Friday, December 30, 2011

Manage Workflow

Remarkable new work from New York artist Specter. This is part of his "Manage Workflow" series that celebrates New York's marginalized workforce. These highly detailed hand-painted portraits started appearing around NYC in 2009. More here.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wain Cats

Weird and compelling short article in Scientific American about artist and psychiatric patient Louis Wain, who lived and painted in England between 1860 and 1939.

Wain was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1924. Though the diagnosis is still debated, what's fascinating is that Wain retained his interest in cats as his subject of choice, and his skill as a draftsman remained obvious. As his condition worsened his pictures of cats became more abstract until, towards the end of his life, they were barely recognisable as cats at all, instead becoming intricately detailed, fractal shapes full of bright colours. The foreknowledge that they are images of kitties allows the viewer to pick up on certain shapes – the pointy ears and some features – but without it, you would be hard-pressed to realise these are cats.

The story ends somewhat happily with Wain in a London hospital surrounded by a colony of cats. Check out his early cute and relatively realistic work here and his spectacular and terrifying later work here.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The End is Beer

It's widely known that the Mayan calendar marks 2012 as the last year for humanity’s existence. In honor of the end of the world, Seattle's Elysian Brewing Company has teamed up with Fantagraphics Books, and apocalyptic cartoonist Charles Burns to release “Twelve Beers of the Apocalypse” over the course of the year.

First up in January is "Niburu," named for the planet supposedly on a collision course toward Earth. February 21 introduces "Rapture," fallowed by "Fallout" in March. Each beer will be available in a limited edition bottle with labels by Burns at Fantagraphics' bookstore in Georgetown. Once the bottles are gone, these beers will never be brewed again. Of course by the end of 2012 that will be the least of our worries. More on the endeavor here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

To Juan at the Winter Solstice

by Robert Graves

There is one story and one story only
That will prove worth your telling,
Whether are learned bard or gifted child;
To it all lines or lesser gauds belong
That startle with their shining
Such common stories as they stray into.

Is it of trees you tell, their months and virtues,
Or strange beasts that beset you,
Of birds that croak at you the Triple will?
Or of the Zodiac and how slow it turns
Below the Boreal Crown,
Prison of all true kings that ever reigned?

Water to water, ark again to ark,
From woman back to woman:
So each new victim treads unfalteringly
The never altered circuit of his fate,
Bringing twelve peers as witness
Both to his starry rise and starry fall.

Or is it of the Virgin's silver beauty,
All fish below the thighs?
She in her left hand bears a leafy quince;
When, with her right she crooks a finger smiling,
How may the King hold back?
Royally then he barters life for love.

Or of the undying snake from chaos hatched,
Whose coils contain the ocean,
Into whose chops with naked sword he springs,
Then in black water, tangled by the reeds,
Battles three days and nights,
To be spewed up beside her scalloped shore?

Much snow is falling, winds roar hollowly,
The owl hoots from the elder,
Fear in your heart cries to the loving-cup:
Sorrow to sorrow as the sparks fly upward.
The log groans and confesses
There is one story and one story only.

Dwell on her graciousness, dwell on her smiling,
Do not forget what flowers
The great boar trampled down in ivy time.
Her brow was creamy as the crested wave,
Her sea-blue eyes were wild
But nothing promised that is not performed.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Punk Rock Flea Market

The 11th Punk Rock Flea Market has come and gone, wrapping up the 5th full year of this underground Seattle institution. Was it fun? Hell yes. Ten hours of booze-fueled shopping with non-stop music from our beloved DJ Port-a-Party. More than 700 people came through the doors - not even including the clowns who sneaked in to avoid paying their $1 entry fee - and we made a donation of about $1000 to our friends and benefactors at the Low Income Housing Institute. If you made it, we were happy to have you there. If you missed it, there's always next time.

Incidentally, our awesome poster for this market was created by Seattle artist Narboo, well known around these parts for his cartoony owls, pigeons, cats & raccoons who appear like magic on stop signs and bathroom walls everywhere between Vancouver, BC and Portland, OR. He still has some limited edition prints left, available right here. The next Punk Rock Flea Market should take place sometime around midsummer. Make a date, mark your calendars and start saving your pennies. And of course, keep an eye on Gurldoggie for details.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Stasia Burrington

The Punk Rock Flea Market happened over the weekend, and it was a hell of a thing. I'll post a full update in a minute, but I first want to highlight one of the vendors who was selling work there. Stasia Burrington is an illustrator here in Seattle, and I just love her work. There's so much to enjoy here - The super cute figures have feelings that run very deep. Her clean clean lines reveal wonderfully complicated ambiguities. And the characters somehow maintain their innocence despite living in a sexy and violent world. Punk rock? Maybe not. Hopelessly romantic? Without question.

Baby Nico really liked this one. For myself, I picked up a pocket-size 2012 calendar with an illustration for each month. Lovely. See more of her work here, and go shopping on her Etsy site right here.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Chromatic Typewriter

Painter Tyree Callahan out of Bellingham modified a 1937 Underwood Standard typewriter, replacing the letters and keys with color pads and hued labels to create a functional “painting” device called the Chromatic Typewriter. The lovely machine was Callahan's entry to the 2012 West Prize competition, an annual art prize that’s determined by popular vote. If you like it, there's still time to vote, right here.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Theaster Gates

Theaster Gates is a Renaissance man on a mission.

Gates grew up in Chicago and graduated from Iowa State University as an urban planning major. While there he took a course in ceramics that got him hooked on clay and made him think he could be an artist. He studied religion in South Africa, sojourned in Japan, and earned the first of two masters degrees. In the process, Gates went from throwing pots to mounting emotionally charged installations and performances, including multiple events based on a faux biographical story that Gates created. In his tale, a master Japanese potter, Yamaguchi, had fled Hiroshima and landed in Mississippi, where he married a black woman, combined Japanese and black southern cultures, mentored Gates, and then died, leaving Gates to continue his mission of "fostering social transformation."

With former Wilco member LeRoy Bach, Gates formed an experimental music ensemble, the Black Monks of Mississippi, making performance art out of a blend of Eastern chants, gospel, and the blues. By 2010 Gates was a hot ticket on the museum circuit, with a schedule that included on-site projects or residencies at the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, Houston's Contemporary Arts Museum, and New York's Armory Show and the Whitney Art Museum.

But in the summer of 2009, while his career was thriving, his Chicago neighborhood had emptied out due to assorted consequences of poverty and economic collapse. The house next door to Gates — bigger than his and bustling with three tenant families when he moved in — was abandoned and bank-owned, and had been on the market for a year. Gates bought the forlorn frame house for $16,000, and the extra house became a library and archive housing Gates' 60,000 glass lantern slides from the University of Chicago's art history department, 14,000 books from Prairie Avenue Bookshop, which was closing, and the 8,000 LPs that the Dr. Wax record store still owned when it also shut down.

In 2010, Gates launched a series of artists' residencies, featuring public performances in his house promoted by word of mouth. After a tremendously successful year, Gates formed his own nonprofit, the Rebuild Foundation, which acquires property in blighted neighborhoods in other cities including Saint Louis, Detroit and Omaha, all of which he intends to converted into grassroots cultural use.

In late April, the Rebuild Foundation acquired a much bigger project: the Dante Harper Townhomes, a shuttered 36-unit Section-8 property a couple of blocks from Gates's home. The plan is to redevelop the building into mixed-income housing for people with an interest in the arts.

It's all of a piece, Gates says. "A big part of my art practice has been creatively investigating what happens in neighborhoods. That also includes playing in the real market, not just gesturing at it. We're at a moment where the interventions that artists make are not just in museums and galleries."

A new installation by Gates opens at the Seattle Art Museum on December 8, and runs through July 1. Theaster Gates speaks at Town Hall Seattle on Tuesday December 6 at 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Paul Goodman Changed My Life

The film “Paul Goodman Changed My Life” pays tribute to a man — poet, teacher, social critic, and guru - who was once widely read, but has since fallen into an unmerited obscurity. It is that fall from public awareness that this documentary seeks to overcome.

Goodman was a member of the generation of Jewish intellectuals who made their way from the margins to the center of American cultural life. Born and raised in New York, he was an early opponent of the Vietnam War, a founder of Gestalt therapy and a member of the faculty of Black Mountain College in North Carolina, the institution that was home to such thinkers and artists as Ed Dorn, Robert Creeley and Robert Rauschenberg, and birthed the American avant-garde. Not only a public intellectual, Goodman was also an active participant in the movements that aimed to change society and not just reflect upon it.

Though married twice and the father of three children, Goodman was open and unapologetic about his sexual attraction to both men and women. “Paul Goodman Changed My Life” is a fascinating film that paints a composite portrait of a complex man who never stopped thinking and who was incapable of anything but honesty in thought and deed.

At the SIFF Cinema from December 2 through December 8, 2011.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Makin' it Last

Part of what makes graffiti so compelling is it's incredibly contradictory nature. Whatever manic and aggressive aspects an individual piece of graffiti can posses, its impermanence gives it an inherently fragile quality. Graffiti is all about the moment that you happen to see it - one day it's a blank wall, the next day it's a masterpiece, and the day after that it's gone again. Bam.

Despite that here-today gone-tomorrow quality, graffiti- and hip hop in general - has attained a cultural longevity that no one would have predicted 35 years ago. Some of the artists who appeared like bursts of flame, and may have been expected to disappear just as quickly, are now revered as elder statesmen. Photos of their pieces have become cultural icons, and in the rare situation where an original piece has survived, they have become pilgrimage sites.

So it's only natural that a number of thoughtful projects have surfaced that mean to preserve some international graffiti landmarks.

Photographer and film director Henry Chalfant is spearheading the restoration of the 30 hours of unseen outtakes from the classic graffiti and hip-hop culture documentary Style Wars. The film is an indispensable document of New York Street culture from the early '80s, and there are about 30 hours of film shot between 1981 and 1982 that have almost never been seen. Chalfant, who co-produced the original film, is trying to preserve that footage and re-edit it into a second full length DVD. Here’s a great little video from Chalfant about the project.

While Style Wars was screening for the first time in NYC, Keith Haring was being flown over to Australia to paint a mural on an outdoor wall of the Collingwood Technical College in Melbourne. The mural is one of the few remaining outdoor murals by this influential and brilliant artist who died in 1990, and it's been sitting exposed to the sun and rain for the last 27 years. Finally there's effort underway to save it, going on right here.

Giving a little cash to a project like these is a personal choice - what's more interesting is the growing awareness that these ephemeral works form a part of our culture that is worth keeping.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Aono Jikken from the Gimli Hospital

Seattle’s Aono Jikken Ensemble has been in New York working with otherworldly film director Guy Maddin on a re-boot of his debut feature Tales From the Gimli Hospital. The film, originally released in 1988, tells the “true story" of Icelandic immigrants who arrive in a plague-stricken Canadian village. Already weird and imaginative beyond description, the film has been completely re-edited and dubbed with new narration and dialogue, and Aono Jikken Ensemble have spent months composing a new score featuring an all-star group of Icelandic string musicians and vocalists. AJE’s wonderful unique combination of traditional Asian, western and world instruments, combined with the Icelandic strings and voices, together with found objects, children’s toys and specially created sound devices should create a whole new sound world for Maddin’s epic film. The whole shebang appears at the Walter Reade Theater of Lincoln Center on November 18 & 19 as part of Performa 11 – New York City’s New Visual Art Performance Biennial. Who knows if this will ever tour, so for God's sake see it in New York if at all possible. If you're a supporter of AJE (and who isn't?) you get a discount if you buy online and use the discount code "member11." Full ticket details right here.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Hard to believe that the timing is a coincidence. Today, November 11th, marks the 123rd anniversary of the execution of the Haymarket Martyrs - eight anarchists and labor organizers who took part in the struggle for the 8 hour work day and the May Day uprising in Chicago in 1886.

In 1884, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions (Now the AFL) began loudly calling for a great movement to win a national 8-hour workday. The plan was to spend two years urging all American employers to adopt a standard 8-hour day, instead of the 10- to 16-hour days that were then prevalent. Beginning May 1886, all workers not yet on an 8-hour schedule were to cease work in a nation-wide strike until their employers met the demand.

Accordingly, on May 1 of that year great demonstrations erupted across the country. The largest was in Chicago, where 80,000 people marched, much to the alarm of Chicago's business leaders who saw it as a foreshadowing of "revolution," and demanded a police crackdown.

A mass meeting was called for the night of May 4, 1886 in the city haymarket. A large force of police arrived to demand that the meeting disperse, and someone, unknown to this day, threw a bomb. In their confusion, the police began firing their weapons in the dark, killing at least four in the crowd and wounding many more.

In the aftermath of the event, unions were raided all across the country. The Eight-Hour Movement was derailed and it was not until passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1935 that the 8-hour workday became the national standard, as part of President Roosevelt's New Deal.

Albert Parsons and seven others associated with radical organizations were prosecuted in a show trial. None were linked to the bomb thrower, and some were not even present at the time, but the charges against them alleged that their public criticism of corporate America, the political structure, and the use of police power against the working people, inspired the bomber.

Governor John Peter Altgeld subsequently found the trial to be grossly unfair. On June 26, 1894, Altgeld pardoned those defendants still alive and in prison; but five of the martyrs had already been hanged, on November 11, 1887, and one was dead of an apparent suicide.

In July 1889, a delegate from the AFL attending an international labor conference in Paris, urged that May 1 of each year be celebrated as a day of labor solidarity. With the notable exception of the United States, workers throughout the world now celebrate May 1 as "Labor Day."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Short Run

If you're reading this blog, you've probably got a taste for old school media - ie. beautiful handmade objects and actual printed books. The Short Run Small Press Fest is in Seattle a first-of-its-kind small press expo featuring dozens of handmade literary journals, comics, zines, and small-press books, along with a fancy bake sale and screenings of recent work from Seattle Experimental Animation Team. Uniquely beautiful handmade books are a joy unto themselves, and the kind of thing you'll never be able to download onto your Kindle. At Seattle's all-ages Vera Project this Saturday starting at 10:30 am. Admission is free free free.

And if you want more, the show continues with an party and exhibit at the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery in Seattle. The party begins on Saturday after the Short Run show and the display continues through December 10.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Julius Eastman Memorial Dinner

A new radio play about composer Julius Eastman will premiere this Saturday, November 12, at the Performa Biennial in New York.

Eastman is a compelling though little-known figure in American composition. He was a gay African-American composer, hailed as an incredible vocalist and pianist. Eastman is probably best known for singing on the 1973 Grammy-nominated Nonesuch recording of Peter Maxwell Davies's Eight Songs for a Mad King. Raised in Ithaca, New York, he started studying piano at fourteen and was playing Beethoven after only six months of lessons. He studied at the Curtis Institute of Music as a piano major under Mieczyslaw Horzowski but soon switched to composition. In 1968 he moved to Buffalo where he was a member of the Creative Associates, under the leadership of Lukas Foss and later Morton Feldman.

While in Buffalo, he performed and toured music by many prominent contemporary composers, as well as had his own music performed. He eventually moved to New York City, where he was associated with the Brooklyn Philharmonic, and worked with downtown composers like Meredith Monk, Peter Gordon, Arthur Russell and Evan Lurie. Once he left Buffalo, the titles of his pieces started to change, from poetic and evocative titles like "The Moon's Silent Modulation" to much more confrontational themes like "If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich," and "Evil Nigger."

A 1980 piece for Eastman's voice and cello ensemble, The Holy Presence of Jeanne d'Arc, was performed to wide acclaim at The Kitchen in New York City, and in 1981 Eastman recorded with Meredith Monk's ensemble for her influential album Dolmen Music.

However, success was fleeting. Desperate for paid work and despondent about what he saw as a lack of professional opportunities, Eastman began using drugs heavily. At one point he was evicted from his apartment, his belongings confiscated by the sheriff, and he took up residence in Tompkins Square Park.

A job teaching music theory brought him back to SUNY Buffalo, but his music career never recovered. Eastman died alone at the age of 50 in Millard Fillmore Hospital in Buffalo. No public notice was given to his death until an obituary by Kyle Gann appeared in the Village Voice eight months after he died.

In 2005 New World Records released a 3-CD set of Eastman’s music.

The radio show, called "Julius Eastman Memorial Dinner, features several pianists and voice-actors, and will be broadcast live twice before being archived. It should be a fascinating event. Below is a recording of Eastman's piece “Evil Nigger” from 1979, here played on four pianos, including one played by Eastman himself.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Yelping with Cormac McCarthy

Did you know that novelist Cormac McCarthy reviews his favorite shopping spots on Yelp? For example, here he is at the local Whole Foods:

The riders watched as the women left their station wagons and strollers and encircled the outlaw. As if some ancient instinct united them. Silent as wolves and staring intently at the broken man standing there. He saw his mistake and called out to the riders reaching toward them with his one good arm but was struck down with a savage blow from a rolled yoga mat.

Heaven help me, but this is why the internet was invented. Much more here.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Best of Henson

Of course pretty much everyone from my generation has a great reverence for Jim Henson. We grew up watching Sesame Street, moved on to the Muppet Show, and watched Labyrinth and the Dark Crystal so many times that huge swaths of our population have memorized the dialogue. Henson's creativity was legendary and his mastery of television has influenced everything that came afterward.

What's interesting is that in the years since his death, no one has come close to claiming his niche. I can't think of a single popular artist today who speaks to children and adults with such equal fluency, and whose work has such huge commercial appeal without ever being trite, saccharine or downright mercenary. We all knew Henson was unique at the time - it's looking more and more like he was true genius.

Starting tomorrow, November 5, the new SIFF Cinema at the Uptown is celebrating the work of Jim Henson by screening including the three original Muppet films, the fantasy classics The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, and eight different collections of classic shorts featuring from The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, and rarities from the Henson vaults.

The series runs through November 22, and the full schedule is available here.

And if you haven't seen this in a while, it's a perfect moment to re-visit Henson's 1966 short film Time Piece. Brilliant, anti-authoritarian, and not a single muppet. Enjoy.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

State Route 99%

Closer to home, Seattle artist No Touching Ground has pasted a series of lifesize portraits of Occupy Wall Street protesters on the columns supporting the monorail on Fifth Avenue. Good strong medicine that can't be ignored. The art police are very quick to remove ornamentation from these particular columns, if you want to see them in living color before they disappear try to make the trip to Belltown before too long. You can see them eternally on the web of course, here and here.

By the way, NTG has been doing some really powerful work all over the place. For example, check out this piece that appeared in Brooklyn, NY over the summer. Nice.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Guy Denning

Guy Denning is a self-taught English artist currently living in France. Mostly known for his gritty and brooding paintings, Denning has heartily embraced various internet outlets including YouTube where he demonstrates how he paints, as well as a terrific blog and Facebook page where he posts a new drawing each day. Denning has been paying close attention to the Occupy Wall Street protests and is busily posting images inspired by the New York conflagration as well as capturing moments seen via the internet in Oakland, London and elsewhere. His uncanny ability to illustrate powerful emotion in the simplest gestural sketches is incredible, and the recent wave of protests have served as an explosive outlet for his deeply felt cynicism and world weary politics. Absolutely worth a look.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Browsing through the magazines up at Elliot Bay Book Company, I was delighted to see DJ/Rupture on the cover of The Wire. I discovered Rupture via “Mudd Up” the phenomenal radio show he hosts every Monday on WFMU. Mudd Up is must listening, either live or via podcast, for the remarkable way it creates beautiful and unexpected mixes with music that ranges from the danceable to the international to the experimental to the outlandish. In scope and attitude, the show really stands out.

Turns out he's also a hell of a writer and thinker. As his real world alter ego, Jace Clayton, he maintains a killer blog, also called Mudd Up, was part of a 2010 panel investigating the rise and fall of the contemporary hipster, has been anthologized by no less an editor than Greil Marcus, and has a book of contemporary music culture coming out from Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Read. Watch. Listen.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I've been hooked on this simple but devilishly addictive YouTube toy that is better experienced than explained. It does amazing things with videos like this classic performance by Stevie Wonder on Sesame Street, makes these great Norman Maclaren films even trippier, and also somehow manages to improve upon the already hypnotizing video for Beyonce’s Countdown. Do check it out. And be sure to hit the "flux" button.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Mourir Auprès de Toi

Watch this fun new animated video called Mourir Auprès de Toi, set in the after hours world of the legendary Shakespeare & Co. bookstore in Paris. The stop-motion short is a collaboration between director Spike Jonze and the French designer Olympia Le-Tan.

Unfortunately, the video can't be embedded, but you can watch it to your heart's content right here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

United Monster's Syndicate

Paul Gasoi is the quintessential painter-as-mad scientist. His work represents an endless series of experiments, using all manner of materials - from standard oil paints and ink pens to postage stamps, comic books and found objects, all the way to mosses, ferns, and animal bones. Rather than use these materials to reflect the world around him, Paul turns his talents inward to create an ever-evolving map of his inner states. His work has toured around the world, and is part of the permanent collection at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore.

After spending two decades in Seattle, Gasoi hopped on a boat in the late 2000's and took up residence among the cypresses and blackberry brambles of Vashon Island. The fertile island landscape has been good to his imagination, and Gasoi's work has become as fantastic and organic as ever.

Paul returns to Seattle for a rare appearance and show at an exotic salon-style event titled “United Monster's Syndicate.” This is a one day only event taking place this Friday, October 22nd from noon to the Underground Events Center in Belltown.

United Monster promises to be a rare showing of a vast array of the artist's old and new works, with opportunities to acquire original paintings, purchase limited edition prints of his selected works, and join Paul for a shot of absinthe - or something even stronger.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Under a Certain Little Star

In honor of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, a poem by Wislawa Szymborska.

My apologies to chance for calling it necessity.
My apologies to necessity in case I'm mistaken.
Don't be angry, happiness, that I take you for my own.
May the dead forgive me that their memory's but a flicker.
My apologies to time for the quantity of world overlooked per second.
My apologies to an old love for treating a new one as the first.
Forgive me, far-off wars, for carrying my flowers home.
Forgive me, open wounds, for pricking my finger.
My apologies for the minuet record, to those calling out from the abyss.
My apologies to those in train stations for sleeping soundly at five in the morning.
Pardon me, hounded hope, for laughing sometimes.
Pardon me, deserts, for not rushing in with a spoonful of water.
And you, O hawk, the same bird for years in the same cage,
staring, motionless, always at the same spot,
absolve me even if you happen to be stuffed.
My apologies to the tree felled for four table legs.
My apologies to large questions for small answers.
Truth, do not pay me too much attention.
Solemnity, be magnanimous toward me.
Bear with me, O mystery of being, for pulling threads from your veil.
Soul, don't blame me that I've got you so seldom.
My apologies to everything that I can't be everywhere.
My apologies to all for not knowing how to be every man and woman.
I know that as long as I live nothing can excuse me,
since I am my own obstacle.
Do not hold it against me, O speech, that I borrow weighty words,
and then labor to make them light.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

ROA in The Gambia

Belgian street artist ROA is in Gambia of all places, doing some astoundingly beautiful work. You must see this.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Craig Thompson

Cartoonist Craig Thompson garnered widespread acclaim for his beautiful graphic novel Blankets, perhaps one of the best comics of the past decade. Six years later, Thompson has come out with his second book, Habibi, an apocalyptic love story between a prostitute and a eunuch, set in a strangely idealized Oriental landscape. It is a beautiful looking book - rich with intricate line work and lush textures, conjuring the sense of an exotic fairy tale. I haven't read it yet, but the book has already received heaps of strong reviews, and it would not surprise me if Thompson's 2nd book becomes a classic as a par with his first. Craig Thompson is in Seattle tomorrow, October 5th, speaking at the Seattle Public Library main branch and signing copies of his new book. The event is co-produced by Fantagraphics Bookstore and the Seattle Public Library Foundation, and admission is free. Thompson, based n Portland OR, recently gave a short interview to Portland Monthly mag. You can read it right here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Matthew Curran

Really unusual stencil work from British-born skate punk Matthew Curran. His lines have the energy of random occurrences, but the forms they describe are so delicate and graceful. Quite nice. More here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New Spanish Cinema

This week brings the third edition of the Festival of New Spanish Cinema to the SIFF Cinema in downtown Seattle. This traveling series, both more beautiful and more popular than anyone expected, brings a dozen recent films by Spanish filmmakers both new and renowned. Every film looks to be a highlight, though I'm particularly drawn by La Mitad De Oscar - a drama set on the windswept landscape of Almeria - and a revival of the creepy 1976 classic ¿Quien Puede Matar Un Nino? or "Who can kill a Child? - a tale of a remote island full of only giggling children who seem to have murdered all the adults.

And I'm fascinated to see Bicycle, Spoon, Apple, a documentary on the immensely popular Catalan politican Pasqual Maragall. Maragall is the Grandson of renowned Catalan poet Joan Maragall, was the Mayor of Barcelona who brought the 1992 Olympic games that forever changed the city, and stepped down from his position as President of the Catalunya upon his announcement that he had Alzheimer's Disease. He is still a beloved figure among left-leaning Catalans, and this should be a remarkable portrait.

The series runs from September 21 to 25 and series passes are available here.

Monday, September 19, 2011

To Autumn

On this day, September 19 in 1819, English poet John Keats wrote "To Autumn," a three-stanza ode to the bounty and melancholy of fall.

Keats's odes are considered his greatest poetic accomplishments and with the exception of "To Autumn," the odes were composed between March and June of 1819, a period during which which he struggled with his own fatal illness, while mourning his brother's recent death, and engaging in an intense love affair with Fanny Brawne.

Keats died of tuberculosis on February 23, 1821, just twenty-five years old.

To Autumn

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the ground, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Johan Rijpma

Completely unexpected and wildly creative animations by Dutch animator Johan Rijpma. Up above, he organizes thousands of photographs of sidewalk tiles and street cracks to create the illusion of motion. Down below he arranges rolls of scotch tape - yes, scotch tape - to an utterly hypnotic effect. Don't take my word for it, you just gotta see this.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Portable Sanctuary

At a one-time-only performance on September 18, percussionist, composer and percussionist Paul Kikuchi is will fill Seattle's Union Station with music composed specifically for the unique acoustics of that unusual colosseum. The performance is the culmination of the artist's residency in the Great Hall at the station, which included open rehearsals and a work-in-progress performance on April 5. Kikuchi's long gestating site-specific work has also included recording sessions and performances in abandoned train tunnels, underground cisterns, and nuclear cooling towers around Washington state. The concert on September 18 features Kikuchi and his ensemble Portable Sanctuary, and coincides with the release of their first album. The performance runs from 1pm to 3pm in Union Station, 401 South Jackson Street. Admission is based on a sliding scale - no more than $15 - and the first 30 guests receive a free copy of the new Portable Sanctuary album.

Nice profile of Paul on the Earshot Jazz website.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hobo Nickels

Since at least the 18th century unknown and uncelebrated artists have carved miniature bas relief sculptures into the surfaces of coins. In the early 20th century the Buffalo nickel was introduced in the U.S., and this particular coin, which featured the portrait of an Indian with bold features, was minted using soft metal making it easier to deface and transform. With the flood of idle hands and unemployed artists resulting from the depression, the phenomenon of the Hobo Nickels was born. Here's a great series of images of nickels carved to reveal skulls - a particular sub genre of the art form. Hobo nickel carving remains a popular hobby today and it even has its own society.

Via Colossal Art & design.

Friday, September 9, 2011

George Kuchar

Legendary underground filmmaker George Kuchar died on Tuesday in San Francisco.

Kuchar and his twin brother Mike made films together from childhood, using an eight-millimeter camera, props from their family’s New York apartment, and actors enlisted among friends and neighbors. Their entire career was spent making beautiful and heartfelt movies on a shoestring budget, inspiring hundreds of self taught film makers, not to mention the many thousands of amateur directors who post their work on Youtube, Vimeo and other sites.

The Kuchar brothers began receiving outside attention in the early ’60s with cheaply made and riotous films like “I Was a Teenage Rumpot.” Their film "Pussy on a Hot Tin Roof" caused a scandal at the New York Eight Millimeter Club, which brought the Kuchars to the attention of underground filmmaker Ken Jacob and Village Voice film critic Jonas Mekas. In 1964, at 22 years old, they had their first retrospective at the New Bowery Theater.

Kuchar had something of a popular breakthrough with his 1966 film short “Hold Me While I’m Naked,” a semi-autobiographical rumination on the frustrations of a maker of soft-core pornographic films. That film, along with a series of films he made on annual visits to a trailer park in Oklahoma during tornado season, became his best-known work. There is a terrific selection of Kuchar's work right here on UbuWeb.

In 1971 he was invited to teach filmmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute, where he remained on the faculty until earlier this year. Teaching provided him with a steady income as well as hundreds of amateur actors — his students — willing to be cast in some of his movies. After a long career, during which he made hundreds of movies, Kuchar died in San Francisco at the age of 69.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Alfred Jarry

Today is the birthday of Alfred Jarry, born September 8 1873.

Jarry was a novelist, playwright and philosopher whose work prefigured Dada, Surrealism, Futurism and the Theater of the Absurd. He is best known for his anti-authoritarian satire Ubu Roi, which premiered in 1896 and immediately ignited a scandal with its scatology and it's relentless absurdity. It has been a theatrical cult classic ever since.

Jarry was vehemently eccentric, riding a bicycle everywhere - into restaurants, the theatre and his apartment - always armed with pistols, and perpetually intoxicated. He ate his meals backwards, dessert first, and adopted the nasal, monotone speaking style he invented for Ubu, enunciating every syllable equally and referring to himself in the royal "we."

His work veered from the bizarre to the disturbing. His book Exploits and Opinions of Dr. Faustroll, Pataphysician describes the exploits and teachings of a sort of philosopher who, born at age 63, travels through Paris in a sieve and teaches all who will listen about "pataphysics" - a science invented by Jarry in which "every event in the universe is accepted as an extraordinary event." Jarry also wrote what is often called "the first cyborg sex novel," Le Surmâle. Jarry was also very involved in the world of printed images, making woodcuts and drawings to ornament his own books.

In his final years, he was a legendary and heroic figure to some of the young writers and artists in Paris, including Guillaume Apollinaire, André Salmon, and Max Jacob. After his death, Pablo Picasso acquired his pistol, and later owned many of his manuscripts.

Jarry lived in Paris until his death at 34 years old from tuberculosis aggravated by drug and alcohol use. Per his request, he was buried upright, bestride a bicycle.

Right here you can read Jarry's prose poem The Passion Considered As An Uphill Bicycle Race alongside J.G. Ballard's parody/homage The Assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy Considered as a Downhill Motor Race .

From the poem:

Jesus, though carrying nothing, perspired heavily. It is not certain whether a female spectator wiped his brow, but we know that Veronica, a girl reporter, got a good shot of him with her Kodak.

The second spill came at the seventh turn on some slippery pavement. Jesus went down for the third time at the eleventh turn, skidding on a rail.


The deplorable accident familiar to us all took place at the twelfth turn. Jesus was in a dead heat at the time with the thieves. We know that he continued the race airborne -- but that is another story.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Rochester Gets Faith

Artist Faith47 out of South Africa was in Rochester, NY recently to work with local artists in transforming a large concrete wall in Troup Street Park into a message of hope, with a second location on North Union Street by the Rochester Public Market. The Synthesis Collaborative, a Rochester nonprofit organization, sponsored the multi-site mural project. Faith47 joined other South African artists including Mak1one, Freddy Sam and Dal along with the FUA Krew out of Rochester, and while there she found time to hit up this underpass deep with the network of Rochester roads. Pretty.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Wild Animals

Wild Animals - a beautiful self-published book by Dutch illustrator Rop van Mierlo — is already in its second printing. They're pretty tough to find around here, but you can buy one direct from the illustrator. Rop's biography states that "He is a man" who "once had a dog that bit off the tip of his ear." The rest, apparently, is history. More here.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


From 1968 to 1974, a group of underground Swedish artists published twenty-four issues of "Puss" magazine — which translates as "Kiss," though the double meaning is unmistakeable - in English. Puss was an in-your-face explosion of irreverence with heaping helpings of body parts and burning flags which pissed on and pissed off just about everyone with their unrelenting satire.

The Puss crew included Lars Hillersberg, Lena Svedberg, Carl Johan De Geer, Leif Katz, Ulf Rahmberg, and "US correspondent" Oyvind Fahlstrom. Here's a google-translation of a 2007 Swedish interview with some of the surviving members.

I stumbled on Puss Magazine through the redoubtable 50 Watts, which then brought me to an extensive exhibit on extensive exhibit on Puss and Carl Johan de Geer at Boo-Hooray Gallery in New York. You can see much more here and read more about the magazine and artists here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Jacques Leonard

In 1950 French photographer Jacques Leonard - already well known for his adventures as an intrepid traveler, racehorse trainer, filmmaker, and writer - fell in love with the painters' model Rosario Amaya. Amaya was a Gypsy, and had grown up in a Romani shanty-town on the edge of Barcelona. Together they settled in the neighborhood, from where he continued his career and conducted a lifetime study of the community around him. For the rest of his life, between the 50s and 70s, Leonard had the unique opportunity to document the quotidian life and customs of the well

guarded Gypsy community who lived in the Montjuic barracks of Barcelona.

His legacy remained in storage for years, until 2009 when his children discovered thousands of negatives and handed them to the Arxiu Fotogràfic de Barcelona. The Leonard archive held nearly 18,000 negatives, including more than 3,000 studies, portraits and snapshots of the gypsy community he lived with. The Arxiu Fotogràfic opened the enlightening exhibition Jacques Leonard: Gypsy Barcelona on June 2nd. The show runs through January 2012.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Ah...Julie Doucet

Did you know that French Canadian cartoonist Julie Doucet has a blog? And that she regularly posts things like disturbing collages and this lovely abstract animation? Now you know. You're welcome.

[Flash 10 is required to watch video]

Thursday, August 18, 2011


This Sunday brings the 5th Artoleptic Festival to Pioneer Square. This small but steadily growing fair highlights urban arts and music, with appearances from plenty of top tier and lesser known artists and musicians. For the first time this year, the festival invites the public to bring large box trucks, work vehicles or buses to get painted for free. If you've got such a beast, just roll your vehicle into the center of the festival at Western and Yesler and have it set upon by a team of artists that includes 179, EGO, Joey Nix, Weirdo and others. A simple clear coat over the top and it should last for years!

This Sunday only, August 21 2011, from noon to 8pm.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

RIP Val Kleitz

I just learned that Seattle's most beloved bike mechanic, Val Kleitz, has died. He passed away on August 10th, 2011. Val was born on June 8th, 1960, and was known throughout this city for his incredible knowledge of bicycles, his sure hand with arcane technologies, his impressive handlebar moustache and his warm and generous manner. Val had been battling cancer for some time, and according to his good friends he died peacefully, surrounded by his family.

For all of his love of form and grace, Val was most devoted to the utilitarian aspect of bicycles. Aaron Goss of Aaron's Bicycle Repair in West Seattle is holding a memorial Cargo Bike Ride for Val this Labor Day, September 5th. Friends and admirers will meet at 20/20 Cycle on Capitol Hill and ride their utility bikes in honor of Val. More info here.

And I will certainly post any information I get about a more formal wake and memorial bike ride.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Cut Up Method

Cut Chemist arrived on this planet in 1993 as part of the Los Angeles-based hip hop crew Unity Committee, and was a key member of the terrific and under appreciated Jurassic 5, mixing tracks, contributing songs and co-producing the seminal early records. Since then he's explored the outer reaches of mixing with records from all corners of the globe, and become the DJ behind-the-scenes for L.A. superstars Ozomatli. Cut Chemist is making a short trip along the West Coast this month to kick off his first headline tour in nearly five years.

His high-concept audio-visual performance uses two traditional turntables and two DVD turntables to create a full-blown atmosphere, with the help of multi-instrumentalist Edan and MC Mr. Lif. The tour comes to Seattle on Friday Aug. 19 for a performance at Showbox and has just three additional dates in San Diego and LA before it goes back to the workshop.

Tickets here. And while there's no shortage to choose from, this is a weird and great recent track that shows something of his wide range.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fefe Talavera

Yes, I am back in Seattle, but I have a huge backlog of items to catch up on from my time away. For the next few weeks I'll be interspersing my usual random assortment of spectacles with a few choice tidbits from Barcelona and other points Iberic.

At the Montana Gallery - the exhibition hall connected to the retail outlet for the world's best spraypaint - I caught the first European Gallery show of Fefe Talavera, the Brazilian street artist famous for fantastic and visceral monsters. Her work has a tremendous energy - raw, hungry and tribal - and while it was a great treat to see a large collection in one place, it's always weird to try and absorb true gutter energy in a gallery. Still, the art is amazing and well worth a look.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Frankfurt El Farofillio

Now THIS is a taco truck!

Pepita, Baby Nico & I were in San Feliu de Guixols for the "Festas Majores," the biggest party of the year during which the entire little city takes a week off of work to play on the beach and party in the streets. It´s a wonderful Spanish concept, and like all things Spanish, food takes pride of place. This incredible food truck - aka Frankfurt el Farolillo rolls up fully contained within a trailer and unfolds to reveal dozens of seats, a well stocked grill, and a bar decked out in leather and chrome that would be the envy of most fully licensed pubs in the U.S. It´s one hell of a party.

It´s been a great 4 weeks in Spain, but all things must come to an end. We head back to the U.S. tomorrow morning, a little less rich, a little more tan, and somewhat ready to get back to the real world. But first - Camarero! One more for the road!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mikel Jaso

I keep coming across the work of Barcelona-based Graphic Artist Mikel Jaso. Pretty nice stuff. More here.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Graffiti in BCN

As always, no shortage of incredible art to be found at street level in Barcelona. A few selections from the many world-class paintings I´ve already seen in just a week of ambling around.

This interesting 26-letter piece is one element in a tremendous international project by Claudia Walde in which more than 150 graffiti artists around the world are painting complete alphabets. This piece is from a series of 8 such alphabets on a single wall in Horta, designed and painted by the artists of Arteurbano. Doubtless, more soon.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


The apartments here are so small! There's some beauty in all this closeness - one certainly knows one's neighbors in Barcelona - but I could use a little elbow room. Or perhaps some "Quadraturin." Quadraturin comes from Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky’s Soviet-era short story about a mysterious substance that transforms small spaces (in this case a shared apartment) into large ones. Below is Valeriy Kozhin’s perfectly claustrophobic animated adaptation of the story. “Quadraturin” is collected in Krzhizhanovsky’s collection Memories of the Future.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bastille Day

by Ron Padgett

The first time I saw Paris
I went to see where the Bastille
had been, and though
I saw the column there
I was too aware that
the Bastille was not there:
I did not know how
to see the emptiness.
People go to see
the missing Twin Towers
and seem to like feeling
the lack of something.
I do not like knowing
that my mother no longer
exists, or the feeling
of knowing. Excuse me
for comparing my mother
to large buildings. Also
for talking about absence.
The red and gray sky
above the rooftops
is darkening and the inhabitants
are hastening home for dinner.
I hope to see you later.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Que me voy

I'm off to my annual sojourn in Barcelona and the Costa Brava. As always, I've got lots of plans to make minimal plans. I will certainly eat much seafood, spend many hours in the sea, and hope to catch up on many pages of neglected reading. Other than that, it's anyone's guess. I will check in from time to time with news and photos, but will hardly make blogging a priority. On behalf of the entire staff, thanks for another year reading Gurldoggie.

This image, of the stunning Antoñita La Singla in Barcelona, is from a 2009 exhibition at the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo of Seville dedicated to flamenco. I found it at the redoubtable Poemas de Rio Wang, where it is one of several stunning images. See it. Ciao!