This comic book was not going to draw itself so Laurence and I took up the job about ten months ago. It’s a sci-fi story about aliens taking over. 3075 is the year it takes place so maybe it’s an optimistic sci fi then. The planet (and mankind) survived. We call ourselves Mad Monk.
Blood sweat and gel inks have us cross hatched into a hopeful bliss and this fuels us each night to draw more. We’re making something good. Twenty one pages finished means it’s just five more to go. We’ve slaved over the details, keeping it all low tech and high in love. Black and white is as pure as we could make it. Our name together is Mad Monk. This is an art book. We draw together on the couch in the artists’ lofts overlooking the river at the center of town.
I hadn’t even gotten the pages home yet. Kind of priceless really and it’s a safe assumption to say most artists would guard it like gold. It’s not something I own, it’s something I’ve created, with Laurence, we did. I should have been more careful. They fell out of my bag by the river. I’ve traced my steps three times anda few people told me it hasn’t come their way. Homeless people don’t want to talk to me. They “don’t know nothin’ about no papers,” or another guy gave a swat of the hand and swoosh.. “I’m busy”.
I did, however, get to speak with a few folks. I got the word out that it’s worth ten bucks for anyone who found it. One lady showed me her tits and that was fun. Another guy pulled me aside for something that seemed to be something related to advice. There was alot of bumping of wings. What I call elbows he calls wings. There was a little laughing in the places where I couldn’t understand him and soon after I’d hear words like “That ain’t funny huh.” As long as eye contact is kept guys like this stay manageable.
By the way, a homeless friend, who I met over this, got hit in the head, popped with a 2×4 last night (hospital stapled him up) and before that he spent 3 days in jail over ‘jaywalking’. Truly, what is jaywalking? Reno’s bringin’ down the Nazi hammer on the homeless and I’m not in agreement with this forced ‘relocation’ program of theirs.
Anyhoo, these are two pages that will be redrawn. Much more fortunate would have been to find the drawings at the coffee shop with the cute girl behind the counter.
I’m goin’ into the Fishbowl tomorrow for 40 days. Laurence will be visiting so you’ll have to tune in to see what we’re working on. And bring me some food!
A glimpse of Laurence a year earlier:
There’s an idea that you put a million monkeys on pianos in a room for a thousand years and you will get a Beethov-ian masterpiece. My assumption is that this is the idea behind Matthew Couper’s “performance”. A painting monkey! It’s a miracle! What are you Matt, an Atheist!? Couper wore a monkey suit and worked on a painting in his signature style. Since Matthew Couper is pretty much my favorite Vegas artist I recognized this monkey’s style immediately.
After looking at Promethian Jock Strap’s ass twice, consciously I shifted gaze to monkey man painting Coupier-ian style (framed and on metal with cut-out looped video of bile and Matt’s face behind.) He was sitting at the front entrance, at the easel, and I can’t imagine the amount of annoyance this performing monkey had to endure between curious art audience members and the shovel-dragging Jock.
Couper paints in a style recognizable if you’re familiar with Mexican folk art-or so. Meaning and anecdote are heavily laden, high on imagination, and representational accuracy is forgiving. Sins, taboos and black bile–such as in this particular painting–are rendered in moral-story fashion. You’ve heard of leeching to release Mediaeval suffering: An excess of black bile was once thought to cause evilness. DRAIN THAT SHIT genius monkey shaman from the 15th century!
Dave Hickey is a wonderful art & culture critic that sometimes writes for Art in America and other international art publications. The author used to live in Vegas and he became the subject of my quick conversation in a doorway at RAW with Couper. I love that writer’s perspective as it cuts to the chase and doesn’t pander to “The Theatre of The Fine Art World.” The guy’s a big gambler and boozer, I guess. His daddy was a blues man. Matt & I talked about Vegas’ loss of this critic, which Matt didn’t think seems to make any difference for the city’s art scene. Hickey didn’t advance Vegas artists, except for a few, none of which are painting monkeys.
See I really wanna’ connect Reno artists and Vegas artists so when I saw that J.K. Russ saw this Traveling Miracle Show at Reno Art Works as a “bridge building” endeavor, I was hooked. Some of these folks are involved in Momas & Dadas, which is a new performance and art space in Vegas. I’ve been curious about them.. wondering if they might like to make NadaDada happen in motels down there. If it’s gonna’ belong to their city some locals are gonna’ have to bring the noise–I’ll keep plugging it.
Jo Russ and Matthew Couper are real Kiwis–meaning unlike Jenessa Kenway, they are from New Zealand. They are the couple that got her talking like that and she’s a fine girl the way she is–The two should not be forgiven for that.
*Ya’ know, I should know better. I just read the Dalai Lama saying we should not pay attention to the things that make us different but to the things that make us the same. We are artists and we are a certain kind of weird. No matter how we talk, we should stick together. Fine. I’m sorry for teasing you so much, Jenessa.
Now I’ve gathered some things from Facebook pages and I see that J.K. Russ is “an artist” that claims the identity of a fifth person I saw acting at the Miracle Show. A petite female in black lycra (even over the face) and sporting flowers up the arms wore a saffron top and guided us to sit at a circle of wood-pulp mulch lined with pieces of golden ginger roots. Is this all she does?
We sat tightly around this brown black bed, four feet in diameter, with lemons, more garlic (NOT gold) and a fifth of Jaegermeister in the middle around a camping stove–ready to get lit (haha). I didn’t have to look hard, I love all these items and instantly recognized the bottle of Jaeger, as this used to be my drink of choice; It was a long time ago, don’t ask. I was even able to put it together that we were about to ingest a concoction of the elixir.
Gandhi subsisted for months on a similar brew (minus the alcohol). And I forgot to mention the honey. After the quiet cooking ritual (aside from the clanking of the dragged shovel punctuating silence for 1 minute every 2 minutes) we drank from tripled tiny plastic cups. The bare foot Asian-ish (Philippino?) cook/shaman, shrouded in a silver blanket served us all generously. After receiving this mellowing brew, we understood it was time to get up and mingle onward.
Jevijoe Vitug was the artist. I was interested enough to pull him aside after the ritual and ask him about Gandhi’s influence as well as Joseph Beuys’, who in the 60’s acted out art performances, reminiscent, but under shrouds of felt and animal fat. Also, if I remember correctly, there were elements of gold-leaf in Beuy’s performances which had to do with that artists’ legendary story of survival during a war.
Of the night, I’d say I liked Jevi’s performance the most. Maybe it was the Jaeger, but I’d choose to think that it was more about his eyes lighting up when I mentioned Beuys & Gandhi. They were both shamanistic in their own ways. It’s all about the miracle show!
The Vegas artists got a grant to make this show happen because otherwise it WOULD have been a miracle to see them here. People don’t always realize it’s an 8 hour drive between Vegas and Reno. I’m thankful that the Nevada Arts Council and Reno Art Works were able to bring these folks up north in lieu of a high speed shuttle train.
Jenessa Kenway spoke with a vaguely New Zealander (Kiwi) accent. Adrianne and I had been informed that there’s an exhibition in “the back room” and that the artist would be happy to tell us all about it. She was…
We ventured into the dark room and saw looped video projected of a bottle of Miller High Life, slowly overflowing into a brass spittoon that was real and shelved down near the floor “catching” the overflow. OK.
The title of this piece was “Fountain of Youth”. OK, cool–Slacker generation’s version of Bill Viola, OK.
But she did wanna’ talk about it (it was obvious she writes art reviews) and I know I’m comin’ off snarky, but I gotta’ say, Jen, I got it. So to punctuate the art talk about continually spilling beer, I asked about her accent.
The New Zealand accent–I’m happy to report–is like a mix of the owwwowww wuwwlllghhh sound of the Aussies and the cocky matter-of-fact sound of the Americans. No Mary Poppins-tight lip–uppity pithy Britishness about it. Kiwis, I’m surmising, are the funnest people on the planet to drink with.
Kenway was selling bottles of Miller High Life with her signature on them. Price was akin to most bars playing pulmonary inducing music.
I did not buy a bottle of her John Hancock’d High Life.
What I did find out was that Jen writes art reviews for a weekly in Vegas. We have that in common (though I write elsewhere) and quickly the conversation went to giving “harsh” reviews and the backlash we sometimes have to suffer for the things we say in print. She’s gonna’ be jealous when she sees how freely I’m able to write for my own blog. Scott Dickensheets? Brian Burghart?–fuck those guys, Chad Sorg is my editor.
By the way, Jenessa Kenway is American. A couple of the artists in The Traveling Miracle Show are New Zealanders. She only picked up the lingual affectation by road tripping with this artistic snake-oil clan.
Reno Art Works hosted a showing of some Vegas artists over the weekend. I say showING because it was more a verb, as in performance.
I’ll start by telling you about the Promethian guy.
This tall, stripped, masked man armed with a shovel and a jock strap–whistle in his mouth and cleats on his feet–engaged himself in moving shovels full of dirt all night long from his pick up parked just outside RAW’s roll up front door, up the narrow wooden stairs at RAW. He had to continually navigate the small crowd of onlookers, tooting his whistle, dragging his shovel between loads, all this while trying to stay upright as his plastic cleats kept slipping on the pavement and spilt sand. (I’m not sure if he meant for the slippage to happen–I’m guessing no.)
Up the stairs, you’d find his big pile of deposited sand. Sandwhich bags full of the sand were for sale, $2.50, with a sign: “A little piece of Paradise”. (I’m guessing the dirt came from a site on Paradise Blvd. in Vegas–Maybe I’m wrong).
I’ve gotta’ mention the artists this act reminded me of. First off, as previously mentioned, there’s the Greek tragic anti-hero Prometheus: why do we do the senseless shit we do? Something else this artist, Michael Barrett, likes to do is push big ass tires up Lombard Street in San Francisco.
But I’m also reminded of Matthew Barney, whose physicality in his performances was central to his rock-climber-drawing-on-the-wall thing. These performances were taxing on the body and belonged to a wider genre called Conceptual Art where you really didn’t have to see it to get it. Someone could write about these performances and you’d understand the intellectual significance of the act: Explain to me why this is notable.
Come to think of it, “Promethian” could really describe the whole genre of Conceptualism.
I saw some Barney wall drawings and some of those plastic fake rocks bolted to the wall for climbing at S.F.M.O.M.A. and it was absolutely un-astonishing. They were left behind at the museum from one of his performances because he’s super famous. The guy ended up with Icelandic rock star Bjork.
Marcel Duchamp, Godfather of Conceptual Art had a glass bulb made in Paris and called it “50 cc of Paris Air” and gave it to his friend and art collector Walter Arensberg. In case you don’t know, this is also the guy who bought a urinal in 1913, laid it horizontal and displayed it with the title “Fountain”.
Regarding the physicality, It’s not surprising Barrett, as soon as his truck was emptied, he jumped in it and retired to his motel room, allegedly at Circus Circus; I’m sure he was beat.
I did not buy a bag of his Paradise dirt; his fascination with jock straps freaks me out.
I think of Hunter S. Thompson and his Gonzo journalism. There’s one story while on the campaign trail in ’72, he nearly got the shit beat out of him by Secret Service thugs by way of a misunderstanding.
Seems the campaign manager called Hunter out in a restaurant about something Mr. Gonzo had written about him in the Rolling Stone article that month. Though Hunter liked the man and was generally complimentary, about his appearance, Hunter called him rumpled and likened him to a used car salesman.
Walking into the restaurant the campaign manager yelled “You have the nerve to show up here!?” Dr. Thompson hadn’t noticed George McGovern, the candidate, was present as well as his Secret Servicemen who were about to pounce on the unwelcome journalist.
In the end, apparently it was just a joke and said campaign manager didn’t really care about Hunter’s comments, although his wife apparently hated Thompson for what he’d said.
I freelance from time to time for local publications and I can recall one artist that I know and respect talking to me about an art review of mine that had just been published about his show. He thanked me but added comments about how sometimes art reviewers will throw in a kind of back-handed compliment.
This remark always stuck with me because, like a double agent, I had my paranoia that his “back-handed comment” was, in fact, back-handed. You see, there was something about his exhibition that I was criticizing by artfully using the word “abundance”. I love this artist’s work but i felt there was too much of it being shown.
There can be alot of fear in journalistic endeavors, but then again, I guess one could say the same about any kind of story telling or communication in general.
The lesson learned is this: Don’t try to be artful. Be courageous and just say it. If your opinion insults someone then maybe you’ve given them the best gift of all–honesty.
Please stay tuned for my next blog post. I’m going to “review” The Miracle Show which was a group of artists who performed and showed work at Reno Art Works this weekend. I want to lay it out honestly; they’ll all forgive me.
Nila, your dad
From this dog eared copy
I learned of his involvement
with that thing
From ’69 to ’71
the Indians came
The true bird man
Adam Fortunate Eagle
they blocked the Sun
the fall of 2000
a pow wow
I ended up on that
same little island
cried a little
as a Native man
in backpack and
took a moment
to commune with
away from the crowd
by way of the actions
of this birdman
and his clan
the grace of fate
the fall of destiny
and your book, Nila
all passed down
I bought a cheap silver
ring that day
what I lived
the fall of 2000
silver Indian face.
HERE it is! A guy, Nick, had come to visit some months ago (like 7) and I had never bothered to go look for his article ’till now. I love it. Nick transcribes some of the fear of coming to this kind of place that I, myself, had also experienced. Read up.. fun article about my home.
Ron Pinkerton came to the Car Forest a few months ago.
He was out there 2 nights in a row, shooting after sunset in the wind and rain and lightening, lighting the cars and shooting shooting shooting. I saw him out there with his flash very late one night as a storm came thru and went.
it really was a spectacular moment for Ron to be here shooting. If I remember right, Zak saw him downtown with his big camera and he was pointed in our direction. Really awesome guy and these shorts are almost too good to be true. The guy knew his shit and must be some kind of Buddhist or something to be patient as he was.
click thru and look at these shots blown up on Ron’s Flkr page. TELL him how frickin amazing these are!