“Winning and Losing”
Letters (to the On the Street Penthouse Suite)
Last week was a torrent of communication. As usual, the flow died off in the week after. A few drops did push through…
#1 Chiapas Spurs Roundtable
From the travels and travails of local artist, The Once and Future Mantecatron, comes this excerpt.
“I'm going to form a Chiapas Spurs Roundtable with me, a dreadlocked blonde kid, an earnest, politically active local university student, an older Indian that sells braided belts and an aging hippy with a balding ponytail and a fanny pack. Transcript to follow.
Parker out two weeks. Ouch.”
More on the Spurs a bit later…
#2 - …
Nothing else much that’s fit to reprint. There was one letter describing a premonition that I had fathered a child with someone from film school, which is NOT true. It’s a difficult task when living in a different state.
The exchanges seemed to be more about the author than me the recipient, though in the exchanges I did unwantingly learn about “bris” which is some sort of Jewish circumcision ritual.
I too am trying to learn from this but it’s best to wash one’s hands and walk away.
Thursday night Artpace unveiled new work by three of it’s latest round of residents: local Richie Budd, Taryn Simon from NYC, and Lu Chunsheng from Shanghai.
The conversations were held downstairs due to the upstairs room being already in use. The space was tight, and though I thought we wouldn’t be able to find a way in, a friend showed me a back entrance from the patio, which just happened to be next to the booth for free drinks. Well played all around.
Overall, the conversations were more like an interview. In the past, questions seemed to be thrown around randomly to each artist without order, which had its pros and cons. This setup allowed each artist equal time, but somewhat restricted the flow of discussion and prohibited artists talking to each other. Obviously, no system is perfect.
I’ve noticed that the more conceptual artist residents often talk the most, and the most eloquently. I suppose the flipside to this is that without being able to describe their ideas they wouldn’t as easily have a career. There is no fault with this scenario. Art as an intellectual pursuit is fully legitimate in my mind.
Then there are the residents, often local, who build things, often huge in scope. These artists seem to talk less as the work more often speaks for itself.
In the conversation Budd kept his answers somewhat terse, which I thought was a good thing. His sculptures defy description to some degree, and though the curator wanted to pull out of him some sort of connection to behavioral science (or something close to that) I thought the less that was said the better. Science was already brought in earlier in the discussion, and though there is nothing wrong with drawing inspiration from outside influences (how could there be?) at a certain point if the influence dominates the work, then I feel it becomes less interesting.
Lu Chunsheng's work was the most difficult to pierce, but in some ways the easiest. The conversation with him was filled with language barriers and translation barriers. However, he did admit to not being able to talk to anyone and spending most of his time in his room by himself drawing. In that sense he felt the full San Antonio experience of loneliness though without enough time wasn't able to break through the city's initial rough outer edge.
Lu made a feature film that had no dialogue (that I noticed) which made the film more universal in a certain sense. However, art as a feature film is something I find slightly problematic because a feature film brings with it certain rigid expectations and parameters, most of which deals with narrative and time frames. As a feature the video felt slightly empty, but it was very impressive to see such a time consuming undertaking embraced. The videography was impressive, as was the overall vision. The end result seemed somewhere between the world of art and filmmaking. Video art often captivates people (perhaps too much at times) and so it is inevitable that the worlds would overlap.
It isn’t usual for a three-day stretch to include a residents opening at Artpace on a Thursday, a First Friday the next day, and a Second Saturday the day after that, but like a blue moon, that’s what happened.
I arrived late, as I had to first say goodbye to a couple of Spaniards who I had been showing around for the week as they filmed a documentary about Utopia and politics and something in between. The election figured into it somehow.
Meeting them at La Tuna, and seeing the genormous crowd reminded me that First Friday has gone beyond an event purely for art. In some ways the event mirrors the sprawl of the city, with Bluestar representing the artistic core of downtown, and then all the ancillary activities existing around its edge, in some ways, almost like it’s own suburbanization and sprawl.
Bluestar proper had lots of interesting artwork to observe. The crowds were thick, which slowed down the process. I went by Joan Grona, knowing that the gallery might be closing soon. The front room had safe but visually satisfying work to see.
The second room had provocative but less visually satisfying work to see. The two rooms were wholly different as far as I could tell. I would have appreciated the political pieces in the second room more if it didn’t feel like it was playing to the crowd. Like the Oliver Stone movie “W”, taking jabs at the current administration is still worthwhile but lacking any punch at this point. One is less likely to actually see Bush on television, as they are to see Josh Brolin in a trailer portraying Bush.
It feels wrong to criticize political art but to openly espouse only a single perspective, no matter what it may be, does seem to limit it. The emotion behind the work is completely legitimate, and is something that is felt by untold millions.
I didn’t have time to see the UTSA Space but the rest I saw that night at other galleries seemed fairly below average for those galleries and not worth writing about.
More Time For Rapping
With Ginobili already injured, Tony Parker’s recent ankle twist couldn’t have happened at a worst time. The Spurs struggled and looked to be without an identity. It was bad. Though newly acquired players George Hill and Roger Mason Jr. looked better than expected, the team as a whole looked dreadful.
After a lucky break in scheduling the team had a few days off and the coaching staff was able to adapt to the new reality and get the team back in character. So far the results have been one win and one loss but at least the team is playing defense. The offense is still stagnant. So, in that sense, maybe things are where they normally are?
As lone headband wearer and torchbearer to the spirit of Stephen Jackson, Desmond Farmer has only played a few minutes here and there in the last few games. Untested 12th men are archetypes for fans to project all sorts of hopes and frustrations. It seems odd that wearing a headband would seem to be a radical fashion statement but for the current team, this seems to be the case. However, in fairness, nice guy George Hill’s triceps tattoos have created little concern. We all know that tricep tattoos are a gateway to neck tattoos. I’m just saying.
Living in the Limelight
Saturday night Buttercup played at Limelight, and as has been more and more the case, Current employees have been attending musical events en masse. Soon, we might even carpool. Who knows?
There’s not too much to add about Buttercup because they’re already successful and well documented. I don’t think it’s possible for them to be any more comfortable performing on stage. Performance seems effortless. I think they could check their email between songs and still maintain a commanding presence.
A couple of On the Street readers demanded to have their foto taken. One of them claims to have written the original On the Street print edition years back but there could be some leg pulling.
Giving the people what they want.
And so goes another week on the streets of San Antonio. As always, to be continued…