Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A pint a some fine music with Peter Boyd and Noah Zacharin

via Instagram

Saturday, February 22, 2014

modern art is total rubbish!

REMEMBER that fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, The Emperor’s New Clothes? When swindlers persuaded the emperor to buy an invisible suit, he was delighted to parade naked through the streets because they told him: “Your Majesty, to a wise man this is a beautiful raiment but to a fool it is absolutely invisible.”

By: Chris Roycroft-Davis
Damien Hirst s famous shark in formaldehyde divides opinion  
Damien Hirst’s famous shark in formaldehyde divides opinion
What do you suppose the Danish story-teller would make of the fools today who clamour to pay vast sums for what is laughingly called “modern art” and who can’t see it’s actually just pretentious junk.
The “genius” Damien Hirst was exposed just like the emperor when his monstrous statue of a half-flayed pregnant woman was erected on the seafront at Ilfracombe. While the art world worshipped at Hirst’s feet, a boy of nine was asked his verdict on the “masterpiece” and declared: “It’s a bit rude, a bit weird.” Precisely.
Rude? Yes. Weird? Yes. Art? Do me a favour. Self-indulgent, ego-inflating, overrated and over-priced rubbish more like.
Why do we allow a 67ft-high bronze statue of a cut-open pregnant woman to pollute the seafront in Devon? For that matter, why do we permit a giant angel with wings outstretched to dominate the skyline south of Gateshead? Or a grotesque four-armed mermaid outside the Scottish town of Cumbernauld?

Dominated by the cult of celebrity

If you or I had come up with these “artistic” visions we’d have been laughed at.
The difference is that Verity the pregnant lady is the creation of Damien Hirst, who may or may not know much about art but who certainly knows how to encourage rich fools to part with their money.
The Angel of the North is a work by Antony Gormley, another artist whose works command exorbitant prices.
He describes its meaning thus: “Is it possible to make a work with purpose in a time that demands doubt? I wanted to make an object that would be a focus of hope at a painful time of transition for the people of the North-east, abandoned in the gap between the industrial and the information ages.”
His angel has certainly demanded doubts, principal of which is: “Was this statue really worth the money?”
Considering almost £600,000 of it was lottery money that’s a perfectly reasonable doubt.
There must be similar open mouths around Cumbernauld, where £250,000 of public money has been sunk into an aluminium mermaid that stands 33ft high next to the A80.
Andy Scott’s creation is supposed to help breathe new life into the town – but as one local resident put it the money would have been better spent burning down the town centre.
What was that giant steel monstrosity in the Olympic Park all about? It cost a staggering £19million with thankfully only £3million coming from taxpayers. But how could anyone ever think a jumbled metal mess was worth so much?
Because its creator Anish Kapoor once won a Turner prize someone got the idea his pile of scrap was a good buy.
That’s the nub of the problem: art today is dominated by the culture of celebrity and is too often judged by how much it costs rather than what it achieves. I’m a great admirer of Charles Saatchi, who helped create some of Britain’s most memorable advertising campaigns (remember “Labour Isn’t Working” in the Eighties?) but I do worry that he’s got more money than sense.
He paid £150,000 for a work by Tracey Emin called Unmade Bed, which did exactly what it said on the tin: it was a dirty, dishevelled pit littered with dog ends, condoms and underwear that had seen better days.
If that’s art then I’m rich, because my three kids have each got a priceless creation just as good in their bedrooms.
The whole art con was exposed last week by one of America’s foremost critics Dave Hickey, who has quit the business because of its obsession with fame and fortune. Hickey says anyone who has “read a Batman comic” can make a career for themselves in art so there’s hope for me even though I can’t even draw a straight line. Actually, the fact I can’t draw a straight line probably makes me well qualified.
One problem is that when everything you do is hailed as genius and even a used handkerchief could command a high value, there’s no incentive to be self-critical. Just keep churning out the dross and find a sucker who’ll write a large cheque.
When BBC Arts Editor Will Gompertz interviewed gallery curators he was shocked that they denigrated the work of people such as Emin and Gormley.
One said their acclaim is a result of “too much fame, too much success and too little critical sifting”.
Another called Emin’s work “empty”, admitting it was only the high price that led curators to defend her work.
Ordinary people like you and me can appreciate art just as much as any culture snob.
We fully understand why the Mona Lisa, Van Gogh’s Sunflowers or the Adoration Of The Magi should be worth so much.
But an unmade bed? A shark floating in a tank of formaldehyde?
Cows cut in half? A face made from human blood? A cut-open pregnant woman? Most modern art wouldn’t look out of place in a freak show. It would be bad enough in a private collection but now it’s being plastered all over the countryside.
I loved the considered opinion of a puzzled Ilfracombe pensioner gazing at the bronze monstrosity towering over her seafront. “She’s a bit, well, naked for my liking.”
She’s a bit too ugly for mine.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Winnipeg artist's work taken from website, sold at J.C. Penney

Kal Barteski, a Winnipeg artist, is warning others in the arts community to be careful about what they post online, after her artwork was stolen and sold at a major U.S. retailer.
On Tuesday, Barteski discovered one of her paintings had been reprinted on a handbag and was being sold at a J.C. Penney store in Florida — without her permission.
A friend had snapped a photo of it in the store and sent it to Barteski.
“I was really hoping it was just a copy, but it was the original,” she said.
Winnipeg artist Kal Barteski found one of her paintings was taken without her permission and used on a bag made by The Aldo Group.(Caroline Barghout/CBC)
Barteski had posted the image on her website and found the exact same image used on the bag.
So she tracked down the makers of the bag in Montreal — a company called The Aldo Group, which operates stores across Canada under a number of names, including Aldo, Little Burgundy and Globo.
Barteski called the company and demanded answers.
“I kind of thought, ‘Is this actually worth it?’ because it happens all the time. I thought, ‘We have to do something about it as artists, as people,'” she said.
Barteski’s work has been taken without permission before, she added.
In the end, The Aldo Group offered Barteski a payout and a chance to collaborate on future projects.
Silvia de Sousa is a business lawyer with Thompson, Dorfman, Sweatman LLP in Winnipeg who does work on intellectual property cases.
She said that often people have no idea what they’re doing is wrong.
“In most cases, I think the person that takes it doesn’t realize that just because it’s on the internet, doesn’t mean that it’s free to take,” she said.
Often, she said, a cease and desist order will resolve the issue, but she recommends artists add a terms of service clause on their website regarding their copyright.
That clause will let browsers know they do not have consent to take what’s on the site.
Barteski said it’s a tough balance for artists, who want to share their work with the public.
“I want to make things. I don’t want to spend my whole week policing the internet to see who’s stealing things,” she said.!/content/1.2534621

Monday, February 10, 2014

When a Loft Is Artists-Only, Deciding Who, Officially, Is an Artist

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Sandi Slone, a painter, in her TriBeCa loft. Last year, she had to reapply for artist certification, because she and her husband wanted to renovate the loft where she paints. Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times
About every other month, an obscure mini-committee of two artists meets behind closed doors at New York’s Department of Cultural Affairs on Chambers Street. In their hands are stacks of applications from self-described artists seeking formal certification from the city, giving the committee influence over millions of dollars in lucrative real estate deals.
Most lofts in SoHo and NoHo, two fashionable neighborhoods in Lower Manhattan, are legally reserved for artists. And not just any kind of artist; only fine artists who create independent, original work, as judged by the committee. Actors, dancers and musicians who interpret other people’s work do not qualify, nor do commercial artists, such as most graphic designers or architects.
Of course, most modern-day buyers in SoHo, where the average apartment sells for $2.85 million, and penthouse lofts can top $30 million, are not artists, but people like bankers, foreign elites and celebrities. In reality, the law is broadly flouted, even though a few co-op boards still insist that residents be certified artists.
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Jill Platner, a jewelry designer and sculptor, in her SoHo store and gallery. When she initially tried to receive artist certification, which she needed to remain in her loft, she could not. Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times
Seeking more information about the closed-door process, The New York Times submitted a Freedom of Information request for all the rejection letters issued by the committee in the last several years. Back came 18 letters, providing a glimpse into how the city answers the age-old question of what is art.
“Your role as an advocate and advisor to filmmaking professionals is not in the spirit of the guidelines,” read one rejection letter. “As a general rule, Cultural Affairs does not certify actors,” read another letter.
Another: “The applicant’s work does not demonstrate sufficient depth and development over the 20 years since the awarding of his degree.”
In the early 1970s, the state, seeking to legalize the large number of artists who had moved into abandoned manufacturing buildings in SoHo and elsewhere, and to maintain those buildings as artists’ havens, defined an artist primarily as “a person who is regularly engaged in the fine arts, such as painting and sculpture, or in the performing or creative arts.” In those days, according to artists certified in that era, it was easy to sail through.
In 1986, the city gave amnesty to all residents, artist or not, of an increasingly fashionable SoHo, but also tightened the rules on who could qualify as an artist, now requiring proof of “a serious consistent commitment” to fine art as a primary vocation, evidence of “substantial element of independent esthetic judgment and self-directed work,” and documents proving they are professional artists. They must also demonstrate the need for a large loft.
So when Jill Platner, a jewelry designer and sculptor who has a store and gallery on Crosby Street in SoHo, for example, tried in 2010 to receive artist certification, which she needed to remain in her loft, she could not.
“The committee’s conclusion is that your application materials reflect that your primary vocation to be your jewelry business and not that of a professional artist,” her rejection letter said.
“I was very upset, obviously, to get that,” she said in an interview last week at her gallery. “I thought, what do I need to do to show you I am an artist?”
As required, she had sent images of her work, recommendations, a fine art résumé, and an essay describing her art form and need for a loft-size space. But though she also creates large-scale sculptural works, like a chain of steel chevrons cascading from the ceiling, the committee objected that she had not yet had a significant show of her sculpture. Once she had one, she reapplied and was certified.

“You must twist like a pretzel to comply with these arbitrary and capricious regulations, and what is the point of this?” said Margaret Baisley, a real estate lawyer based in SoHo who guided Ms. Platner and has been leading an effort to change the law. “The point of this in the 1970s was to protect people who lived here illegally, but now the majority of people who live here illegally are not artists. Aren’t they entitled to the same protection?”
The Department of Cultural Affairs has certified roughly 3,450 artists since 1971, with the number of applicants shrinking each year as lofts filled or grew too expensive for most artists. In 2013, 14 applied and nine were accepted, the department said.
Sara Reisman, the department official who signs the rejection letters, said it was the committee’s job to apply the regulations, nothing more or less. “There are so many ways a person can be an artist, and we are aware of that,” Ms. Reisman said, “but if somebody doesn’t need the space, and doesn’t have a consistent output of artwork, it’s hard for us to certify them.”
She said the certification committee consisted of two visual artists, who receive a stipend of $25 per session. They are anonymous to protect them from pushback by those they deny.
Defenders of the zoning argue that it protects the hundreds of artists who are believed to remain in the neighborhood, some of whom pay below-market rents and could be evicted if they did not have the law’s protection. But even Sean Sweeney, the director of the SoHo Alliance, and one of the requirement’s staunchest defenders, agrees that the city’s definition of artist is too strict.
“I would open it up to everyone in a creative field, though that of course, has its own problems,” he said. “Look what Bernie Madoff did; that’s pretty creative.”
A host of legal workarounds exist. Some buyers sign what co-op and condo boards call a SoHo letter, accepting responsibility in case of any problem. Some owners have asked certified artists to “occupy” their lofts for at least one day a year, because the zoning regulation, which requires an artist to occupy each loft, does not define the word “occupy,” Ms. Baisley said.
Jon Bon Jovi, who put his penthouse loft at 158 Mercer Street on the market last year for $42 million, is a certified artist, qualifying as a music composer (he recently took his apartment off the market after dropping the price). But many more boldface names who live or have lived in the neighborhood presumably do not have certification. A single triplex loft at 141 Prince Street, for example, has been owned in the past decade by the media magnate Rupert Murdoch; the design mogul Elie Tahari; and Ted Waitt, a co-founder of Gateway computers.
The Department of Buildings does not evict people for failure to comply, but it does enforce the rule in the event of a specific complaint, or if a building needs a new or updated certificate of occupancy, a spokeswoman said.
Even artists who clearly fall under the city’s definition can find the rule irritating. Sandi Slone, a well-known abstract painter, has had 40 solo shows; her work is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art. Last year, she had to reapply for artist certification, because she and her husband wanted to renovate their TriBeCa loft, where she paints.
“It was annoying; it took time,” she said. “But if you are an artist, it’s easy.” Her acceptance came in a couple of weeks.