About Exile on Pain Street

It's Mrs. Wife (who has requested complete anonymity), two daughters and myself. And two smart cats.

Hop hop hop

I took my 12-year old on a Chelsea gallery hop. The 17-year old is out of the game. She has a Saturday gig and a boyfriend now. There’s no room for gallery hops with Dad. Eventually, I’ll lose 12-year old too and be back to wandering around these galleries alone. I’m not hurt or insulted. It’s the nature of how things work.

I think she was a bit bored. I occasionally caught her standing in a corner staring at her phone instead of the art. I think she enjoyed the time spent with Dear Aul Da but I’m not sure how she feels about art. I either opened a world for them or turned them off to art permanently. It could go either way. But you have to make the introduction. What happens after that is out of my control.

This is Anthony McCall’s fetching light installation Split Second at the Sean Kelly Gallery.

I’m like a parrot. I like shiny objects and light is my favorite medium. Light + mist is even better.

A young child ran into the light and I couldn’t resist a pic.

James Turrell is the grandmaster for me but this is a very fine example of McCall’s ‘solid light’ works.

This room of shoe oddities tucked in the back of the Marlborough Gallery is Towards An End to Biological Perception by Genesis P-Orridge. Animal lovers beware.

My daughter didn’t spend any time looking at these. She found them disturbing, spun around on her heels and walked straight out, which I understand. But *I* liked them.

The larger part of the gallery is filled with Davina Semo’s large scale sculptures in All The World. Along the floor are heavy cubic bales that anchor chains linked to bells cast from bronze.

I didn’t want to get thrown out so I asked permission to ring the bells and they said it was OKAY. So you can imagine what that lead to.

Brightly colored reflective acrylic sheets studded with ball bearings hang on the walls throughout.

I was reading a review in ARTnews, which is something I rarely do. ARTnews sucks all the joy out of art. The reviewer said of the piece in question:

For an oeuvre that is so self-consciously synthetic, the overall experience offers a surprisingly potent meditation on attention, lifespans and mortality itself.

What does that even MEAN? I have a very base, visceral reaction to art. I look at it. Does it make me have a proper laugh (in the good or bad way)? Is it beautiful to behold? These are my criteria. It’s why I hate political art.

Treat her like a lady

bins

January 22, 1994

I’m battling the flu and guilt. I feel bad about not seeing Ann. I like sleeping with her, but not spending a great deal of time with her. This is the sort of thing that prevents me from having a proper girlfriend. Being unemployed doesn’t help.

I got another short letter from Sedaris. He said his life is still pathetic and he’s still cleaning apartments but things are changing rapidly because of the play and his exposure on NPR. Bang. Zoom. Right to the top. He said when he wrote Stitches it was just him, his sister and some friends sitting around smoking weed. I don’t buy it. I laughed hard and stuff that you write stoned is never funny the next day.

Had lunch at Bendix Diner with Laura. She’s a stunning beauty with the sexuality of a cloistered nun. The bill was $18. She ‘forgot’ to go to the bank and didn’t have any money. I probably shouldn’t be going out at all, much less buying lunch for someone, but we have a nice time and I enjoy her company. We’re quite close. We gossiped about our friends.

I called Karen at work and told her I spent New Year’s Eve in Times Square but left out the part about being alone. She went to a party with her boyfriend and when they got home he vomited all night. She gave me her home number and told me to call in the evening because he doesn’t get home from work until after midnight. I haven’t called intentionally to make her think I’m out having fun and living the champagne Manhattan life. I should call in the middle of the day and hang up when he answers.

Jessica called and I can tell she didn’t think I’d be home. She just wanted to leave a message on my answering machine, I’m sure. We talked for a while and it was nice. I’m glad she makes an effort to keep in touch. I told her I haven’t called because I don’t have a job and am ashamed. She said she understood.

Tomorrow I’m going to watch football games and stuff envelopes with resumes and cover letters. I’m mailing out 21. I hope to God Ann leaves me alone.

~~~~~~~~~

The construction of 1 Vanderbilt continues. It will not obstruct my office view of the Chrysler Building, but it’ll compromise the aesthetics a bit. It’ll be much taller. When complete, it’ll be the fourth tallest residential tower in the city.

~~~~~~~~~

If you stare into his eye for too long, you’ll inexplicably find yourself sending cat treats to New Jersey. Beware!

Unfulfilled yearning.

I was focused on the composition and lighting and didn’t notice the background until the next day.

~~~~~~~~~~

Security guard at the Whitney Museum’s expansive Andy Warhol retrospective, From A to B and Back Again. 300 pieces. Catnip for any Warhol fan.

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My daughter took this on Christmas morning. A cup of coffee, a cat, something to read and my family close by. If I’m not content now, there’s no hope.

Cold in more ways than one

I forgot how fun these are (for me). This made me melancholy for an entire afternoon.

bins

January 18, 1994

I met Oswaldo and Ellis at The Public Theater despite it being 10 degrees out with a chill factor of 25 below. The cold gave me a headache so severe it felt like I had a mild concussion. They invited me to pre-show dinner but I said I was too broke join them. I can barely pay my bills. I was embarrassed. It’s humiliating to not have any money.

I had a long chat with Bonnie. She is still broken-hearted. When is she going to stop tormenting herself over that old man? Bonnie’s old boyfriend, Ricky Jay, is in the Times. He’s doing an off-Broadway show and she wants me to join her. I love magicians and that guy is the grandmaster. Somehow, I’ll find the money for a ticket. She introduced me to him in a restaurant once. I was star struck but held it together. I told him I admired his work and didn’t want to know how any of it was done. He said, “That’s good because I wouldn’t tell you.” David Mamet is directing the show. Bonnie hates him. She watched him dump his wife for a younger women. That’s kryptonite for women. She said she could tell it was going to happen because he suddenly started paying close attention to his appearance and clothes. I hope we go backstage. I’d like to see the dynamic between Bonnie and Mamet. [Note: Ricky Jay passed away last week.]

I had a job interview Friday. Afterwards, I didn’t want to go home so I went to the Angelica and saw Mike Leigh’s Naked. I’d heard it was excessively violent but the story was so compelling and the acting so adroit I didn’t notice if that was the case. I felt stupid sitting in the Angelica lobby café in a suit. So obvious. Took a slow walk home in dress shoes that hurt. They look great but feel like two bear traps.

Called [my brother]. That nutty girl I met at his wedding—Jezebel or something like that—was visiting. They handed the phone to her and she got all breathy and wanted to know when I was coming to Cleveland again. I remember trying to kiss her in the Holiday Inn parking lot after the wedding. She gave me her business card and it had her photo on it. When I got back to New York I found it in the folds of my wallet and threw it in the garbage. I didn’t think I’d left any kind of impression at all.

I stopped in a bar where I suspected Peggy, the girl I met at Kris’s Christmas party, worked and I was RIGHT! There she was, behind the bar. I made a fake call at the payphone, talking into it while listening to the dial tone, and then sat at the bar. She said, “I know you,” and I said, “Yes, I met you at Kris’s party.” Her eyes lit up and said, “That’s right! I remember you! You’re Joe!” That hurt. I thought we had a pretty good time at the party but the conversation was just awful. Her teeth are brown and rotten from smoking.

There was a terrible earthquake in Los Angeles yesterday morning. They cancelled regular programming to cover the destruction and I couldn’t tear myself away from the TV. It’s a miracle only 30 people died when you consider the amount of damage it caused. The town is pretty fucked up. The highways are all collapsed. Why would anyone live in Los Angeles? Aside from it not being 10 degrees with a -25 chill factor?

~~~~~~~~~~

A few more from last month’s auctions. Rothko usually didn’t work with such a dark palate but I love his use of plum here.

Mark Rothko
Untitled (Rust, Blacks on Plum)
Est. $35,000,000 – USD 45,000,000
Sold for $36,312,500

Impractical to display in home. Fun to say 10x fast. They’re just neon lights is all.

Bruce Nauman
RUN FROM FEAR FUN FROM REAR
Est. $ 400,000 – USD 600,000
Sold for $427,500

Another Warhol/Basquiat mash-up. That Reganesque figure in the back is Basquiat, correct? And the pricing is Warhol? Sold over estimate. That’s a Calder sculpture in the foreground.

Andy Warhol & Jean-Michel Basquiat
Outlays Hisssssssss (Collaboration #22)
Est. $1,000,000 – USD 1,500,000
Sold for $2,052,500

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This was a food bodega near my apartment in Downtown Brooklyn. It’s long gone. Wiped off the map for the Barclay’s Center.

Art Amok: Fall Auction Sampler

My fascination with these semi-annual big-ticket art auctions continues unabated. It’s where commerce collides with integrity. The appreciation of art is so subjective. How are they able to convince wealthy folks to spend these astronomical sums? I know from collecting books that values are ephemeral. A book I paid $950 for three years ago, same variance and issue, just sold at auction for $550. Imagine that happening on a grand monetary scale. I hope they like what they buy. They could be stuck with it.

Here are a few early results to whet your appetite. Some big, interesting pieces are being sold tonight. I’ll lump those results in next time.

This is the one that’s causing palpitations in the dealer/collector community. Previously, the high watermark for a Hopper was $40.5 million. What made them think to double that in the estimate?

Edward Hopper
Chop Suey
Oil on canvas
Est. $70,000,000–100,000,000
Sold for $91,875000

Hopper is the master of sunlight. Just look at her. Beautiful. But $91M? Can you imagine the good that could’ve been done with that?

Here’s the obligatory Monet. There’s always a Monet. This is a big, important one. I mistyped “Monet” and it came out “Money.” Ha.

Claude Monet
Le bassin aux nymphéas
Oil on canvas
Est. $30,000,000–50,000,000
Sold for $31,812,500

Poor Jackson Pollock. Only did one thing. Dripped paint onto canvases that were spread across his studio floor. They’re beautiful (esp. this one) but after that, no one was much interested in his output. I think it’s what drove him into that tree. I wish I’d have done just one thing. Harper Lee only wrote one book. I’d be content with that.

Jackson Pollock
Composition with Red Strokes
Oil, enamel and aluminum paint on canvas
Est. $50,000,000–70,000,000
Sold for $55,437,500

So many Picassos. There are always so many Picassos. How many pieces did he create? Unlike Pollock, who did just one thing, Picasso changed and morphed his work over the decades. Constantly reinventing his output resulted in his dying of old age instead of plowing his car into a tree. This, from his multiple-perspective phase.

Pablo Picasso
Femme au beret orange et au col de fourrure
Oil on canvas
Est. $15,000,000–20,000,000
Did not sell

Here’s an ugly gray owl.

Pablo Picasso
Le hibou gris
Painted earthenware
Est. $1,500,000–2,500,000
Sold for $2,412,500

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I am home convalescing from a successful back procedure. I made the mistake of reading my surgeon’s detail Operative Report. I found it both fascinating and revolting. Here are some highlights. I don’t understand most of it but it sounds horrific. To think these things were done to me and I walked out of the hospital THE SAME DAY is a miracle to me.

This isn’t for the squeamish. I don’t know why I feel compelled to share this. Is anyone else fascinated? Now I know how the frogs in biology class felt.

The incision was made with the spinous processes of L4, L5 with the incision being carried down to level of thoracodorsal fascia. Then, a right-sided subperiosteal dissection was completed, exposing the bottom half of the L4 lamina top of the L5 lamina. Deep retractors were placed. 

The bone piece was removed en bloc exposing the ligamentum flavum. Ligament flavum was opened bluntly and then resected using Kerrison rongeur. There was a large focal disk herniation compressing the L5 nerve root. The L5 nerve root was gently mobilized off of the disk herniation and a nerve root retractor was used to hold it in place.

Using a 15 blade, a cruciate incision was made in the annulus. Then, very soft fragments of disk were easily removed.  The sac where the disk herniation was, was probed with a nerve hook.  A few small fragments were removed.

The patient tolerated procedure well, was brought to recovery room in stable condition with plans for discharge.

Presto. Nothing to it.