The Art

I came across this awesome website recently. It breaks art history down in a clear, easily accessible way with a very well-designed website and app.

“I believe the internet can help us bring art education into the 21st century. Modern Art is about ideas that should be exposed to the world, and this website and the organization as a whole strive to achieve this goal.” – Michael Zurakhinsky (Founder)

Roy Lichtenstein “Crying Girl” 1964 | “Crying Girl” 1963

I’ve felt very sad and worried since November 8th, but at the same time I also feel creative, focused and absolutely sure about the importance of art in a way that feels different. I’m not really sure what that way is yet, but the arts are the only thing that make sense to me right now, so I’ve been reading this app on the train instead of the news. It’s been mostly Pop and Social Realism.

I’m determined not to become cynical and I believe that great creativity can be spurred by terrible times. I just wonder what such a horrifying political shift will do to art—not in the way of funding and all that—but in how it will push artists. I keep coming back to Pop art and I like these ideas:

• Pop artists celebrated the people of everyday life

• Pop artists believed everything is inter-connected, and therefore sought to make those connections literal in their artwork

“Pop is everything art hasn’t been for the last two decades. It’s basically a U-turn back to a representational visual communication, moving at a break-away speed…Pop is a re-enlistment in the world…It is the American Dream, optimistic, generous and naïve.” – Jim Dine

Roy Lichtenstein “I Love Liberty” 1982 | Andy Warhol “Moonwalk” 1987 | Andy Warhol “The Statue of Liberty” 1986

On The Art Story about page, these are some of the ideas I like that inspired the website:

“I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over cities, we too will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit.”– John F. Kennedy

“Art is a nation’s most precious heritage. For it is in our works of art that we reveal to ourselves and to others the inner vision which guides us as a nation. And where there is no vision, the people perish.”– Lyndon Johnson

It’s hard, but I have hope.

Jasper Johns “Three Flags” 1958

NYC Marathon 2014

Yikes. It’s official. I’m in.


My brother Dave still says that running the NYC Marathon is one of the greatest days of his life, and I was fine taking his word for it until my sister Sarah had a 40th birthday creeping up on her 2 years ago. Her only wish was to come to NYC and run a half marathon … with me, the non-runner. So for the next 4 months she trained me by text— “This week run 3, 3, 4, 9. Yea!! I’m so excited we are doing this!!! Awesome 🙂 love you!!”

She’s the best and I’d do anything for her, so every week I got her texts, laced up my shoes and ran whatever she told me to—planning to quit once we crossed the happy birthday finish line.

I guess running doesn’t work that way because I kept at it and ran 4 more halfs. I like how concrete it is, with an immediate sense of accomplishment that I rarely feel as a creative person. Running is very exact – if you want to run this far or this fast, do these exact things—just put on the gear, make the time and get out the door. I like it, but I think it’s sort of easy compared to art-making. Well, it’s not easy, but it’s not subjective, and that’s what I like.

So this spring Sarah came to town again with her big “let’s run the marathon together!!!” ideas.


I’ll be honest, it was never on my bucket list. My bucket list is short: I want to jet ski around the statue of liberty and take a running belly slide across the tarp at a rained out baseball game. But one crazy day this summer I was sitting at my desk feeling creatively frustrated, when I suddenly registered for all the races that would guarantee my entrance into the 2014 marathon. It’s a lot, and I don’t necessarily love marathons, but I like goals, so I ran them all.

I try to keep my posts art-themed, but I think there’s a connection between creativity and running that I can’t quite figure out. I weirdly don’t think of myself as a runner, but I do think of myself as an artist. I run consistently, but I don’t make art consistently. Running is something I do, creative is something I am. Maybe it’s too much pressure, but this makes no sense! I need art to feel more like running. It’ll happen, I’m a work in progress with 331 days to go.

Picasso! Baby?

It’s been three weeks since I saw this video and it still cracks me up. I try not to write negatively, but when I read about Jerry Saltz’ profound experience at Jay-Z’s six hour performance of Picasso Baby at Pace, I couldn’t roll my eyes hard enough. I’m usually a Saltz fan, a Jay-Z fan sure why not, but the whole thing is so silly to me.

Jay Z “Picasso Baby” x Taylor Swift “22” (remix) from Pop Culture Pirate on Vimeo.

Saul Bass is the greatest [part 1]

I woke up at 4:30 this morning and didn’t know what to do with myself because it’s never happened before. It seemed too dark to get up—too quiet to stay inside, and too dangerous to go outside. So I stayed put, and started reading about Saul Bass while listening to Daytrotter on my iPad. (new favorite thing)


I think it’s a well-know fact that Strand is the best browsing bookstore in the world. Usually I’m not looking for much besides a good idea or two, but if I am looking for something specific, I almost always leave with something else. They get me every time.

The last time this happened I went looking for a small Francis Alÿs book, and left with a huge Saul Bass one. This book is so incredible it sucked me in. After an hour of leaning on a table flipping through the pages, it became clear that my life would suffer if I didn’t own it. Off we went to Avenue B.


This morning I planned to skim through it and write a Saul Bass post before the clock struck 6. How silly my brain is in the wee hours. Nobody can write a decent post from a book that’s 1.75 inches thick, and about the greatest designer in the whole wide world. It’ll have to be a series. Congrats, you’ve now completed part 1.


Where have all the sketchbooks gone?

Life was so much easier in the ’90s …


I’ve been chipping away at a new because my site is a fossil. I can’t update it because I paid someone to make it back when websites seemed too tricky for my brain. The main problem is that there’s only a sliver of my work on it because at the time I was trying to be slick—fueled by the fear I’d make no sense showing work that didn’t support my fascinating artist statement.

But times are a-changin’. I was never slick, creative frustration gets easier with time, and I finally realized I’ve got a ton of pretty good work in hiding. So tonight I decided to focus, find all my old stuff and finish the new site. Sounds pretty cool, right? Great way to spend a rainy Wednesday, right? … Wrong! Not cool. Not cool at all! I’m in hell, people! Hell!

What’s the saying … “Hindsight is 20/20” or something like that? Not for me. I have no idea how to fix this mess so I think I’d phrase it differently …

“Hindsight is a __________________” (you can fill in the blank once you read on)


Here are a few of my hard drives. Back in 2002 I was in grad school, haphazardly saving my huge video files onto a million CDs. At the same time I was daydreaming about getting a dog and naming it Dave. Maybe the bigger dream at the time was “ooohhh, your dog’s sooooooo cute, what’s it’s name!!?” “Dave.” Either way, my brother’s name is Dave, so that seemed weird.

So I finally bought my first hard drive and named it Dave. Then came Bob, Andy (deceased), Andy Jr., Matt, Jim and Tobias. You’d think I would’ve stopped at Dave and started naming them by year or anything else that might suggest their contents. But no, oh no! And the worst part is there’s no rhyme or reason to any of the names except that I thought they’d all make really great dog names someday.

I guess all I’m trying to say is that it’s going to be a bit of a hold-up on the new website. Don’t worry, you’ll know, it’ll be a big ta do. It was so much easier back in the ’90s when I just loved Matisse and filled sketchbooks with drawings and really deep thoughts. Hindsight’s a _______ .

When in Rhome


Alrighty … I’ve never written a blog post at 32K feet, but I’m on an airplane with 15% til my computer’s dead, and I’m thrilled to have left Texas airspace. So here goes, real quick …

I have an odd job that sends me on trips to two sorts of places—either to towns like Rhome, Texarkana, and Wichita, or to brick corporate villages full of jcrews and water fountains. Whichever it is, I’m usually fascinated-ish for a day and then start to worry that I’m going to disappear if I don’t do something interesting asap.

I spent this week with a video crew learning things about myself like the fact that I would never survive an 8th grade math class, and that the repetition of the school day still makes me want to run for the hills.


I planned to wrap up early and high-tail it to the Chagall show at the Dallas Museum, but unfortunately time wasn’t on my side. Fortunately, though, I had a Barnes and Noble gift card from Christmas burning a hole in my pant suit (just kidding I don’t have one of those). So I headed out, determined to drain the whole thing to keep myself in check.

Unlike good old Manhattan, in the brick villages Barnes & Noble stands tall and proud like a big parked cruise ship—open late and full of books as if the internet doesn’t exist. At first it felt exotic, but my heart sunk once I started browsing. Slim pickings, B & N! Slim pickings!


But all was not lost because I headed upstairs to graphic novels and discovered Chris Ware’s Building Stories. It’s a box full of treasures, and I didn’t even open it yet because it seemed like a crime to strew the contents across my 90’s Hilton carpet. I also had to get up at 5 and Chris Ware’s a slippery slope. So I’ll bust it out when I get home, and write a follow-up post to show you what’s inside. Prepare to have your minds blown.

And now beginning the descent to LGA … I always feel the same when I look out the window … holy S@#! I live here?!

(I wonder if Chris Ware made this giant box the exact size of carry on luggage for situations like mine. If so, thanks! If not, thanks!)


I love color theory

I snapped this picture when I was at my parents’ house for Christmas a few weeks ago. It was the final project for my color theory class in art school and now hangs proudly on their wall in Michigan. I think it’s pretty obvious that I became completely obsessed. For weeks I spent all my time hunched over this giant board, mixing miniscule amounts of paint and dabbing them into tiny shapes with tiny brushes. I actually think my professor was slightly embarrassed for me when I brought it in for the final crit, like I’d turned into some sort of mad artist and did too good of a job.

Agh well, what can I say? I just love color theory.

[Two related posts: Where on earth do neon colors come from? and Fantasy Pick #12: Albers]


This isn’t the paint palette that I used for the project—that would be nuts if I’d done it in oil. But this is the palette that I used for about 7 years, until my brilliant friend Kelly spotted it one day and suggested I put a frame around it and hang it on the wall as its own painting. I plan to do that, but it still isn’t dry and it’s been 6 years!


James Murphy & Doug Aitken – The Source

Doug Aitken has added the James Murphy interview to his new video project, The Source, where he interviews 18 creative visionaries working in different mediums, to explore two questions: where does the creative idea start and how is it realized? (more about it here)

Watch what James Murphy has to say about it, and also hear him talk with David Byrne about creativity on one of my blog posts from last year.


I like this part:

Aitken: Maybe it’s not about acoustic experimentation, but tapping into the patterns around you.

Murphy: The physicality of music for me is kind of one of the only things I’ve left alone. I don’t know why, I just go with my instinct.

DA: I feel like there is some kind of underlying structure.

JM: I think repetition’s a big part of that. These things are such simple ideas, it’s just repeating them that gives them power.


DA: In a way it’s really similar to conceptual art, you know, it’s moving into different directions, different mediums, but there’s always kind of a core set of questions.

JM: I like letting things develop, if you’re going to have a song that you like, you’re going to have a 10 minute song, but it’s playing with the sound for a long time and liking it at all its different stages—showing that sound from a lot of different angles. The simple idea of repeating, or done to the extreme, is what I find simultaneously funny and inspiring.


Jon Stewart, Bruce Springsteen

First thing this morning, my friend sent me this Flavorwire link—50 of the Greatest Jon Stewart Quotes. I love #8 so much that I’m copying it down exactly here. [thanks, Luke!]


“People always talk to me about, ‘Who are your influences? What makes you do what you do?’ I can say, I draw a line — I do what I do because of Bruce Springsteen, and I’ll tell you why: You introduced me to the concept of The Other Side. You introduced me to the concept of: you go through the tunnel and you take a chance, and you can work to get away from your circumstance. And by working to get away from your circumstance you can make something better of yourself, but there’s no guarantee. […] But you know what? The joy of it is chasing that dream, and that was my inspiration for leaving New Jersey and goin’ to New York. And bless you, my friend. You’re the man. So I just wanted to thank you personally from the bottom of my heart for giving me something to put into the dashboard as I drove a U-Haul van through the Holland Tunnel.”

* 2 related posts … Springsteen & Magritte & Robert De Niro: Abstract Expressionist