to 660 I had so much more space to work, so naturally I began to explore many more materials which led me to go bigger with my work. At that time I was still searching for how to express what I wanted to say and discovered that found materials brought me closer to articulation of my ideas. In 2005, I met an artist, Chenoa Maxwell and her photography from a body of work that she developed in Uganda made a huge impact in the way I began to view my work. That's when I began Bundle House.

JF.I've noticed that when you work here at 660 it's primarily sculpture and Bundle House related work, but when you work at home its typically the "SELF" series, which has many faces-talk about those faces, b/c in some you do battle with yourself and in others your clearly a character.

NS. Yes, at 660 I can use all the huge materials and all the good found stuff from my travels. At my home studio I feel like I end up working on SELF series. home I'm contemplative, personal items that are connected to other aspects of my life are all around, constantly reminding me of who I am, what I've done, what I plan to do, what I've learned, and what I haven't seen. So it's natural that I make SELF Series work here.
It's interesting you say sometimes I'm a "character" in the SELF Series, but it's all SELF. For me, that "character" is the same as any other depiction of myself in this series. that part of SELF that you're witnessing is a part of who I am. Sometimes I'm serious, sometimes I feel like a fool out of his mind. I love the freedom that comes with this work.

JF. Recently you've been tying the Bundle House work into the Self series, what convinced you that the two distinctly separate styles should be merged?

NS. Tying the SELF Series in with Bundle House is an experiment I'm conducting right now. I haven't brought the SELF Series into the 3 dimensional realm much at all so far, so I want to push it. Working with the palette of what would also be Bundle House material to make these assemblages adds an interesting number of problems to be solved. It's great!

JF. Finally, tell us about your recent video work with the self series. Im digging this professor self, whats he all about and whats to come of this new expression?

NS. This series of videos I've been releasing, is a way to continue to satisfy my need to make work wherever I am. So many artists that I know just have to make work somehow if they placed somewhere with optional media at their disposal. We're a perfect match. It's immediate and to the point. Right now I'm dealing with race/class and cultural elements particular to those with darker skin-from warmer climates. True. They are all completed within a 3ft x 3ft space. One of my favorite aspects of these pieces is the challenge of keeping them simple. By simple I mean, limited props, bare-bones backdrop and no editing. These video pieces allows me to give work away. People love to receive art from others. I know I do. So in a way I believe people feel as though they are receiving art when they see the videos. It is my hope that after people see them, they share it with others.

JF. Thanx for keeping that chi up! Im sure its inspiring more then just the folks at 660. List your links so people can keep up with what your doing and follow the progress.

NS.Yeah man! More Chi. check out links to videos here:

New website coming soon. One Love!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

660- It makes yer mom uncomfortable.

We designed 660 to make "serious adults" feel uncomfortable and old. I don't know why exactly, I think it was a by product of the original goal of a place for limitless self expression. Somewhere where everyone plays and has fun, without even trying. Cris leaves his studio via a fireman pole down to a stage, Alicia swings on the indoor swing on sunny days, and Ryan goes out to the rooftop to have a smoke, but really we all use these amenities daily. The fireman pole is part of Cris's everyday life. The big old wooden door that looks like its from a cobblers cottage in a story book happens to be the door that I walk in and out of everyday. My dogs howl at firetrucks. My tenants howl with the dogs too. There are skateboarders using their indoor halfpipe beneathe us and kids building out their recording studio so they can cut an album. If you come here for the first time you drive through a sketchy lookin neighborhood, go down a dirty dark hallways and end up at the top of the stairs staring down a 5000sqft BEAST. Helga as I like to call her is 206yrs old and used to be an old mill. For 8 winters I've been workin on her and playing with her. Sooo many talented people have come through here and left their indeliable mark and helped transform a barren grey beast into a hidden treasure.

I forget what normalcy feels like sometimes because the building is in Jersey City, so when I leave I bump into one of the 300 weirdos I know walking around this town so this to me is normal. I guess if this building were anywhere else, in a suburb or metropolitan city I could constantly be reminded of just how strange it is, but here there are a few different buildings that artists are gathering and working. So we're just a different take on something thats happening in a few places around J.C.

When I step outside of Jersey City or go to my "serious adult" friend's homes...I realize the difference between our lives, our cities, our friends. I'm uncomfortable in places where you can't be yourself, be dirty, express yourself wildly or stay up late. I feel like a kid when I'm forced to behave and I'm not one for behaving if behaving means stop doing the things I like to do. This place makes you feel like a kid and makes me feel like an adult, so I guess in a retaliation of sorts I designed 660 for those whom see that maturity simply means responsibility and as long as were taking our responsibilities serious...anything else goes.

I see "adults" faces when they come here. Some are excited to see it and others are just plain uncomfortable. The chairs don't match, there's sooo much going on, there's too many people or too much space. That thing over there looks dangerous, how many animals are here, who cleans this place up??? Sometimes I answer, sometimes I smile. Their adoration or discomfort equally make me happy. We are overgrown children, playing in a giant playhouse, influencing each other, collaborating and changing. It's not for everybody which is what makes the people whom can flourish here distinct, whether it be a 6months or 6 yr stint. We found a place where we can be adults that don't have to set aside time to have fun, bc it's part of our everyday, as it should be. 660 is a place for black sheep to feel a sense of normalcy and it may not be for everyone, but even if you wouldn't, ya probably kinda wish you could.

A Moon Child was born here at 660 Grand.

Listen to their music-flip your perspective. More to come on JPMC, stay tuned.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Feel it

So I've been trying to get in touch with a possible venue... Pretty much chasing up an e-mail they promised and never sent, and I keep getting ignored or excuses keep being made. My point is in short: this sucks. It's like the venue doesn't want my potential business but they aren't saying anything, they just left me hanging. I feel like I went on a date with them and we had an awesome time together, we really clicked and were on the same page, and they said they would call but instead they dropped off the face of the earth. That's cruel! Time to start looking for a new venue to court.

And one note about happiness (because it seems to be coming up alot lately):
I was finishing up my yoga class today and the convo got a little deep. And it really hit me because there are so many people in my life right now that this statement pertains to:

People grasp onto things in life, often desperately, in order to find happiness. The thing is, happiness can only be gained by letting go. When you start to allow yourself to let go, you start to allow yourself to attain happiness.


Artists- Self indulgence can lead to selfishness.

I've been managing my building for 8 winters now. I started off with just the 2nd floor which has 6 private studios. I managed just that floor for 5yrs and have had the other 2 floors for about 3yrs now. With so many studios, Ive seen many people come and go and have observed the full spectrum of self destructive & self indulgent personalities. With artists everything is always a little bigger and alot more dramatic.

I grew up in Queens and for much of my life was the only person I knew serious about art. It wasn't until I moved to JC that I began intermingling with groups of artists and until I took over my building I certainly didn't have to depend on any of them for anything. Artists are wild cards. They can be hyper sensitive, but they can also be the most open-minded and positive people you'll meet. For those that decide to pursue art as their career;they have a tall mountain to climb against many obstacles. It's this piece of reality that tests them and requires their best to ensure survival, but not many give it their best. For those that don't do their due diligence, their chances at survival become lessened and when that happens they find themselves forced to watch out for numero uno. It's in these moments that you witness their self indulgence turn into selfishness. They abandon responsibilities, point fingers, withdraw from communicating and convince themselves it's the outside forces trying to get them. They can make you the enemy or just consider you collateral damage of some unavoidable catastrophe. It was unavoidable...but their self indulgence blocked their view.

You can't make clear decisions if your looking through foggy glasses. Artists intentionally fog up their lens's for a multitude of reasons. Sometimes it's to inspire, other times to forget, but either way the lens is fogged. I see selfish behavior all around me. Who doesn't?! Shit, I'm an artist too, I have my self destructive behaviors. My student loans keep getting deferred, but my belly demands winter lagers to fight off the cold!

Indulgence feels good. Selfishness can serve a purpose at times, but if your not doing right by the people that look out for you, you will be on the receiving end one day and suffer the wrath of being slighted. It doesn't feel good, but most of all it sours peoples perception of you once you've slighted them. If your an artist or maybe a drama queen, be selfish by being selfless more often, it actually will help you more then you think, and that's what it's all about isn't it?
It's all about you.

* Photo of the "Fathom Girls" a promotional point of self indulgence at its best.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Accountability, Dread and concious thought

Im a fan of positive psychology; Not the new age "think positive and the Universe will provide" crap. I like the idea that psychology isn't just a way to identify symptoms of illnesses and behavior, but also psychology serves as the study of how the successful, the happy and the wise THINK and ACT. I believe that if you want to be happy you CAN. I'm obviously not talking about people born into slavery or extreme poverty, I'm talking about the millions of Americans that suffer from depression, or the people caught up in dead end jobs, abusive relationships and silly destructive patterns.

In this world and culture happiness is more then just an option, it's fuckin EASY. The problem is that it's even easier to get caught up in the drama and be held back by the unfortunate obstacles that come our way. Feeling sorry for ourselves should only serve as the catalyst to instigate change. Sure it feels better to point the finger or curse the Gods, but whats the benefit in that? I like being happy. I hate feeling angry, anxious, or taken advantage of. I despise jealousy and dread. There's too few days out there to waste on such things. I should know, I definitely wallowed in self pity in my past and still find myself repeating familiar mistakes, but I've always managed to pull myself up by my bootstraps and lately have gotten better at admitting when I'm fuckin myself over yet again.

I pay attention to things like behavior patterns and structure and dwell on idiosyncrasies that pop up repeatedly. I'm consumed by some of these themes so I feel personally responsible to instigate change if a change is desired. What good is being able to predict that lightening will strike your house if you won't leave or can't prevent it? That's where my dread comes in; I hate seeing the patterns play out that lead up to an undesirable situation and not being able to prevent the negative or instigate the positive. Sometimes we secretly want to suffer, or want to indulge in negative patterns but if you don't acknowledge when your doing that at the very least then you will find yourself repeating the same mistake in different ways for the rest of your life!! It's your responsibility to manage your life and create positive opportunities for yourself, to take advantage of what comes your way and put your personal positive spin on it. Everything that comes within your reach is effected by you, it's not just the outside influences effecting you. You do have power here.

Life may feel like a game of dodgeball with you in the center at times, but there are ways to WIN at dodgeball. You have to be ready to participte, be present, focused and not afraid of what happens if you get hit. If you let fear guide your decisions you will only become more scared. It's when we move forward despite our fears that we experience any real growth. You can't be afraid to live, or be afraid to be happy, or worse yet, afraid that someone will take your happiness away from you. Facing your demons and pushing yourself is your own responsibility. You will be helped along the way like you were in school, but in LIFE you choose your teachers and grade your OWN tests. This may sound like a cruel joke but it's the most rewarding type of education you will ever have. If you don't force yourself to get up each morning and test yourself, everyone else you meet along the way will be happy to test you FOR YOU, and chances are you won't like it.
Remember: Sadness is a reaction. Happiness is a state of being.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Crazy Stacey Ransom. WWWHHHHATT?!???

I don't know what else to say about the work of Stacey Ransom. It's worth it to flip through all the categories of her portfolio.I love everything about it, from the set design to the lil plush human flesh furniture pieces. The film production category isn't as exciting for fan browsing, but there's plenty to digest in the Purebred category to make up for it. Do yourself a favor and spend some time on this site, it's a trip through an imaginarium that will leave you inspired and maybe a lil grossed out too.,

Monday, January 3, 2011

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sarah Palin and Hitler

Today I went to the Guggenheim to see the exhibition Chaos and Classicism. I enjoyed myself but I wasn't terribly moved. I wanted more chaos. I understand that the classicism came out of the chaos of war but it left me wanting. I guess I expected it to be something it was not.

I very much enjoyed the beginning, Otto Dix’s Der Krieg. It was grotesque and moving, I saw beauty in death and despair. I was excited for the rest of the exhibition. I moved through the rest of the art with the aid of my audio guide, was scolded by the 'art police' for leaning too close to a Le Corbusier model, and generally took in all that was around me.

Towards the end of the exhibition there is a short film by Leni Riefenstahl, a female director whose I am very familiar with, and I was disheartened to see that they glossed over her work as mere propaganda fueled by Hitler. Yes, it was propaganda, but it was shot beautifully. There was no mention of its value as a film in itself. The writing on the wall casually mentions Riefenstahl as 'Hitler's friend' which is a shame because there was a much deeper reason for her ties to Hitler (as there was with anyone and Hitler at that time).

This kind of leads me into my next train of thought: my sister had noted a quote on the wall about Hitler wanting to return to a older time, a time that had different (better) values. He likened his people as similar to the greeks. (I wish I had noted this actual quote down). His whole idea of an older, better time (my sister noted) sounded a lot like the claims of this Tea Party Movement. I am not saying that anyone involved with the Tea Party Movement is in any way acting in a way that is similar to Nazi's, I am saying Politicians need to be careful what they put forward as their campaign. You would hope that people are smart enough to avoid saying something that sounds strikingly similar to Hitler... but then again its hard to have faith in our political leaders these days.

I am not a fan of Sarah Palin, nor am I a fan of Hitler... but I think the two would get along fine.

Have a look at the exhibition video, then go see it in person.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

2002-2010- swimming upstream

I'm not one of those artists that does self portraits. I am self indulgent enough as it is and I rarely use visual art as a medium for personal introspection. When I paint its more about themes, theories and ideas about the forces of nature that I feel personally connected to. Some truth that seems hidden and getting it to reveal itself . This new years I guess I inadvertently revealed a truth about myself while painting and in essence accidentally created a self portrait.

Early in the year I had experimented on a painting that was a bit more figurative than I tend to do. More specifically; while painting in my usual style I found the shapes and forms that I had smeared onto the plexiglass seemed to resemble a large catfish or coy. It was so clear that I decided to go with it and let it become that fish that it was revealing itself to be, but then midway through it, I wasn't sure that was such a good idea. I tried to change it, but couldn't undo what was done, so I frustratedly put it away and forgot about it. I came across it a few months ago and decided this time I'd give it another go. I tried once more to change it, but it was impossible to save the interesting elements about it if I didn't let it be a fish. I worried if it was hokey or lame, but wasn't willing to abandon it again, so I accepted that it was a fish and nothing could be done other then support it as the subject of this painting and create the best environment to surround the fish in.

It was in repeating the words of the title in my head- " It started to look like a fish, so I let it be a fish, but then I decided I didn't want it to be a fish so I tried to change it, but what could I do? It was already a fish". -that I realized: Hey I AM this fish!

The struggle with this painting and my resistance to let it be what it wanted to be could be likened to my parents seeing me grow up to become an artist. In the beginning they praised my artistic efforts, and got me all the great art supplies a kid could want. Art was the only thing I was really good at. I was an ok B- student with serious difficulty in math and not much good at sports. Somewhere along the line I think my future as an artist became a point of concern for my parents whom probably saw my dreams of being a huge success as an inevitable disappointment for us all. They attempted to change the fish as I did- to no avail. It was too late. The confidence I developed from their early praise was only emboldened by their lack of confidence now.

The only thing I was good at was being creative. If I were to give up then, I would have been miserable. So I refused their advice, b/c I felt like I was someone who wanted more and was willing to suffer to get it. I may not have realized it then but every decision I've made has led me towards me being here now, which is where I am happiest. Not all professional artists are famous. Why should they have to be? I eat well, I have a roof over my head, and I do sell paintings from time to time. So don't worry and be proud of yourselves- you raised a perfectly successful fish.

2002-2010 The make me or break me years

. Just about every New Years I'm completely in the dark as to where I will be going and how I will be ringing in the New Year. This yr wasn't any different, as I toiled over choices, not feeling connected to either choice and not exactly knowing why. It appears that over the years I have developed a guilty responsibility to keep my celebrations & progress balanced in perfect harmony. That is to say; if I feel I haven't been doing what I'm supposed to do, then I don't deserve to be celebrating as often. My mom used to restrict how often I went out, often telling me "you had enough fun this week". I remember thinking what a ridiculous reason to not allow me to do something; b/c I'd be enjoying myself too much. Despite my thinking such; I carry that with me I suppose. Self-checking every so often to make sure that I'm working as hard as I'm playing. These days I prefer to think of going out for drinks as miniature celebrations. Sure, everyone drinks for different reasons, some to celebrate, some to forget, but for me going out with friends and spending your hard earned money should have cause. You should feel content with how much you've done with your day, week or month so that you can truly cut loose and unwind. If you don't have that sense of contentment, self destructive behavior can ensue. There are so many angry or sad drunks out there, why be another one of them?

So when 2011 approached I briefly considered what kind of celebration I deserved for how I spent my year. A low key familial celebration or a balls to the wall/ all out brawl of a night out.. Neither seemed to appeal to me. Instead I thought of the bills, the garbage, the unfinished paintings and construction I would be taking with me into 2011, leftover from 2010. It wasn't a celebration worthy feeling. In fact, it made me feel unfocused, because I knew I had time in 2010, but didn't use my time as wisely as I could have. I imagined myself knocking even one of those incomplete projects off my list and how much more rewarding that would feel then shitshowing it out on the town.
I got more done then I expected spending my NYE in the studio and it would probably go down as my 2nd best NYE to date, simply b/c it was the first NYE that I actually contemplated the year before. This year was more then that actually, bc this year I found myself contemplating all the years before. Snapshots of all the little steps that led to this time in my life. Every failure, every success and all the subtle lessons that develop your personal philosophy for life. I had been fighting for so long to forge a life for myself against the odds of the outside world and those obstacles I created myself from scratch, that I forgot to stop slashing at the reeds in my path and turn around to see how far along the path I had come. Choosing Art as a career when you haven't yet been discovered is a risky choice. You're destined to face obstacles and demons you hadn't considered the moment you naively imagined your names in lights and across magazine covers being declared as the next great American artist!

...I guess it's been 8 winters since I first came to Jersey City to lease a giant empty warehouse with dreams of becoming a successful painter. 8 winters in a cocoon waiting to be something. It took 2011's arrival for me to realize I could put down the machete for a minute and realize the path has been forged and I am already here. This is what it feels like, this is what it tastes like at this point. It's not at all what I imagined, and it certainly can get better, but its wonderful all the same.

*Untitled Painting- Dec 31 2010

Time to shed 2010 like I accidently shed my hat...

Somewhere in my confusion of buying crack pie from Momofuku, traveling to the upper east side, purchasing new years eve hats and heading to my sister... I lost my brown hat. This hat has seen me through many bad times, I got it in Praha last december... it was only just over a year in my possession, and now its gone. I'm almost positive I know where I left it but I do not want to dwell on that.

It was symbolic or something. Yes I think its weird to read into the loss of my hat, but I gotta read into something right? Its the first day of 2011. This is the day where we all make ridiculous vows to loose weight or be better people. We over analyze the whole last year of our lives. So this is how I choose to read into my life.

My hat is gone. Yes thats sad. But no I wont dwell on that fact. A new hat will be in my possession tomorrow.

Happy 2011 everyone