Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Work of Art Rant

I’ve had a few meltdowns on Twitter lately over the tweets people have been posting while they watch Bravo’s Work of Art. The snark invades, despite my efforts not to watch the show. The artists, bloggers, and critics all seem to have outsmarted the poor bastards on the game show. Indeed, many of the comments are funny and probably more entertaining than the show itself, which I stopped watching after episode 4. I have to admit I only saw the first episode because @c-monstah invited me to the debut screening at the WNYC studios in Manhattan. 

As soon as Simon De Pury croaked his first bon mot out his nose, I knew I wouldn’t be watching the show. It was painful to watch someone like De Pury shamelessly perform for a cable TV audience. I mean he’s used to sucking up to rich people endlessly, I just never thought I’d see him get on his knees for a tv show. I doubt anyone else felt the kind of humiliation I experienced watching Jerry Saltz demean himself by seriously considering the undergrad, all-nighters the kids slapped together. I guess Jerry has a lot of practice as a professor and visiting critic. So, this isn’t a critique of the show’s trajectory or individual episodes. I didn’t see it, and I don’t want to. This is my personal rant, my inner monologue about the show, which has received spectacular interest in the art world.

 A few months ago Jerry praised my work, but watching that first episode, I felt like the floor was falling out from underneath me. I wanted to crawl out of the room and hoped Jerry wouldn’t embarrass himself or be embarrassed by the show’s producers searching for the dramatic hook to captivate audiences. My inclusion on his top 10 list started feeling more like an anchor around my ankle than a life raft in the art world. After that, I watched the next three episodes with artist Jennifer Dalton and some friends at her house in Brooklyn. I drank a six-pack trying to sit through them. I mean, I wish we had been drinking whiskey for at some point the laughter died and the formulaic nature of the show, the manufactured drama, and the bad art made the extended viewing seem like a punishment for not keeping up on a weekly basis. When we had finished episode 4, I felt like it was 7 am and the coke had run out at a rather dull party. No one really wanted to talk about it, and I went home feeling disconcerted. Jen merely said something like “Well, I wanted to like it,” and frowned. She had been hopeful that the show would help middle America better understand contemporary art or what we have devoted nearly all of our adult lives to. 

Still, I couldn’t really articulate why I hated the show so much when people asked. Individually, each episode wasn’t terrible. The contestants tried to do something within a hilariously limited amount of time in an artificial situation. I’ve spent more time sitting in my studio staring at the wall than they had to do all their projects, combined. When I watched the episodes continuously, I really did not want to watch anymore, and I haven’t. The thing was, I couldn’t just ignore the fucking show. Everyday, someone would mention something about #workofart on twitter and on Wednesday night the fucking twitterverse lit up with inane observations and chatter about who was doing what, who was wearing what, what idiocy had been perpetrated, or if Skelator, er, Jaclyn had popped her fake tits out. 

The art world’s guilty obsession bled into every conversation, online and off that I was having. Nobody was riveted by the crap the contestants were producing, but far more interested in their relationships and personalities. Paddy Johnson, @artfagcity, and Carolina Miranda, @cmonstah, morphed from witty, sarcastic art world ass-kickers into something far worse; witty, sarcastic cheerleaders. Their participation in adding to the cacophony around the show disheartened me. It’s not so much about what they said (they are both excellent comedians), but that they were so engaged by something that made everything about art feel cheap and thin like worn polyester. I mean, my first instinct is to say ‘well, most of the art world is cheap and thin like worn polyester,” but it’s not. The stakes in this game have always been high, for some it concerns money that makes Abdi’s 100k look like chump change and for others powerful reputations, careers, and, well, money. For me, it’s just my life. This isn’t a career for me. It really is everything. Beneath the humor, the meta-commentary, and ironic devices there is rage, despair, joy, love, and a working philosophy about engaging the world. My drawings are warped, funhouse mirrors meant to trap all the fucked up shit that pops into my head and distort it into something people can look at without getting upset. Well, most people. Pissing of some people can’t be avoided including Jerry and everyone on Work of Art in this particular case. I’d rather Jerry be angry than sad, which only reinforces my ambivalence about the impact of the show. 

In the past, Paddy has given me shit for making art about the art world. Once she described me as producing the closest thing to ‘fan art’ out there. So, imagine my surprise when Paddy in her role as @artfagcity began fawning over this fucking show in full-on “I like reality TV” mode by ingratiating herself with the show’s followers. Not only was Paddy twittering during the show, she wrote weekly recaps. I haven’t read any. It’s pretty much one of the main reasons I don’t read her blog anymore. Sorry, Paddy, it became another reminder that the show was out there. Perhaps now, I can visit AFC again without seeing what happened to Miles.

 Cmonstah also tried to make fun of the show, I guess, but this is the part the makes me fucking irate. No matter how snarky you are, how witty you are, how mean-spirited you get, or how much you complain about the show, it doesn’t matter. If I complain about the show to people, “It’s a complete bullshit and a really bad representation of contemporary art,” they look at me like I’m some fucking elitist asshole who can’t relate to normal people and just accept the show. When they look at me their expression says “Look asshole, life is hard and I’m tired. I want to watch something stupid and feel good about myself or just not have to think too hard before I go to bed and get up for work at my boring, soul-sucking job in midtown or at this deadly museum. It’s just TV.” It’s just TV. The sarcastic LIFE Magazine profile about Jackson Pollock was just an article too, and it transformed his career in a way that the paintings alone hadn’t been able to do. 

As the summer wore on I wished I could just say, “fuck it. It’s the Jersey Shore of the art world,” and watch the show. The problem is, I can’t. It’s not really the show I’m pissed about. I’m pissed off by it’s very existence and the promise it offers its contestants. I’m sure you all understand the basic fucking premise of the show; respond to an assignment, win, and get a 100k and a museum show. Sweet. All you have to do is crank out some art that is marginally less terrible than what everyone else is making. It’s not that you actually have to make anything good. My friend Letha used to explain that meeting the hottest guy in a bar is always a relative proposition. Sometimes, she would take home the hottest guy in the bar and still be making out with an ugly motherfucker. Despite this, and unlike the broader market where critics can ignore mediocre and bad work and collectors can chose not to buy it, someone had to win the show by default. It would have been way riskier and far more interesting if there was no guarantee anyone could win if the work wasn’t good enough. I think this one of the most obvious flaws in comparing the show to life. In fact, even the losers on the show are still winners if we count recognition as a form of payment.

 Anyway, when I started to reflect on why a show I wasn’t watching and why it was making want to get violent and fight strangers, it started to dawn on me how closely the model of the show and everything about it reminded me of the worst aspects of the art world and America. First, the notion that some random fucks, chosen by a highly questionable jury, win the fucking lotto to get on the show with portfolios that wouldn’t have gotten them into Scope is problematic enough. The producers had also reached out to artists with representation, including myself, which undermined the underdog nature of the show. I’m sure some of the contestants were straight off the street hopefuls, but I bristled that Bravo was out there looking for personalities that might be ‘combustible’ or manufacture the appropriate amount of drama. Reality. Right. Does reality need ‘producers’? I hate the word ‘reality’ TV and wished that even one of the participants had found a way to undermine that concept, or at least challenge it. 

So, yes, I turned down multiple requests to audition in New York. If there had been a little more time I was working with a Belgian actor to audition in my place, in character, but he was in Europe. The problem was manifold though. Would Bravo own my character at the end of the show? They own all the other art the contestants made. That character, an idea, has been central to my practice. Who owns the ideas? 

That Bravo reduced art to series of BFA level challenges was arguably the most artificial and insulting part of the show for me. I mean, beyond the fact they have an absurd shooting schedule and severe time restrictions. On his FB page, @Jerrysaltz asked his thousands what challenges they would issue. OK. So, let’s just get this fucking straight. Would it be cool if I just went on my FB page and asked “Hey kids, what should I do next?” Of course fucking not, it’s the central challenge for an artist. “What the fuck do I do?” 

There is an army of talented artists out there, and you can find a platoon of them working for Jeff Koons, who have awesome skills, but the biggest struggle facing an artist is individuating themselves from the masses and finding a reason to employ their abilities. “Hmmm, I can do anything I want, but, uh, shit…” I am fucking insulted that the producers of Work of Art and that witch-hooker Sarah Jessica Parker couldn’t come up with some format for the show where the artists had to do their own fucking thing, and let the judges…wait, who the fuck is Bill Powers? Where is the Half-Gallery? I wouldn’t ask that fucker to interpret the second hand on my watch…actually engage in some critical analysis and consider every aspect of the work, not just if it met some absurd pre-existing conditions. But no, we get the contestants making fucking book covers and interpreting what it feels like to drive a luxury, product placement car? Fuck you Audi you fucking pieces of shit. Fuck all art cars; BMW included. I will never ‘design’ a car or a yacht. I might piss on one, but that’s it. 

While the challenges make me irate and are the most unrealistic thing about the show (and don’t compare it to Project Runway, since it’s more likely than not that the designers will end up working for someone else and executing their ideas), artists don’t get fucking challenges. We call that illustration, commercial work, or being an artist’s assistant like Jaclyn. I wonder if she’s back at Koons’ studio working on his ideas? Anyway, the challenges themselves only serve to do the thing that makes me want to jump off a fucking cliff. They are the shitty vehicle that enables one lucky patsy, and in this case Abdi who seems like an affable kid, to experience a simulation of art stardom, to be an instant sensation. If Starbucks can make instant brew, Bravo can make an art star, of course. I can’t help but see the show offering a compressed, flawed version of art stardom; a rapid ascent, a vast payday, instant entrance into museums and institutions, and some amount of broader public awareness (I won’t call it fame. Most of America doesn’t know who the fuck Jeff Koons is. Abdi, Miles, and Peregrine probably have more useful celebrity than Koons for about six months). Success in the shows terms seems flimsy and tawdry in comparison to say the career trajectory of Dana Schutz or Jules DeBalincourt ( I mean they are talented and have good ideas right?). I will never stop being fascinated by them. They both have talent yet I find them to be derivative painters who won the art lotto and filled the darling spots at the beginning of the boom era. 

Comparatively, Abdi is something of the butt of a protracted joke, a novelty coughed up by produced television, it’s way too edited and manipulated to suggest it’s anything other than a mocumentary using non-actors to play the pre-assigned clichés. I don’t know how Abdi’s show will look, and I’m not judging his work here. I just know it will be difficult to shake the feeling that everything is covered in a faint layer of perspiration and a greasy residue like the inside of an OTB or a Greyhound bus bathroom (If you’ve never had the pleasure you’re probably not reading this so fuck you). The veneer of dignity has already been stripped away by the profit-whores at Bravo who have reduced the activity everyone involved has dedicated years to into tidy, fifty-minute episodes. What scares me most about this, this blackhole of terror that opens up in my chest, is that there is no dignity to art, to this career, and that the whole thing is a terribly produced ‘show’ that is always already rigged and that no matter how hard I work, I will always be a middle class loser without the right fucking pedigree to suck on Bonami’s cock. 

I also quiver in terror when I think about all the artists out there laughing their collective ass off at Miles’ ass or Skelator (see I can’t resist either), because I wonder how many of those same fuckers would shed their dignity like Jerry to get on TV. What bullshit excuse would they use to achieve the sort of cognitive dissonance that would allow them to become the butt of a weekly, nationally televised joke. Or perhaps even worse, all the artists laughing at the contestants believe they can laugh at them on TV because at least they aren’t actually on the show. No, they are just watching TV, risking nothing. I mean, if they could just get their own break, they would be successful too, but of course, they’d never risk their own dignity by actually being on the show. I sense a kind of hypocrisy, even in myself, when I consider how people love to take a piss on the show, when they don’t have a fucking pot themselves. I turned down the opportunity to audition for the show because it seemed like something that would be fun to watch someone else do, but there was no way I was going to destroy what little integrity I had in not taking things seriously. What Ken Johnson said about Jen Dalton is how I think about what I do, “taking not being serious seriously” (paraphrasing), and if I’m going to destroy my career, I want to do it on my own terms, not making money for NBC Universal and Bravo. 

We used to talk about the mother of all capitalist art fears, ‘commodification’, where any idea or critique is simply absorbed by the market. In this case, it’s not a particular artist like Murakami who tried to swallow the market and ended up in its belly anyway but the claim to art itself. It’s like watching the ‘art market’ get chewed up by a bigger cultural fish, ‘the entertainment industry’ and turned into a giant advertising product meant to deliver an audience to the real consumer, the advertisers and sponsors. I’m pleased Christopher Knight posted a link to Richard Serra’s video “Television Delivers People”, which reminded me of what I was witnessing. What makes art potentially radical is just neutered for the sake of showing an understandable process to deliver the numbers of viewers. 

Apparently it has worked. Season 2 is starting to cast and another batch of artists will compete again for some quick cash and an instant social/professional network earned in a fucked-up, truncated version of reality compressing years of hard work, ass-kissing, struggle, and sacrifice into a month. Again, a totally unrealistic lotto system based on physical appearance, personality, age, gender as much as whatever artistic merit is presented/sold to the public as a viable alternative to the struggle of making it as artist. I mean a viable alternative to having a trust fund. As for @Jen_Dalton’s optimism that the show “would help educate people about contemporary art,” Work of Art also serves to remind me that I, and art, have failed to approach anything remotely radical in decades. Thinking about the 52% of Californians who voted for Proposition 8 or fundamentalist beliefs in ‘intelligent design’ also remind me that there are ideas, beliefs, and perspectives to which I am not tolerant. This intolerance is based on a reaction to traditional thought that eschews science, logic, and reason for faith and pseudo-science. The defense of the tradition becomes paramount to any realistic concerns. I also don’t like the way that Work of Art makes art safe and sanitized for the masses by relying on cliché and tradition. It’s like calling McDonald’s food. Sure, as the lowest common denominator, it qualifies, but it’s not what we aspire to. Work of Art makes art appear safe, professional, and full of fucking morons talking gibberish about nothing. I’d rather sit through an hour long lecture series on Altermodernism subtitled in English every week than watch Work of Art. At least I might learn something or experience an idea that will challenge my ideas about what is possible in art.

Nothing I’ve seen or heard about Work of Art suggests that possibility even exists. No, instead, I am left feeling depressed about art. It looks ugly, cheap, and I feel like we all, not just Abdi or Miles or Skelator, are jumping around like clowns for rich assholes. And it’s not just the contestants that are also experiencing some d-list celebrity status. In their temporary TV fame, I see my own shallow, ugly reflection staring back at me. It reminds me of the ever-increasing up tick of twitter followers and little messages from the tumblr bot, or looking at peaks of Google hits in analytics amid the long, desolate stretches of insignificance. The feeling of being desired or recognized is a powerful thing, and on most days, I can tell myself “It’s because of the work you’ve done,” not the personality projected during a few hours of reality tv. On other days, that nagging sense of desolation brought on by the warm, lazy reception of Work of Art is that I am failure, just another shitty hack producing ‘symbolic representations of radical thought’ or being yet another symbolic pressure-release valve for radical thought, instead of being genuinely radical.

 So maybe the joke is on all of us, for accepting art as a closed set of predetermined relationships calculated and influenced to produce a single outcome. Or it’s a joke because it is so much like art itself. As Jerry Saltz pointed out “the work on our show isn’t much better or worse than what I see in Chelsea”. Maybe it’s not the show I am disappointed in, but myself and everyone else in the art world.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

"Im With Stupid"

A close friend of mine, Seth Goodman, is having an opening for a new series of work he completed during a six-week residency tomorrow night, Friday July 29th at 245 Varet St (3rd floor) from 6 - 9 pm in Bushwick off the Morgan L stop.  The show will be followed by a rooftop party so bring some beer, brown liquor, or whatever and check out these paintings.  If you can't make it the gallery will be open Saturday from noon to six.  Maybe don't eat right before you show up though.  See below "However repulsing or depressing."  While repulsion may threaten to overwhelm the viewer, seriously these are hard to stare into, these are made of the stuff that goes viral on YouTube, you can't avert your eyes.  The operative word being viral here.

Artist's Statement:

The paintings shown in the exhibition “I’m With Stupid” examine issues relating to American social class by carving into the lowest socioeconomic rungs to mine for imagery and attitude. Extreme bodily references are meant to elevate the commonplace cultural thirsting for sex and violence to a level that tests the viewer’s tolerance to digest the interests and way of life of America’s underclass. 

The general folly and predicaments of the painted characters are often birthed from motifs and sayings printed on novelty or lowbrow tee shirts.  The quips then explode to take over the character’s space asking one to more deeply consider the meaning of the text that loudly projects, full-frontal, to all passers-by.

Everything depicted in the work exists in some form in our cultural sphere, however repulsive or depressing it may be.  Ultimately, the paintings are asking the viewer how they relate to these truths and what it means if they must turn away.

-Seth Goodman, 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010

Magicality, Irrascible Assholes, and Sorcery

The world is bleeding and times are strange indeed.  While there seems to be some renewed interest in the Occult spreading through the art world, I am a little freaked out by the believers.  I prefer the idea of magic as a metaphor for the powerful beliefs surrounding the art world, but I don't think I'm actually channeling Lucifer.  I'm trying to channel you.  

Actually, I'm bullshitting you according to Emily Falvey in the new issue of Esse magazine.  Falvey talks about kitsch, bullshit, and Post-Modernism in her really smart article, which tries to explain why bullshitting is a "mode of creativity" that offers a particular kind of freedom for invention.  It's a tricky article.  Falvey ultimately suggests that the solution to dealing with the end of post-modernism may not to re-think Modernism again, but that "the only way out may be in."  This is the tricky part, because I agree with her that the critical tropes of post-modernism long ago transcended the reaction to Modernism and have become productive ways of working that aren't simply ironic reversals.  Post-modernism has gone way past David Salle's juxtapositions of pop imagery and ab-ex paintings, Schnabel's shattered plates, or Koons' floating basketballs.  Now they look comically simple compared to the level of engagement artists have taken with ideas of uncertainty and narrative content, I'm thinking of Matthew Barney's Cremaster Cycle.  He's an excellent bullshitter, where being right or wrong is not as important as being inventive.  Modernism, in the Greenbergian aesthetic sense, had no room for story, character, or symbolism.

So, I look forward to thinking more about Emily's essay, but I've been too busy bullshitting working on several projects to go any further than my initial reaction here.   Hrag Vartanian recently posted some images from my lecture "Surviving the Art World Using the Art of Sorcery" at the Hyperallergic office.  It was the inaugural lecture in a new series Hrag and his publisher-partner Veken will be presenting.  The lecture was absurd and still-in-development, but that is exactly what Hrag and Veken want to present; works-in-progress,  not just finished projects.  If it felt experimental, well, it was.  

I just shipped three new magic composites to Copenhagen for a group show organized by Ryan Schneider at Gallery Poulsen. The show could have been titled Fucktards, Circle Jerk, or Seven Douchebags, but they settled on Irrascible Assholes.  I apologize that we couldn't find a single female asshole for the show, but I wasn't curating this one.

"The Irrascible Assholes: New Paintings From New York"

Ryan schneider (US), Tom Sanford (US),  Aaron Johnson (US),
Daniel Heidkamp (US), Van Hanos (US), William Powhida (US) 
Jamison Brosseau (US)

Vernissage june 18 from 5 pm - 8 pm
The show runs until july 16, 2010 

But I am organizing (I'm not sure what we are doing is curating) a group show at Platform Gallery in Seattle called "Magicality" with Eric Trosko.  The show opens July 1st and includes artists Sarada Rauch, Garric SimonsenKristen Jensen, Jade Townsend, Megan Laborious, David Bates, Baptiste Ibar,  Letha Wilson, Steve Pauley, and more (we are still looking and thinking) whose work suggests an application of or connection with magic.  There are believers and non-believers whose work is deals with questions of how belief and faith create power and value.  I'll post our statement soon and more detailed information as we conjure it from that nebulous space that is thought.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Contemporary Composite Art Magic

Talisman I, graphite and watercolor on paper, 2010

I'm happy to announce that my performance/lecture/experiment "Surviving the Art World Using the Art of Sorcery" at Hyperallergic on May 14th has already filled up.  I will be discussing the magical aspects of art including illusionism, conjuration, alchemy and drawing power from malign art world entities.  I will also be presenting a new work in progress for the operation of composite art magic.  While some of the forms are borrowed from traditional black magic this is a highly personalized, composite magic made with common studio materials.  I will also perform certain magical operations that use the ability of the mind to alter the physical world and bridge the gap between what is and what is desired.   In the words of A.E. Waite "You have to be good to do evil."  

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I've been laying low since #class ended, but perhaps too low.  I should've mentioned that I have new works in a group show Mirror, Mirror at Postmasters Gallery curated by Magda Sawon.  The show is up through May 8th and features a new large-scale mixed media work called Cosmology #1 where I organized my personal art world 'angels and demons' around D&D character alignments; chaotic neutral, lawful good, chaotic evil...I know, it's absurd but it seemed appropriate.  If that's not enough to draw you in Yevgeny Fiks and Kate Gilmore have stand out pieces in a great show.  Check out the ARTslant review here.

I've also literally been reading up on Black Magic having just finished A.E. Waite's "The Book of Black Magic" detailing many talismans, seals, sigils, and powers of various demons.  While it might appear incongruous with my practice there are some interesting parallels about the power of invoking specific names that I feel is worth exploring.  Anyway, I'm not practicing Satanic rituals (I'd have to kill one or two of the cats that live in my studio building and I don't like what that suggests, although there are seven of them running amok), but I am working on a composite system of my own.  Some of these are for my publishing residency at the Lower East Side Printshop, as well as for a show I am co-curating with Eric Trosko at Platform Gallery in Seattle that will be opening July 1st (tentatively).  We may try and summon a demon to revive the ritualistic first Thursdays and compel the Mentats out there to buy art, although not even Lucifuge Rocofale may be able to compel the Microsoft drones to embrace their humanity.  If you do happen to make art that aspires to be magic, not so much about magic, but that actually involves making something happen send me an email or leave a comment.  I'd love to check it out. 

Monday, March 15, 2010

Hooverville Catastrofuck

Reading Paddy Johnson's post "This Week in Comments Part Two: Powhida!" and the accompanying comments made me realize why Jade Townsend and I made the drawing the first place.  The art world is a big 'catastrofuc'k to borrow a term from a Miami NewTimes writer.  Apparently, the dude doesn't have a problem with a drawing that depicts the art world's yearly descent on Miami or share the insular criticisms of the insular art world.  Most of the criticism of the drawing reflects right back on the authors who are players in this game.  Really, that's one of the points of the drawing.  If you engage in the commercial market, you are not an outsider.  Neither Jade, wait remember there was another dude who contributed to the drawing over six months, nor I are outsiders.  We don't claim to be and have never claimed to be, but every time people ignore Jade, you make him feel like one!  As far as employing a persona for this drawing, I didn't and I make a couple of different bodies of work.  This can be confusing to people, especially Paddy.  In some drawings, I employ a satirical voice like in "Why You Should Buy Art."  In other paintings like the LA Weekly painting at Pulse I make work about a fictional version of "William Powhida".  Why?  Because Eli Broad isn't going to buy me and put in BCAM so I can meltdown Jeff Koons' balloon dog.  I get to write fictional satire of the art world.  Then, sometimes, I make things like "Hooverville" or work with other people on art projects like #class.  The outcome of this varied way of working is that you have to pay attention to what kind of art you are looking at.  This might be an unreasonable request, but I don't really care about making people feel comfortable.  Fuck you!

So, Howard Halle says "The art world is in need of deep reform and has been for a long time. it would be nice of artists really addressed that, mainly I think, by working for themselves first. I don’t see that happening in Powhida’s work."  I do work for myself, Howard, and I'm trying to exploit my betters' wealth, power, and fame, and this is the hard part, to call attention to the GIANT, GLARING class disparity in the art world.  The Hooverville drawing isn't for Howard Halle who calls for reform, but I bet the dude doesn't have five practical reforms to offer.  (Howard you can prove me wrong and leave them as comments here)  The drawing isn't just about navel gazing at the art world, but to point out that it's run buy a plutocracy, and there is giant excess supply of labor ie., artists, who are routinely fucked by the system and too terrified to do anything about it because they are made to feel like they are replaceable.  The imbalance of power is repulsive.  Putting aside that Jade and I went  specific to grab people's attention, the drawing is a satirical representation of our shared experiences going down to Miami and seeing the fucked up hierarchy of the art world reflected through all its' participants, Paddy included.  Jade and I weren't comprehensive by any stretch.  The drawing is a semi-autobiographical portrait based on our experiences and limited knowledge of the art world.  We threw in artists we love and want to support and people we can't stand.  Paddy's in there because she is a comedian, and resists easy judgments of people like strippers.  We love strippers.  The Brainstormers, Kevin Regan, Andrew Hurst, David Petersen, Daniel Hesidence, Doug McQueen, Navin Norling, and many others are in the drawing because they represent artists we know in the hierarchy of the art world.

For sure we make fun of the wealthy, the famous, and the powerful.  They are part of a star system that is chewing on my fucking leg right now, bleeding out what little integrity I have left, but I'm not rich and celebrity isn't power.  If you envy this, I'll trade it right now for some money.  You can have it.  When I was in Miami in December fretting over the Times article that had just come out, Paddy and Hrag demanded I come out and enjoy it.  They, and you, probably think that I am being disingenuous when I say the attention is troubling to me, but I'm not.  The best thing about the Times article was that it wasn't some vanity profile in Vanity magazine.  It got into the contradictions of 'pissing on my betters' to call attention that we labor in a star system that will not benefit most of us, certainly not the scores of art students spat out of the ponzi scheme of academia.  No, you are probably not going to make much money or even land a decent job in a cultural center (aka city) even if you get an MFA.  Howard Halle is right on that score and any sense of entitlement young artists have should be wiped out immediately.

As for the drawing being topical or mattering in ten years, I hope that like Ad Reinhardt's (thanks for the spell check asshole) cartoons from the 1950's they will shed light on the conditions of being an artist in the pre and post-boom, late-capitalist, personality driven star system that drives the art world.  I've been doing this since 2005.  Take a look at my website.  Before that I made personal narratives that were only as interesting as my own life.  I can't imagine that MOST of the shit produced in the last decade will matter in ten or twenty years.  I hope that the deer antlers, disco balls, glitter n' glue, and neo-neo expressionist paintings gets crushed in the trash compactor of history.  I know it will, and likely so will much of my art, but I think that any value it has is more about the sociology and culture of the art world than whether than I can draw well enough for you.  I'm sorry I don't have another practice where I make big-assed paintings or delve into the spiritual aspects of life, but that's because I'm an atheist and believe in that crap we call science.  I'm not here to make paintings that make you feel better about your existence on earth.  Go to church.

I'll end with one last Howard Halle quote, "Working through an idea that maybe nobody understands except you, until they do understand it."  I'm pretty sure that Howard doesn't understand the work, not just this drawing, that I've been in engaged in.  I know Paddy doesn't it.  She's always asking questions, not providing any attempts at analysis.  That's the problem with being a genius, no one understands me except me, and maybe Jade and Jen sometimes, but they usually just think I'm fucking crazy.  Awesome.  Howard, by your definition, I'm on the right track working for myself.

Now, here's a big assed version of Hooverville (click on it and prepare to scroll) where you can go look for yourself and friends.  Just don't miss the fact that you are pretty much fucked one way or another whether you're in this drawing or not.  That's the system you have chosen to be participate in like me and Jade.  Remember his name, nobody has a fucking clue what he does! That's a sign of real genius.

Have a pleasant evening.

Friday, March 12, 2010

What does Walter Robinson think about Hooverville?

This was posted from Walter Robinson's Facebook account on a thread about the Hooverville drawing by Jerry Saltz.  Satire?  Reality?  Who fucking knows, but this is the editor of Artnet.com.  If there's a magazine, I've never seen it.  And, when I used to write for Artnet.com, I was basically asked to describe what things looked like and how much they cost.  It's one of the reasons criticism is so fucking boring these days.  At least Ben Davis is writing interesting things at Artnet.  Anyway, this hilarious!

Walter Robinson 
I can't believe all you people like that fucken Powhida. I hate him and am going to kill him when I see him for that caricature of me, if only I knew what the little dweeb looks like. It's ARTNET MAGAZINE editor, you dweeb, not Artnet.com editor. Stupid twerp. He tried to write for me once or twice but he's so fucken nondescript I wouldn't recognize him in one of his own stupid drawings. And he couldn't write worth shit. Never gave me any of his fucken caricatures, either, the drip.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


I've totally neglected my blog this month, since I started working on #class with Jennifer Dalton at Winkleman Gallery.  The experiment has been all-consuming turning my Monday and Tuesday evenings into my 'weekend'.  Actually, that's not even true.  Until Sunday afternoon, Jade Townsend and I have been spending every free hour finishing our collaboration, ABMB Hooverville, which will be exhibited at Pulse New York with Charlie James Gallery.  We started the 44" x 66" drawing back in October (I think) and finally finished our 'proposal' for a public art project in Miami.  I'm looking forward to seeing the drawing framed outside of my studio, which has sunk to new lows of disrepair.

I'd be thrilled if things were going to lighten up in the coming month, but I'm still working on my Lower East Side Printshop publishing residency, desperately trying to complete my Brooklyn Rail drawings (not happening this month unfortunately), and have been asked to contribute work to a portrait show, Mirror, Mirror at Postmasters Gallery for April.  If it sounds like I'm bitching about having too much to do, it's not because I am ungrateful.  I'm just overwhelmed by the amount of work in front of me.  Between work and art, I'm finding it exceedingly difficult to fulfill obligations and take on new opportunities.  Tough shit, right?  Right.

Tomorrow, my drawing "Why You Should Buy Art" is being released by 20x200 and will be part of Jen Bekman's unique approach to art fair week in New York.  The amount of social obligations this week is starting to terrify me.  As it all piles up around me, @zipthwung recently reminded me to prepare for a mini-tsunami of "Powhida" backlash as the I've probably reached a saturation point that becomes annoying.  I hope not, because #class has been a fantastic experience so far, and I've been able to leverage some of the attention I've been getting to facilitate discussion, connections, exposure, and opportunities for artists, collectors, curators, dealers, art enthusiasts, and the public.  The project just picked up an Artforum.com critic's pick and has received a great deal of curious and sometimes enthusiastic press coverage.  @Zacharycohen recently compiled all the press on his blog.

 I'm excited for the events coming up this week including elcelso's art shred Wednesday at 2pm and an impromptu "T-Bill Gaming" event where Tom Sanford and I will take action of the Phillips de Pury auction Saturday at noon.  It promises to be a fun afternoon even if my drawing can't (possibly) beat it's ridiculous high estimate.

Hopefully, I can spend some time this week during the #class to reflect on everything that's been going on there.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


I'm participating in Art Table's panel discussion BLOG THIS! at X Initiative tomorrow night, representing artists who blog.  I've never been a prolific blogger, and I'm probably averaging about two blog posts per month.  Recently,  most of my efforts have gone into #class project with with artist Jennifer Dalton and our collaborative blog for the show.   As the panel approached this week, I felt compelled to update this thing and I probably should.

So what's been going on?

Jerry Saltz tagged me 2nd in his Best Art of 2009 in New York Magazine coming in behind Velazquez and ahead of late Picasso.  Say it.  "Picasso, Powhida, Velazquez."  It's one thing to write "Picasso, Pollock, Powhida" in one of my drawings and something else entirely to see something similar written by Jerry Saltz.  Jerry broke his silence on my NuMu drawing in rather spectacular fashion, and someone pointed out to me that he's willing to broker my participation in the L'Affaire Joannou.  I think I will be well represented, read on.

Ben Davis also implicated me in his Best of 2009 list on Artnet by saying that the best thing to come out of the New Museum affair was the profile boost it gave my work.

Stephen Kaplan shocked me senseless with his sharp and insightful take on my work, I mean it's Steve Kaplan.  His reputation precedes him.

Edward Winkleman, who now generally holds the opposite opinion from me on just about everything, offered Jen Dalton and I a chance to do something about the art market to possibly answer Damien Cave's questions in the New York Times piece. Amazingly, the Wall Street Journal was interested and interviewed us for an article on our show #class.

I've also started working in earnest on my residency for the Lower East Side Printshop.  I am working on a large silkscreen version of "Tips for Artists Who Want to Sell" and am starting a series of etchings. I'm all also finishing up a new drawing for the Brooklyn Rail, which will be the beginning of a monthly series for the Artseen section.  While the drawings are my own, they are also coming out of discussions with the Rail art editors, John Yau, Thomas Micchelli, Ben La Rocco, and Claudia La Rocco.  Ideally, at the end of the year we will be-releasing a book of all the collected drawings.  My co-conspirators also suggested the idea of doing a limited edition of 666 "Howdy Koonsy" t-shirts that we will encourage people to wear to the Joannou/Koons opening.  Tom Micchelli said the image called to mind "Rosemary's Baby."  I take that as a compliment.

Jade Townsend and I are working on the "ABMB Hooverville" drawing, a small snippet was shown in the NYTimes article, that we hope to exhibit during Armory.  The drawing is 60" x 40" and only a detail was presented in the paper.  It's far more ridiculous than you're probably thinking.

Finally, Jen Dalton and I are working daily on making #class happen, and we really welcome you're ideas whether you just plan to come in and hang out or do something fucking bizarre.   We want both/and.  Please email us at hashtagclass@gmail.com or post your thoughts on the blog.