Monday, December 31, 2007

The Uglies

Underground circus is alive, but not particularly well, in Barcelona. After some persuasion, we went to see a circus show by "Las Feas" ("The Uglies") at a well known bomb shelter of a bar in Gracia. Despite starting well after 11:00 pm, the show attracted a huge audience, including a handful of kids, adding to the carnival atmosphere. The bar was packed tight like a drum as The Feas took the stage. The crowd was drunk, happy and enthusiastic. Sadly, the show was weak and unrehearsed. The music was crude, the acts were cruder, and no one seemed to understand basic theatrical concepts like "timing" or "speaking to the audience."

Two bright spots: the juggler, from Argentina, beautifully manipulated lightbulbs in a way I had never seen before. And the ringleader was hot and compelling. She has her own website here , which is better than the circus by leaps and bounds.

A well-rehearsed underground circus like Circus Contraption would triumph in this town.


Difusor is a loosely knit "organization" in Barcelona dedicated to the art of the street stencil. Despite being in Catalan, the site is inspiring and well worth exploring.


Late night Spanish TV is pretty interesting. It seems like the networks know that their pre-dawn audience is drunk, adventurous, or both. Stumbling home at 3:00 am I've turned on the TV to find interviews with the Residents, short films by Peter Greenaway, and some weird program featuring endless close-ups of body parts. Last night I watched a pretty cool program about emerging video artists. This is a video I watched, on low volume at 3:30 am, by English artists Coldcut. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Graffiti in Barna

More splendid art from the streets of Barcelona.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Chillida Leku

Just outside of Donostia is the Chillida Leku, a museum created by the Basque sculptor Eduardo Chillida, to collect and show his work. Chillida is San Sebastian’s favorite son and probably the best known Basque artist. He was a contemporary of Henry Moore and Joan Miro, and like them he created massive but effortlessly graceful sculptures using the purest of raw materials. Over 13 wooded hectares, guests stroll past monuments carved in stone or twisted from blocks of iron. Each sculpture presents a study in contrasts and invites both careful scrutiny and earnest meditation. Seen together in the forest setting honed by Chillida, one is taken aback by both the strength of the artist’s vision and the calm tranquility of his aesthetic.


San Sebastian in the Basque Country (known locally as "Donostia") is the home of the "pintxo," a richer, larger, more expensive version of the ubiquitous Spanish "tapa." Every bar we wandered into (no small number) featured dozens of house specialties, ranging from black ham on fresh bread to sardine-olive-pickle appetizers to tortillas de bacalao – a scrumptious cod omelet. When paired with local beverages like txacoli (an effervescent white wine) or sidra (a light alcoholic apple cider) the days in Donostia pass like gastronomic dreams.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

David vs. Goliath

In the center of Horta stands a statue of a slain Goliath, in honor of the International Brigades who traveled to Spain in the 1930’s to defend the Republic. All around, people have lain wreaths and flowers.

When the foreign volunteers left Spain in October 1938, the 35th Division were paraded and reviewed, and several of their number received promotions and commendations.
The final appearance of the battalion was at a farewell parade in Barcelona at which Dolores Ibarruri, the Communist deputy known as La Pasionaria, delivered a farewell speech which is inscribed at the statue´s base. Translated into English, the statement reads:

Today many are departing. Thousands remain, shrouded in Spanish earth, profoundly remembered by all Spaniards. Comrades of the International Brigades: Political reasons, reasons of state, the welfare of that very cause for which you offered your blood with boundless generosity, are sending you back, some to your own countries and others to forced exile. You can go proudly. You are history. You are legend. You are the heroic example of democracy's solidarity and universality in the face of the vile and accommodating spirit of those who interpret democratic principles with their eyes on hoards of wealth or corporate shares which they want to safeguard from all risk. We shall not forget you; and, when the olive tree of peace is in flower, entwined with the victory laurels of the Republic of Spain --- return!

Return to our side. for here you will find a homeland. Those who have no country or friends, who must live deprived of friendship, all will have the affection and gratitude of the Spanish people who today and tomorrow will shout with enthusiasm: "Long live the heroes of the International Brigades!"

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Check this shit out. This monkey face…
…is a collage of hundreds of individual stencils.

Graffiti in Horta

We took a walk around Carmel, in Horta-Guinardo, the working class neighborhood where my in-laws live. The local gym and community center boasts an amazing display of graffiti. While taking these photos I met Carles, the community center’s youth coordinator who explained that last summer the center held a party at which local and European graffiti artists were invited to bring their paints and stencils and bomb this whole wall. These pics can’t do justice to the incredible array of work here.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Off to BCN

For the next three weeks I’ll be posting, when I do, from my holiday destination of Barcelona. I’ll be there through the start of the year, enjoying the city and suffering through the annual Catalan Christmas showing of “Els Pastorets.” Gurldogg’s wife Pepita was born and raised in BCN, and her parents own a small home not far from the city center. This will be my 6th or 7th time traveling there over the last few years.

I have a strange relationship with Barna. Being a native of a small grey industrial town in the American northeast, I can’t help but be amazed by the color, creativity and cosmopolitanism of this old and beautiful city every time I visit. But as my wife’s husband, I am also very aware of the bitterness and poverty that have resulted from Barcelona’s somewhat recent “discovery” by international developers and tourists. Almost without exception our old friends from Barcelona have been forced by dim job prospects and ghastly rent increases to leave the city for much smaller surrounding towns, to flee Catalunya for poorer provinces, or, like Pepita, to leave Spain altogether. Even my charming in-laws, among the smartest and kindest old Catalans you’re likely to meet, have developed a seething anger about the sudden changes to their way of life. Everything is far more expensive than it used to be, far more crowded, and far less accessible. Family restaurants which had been around for generations have closed their doors to make way for boutiques and costly knick-knack shops. Old friends have seen their homes sold to German developers and have moved far from their old walking routes. And of course, the kids and grandkids have moved out to make room for the “giris,” or foreigners.

It’s far from all bad of course, and I never fail to have a blast when I’m there. True to legend, the Barcelones know how to throw a New Year’s party. Time and substances permitting, I’ll be blogging when I can.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Dreamland Faces

Way back in April of this year, the legendary Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, MN held auditions for a variety show called "Vaudevillian Stages," intended to highlight the talents of a new generation of vaudeville performers, including musicians, comedians, magicians, trained animals and plate-spinners.

The 75 applicants were whittled down to a line-up of 17 performers for an amazing show last June which was recorded for television and radio, and clips of which are available on the Youtube. Among the performers featured were the musicians Dreamland Faces, old friends of Gurldogg. Dreamland Faces is at times an accordion-and-saw duo, and occasionally swells into a 7-piece dance band. Whatever their particular makeup at a given show, they can be counted on for their eclectic repertoire of forgotten showtunes, Weimar era jazz ballads and left-wing battle hymns.

This is the 5-piece band at the Fitzgerald performing their original composition "Ballbuster."

And this is Dreamland ringleader and saw player ne-plus-ultra Andy McCormick playing a duet with Michael Grandchamp on the Mighty Wurlitzer.


I should have written about this days ago.

Tonight, December 13th, brings the climax of the Geminid meteor shower to the northern hemisphere. Unlike most meteor showers which have been observed for hundreds or even thousands of years, the first Geminid meteors suddenly appeared in the mid-1800's resulting from the orbit of a rocky asteroid now called 3200 Phaethon. Much more detailed information can be found on the NASA website. The show began on December 6th and will last for a few more days.

In the middle latitudes (ie. Seattle or New York and anything in between) Geminids meteors can be seen anytime after 10 p.m., when the constellation Gemini is well above the horizon. The best time to look is during the early morning hours between about 2 a.m. and dawn. That's when the local sky is pointing directly into the Geminid meteor stream.

You won't need binoculars or a telescope, the naked eye is the best way to see meteors.

Saturday, December 8, 2007


I saw the Gregory Blackstock opening at Garde Rail gallery on Thursday night, and Mr. Blackstock himself happened to be there.

Blackstock, who is autistic, worked for 25 years as a dishwasher in the kitchen of the Washington Athletic Club. For many years he has been drawing comprehensive catalogs of all sorts of things: train cars, hand saws, birds, violins, fruits, etc. The drawings are charming and meticulous, rich with detail. Blackstock draws exclusively from memory, obsessively observing and recording the many categories of things that capture his attention. Five years ago, his drawings came to the attention of Karen Light, the owner of Seattle's Garde Rail Gallery, who immediately saw their beauty and arranged to display several dozen of them. Since that time he has had several exhibitions and a beautiful book of his lists, Blackstock's Collections, has been published by Princeton Architectural Press.

The new show featured drawings of firecrackers, turnips, sheet music and maple sugar candies. Blackstock whirled from drawing to drawing giving a noisy and scattered tour of his recent work. As he explained the different firecrackers in this picture he gave a rendition of their sound effects, one by one, working his way down the list. "Ka-BOOM! Krak krak krak! Pa-Pa-PANG!"

The show is on display through January 26.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Crumb at the Frye

I stopped into the Fantagraphics Bookstore at lunch time and learned that the most comprehensive U.S. exhibition of Robert Crumb’s work to date is opening at Seattle's own Frye Art Museum at the end of January. According to the Frye catalog, "R. Crumb’s Underground showcases forty years of the artist’s cultural contributions. It highlights the important role collaboration has played throughout Crumb’s career, including during his youth as part of the San Francisco comic book underground, and with his wife, cartoonist Aline Kominsky-Crumb.

Ian Buruma wrote an appreciation of Crumb in the New York Review of Books upon publication of the R. Crumb Handbook in 2oo6. "Perhaps the greatest, and by now best-known, cartoon character in Crumb's rich oeuvre is R. Crumb himself, a little mustachioed figure in a tweed jacket and glasses with a rampant penis, playing the banjo, or jumping on large athletic women in tight jeans, or getting beaten up, or masturbating over his own cartoons. R. Crumb, the comic figure, is not quite Mr. Everyman. Rather, he is the artist as loser, the sensitive nerd, who feels humiliated by the handsome bullies who are dumb and cruel but get the girls, while he can only dream about them. That is, until R. Crumb becomes a famous cartoonist and can suddenly do whatever he likes with the 'gurls,' which is usually something rather drastic, like slamming them face-down on the floor and riding them like a jockey."

La Mano Show

Should you find yourself in Los Angeles over the next few days, be sure to check out the annual print show and sale at La Mano Press. La Mano was created in 2002 by painter Silvia Capistran and printmaker Artemio Rodriguez in 2002, and has done a fantastic job of exhibiting and publishing some of the best contemporary and historical Mexican and Mexican-American printmakers, as well as promoting contemporary printmakers in general. The annual print show, running from December 7-9, features linocuts, woodcuts, etchings and serigraphs by Rodriguez & Capistran, as well as work by Jose Guadalupe Posada, Mizraim Cardenas, Ixrael & many more.

Should you miss the show, La Mano also has an excellent website where you can buy exquisite books and prints.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Liquid Liquid

Basic and beautiful shadow animation and the best bassline ever, which formed the basis of Grandmaster Flash's "White Lines." This one's for Pokie.

Monday, December 3, 2007


One of the more colorful vendors at both Punk Rock Flea Markets thus far has been Salamandir. Salamandir sells incense and statuettes of Hindu god Ganesh, although “sells” is hardly the operative word. His practice is far more devotional than commercial. I made a point of chatting with Salamandir at this market, and learned a little more about his venture. Unlike the standard hippy with an Indian fetish, Salamandir claims a first-hand experience with the elephant-headed deity. Several years back, Salamandir woke up in the hospital recovering from a sudden and completely unexpected brain injury that occurred while he was fast asleep. On the point of death, he encountered Ganesh, who guided him back to the world of the living. He made a pledge that if he was ever to recover, he would devote himself to the canny and mischievous spirit who revived him. Thus the creation of Hybrid Elephant products.

Salamandir now travels to street fairs and craft shows in this car, painted with the first hundred names of Ganesh in Sanskrit, and spreads the word about the ancient divinity known as the Remover of Obstacles.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

PRFM Wrap Up

Oh man...You're sorry if you missed the Punk Rock Flea Market.

From the moment the doors opened the Underground was swarming with people. Just under 700 people paid their buck and got one hell of a market and party in return. If the first snow of the year hadn't started in the middle of the afternoon, we might have had hundreds more. In the end, 46 vendors somehow crammed into the basement, including a few who showed up unexpectedly. Many hats were sold, scarves, paintings, animal skulls, punk paraphernalia, surprisingly cool baby clothes, lots of records, lots of jewlery.

All the bands kicked ass. Dance Music for Depressed People gave an angst-ridden howl to the gods of love; KLED summoned up the twin demons of heavy metal suicide and gothic theatrics; Rough Chukar, in their own words, "brought the Punk Rock to the Flea Market." Extra props go to RC for answering every random call for cover songs, rewarding us with their (fucking loud) versions of Slayer and Pantera tunes. In another unexpected turn of events, the 15-piece Yellow Hat Brass Band showed up between the last two bands to play 20 minutes of pulse pounding Bulgarian dance music.

After all expenses were met the admissions, booth fees & beer sales permitted the PRFM to donate about $800 to LIHI, who owns the space. LIHI's executive director, Sharon Lee, even showed up to have a beer and check out Rough Chukar. Bless her heart.

There can be no better bargain than the $1 it costs to enter the market. If fate allows, we're going to do it all again at the end of March. Weather permitting we'll expand the market into the parking lot next door . Seriously - don't miss it.

Friday, November 30, 2007

What the Heck happened?

Graffiti artist and poster maker Heck was all over Seattle for a while, with his cool robots and ubiquitous rat heads. I haven't seen anything new from him in months and months. Rumours abound. Someone told me he was sick as a dog, someone else said he moved to Brazil. Anyone know where Heck is at?

“Cleaning Up” the Homeless

A rapidly evolving story in the City of Seattle has been the stepped-up campaign to rid the city's greenbelts and parks of homeless encampments by destroying or dumping the residents' personal belongings.

The Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness says it has received reports from a dozen sites where people's belongings were destroyed, sometimes without notice. Adding insult to injury, the notices that were posted at the camps had an non-functioning city phone number to contact for help.

Alison Eisinger, the Director of the Seattle King County Coalition for the Homeless said that "people who were camped out in several different locations had everything they needed for survival, their tents, their sleeping bags, cooking equipment, removed and destroyed. It is immoral to evict people from where they are struggling to survive without providing meaningful alternatives."

Real Change, Seattle’s street newspaper, is circulating a petition against the city’s “clean up” activities which they are going to present to the city council on Monday. Sign it here and pass it on.

On Thursday, City of Seattle Human Services Director Patricia McInturff clarified the city’s position. Sort of. “Until an new encampment abatement protocol, that incorporates existing city law, is finalized the City of Seattle will continue to address encampment complaints and removal in the same way that we have for the last several years…Abatement procedures will vary depending on the urgency of the problem and the campsite location. We will continue to evaluate each situation on a case by case basis.

In consultation with the law department we are reviewing all current laws related to encampments. Once that process is concluded [Dept of Neighborhoods Director] Stella Chao and I will invite a group of stakeholders to meet with us and provide input on an updated protocol. Sorry for the confusion --- the City is committed to a humane and consistent approach.”

In his typically smart and bitter manner, blogger Tim Harris responds by taking a poll on his website “apesma’s lament,” asking if McInturff is “high on crack” or “has the mayor’s back.” Vote here.

It is simply unconscionable that Seattle's homeless people should lose their few worldly possessions in the name of neighborhood “clean-ups.” Throwing away the sad remnants of someone’s life is cruel and heartless, offering no hope and no help for the people who need it most.

As this editorial in the Seattle P-I explains: “We hope the new plan of action will reflect that Seattle is better than this. After all, how a city treats its least fortunate speaks volumes about its true nature -- more so than an endless row of shiny skyscrapers, big-deal parades and the swankiest of amenities ever could.”

Monday, November 26, 2007

Foreign Thrills 1

I’ve been reading several series of recent thrillers with some key similarities. The series by John Burdett, Qui Xiaolong and Rebecca Pawel are set respectively in current day Bangkok, Shanghai and post-civil war Madrid. All of them feature protagonists with torn loyalties, a surprisingly wide range of emotional responses and complex aesthetic sensibilities. And while they are all true thrillers written within the conventions of the genre, they also take important liberties with the form and lead their characters down some very unpredictable pathways. Most importantly, they are all engrossing.

John Burdett began his Bangkok series with the 2003 thriller Bangkok 8, since followed by Bangkok Tattoo and Bangkok Haunts (which I have not yet read). Burdett presents a Bangkok landscape that is at once glitteringly beautiful and poisonously corrupt. The lead character is the charming and complicated detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep. Detective Jitpleecheep is uniquely qualified to observe this city being a half-Thai, half-American, Buddhist, ex meth-addict police officer raised by a whore. Jitpleecheep remains wonderfully good-natured despite the corruption, the drugs and the sex that surround him. The gutter-dark portrayal of Bangkok is redeemed by having Jitpleecheep as its calm and fascinating center, allowing the city to seem powerfully complex and humane.

The books’ stories themselves have a difficult time standing out against the intricacies of the background. The baroque narratives remain true to the genre and circle upon catching killers. Along the way, they wind through such Thai cultural ephemera as transexualism, military violence, intricate tattoos, Muslim intrigue, meals of frogs and insects, stupid Western tourists, and lots and lots of sex for hire. All of it is filtered through Jitpleecheep’s inviting eye. The whodunit aspects of the stories are less than satisfying, but the language and observations are incessantly fascinating. Regarding the Americans who visit his mother’s Bangkok brothel, Jitpleecheep notes: “To look for nirvana in someone’s crotch, now that really is dumb. The horror was that these spiritual dwarfs were taking over the world.”

Beautiful Books

I’ve always loved books illuminated by visual art (Sonia Delaunay’s sumptious version of Blaise Cendrars’ epic poem for example) and visual art made from books (ie. Tom Phillips’ ever growing Humument ). Here are some exquisite examples of both sorts.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Chicken Math

4 laying hens X 7 days =

21 multi-hued eggs

x 1 industrious afternoon =

2 marvelous tortillas + a compost bin full of shells.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Punk Rock Flea Market!

The Punk Rock Flea Market is a week from Saturday! I like to imagine the dozens of Flea Marketeers who are busily crafting in their lofts and basements, getting ready for the gig. This time around Gurldogg is selling good cheap bikes, silk screened T-shirts & patches, and bootleg CD's.

The line up of bands truly kicks ass this time. From 6:00 to midnight we are going to be rocked by Dance Music for Depressed People, KLED & Rough Chukar. We've got LOTZ of beer for the occasion. Don't miss it!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Fantastic Island

Spanish author Javier Marias recently celebrated his tenth year as ruling monarch of The Kingdom of Redonda. Redonda is a tiny uninhabited island between the islands of Nevis and Montserrat, in the West Indies.

The history of this island is anything but straightforward. On his second transatlantic journey in 1493, Christopher Columbus became the first European to lay claim to an island he named Isla Santa Maria la Redonda, or ‘St. Mary’s Round Island.' Today, it is still known as Redonda.

Legend has it that in 1865 the writer and banker Matthew Dowdy Shiell proclaimed himself to be the rightful "King" of the island of Redonda upon the birth of his first son, Matthew Phipps Shiell. The elder Shiell felt he could legitimately do this, because no country had officially claimed the islet as territory. Sheill senior also is said to have requested the title of King from Queen Victoria, and she granted it to him as long as there was no revolt against colonial power.

The younger Shiell, who became a British MP and a writer of fantasy fiction, inherited the island. Upon his death he gave rule over the island, and the rights of his work, to the poet John Gawsworth. Gawsworth in turn bestowed the title, and the rights to his and Shiell's work, to Jon Wynne-Tyson.

Wynne-Tyson resigned his title in 1997, when he decided to name Javier Marías as his successor (and bearer of the rights of the work of both Shiel and Gawsworth). Marias had written about Gawsworth in his breakthrough novel Todas las almas (All Souls in English,) and Wynne-Tyson rewarded his positive portrayal with the Royal Title.

King Xavier I of Redonda, as he now calls himself, has used his title to re-invent this rock in the Caribbean Sea as a literary and artistic paradise. He has conferred regal titles on friends, mostly writers and film makers. Francis Ford Coppola is Duke of Megalópolis; Alice Munro is Duchess of Ontario; J. M. Coetzee is Duke of Deshonra; Pedro Almodóvar is Duke of Trémula; AS Byatt is Duchess of Morpho Convexo; William Boyd is the Duke of Brazzaville; Frank Gehry is Duke of Nervión and has designed the royal palace, “a building for everyone in multiple parts” that does not as yet exist.

Additionally, King Xavier has also set up a Redonda imprint and, each year, he and his dukes and duchesses confer a prize on a writer. The reward is several thousand euros and a Redondan duchy. The latest recipient was literary critic George Steiner, now Duke of Girona. “Apart from that, there are no duties for the nobility,” he recently said. “Not even loyalty to me.”

Monday, November 19, 2007

Que Lastima!

I just learned that the two biggest Spanish language bookstores in the country – “Librería Lectorum” and “Macondo,” both on 14th Street in Manhattan – have closed for business within the last 4 weeks. This is terrible news. Gurldogg’s extremely literate wife and in-laws speak primarily Spanish, and this little corridor on 14th has been a great source of both highly desired books and unexpected finds for many years. Every trip to New York involves a pilgrimage to these shops. What are we going to do now? Anyone know of a good online Spanish bookseller?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Mud Hens

It's muddy weather out there for chickens.

The cat bides her time.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Cafe Tacuba

For my 2 cents, Mexico’s Café Tacuba can currently claim the title of “best rock band in the world.” They are very much a rock band, with all that the label implies – 4 musicians with amplified instruments singing pop songs. Despite those self imposed limitations, for some 12 years they have made clever, creative, unpredictable, and wonderfully melodic music which takes as much from Latin musical traditions as it does from electronica, ska, rhythm and blues, and mariachi. Many people have called them the “Beatles of Mexico,” and while that’s a heavy burden to bear, it’s impossible to deny their incessant musical inventiveness and the extent of their range.

The electropop "EO" from their last album is a case in point.

Their new album, Sino, is a little cloying for my tastes. As has been their pattern, Sino sounds quite different from everything they’ve done before. In this case, it means that they have recorded an album that heavily references “arena rock,” with distinct echoes of the Who, Rush, and other bands from that hellish era of popular music. Of course, I’m saying that after happily playing the thing at least 75 times. Doubtless I will play it many more, much as I’ve played their albums “Re,” “Reves/YoSoy,” and “Avalancha de Exitos” into the ground.

Sadly, they are playing no gigs anywhere near the Pacific NW on their current tour. They are playing in New York on Nov. 20, at the Hammerstein Ballroom.

Corey Fishes

Corey Arnold is a photographer and fisherman based in Portland, although from October through February he catches crab in the Bering Sea, and often finds himself in various Scandinavian ports. I can’t vouch for his fishing skills, but his photographic eye is impeccable. His large, and growing, website presents hundreds of gorgeous images of arctic landscapes, human behavior, and lots and lots of fish. The strangely entertaining “news” page makes no qualitative distinction between such entries as “January-March - Cod and Opilio crab season aboard the F/V Rollo” and “May 12-June 9 - Solo Exhibition at Richard Heller Gallery - Santa Monica."
Much more work at

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Cultura Catalana

I went to see the Catalan film Quixotic at the Northwest Film Forum. The film has won all manner of awards, including Special Jury prizes at Cannes and other impressive honors. It was billed as a post-modern version of Don Quixote. I may be exposing my ignorance here, but it was truly nothing more than two hours of two men moving slowly through the Catalan countryside, saying almost nothing, sharing nothing, expressing nothing. I found it unspeakably dull. How does a film like this garner such accolades and get distributed internationally?

What I did like however, was the unexpected appearance of Catalan iconoclast Albert Pla. Pla is a phenomenally poetic, angry and intelligent singer-songwriter from Spain. His subjects are often deliberately provocative – scatological, violent, sympathetic towards serial killers and rapists – but at the same time his lyrics are deeply moving and his music is complex and beautiful. Despite being a compelling figure, he is virtually unknown in the U.S. Some of that is due to his challenging subject matter, and some of it is due to his refusal to perform in this country.

This is his version of Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side.” A smash.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Paper These Walls

As always, New York City provides the shining path for street artists. These are a couple stellar pieces that I saw last time I was in NYC by, I believe, WK Interact.

I'll keep posting worthy street art as I create it or come across it. But there are plenty of great sites for graffiti aficionados. Most of them from, of course, New York.

For example, take some inspiration from Global Graphica or Visual Resistance.

And despite their NYC pedigree, Wooster Collective, bless their hearts, posts street art from around the world.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Anonymous Confessions

I saw these photocopied posters pasted to a crumbling wall at 8th and Pine. I liked how they were simultaneously quite intimate and totally anonymous.

Street Films

I'm happy to have stumbled upon street films. According to their website, Street films is dedicated to "filming the New York City Streets Renaissance." The entire site is dedicated to amateur made films of people riding bikes in the streets of New York and other American cities. The films have titles such as "Clowns Liberate Bike Lanes" and the almost too wonderful "Kids Art Bike Parade" in which over 100 children ride their beautifully adorned bikes through the Lower East Side.

I came to it via a film that David Byrne made and posted on his own blog site. The site makes me want to be in New York, but even more, it once again reminds me how creative bike people tend to be.

Suffragette City

This recently came to my attention. David Bowie was imprisoned in Rochester, New York following his March 1976 arrest on a felony pot possession charge. Bowie, 29 at the time, was nabbed along with Iggy Pop at a Rochester hotel following a Saturday concert. Bowie was held in the Monroe County jail for a few hours before being released. The Rochester Police Department mug shot was taken three days after Bowie's arrest, when he appeared at Rochester City Court for arraignment. The original mugshot is owned by a Rochester guy who is looking to sell the one-of-a-kind image. So if you're looking for a truly unique piece of Rochester rock and roll memorabilia drop a line to

Friday, November 2, 2007

Close to Home

I finally had a chance to see the Chuck Close print exhibit at the Greg Kucera gallery in Seattle. It is nothing short of extraordinary. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen reprints of his work, of how often I’ve seen the few giant paintings on permanent display at the MoMA. Looking a wide range of his work, collected from various stages of his career, is an enlightening and inspiring experience.

Close is a process junky. His work has been based on the same simple structure for the last 30 years or so. He takes photographs of friends’ and acquaintances’ faces, overlays a grid on top of them, and then reproduces the photos cell-by-cell using a wide range of mediums and techniques. Because Close is astoundingly inventive and obsessively precise, the simplicity of this form gives way to an astonishing range of results. Over the years Close has filled in the grid squares with paint, ink, pencil, paper pulp, thumbprints, string, fabric, collage, and more. Using the clumsiest of materials, he achieves a level of photo realism that has to be seen to be believed.

The show at Kucera gallery is basically a retrospective of his prints. This image of Lucas Samaras is a linocut reduction print – one square of linoleum was cut 8 or 10 times in order to produce an unrepeatable series of “steps” which lead up to a final complex image. Other prints showcase a silkscreen self portrait created with 178 individual screens (the mind reels) and a wood block print made from 80-odd individual blocks. Each piece is a masterwork. Seeing a few dozen on display at once is a tour de force.

The show is only up until November 10. Don’t miss it.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Queen Shmooquan

Not everyone among us has yet been exposed to Queen Shmooquan. If you're one of those unfortunate people, you must see her solo show at the Rendezvous Jewel Box Theater.

As played by Jeppa Hall, Queen Shmooquan is part sex goddess, part retarded child. In her performances at Moisture Festival, Drunk Puppet Nite, and at the Pink Door, Shmooquan is a kind of priestess of strange rituals in which the stuff of religion gets tangled up with the trappings of politics, as performed by a sexually precocious wild child. She’s beyond weird, but she still manages to be poetic, prophetic, absurd and never less than compelling. Her new show, “say my name,” is series of performance pieces, featured once a month at the Rendezvous' Jewel Box Theater. Every Wednesday, beginning November 7th @ 8:00pm ( a knife)
The Rendezvous' JEWEL BOX THEATRE, Belltown
$10, tickets at the door

The Queen is also featured at The Pink Door as part of “Burlesque Behind the Pink Door": Saturdays Nov. 10, Dec. 1 & Dec 15. Show starts 11pm.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Nomadic Atelier stakes new ground

Curator and thriftstore bon vivant Paul Pauper has been running the Form/Space Atelier as a nomadic gallery and lecture hall for nearly five years, roaming from free space to free space as circumstances allow. Amazingly, the Form/Space Atelier has run nearly continuously in four different homes in or near downtown Seattle, showcasing dozens of powerful exhibits by both well known and unknown artists, and many fine lectures on subjects artistic and cultural.

Currently, the Atelier calls Belltown home. The gallery is located in a vacated hallway at 2407 1st Avenue. The current exhibit, new oil paintings on a decidedly gothic theme by muralist Jeff Jacobsen, the founder of potent graffiti co-op Writer’s Union will be on view until October 28. The next lecture is planned for November 14, at which Kyle MacDonald, famed for his accomplishments with a single red paper clip, will present a talk and slide show about the experience.

Friday, October 19, 2007


Part-time local Janaki Ranpura has a new puppet show touring the country. She picked up a good review in San Francisco, and will be in Minneapolis for the next two nights.

Find further dates on her website.