Thursday, November 4, 2010
I was going to write this blog entry yesterday but I wanted to sit on it a bit and think about what really happened on Tuesday.
Two years ago, the country made an historic vote and elected Barack Obama president of the United States.
With his election came sweeping changes in both the House and the Senate.
Promises of reforms, new health care initiatives, ending the war and a better way of life was the platform the Democrats campaigned on and were elected becasue of.
Two years later, we see that the Democrats got soft and weak.
We are still in this god awful war, health care reform was watered down so much that it really doesn't mean anything, and the bail outs, which I felt were necessary, weren't being regulated enough so the companies who received them just put more cash in their pockets.
So of course, this midterm election saw great changes. It saw a Republican party so fired up that they were like a steam roller and it also saw the birth of many grass roots groups that picked up the conservative mantel.
The Democratic party was unjustly vilified for all the problems our country now faces, but they broke their promises just like every politician does. And they payed the price.
For the next two years our government will basically be in a stalemate with nothing moving forward and getting accomplished. Worse, yet, my fear is that this impotent Democratic party might just cave to the conservative right. They seem to have no passion about being in elective office.
As an artist, my concern is always how conservative our country is becoming and the effect it has on any artist that is the least bit edgy. Also, there is always the desperate funding needed to keep the arts alive in the United States.
The NEA had a $175 million budget in 1991. But during the recent Bush administration there was a major budget reductions with the annual funding dipped below $100 million. The one good thing President Obama did was to sign into law a bill increasing the budget of National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities by $12.5 million each, to $167.5 million each.
The NEA still isn't were it was with funding back in 1991 and with the new conservatives in office I doubt that it will get any higher than it is right now.
Cuts in museums, music and dance companies are sure to follow.
My gripe with the conservative right has always been that they do not see how vitally important the arts are to a society.
They will continue with their tax cuts to the riches 1% of Americans, continue promoting a conservative "Christian" agenda and they will leave the majority of American's struggling to find work, struggling to pay our inflated share of taxes and will destroy the progress the Obama administration has made in backing the one thing that in tough times people turn to, the arts.
I shot this photograph during the last term of George W. Bush as I read the news about more censorship to artists. The title is "Liberties revoked" and it seems that it is unfortunately relevant again.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
First let me start of by saying to those readers who are expecting more posts about art and photography that I will be getting back on that track soon, but there are a few things I really need to get off my chest.
In recent months I have seen a growing intolerance in this country about anything that people feel is different or not what they would do.
The definition of intolerance is:
lack of toleration
unwillingness or refusal to tolerate or respect contrary opinions or beliefs persons of different races or backgrounds,etc.
Synonyms include prejudice and bigotry.
Our US Constitution states:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Our country was founded on our refusal to be persecuted unjustly by the British, yet now, in 2010, our country has gotten more intolerant of different cultures, sexual preferences and of anything that puts us out or is different.
The recent news is full of intolerance. The Islamic Mosque that is being ridiculed for being too close to ground zero. Or the suicide of a young college student because his roommate thought it would be funny to expose his sexuality to the world.
In fact even last weekend while I was a crew member of the 3-Day walk for a cure, a few people were verbally abusive while they had to wait for the walkers to cross a street. What they had to do was so much more important than these walkers and their conviction to finding a cure for breast cancer.
What has happened to the compassion in this country?
All Muslims are being grouped and hated becasue of a small radical faction. They should be free to worship wherever they want. Do we start protesting all the Catholic churches because of Timothy McVeigh's bombing in Oklahoma city?
An 18 year old Rutgers University student, Tyler Clement commits suicide because he was ridiculed by his roommate and secretly filmed and then that film was posted on the internet for the world to see. If he had been with another woman there would not have been an issue but becasue his roommate was intolerant to his sexual preference he thought it fun to film him, invading his privacy and causing Tyler to take his own life.
This is the United States of America, a country that says we all have the inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Well, as long as everyone around you agrees with your pursuits.
But then again, look at who we having running for office. For example, look at the current senate race in Delaware, we have Christine O'Donnell, a evangelical activist, who has characterized homosexuality as a psychological disorder and campaigned against masturbation calling it equivalent to cheating on your spouse.
She has the right to her opinion and to run for office. This is a "free" country. Let's just hope the voters in Delaware are smart enough to NOT vote her in. But be ware Delaware, she is a witch you know.
John Lennon said it right in 1968, all we need is love.
For those who know me, you know that I can be extremely cynical and not the touchy feely type, but with the current trend of this country I think we all need a little bit of love and compassion for those around us.
So lets all try to be a bit more tolerant. To hold the door for an elderly person who happens to be moving a little slower than you are. To let that car merge in the lane in front of you. To respect the sexual and religious conviction of others even if it is contrary to our own.
In the words of Rodney King, "Can't we all just get along?"
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
My wife bravely walked through Washington DC into Maryland and back into our nations capitol just 7 days after her last radiation treatment. Her strength, courage and wonderful spirit through these 3 days encouraged me and those around us to really push through the aches and pains for this cause.
As for me, the cynic, I had a life altering experience.
I knew I was going to be a bit emotional seeing my wife up on stage, proudly showing her newly growing hair, but I never expected to meet a group of loving, caring and wonderful people as the people I met these four days.
When I originally signed up for crew, I signed up for route safety because I enjoy riding my bicycle and route safety sounded interesting and a bit challenging. What I didn't expect was to meet this DC moto crew that took me in and made me feel like I had a new family.
Our job was basically to help the walkers navigate the 60 mile trek and to get across the more dangerous intersections. I found myself dancing and joking with the walkers to help keep their spirits up as they navigate DC and the Maryland suburbs. I laughed, hugged and occasionally teared up when the walkers came by and every single one of the over 2000 walkers left something with me on my street corners. They all walked for personal reasons but the collective reason was to hopeful put an end to this disease that effects 1 in 8 women and men.
Not only did I get the inspiration from the walkers but this crew was incredible. The route safety crew is made up of of motorcyclists and bicyclists. All volunteer for this crew because they truly believe that with their efforts they will find a cure for breast cancer.
Not only if their dedication to the cause wasn't inspiring enough they also kept tabs on Terri the entire 60 miles and let her know how well she was doing every step of the way with words of encouragement and hugs. All this without me asking or saying a word.
During the closing ceremony the walkers come in through toward the stage through a gauntlet of volunteers giving high fives and hugs. The the crew walks in and the ovation we received from the walkers was something I could not have imagined. The appreciation of what we did, not only route safety but all the crews was heart warming.
Then the survivors came in and Terri walked on stage carrying her "Hope" banner and I started to loose it. Tears were free flowing and I felt my legs weaken. But then, just when I needed it most, one of my crew leaders came up behind me and hugged me tight telling me she would never stop doing this until they find a cure. Her hug and the well wishes from the rest of this amazing crew has given me hope for the future.
Terri and I have already agreed that we will be crewing the DC walk again next year and I will definitely be a part of the MOTO crew. I think we will also crew together for another walk next year.
I came hope feeling different about this disease, the cause, the Susan G. Komen organization and myself. I feel that I am truly lucky to have met such wonderful people who have quickly become friends and warriors in the fight against breast cancer.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
It seemed the company with who I had designed and hosted te site through decided to shut me down. After three days of emails I found out that I was shut down due to "adult" content.
I was told, "Weebly doesn't allow adult sites on our network. So your sites were taken down and your account turned off. This isn't a "moral" issue for us, we simply have the same policy regarding adult content as a social network like Facebook."Not a moral issue; what kind of an issue is it then?
They came back to me and apologized for taking it down so abruptly and even refunded fees I had paid but that still doesn't explain why artwork that deals with the nude is immediately considered "adult."
My frustrations on this subject keep growing as I am running out of options to post my artwork. The hosting companies that allow adult oriented content are where the more pornographic sites are hosted and becasue they are a niche the costs are totally out of my league.
There is a need on the internet for web hosting for the arts. One that will not censor the artist's work, one who will provide a decent site at a reasonable rate.
I even tried posting my images that are for sale on an art website who showed a few oil painted nudes, but when I approached them the reply was that we do not sell "that" kind of work.
I didn't even present them with the images from my most recent exhibition. These were images of a more suggestive and classic nature.
So the saga continues. If anyone out there knows of a reasonable hosting company who can see the art from the porn, let me know!
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
So it has been just over two full weeks since my exhibition, Censor This 2 opened at the ArtHouse Lounge in Harrisburg, PA, and a few local media outlets have picked up the story.
The Patriot-News newspaper and the ABC affiliate channel 27 in Harrisburg.
Both did a story on the exhibition, in the case of the Patriot-News, they did multiple stories before it even opened, plus had a reporter at the opening reception.
In both cases the stories were about erotic art in general and the gallery owner used them as publicity to promote the gallery saying how open he is to all different sorts of artwork. The articles were straight forward, focused on the nudity aspect and the sexual content.
The ABC news story ran with the reporter walking around talking about how they can't show the art, how the gallery owner does not censor art, but actually nothing about the quality of the work. The reporter actually never showed his face in the piece. He mentioned that he looked at the images...twice. He went on to talk about how there was no protest, he seemed disappointed, and then talked about the provocative poses and my use of what he called props. At which time the camera zooms into a pair of leather hand cuffs. Then he made a tongue-in-cheek comment that it seemed, "no one was harmed during the making of the exhibit and that some enjoyed it very much."
So I am not sure whether to be happy that my name got on the news or upset that they honestly did not take it seriously. They never talked about my artist statement, or why I chose to do this exhibition. In fact they never spoke to me at all. They only interviewed the gallery curator.
The funny part about all of this is that the gallery curator never saw the work until I actually hung it. But he did give me cart-blanch to show whatever I wanted. So you have to give credit where credit is due.
My concern is that is was publicized in a very distasteful manner and that the news media tried to sensationalize it or worse yet, joke about it.
So is it possible, in the United States, to get accepted as a "real" artist and shoot erotic images?
The market for art photography is a small portion of the art market as a whole, then divide out the people who like nudes and then divide out further those who like erotica, you end up with an extremely small population of erotic nude art enthusiasts. So the handling of the media has to be very carefully crafted. In this case, the gallery just took the publicity and ran with it. With no regard to my artistic integrity.
I guess I should be grateful, the images have gotten out of my brain and onto a gallery walls.
But I keep asking myself, at what cost?
What do you think? Let me know.
Friday, August 13, 2010
The publicity has been out for just over a week and already the gallery is getting hate mail and I am getting disparaging emails and nasty blog posts and no one has seen any of the work yet. I really love how people criticize things before they even see them or give them a chance. Why is it that the narrow minded Americans seem to have the biggest mouths?
I have received phone calls by the local Harrisburg newspaper to interview me and the local CBS TV affiliate will be at the gallery Saturday as we hang the show for a story. Again, all this buzz for images that no one has even seen!
Normally, before an exhibition I am pumped up and a bit nervous. My photos are my babies and at the opening they are exposed to the world and on their own. With this show, and all the pre-game hype I really feel ambivalent.
Does the work warrant all this hype? I mean it's just my artwork, my way of expressing my feelings. Yes, this show is more raw and erotic than past shows but really, hate mail?
I am proud of these images and am looking forward to the opening but I really am not as excited as I think I should be. But I'm not nervous either, I kind of just want it to happen and be done.
Maybe my focus has changed since my wife's cancer. Let's face it none of this shit means anything without her. And the thought that I could have lost her to cancer if she wasn't on top of things and didn't have wonderful doctors has made me realize what really matters in this world.
Like Rick said to Ilsa in that famous scene in Casablanca:
I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.So let's see if the opening validates my months of work, at least I am proud of the work I am hanging.
I really hope that I get to meet some new people. So please come out and say hello.
If you are in the Harrisburg, PA area check out the exhibition at the ArtHouse Lounge, 217 N. 2nd St. It runs from August 14th through September 11th.
A percentage of any sales from this exhibit are being donated to the Susan G. Komen, 3-Day Walk for a Cure, to find a cure for breast cancer.
For more information visit ArtHouse Lounge website - http://arthouselounge.com
Friday, August 6, 2010
Now as a married, heterosexual male, you might not automatically think I have any interest in the subject of gay marriage. But for many years I have been a staunch supporter. Having many gay friends, who have been in relationships a lot longer than my three marriages combined, I see what true love in the face of a discriminating country can due..
On Wednesday, August 4th, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that the California's Proposition 8 ballot initiative denying marriage rights to same-sex couples was unconstitutional. Judge Walker said, it is "unconstitutional under both the due process and equal protection clauses."
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger applauded the ruling, saying it "affirms the full legal protections and safeguards I believe everyone deserves."
First off, what I find interesting is that the Governor is Republican, albeit a moderate Republican and that Judge Walker was a Republican appointee.
This 136 page ruling was crafted very very carefully. The judge knows that it will be appealed and the appeal will probably go all the way up to the Supreme Court. He made quite a few statements in his closing directed to Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. Kennedy has been the swing vote on a number of cases brought before the court which is very divided. it will be very interesting to see how the court handles this case.
In speaking about the case brought before him, Judge Walker stated that the defense, in favor of the ban, brought only one expert witness in front of the Court and that this witness was no expert at all. He stated their case was weak and the reason that California voters narrowly voted for Prop 8 was out of fear and ignorance.
Previous court decisions have established that the ability to marry is a fundamental right that cannot be denied to people without a compelling rationale, Walker said. Proposition 8 violated that right and discriminated on the basis of both sex and sexual orientation in violation of the equal protection clause.
But of course, there are the ultra conservatives, the Rush Limbaughs of this country, who see this as nothing more as a pawn to destroy the American Constitution. Limbaugh said, " gay political activists... are being used by the overall leadership of the American left." he continued to say that," the left uses issues such as gay marriage as battering rams to wreck the US Constitution."
Did he NOT read the part about equal protections and due process?
The chairman of the National Organization of Marriage, (didn't know there was such a thing) stated:
Here we have an openly gay (according to the San Francisco Chronicle) federal judge substituting his views for those of the American people and of our Founding Fathers who I promise you would be shocked by courts that imagine they have the right to put gay marriage in our Constitution.Personally I think the founding fathers would be shocked by the internet or women wearing pants!
Then of course we have Newt Gingrich who said:
Today's notorious decision also underscores the importance of the Senate vote tomorrow on the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court because judges who oppose the American people are a growing threat to our society.So now, becasue Judge Walker is trying to protect all American's right to due process and equality he and any other liberal judge is a threat to our society. Hey Newt, remember, all American's not just your favorites.
And then we have the general, scared, America public who have made comments like, "I'm very upset. I feel like I don't live in America."
Well maybe that is a good thing. Most other countries feel we are backwards in our thinking about sexuality and marriage anyway.
Oh, and the Pope weighed in too. The Pope stated: Gay Marriage is one of ‘the Most Insidious and Dangerous Threats to the Common Good Today’
Hey Bennie, did you forget the hundreds or maybe thousands of children molested by Catholic priests over the years? Maybe THAT is a dangerous threat to the common good?
Another thing written by Judge Walker in his ruling was, "The evidence shows that the movement of marriage away from a gendered institution and toward an institution free from state-mandated gender roles reflects an evolution in the understanding of gender rather than a change in marriage." I have to agree, the days of the man being the hunter and the obedient wife staying home to raise the kids has been over for a long time. It is just now that the courts are catching up with what is already taking shape in this nation
Equal treatment and government benefits for gay and lesbian couples should not be based on whether couples is a "traditional" male/female couple. The Proposition 8 ruling is a victory for family diversity of all types of orientations, not just gay.
This battle is far from over and will make the news until it finally gets decided on my the Supreme Court.
I for one hope that this tide of unity and equality continues through the country and that it rolls into the Supreme Court and comes out victorious.
Friday, July 30, 2010
With a BFA from Cornish College of the Arts focusing on drawing, sculpture and performance art, I expected his work to be more "artistic" and less commercial and obvious. He taught himself photography and by looking at his portfolio on Bravo's site his work is good but not inspired.
He is the perfect example of what I said about this show from the start, there is no heart in the artwork.
Ross Bleckner fromInfo the website The Daily Beast said the show "Brought back many memories.
Unfortunately, they were all memories of my junior and senior year in high school."
I have to agree, it is so contrived and formulated that it really gives the art world a black eye. Most artists create to express some inner desire or demon they need to expose to the world. Well at least that is true in my case. But, art is passion, it is desire, it is showing the world something it has never seen or in a way that it has never seen. Not this, "here is your assignment for today, take $100 and do to it" approach.
Bleckner puts it like this, "The show doesn't make you want to be an artist because "making it," according to this formula, requires competitiveness and pandering to a small cabal of teacher-judges, the so-called experts, who bark "time's up!"
Just in case you are thinking that he is just some critic busting on the show, Ross Bleckner is a well-known artist whose works have been shown in several institutions throughout the world, including MoMA, MoCA, Astrup Fearnley, Museo National Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. He is also recognized as the youngest artist ever to have a solo exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
I think this show will actually hurt museum patronage becasue of all the art bullshit.
Listen to how the artists explain their work, or how the judges talk about it. It's all bullshit to make normal people afraid to try and express themselves artistically or try and view art in museums. This is the reason so many people don't go to art galleries. They feel they are not "getting" the work so why bother. But if people would go and experience the works in our galleries and museums they will find that they will appreciate them on their own level, whatever that may be.
Don't let shows like this stop you from going to your local art museum or gallery. Here, in Philadelphia, we are lucky to have one of the countries foremost museums and a few areas loaded with smaller art galleries.
So where does the show go from here? The final challenge is coming up and I am curious to see what art speak will come out of Mile's mouth and if Jaclyn will take her clothes off again. But of course she is really shy about her body. And what about Peregrine, I wonder what bizarre outfit she'll wear to show she is an artist.
I know I am slamming this show as I feel it really doesn't help bring art to the masses. It's one thing to do a competition about making a dress, it's another to create a real work of art.
Only a few episodes left in season 1, I wonder if there will be a season 2?
Monday, July 26, 2010
Encore Exhibition Just Announced
Piper has invited back photographic artist, Michael Barone of Perkasie, Bucks County, for another solo exhibition to open on the anniversary of his previously successful exhibition. "Censor This II, fetish and fantasy" is scheduled to open on August 14, 2010 at the ArtHouse lounge in Harrisburg, PA.
According to Piper, “Michael received an overwhelming response right here in Harrisburg, that's why we're hosting Censor This II, Fetish & Fantasy! Most nude photographers and artists use filters and props to blur, hide, color or distort areas to make the works more appealing and less controversial, but Barone does not. He is a true artist which is what drew me to the idea of working with him.”According to Barone’s artist statement, “With these works, I have deliberately pushed the boundaries, forcing the viewer to the position of voyeur, glimpsing into the private, intimate fetishes and fantasies of others. By doing so, the viewer is forced to confront his or her own raw feelings about sex. Whether these feelings leave the viewer moved by the beauty of the images or revolted by their own prejudices against human sexuality does not matter to me. I am simply interested in evoking strong emotional responses.”
Piper said. “I am an artist myself and I strive to uphold the First Amendment. There is no reason for me to have a gallery if it is going to be censored.”
Barone holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Delaware and over the last 25 years has been shown in numerous galleries and websites both national and internationally.
The opening artist’s reception of Censor This II is August 14, 2010 from 6 to 10 pm featuring live models serving champagne and hors d'oeuvres. The exhibition runs through September 11, 2010.
For information about this exhibition visit ArtHouse Lounge or Barone PhotoArt
The gallery is located at 217 N. 2nd St., Harrisburg, PA
Friday, July 16, 2010
Like the US court case in Cincinnati 20 years ago, when Dennis Barrie and the Contemporary Arts Center were indicted for pandering obscenity just hours after the opening of the photography exhibit, Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Moment, this case can have a serious ripple effect on not only the art world in Russia but throughout the world.
How many curators and artist with now take a risk and show work that could land them in jail and be forced to endure a trial and public scorn and ridicule?
Leonid Bazhanov, director of the National Contemporary Art Center, said a guilty verdict would make Russia less competitive in the world art market. Foreign artists would be wary of bringing their works to Russia, while more Russian artists would leave the country, he said. Maybe this is what the church wants.
This censorship battle maybe taking place in Russia, but as an artist I feel the heat right here in our country. What is happening in Russia is actually happening in the US today. The right-winged Christian conservatives are pushing their morality on the judicial system. They are using their voice and power to dictate their small minded agenda on the art world, persecuting artists who show work that in their eye is obscene.
In all the advertising hype over us being in a war they always talk about the soldiers are fighting for our freedoms,but this type of censorship slaps the face of those freedoms. We have soldiers dying every day to protect our way of life but the conservative cancer is eating it away from the inside.
Sometimes when I write this blog I feel like I am waging an unwinnable war with very few people supporting this cause. Show your support, visit an art gallery or chime in on a social networking site or my blog.
(Photo credit and comment - Yury Samodurov gestures as he and other human rights activists gather outside a Moscow courthouse during a court hearing of Samodurov's case. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev, file)
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
I think I am enjoying the show, but as an artist myself I find most of these artists missing the mark on the assignments. What I see lacking in the work so far is heart. To me an artist is someone who visualizes what is in their heart and soul. There is no heart or soul in the artwork shown so far.
This last episode was really bad as the artist were to make "shocking art" but then Bravo censored the images on the broadcast, Huh? Why even have the episode if you are going to censor it. And besides, not a single piece was shocking. The winner of the competition was according to the judges, the most shocking but really missed. His concept was wonderful but execution failed. It really felt as if this episode was a promotion for photographer Andres Serrano. If you don't know his name you'll know one of his pieces. His most famous is "Piss Christ", a photograph of a plastic crucifix submerged in a glass of his own urine. This caused great controversy when first exhibited. The work was sold for $162,000 in December 1999 in London.
(An aside here, Andres Serrano needs to come to my exhibit in August and see where the cucifix is submerged!)
Anyway, I digress. The show is supposed to push the artist to create works of art on a budget and on a time schedule. The budget part shouldn't be a problem for most artists becasue, lets face it, artwork isn't selling like it used to. The time crunch is interesting but for an artist with an idea and who can work smart, it shouldn't be a problem.
My problem with the show is not only the censorship by Bravo TV, but the lack of any real substance in the artwork so far produced and also the serious, TV attitude of the judges. There comments are rehearsed and practiced and really are meant only to keep the TV audience watching not to be a constructive critique of the artwork. From Bravo's website, the judges are as follow:
Hosting this new series is art enthusiast China Chow. She will serve on the judging panel alongside art luminaries Bill Powers, a New York Gallery owner and literary art contributor, Jerry Saltz, current art critic for New York Magazine, and Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, esteemed curator and owner of Salon94 gallery. World-renowned art auctioneer Simon de Pury adds his voice of experience as a mentor to the contestants.So I am very curious to see how this reality show progresses and to see the impact, if any on the art world.
I am checking out Work of Art's website waiting for the application for the next season if there is one.
It might be time I put my camera where my mouth is, oh wait, I already do that.
August 14th, Censor This II, fetish and fantasy" opens at the ArtHouse Lounge in Harrisburg!
Looking to see you there!
Photograph above ©Bravo TV
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
But reading about this made me think a bit more about Andy Warhol himself and my thoughts on him as an artist.
We all have seen his Campbell's Soup cans from 1961 and all the hype over his pop art explosion but was he this great ground breaking artist or just a fantastic salesman?
Warhol once said, "What's great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coca Cola, Liz Taylor drinks Coca Cola, and just think, you can drink Coca Cola, too. A coke is a coke and no amount of money can get you a better coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the cokes are the same and all the cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.
Warhol's painting of a can of Campbell's soup cost $1,500 while each autographed can sold for $6.
By the way, in 2009 His painting, "Eight Elvises" sold for $100 million, yes, $100,000,000. That is a lot of zeros.
The exhibit was one of the first that directly confronted the general public with both pop art and the question of what is art.
The more I research and read about Warhol the more I feel he just capitalized on what would sell. I agree that his original vision was something a bit unique, even though Monet had similar views in some of his work. But I think he was a product of his time and environment. The New York art scene in the 1960's was ripe for change and someone as eccentric and with the marketing savvy as Andy Warhol definitely was able to take a bite out of the Big Apple and the art world.
All of this was actually escalated in on June 3, 1968 with the assassination attempt by Valerie Solanas who was a member of The Factory art scene and founded a movement called Society for Cutting Up Men (S.C.U.M) Do you think she had issues? Supposedly, she gave a script she wrote to Warhol to look at in the hopes of making it into film with him, somehow the script was "misplaced".
With the assassination attempt, his sexuality and his knack for self promotion, Warhol was destined to be famous.
My question is this, was he a genius artist or just in the right place at the right time and mearly a decent illustrator with a bit of PT Barnum in him?
What are your thoughts?
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Mapplethorpe was always an artist, creating beautiful and thought provoking collages, but did not pick up a camera until he was in his early twenties, starting with Polaroid images and making decorative and interesting frames out of the actual film casings.
He is best know for his frank portrayal of the homosexual leather scene but he also had a wonderful way of lighting a subject, which sometimes got lost due to the frankness of his subject. But it wasn't only male nudes he photographer, some of his most beautiful images are of statues and flowers. Whether it be a male nude, or a flower, this sense of lighting and stark focus on the erotic around us has greatly influence my work and especially the current exhibition I am working on. So, it was wonderful to see that one of Mapplethorpe's flower images, Calla Lilly, 1984 is going up for auction at the Heritage Auction, on June 9th in Dallas, Texas. The images is expected to sell for between $30,000 and $40,000. and to be the highlight of the auction.
As a photographer whose life was cut short at 42 at the hand of AIDS and who has been maligned after death due to his subject matter in showing a lifestyle that many don't even know exist, it is wonderful to see that their are still people out there who respect him for the photographer, the artist he was.
Mapplethorpe's image along with images by Irving Penn, Yousuf Karsh, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Annie Leibovitz and Richard Avedon represent some of the most famous and influential photographers ever.
I really wish I could be there and see these images and watch the gavel fall being envious of anyone who can afford such wonderful works of art.
Photography, for a long time during it's early years, was not consider a true fine art. But, photographers like these are the ones who helped make it a legitimate art form and have paved the way for me to do what I do.
Lately, with the digital mass marketing camera revolution, photography has become watered down and common place but it is my hope that this auction can spark the flame to those creative and innovative photographic artists to produce work that is inspiring, emotional, controversial and beautiful.
I know I will never stop shooting and my wife will probably find me dead either in my dark room or with a camera in my hand. My hope is that she will be right there beside me when I go and I am sure we will be well into our 80s by then. And I will still be photographing naked, beautiful people!
Thank you Robert.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Part of their mission statements states, "A soldier for Christ fights a spiritual battle. The enemy is not our fellow man but the principalities, the powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world . Our mission is to do battle with the lies of the enemy. To do battle with the corruption of this world"
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
One thing we like to do after the program has ended is pause the TV and read the vanity cards. These are writings by the writer and producer Chuck Lorre. At the end of these shows is his commentary on whatever he feels like writing about. They are always funny and some of the time make you think. What is even funnier is sometimes his vanity cards are censored so the only way you can read them is on his website, chucklorre.com.
I suggest that you take the time and go to his link and read some of these vanity cards. You'll find yourself laughing out loud. You have a bad day, read a vanity card, you'll find some wonderfully funny and sometimes deep ideas about the world around us. A recent vanity card, #286 had a series of what seemed to be random thoughts that popped into his head such as, "In public bathrooms I will sometimes use the "children's urinal" in order to feel like a giant." and "I've never understood why anyone would bother making a porn movie that lasts longer than ten minutes." And then there is vanity card #280 in which Chuck Lorre goes on talking about getting old. One line rang a bell with me, "You know you're getting old when... You throw your back out on the toilet. You shave your ears."
So my suggestion is first, watch Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men, and secondly go to chucklorre.com and read his vanity cards. It sure beats watching a Youtube video of a cat on a skateboard, and won't kill off any brain cells.
The photo above is from Big Bang Theory and property of Chuck Lorre Productions.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Thursday, May 6, 2010
My wife sent me a link to a post by NPR about how Virginia's Attorney General, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, II wants to "cover-up" the state seal.
It seems that Attorney General Cuccinelli doesn't like that the dominant woman who is standing on top of a submissive male is also partially topless. Now the state seal of Virginia has been around for over 150 years but the recently elected Attorney General feels it is naughty and should be covered up. His idea was a armored breast plate. Kind of a kin to Zena the warrior princess.
My thought is doesn't he have something better to do with his time? I mean he is the Attorney General of Virginia. he might have a few other things top worry about than censoring the state seal. The city of Richmond alone has a murder rate that is 6.08 times the national average. (cityrating.com)
So to make this a priority in his administration might becasue he wants to shield his SEVEN children from seeing the drawing of a bare breast. Yes, I said seven children. A devout Roman Catholic, I think he is is some sort of a race with Mel Gibson.
I hope he directs his attention to more pressing matters like getting the common name of the bird Parus major changed. The name of course would be the Great Tit!
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
This story you might have missed becasue it took place over seas but I had to write about it.
It seems that Pope Benedict XVI was to visit the predominantly Catholic Malta, and it seems that there is a statue that he would have passed that resembles a large penis.
In January 2006 sculptor Paul Vella Critien erected a statue "The Colonna Mediterranea", or Mediterranean Column. It was installed on a traffic circle at the entrance to the village of Luqa. He said the statue was of an ancient Egyptian symbol.
The sculpture, which mayor John Schembri described as "obscene" and "embarrassing", should be removed "as a sign of respect" for Pope Benedict XVI, he said.
Similar works by Critien have been erected in Germany, Italy and Australia. OK, sorry erected is the only good word to use and it is funny.
I do agree that the sculpture is in poor taste but to remove it becasue the Pope was visiting is also artistic censorship.
I think that the mayor wanted it removed not becasue the Pope might see it and get offended but becasue the reason for the Pope's visit was to set up a "response team" after the Maltese Catholic Church in 1999 had received allegations against 45 priests of pedophilia. So a large erect penis in the middle of town just wouldn't do.
You know the whole worshiping false idols thing is against the Catholic religion!
The Pope's visit was earlier this month but I haven't been able to find out if the statue was actually taken down. If you have the answer to this I'd love to know.
It has been a while since I posted on my blog, but lately there are too many things that I just have to comment on.
Let's start with ABC refusing to air Lane Bryant’s commercial becasue it shows too much cleavage. Lane Bryant wanted this ad to run during "Dancing with the Stars", but ABC, a Disney owned company said no.
A source said, ""The cleavage of the plus-size models, they said, was excessive, and we don't think that's the case. It certainly appears to be discrimination against full-sized women."
In a statement ABC stated, “Their statements are not true, the ad was accepted. Lane Bryant was treated absolutely no differently than any advertiser for the same product. We were willing to accommodate them, but they chose to seek publicity instead."
So right now it's a he said she said right? Well not really. Have you seen the outfits the dancers wear on "Dancing with the Stars"? They show more cleavage and bare chested men than any hot drama on TV. And what about the Victoria Secret ads they run. Just becasue they choose to use skinny, bony models doesn't make their ads any less sexy.
Lane Bryant chose a very attractive, full figured model, Ashley Graham, to advertise their new line of lingerie to full figured women. The ad was sexy, eye catching and also cute and tasteful. Meanwhile ABC will run Victoria Secret ads and their so called fashion show during prime time or any other time.
It does seem that ABC has a problem with healthy looking women.
While watching a really awful TV program, "The Insider" (only the last 10 minutes I was waiting for NCIS), they interview Kathy Lee Gifford who said the ad was in poor taste becasue of the message it sends to women? This comes from he woman who is not only so skinny her neck bones are a weapon but who has also had some cosmetic work done. Oh and by the way for a time she was employed by Disney. Bad message, look in the mirror Kathy Lee.
I do believe we live in a country where obesity is out of control and children need to eat right and need good role models. An attractive, full figured model who is not obese, who is healthy and happy, Is a positive roll model for women. Much more than Kathy Lee or the anorexic Victoria Secret models.
A woman who is a size 16 is a regular size, why do we consider this too big? The key to the size issue is healthy, there is a weight high and low, that a person just isn't healthy and that should be the ideals we teach to our children.
Click here to view the Lane Bryant commercial
After viewing the commercial, what are your views?
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
When I decided to produce my next exhibition without the use of my digital camera systems I didn't think much of it. I knew it would be more work, cleaning up my darkroom,buying new chemicals and paper and buying more film.
Film is kind of like record albums, we remember what it is and how good the quality was but CDs and downloads are much easier.
The quality and the characteristic of film and real silver paper is unmatched by digital technology. The subtle tonality I can get with film is so beautiful especially with skin tones. So when the offer of another show came up I jumped at the chance to shoot it on film, go back to my roots.
Then came the process of buying my supplies. Kodak just discontinued the film I liked to use even though they have a wonderful film still available it is in shorter rolls so that just means more money in processing and chemicals.
Then there is the chemicals. There is a wonderful camera store in NYC that has what I need but they can't ship it since 9/11. Not sure why, didn't know terrorist were making bombs out of photography developer. And then there is the photo paper, for once the paper I use is still being made. Maybe becasue they are not a US company but I can still get what I need.
So what does someone who wants to be true to his art do? I mean, there is no question that film and silver paper printing is superior to digital so why hasn't some niche company kept up with film production? Why has Kodak basically abandoned the artist?
And one more interesting fact, I am going to have to teach the models actually how to hold a pose. You see film is a bit slower, I can't bang off 20 to 30 shots in a row and catch the model as she moves around. I am actually going to have to pose the and teach them how to work with a film camera. The pace is slower and much more deliberate. In a 90 minute shoot I used to take 300 digital images, now I'll probably shoot 30 to 40 shots.
As my wife has told me, this is what I used to do so why should it be so difficult, right?
So we shall see what transpires. I am excited and slightly stressed and I hope come August 14th there are actually prints on the gallery wall.
Friday, April 2, 2010
Before I get on my soap box I need to preface this post.
I want to thank all who sent me their the well wishes and prayer about my wife's battle with cancer.I appreciate all the kind words I received from everyone who has contacted me on Facebook and other social networking sites.
I do not wish to offend my friends and those who really know me will understand my thoughts.
As a child I grew up in an Italian-American household. Roman Catholic icons were all over my grandparents house. I went to Catholic school for 9 years and did my duty as an altar boy. Needless to say, religion was a big part of family life.
First Holy Communion.
Church on Sunday.
No meat on Friday.
No goodies during Lent.
These were the rules that were going to get me into heaven. I got married in a Catholic church, teaching love, honor, till death do us, etc. But then it happened, I got divorced. A Roman Catholic doesn't get divorced, it's a sin. I'll go to hell.
No wait, all I have to do is go to confession and it's all better, and even though my ex and I had a child she got the marriage annulled. Neat trick.
After a few years I tried the church again. I went to church with a very devout Catholic girl. During the mass, the priest stood in front of the congregation holding a blow-up sheep trying to talk about something or other. I sat there thinking, "What the fuck is the priest talking about?, this is religious enlightenment?"
After many years of pondering religion in my life, trying to get something out of a church service, I have come to realize that organized religion is like a crutch. It helps you when you need it, and when everything is ok, you can discard it. In recent years the talk of God has flooded the media. People killing in the name of religion, saying it is "God's will". A young child is struck down by a stray bullet from some crack dealer's gun, and they say, "God works in mysterious ways". Now a Christian militia is trying to gun down police officers becasue they don't agree with our government and want to start their own based on the 10 commandments. Maybe they forgot to read the one Thou shalt not kill.
Recently my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer and I am supposed to believe that an all loving God would create such a nasty disease. Or that now since she has had surgery and is recovering it's becasue of God? NO, it's becasue of medical science that she is recovering. Cancer is just a diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and are able to invade other tissues. And our goal has been to find the best team of medical doctors to help us fight and win the battle. Science, plan and simple.
So now, here is my belief; Life is what you make it, not what some spiritual deity has destined it to become. You set your course and you determine the outcome. It's not pre-planned, it's not fate. Like the T-shirt says "Shit happens".
Sometimes the shit is good, other times it fucking sucks. But what you make of it defines you as a person. So live life to the fullest, enjoy every minute and love, laugh and be kind to those around you. Not becasue you'll go to heaven but becasue it's the right thing to do.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
As many of you know there are two things that I will constantly fight for and talk about, censorship and sexual freedom. I have done some things for these rights but really not much, until now.
Recently I have joined the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom as a coalition partner. They are a not for profit group who fights for equal rights for consenting adults who engage in alternate relationships.
From their website:
The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom was founded in 1997 to protect freedom of sexual expression among consenting adults. NCSF works through media advocacy, outreach, legal initiatives and educational efforts through our Educational Outreach Project to promote understanding of the SM, swing and polyamory communities.
There are lots of great projects NCSF is working on:
1. NCSF filed a lawsuit against the Federal government to overturn the obscenity provisions of the Communications Decency Act. NCSF is working to be sure that educational and personal SM-Leather-Fetish, swing and poly websites don’t get closed down.
2. NCSF helps people when they've lost their job or child custody because of sexual expression. Thousands of people have called NCSF for help because of discrimination or persecution.
3. NCSF educates the media when events and groups are attacked by religious political extremists, supporting SM, fetish, swing and poly practices so that our community spaces are safe.
This is a group who is speaking up for people whose lifestyle may not be "main stream" but in no way should be discriminated against.
As a photographic artist whose primary subject is fetish and fantasy, I see that this group can only help the acceptance of my work. I feel it is my duty to put my money where my mouth is and stand up and support the cause, and you should too.
NCSF has lots of helpful information on the website:www.ncsfreedom.org.
Go there and see all the work they are doing with media outreach, incident response, and proactive initiatives on sexual issues.
I will be promoting NCSF on my own website, at appearances and also at my next exhibition on August 14th at the Art House Lounge in Harrisburg, PA