Thornton Dial (American) Beginning of Life in the Yellow Jungle (detail) (2003) Plastic soda bottles, doll, clothing, bedding, wire, found metal, rubber glove, turtle shell, artificial flowers, Splash Zone compound, enamel, and spray paint on canvas on wood
Thornton Dial (American) Beginning of Life in the Yellow Jungle (2003)
Above is “Beginning of Life in the Yellow Jungle” a work by Thornton Dial (1928-2016), a self-taught U.S. artist who created assemblages on a large scale.
“Beginning of Life in the Yellow Jungle” (detail of which is shown first): a tremendous, fearsome work. A scaffolding of intertwined, twisted, knotted bedsheets (?) create a criss-crossed webbing through and around which emerge flowers, prints of flowers, plastic pop bottles that resemble flowers, and other floral elements, with the whole of the work dripping mustard & crimson. The title, in conjunction with the visceral nature of the colors and textures, and the frayed edges and slices in the fabric, suggest birth, violence and death. A ghostly infant hovers in the top left quadrant; her patina, posture and draped body seeming to confer an air of classicism and modesty. Close observation of the work’s details amply repay the viewer with an endless fund of visual interest.
What an achievement, simultaneously chaotic and controlled, capturing the conflation of violence, the birthing process, and nature’s fecundity — and also suggesting a kind of organizing principle or geist observing and animating it all.
Lynn Chadwick (British, 1914–2003) Maquette III High Wind (801), Edition of 9, number 3, 1980 Metal & bronze sculpture
Lynn Chadwick (British, 1914–2003) Maquette III High Wind (801), Edition of 9, number 6, 1980 Metal & bronze sculpture
Above are two different versions of British sculptor Lynn Chadwick’s “Maquette III High Wind (801)” from 1980 (#3 & #6, respectively, of an edition of 9). I like these austere, dangerous bodies. Just as the title suggests, we have the sharp gust from behind blowing her garment forward. The wind is nothing to her: her spine is erect, her head proud, her legs in mid-walk in one of the versions, steady stanced in the other. Her head in fact has been transformed to axe-blade or hook-barb, giving her steady advance some martial menace. Look at the top shot: the twin corridors of her gusted dress look like shotgun barrels.
Hello readers. As usual with the Abandoned Storage Unit format, I present to you a fat clutch of subject matter – most of it arts-related, as usual. Don’t know what I’m talking about? For prior examples of this kind of post, see here and here.
So, lots on the docket today. Let’s start with this friend from Etsy vendor BeatUpCreations:
Naturally I am most drawn to this anthropo-molluscan mixed-up critter. If it had crow wings I’d probably custom order two dozen. I like its one bent antenna, it’s widow’s peak of gold candyshell, and its chipped up face. He is not happy, he is not upset. He is not for eating. He does not respond to salt. He is just a scuffed, dirty snailchild, let him wriggle and explore. He has the power to dissolve stone & most metals with his slime. He is telepathic.
Eric Sloane (b.1905 in NYC, d. 1985) Corn Bin, date unknown, Oil on Masonite
This is “Corn Bin” by American artist Eric Sloane. The glimpsed corn aglow & about to be revealed like a treasure chest slightly ajar. Like a beautiful grin just beginning. Beams cross posts cross slats cross floor cross the glorious portals of morning. A bin of pure reaped corn. The glorious morning firing it radiant. The earth’s bounty. The sweet ripe earth’s bounty washed in glorious light from the white portals of morning. Sweet ripe gold sparking out of the dark interior lit only by two white portals. This is a silent place. No human has to be present to witness and thereby validate. The universe alone can revel in the austere majesty of its own construction.
Albert Gabriel Rigolot (1862 – 1932) Les Petites Filles de Bou Saada, date unknown, oil on canvas
This is “Les petites filles de Bou Saada” (“The pretty girls of Bou Saada”) by French artist Albert Gabriel Rigolot. Bou Saada (which means “place of happiness”) is an Algerian oasis town that has historically been an important trading center & marketplace.
I love this painting. The composition is mesmerizing, with its neat tetris interlock of L-shaped whitespace below and roughly tesselated L counterpart of dark above. The grate and glimpse of sky in the top right prevent the diagonal symmetry from being too neat. Rough jumbled stairs slope up to the watching girls. Hay or straw or something like it tufts over some gap in the wood-ceiling. What does the rough lumpy stone wall in the foreground conceal or contain? A fine rusty dust on the rockheap-stairs spills down & transfers the color from the girls’ faces and garments, finding echo in the orange straw/refuse in the top left. This painting transports you: to shuffling dust, cries from the marketplace, bustle of livestock, and the sudden sense of having trespassed in this peculiar slumping interzone. A masterwork of beguiling mystery and compositional harmony.
I saw Charles Bradley headline the House of Vans show in Brooklyn on a delicious cusp-of-summer nite in June. After strong instrumental opening numbers by the airtight Menahan street band, & after some expert crowdwork by the MC (doubling as organist), Mr. Bradley emerged, resplendent in his sequined, monogrammed hot cherry red on red on red ensemble. Colors of blood & passion, befitting his MC’s introduction of him as the Victim of Love. There he stood by turns coy & overcome with emotion, smiling graciously to the waves of applause from his hometown crowd, wide eyed, arms wide, then hamming it up for the crowd with a salacious finger-lick. The band took it from there, snapping into place & Mr. Bradley proceeded to sing the night to flaming shreds. From the first few bars you could tell that the man had the pain of a lifetime stored up in him, and a scorching, raspy scream to match it.
Charles Bradley, Brooklyn, House of Vans show
from unARTigNYC, June 12, 2014
Goddamn. I hadn’t heard a note of the man until that night, & I just stood there in beery disbelief, jammed up about one row from the front. Only a couple of teenagers and the photog’s row were closer. I didn’t have my earplugs in and I both regretted it and thanked myself for my good subconscious planning every time he pulled back to annihilate the microphone. Lord how he worked it; everything was white-hot commitment. He fell to his knees, mic stand over his back like Jesus & his cross. He pulled James Brown moves on his mic stand, flinging it forward and yanking it back, startling one of the photographers. He hip-gyrated and tried splits. He worked odd tai chi maneuvers & fluttery-armed backpedals. He mugged and finger-licked and lewdly grinned. He let it all out for us in a way I haven’t seen a performer do in years. His face streamed sweat as he grimaced in the grip of those impassioned songs as if he had just instants ago discovered their melody and message.
Bradley ended his set by coming down to the front row, with some assistance from security, where he was rapidly mobbed, held, embraced by those of us lucky enough to be close by. I patted him & held his damp head & felt vast thanks. Greil Marcus once said of the music of Chester Burnett, aka Howlin Wolf: “This is where the soul of man never dies.” On June 12 2014, in a packed warehoused crowd full of twenty somethings cheering for music of a bygone generation, I saw another spark from that great universal soul Marcus saw in the Wolf. & my my my how bright it shone.
For more information about Eric Sloane, please check out his site here.
For more about Albert Gabriel Rigolot, please check out this online gallery at Rehs Galleries, Inc..
For more information about Charles Bradely, please check out this indispensable 6-part interview series sensitively conducted by FaceCulture.
Bigg shit’s changing on the S.Crow, and here’s how: no more Art of the Day. Just don’t have time sadly — too many skillets on the stove, had onions burning over here, corn oil frying up the joint over there, a whole zucchini exploding in the back — just wasn’t working. In fact, no more mandates to myself to try and post daily period. I’m just not a commit-to-anything daily kinda guy. Y’all will just have to accept my catch-as-catch-canness. Fuck it my friendz n frondz, I did my level evil best. No regrets as Tom Paxton wrote.
So what’s left? Occasional posts on art (broadly defined), as always. Ekphrastic posts, posts on art (or non-art) stuff I’m hating on at the moment (called “Slags”), posts on art (or non-art) stuff I’m adoring at the moment (called “Lauds”), and big weird shambling bizzaro conglommied hodgepodges on multiple subjects called “Abandoned Storage Units”, the first of which type of post is happening now motherfuuuuuu’ers:
Auguste Rodin (b.1840 in Paris, d.1917) Two Masks of Hanako, bet. 1907-8, Bronze (topmost), Bottom-most: material unknown — plaster?
Rodin couldn’t make enough busts of Japanese dancer Ohta Hisa [1868-1945], otherwise known as Hanako. Purportedly he made more sculptures of her than any other sitter. His perseverance is our gain, since, if these two masks are any indication, his complex subject inspired Rodin to a rare degree of striving to — & I don’t say this lightly, being a huge Rodin fan and well acquainted with his diligence and commitment to his work — beautifully carve essence and emotion into existence. Isn’t that topmost piece a stunner? The Pride, the trouble around the brow, the full sensuous mouth, the fold under the left eye, the serenity, the fleeting pathos passing across her countenance. The youth in her, the wisdom of age in her. So much passes through and across these features. And the second-most piece, well, christ, what to say about that. The seized up visage of an immolated martyr, revenge-murderer, possessed sorceress, orgasm-peaking lover.
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Next up is, well, just fucking watch it, at least to the :50 second mark if you could, more if possible:
Daisuke Nakamura Vs Bogdan Cristea M-1 Challenge 5 – Japan, courtesy of HDNET fights, July 17, 2008
So what’s this? Yus yus, first time I’m posting about the combat arts. I’ve become a big mixed martial arts (aka MMA) fan in the past year or so, and these two practitioners of the art, Daisuke Nakamura and Bogdan Cristea, exemplify here one part of what makes this sport capable of beautiful displays of breathtaking skill — the submission art of Brasilian jiu jitsu. MMA bouts can thrill with all kinds of explosive striking, spinning back kicks and bulldozer uppercuts — many matches offer little else besides that — but what really hooked me about this sport wasn’t haymakers and flying knees (as fun as those are) but rather the jiu jitsu, the part-improvised body-strategy involved in trying to apply submissions/holds and, with equal improvisation-ready strategy, evade them. Watch both fighters deftly, rapidly transition from submission attempt to submission attempt, attempting to execute hold after hold against his foe only to have his opponent escape. All this fluid tangle, blink-and-miss-it give and take, it’s like listening to two skilled debaters or conversationalists interweave ideas and theses and & tropes & innuendoes & argument-sealing rejoinders, just leaves you breathless. The 1:40 mark and on is particularly lovely, with Nakamura rolling his opponent in an attempt to execute an armbar. If you’re interested in this kind of thing, you owe it to yourself to watch the whole damned fight — I guarantee you’ve rarely if ever seen a ground scrap this heated.
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Joey fucking Diaz. I’m a huge fan of this comedian, love his filthy, honest lunatic stories delivered with loud sputtering gusto, while he, wide-eyed in wonderment as if surprised and overtaken by the sheer brute force of his delivery and presence, always seems on the verge of some kind of blaze-of-glory combustion (example here, from his many appearances on Joe Rogan’s podcast). He gets you laughing not so much because of clever cracks or jokes but by dint of his convulsive fucking bazooka personality — it’s just his force of will that gets you guffawing in shock & mild trepidation at where the hell the guy is going to go next. He’s fearless and completely in touch with his core when he’s entertaining in a way that’s rare — he’s performing but not really, more just tapping into the current of himself for better or for worse and turning the amps up to 12. But what makes all this even more impressive for me is how, by contrast, Diaz will mix things up (unconsciously or not) with these moments where he’s vulnerable, where he’s disarmingly hushed in some moment of unaffected appreciation for the world, for women, for psychoactive drug experience, for friendship, whatever; or where he’s candid about what most would consider very private details of his life; or where he’s nakedly direct about his flaws and serious moral miss-steps. This is the Diaz that has deepened my appreciation of him as an explosively talented artist & narrator & performer, and this is the Diaz that you’ll find in one of his most recent posts, a post that moved the hell out of me with its simple plainspoken immediacy and confessorial power. Find it here, and I’ll quote part of it below:
We all have interesting lives because from time to time we struggle with life or our personal demons, how we overcome them and continue to live gives us that second chance. What many people don’t know about me is that I was married and had a child after I got out of prison and before I got into comedy. After a while my true colors started to show and like everything else in my life at the time, the marriage fell apart. It was fine, we had both made a mistake but their was a child involved. I made a simple deal with her because I wanted to stay in the childs life. After a few months, she got a boyfriend, I started fucking around and before you knew it we had a situation.
The drama escalated and I ended smacking the guy, she took me to court but in the end the only one who suffered was my little girl in the car that day that witnessed the whole thing at the age of 4. I noticed her crying and it hit me, I had seen this type of behavior as a child and between you and I it didn’t do a fucking thing for me. Between that situations and many others I decided that for everyones sake I would move to Seattle for a while to give the situation air before it got worst.
I would visit every few months but after a while I started to lose her, between me being away and whatever the Mother was telling her, it was starting to show, now I have nothing because we haven’t spoken in years.
Now thats a great story and all, and I had a great time smacking the guy and acting like a fucking fool but the truth was…..I failed as a Father, period. For years it was my own little secret, but once I came to terms with that, it made my life a lot easier.
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Who dat? John C. Bogle, founder of investment management company Vanguard. What’s he got to say? This spot-on shit:
“Too much money is aimed at short-term speculation — the seeking of quick profit with little concern for the future. The financial system has been wounded by a flood of so-called innovations that merely promote hyper-rapid trading, market timing and shortsighted corporate maneuvering. Individual investors are being shortchanged, he writes.
Corporate money is flooding into political campaigns. The American retirement system faces a train wreck. America’s fundamental values are threatened. Mr. Bogle remains a dyed-in-the-wool capitalist but says the system has “gotten out of balance,” threatening our entire society. “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing — after they’ve tried everything else,” he says, quoting Winston Churchill. Now, he says, it’s time to try something else.
He advocates taxes to discourage short-term speculation. He wants limits on leverage, transparency for financial derivatives, stricter punishments for financial crimes and, perhaps most urgently, a unified fiduciary standard for all money managers: “A fiduciary standard means, basically, put the interests of the client first. No excuses. Period.”
I guess you could look at this as a Vanguard plug. But whether it is or isn’t — and it’s probably at least some of one — it’s such a great concise summary of the lobster tank we’re all clacking around in folks, while the amuse bouches & celery foam & ostrich-beack canapés get passed around on crystal dishes and $20-a-glass prosecco’s sipped by wan brain-flecked vampire mouths. And I like the Bogle quote not just because of how it sums up the predacious and short-term way our financial overlords have seen fit to shark around and devour the middle and lower classes with subprime mortgages (and, now, the ugly scourge of for-profit colleges) — but how it applies to what’s happening to all of us, financially or otherwise: Collective anxiety and helplessness in the face of so many rapidly changing technologies, so many changing ways of life, so many threats (imagined or otherwise; fear-mongered & fed to us or otherwise) looming from within and from without, so many sources of hopelessness and dread have eroded at our collective intrinsic moral fiber. It’s like this: when you’re locked up in a train car with thirty other confused scared people and you think you’re headed to the killing fields, most people are going to break down and go into survival mode. Community begins to break down as higher-functioning aspirational society-building impulses are replaced by desperate amphibian hoarding, tribalism, pecking order, rule of might and me-first scrambles. As it happens in the micro, so it can happen with nations. It doesn’t have to be this way — people can band together and collectivize to ward off a common enemy and thereby escape, or cripple, or hijack that killing-field-bound train. But first I believe there’s an inevitable phase of short-term-minded thinking and acting, panicked mad scurry; of pre-Y2K bunker building, generator buying, canned food stockpiling, and, yes, rapacious operations visited upon us from on high by those cloud-wreathed oligarchs already far removed from the consequences of their dehumanized 21st floor boardroom actions and requiring little force to nudge them toward full-scale Après-moi-le-déluge cruelty. I hope desperately that we emerge from this phase and realize that we cannot allow ourselves to descend to myopic amorality even if our corporate oligarchy has (& shows no signs of stopping doing so); that we’ll just hasten our own slavery by doing so. Our only chance is to think long term, believe and act as if the world will be around for centuries and is worth fighting for and saving & upholding culturally environmentally and in all respects that we hold dear (even if data seems to support the opposite conclusion), and never forget that our fellow human beings are worth sacrificing our desires and comforts for at every possible opportunity. An isolated, suspicious populace attacking itself while in the grip of end-of-the-world dread is the best friend of those who seek absolute control.
Keisuke Mizuno (b. 1969 in Nagoya, Japan) Forbidden Fruit with Leaf, 1998, glazed porcelain
I unfortunately associate porcelain with sentimental Hummel figurines and cheap holiday ware. To see the material in the service of something this decidedly un-Hummel is a real treat. Of note right away is the outstanding craftsmanship: check the detail of the fruit’s chewed pulpy fibers; the intricate texture of the fruit’s stem. But it’s the tone and theme of this piece that really hits me: the beautiful despoiling, the raw viscera of our eating eaten world, the neverending cycles of consumption-destruction in nature (and, by extension, in us). Perfect forms of beauty spoiled: by necessity, impartially, forever. Watch those glistening slugs feasting on fruit scales. And that alarming exposed kernel of child tucked away on the inside, skulled and dead (zoom in to see), either already killed from the devouring of its eggfruit, or maybe gone from the start and not the prize the slugs thought it would be (notice the slug nearest the child turned away, its eyepods facing the viewer). But the slugs are in for a surprise perhaps? — check out the the hint of reddish nubbed pulpy backside of the redveined leaf. Feels almost like the whole leaf is itself flesh, calling to mind certain varieties of carnivorous plant, and like it could fold up its meaty lobes at any moment and eat the eaters & eaten. Without malice, without triumph. Just automatic innate drive to absorb, draw life essence from, excrete.
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