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Bison and BMW’s

This morning’s New York Times had an article and slideshow on BMW’s painted by more or less famous artists. My favorite is the design by Cesar Manrique, shown here a bit smaller than in the slideshow:

Now it may seem a long way from the Le Mans of Hervé Poulain or even from New York’s Grand Central Terminal, but the small Montana town of West Yellowstone (as the name suggests, just west of Yellowstone National Park) did a similar thing a couple years ago when they commissioned local artists to paint life-size bison sculptures that were placed around town.

Especially interesting here, from an artistic point of view (but I don’t neglect the relevance, especially these days, of the commercial significance), is the reversal of the common problem of representing 3-D space in a 2-D painting. Here the painter’s 2-D mindset must deal with the 3-D-ness of the sculptures. That means not only non-flatness and the volumetric cues, but the fact that the surface is not simply a distorted rectangle, but wraps around and contacts itself in multiple ways.

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A Las Barricadas

…..night after night critics and collectors scarf down meals paid for by dealers promoting artists, or museums promoting shows, with everyone together at the table, schmoozing, stroking, prodding, weighing the vibes. And where is art in all of this? Proliferating but languishing….

…., artists can also take over the factory, make the art industry their own. Collectively and individually they can customize the machinery, alter the modes of distribution, adjust the rate of production to allow for organic growth, for shifts in purpose and direction. They can daydream and concentrate. They can make nothing for a while, or make something and make it wrong, and fail in peace, and start again….

Paragraphs excerpted from

The Boom Is Over. Long Live the Art! By HOLLAND COTTER

Painting Portland: McLoughlin Boulevard

You must forgive me if my language about SE McLoughlin Boulevard is a bit crude. I refer to the Boulevard, actually a long strip of sleazy or derelict buildings, warehouses, and defunct businesses, as “the armpit of Portland.” It is fairly unsightly and often smelly.

McLoughlin Boulevard was originally US Route 99E, part of the major north-south Pacific Highway through Oregon’s Willamette Valley to California. US Route 99E had its heyday just after WWII until it was eclipsed by Interstate 5, finished in 1966. Thereafter, the Boulevard, demoted into Oregon Route 99E, declined as Portland grew. The decomposition of the Boulevard, helped along by the curbing of the highway which restricted access to businesses, was accompanied by its enclosure by warehouses and industrial compounds, all gone slightly to seed. The farmland and residences that had been behind its initial length of business ventures got pretty much decimated over the years by other kinds of cheaply built warehouses and small factories.

I first learned about McLoughlin Boulevard because, when we moved to Portland 18 years ago, the Pendleton Mill End fabric store was located along it. I would take the bus to the Mill End store; to return home, I had to cross 8 lanes of heartless traffic and wait for the return bus in front of The Odysseus, a saloon and strip joint. I avoided looking at the patrons — and they avoided looking at me!

It was that kind of street — an American urban highway that makes used car lots look good.

Still, however sleezy the street has become, it still speaks to my love of urban archeology and history. Jer and I have been investigating the Springwater Corridor bicycle/pedestrian trail that has a new bridge over SE McLoughlin. The Trail runs along Johnson Creek, a major urban creek wont to flood in the wet season and stink in the dry. But between the creek and the biking trail, there is a pretty wondrous set of scenes through the Portland cityscape, including McLoughlin Boulevard.

mcloughlinebikeoverpassw.jpg Springwater Trail over McLouglin, Oil on board, 18 x 24″

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Real Estate on the Web

‘The right aspect of a web page has a stronger impact on our mind than the left aspect’ is a notion adopted by the advertising world, as I recently learned from one of Steve’s comments.This made me look at the real estate on the web.

For safety, I recently switched to gmail because I lost all my archived email from my apple mail box after innocently agreeing to update the mail box.

Let us look at one of my gmail threads:


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Does Saffron Spell Dissent

as we are told in yesterday’s headline of the Columbia Daily Spectator reporting on the opening of an HBO documentary reminding us of the long gestation of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s Saffron Gates in Central Park, New York City?

Or does Saffron spell enthusiasm? Here is my snapshot of Saffron cloth billowing in the wind on a snow-free day, February 2005.

Christo Jeanne-Claude Gates.jpg

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historic day

For our Halibut series:

Two more web sites to waste your time on:

www.bigthink.com including bigthink.com/arts-culture

and www.wiki.com.

Support the Arts – Turn Off Your Television


I assume most of you have heard about the WGA (Writers Guild of America) strike. I’m not sure how much attention it gets in other parts of the country (or the world, for that matter), but here in Los Angeles it’s a big story. This is after all an entertainment industry town, and the effects of the strike can be felt in every part of our local economy. My wife is a writer and a WGA member, as are many of our friends.

The strike has come about because of a disagreement between the corporations who own the movie and tv studios and the writers who create their content over how much, if at all, the writers should be compensated for their creative work. The writers contend that they should be getting a slightly larger share from the sale of DVDs of the movies they wrote. From the sale of a $28.95 DVD, the writer of the movie currently gets 4 cents, or as comedian Tim Kazurinsky points out, that ‘s 4 cents out of 2,895 cents. The writers are asking for 8 cents.

But a bigger issue, and possibly the main one, is that the networks and studios want to pay the writers nothing, that’s ZERO $, for tv shows and movies that they (the corporations) post on their web sites. The corporations claim that these streaming videos are “promotional”, and that they shouldn’t have to compensate the writers for posting them. But these “promotional” shows have commercials, just like any regular tv show, and are a huge source of income for the studios. They just want to keep it all for themselves.

As Mark Harris notes in his Entertainment Weekly Online column, “Why the Striking Writers Are Right”:

“The problem with this position is that writers deserve a share of revenue for material they help to create. Not a share only if the revenue is really, really a lot. A share, period. If it turns out that streaming video is a goldmine, then both sides will get a lot of money. If it turns out not to be, they’ll get less. Corporations are fond of reminding their employees that they’re all a ”family” during tough times. But when families sit down to dinner, Dad doesn’t get to say, ”I’m gonna eat until I decide I’m full, and then we’ll see if there’s anything left for the rest of you.” The right of a writer to earn money from work that continues to generate revenue cannot be dependent on how comfy studio and network heads are with the fullness of their own coffers.”

The studios are responding to the strike by showing reruns, and more reality and talk shows. But many of the more popular talk shows themselves will have to be reruns, since people like David Letterman and Jay Leno don’t come up with all those clever lines off the tops of their heads. They are created by a staff of, you guessed it, writers. To their credit, both Leno and Letterman are supporting the writers’ position in this dispute.

For the personal reasons mentioned above, and also on principle, as an artist, I’m siding with the writers as well. It seems obvious to me that the people who profit from the success of a creative product should include the artists who actually created it, not just the executives who made the phone calls and brokered the deals. I don’t watch a whole lot of tv to begin with, but until this strike is over I’m not planning on watching any. I’m going to vote with my remote, and say no to corporate greed. I hope many other people do the same.


Here are a couple of videos about the strike that you might find interesting:
Tim Kazurinsky on WGN
the writers of The Office