Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Memphis OPML Update

I put up the new version of the Memphis OPML this morning. I doubt I'll post about every update from here on in, but since I added about a dozen blogs and changed up the Optimal page, I figured it was worth mentioning.

In other news, I've been on heavy doses of allergy medicine since Monday of last week, Amber quit her job, got safer one, and didn't make it into Indie Memphis. I'm a little grumpy about that last one, but not for the reasons you might think. I'm also working on a very long, research heavy post about the system of gallery and festival calls, but we'll see if I ever let it see the light of day. I'm not sure how much I can say about the suck fest that is a $30 entry fees for every f@#$ing thing under the sun without it just sounding like so much sour grapes.

Friday, September 22, 2006

And when he had opened the Seventh Seal...

...Thomas Kinkade descended upon Memphis, and the resulting vortex of kitch did swallow the city whole...

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Greatest Danger

Friday night Amber and I were beyond beat; this has been one hell of a week. We actually had to psych each other up for doing the opening circuit. We did this by bribing ourselves with Sushi first. Ryu on Summer has an early bird special that can get us stuffed on Sushi for under $30 and it proved a very effective way of getting us out of the house. If you go, and aren’t in the mood for Nigiri, I recommend the "Spicy crunchy" roll.

After dinner, the first stop was Jana Travis’ "Inside-Out" at DCI. I didn’t know it at the time, but this show introduced me to what was to be my theme for the night: "I have no idea how to look at this." We were in the gallery for right at half an hour and the only even remotely useful phrase that wandered through my head was "this is the domesticity of a highly ordered mind." I’m not even sure what I meant by that, but I wrote it down anyway in hopes that it would shed some light on the experience later. It didn’t. I just get the impression of someone that has flowers in her house but doesn’t like them very much.

Now it’s time for a little confession: I was actively dreading our next stop, Bobby Spillman’s "Vacate Now!!!" at L. Ross. I’ve actually been dreading it since I first started on the idea of writing these reviews because I knew that I couldn’t go see art in Memphis and not eventually see a Bobby Spillman show. And I should say up front, that I have nothing against Bobby (I like him, insofar as I know him), I’ve just never been able to come to grips with his paintings.

It’s embarrassing actually, because a great many people that I like and respect, like and respect his work and if they ask me what I think, I have to tell them that I haven’t the faintest clue what I’m looking at. Abstraction I can generally do, but the frenetic energy of these paintings usually just leaves me feeling defeated and confused.

This is exactly how I was feeling as I was leaving the gallery on Friday, when I turned for one last look and something in the painting “I can See clearly Now” caught my attention. I chuckled quietly to myself as for a moment I seemed to catch a glimpse of Terry Gilliam. Then I realized that this gave me something to hang onto. I looked around the gallery for something else... There was Hokusai... and across from it was Phillip Guston accosting a tree... Christ! The tree is Chuck Jones (and so is that tornado over there)! Am I looking at metaphorical collage? I still don’t know, but at least I have something to hang on to.

We left that show around 8 and came to the unfortunate realization that we’d missed Carolyn Bomar’s show at Material (a fact that bums me out on a lot of levels), so we make a b-line for Larry Edwards at Marshall Arts. Again I was confronted by something inexplicable to me. I could take ten pages of copy and explain to you in excruciating detail exactly what I saw, but I’m afraid it wouldn’t do any good.

I’ve been told by people who knew his work from before that this show is pretty much indicative of his work. Apparently he’s something of a perennial figure in Memphis art, which does me no good seeing as I’m not from Memphis. What I saw was a beautiful and exquisitely crafted train wreck. I walked in the door and saw an image so bluntly horrifying and yet inescapably beautiful that I had to physically extricate myself from it.

It was like watching the Masterpiece Theatre version of Jerry Springer.


My fortune cookie at lunch today said, "The greatest danger could be your stupidity."

My Chinese word for the day was Green Bean.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

One for the Record Books

I’m not sure what I’m going to do if things don’t settle down soon. This week has been an disaster (excepting for about four blissful hours spent at the Brooks Museum last night). Let me give you the disaster countdown:

First Amber’s car dies in traffic. I don’t mean dies as in “stalls quietly sitting at a red light.” No, I mean “all power and most of the brakes go out at 55MPH in heavy rush hour traffic.” I managed to coast to a very lucky stop at Highland and Summer. The wonder that are Daniel and Chandler were nice enough to come rescue us. Two days and $500 later, we should be getting the car back tonight. For future reference, a dead alternator in a Hyundai will cause the car to shift from 4th to 1st in the space of about a quarter mile.

I get home after going back to the car to leave a note begging the cops to not impound our abandoned vehicle before the wrecker can get there to a message from my dad asking me to call him. The tone in his voice tells me that this isn’t going to be good. I get him on the phone and it turns out that sometime late that afternoon my grandmother had been bitten on the hand by a snake. Oh but wait, it gets better: it later transpires that she’s allergic to anti-venom. Pardon my acronym, but OMGWTF?!?!? Last I heard (which was late last night), she was responding well to allergy treatments and was going to be moved out of ICU onto a ward floor. I want to go see her, but at this point that would leave Amber without any means of transportation to get to work.

Speaking of Amber and her work, now on to disaster number three. Most anybody who reads this would know that Amber took a teaching job with the city schools. Specifically, she took a teaching job with the school that has been on the news so much because of the 26 arrests that kept the school in a three hour lockdown less than two weeks ago. I’m here to tell you that the security situation in said school has gotten no better.

One of her students yesterday brought her a letter from the schools administration excusing his absence from class due to detention. It turns out that he was in detention because of a gang fight. I’ll give you a second to process that…

That’s right: he got an excused absence because of a gang fight.

We should be mad as hell that our children are being daily thrust into the middle of violent, gang ridden schools with laughable security. I know the city schools spokesperson has been on the news every night this week talking about hiring more security personnel, and I realize that the bureaucracy involved in this task must make it incredibly time consuming (we don’t want just anyone watching after our children), but it must be emphasized that this cannot happen fast enough.

On Wednesday, Amber began her morning witnessing the absolute beating of one of her Female students by one of her Male students. She rang for a school official to come down and help, but nobody every showed up. She was instructed to “retain the students.” I’d love for someone to explain to me how my wife was supposed to “retain” an adrenaline pumped 18 year old boy who, on his worst day, could still have pounded the living shit out of her? He obviously had no problem hitting women. Was she supposed to take a beating too?

She’s at home today; we’ll see if she goes in tomorrow. Honestly, I kinda hope not.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Apparently I wasn’t meant to see this show

I was exhausted after work and a late Thursday night of sorting (Amber’s) school papers, so I wound up falling asleep while Amber was playing Nintendo this afternoon. She rousted me off the couch about 7pm to go check out the Amy Pleasant show, but I unfortunately didn’t actually wake up until half way through a plate of Madrasi Chicken around 9:30. The downside of this is that the art I saw tonight is pretty much just a sublime blur. Hopefully I can get in there next week and get a clear headed look at it because I get the sense that, were I awake, I'd really quite like it.

Blow out

Amber and I had every intention of making over to see Amy Pleasant speak at Rhodes last night, but the front passenger tire of our car blew out in the middle of Frasier. We were running a little behind anyway and it was almost 8 by the time I managed to get the tire changed. I really hated missing the talk because the Rhodes series is pretty much unique in Memphis. Usually we only get the chance to see work or hear the artist, almost never both.

The little New Historicist voice in the back of my head says that it doesn’t really matter what the artist says; that the meaning of a work is a product of the social milieu in which it was created. But, the rest of me is fairly old fashioned in thinking that intent is at least part (perhaps a big part) of teasing meaning out of anything. Besides, I actually enjoy hearing people talk about art... I'm funny that way.

At any rate, Rhodes lecture and exhibition schedule for the year can be found here. The opening for Amy's show is at the Clough-Hanson Gallery tonight from 6-8 pm.


And for future reference, does anybody know where I can get a tire changed in Memphis after 7pm?