Birdspot. On the road. Drawing birds.


30 Responses to “june 25”

  1. I really respond to your barely-there first drafts…

  2. This one is the first “real” drawing in scratchboard. Meaning I won’t take it as far as the studies. Which is funny because it’s actually more work – it’s hard to keep the lines that faint.

  3. Have to scuff the toe in the dirt here: I get all nervous about commenting on things before they’re finished, because what I like or take interest in might not even be something you intended or will eventually work toward. But I love this one (even though it scares me) and for some reason it’s suggesting entirely different media and even different times: I’m seeing Man Ray, Maya Deren, 1920′s apartments with African art, and I want to use words like “silver emulsion” that I don’t really understand.

    This one reminds me (I don’t know why) of what I like about the June 18 piece, which is the abstraction of the creature’s body: the exact musculature or bone structure or even definite shape of what we’re seeing isn’t really apparent.

    One thing’s for damn sure: this is anything but cheesy!

    More about other stuff later tonight.

  4. I really respond to the sense of monumental weight in this drawing, despite how little of the form has actually been articulated. There’s a heaviness in the body and in the emotional tone here that is quiet and powerful.

    By the way the way, did you see hear this report on NPR’s Fresh Air about the six endangered mountain gorillas who were executed in the Congo? The link is:

  5. This is a good time to bring up something that’s been on my mind for years. To anyone with relevant expertise, I ask the question:

    “What is the best way for an intelligent person who possesses a technical vocabulary in other fields to acquire a technical vocabulary in the fields of art and/or music?”

  6. Read, listen, absorb, and try not to roll your eyes too much . . .

  7. Jesse:

    Look at an art education , like every kind of education, as a process that has no ending and no pace other than yours. Find some work that interests you; a style, an artist and begin there with research, label reading in musuems and gallerys; on-line info. Most importantly, seek out other examples, lots of other examples, and keep expanding from there. I would also strongly recommend finding a work either that you HATE or completely have no idea what is going on with, and go through the same process.

    1. Do roll your eyes a lot. Argue. DO NOT PUT UP WITH ATTITUDE OR BULLSHIT. Frankly some museums, many curators and some artists need a two by four upside the head to get them to act human. Curators can be the worst, most pretentious ivory-tower denizens. If you smell pretension, chances are you are right. But ahead of you is a huge complex, whacky world from Etruscan funerary ceramics to Mannerist insanity to to Dutch Republic symbolism to Ab Ex drunks and PoMo jokers. No one knows it all or appreciates it all, so go blaze a trail.

  8. I SO wish I had a ‘Mark Lynch’ telling me this advice during my pretentious BFA & MFA years!!!!!!

  9. Jesse,

    Art is from the gut and through the senses. What touches you, won’t touch everyone, and yet even then, you’ll know when its good. Try to stop thinking when you are experiencing a work of art and let the hand of the artist communicate the intention of its creation. The language of that communication resides in the process, material, and means of presentation, each of which is imbued with historical context as well as contemporary context. Art’s physicality speaks to the body in a visceral way, but it also has layers of potential for intellectual posturing that is the essence of curatorail and critical misunderstandings by virtue of the individuals ivory tower conditioning. (i.e., ATTITUDE AND BULLSHIT) In the end it comes down to really knowing yourself and who you are, what you like, what you find stimulating. The last thing to remember is that art, or any object of interest really, is simply a point of departure for communication to happen between people in some kind of context. It carries ideas, but the object itself is mute. It’s like hardware to our software.

    Good Luck…….(and so begins another man’s journey into the far reaches of the universe, another visit to the Twilight Zone)

  10. Jesse:
    One last thing I sadly neglected to mention. Be sure to also look at all the art traditions of China, India, Japan, Korea, Central Africa, North Africa (in addition to Egypt)MesoAmerica, South America, and essentially the REST of the damned globe. What you will learn is that there are artforms, art traditions, ways of even thinking about art that are completely beside/outside what you would learn in a typical European-North American art history education. It puts everything in perspective. I once stood at the bottom of the escarpment in Northern Territory looking at several THOUSANDS of years of continual artmaking by the native Austrailians of the region (Gagadju). It was beautiful, complex, you could recognize different artists and they were STILL there making art. I was awestruck, a word I never use. And contemporary art from the rest of the world is, well, just go check it all out for yourself. It’s one huge party.

  11. Re: mountain gorillas: I had seen the National Geographic cover, but had not yet read the article, so thank you for the link. The photographs are heartbreaking, the story just awful.

    Re: investigating art: I would add that it is a good idea to go around with friends to look at stuff. Like with your friends in NY who go to galleries all the time. Like with your friends in NY who would like you to visit anyway, and who would also like to suggest you bring a game or two and maybe a few other art-involved friends who like to play games. But that’s just my advice…

  12. Jed,
    Huh? //rolls eyes//

  13. These are really generous responses — I’m grateful to everybody. I like Mark’s idea of getting out of the Western perspective, and Jed’s “the object itself is mute” made me perk up my ears. I read a line from Archibald MacLeish (“dumb as old medallions to the thumb”) in 7th grade and it always seemed backward to me, but it makes more sense now.

    Mark’s music: Interesting divergence here! I love the Beach Boys, but non-ironically; the Stones, Costello, Neil Young have never registered, but it’s great to see Joy Division, Belle and Sebastian, the 60′s, Leonard Cohen. Someday I’ll have to ask jazz questions. I know nothing about the genre, but a friend whose tastes I trust listens to nothing other than hot jazz, the old Dixieland stuff. Jack Teagarden. I’m guessing my tastes will run the same way: Coltrane and Monk have gone over about as well as Schoenberg with me.

    Cathy: Awesome! I’ll send you an e-mail. Don’t want people to get jealous hearing about how you and Rob and Char and I will eat dumplings dipped in jinxuan and plum wine, rolled in saffron powder and crushed pearls, and lure Bannon’s Striated Warbler back to Central Park by releasing twelve butterflies from eleven silver cages, and lean our theorbes against our knees to sing an entire Catalan song cycle (refrains of “valga’m deu val” for the countess and “muller lleial” for the count) and break hearts that will stay broken.

    That’s doable in a weekend, right?

  14. Looks like Raquel did the choreography herself . . . maybe even wrote the music, but that was pre-GarageBand days.

    All this talk of comic books (the last one I bought cost 10 cents and was probably Wonder Woman) makes me wonder about other geekly vices. Mine is fantasy novels – have a huge library, as Cath can attest. She’s the one who got me started. I’ve returned the favor by introducing my sister, who’s now hooked, to Ann McCaffrey. Gotta be genetic.

    Geeks of the world, unite!

  15. So is that sculpture park still in existence?!! Where can you go to find such God Awful works of amazing hubris? France or Spain? Gotta give Raquel credit for her choice of background for the video shoot though. Really puts the Spaceman look into “bizarro world” context.

  16. Raquel dance:

    THAT’S the future I’m talkin’ about! That looked like a definite UPGRADE fom the dancing and music in FIRE MAIDENS OF OUTER SPACE, one of my favorite all time extremely bad 50s “babes in space” films. Anyone know the LOCATION of the cartoon “moderne” sculpture? It reminds of the old NANCY comic strips, when she would go to an art musuem, there would be these great basic archetypical “modern” (ie: “kooky”) sculptures which would be sprinkled about on pedestals.

    Fantasy Novels: I have my own little storehouse of ‘em. I like old stuff like A.E.MERRITT et. I hate to admit this, but I also collect TOM SWIFT JR. novels. Mostly second series (out when I grew up) but now some of the earlier series too.


    I love the names of his inventions, like the “electronic retroscope”. The older series, which was out in the 20s had more mundane titles like TOM SWIFT AND HIS CAMERA.

  17. (I have been looking for this quote by Kandinsky for the last few days and finally found it)
    “Such imitations resembles the antics of apes. Externally, the animal’s movements are almost like those of human beings. The monkey sits and holds a book an inch from his nose, turns the pages, makes thoughful faces. But there is no sense or meaning in any of these actions”

  18. CLH: Vices of mine that I think would be thought of as geeky include gongfu tea-drinking, European boardgames, and collecting vintage Apple computers. Not sure if glass art can be geeky, but if it can, my collection of Josh Simpson planets probably is. At last count, I have over 3000 fantasy and science fiction books on my shelves. Some favorites: Vance, Le Guin, Wolfe, Tolkien, Lafferty, Dowling, Beagle, Ellison, Zelazny.

    MARK: Merritt, really? Nobody knows Merritt these days! You’re in good company, though: Jack Vance cites him as an influence. I’m on something of an oldies kick, lately: Merritt, Kuttner, Moore, Lafferty. I’m new to Kuttner, who’s a little erratic, but “Two-Handed Engine” knocked me out. Perfect little story.

    I love the names of the Tom Swift inventions, too! POLAR-RAY DYNASPHERE (one of the best) is on a shelf somewhere. Interestingly enough, there’s some family history here: POLAR-RAY DYNASPHERE (Swift, Jr) was either Mom’s or Dad’s, but I distinctly remember my grandmother reminiscing about the earlier series (Swift, Sr) with wonder in her voice: “Oh, the caves of ice!”

  19. Forgot to mention something about the original NANCY when Mark mentioned it. Art Spiegelman, I think, made a great point about how Bushmiller’s NANCY strips were perfectly Platonic: a pile of rocks is always represented with three rocks, because one rock isn’t a pile, two rocks is a pair, and three is the smallest possible number that represents a pile.

    Click here for NANCY turned into a “neo-Dadaist” game:

    And if you haven’t seen it, go here for the brilliant Garfield Minus Garfield:

  20. So outed. I’m still a Heinlein fan, have an old-school fondness for Bradbury and even met Harlan Ellison at Caltech when I was in high school… that is as much as I will admit, though.

  21. Shit, I forgot Bradbury. He should have made the short list. I’ve had two encounters with Harlan, but no great stories: met him at a lecture in Boston and actually got a phone call from him in response to a letter I’d written, asking him to help me finance airfare to America for Terry Dowling, a mutual friend. He said no.

  22. Kuttner, Lafferty, Heinlein…god, I love them all, mostly for how they affected me when I was young and really opened up a vision of the adventurous exploration of space. Great aliens, ripping yarns. Books like RED PLANET, HAVE SPACE SUIT-WILL TRAVEL, STARMAN JONES, goofy titles but great books. I remember all the old hadbound copies from my local library. All of them had exciting, but far too few, illustrations.

    For DECADES I remembered this weird short story I read as a child in one of my older brother’s sci fi mags. All I seemed to remember of this story was there was a silvery blob that was found by this family of rednecks inside what has to have been a space ship. A slit opens in the blob and it says” E GUBLING DOW” in this weird voice. All I could remember about this damned story was that was ALL this minimalist alien thingie said: “E GUBLING DOW”. That phrase stayed with me over my entire life and would emerge from my unconscious at weird times. Finally a year ago, I Googled “E GUBLING DOW” and found the 1959 story by Gordon Dickson, bought the book that collected the short story and have read it now as an adult. It was as weird in reality as it was when it only existed in my imagination. No answers; no ideas of where or what this thing was. Just the oft repeated: “E GUBLING DOW”. The alien thingie dies, as it does so, it repeats it’s mantra faster and faster and then a long drawn out version the equivalent of “ahhhhhhhhhhhhh”, but using E GUBING DOW.If I could have only gotten that out of my head, I probably could have solved the GUT problem or Riemann’s Hypothesis.

  23. Heinlein – read some of him, maybe not enough. Never could get into him. Stranger in a Strange Land was ok. Everything else I read (nowhere near a representative sample – he was prolific if nothing else) seemed to have the same plot. Somebody got rich in the stock market and used the money to get their way, and some woman was always taking baths to get all clean before sex. At the time I decided the guy had a clean fetish. Anyway, I gave up on Heinlein a long time ago.

    Now a more recent author who really grabs my attention is Orson Scott Card . . .

  24. And Mark, I still have nightmares about The Day of the Triffids.

  25. The movie or the book? Both? The movie, though an inexpensive production was actually OK, though the focus was more on the plants than the consequences of a world gone blind. The book is a classic. Reading that as a child may explain why I am so fascinated by carnivorous plants today.

    The Heinlein you read apparently was not the Heinlein I read, which was all teens in space. But bathing before sex is not a bad fetish, as fetishes go. Maybe I forgot all that stuff. But STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND was different from the teen classics I am talking about. Is that the book that used “I grok” you”?

    Ned “Scotty” Scott in THE THING (1951): “An intellectual carrot. The mind boggles”


  26. “Grok” is from Stranger in a Strange Land, if memory serves correctly. Perhaps also pre-acronym fetish acronyms like “SWMLOSHCWMUTBW?” Am I making this up? Juggling random memories?? I won’t tell you what it means but it ties in with CLH’s comments. For the sake of family-oriented entertainment, please limit corrections by not spelling it out… The acronym might be from one of the Lazarus Long stories. I really can’t remember.

  27. Mark – the book. Never saw the triffid movie. Grok is indeed from Stranger in a Strange Land.

  28. That’s right: He is also responsible for TANSTAAFL: “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”. That book was very much in vogue in late 60s/early 70s dorm rooms, along with TROUT FISHING IN AMERICA, ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYLE MAINTENANCE, THE ELECTRIC KOOL-AID ACID TEST, SLAUGHTERHOUSE 5, STEPPENWOLF, THE WHOLE EARTH CATALOGUE and various and sundry Zap comics. I still have my Zaps, but threw the rest out.

    These dark and spectral Rhesus are just superb, ominous, melancholic, and seriously dread inducing, especially in connection to what has gone before. All together, they make for a truly beautiful, intellectually challenging series. La Morte de Singe?



  29. CLH:
    If you get a chance, find the film on DVD. Of course it could never live up to the book, but as a minor little 50′s sci-fi thriller, it’s not bad and has its moments. Did anyone ever make a film of of a Heinlein book? I am just realizing that something (maybe the acid kicked in) happened to his books in the 60s, cuz the stuff I am talking about is not from THAT era.

    SEE: AVRAM DAVIDSON: “Masters of the Maze” for another great work of the late 50s. I also have to confess that as a young teen, reading lots of James Schmitz’ Telzey Amberdon stories.

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