While strolling to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Breuer building location formerly known as the Whitney Museum on Madison Avenue several months ago. I walked passed an art gallery that was displaying an early Keith Haring painting that caught my attention.
I thought to myself maybe? Maybe I could walk in and talk to someone there about my personal connection with Keith and hope for the best?
Well three months later I got an invitation to a fantastic opening reception for the artist exhibition of Bernard Buffett paintings. So I call up my partner in crime Vikki Watt and we go to explore the amazing collection this gallery has to offer.
To my surprise they rotate there artists and mix the exhibitions by peppering in a few highlights. For example this Keith Haring painting behind us is a good example of the diverse collection Opera Gallery has in their inventory because we were actually there for a Botero and Sequi exhibition that was just breathtaking.
I wish I could have signed a purchase order the minute I saw a couple of pieces on display.
Some people like to capitalize on the passing of an Iconic figure and have no problem collecting a check at the end of the day.
My intention of this post is only to shead some kind of light on a very unique situation I find myself in once again. Creating a work of art that nobody could ever do because of my intention in the beginning. And then the work of art becomes a sort of memorial to something or somebody?
I don’t know how this happens because I’m not thinking about anything finite about the subject?
I’m just as shocked as anybody who knew just how important Mr. O’Brian’s injection of Downtown Culture with Uptown panache was/is to New York City and beyond for those who read certain cultural magazines to find their own personal style within the pages.
I wish I were able to give you this painting the last time I saw you walking on Lafayette Street with a small boy in toe a few years back. Continue reading “And the ‘Beat’ is gone. Fairwell Glen O’Brian.”
When I started out dreaming about becoming an artist and being impressed upon by just about anything [successful] I thought was relative to the vision I had in mind.
There were a number things that influenced me outside the realm of painting and drawing but within it, I was drawn to the figure as form like most art students.
I had an Instructor whose paintings were a dead ringer for the school of Phillip Pearlstein (seated behind me.) which is a hyper realism rendered from photographs as I learned later in a gallery discussion last week from the man himself who is in his 90’s. The only difference between the two is this particular instructor worked from live models and a more reductive color palatte.
I would be a fool to ignore or not mention the influence of Hip Hop and Graffiti again with it’s focus on the body and identity but in a slightly different way.This urgent more impulsive art form is more physical in a real time sense. Not staged in a room or professional studio painted in sessions over a long period of time.
The man shown here in the second picture is Jon Naar also in his 90’s who happened to photograph these young artists in the mid to late 1970’s and give a face to the public art that was popping up everywhere on walls and also being done on subway trains in New York.
All three men have studied the human figure and what it is capable of under many different physical conditions capturing the moment just long enough to leave an impression on us.
I am pleased to announce that my work is now represented by Gallery353 a new contemporary art gallery in Princeton New Jersey. All I can say at this point in my career is that “It’s a long road and, there’s no turning back.”
People have already asked me ‘how’ did this happen and my answer is: I just made a phone call once I read an article about the gallery owner Mr.Patrick Ryan who’s family once owned a dairy farm in Ewing Township,New Jersey where I grew up a very long time ago. I made an appointment and showed him my latest artwork and he was very excited to see these paintings.
But more important than the artwork he understood where I was coming from literally and artistically once he heard my story about being one of the missing ‘links’ to the 1980’s Downtown art scene. It also didn’t hurt to have two photographs of the lost photo shoot I did with photographer Tseng Kwon Chi & Keith Haring I was looking for for about thirty years!
What I’m really amazed about is that the gallery couldn’t be in a more Ideal place for me in terms of location to my studio which is about .75 miles down the street. This makes transporting work from one place to another a snap with the proper assistance helping me. I couldn’t have planned this situation for myself if I were my own genie from an imaginary bottle!!
Two exhibitions that are on view right now locally have a significant point of reference which is the artwork produced by three artists.
The timing couldn’t be any better to see the artwork of an artist and where his or her influence comes from first hand all at once by visiting two local museums during the month of August.
To make a long story short and interesting I will start by saying “These two artist Jean Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring are really at the center when it comes to understanding my particular style of mixing Neo-expressionism Pop and social political issues all together.
I’ve also left clues to the past by using images from art history that I find relevant and to the point I’m trying to make. Most people have no idea that I am a part of that movement Howie Montaug coined “The New York Downtown 500” of which I was number 499 if anyone is counting.
On August 9th I gave a gallery talk at the museum and I simply instructed the audience to visit the Princeton Art Museum to look at the work of Jean Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring then return to the Trenton City Museum and look once again at my two sculptures. Clearly you will see the heavy influence these two artists had on me and my continuation of the dialog that is still relevant to todays social and moral issues.
After experiencing some very negative feedback from some folks I thought I knew; it has driven me back to where I once started building a career, New York City.
Although I have great difficulty getting around it’s much better to struggle there than any place I can think of at the moment.
I enjoy visiting familiar territory around the west village & SoHo especially Washington Square Park where people still gather to soak up some sun and local entertainment.
But their is plenty more to descover just north west of 14th Street like the new elevated park called the Highline which runs through the new art gallery scene in Chelsea and begins with the new location of the Whitney Museum which I am dying to visit or even become a member.
My second to last visit I did a little gallery hopping and met SHAG aka Josh Angle who was just as groovy as his paintings suggest and I immediately detected his southern California swag.
I can’t wait until my next adventure.
On December 1st the Princeton public library hosted a conversation/book signing with Bill T. Jones and Judith Hamera part of the ‘Thinking Allowed’ series.
Although I was exhausted from the wonderful Thanksgiving weekend I had I knew I had to attend this event no matter how uncomfortable it might be on me physically.
Planing to attend something is no guarentee that I will actually show up but, in anticipation of attending I hashed out a plan to create a special Objet d‘art to give to Mr. Jones when I got the opportunity.
Ironically I customized a PRODUCT(RED)™ X Kidrobot X Keith Haring foundation collaboration that was originally released for AIDS in Africa reasearch.
It so happened that December 1st is officially World AIDS Day so I credit the timing of it all to a common spirit that Bill and myself share through Keith Haring our mutual friend who died of AIDS related complications in 1990 and Mr. Jones partner & collaborator Arnie Zane who also suffered from the same complications and died in 1987 the same year I met Keith and Mr. Jones some thirty years ago.
I was able to present my gift after the talk/signing and Mr. Jones loved the object and we briefly discussed our little collection we both have of the artist work that was personally gifted to us.
He signed my book “Thanks for keeping Keith Alive with US!” which I will add to the collection of books I have autographed by various authors.
I just picked up a copy of the local “What’s Happening” news paper US1 that serves Mercer’s County with vital information about current businesses/ people profiles/social events/community networking opportunities but thats not all.
For years since the paper was introduced to the public it has been a vital source of information about people and what their passion is and how it relates to the rest of us in a tangible way.
“Something you can sink your teeth into if you know what I mean?” In other words the information can be useful and when it comes to covering the activities of local artists I can’t think of another person [I stand corrected: Ilene Dube & Janet Parcel] who has consistently reported on the State of The Arts more than Mr. Dan Aubrey who I have known since my brief college years at Mercer County Community College and my off and on relationship with TAWA (Trenton Artist Workshop) over the past three decades.
Dan has managed to be where the action is consistently in his writing about the local art scene which is very well known at this point thanks to his heads up reporting for example his latest article on Seward Johnson founder of Grounds for Sculpture and the man I like to call the Walt Disney of art for the common man.
Trenton in particular seriously needed someone passionate enough to capture what has been going on underneath the radar (now computer) screens of the world actually. I often though about doing the job myself going around to different events and giving my opinion about it but I didn’t think people would take me seriously because of a lack of academic credentials on my part. So I’m glad we have a person like Mr. Aubrey who has been around long enough to sift through the sh_t and only write about the Shine-Ola!! Great Job! Dan Aubrey I solute you….
My Seward Johnson story begins right when the family was going through all that Estate problems because it was highly publicized. I was working at the time ironically right down the street from where I currently live. The department store named Epstein’s is where she [The Mistress] would pull up in a limousine and buy her shoe(s) and; everybody always gossiped about the help (Maid) inheriting Jasna Polana the family Estate on route 206 that is now a world class golf course and country club for the elite. I also use to live walking distance from this unbelievable property and had the pleasure of attending a couple of events there. To describe how the Johnson’s lived in that particular location would be exploitive if I went into detail about the decor. Lets just say no expense was spared!
Shortly after those events and a few failed attempts to join the foundry as an apprentice sculptor I ended up working in 2001 at the restaurant RAT’s inside Grounds For Sculpture and I met Seward a few times while he was entertaining people in his private studio which has a door located in one of the dining rooms upstairs of the restaurant. His journey is unorthodox and I certainly can relate to that and truly believe in the karma that he spoke about in Mr. Aubrey’s article.
Is it me? Am I not getting the picture? Why is it that every cultural institution in America namely the ones in the title of this article showcase art & artifacts by caucasian people solely as if African Americans don’t exsist or posess the same ability of artistic creative expression? Sure there are a few that have risen to the presteige of being exhibited in galleries and museums but most of them posthumously and they never really saw any personal success while they lived.And yet the artifacts of our ancestors from Egypt,the bush of Africa,Native America,Austraila,Oceana and god knows where else is kept quite vividly on display in museums around the world.
It seems that there is some kind of disconnect between the ancient African people and modern post slave African Americans that nobody wants to address.
I agree that education or lack thereof plays a big part in this phenomenon after all, African Americans were not able to freely express themselves legally until 1863 and probably were not exposed to art until fifty years after that.
So there’s quite a bit of a head start as far as culture is concerned but we live in a technological enviorment and are exposed to the same information as everyone else now so, there’s really no excuse unless you want to argue about subject matter aesthetics and tastes which are personal choices.I often wonder from a anthropological standpoint that if African Americans were to somehow become extinct today,what would be left behind for future cultures to examine and study about us? What kind of artifacts will be on display to represent our culture?We already got the singing & dancing and music down packed but there’s much more.
Let us here from Dr.Cornell West who in this video explains how important art and the arts are to our very nature as a society and then,you tell me what time it is…O.K.
Its true, African Americans have long admired Asian culture and its traditions along with its post war contemporary restructuring. The introduction of martial arts in the 1970’s to western society sparked the interest of African Americans across the nation and Karate was practiced (although secretly) in the basements of homes and public housing developments everywhere. This form of self-defense was felt needed due to the discrimination that African American males experienced while being outside at night and questioned by police at random.
The second influence came from television broadcasts of films such as “Godzilla vs King Kong” and with episodic television series portraying families that transformed into super robotic heroes like “Jonny Socko” and “Giant Robot” along with “Ultraman” and the Science Patrol exploration team ultimatly expressed transcendence and adventure.
The third influence was Saturday morning cartoons which had the most impact on the youth (myself being one of them) which used martial arts fighting in a lot of popular shows namely “Hong Kong Phooey” utilizing Scatman Crothers an African American actors voice as the main character.
These programs were all transformative and inspirational to the African American community in many ways and now Asian youth culture is finding relativity in the Hip Hop culture of African Americans because of similar experiences with living in a traditional oppressive society. I personally feel a deep spiritual connection with Asian culture because of its form of discipline it has and its respect of form and function in its traditional sense but that is rapidly transforming into a new hybrid of modern society expressed through music and the visual arts.