Overheard and seen

“Some time ago the people at Art21 invited me to be a guest blogger on their site. The requirement for guest bloggers is to produce six posts during a two week period. I thought to myself, “Well – should I blather on for two weeks? How valuable could it be for people to only read my ideas? I wonder what else can I do?”” My friend continued her story as she waited to be seated at Public Fiction’s Secret Dinner event on Friday night, “It happened that the Occupy movement was just getting underway when the invitation came my way – I had spent several days down at City Hall, talking with friends and listening to people. I asked ten people who have a deep involvement to each do a post, I think it worked out pretty well.”

Carol Cheh, chatting while at Public Fiction: dinner by Peter Harkawik, performance by Karen Adelman and Dawn Kasper. Enormous is my respect for Cheh’s gesture.

Carol’s guest guest bloggers were: Robby Herbst, Elana Mann and Juliana Snapper, Matthew Timmons, Teresa Carmody, Mikal Czech, Anna Mayer, Christy Roberts, Dorit Cypis and Matias Viegener.

The collective thoughts of Occupy Art21 may be accessed here: http://blog.art21.org/category/guest-blog/ (If the blog has moved on, as it will, simply search for “#occupyart21”)

Carol Cheh may be found at her own site, Another Righteous Transfer: http://anotherrighteoustransfer.wordpress.com/

Robby Herbst: http://robbyherbst.com/, and Robby at Journal of Aesthetics and Protest: http://www.joaap.org/
Elana Mann and Juliana Snapper: http://www.elanamann.com/ and http://julianasnapper.org/
Matthew Timmons: http://generalprojects.blogspot.com/
Teresa Carmody: http://www.lesfigues.com/lfp/index.php
Mikal Czech: http://uploaddownloadperform.net/MikalCzech/Index
Anna Mayer: http://annamayer.info/
Christy Roberts: http://christyrobertsart.com/
Dorit Cypis: http://www.doritcypis.com/
Matias Viegener: http://www.fallenfruit.org/

“I just want to say that the strength of the LA art scene is the artists, NOT the institutions, not the galleries. If MOCA and LACMA and the GETTY all moved to New York and Gagosian took his import emporium up to SF, the art scene here would survive and thrive because of the creative people dedicated to doing what they do. Fuck the parasites, interlopers and fashionistas, LA means LOS ARTISTS.”

Mat Gleason, over the top and right on. And yes, there’s always room for second thoughts, but saying nothing starts no conversation. Los Artists, indeed. http://coagula.com/

“Ultimately, the museum’s interest is scholarly, and the dealer’s interest is mercantile,” said Christopher Knight, The Times’ art critic. “Those interests might both be honorable, but they’re not the same, and sometimes they even clash. That’s why the AAM has a code of ethics that forbids it. Scripps and the Getty made a mistake by not honoring that.”

Mike Boehm quoting Knight in “Code Breaker for a Scripps College Museum Exhibition” http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-et-ceramics-show-dealer-20120114,0,2400795.story My own interest in this quote is the notion that scholarly interests and commercial interests both can be honorable. Pace Mat Gleason (and understanding/sharing completely his frustration) commerce is value neutral and only becomes wrong when used badly.

“Does anyone need more meat?”

Chef Peter Harkawik at the above mentioned Secret Dinner at Public Fiction. This was a stellar event. Josh Callaghan interviewed each guest (briefly) to determine the proper series of courses to delight and offer spiritual resolution to a crowd of fast-living, smart phone burdened, urbane sophisti-cats.

We broke bread together, and the crumbs scattered across the long bench-style table. Later, freshly boiled eggs were served, and we also broke these and soon mounds of still warm shells piled up cheerfully. We were a group of strangers at first, but sharing bread and eggs, and tasting the pear butter with rough ground pepper and Tibetan salt made  us, if not friends then a company of like souls, gathered and joined only momentarily, but still well and with shared good feeling.

A battalion of lovely and patient wait staff transported to each a selected variety of delicacies. When interviewed, I confided to Callaghan that while I had my usual and terrific day, if pressed I would admit that I have been stressed and frustrated and the afternoon prior to this dinner had been particularly technologically challenging. I wanted comforting, my dining therapist/coach decided, and indeed I was served a plate full of fork tender pot roast, quinoa, sauteed artichoke hearts and incredible green potatoes. Nice.

Interestingly, and I do not know whether this was Harkawik’s plan or not, at the first some among us were served plates piled high with food, and others only got a small bowl of buckwheat noodles with peanut sauce. With my generous and meat based serving I felt suddenly like one of the 1% sitting next to and among many who were obviously far less well taken care of than me. I felt guilty and uncomfortable… and so very full. The servings continued, and portions grew and diminished, were eaten and replenished with each round in an elegant dance of plates and fork and mouths.

Food as political art, cooking as conceptual practice – I think that Harkawik’s gregarious and human gesture to invite us to share his table reminded us all of our shared place in life.

Dawn Kasper and Karen Adelman were scheduled to perform at 9 pm, and they did, and it was raucous and wily and mixed up. “We thought there would be tables.” “We thought there would be tables with chairs.” This from Dawn Kasper, as she strode down the center of our long table, clomping her feet and in great voice. “The table would be round and the chairs square, or the chairs round and the…”

Karen Adelman chimed in and expanded on the original thought, “We talked about sitting in the center, we talked about maintaining eye contact. We thought there would be tables!”

A gentleman sitting near me put forth that Gertrude Stein was being channeled, and if not The Making of Americans, this was certainly the making of a performance, which may and may not be the same thing.

It seems their thought was to exhibit difficulty in connecting, and in continuing to be connected. They achieved this expression. A loudspeaker played a cut up pop song, with each performer’s movement the table swayed and the two lost eye contact. Kasper dismantled one end of our table, and a photo-taking guest with great elan did not trip over the cmu blocks that stood as reminder of the table’s former outline.

As things progressed, they each followed their own pursuits – Adelman a guided meditation, which she read from her iPhone, and Kasper moved to another table to wreak havoc and to then re-organize her havoc into something approaching ordered chaos. For a second time, no, make that for the fourth time, experiencing Kasper at her work had me thinking that at heart she is a musical composer: she made so many sounds and each was so well placed. Clinks of plates on plates, plates on glasses, feet on table, her own focused speaking -to all this she brings a rhythm that, I notice, is chaotic and is also life-like.

The two actors wound down and began again to converse – they discussed what type of song Adelman would sing, and Adelman told the story of a friend’s funeral which she attended alone and at which she sang, also alone. She ended the performance by singing, as she had at the friend’s memorial, excerpts from “Amazing Grace” and “Bye and Bye.”

This last movement was awkward. Spirituals such as these bring a lot into a room, and death is big, much bigger than the performance that I had seen, which had ranged from lighthearted to confounding and was all over fun and the parts that were forced went down easily because the whole was good-natured. If seriousness was intended, more work needed to be done to prepare its way.

Peter Harkawik: http://www.harkawik.com/
Public Fiction: http://publicfiction.org/
Dawn Kasper: http://www.usaprojects.org/project/this_could_be_something_if_i_let_it Link is to information on Kasper’s three month occupation of the Whitney Museum as her contribution to the upcoming Biennial. Home girl does very, very good. Take it out for Dawn, friends.
Karen Adelman is a graduate student at the University of Southern California.

“Would you excuse me for a moment?” Samara Golden asked me politely, as she drew her phone from her purse, “Somebody has been trying to reach me for ten minutes. it’s just driving me crazy.”

‘Hahahahahaha omigod it’s you! You texted me your number, that’s right! Look at us – two people talking face to face and we can’t connect because at the same time we are trying to hook up electronically.”

Feeling a bit foolish, we continued our conversation uninterrupted. The crowd at Cirrus Gallery was thinning out and as I looked around I noted that people were in fact speaking, to each other. And were not becoming distracted. Maybe next time I’ll leave my phone at home. Or, well, maybe in the car, just in case.

Cirrus Gallery:http://cirrusgallery.com/
Samara Golden: http://samaragolden.com/home.html, Golden will be showing with Night Gallery at Art Los Angeles Contemporary: http://artlosangelesfair.com/exhibitor/476/

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