Monday, December 31


Happy New Year.

A big idea came to me this year.

I am dreamer.

Curiosity, creativity and imagination are not a laundry list but are all part of the same circle--each connected action is connected to each other. But the circle also includes realism, stoicism and pragmatism.

How is that?

We often think of dreaming in opposition to realism-- but it is not.

This blog is named after the Biennale Art 52nd International Art Exhibition , curated by the great Robert Storr.

The full title of the 52nd Venice Biennale is "THINK with the SENSES, FEEL with the MIND: Art in the present tense."

What I believe Storr means by this is that art is EXPERIENCED. What we need now is art that helps us become more engaged citizens of the world.

On his curatorial message Storr said:

I am not trying to say a single thing. I am trying to present a certain approach to art, an attitude towards how to think about it. Essentially, I am trying to say that certain divisions that are common in art criticism, in particular those found among academic writers, are an impediment to understanding and experiencing art. Mainly, that prevalent notions of a division between the conceptual and the perceptual, an idea that had its origin in Marcel Duchamp and was then reinforced by certain avant-garde practices in the ‘70s, and then reinforced further in the ‘80s by the reaction against painting, is a misunderstanding. Because there is no such thing as a good painting without an idea, and there is no such thing as a good idea without a form

Here is a story to end 2007 and bring us into 2008.

The first time I walked into Andrea Rosen's gallery in New York city was during the summer before I would leave pre-medical studies to go study art in Chicago. Because it was summer the gallery have an unimpressive exhibition of inventory from the artists they represented. Most of the work was OK, nothing to exciting.

There was two stacks of paper in the middle of the room-- side by side.

They where stacked about knee high, white paper bigger than poster size. One stack of paper had the sentence "Somewhere better than this place." The other stack read "Nowhere better than this place." The work was by the artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres. The artist left instructions to take a sheet of paper, but only one.

So I look and carefully choose "Somewhere better than this place." it seem the obvious choice. This is positive thinking and wishing and dreaming. The other piece of paper seemed so negative.

I picked up the poster and to my surprise... it was a double sided poster the other side read "Nowhere better than this place."

Mr. Gonzalez-Torres piece was all of the life, the whole circle, two-sides of the same coin. An epiphany: to be a complete person, we must be both a dreamer and a realist.

Sunday, December 30


David Armano has a great blog full of some awesome visualization that I used in a presentation I gave at University of Illinois at Chicago


Eric Kandel, the Nobel prize winning father of neuralscience has a new book: "In Search of Memory"

The book traces Professor Kandel's pioneering research from the unknowable "black box" of the mind to our current understanding molecular biology and information processing into the mind.

Thanks in part to the revolution in imaging technology brought on by new fMRI and other scanning technology, neuralscientists have made incredible maps of the brain.

These maps help us understand the world from the point of view of our brain.


2.MENTAL FUNCTION , from simple reflex to complex creative acts of music and art, carried out by discreet neural circuits.

Discreet areas in the brain lead to war, morals, cooperation and conflict.

Also, morals are the side effect of natural selection. But morals are in conflict with greed which is also genetic.

But from the perspective of our brain, both greed and morality can be strengthened or weakened. By the use it or lose it principles.

From a neuroscience perspective art is the kind of information that art can strengthen our neural networks for ethics, empathy and tolerance. Ultimately we must all learn how to learn and teach ourselves empathy and trust-- but art can help-- it might even be a teaching tool.

This is the case because art can activate mirror neurons, art is inherently rewarding and pro-social-- in a way it helps build trust.

From wikipedia:

Mirror Neurons are premotor neurons which fire both when an we act and when we observe the same action performed by another. Thus, the neuron "mirrors" the behavior of another person, as though the observer were itself acting.

So, if I cut my finger -- I would feel pain. And if you saw me cut my finger-- you would feel pain. This is the beginning of empathy.

A very interesting Canadian artist Ariel Garten has a lot of incredible art in the overlap between neural science and art. She is a scientist and intellectual who makes cutting edge art and performances in perfromance, dance, music (violin, percussion, and cuttinge-edge instruments such as organflute, hydraulophone, plasmaphone, electronic, quintephone, and other). She explores the intersection of art and neuroscience.

Sustainability/Durability + Efficiency + Utility = Beauty

I asked Robert MacNeill to consider the relationship between art and business and specifically to consider how the TARGET company invites high-end designers to make low-end products.

What type of project does the architect prefer to design?

The architect is also concerned with sustainability. But his definition of the term may vary from his client's, or from other design professionals. One definition: sustainable products are manufactured with a low impact to the environment. Another: sustainable products have a long life-span of usability and need not be replaced regularly.

The Parthenon may not be sustainable under the first definition; quarries can have a negative impact. Perhaps it should have been made of wood, because careful logging can have a lesser impact.

But I consider the Parthenon extremely sustainable. Any building that lasts 2000+ years makes very good use of its materials. It would take a whole forest to build and rebuild our wooden Parthenon for a thousand years.

Architect's own set of design principles. There are three that have been repeated for thousands of years by Vitruvius, Palladio, Gropius - even Venturi:

1) Durability (Firmitas)
2) Utility (Utilitas)
3) Beauty (Venustas)

How do these historic principles fit with those of the Target Company?

Where do Target's principles fit in to our historical view?

There is only one clear correlation between the two: Sustainability may be reinterpreted under our second definition as 1) Durability.

But according to this view, the architect is not historically concerned with Efficiency. And, it would seem that Target is not concerned with Beauty or Utility. How can we reconcile these differences? I believe the answer lies in equations.

Sustainability/Durability + Efficiency + Utility = Profitability/Beauty

Saturday, December 29

The Week in Photos

David Altmejd, The Settler, an awesome sculpture at the NEW SPERTUS Jewish museum

SAMIA MIRZA working in her studio. This star shaped sculpture is one of her really great works, the shape is just right and the colors are candy yummy puke. When Chicago artist, teacher and professor art SAIC , Francis Whitehead described these sculpture she said they would sound like air it you hit them and not like a block.



Betty Rymer Gallery, is a great little space inside the School of the Art Institute and worth checking out.

Friday, December 28


For Erik Roldan's blog THINK PINK, I wrote a brief top ten queer art trends, check it out.

Here is a sample:

10. Camp Queer : Devine & John Waters ( they put the camp in campers)

9. Queer Factory : Andy Warhol (His record label launched the Velvet
Underground. He produced Interview Magazine. He wore a snap on silver
tupee, had crazy parties and filmed John Delasando getting a blowjob )

8.Queering the Obvious: Jasper Johns/ Robert Raushenberg/Bob Indiana /
Frank O'Hara

7.Queerly Essential: John Cage/ Merce Cunningham/ Black Mountain
College/ Buck Minster Fuller ( John Cage is arguably the most
important American Artist)

6.Queer Unscene: Willa Cather/ Emily Dickenson/ Elizabeth Bishop
(None would call themselves queer but these three women were spoke
softly and changed the whole art game)

5.Queer Divinity: Michaelangelo ( Know in his time as Il Divino ( The
Divine) too bad he never met John Waters

4.Queer Imagination: Walt Whitman/ W.H. Auden ( There is the sun, the
moon and Imagination-- the third planet.)

3.Queer Leader: Oscar Wilde/Schubert ( Glorious and gorgeous geeks--
they invented dandy and it is still hot)

2.Queer Empathy: Sapho ( Long aftert the birth she gave birth to being human)

1.Bringing Sexy Back: Kritios and Nesiotes ( sculpted the hottest boy around)

Monday, December 24

Glocalize and Mobalife

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to friends and readers around the globe. I am very grateful to live in a time where I reach so many people and live a more active life. As the year closes, it is a good time to look back.

John Powers covered his TOP 10 Cultural Trends 2007. So I wanted to dig a little bit into what some artists in Chicago are thinking about at the wrap up of 2007.

I spoke with the Chicago-based artist, choreographer, dancer, and teacher Paul Sanasardo . Mr. Sanasardo is a respected American artist and has been working in the arts for well over 50 years. For his 80th birthday he will celebrate by launching a new performance at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

We spoke about possibilites for digital visual arts, looking at what is happening with digital music and video. As a dancer and painter Mr. Sanasardo is aware of the differences between entertainment and performance art.

He said, "When you perform, you keep one eye on the public,but the other eye is for one person in the audience who truly understands your art."

In one sense, artists are sales people-- they are selling themselves and their creative vision to an audience of consumers. But this one aspect cannot take over the deeper more authentic side of artists which is connected to values greater than themselves. In short Mr. Sanasardo said:


Saturday, December 1

Top Ten Lists for 2007

One of my guilty pleasure is top ten lists. But who doesn't love them? So here are my lists for 2007.

Top Ten Chicago Exhibitions 2007

10. Interiority at the Hyde Park Art Center
9. Young Chicago at The Art Institute of Chicago
8. Cosmophilia
7.Collection Highlights and Alexander Calder in Focus at the MCA
6. Allora and Calzadilla at the Renn
5.Cezanne to Picasso: Ambroise Vollard at The Art Institute of Chicago
4.Melanie Schiff at Kavi Gupta
3.New Narratives: Contemporary Art from India at the Chicago Cultural Center
2. CHRONIC: Handmade Nightmares in Red, Yellow & Blue at Monique Meloche gallery
1. Rhona Hoffman 30 years

Congratulations to Rhona Hoffman for having the past exhibition in the past year and one of the best spaces to exhibit work in the city.

The Best Work of Art on Exhibition in Chicago

Felix Gonzalez-Torres at the Art Institute of Chicago