There is peace and serenity in The Light

Enough ranting about racism disguised as serious theater and Asset Management douche bags. Back to art galleries and woeful tales from my past.

Instead of eating lunch, I took the C train down to the Bortolami Gallery in Chelsea for the Ann Veronica Janssens exhibit. There’s more than one kind of nourishment.

Janssens’ primary medium is light. For sheer trippy spectacle, it’s going to be impossible to top James Turrell’s MoMA show from two years ago but Janssens has a few nice ideas here.

Untitled (gamble)
Fluorescent light connecting two spaces
Dimensions variable


It looks like a light saber. This is a single, eight-foot fluorescent light. A hole was cut in the wall dividing the gallery lobby from the main space and the light passes through which, I reckon, links the two spaces. It’s nice enough but I don’t think it’s too far removed from the fluorescent lights that illuminate the gallery.


See what I mean? You could almost say this is derivative of Duchamp’s readymades. The gallery rep pointed out that Janssens’ light is far brighter than the ceiling lights (which is true) but sometimes a light is just a light.

Untitled (blue glitter)
Blue glitter
Dimensions variable


Untitled (blue glitter) is exactly that. A pile of blue glitter on the floor. It’s sparkly under the gallery lights.


She took about 12 pounds of blue glitter, poured it into a mound on the floor and then just kicked it a few times. How it lays is how it stays. The floor is her canvas. I wish I could’ve watched her install this piece. I’d have given it a kick or two myself. There are indentations in the glitter where people have poked it. You can’t blame them. It’s practically begging to be touched.


Attention all artists: don’t call a piece Untitled and then provide a parenthetical title. That’s the title. I see that a lot and it’s a distraction. Knock it off.

Seven spotlights; artificial haze
Dimensions variable

On the far side of the gallery, a warm, red glow beacons to you.


You enter a small room that has misty air and seven spotlights arranged just so.


It’s a “haze sculpture,” which I liked quite a lot. You slowly walk around the room and the shape changes with the angle you view it from. This view is dead-on.



This view is from the back wall facing the entrance. I like the geometry of this angle.


I wish I still smoked weed. I’d dig out my bong or roll a big fatty and go back for another look.


July 27, 1995

I got a call from home. Iggy died. [Note: Iggy was my pal Barry’s dog.] They kept Iggy tied up in the garage whenever they went out for the evening. The garage door has three windows about half-way up. Last week, while they were out to dinner, Iggy took a running leap and jumped through the center window. The leash wasn’t long enough for him to reach the pavement so he hung himself. They came home late and as the car pulled in, the headlights floated up the driveway, across the house and alighted onto Iggy’s corpse hanging out the garage door window. Jeff [Note: Barry’s younger brother.] started screaming. It was a terrible scene. They don’t know if he died from asphyxiation or if his neck snapped.

Molly is leaving. Her company in Bayonne is closing and she’s taking a job in the Philadelphia office. I feel nothing. She had me over for dinner once. She took a few pork chops, doused them in ketchup and then broiled them. It made me sad. I told Austin and he said, “That’s poor people food,” which is horseshit. We were poor but mom was a spectacular cook. A Master Chef. We made out for a bit after dinner and it wasn’t very inspiring. There’s no subtlety in her kiss. It was like having too big a piece of yellowtail sashimi in my mouth.

The last time I was in Cleveland I met her mom. Oh, holy Christ. She reminded me of the Chicken Lady from The Kids in the Hall.


She stuck her big, homely face a few inches from mine and shrieked, “I heard you’re dating my DAUGHTER! How do you LIKE HER?!” It was awful. Her breath was blowing my hair back. All I could see was Molly 40 years from now. Next.

“My people! My people!”


Newark, NJ. Sunday, January 31, 2016, 11:00 p.m.

75 thoughts on “There is peace and serenity in The Light

  1. You should try that trick with the dog with yours, and then one of your kids can unveil her journals 20 years from now on their blogs, about you.

    • I can’t stand that dog. We still don’t get along. But if something awful happened to it, my daughters would be devastated. I’d rather live with the dog than their sadness. I’m such a mush when it comes to them.

  2. I think the light sabre type art thing was deliberately meant to be like the fluorescent lights in the gallery, some kind of ironic statement, although not ironic, because ironic is so last decade, some kind of new replacement for ironic.

    Ketchup? A BBQ sauce would have been an improvement and no more difficult.

  3. While I was looking at the trippy lights, I thought, “that would be awesome to see if I were stoned.” And then you said the same thing! Unfortunately, I’m much too old to do that stuff anymore. Sigh.

    • Great minds, etc. I can’t deal with intoxicants anymore. And weed, especially. It’s so powerful nowadays. When I was a kid I’d go out in a Friday night with my pals and go through a quarter ounce or more. In one evening! If I did that now I’d require a hospital stay.

  4. Yeah, sometimes a light is just a light. Pretty much most times.

    Blue glitter is just blue glitter.

    I like the red light. Call me Roxanne.

    I am not at all happy about the Iggy tragedy.

    …she had me for dinner and took a pork chop…oh yeah? By the sound of her mother you had a very lucky escape. You should have got rid the minute the snogging wasn’t good.

    • Blue glitter is just blue glitter unless it’s falling off an exotic dancer. Then, it’s faerie dust.

      Well done on the Roxanne reference. Very retro very clever.

      They weren’t happy about Iggy either. Imagine trying to un-see that. You can’t.

      Personally, I think SHE’S the one who had a lucky escape.

  5. Loved this post, it satisfied me intellectually and challenged me emotionally. Made me laugh a few times too, especially the weed comment. So many art exhibits would be improved with weed, don’t you think?

    • Hey! I think you’re new here. Welcome. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Satisfaction guaranteed and, remember, there’s never a fee! (Auto correct wanted “sad fiction” for satisfaction. Yes, that too.)

      Music would be improved with weed, too. And food. And my wretched commute. LOTS of stuff. I hear.

  6. The light art does nothing for me. . .maybe if I was tripping on acid??

    I love reading your journal entries though. What idiots to tie the dog up and go off and leave it. Grrr

    The girl put ketchup on her pork chops, so how could she ever come up with a creative way to kiss? Your description of it however, very creative.

    • Maybe you have to be there? I know that’s a tired, old cliche but it may apply. If you were standing in the middle of that room with the mist swirling around you, you might’ve felt something. Or, perhaps NOT.

      Here’s what I’ve always wondered: if the dog was locked up in the garage, why did they need to leash it, too? Did they suspect Iggy might try to pull a Rin Tin Tin and jump through a window?

      I should’ve known what I was in for when she pulled out the ketchup bottle. Thanks for your kind words. I’m flattered.

  7. I loved watching The Kids In The Hall and the Chicken Lady. The story about the dog is just sad.

    Maybe YOU could almost say that light show is derivative of Duchamp’s readymades, but if I said that I’d sound like a pretentious douche-bag. Mainly because I know nothing about the topic and have totally pedestrian tastes in art. I sincerely admire your willingness to not only try the unusual on for size, but to seek it out. I’m resolving to spend more time in the modern wing the next time I go to the Chicago Art Institute, and force myself to appreciate it.

    • No! No! No! Don’t force the issue! It’s got to happen organically or not at all. Look, I didn’t like the light fixture because it’s…well…a light fixture. But someone is going to pay a lot of money for it. Call BS when that’s what your eyes are telling you. But, by all means, go into the modern wing with an open mind. Some of it is going to be garbage but you just never know what’s going to grab you on any one afternoon.

      In a nutshell, Marcel Duchamp said that ANYTING can be art. His most famous piece is a bicycle wheel stuck in a wooden stool. He called it ‘readymade’ art and got lots of folks to agree with him. I’m not a fan. I require a modicum of original thought and hanging a stupid snow shovel by a thread from the ceiling (another one of his famous pieces) doesn’t qualify to me.

      Don’t give me too much credit for seeking it out. I work in the middle of Manhattan. It’s not that hard. The bizarre and the beautiful are only a subway ride away. It’s easy for me.

    • You’ve got that right, sister. If you’re looking for mockery, you’ve come to the right URL. I intentionally provide the lesser pieces to give a sense of juxtaposition. You don’t know just how clever those lights/fog are until you see how ordinary a fluorescent light is.

      • Reading the post, then all the way down the comments,I was thinking:’I wonder if the artist’s intention was to initiate discussion about comparisons with the house lights?’ The spotlights I rather like.
        And the blue glitter? Could be copper sulphate or just kid-stuff, but if I poked it with anything it’d be a Geiger counter!
        Iggy.A harsh lesson for kids to learn.

        Floating around in the ether of “Social Media” is a clip of three grannies smoking their first. I sometimes think that’s what I’d need to do to get my head around some art displays!

      • I’m pretty sure the artist would give you some ethereal reason for creating that art but the root of it is to sell, sell, sell and thereby affording her a lifestyle that allows her to deal in ethereal reasoning. It’s a circle.

        I’ve had it with weed. I’m through. It did a number on me and I regret ever trying it. How’m I going to explain that to The Daughters? Oh, I did it but I don’t want you to? Yeah, that’ll work.

    • Have you ever opened a Christmas card and had a bunch of glitter spill all over the kitchen? It’ll harsh your holiday buzz. And when a stripper sits in your lap, sometimes she’ll leave a glitter residue that’s hard to brush off. I hear.

      • Worse still is Mystery Glitter. That tiny, solitary speck of reflective horror that suddenly winks at you out of nowhere from a fingertip as you type, or perhaps from just beneath your eye as you stare at yourself in the mirror. You thought you were safe. You haven’t been near a single bedazzled thing all day. But there it is, glittering at you. And apparently welded to your skin.

        How did it get there?
        What does it want?
        Why has God forsaken you?

        We may never know.

  8. I like the orange misty light that looks like a hand stretching out. But I think the fluorescent light cut through the partition wall is a bit naff.
    Upset by the dog…. and the Molly kiss made me feel queasy… but I have had worse. I once ended up with the remnants of a sandwich in my mouth. And it was white bread… I prefer brown.

    • It was red! Looks orange on your monitor but it’s red. I pretended it was a light saber that pierced the wall. Otherwise, what is it? It is, as you say, a bit naff.

      Molly’s kiss made me queasy, too. And the one you suffered. How is kissing so popular? Best not to think about it.

      • It isn’t my favorite album, but it has some of my favorites on it. I’m more just excited for the experience than any of the songs in particular. Though, if he plays No Surrender I’ve already warned my wife I might have a heart attack from screaming a long louder than I should.
        Yes, long, I expected that. It’s a Tuesday show and when I got the tickets I immediately took the following day off work. He can play as long as he wants. I’ll listen. I’ll sing along too while my voice holds out.

      • We’re an hour outside of Newark and didn’t get home until 1:00 a.m. I had to work the next day and I was so jacked-up that I never fell asleep. Do you know what? It was WORTH IT. Are you in the pit or seats?

      • I’m in the pit.
        Those were the tickets I could get. But, I’ve never been to a concert where I wasn’t in the pit. I’m not sure what I’d do with it seat. Doesn’t it get in the way of dancing/moving/vibing to the music?
        I’m a 2 hour drive from the venue, and assume it will take at least an hour to get out of there after the concert is over. So, don’t really expect to get home until 2 or 3. My alarm goes off at 4 and I’m at work by 5:30… So, didn’t really think it was optimal to try and come to work the next day, but fully applaud your success at doing so. Adrenaline is a wonderful thing.

      • I cannot deal with the pit. I’m too old for that much standing. Plus, we usually have our daughters with us. We are very, very lucky that we have a connection and are able to get good seats. Believe me, we shake our asses just fine.

  9. I like the look of the haze sculpture. It must have given your face a warm red glow when you were bathed in the light, but was anyone looking at you? I’m impressed you were mature enough in 1995 to appreciate a subtle kiss. I wouldn’t have guessed that from some of your other diary excerpts!

    • Hey! I ain’t no mug! I know a subtle kiss from a sloppy one. And I know that’s no way to treat a pork chop.

      I was standing in that room all alone and it was very lovely and blissful but then some people walked in and the spell was broken. I like people well enough but not when I’m trying to look at some art. The only good art museum is an empty our museum.

  10. You have an amazing following, 50 posts almost immediately after your blog hits the internet.
    How many light shows have we seen? They always remind me of Nela Park in Cleveland and Carrie Bradshaw’s boyfriend, Mikhail Baryshnikov.
    I’ve experienced some of those kisses. Where do they learn that form of tongue?
    You are right about the new pot. Very, very potent to us old timers.
    Can you imagine what was going through Iggy’s mind to make him do that? So sad.

    • I’m appreciative of the people who come here to read and take the time to comment but the numbers game is all a matter of perspective. I follow some blogs that have triple+ the number of likes and comments for each post. Some lucky souls actually make a pretty good living doing this. I used to get very wrapped up metrics but I try to take a more sanguine approach to it. I’ll publish a post and hope as many people as possible are entertained for a few minutes.

      Have you been through Nela Park at Christmastime? That’s just as much an art installation at this stuff. And, yes, poor Iggy. They should’ve left him enough rope. I’ll bet they’ve spent the rest of their days thinking about that.

  11. So, this is the art show of Untitled pieces. What’s with the no-naming and renaming with a parenthetical? What is that all about? I want to make a pile of blue glitter. On second thought…no, I don’t. That seems like a big mess to clean up. It looks like awfully cool glitter though. I really dig the last one though. That one is clever!

    • I just can’t understand why so many artists, who are brimming with ideas and creativity, cannot come up with titles for their works. Seriously?

      If I pour a pile of glitter in my living room and just kick it, can I be sued for plagiarism? Is that a misappropriation of someone else’s work?

      • I can understand not having a title while you’re creating something. That happens a lot to me. But hopefully, by the time you’re finished, it will become more defined. An untitled piece is like an unwrapped package. It’s missing the finishing touches. But what do I know? Maybe it’s the cool thing to do to be “Untitled,” as if to say my work doesn’t need a title. It’s too good for that!
        Pile of glitter. I guess you could have a pile of anything and call it art. Even shit has been done already.

  12. The fluorescent tube through the wall is reminiscent of the ongoing struggle between architects and engineers.
    “We want the light fitting right here”
    “Really? That’s where the support beam needs to go”
    “Well, I’m not revising my design again!”
    (Contractor rolls his eyes and pulls out his core drill)

    • This is a fantastic supposition. In order to dream this up, one would need to have some experience with contracts and negotiating with stubborn asshats. That or a vivid imagination. I’ll bet I know which source is yours.

  13. We’re so starved of light up here in NW England that you’d probably have people going to the gallery as therapy.

    I always worry if I might kiss like Molly. Being kissed properly by someone good at it, is truly to visit the divine. But how does one learn such a thing?

    • I have a theory that there is, in fact, no “proper” way to kiss. What was unappealing to me might be the height of passion to someone else. There’s only one sure way to find what your partner likes and doesn’t like: practice, practice, practice!

  14. That journal entry kind of makes me think of bad things I’ve done. I don’t know why. Maybe the balance between good and bad people is the weight of what you do versus what you think. I don’t know.

    Somehow, I feel like I know Molly’s mom. Are you sure we haven’t crossed paths???

    • My intent isn’t to stir a pot of bad memories with these journal entries but I do think there’s a common thread that runs through all our lives. It’s these shared experiences that make us feel part of the human race instead of a bunch a weirdos and satellites off in our own orbits.

  15. You are more new-agey than I thought you were! With your lights and glitter and haze and weed! Ha! Quite the trip coming in here this morning! And your response to Trent about sharing our human experiences… say no more!
    Seriously, though, once again, a great eclectic post from you! Hope you have a great week, Mark!

    • Now, isn’t this funny? I just finished reading/commenting on your post. There’s a wonderful synchronicity to this. 500 miles apart but, for all intents and purposes, in the same space.

      Thanks for you kind words about my post. If I were a cat I’d purr. I always feel that if I throw in a few short, unrelated subjects, people will find something to enjoy.

      • Great minds, Mark! Maybe it’s the Clevo connection! And you’re welcome! I always enjoy your posts (even the ranty ones, because you’re allowed to be human!) 🙂

  16. Bare fluorescence makes me shudder remembering a sickening migraine in a French café.
    Well done for beating alcoholism. Do you drink at all now? It’s good that you and your daughter can talk about it.
    Do you have any compunction about being honest about your life ? Or do you choose to keep some parts private. Not being nosey – artistically interested.

    • Bare fluorescence also make my blemishes stand out. Who needs that?

      That story about beating alcoholism isn’t about me. It’s about a fellow blogger. I’ve provided a link to his blog post. It’s a beautifully-written piece. I personally, don’t drink very often. I’ve never been much of a drinker. And, yes, my blog is heavily edited. I keep it light. No personal stuff. It’s all about the arts and entries from my past journals. But my family reads this stuff so I keep the personal stuff out.

  17. That photo? Did you take it? Seriously, you are going to HAVE to hook this seestah up with that man…I’d know that arse, those shoulders, those beads of sweat ANYWHERE… knew who it was before I tagged Little Steven…. damn it…

  18. Pingback: (Sharing this because it’s really nice that I’m not the only person who sees the art in simple light) There is peace and serenity in The Light — Exile on Pain Street – jennydeaneblogs

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