Category Archives: Miscellaneous Ramblings

In remembrance of Greg Nash from Yonkers NY

Gregory Nash

On August 18th Gregory Nash of Yonkers NY died in his sleep. I first came to know Greg in art school way back in 1995. I remember Greg was always so much fun to be around. His personality lit up the studio. He was a flamboyant man who loved sculpture and art. Over the years, we drifted apart as classmates do. It was only the last couple of years that we regained contact via Facebook. We always spoke about meeting for drinks, but like these things go, it never happened. It was only three weeks ago that Gregory messaged me on Facebook and suggested we meet the following weekend for drinks. I planned to respond, but never did. Yesterday I received the news of Greg’s death. I regret not having that drink with my old friend.

Greg was a talented artist who had a passion for sculpture. He spent many years at the studios in Westchester Community College. He was well known and highly regarded in the art department. He had recent aspirations of teaching at WCC but sadly that never came to pass.

I’m a Buddhist. I dont believe in a god in the conventional sense. As a Buddhist I am very much aware of the impermanence of all things. Nothing stays the same. Every couple must suffer the loss of a spouse. Every child the loss of a parent. Everybody dies. We are taught not to cling. Attachment leads to pain and suffering. We know that there is no tomorrow and there is no yesterday, those are merely concepts made in the mind. There is only NOW. Right here, right now. We also understand that the “self” or the concept of “me” is imaginary. There is no me or you. When one thinks in terms of a me, as a separate person, then everything else is “out there”. The me becomes separate from everything “out there”. This is false. There is only the universe. It is one. We are part of the universe and in fact we are the universe. When people die, they don’t pass away, pass on, or go to heaven to be with the angels, nor do they “rest in peace”. In fact, they don’t go anywhere at all. They simply change form in such a radical way they we cant see them any longer. But they are still here. Every molecule and atom since the beginning is here. Greg’s death reminded me of all these things; the importance of living in the moment. We must live in the moment, right here right now. What other choice do we have?

Your Art is Shit

One of the many things that irk me is that almost anyone can call themselves an artist. Many without qualification or education in the arts. The profession (yes it is indeed a profession) has become a sanctuary to the misfits of the world. Just imagine if people started to declare themselves to be lawyers and doctors. One does not become an artist by proclamation!

Some self proclaimed artists indeed create beautiful objects with great technical ability. This is apparent in all genres; painting, photography, sculpture, the so called digital arts, drawing, interior design, floral designers, print makers, fashion designers (fartsters) etc. However much of this work is repetitive garbage. I like to call this kind of art “dead art” or “hollow art” – Its the kind of shit you see at neighborhood art fairs or on social media. I like to fuck with these people and ask them questions like” Can I see the artist statement that accompanies the work”? With that, I usually get a blank stare. Art making is probably 25% craft, and 75% intellectual. In todays digital age, there is a proliferation of shit that constantly bombards us non-stop. Just look at Flickr or Tumblr. 99% of it looks the same. It’s all so fucking boring.

Photography is rife with this shit. Everyone is a street photographer. Please, show me something different or interesting. I’m tired of looking at selfies in public toilets, or naked young women with tattoos and piercings in dimly lit bedrooms. While the latter is fun to look at (as a male), there’s really not much to see. It’s all so boring and everyone is doing it or has done it. I call it the Todd Hido syndrome. While Hido produced similar work, his was actually intelligent and said something. He is also a master printer which is a lost art these days.

The artist statement is critical for any serious artist. If you dont have one, you need to create one. If you cant create one, then you need to rethink your chosen career path. What are you trying to communicate with your art? There are plenty that will read this and say “thats bullshit, many great artists never had an artist statement”. My response to that would be yes. Its true many did not publish an artist statement, however I can assure you they had one; if not on paper then they had a solid mental understanding of their work which they could clearly articulate. You see, it’s okay not to publish a statement, but you still need one. This is why most successful artist maintain a journal. Nothing was haphazard or up to chance.

Making art, with no education in the arts, is not impossible, but it is often difficult.The uneducated think one goes to art shool to learn craft; they perceive art school to be a “how -to” endeavour. How to paint, how to draw, how to use a camera, etc. In reality, art school should be a place where one matures as an artist and develops concepts and ideas regarding purpose, meaning and identity. The BFA – MFA graduate should leave the program with an in depth knowledge of art history, theory and criticism. In that, the student should come to an understanding as to why he/she makes art and what they are trying to say with their art. Art school is all about personal growth. If we send students out into the world with pure technical ability and no substance beyond that, we are merely producing technicians of craft who will go on to make meaningless hollow pieces of shit that have no lasting value or purpose other then to hang over grandmas couch or clutter Facebook and Instagram. I think most MFA and BFA educated artists do have a firm understanding of their concepts and visions and are “intellectually qualified” to make art. The 2 year community college, with its vast limitations, should at the very least inspire students to go on to a 4 year degree. Is an art degree necessary to be an artist? No. But it sure does help.

If this article pisses you off, then good. Go do something about it. Start a journal, create an artist statement, go back to school if that is an option. Just do something, and stop making shit.

Pimps and Whores of the Art World

Pimps and Whotes  (1 of 1)There is a disturbing trend in contemporary fine art photography towards gigantism. Huge, ceiling-to-floor and wall-to wall-sized prints. This actually isn’t something new, but it is now becoming the norm. Hardly anyone produces 8″ X 10″ prints these days.

Duane Michals is an artist who has had a major influence on me. In a recent interview he said this; “Photography fails constantly. The bigger the photographs become the bigger the failure is. These large photographs are a refuge to small talent. If the only solution to (the lack of) creativity is to make it bigger then we’re in deep trouble”

The problem is, the art-world in general is a whorish business . Its all about money and profits and really has nothing to do with creativity or talent. Have you ever noticed that so many creative geniuses go virtually their entire lives without receiving one iota of recognition from the galleries and dealers (a/k/a pimps) that actually control the market?

If you take a photograph of something mundane, say a cigarette butt on the sidewalk; out of any context and without narrative it is just that; nothing more then a cigarette butt on the sidewalk. Blow that same image up to say 40″ X 60″, give it it’s own wall in a gallery, and point some lights on it. Wallah! Now that boring photograph, in the eye of the uneducated public becomes “important”. It must be important! “Look how big it is! Look at that detail! Its amazingly tack sharp and crisp! You can see every tiny crack in the sidewalk like you were looking at the Grand Canyon. Ahhhhhh its just breathtaking to see. The photographer probably used a very expensive camera”.

Yes sadly most of the people looking at art have no idea what they are seeing. They eat up the shit thats being spoon fed to them thinking they are investing in the next Andy Warhol. And many of the artists are no better! They get sucked into that bullshit too and go right along with it chasing the non existent trends that the art world procreates. It’s all bullshit my friends. In order to make good art you need to turn the focus inward not outward. Just because a respected critic or art journal says a work is important doesn’t make it so. There are many with agendas out there and the bottom line is it’s money driven. The art-world today is full of pimps and whores. The art merchants (dealers) propagate bullshit to turn profits and everyone looses; the buyers who are investing in shit, and the artists who are chasing these bullshit trends. You will never create any substantial and sustaining art chasing trends.

Its just like these jackasses who need to buy the newest and the latest gear. The “best” camera, the most expensive glass, etc. I still shoot with a 20 year old Nikon. My prints have been getting smaller and smaller, not bigger. A good photograph should draw the viewer in. A large photograph screams and demands attention, but theres nothing to see.

We are living in the post-post modern art world. Where there is no real movement. Its all been done already. Everybody copied everybody. Originality has been replaced with technology. Artist are scrambling to find a voice, but inevitably fail. Enter the void

As a side note; one artist who comes to mind that is bucking the trend and not on the radar yet is Victor Cobo. As far as critics go, listen to Jerry Saltz. He has no bullshit or agendas to push. Both of them are not following any trends but their own