Agosto 29, 2007


portland - 13Well, as you might have guessed (if you didn't know already) by the 2-week silence on this blog (which ended 3 entries ago, i hate when bloggers post just to say how sorry they are for not posting for awhile), I was on vacation again. O and I drove north to Oregon in a rental car, outfitted with a borrowed bike rack so we could bring our bikes. It was a bit trying spending so much time in a car, but we had a lot of fun too. We camped a lot on the way, and we saw 4000 year old trees and volcanic mud pools and coastal dunes and coyotes and a seal and lots of old friends.
I have a set of my best photos from the trip on Flickr. Sadly my still camera seems to be dying, placing random crunchy bars of color on some photos. Which sucks because i can't really afford to buy a new one at this point. But to be fair, I've taken about 10,000 shots since I bought the thing in December 2004, so i've gotten a lot out of it.

Posted by steev at 05:25 PM | Comments (0)

Agosto 28, 2007

Survellance as Speech

Good article by Naomi Klein is on Alternet about the SPP protests and authorities videotaping protesters supposedly so that the leaders being petitioned can see the protesters from a safe distance.

Like contestants on a reality TV show, protesters at the SPP were invited to vent into video cameras, their rants to be beamed to protest-trons inside the summit enclave. It was security state as infotainment

Posted by steev at 01:59 PM | Comments (0)

Agosto 27, 2007

Getting Free

For the new, fourth issue of the Dry River zine, coming out soon, I wrote a review of a really good new book called "Getting Free." It's also sort of a review of John Holloway's book, "Change the World Without Taking Power." For those of you who don't want to wait to get a copy of the zine, you can
download the PDF of my review here.

Posted by steev at 02:43 PM | Comments (0)

Inland Empire

I saw David Lynch's Inland Empire earlier this summer and someone just asked me what I thought. As I told him, i've got mixed feelings, more so than his older stuff. i've been a Lynch fan for a long time (i guess since i first saw Eraserhead like 17 years ago). but his last 2 films, Mullholland Drive and Inland Empire, have disappointed me. i still loved to watch and listen to them just for the sensory experience (he's always been really amazing with the sound design on his films, in addition to cinematography), but beyond that I just have felt frustrated. i feel like he's been in a rut or a formula for his last 2 or 3 films, maybe even purposely repeating himself and being annoying just to see how far he can push his fans. and the gratuitous and almost sexist softporn bits are just plain juvenile and irritating, i think.

but i guess i'd like to see it again sometime and see if i feel different after repeated viewings, or if i can actually get more meaning out of the stuff that seemed like just gratuitous meaningless bizarreness for the sake of being bizarre.

in my opinion his best works are still Blue Velvet and Wild at Heart (and the Twin Peaks tv series)...

Posted by steev at 01:29 PM | Comments (0)

Agosto 12, 2007

New Pan Left Video Blog

Last night we of the Pan Left video collective had a public party to celebrate the launch of our new video-sharing bloggy drupal-powered website, I built this site, the most complicated Drupal site i've done, though the custom theme was not my work. I'm pretty happy with it, though there are still a lot of tweaks to do on it, like I still don't have flash display of the videos working yet.

The party was fun too. I made a timelapse video of most of it that is quite entertaining to watch.

Now O and I are getting ready to go on a 2-week roadtrip to Portland via Yosemite and the Oregon Dunes. It's a vacation we have been wanting to take together for quite awhile. I will be pretty non-online for a lot of the next 2 weeks, starting tomorrow, so be patient if you email me...

Posted by steev at 03:44 PM | Comments (0)

Agosto 10, 2007

IMDB Finally Lists 'On The Edge'

I'm not sure how long it's been there, but the entry for my film about the Juarez femicides is finally on the Internet Movie Data Base. I submitted it over a year ago, in March 2006, and for months afterward I repeatedly went back to check if it had been approved and posted, wrestling with the extremely irritating and difficult IMDB bureaucracy. There seemed to be some mysterious reason why they wouldn't post it and nobody to ask what that reason was. Eventually I gave up. Now suddenly I stumbled across the entry while searching for other Juarez information.

They also cite a review I had not seen before. In related news, the cheesy J-Lo movie about the femicide, "Bordertown," is supposedly being released into limited theaters at the end of this month. I have planned for a while to make flyers for people to pass out at screenings, explaining the real facts so people can learn that this isn't quite how the hollywood version portrays it. With my luck, the film won't even show here in Tucson.

Posted by steev at 12:17 PM | Comments (0)

Agosto 05, 2007

rostock fotos

I've been way slower than I thought I'd be organizing my photos from my trip to Europe. imc in rostockI don't know what my problem is. I've had plenty of free time in the last month, but just haven't been bothered to deal with the hundreds of photos. Maybe this is telling. If I don't care, will anyone? And will I, later? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe I'm just a lazy dork.

Anyway, I've put together another Flickr set of the best of my photos from the G8 protests and just wandering the streets of Rostock. Coming up yet, a set of Prague photos, a set of photos from Documenta 12, and a set of other miscellaneous photos from Germany. Hopefully I'll get to these soon, but don't hold your breath, judging by my past few weeks of slothlike dedication.

Posted by steev at 05:16 PM | Comments (0)

Agosto 04, 2007

Tierra y Libertad

Last night at Solar Culture there was a great event organized by a local group called Tierra y Libertad, which is not only a community youth organizing group but also contains within it a hip hop group of the same name. They mix radical hip hop of a really high musical quality together with radical political organizing that is nevertheless firmly grounded in the latino community here in Tucson. The event last night was a fundraiser and an outreach event for their Stop the Raids campaign, working to educate the community about the ICE deportation raids going on and what immigrants' rights are. They had tons of educational material, books, CDs, videos, and the hip hop group performed as well as a rapper from DF called Akil Ammar who was really great and politically militant as well.

Here's a rough clip I shot with my phone of Tierra y Libertad.

Posted by steev at 09:27 PM | Comments (0)

Agosto 03, 2007

"Blast from the past that singes the present"

There's a great review in the New York Times of 2 shows in NYC of paintings by Peter Young, a really good friend of O's (she took the photo of him in Oaxaca, below, which appears in the article, though they failed to credit her). He's an amazing guy and a great abstract painter who sort of dropped out of the New York art scene and settled in Bisbee, Arizona 3 decades ago, lives in an old hotel downtown that he bought for almost nothing in the 70s.
I like this passage of the review:

He roamed about the American Southwest and spent several months in Spain and Morocco. By the time one of his dot paintings made the cover of Artforum in April 1971, he was gone for good. In 1972 he settled more or less permanently in Bisbee, Ariz., where he continues to live and work. He stopped painting when the war in Iraq began and involved himself more deeply in political causes.

He's a member of Bisbee-based humane border activists Citizens for Border Solutions and he appears in a video of mine about a bi-national fiesta in Naco.

O is pretty excited about this. It's the rediscovery of his career that Peter has always told her would happen. She has 2 of his paintings hanging in her apartment. The review is 3 pages in the paper version of the Times today and starts on the front page of the Arts section.

Read on for the complete article that i cut and pasted in case you don't want to log into the Times site or you're reading this after they archive it into the dumb non-free part of their site.

August 3, 2007
Art Review | Peter Young
Kandy-Colored Dot-Flake Streamline Maverick

Peter Young’s art is a blast from the past that singes the present. His almost-major career, which flourished during the fashionably mythic late 1960s and early ’70s, has been drifting just out of reach for decades, a tantalizing medley of dotted, stained, gridded and geometric paintings, rarely seen but not forgotten.

Now his work has been gathered into his first museum show anywhere and his first solo show in New York in 23 years. A radiant survey of 34 paintings from 1963 to 1977 has arrived at the P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center in Queens, and at the Mitchell Algus Gallery in Chelsea a smaller, more focused but equally excellent display features works from Mr. Young’s Folded Mandala and his Oaxacan series from the 1970s.

Together these shows reintroduce a maverick Zenned-out hedonist who was also a process-oriented formalist with a sharp painterly intelligence, a genius for color and a penchant for the tribal and spiritual. They also revisit the efforts of an ambitious artist who got to the brink of a big New York abstract-painter career and took a pass, dropping almost completely from view and fading into legend.

Organized by P.S. 1’s founding director, Alanna Heiss, and the artist David Deutsch, the larger show arrives on the heels of the exhibition “High Times, Hard Times: New York Painting 1967-1975” at the National Design Museum, which included one of Mr. Young’s small enticing “stick” paintings, and also opened the Pandora’s box of the history of Post-Minimalist painting. And it coincides with the Whitney’s sweeping if spotty “Summer of Love” exhibition, from which Mr. Young’s work is noticeably absent.

Mr. Young was a painter of the 1960s in just about every sense of the word, up to and including the early use of LSD. Born in Pittsburgh in 1940, he grew up precocious near Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Canyon. His parents collected tribal art, as did family friends the painter Lee Mullican and his wife, Luchita. (Their son is the artist Matt Mullican.) By his teenage years Mr. Young had mastered a semblance of an Abstract Expressionist style. After studying art at the Chouinard Art Institute (now CalArts) in Los Angeles and Pomona College in Claremont, Calif., he moved to New York in 1960 with his wife, the dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp.

By 1969 he was part of a generation that would tinker incessantly with paintings’ fundamentals and had most of his ducks in a row for a big career. The high point was a two-man show with David Diao at the Leo Castelli Gallery. But when it opened, Mr. Young was on a four-month sojourn in Costa Rica, living among the Boruca Indians, painting on cloth stretched on four sticks tied at the corners. His marriage was over; he had an itch to travel; and his tolerance for the New York world was ebbing. (Upon his return from Costa Rica he retitled two paintings “Capitalist Masterpiece.”)

He roamed about the American Southwest and spent several months in Spain and Morocco. By the time one of his dot paintings made the cover of Artforum in April 1971, he was gone for good. In 1972 he settled more or less permanently in Bisbee, Ariz., where he continues to live and work. He stopped painting when the war in Iraq began and involved himself more deeply in political causes.

The P.S. 1 show reveals an artist who is alternately intellectual and blissed-out, meditative and exacting, who changed his work willfully and regularly. Continuity is provided by Mr. Young’s great gift for color and of course his preferred motif: the dot, that global staple of art. Another through line is keen attention to self-evident process. You can always break down the step-by-step making of these paintings.

In the first gallery four big canvases from 1967 and ’68 — Mr. Young’s well-known classic molecular-paisley dot paintings — come into focus, cultivating potentials in Pollock’s allover composition, Larry Poons’s lozenge paintings and Yayoi Kusama’s net paintings. The dots go from irregular and gray to colorful then to closely spaced and reliably nickel-size. Finally, in “#30,” of 1968, a loose paisleylike scheme emerges in richly off-key yet regimented tones: two contrasting shades each of earth red, brown and green with constant input from lavender and light blue. Given their effects it is always interesting to see up close how few colors Mr. Young actually uses.

The show backtracks from there, highlighting conflicting sides of Mr. Young’s sensibility. Two small, pulsating paintings from 1964 feature dotted dots, or small dotted circles, in earthy tones; their patterns suggest game boards, electrical systems and peasant textiles. Two other small but protruding paintings from 1965 are almost Minimalist boxes. With their blue, gridded wraparound surfaces covered by fat, shiny, unvarying red dots with central squares of yellow ones, they resemble Josef Albers paintings made with colored thumbtacks.

A vitrine of necklaces strikes yet another note. The chunky, roughly carved beads approximate the multicolor effect of millefleurs glass beads in layered acrylic paint: wearable dots.

Three galleries of works from 1966 to ’68 that move parallel to the dot paintings are fresh and well made but soulless. Mr. Young tries out Photo Realism in two chilly works that arrange tiny dots into streaming galaxies of white, cream and blue on black.

Then it’s back to Minimalism leavened with Conceptual Art, for a kind of smart-aleck dissection of the geometries of Frank Stella in shades of John Wesley blue. The works feel empty and competitive. Flatness and facts prevail. Space is measured in an expanding, numbered grid, shuffled into radiating lines, looped into compass-perfect circles and then closed off with a brick wall.

It is a relief to step into the next gallery and encounter tangible proof that Mr. Young’s 1969 journey to Costa Rica was life-changing. The main thrill is a row of seven “stick” paintings from 1970 like those Mr. Young made there and mostly gave to his Boruca hosts. Here slightly irregular monochrome fields divided intuitively by scaffoldings of line show Mr. Young making geometry his own. The colors flame: peach on bright blue, yellow on red, orange on violet. The lines step, dance, undulate, lean, loop and crisscross, forming lively wholes exceeding the sum of their still-discernible parts. They are shields, mystical diagrams, cartoons of paintings; their brushy brown faux-wood-grain borders acknowledge the real sticks holding them together with a trompe-l’oeil moment. In a corner a small, amazing tribal-process painting from 1963 confirms the Costa Rica trip as a kind of journey home.

In the show’s remaining galleries Mr. Young seems liberated. From 1972 three trippy Rorschach stain paintings blur and multiply the prancing energy of stick paintings. These square canvases proffer four quadrants of bilateral tantric flourishes, each made by folding bare onto painted canvas. They bring order to Pollock’s drips and splatters, show Color Field painting a thing or two and presage the voluptuous patterns and layered colors of Philip Taaffe.

In the show’s final gallery the dot appears to be banished, but is actually just hemmed in on all sides. Here four works offer expanses of intricate, colorful, closely spaced grids that suggest delicately woven plaids and checks. One of these works is actually from 1965, the year Mr. Young discovered the painted grids of Agnes Martin and swore off his own for more than a decade. The other three are from 1977, increasingly dense and jumpy.

At Algus the dot returns in the pulsating patterns of the Folded Mandala paintings from the early 1970s. Their bilateral schemes are circular and also spacier because they are built from fat dabs and smears of color rather than stained. They are gorgeous, enveloping works, but true to Process Art you can still parse the layers and count the colors. And in the three Oaxacan paintings from 1980, the dot wreaks its revenge on the grid in some unfathomable way, interacting with the horizontal and vertical lines to create patterns that step in and out, build up and dissolve. One sees hints of masks, temple architecture and even kachina dolls in these surfaces. They bridge the gap between East and West, art and craft, ancient and now.

Any exhibition of art from the past should open some doors to the future. These shows open a whole hallway of them.

“Peter Young: 1963-1977” is at the P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, 22-25 Jackson Avenue, at 46th Street., Long Island City, Queens, (718) 784-2084, through Sept. 24. “Peter Young: Folded Mandalas & Oaxacan Paintings” is at the Mitchell Algus Gallery, 511 West 25th Street, Chelsea, through Aug. 17, (212) 242-6242.

Posted by steev at 06:07 PM | Comments (0)