Thursday, May 27, 2010

Where they are is who you were.

c. David Grim (taken 7/4/08)

Sometimes it's strange to think about how people move in and out of my life. Most of us have "stable" family units to which we'll be connected most of our lives. It doesn't necessarily mean that we we'll live with them, or even see them that often, but we will likely be somehow in contact with them for years. No doubt we'll have some idea what they are up to- where they live, what job they have, and what leisure activities they are enjoying.

After that it's pretty much a crap shoot. Many folks have friends at work, and if they stay at the same place of employment for awhile, their co-workers will form a part of their "consistent" circle/community. Still, we live in an era marked by lateral mobility, and people are perhaps a bit leery about investing too much in their workplace.

We go through stages of our lives, and what we involve ourselves in when we have the choice often dictates the type of people that we will be around, and who we choose as friends. If I go out to the bars a lot, I'm likely to hang out with drinkers. But when I focus on hanging out with my kid, I'm generally going to lose touch with the barflies. It's a shame too, because a sense of continuity offered by interacting with the same friends on a regular basis helps provide clues about who we are. If we change things up drastically, we risk becoming isolated and adrift. There are definitely people that I miss touching base with, and I suspect that there's also a corresponding part of myself that is lying dormant as a result.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wyoming Tea Party.

c. David Grim (taken 5/26/08)

Want to do an interesting little experiment? Google "Wyoming Tea Party". You'll receive thousands of hits regarding the modern-day tax protesters that seem to dominate mainstream media outlets, despite their rather modest numbers. This will likely surprise no one who's been paying attention to national politics during the Obama era. What I find interesting is that a movement that often seems so ill informed about history and modern governance should have been able to completely supplant the legacy of a previous Wyoming Tea party.

Esther Hobart Morris was a tough-as-nails frontierswoman (and first female justice of the peace anywhere on Earth) who held her own exclusive tea party, inviting among the other guests two candidates for the Wyoming territorial legislature who promised her to back women's suffrage if they were elected. The vote was officially given to the fairer sex when the governor signed off on the legislation in 1869. Seventy-year-old Louisa Ann Swain became the first woman ever to cast a vote in a public election.

Interestingly some historians have speculated that this official recognition of women's rights was inspired by the dearth of females in the West. Surely a move to enfranchise women would be an enticement to those living in the East, a region that had a glut of eligible ladies after the long and bloody Civil War. But even if the motivation for this historic empowerment was sex, it shouldn't tarnish the accomplishment of a wily older chick who acquired for her sisters unprecedented power. It's just too bad the legacy of these early Wyoming settlers has been eclipsed by a simple GOP-backed opposition group.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Briefest Blackout.

c. David Grim (taken 11/24/07)

For a brief moment there, my electricity was out. There's nothing especially severe about the weather. It's not raining, thundering or flashing lightning. In fact there's a bright blue sky, punctuated by billowy white clouds. Sure it's a little hot, but that wouldn't explain the loss of power.

I always suspect that it's just the building I live in that has its lights out. Maybe I have a bit of a persecution complex... I don't know. But this time I knew the entire street had the same problem, as I was on a walk when I overheard people complaining about it. I wondered if my apartment would somehow be spared, but my hope was deflated when I saw that the traffic light out front was blank.

Anyone remember the great black out in NYC and down the East Coast in the late 70's? Apparently people went nuts, and I think it coincided with the Berkowitz (i.e. Son of Sam) killings. I wonder how long the lights would have to be out before people in the 'Burgh started marauding through the streets. I imagine everyone would be getting too drunk to do much of anything besides puke in public. I love this city.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Jimmy Baca and the Post-Convict Way.

c. David Grim (taken 7/14/08)

Anyone who saw my solo show at Imagebox last year can tell you that I'm interested in prisons as a sociological phenomena. I've visited and photographed several abandoned facilities (the above image was shot at Eastern penitentiary in Philly), and I've read plenty of accounts written by prisoners and guards documenting prison life. I HAVE NOT actually ever been in an operating detention center, and for that fact I consider myself very lucky. From everything I've read, I'd have a difficult time doing what I needed to do to preserve my own well-being.

So the latest work I've read along these lines is Jimmy Santiago Baca's "A Place to Stand" (2001). If you want to find a truly inspiring story of someone who actually overcame (and possibly even benefited from) a stint in the joint, Baca is your man. He is an internationally renowned, prize-winning poet who devotes his time to running programs aimed at spreading literacy. He's truly an amazing figure, with a harrowing story.

His memoir contains plenty of insight into his childhood, and the events that led to his incarceration. He was present during a shoot-out at a heroin sting during which a federal agent was shot and seriously wounded. When he entered the Florence Correctional Facility in Arizona, he couldn't read. But instead of continuing down his self-destructive path, he taught himself to appreciate and write poetry.

Some readers of "A Place to Stand" take issue with the perception that Baca blames everyone but himself for his early legal battles, but I believe these folks suffer from a peculiar form of myopia. I think that Baca did a fine job of contextualizing his experiences, and offers plenty of insight into the Mexican-American community, the US Justice System, and the convict way. If you come across a copy of the book, I suggest you read it and become better informed on some of the most pressing media controversies of our society.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Gritty and Violent World of Donald Ray Pollock.

c. David Grim (taken 6/10/07)

There's nothing as invigorating as a good ol' hillbilly tale. In an age when Donald Trump gets to fire people on his own "reality" television show, it's refreshing to hear stories about the type of folks that will never get a shot at being an "apprentice" in Manhattan, or anywhere else for that matter. Yes indeed there are people on the outskirts and in the hollers across the US who struggle through aimlessly, with little hope of improving their stations in life. They huff Bactine, snort Meth, and consume Black Beauties by the handful. They neglect their kids and beat their wives. And yes, some of us like to read accounts of these activities that feature no redemption.

It's easy to level the charge that readers of such sordid stories are exploitative. But if that's the case, everyone who takes in the merest hint of American entertainment can be accused of the same thing. Conflict is indivisible from all art and amusement. If it were not so, there wouldn't be so many damned sports fans. Some consumers have mannered tastes, and yet others want over-the-top degraded decadence. For the latter, there exists the gritty stylings of one Donald Ray Pollock.

"Knockemstiff" (2008) is a collection of almost-but-not-quite-related stories loosely-based on a town in Southern Ohio that really doesn't even exist anymore. Pollack was born in this place, and there are probably some details included that he has experienced firsthand. But the characters are so tragic and beyond all chance of self-improvement that one suspects the author of a fair amount of misanthropy. He certainly doesn't shy away from the ugly stuff. And to make a list of such phenomena would be spoiling the experience of reading "Knockemstiff".

Suffice it to say that you might want a scrub-down under hygenic conditions after you have completed this book. No doubt you will also come out of it feeling happy and blessed that you have managed to avoid so many of the pitfalls of these poor anti-heroes. If there's no other reason to pick "Knockemstiff" up other than schadenfreude, than so be it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Festa del Giglio, 2007.

c. David Grim (taken 7/8/07)

Ok. So what the hell is going on in this picture? It's the dance of the Giglio in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. And why are all these Italian dudes struggling in the heart of hipsterdom? Because of tradition, of course. Every year a big Catholic church in that part of town has a festival. You've probably been to something like it in your life- there's plenty of ethnic food, and people milling about, talking and drinking.

Except at this particular event over 100 guys strain to life a huge many-ton edifice, with a full band on a platform, and a statue of a saint many feet up in the air. They lift the thing up and turn it around amidst throngs of people.

Back in 2007, I was interested in capturing all kinds of sociological phenomena that people had seldom seen documented. The weirder an event or destination was, the better. I heard about this thing from the Pittsburgh gallery owner who was then housing much of my work. He lived in Queens, and so we went up that way for a few days and checked it out. I got lots of shots, intending to put some together for a mini-show. But somehow I never felt like what I took really conveyed the impact of the day.

Anyway I do think this image shows what kind of stress people will put themselves through for the sake of ceremony. I don't know if I think it's beautiful, or what. But it is interesting.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Down on Hatfield.

c. David Grim (taken 9/2/07)

It's a bit strange now to think about what Hatfield Street in Lawrenceville used to be like a few years ago. With the huge Heppenstall Plant eclipsing the sun for blocks on its northern side, the street often seemed like an urban valley. It's one of the lowest points in Larryville, and back in 2000 it had characteristics that added to the feeling of engaging the demimonde.

Only a decade ago you could score just about any drug and have your choice of many prostitutes just by walking out your door on Hatfield. Heppenstall was already abandoned by all life and industry, other than the many forms of vermin that inhabited it. It was a black hole in what was rapidly becoming a vibrant neighborhood.

A casual friend and I once scaled the wall and entered the complex for a lark. We explored its many buildings and crawled up on top of its roofs. There was some decent grafitti here and there, but for the most part it was simply filled with detritus. There wasn't much worth salvaging. I'm glad I went in though, because it was a memorable adventure with a guy that would die tragically a few years later.

Anyway the shots above were taken in 2007, toward the end of the demolition. Right now its just a brown field, and I'm not sure what's going to be built on the site. Unfortunately the view of the Allegheny River is still obstructed by industrial buildings. Who knows? Maybe there will be townhouses there some day.

Monday, May 17, 2010

System Restore (?)

c. David Grim (taken 8/11/07)

Over the weekend my laptop contracted a virulent infection and sent me for loop. I tried a system restore, but for some reason it just wouldn't work. The window for that option wouldn't even stay on my screen. So I did a full reformat to the factory condition, returning the machine to the condition it was in when I bought it. It took a long time to complete the process, and I lost everything that I had installed on my hard drive.

So while I was waiting for my computer to be ready to use again, I began to transfer some of my backload of images from my old desktop to my external hard drive. There are tens of thousands of shots, and naturally the speed of that outdated processor slows things to a crawl. What a pain in the ass. But at the same time it's kind of fascinating to see images from more than two years ago.

One of the things that went missing during the reformat was the folder in which I stored all of the images I have uploaded to this blog. This means I don't have any easy way to determine if an image I'm considering posting has already appeared here. No matter. For awhile I intend to start integrating some older images. In the meantime I'm also preparing to create (with the help of a friend) an official artist web page. When it's ready for prime time, I'll let you all know right here. Until then, i hope you enjoy some of my old stuff.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A good way to spend Sunday night.

c. David Grim (taken 8/19/08)

When I was a little kid, I used to love to play with Fisher Price Little People. As far as I was concerned there was nothing better. Sure, I had to share a little room in a two-story row-home with my older brother- but we has tons of toys. There was an oval carpet that sat beneath my brother's trundle bed while he slept. When we were awake we would race Matchbox and Hot Wheels along its concentric circles.

Still, my focus was on the many buildings we had for our Little People town. We had the Sesame Street set, a couple of fast food joints, some houses, a marketplace, the garage, etc. And all of those round-headed folks had their own personalities. We had a regular soap opera going, and I remember playing endlessly. And I also recall when my father gave it all away to my cousins. I was probably much too old to be playing with that stuff. But video games were still in their infancy, so i think I should get a pass.

Who knows what my son will look back on with nostalgia. I've already acquired a good amount of stuff for him to fool around with when he's over at Daddy's house. Tonight my girlfriend and I put together an ultra-cool Playmobile set. Man, who knew how cool those things were? What we assembled looks like some kind of weird jungle-based animal testing lab. There are tons of strange little accessories that came with the set. I can't wait to get into it with my E. We're going to have so much fun.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

"I Killed"- stories of comedians on the road.

c. David Grim (taken 8/19/08)

What I needed more than anything else the last couple of days was some laughter. I decided to step outside of my usual schedule of true crime, heavy drama, and Southern Gothic madness. I chose to read a book about comedians instead. I wouldn't say that I actually expected to laugh out loud while reading "I Killed"- a collection of very short tales from the road, edited by Mark Schiff and Ritch Shydner. But within the first fifty or so pages I did indeed chuckle to myself. Maybe some mirthful sounds even escaped my resolute mouth. I read in private, so there was no one to note that type of thing.

While I found its 288 pages sufficiently amusing, I didn't come close to pissing myself. Indeed there were quite a few bits that I found hokey or simply mysterious in their pretensions to humor. But that's par for the course with an anthology of anecdotes from a group of professionals whose job it is to entertain the masses. You can't reasonably be expected to find everything to your tastes.

And at the same time, there were moments of real sadness and wonder. If nothing else, "I Killed" gives the reader a fairly visceral look at American night life. You might be amazed at what people across the country consider fun for their off-work hours. There are plenty of easy women lining up to be exploited by the male comics, and plenty of misanthropy on hand to allow these men to be callous in their recounts. Indeed the reader can be forgiven who walks away from this title with a generally negative feeling about humanity.

Still, if you are already a bit of a cynic, you won't be shocked by much of the misbehavior you encounter in these pages. It certainly seem tough to get laughs out of audiences, day-in and day-out, through every conceivable mood and discomfort that the stand-up comedians suffer. Pity their lot if you will, but think twice before you decide to spend much time in their company or (God forbid) call one a friend. Because one thing is made patently clear- everyone is a target.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Isak Dinesen, "Seven Gothic Tales" (1934).

c. David Grim (taken 8/19/08)

Somewhere among the piles of books I've read over the last decade or so, I think there's an Isak Dinesen title. But I'm not 100% sure. That's strange, because after completing her first published work, "Seven Gothic Tales" (1934), I'd have to say she had an extremely vivid and unique voice. Her facility for establishing setting is occasionally overwhelming. I'm not typically that excited by voluminous description of the sky and trees, but she certainly has a penchant for it.

In fact when I first picked up this book I was expecting something altogether different. I thought there would be more creepy ghost stories and chilling encounters with the supernatural. Instead there are stories of wealthy European aristocrats located plumb in the middle of the 19th century. Her characters are intensely mannered, if not above some romantic shenanigans. It was a bit difficult for me to relate to the lifestyles of her creations, but at the same time her expository powers are evocative enough to keep me interested.

The other distinguishing feature of her writing is that she embeds story within story until the reader has to stop for a minute and remind himself where he's been. Everything does eventually come around, but only after accruing so many plot points that it's difficult to see the forest for the trees. That's a bit of a shame too, because there is some fairly complex symbolism to her work. Unfortunately I'm not at the right place in my life to give over too much time or energy sifting through it. I'm sure there have been plenty of graduate level papers written about her books.

Perhaps I'll return to Dinesen when I have more time to reflect on her meaning.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

An Answer? Neither Quick Nor Easy.

c. David Grim (taken 4/25/08)

Why do so many folks get themselves stuck in an all-or-nothing mentality? Ever since the eruption in the Gulf, I've seen internet chatter exposing the oversimplified positions of self-perceived combatants. On one hand, you have radical environmentalists who insist that we stop drilling for oil now and refuse to ever consider doing so again. On the other, you have those defenders of the status quo who seem to have difficulty accepting that alternatives to carbon-based fuels are possible, or even desirable. What's most ironic is so few in this category have an actual stake in the oil industry, besides on the consumer end.

The reality is that (at least for now) oil is a necessary evil. Until we get many new sources of alternative energy online, we are going to have to depend to some extent on crude. Likely we'll always need oil for the manufacturing process. Some amount of limited drilling can (I think) be done without causing widespread ecological devastation. Still, quite obviously, that's not what we are dealing with now.

When one new technology pops up, many are ready to embrace it as the be-all-end-all solution. But we need not ask new technologies to solve all of our problems immediately. At this point we shouldn't be excluding any option just because it's not meeting its possible maximized potential. The only way for this nation to remain relevant (and for the world to remain habitable) is for it to invest its still enormous resources into alternative energy. In the meantime, we'll just have to get our crude from elsewhere.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Swan of Elsinore,*

c. David Grim (taken 8/4/09)

I love you
Like a possibility.

I love the possibility
You represent.

Like Lilith
You refuse your
Earthly origin,

And to the extent
That you seduce the angels
Into providing your wings

Become an object
Of unobtainable desire
Beyond material

Perfect for the

-David Grim

*Apologies to Isak Dinesen

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Of Time, Food Poisoning, and the US Census 2000.

c. David Grim (taken 4/25/08)

It becomes more and more obvious to me with each passing year that time accelerates for the individual. The last ten years seem (in retrospect) to have passed in the same amount of time that I experienced from age 25 to age 30. I can only imagine what this phenomenon is going to feel like when I am in my 70's.

Ten years ago at this time of the year I was working for the United States government for the first (and so far only) time in my life. It was US Census 2000. I worked my way up to crew leader of the neighborhood I had recently moved into. It was a rapid ascent, encapsulated within the space of about 4-6 months. At the beginning of that particular journey, I had recently quit a gig working with adults with mental health AND mental retardation issues. I had stopped by the jobs center down the street from my new rented house, and quickly set an appointment to take a type of civil service exam.

The day I took the test couldn't have been more inauspicious. I ate lunch at an independently-owned hot dog shop of some repute (the place is notorious for its strong essence of body odor flowing out of its doors and down the sidewalk). I ended up an hour later with my first cramps. And then the stuff I ate began to come rapidly from both ends. Still I got a high enough score to be invited to work at the temporary downtown office, entering data into the still-unwieldy, publicly-financed desktop computers.

After a short stint at the enumeration job (which entailed driving around the city, trying to find addresses to deliver follow-up surveys), and an attempted car-jacking that I negotiated safely by flashing my US flag badge ominously from the interior of my GEO Metro, I took the manager's test and scored a supervisory position that I undertook from the second floor of a bar that has since become the Brillobox. Now I can see bands that I enjoy, or dance with hipsters, where I used to badger my poor employees to get everyone counted.

Anyway, I could have never foreseen the conditions of my life a decade later. And I'm sure the same thing applies to my future. I'd suggest that it's all going to be quite an interesting journey, but that fails in its vast quality of understatement.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Pittsburgh Art Events: 5/7-8/10.

c. David Grim (taken 4/6/08)


Regular readers of my round-ups will note the striking absence of performance from my listings. That's not indicative of any lack of respect for the stage arts, but rather due to my focus on the static and visual. Anyway, I wanted to note the "Vaudeville Circus" that the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts is having to benefit the Delta Foundation. There well be music and dance, and (of course) circus performances. It starts at 7PM and costs $10.

If film is your preference, you might want to check out the Silk Screen Asian-American Film Festival down at the William Penn Hotel (530 William Penn Place). Apparently you will be treated to food and "magical performances by some of the region's finest Asian artists". There's a nice-looking website here providing details.

Former co-owner of La Vie Gallery Thommy Conroy is having yet another solo show at the Mendelson Gallery (5874 Ellsworth Avenue) in Shadyside (6-8PM). The artist has strayed from the historical material of Lincoln and Booth and turned toward "New romance". Knowing Thommy, I'm sure the work will be both heartening and charming.

And by now you've realized that this is the first Friday of May, and that means the return of Unblurred on Penn Avenue. Last month saw tons of people out on the street with a carnival-like atmosphere. Graduating seniors from Cal U. mark what might be the very last show at Fast Forward Gallery (3700 Penn Ave). Meanwhile Masha Vereshchenko has been dreaming about sharks, and you can see the paintings resulting from such night-time visions at Modern Formations (4919 Penn Ave.). As always,there's tons of stuff happening during this event. Just make sure you get there early enough (around 7PM if possible) to take full advantage.

Apparently there's a new gallery in Bloomfield called The Shop (4312 Main St.). I got notice via Facebook of its opening (7-11PM) for a group show including Michael Mangiafico, Gwendolyn Korvick, Heather Joy Puskarich, and Ed Pinto. I'm pretty sure that longtime local curator Laurie Mancuso has something to do with this venue, so I'll plan to work in a visit during the night's wanderings.


There's a benefit for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) at the Irma Freeman Center For Imagination starting at 8PM. There will be art plus food, desserts, wine, beer and live music featuring Billy The Kid & The Regulators. It's a good cause and a nice gallery, so if you haven't been there before, make it a point to stop by (and bring $20 for a donation).

If you still have money after the many temptations to spend it this weekend, $10 will get you into the latest installment of the Gestures series at the Mattress Factory (500 Sampsonia Way). This one's guest curated by Katherine Talcott and includes Danny Bracken, Dee Briggs, Matthew Conboy & Heather Pinson, Ryder Henry, Mary Mazziotti, Connie Merriman, Ben Schachter, Paul Schifino, Tugboat Printshop: Paul Roden & Valerie Lueth, Robert Villamagna and Larkin Werner. It runs from 7-9PM.

And finally, former public school art teacher and long-time sculptor James Rettinger will be unveiling his latest series of foreboding assemblage at the Panza Gallery (115 Sedgwick Street in Millvale) from 6-9PM. Check it out!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

National Prayer Day Under Attack!

c. David Grim (taken 4/24/08)

Well, it looks like the nation is becoming embroiled yet again in a matter of national significance (as if the oil spill, bank regulation, mining disasters, and all the rest weren't sufficient to unhinge us). The annual National Prayer Day is being held tomorrow, but unlike in previous years... it appears to be under attack (just like Christmas every year!). In fact there has been a rash of activity on the Internet lamenting President Obama's decision to cancel the observance. It would appear that the breathless concerns of Christ-leaning conservatives across the land are being validated... except for one thing- it's not true.

Obama has already (just like last year) issued the customary presidential proclamation entreating the citizens to pray for their country. The only thing he has done differently than his predecessor is to quietly forgo making the day a "public event" with formal ceremonies. What crass disdain he shows toward the holy! How could the US have achieved all its great glory (and economic success) without God? How can anyone be so ungrateful?

The truth is that those who suggest that prayer is a private matter seem to have a point. I know because I checked a source that seems to hold some particular legitimacy on the issue, given America's heritage- "“But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly” (Matt. 6:6). Apparently there are still some Christians that fail to take the word of the Good Book literally.

Anyway, we could also consult the Constitution (specifically its very first amendment) in order to attain guidance in this matter. But really, why bother? Why not just let the ancient tradition (started by an act of Congress in 1952) continue? As far as I'm concerned, the little enough I am forced to hear about it does not exceed my tolerance. In fact I never even knew about National Prayer Day before yesterday. Count me among what I expect to be a large contingent of national bystanders witnessing this inane controversy.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Wait... Now Look Over Here!

c. David Grim (5/11/08)

It's a bit strange to think that a car bomb could have gone off in Times Square and killed a bunch of people, and yet the plan was (apparently) foiled by attentive New Yorkers. It's been almost nine years since "the day everything changed forever", and it seems surreal that we have been living on the edge of a precipice since then. There's no real way to know how many close calls we've had in the ensuing years. But I can tell you that 9-11 truly does seem like history to me now.

I suppose this (non) event was eclipsed by the oil spill, and that makes sense to me. An environmental catastrophe of an undetermined magnitude seems so much more elemental. But the long-term damages caused by the ongoing situation are impossible to assess. It's a lot easier to see, in retrospect, what the last decade of "terrorism" has cost us.

I can't help but wonder about America's response if the latest plot would have been successful. Would there have been calls for a new wave of reprisals against Muslims? Would the Obama Administration experience intensified criticism? Or would the nation have pulled together in the face of adversity, and worked together to formulate a rational plan to confront our internal security. Somehow I doubt we'd have seen a return of those once-ubiquitous flags on every SUV on the nation's highways.

I can only hope that Obama and Co. stay on top of the security situation. I don't now khow this country would weather more chaos and crisis.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Ye Ole Washington Game.

c. David Grim (taken 11/27/08)

It's kind of a shame for the credibility of the Obama Administration that they decided to go ahead and endorse offshore drilling a few weeks ago. It's similar to their 2008-campaign shift from opposition to tentative support for coal mining. There's not much he can offer to miner's unions in the wake of the West Virginia tragedy. Obama and his people are nothing if not practical. You can't accuse them of not considering the opposition's viewpoint. Their willingness to compromise their stated principals, and publicly acknowledge doing so, is at once troubling and refreshing.

I guess it's preferable to the discipline displayed by the Republican party. They stick to their guns, come Hell or high water. Their stubborn refusal to recognize anything resembling a change in facts on the ground can be infuriating for those who refuse to get in line behind their vast PR team. That's what keeps them in power even when they push policies opposed by the majority of the voting populace. They truly understand how to guide the public dialogue.

Still it might have been useful for the Democrats to have stood firmly against offshore drilling. As it is the Left can pound the terminally incompetent Palin for her own sloganeering, but they have to do so with the admission that their own hero capitulated to her followers' rabid cries. Obama once talked about "teachable moments", a conceptual perspective that seemed appealing at the time. It's really too bad that such opportunities too often become obscured by his absolute insistence on wiggle room. But after all, I suppose we should consider ourselves lucky to be able to take him to task for it.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Where are all the Young Lions?

c. David Grim (taken 4/6/08)

After another weekend of tooling around the city, trying to see as much art as possible, I fell into conversation with one of my gallery-going buddies about the local art scene. It seems to me (and my friend agrees) that the quality of the work has slipped a notch or two. I feel terrible saying this, but at the same time, I've felt it for a while now.

It's not so much that the established artists have become a disappointment. There are still plenty of folks putting out consistent quality. Maybe if I was new to the scene, I'd be just as excited as I've ever been. But there is something sedating about familiarity. I haven't really been surprised lately, even by the old pros.

Specifically, I don't feel that impressed by the stuff I've been seeing from the young up-and-comers. if you had asked me who I was paying attention to in the twenty-something set three or four years ago, i would have had no problem rattling off a substantial list. Now... not so much.

I guess there a number of possible reasons for this phenomenon. The artists of the past could just have been SO GOOD that, in comparison, the current crop fails. Or maybe my tastes are becoming outdated. I can't expect to be up on the latest fashions forever. Perhaps too the economy has kept a lot of people from doing their best work. They could be just too preoccupied with other things.

It also occurs to me that there are less venues willing to take chances on the type of emerging artists I might appreciate. It's really hard to keep a gallery going in this economic climate. Just ask the boys over at Fast Forward (their last shows will occur before summer).

Anyway, things could always change quickly. There's no telling what all of this will look like a year from now.