Oh! art Oh! Part 1
Oh art oh was written in 2009. Everything that we wrote back then still stands now on its own two feet and in waiting. We heard the other day that the movement is spreading, folks are saying yes and understanding what is now expected. Old marat is well pleased and happy to be still alive and kicking to see the day. 8/2011
You should know where we stand.
This is an art study not a call for violence against any thing or any one. That action is as Gert Stein would say, “each one as they may.” Nor is it a call for anyone to go against their nature and stop making art that looks nice in your homes. We are not asking for the death of what you think of as art, because it is all ready dead. Far better people than we have tried that and the system or someone has always grabbed what they did and made it art to be bought and sold.
And here we do too.
We would like people to stop in their tracks and put on their thinking cap and try like the dickens to move away from licking the ass of the ruling class and the system they uphold. This just may be only one way to go about the task, and asks much of those who work in the arts. We know killing the ego is a hard job but it is worth more than gold.
OH! art OH! Part 1.
What do Peter Brant, Melva Buckbaum, Raymond Learsy, Agnes Gund, Christine & Andrew Hall, Ronnie and Samuel Heyman, and Reba and Dave Williams all of Connecticut have in common? They are all highly placed collectors of art and all uphold the capitalist system. Big mommies and daddies playing pawns in the Captialist game. Let’s not forget the billionaire hedge fund manager Steven Cohen who is so avant garde as far as art is concerned that he hangs the Van Gogh’s and Gauguin’s that he purchased alongside his Warhols, DeKoonings and Lichtensteins. The more contemporary works that he owns such as Hirst’s shark in a tank are kept in his office. (1) Lovely, a good place to start as we try to understand sanctioned art and art that isn’t, art that flies with the rich and art that doesn’t, art that scares no one, art that scares the shit out of men, women and children, art that ruffles no feathers, and doesn’t trouble the horses. Art that builds the collectors prestige and glorifies the existing power structure or art that rips them all apart. What will it be?
Now let’s ask what do Moe Pyne, Mary Mary, Smith and Weston, Miss May Day have in common? They fight against the capitalist and their upholders whenever and however they can. Each taking the role that comes down the road and presents itself to them. Let’s call them the Gang of 5. Now this gang does not make pretty pictures to move you from one spot to the next, make you think that you could take a walk near the oil painted stream, they do not make “art” that is framed oh so nice and looks good over your sofa, doesn’t clash with your drapes. They do not make ”art” so the upholders of a system that they don’t believe in can gloat, grow a big head, think they are so much groovier than the next, and think that they are doing a great service by supporting those who they, the art critics, the galleries and such consider to be the artists, nor do they take a bow to those that the Capitalist have anointed, and never will they play kiss kiss with the people who come into the neighborhood and gentrify the place. You know them, the ones who dress in black, act groovy, kiss kiss in the air in Chelsea, and have the smell of green running under their skin.
These ones who think real change can come via a provocative painting on the wall. Hear what Miss May Day has to say, “BULLSHIT!” If that were the case there would be no war as Guernica has been hanging out on a wall for years. The powers that be tell us that the Guernica is modern art’s most powerful anti-war statement but still war goes on. There is even a tapestry copy of the work hanging in the United Nations. You know the place were the wonderful representatives of the world leaders gather to sit under their fig trees and pet their lambs. There have been photo’s of headless bodies in art shows and then some, enough to scare the daylights out of the strongest person, and still the power heads expand wars and supporters wave their flags and shout let’s go. People place their hopes with these leaders,vote them into office and all they get is more of the same. Death, death, death, war, war, war, screaming mothers and crying fathers, orphans galore. Show me a place, a time, an anything where art that speaks within the definition of what is called art has done anything to change this. To change the most basic way from ugly to beautiful. It doesn’t so lets stop pretending it does. Yeah, maybe that saying that some paintings can move us to action works once or twice but never enough to make us really move, to make a lot of us to do something about something and stop it. Because the language of art hadn’t changed nor has what most artists expect from their art and many times are granted by the powers, by the non-profits, the museums, the galleries, the collectors, and even the alternative spaces that start out saying change but end up being acceptable and participating in the buying, selling, the kiss, kiss, and all the other crapola of living inside the system of art.
The Guernica, 1937, Pablo Picasso
So if I as a artist makes art to be bought and sold by the rich and powerful I am in turn propping up the Capitalist system and all the little hunky dories who support it? I am the problem. Not a part of it, but the problem. I am giving to those who already have more and this more is at the expense of others. I am giving them something that they do not deserve. I am going to yell at myself to get a real job if this ever happens to me. A friend of mine who worked at an art museum as a Security Officer said to me one day, “I don’t know how any of you guys can stand around up in the galleries as all those paintings up there just hang there and do nothing.” “That stuff on the walls mean nothing to me as a black woman.”
Our gang of 5 here wants to do a little talk on where oh where can the art we see be. This essay is not only food for thought but also will accept as many add ons as any of our readers may wants to entertain. Its yours for the thinking. Run with it.
Richard and Moe Pyne says let’s start close to home with a few thoughts that the gang has been talking about. Now this is on the low end of sanctioned art but important never-the-less. Our talking began when we read about a clean up for an area along with the painting of a mural on Capitol Ave in Hartford Ct. Instead of wasting ink or cramping my hand why don’t you dear reader just click HERE and fly on over to Hartford IMC and read all about it. Also click HERE for more and an update. Be sure to include the comments as that is where the most fun is. Moe knows this area very well having lived up the block on Capitol Ave most of his life. This was the place where Moe painted his art. (in part 2 expect to see some of this art that has been hidden in the area and has made it through all the repainting.) Kids still come around here to mark the spot with their art. But we know the deal. Yup, get one piece of art done and then along comes the man with his paint and paints right over our work. “This is not the kind of art that we like, art that we say is art,” says the man. ”It may be gang related with its signs and symbols,” says dog eared woman. “It is ugly and has no redeeming social value, it looks like litter,” says the social critic. “We don’t want those who come riding into town along Capitol Ave to get the impression that we are sanctioning graffiti,” says holy cow. All the while the weeds grow tall in front of city hall, the mayor and his buddies are arrested, trash clogs the lake in a city park, garbage overflows from city garbage cans, ticks have a field day in the overgrown city parks, dead trees wait to fall on someone’s head as they stroll a park, and no one has any money except for those connected to city government.
I got to agree with Moe. Give me the kids art any day. Give me a piece of hit and run art. What makes this writer resentful is that instead of sending out the message to the kids who do this type of art, “Come on down to under the railroad bridge.” ”Bring along your paints.” This area is now a free area a safe zone.” “Show us your art,” the man, the powers that be, think they should be under the bridge doing their art thing, regardless if they were wanted or not. But I would rather see the young.
But “no,” says those in charge, the man, Mr. as liberal as we may be, “no,” let’s get a real artist to paint a moving meaningful mural that will inspire the high schoolers who walk through that area to stay in school. Let’s rename the area the “Corridor of Hope.” Let’s come into the area and clean it up, plant some flowers. That way the kids won’t be scared to walk there. Oh yeah the outsiders know the area so well. They know that there are trolls and monsters waiting to jump out and pounce on the boys and girls, eating them skin and bone. As if a few lilies and a mural with keys and funny hats painted on it will do the job. Now all of your dear readers know as well as the gang of 5 do that the man won’t come and paint over this mural. It has the blessing of the powers that be and their underdogs. I bet says Miss May Day that the cleaners that came to clean, and the painters that came to paint all now pat themselves and circle jerk to, “We have saved a blighted area.” “The scary monsters are dead.” “We have prettied up one wall, art lives, long live art.” See kids before you pick up your spray can of paint take a look, “This is how a real artist paints.” All it says to us is the man, the man, the man. Hear yea, hear yea this, listen to what the man say. His word is good as golden in this matter. He’s cool.
Some sanctioned art on Capitol Ave. The man says yes as this is hope for our students that pass under the bridge everyday. We say bull shit.
Punkpink was pissed. A friend of his was pissed. Pinks boyfriend Goosey Bell was pissed. Little Eva and Big Joe were pissed. Many others who passed under the railroad bridge were pissed. The cleaners wanting to do a super job in, I will bet you this is an area they don’t really know and I will prove it, took away what some referred to fondly as our bridge. Now this bridge was nothing but an old plank but this old plank severed a purpose. It kept us up and out of the slimey greasy water that flowed out from under the railroad embankment. Nobody would want to get the soles of their shoes in that muck fearing that not only the soles would come off but one might drag something indoors that didn’t even belong outdoors. So the doo-gooders took away the bridge. We asked in blogs nicely a few times, “BRING BACK OUR FUCKING BRIDGE.” But of course they didn’t. They probably didn’t know what we were talking about as they, let me bet here, they never walked on that sidewalk and never had to dodge the slimey water. Come on baby, don’t know the area ,clean it up to your standards and go home and leave the people who walk there in slimey muck. Oh “tank” you doo-gooders you are so nice to the neighborhood.
Now we are not complaining if someone likes to do a job cleaning. That’s nice as we have too much to do already and with no health insurance wouldn’t go out and clean up the messes that are around this town if you paid me. Well maybe if you paid me. That would be nice. Let’s play the man who pays for art just this once and the artists who get a bit of money, (under the table please) for doing some art. We have been introduced to making dirty clean in other essays. Nothing hard about that. We said at that time, it’s the flip of making clean dirty by mucking up a beautiful white canvas with your oil paints June. So here we go. People of the neighborhood need work. In this city the unemployment rate is at 19.1%, the poverty rate is 30.6% and 26% of our people make less than $10,000. So maybe if some of these non-profits got it together, convince our big time collectors to give us some money, and then get busy hiring the people to make some of the type of art that benefits us all, that uplifts us, that says we are really pretty. I bet $10.00 that even if any of our people from around here never walked under the bridge that they would know that the plank was a bridge over slimey water. 1 and 1 is indeed 2, bird brains.
Well Punkpink found a new plank and placed it over the slimey muddy water crossed it a few times, with a tip of a hat said, “There.” Informing all who come in from La La Land, “The Bridge is Back. Leave it alone. Pass it on.” Now let me ask ,do you get all the stories that are storied up in that little story. Can you dear readers add anything. Will you? I have lived in so many areas in my life that have come under the the heavy hand of gentrification and the clean up crews. Just look at what the pigs did to the Bowery. They took away the area’s soul and turned it into a big real estate game. The same with SoHo. Artist loft is now a real estate term. They push and push the people out where ever they go and then finally someday they too who can’t hold it all up get pushed out.
$Art $ Is $ Big $ Business$ (just one example)
We have heard over the years and over and over that art is a business. That the arts brings in the tourists and the tourists leave their money and with that money we can support the arts to make more art. But more times than not business in the arts doesn’t want to just leave its money. They want more. How about a board of directors seat Joe? Get to name the new director. I pull the strings now. Look what happened at the old dust bin the Wadsworth Atheneum, called Americas oldest art museum a few years back. Some one didn’t give George David, ex CEO of that murderous United Technologies what he wanted and out he stormed taking all of his money with him and out with him stormed all his under my thumb rich ladies and gents leaving the old bag of bones dust bin shaken. Business performed well that day for the arts. What a performance piece. Jump up and down have a tantrum little boys and girls. Now that man, that Mr. David has far too much money but is as greedy as they come. Not so much when he can get to be the chairman of the board and continues to get what he wants. David abruptly quit the Board of Trustees in December 2002, taking five more board members with him, including three with New York connections, and the wife of artist Sol Le Witt, over what he reportedly considered to be the lukewarm support for an architectural Dutch design in the makeover of the place. He had personally donated $5 million to the museum over the years. (2) Money, money makes the art go round.
Those of us in the Justice for Janitors movement had it out with Mr. George David a few years back. It was negotiation time and he threatened to fire all the union janitors and made a statement that, “some people make it and some do not.” Giving pennies to the people compared to what he was making as the head dog. At the same time he was one of the sponsors of a Impressionist picture show at the Wadsworth Atheneum. We embarrassed the fucker by going to the opening party with our signs and leaflets. In the end with pressure on and a massive sit in at Main and Pearl with hundreds of janitors and supporters he and all the other powers that be knew we were serious. Damn right we were serious for who else would sit down in the middle of the street on a cold rainy October Day. Damn right they knew we meant business as hundreds of supporters brave the rain and stood on the sidewalk. We really messed up rush hour. We put a little real art into the picture. Well the city hall powers called out the riot police. Ha, riot police all dressed up in their riot police outfits standing against immigrant cleaning women and men, black, brown and white together that is us. Power in the union as the song goes. Guess they were afraid of our mops and brooms our yelling in many languages. Oh the art of persuasion. But the fun part is many people from the offices came out and stood with us. People clapped from their windows. People at the bus stop joined in.
The riot police blocked the door at United Technologies stopping anyone from going in and sending those who wanted to go out around the back. Doing a job for us that we couldn’t have dreamed of. For those hours or two the art of revolution was in the streets. The cherry on the top was the janitors won. My partner, friend Mary, and John were arrested. When everyone was released later that evening we all had chicken soup, nice homemade buns, took hot showers, and hoped that no one would come down with a wicked cold. So you see business may perform for the arts but when it come to those who clean up their daily shit, well fuck the people they say. Well we don’t want them to fuck us, and we know time after time that unless the people take to the street and stand up tall and denounce the fuckers any way that they can we will be cleaning up their daily shit for the crumbs they care to toss our way. Living life like revolutionary artists, real artists. Shake that mop and broom. Bang your cans chant, chant, chant. Music to my ears. Did I just hear the song Pharaoh’s Army Got Drowned? Well if I didn’t I can sign on the line that oh yes it did, giving hope to us all as a great cheer went up.
Ken Kahn, executive director of the Greater Hartford Arts Council, says he has 5,357,900 questions about what’s going on” at the Wadsworth, because that’s how many dollars the council has donated to the museum since 1972 — the most received by any cultural institution or program in Hartford. (2) Hows that for business performs for the arts? I don’t know about you but did you ever meet a member of the Greater Hartford Arts Council. Leave a lot of art to be desired.
One thing that I think we must all be careful of becoming is the artist of this statement from Michel Ragon, “The Artists and Society.” from Art and Confrontation. Ragon has this to say, “If only the artist can realize that most of his output stamps him as a man of the past, an anachronism,this will be a great step forward. All he will have to do is find out how he can become a man of the future. Or simply a man of the present which would be an improvement.”(3)
Here is a short excerpt from the New York Times 9/1/2009. The article was about Pop Up Galleries in England. These are galleries put together by artists to show their works in closed down store fronts. A Mr. Tarrant who opened up Queen’s Elm Artists space had this to say. “Even in more affluent precincts though exposure does not necessarily translate into sales at least in these recessionary times. This is disappointing as only 10 of the 70 or so works in the groups first show have been sold.” (4) You see it is never enough to have people just look, things must be sold, with out the red tag your existence as a artist is called into question.
Don your thinking caps baby we want to shake out that old crap.
Now where can we go from there. How about a bit of those who think about such things that don’t hang on walls look pretty, and never clash with your drapes. How about some radical, revolutionary art, that never goes out of style no matter what the culturally acceptable counter culture says. Damn, those boys and girls. Those are the ones we talked about above. The ones dressed all in black with green in their veins. Those are the ones who promote the “new” as long as its makes them some money, or they are looked upon as groovy, the in crowd, the ain’t we got style bunch. The draw inside the lines crowd.
Let’s begin with this a quote from Raymond Moulin, “ Revolution like life, is an art, and it is up to each of us to live it like an artist. To elevate the paving-stone into a work of art, as some actually did, is to place oneself in the tradition of Marcel Duchamp rather than that of Lenin. To conceive revolution as a liberating festivity, as a sort of gigantic happening, demanding the participation of everyone and snatching the actors from the passivity and glumness of commonplace, is to be an artist practicing the art of changing the world, by changing life and this is fairly far removed form the classic Marxist model.” (5)
Andre Fermigier added, “The most beautiful sculpture in the world is the paving-stone, the heavy paving stone thrown in a policeman’s face.” (6) When that action happens even Marcel Duchamp is left behind and the art of now, of revolt, of the present takes over. No longer just to throw a pie into the face of the bourgeois but to force them to move past all of their assumptions of art, society, safety, perception and to sweep them up into a new vision.
I don’t think that we need to say much more than the above two quotes for an understanding of about where we sit in all of this. But we do have a bit more to say anyway and we need to say what we need to say and hope what we say will register in the brains of one million and maybe more. What was that old saying about a million flowers blooming. Well we need a million minds to bloom.
Always another question and maybe you can help us with the answer.
But can we claim actions that do not claim themselves to be art as art if we see it as art? Let’s think here about the young person recently arrested in Denver Colorado for smashing the windows of the Demonrat’s headquarters. She took a hammer or so its is claimed and broke everyone of the windows. I will say again or so it is claimed broke all the windows. Well regardless when politicks, and action mix we can many times have art. If one thousand people disagree with us we will answer, “We don’t give a shit.” We are aware about this because we know what happened in Paris during the riots, in Greece a few years back, in Seattle, in the Twin Cities, in Denver. These urban plays of guerrilla theater street actions performed by students,and many others became high priority actions in art of today. They live they breath, they try like hell to change something. Living breathing art, not of the past, not hung on your walls, not propping up some rich bitch, but there in the streets, unfolding in front of our eyes, screaming towards the new day. Art that exists only at its inception in its screaming, its howling, its bleeding. It exists in its revolutionary present this type of art and in its fury we know it and become then the new artist.
Maybe it would be nice to have a bit of an art show here. (this art show is shown in the old way) We will have to call it “ My kind of art show. Left overs” Of course the art of the matter happened or may happen and some are a real gonner. These are just a few pictures and thoughts to look at. Part 2 of our Oh Art Oh, essay will contain a large visual section called, “Thinking Pictures.” The first picture to get us started is of some lovely bricks. Now no one knows what role these bricks played or if they had any role in anything but they are pretty and useful for many things. Build a wall, let a pig take some to build a house, make a fine pathway oh so many many ways to use a brick. Can you list any more ways.
“Bricks on a hot Summer Day, just waiting to be used.”
“Paving stones fly through the air with ease.”
Pelting the National Guard with Paving Stones, Great railroad Strike, 1877.
After the fact window. Like The Lines. Like the color
A street of cars that are no longer working, Paris 1968
Burn baby burn.
Now I don’t know about this one. But we did read that the “green” is smelly and full of germs and maybe it does need to be purified a bit. I remember years ago when the Bank of America was burned out in California. A poet wrote, “The bank burned on the corner was a real testament to our times worth more than all of our marching feet, our leaflets, our cries.” (7) Now this blog will never call for anyone to do any types of violence nor would we ever ask you too participate in anything that the CIA or FBI could come around and get your for. You know how they are. The right wing nuts, the Nazi bitches the Limbaughs of the world can get away with saying what they want. They can even carry guns to a meeting of the president but us over here in what ever land we want to say we dwell in, make a peep and here they come. Full force fascists down the road to your home. Take him away he is against money, apple pie, motherhood (hey hey, hey, I sure am against the pollution of making more people who are in turn killing the planet.)
Now we wait, we write, we think and hope we can get others to see things just a bit differently. It is hard being out on a limb that is creaking in the nasty wind. Take off those fucking ear muffs, unplug your mind.
One window, Denver Colorado 2009
In tribute to Ariel Atttack, our comrade.
Here is a few examples of how those who control art have stolen symbols of the May 3 Riots in Paris. These posters were posted in the streets, and made to be given away. They were free and the movement was. Well some collectors and some gallery owners said, “Hey, let’s make a buck on the revolution and now offer these posters for sale and put them on exhibition. To us the posters now have lost their revolutionary value and have become dead art or merely revolutionary art of the past. But we can say that those who collect, those who are responsible for keeping us all down those who send our children to war, those who make so many of of us miserable, those who take, take take, have no right to own anything of ours. You get the picture I hope.
The museums in New York took these wonderful posters and hung them on their walls. MOMA exhibition, November 1968 and The Jewish Museum December, 1968. “According to Ursula Meyer the revolutionary posters of the Paris Riots were designed to be given away freely then became collector items. Thereafter the more popular posters were commercially printed and sold inexpensively. In either case, the posters ceased to be free and ceased to be revolutionary.” (8)
(1) The Hartford Courant, 8/27/2009, “Connecticut Art Collectors.”
(2) Hartford Advocate, Daniel D’ Ambrosio, Hard Times At The Atheneum. (The arts council gets most of their money from corporate donations.)
(3) Michel Ragon, “The Artists and Society,” from Art and Confrontation, p28
(4) Julia Werdigier, ”Pop! An Empty Shop Fills With Art.” New York Times, 9/1/09 pC1
(5) Raymonde Moulin, “Living Without Selling,” from Art and Confrontation, ed. By New York Graphic Society, NY,NY, 1970. p.133.
(6) Andre fermigier, “No More Claudels,” from Art and Confrontation, p. 62.
(7) punkpink, “In Dreaming the Same As If Asleep.”
(8) Ursula Meyer, “The Eruption of Anti-Art,” from, Idea Art, Ed. Gregory Battcock, Dutton.
(Read about the Guernica here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guernica_(painting)
For an excellant review on the painting of the mural and the Capitol Ave area click over to Kerri’s blog, Real Hartford and read, Hope They Remove The Toliet.
Be on the look out for Part 2 of Oh, Art, Oh. We don’t know when but we do know it twill be.