One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Colossus of Rhodes, stood near the harbour. It was constructed by Chares of Lindos over an eight-year period starting in 292 BC. Felled by an earthquake after only 56 years, as a pile of bronze shards and stone rubble it commanded just as much attention (a thumb, it was said, was larger than a man). Sold for scrap 800 years later, it took 900 camels to carry the remnants away.
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If you drive for about a hundred miles due east out of Los Angeles, you’ll reach the Mojave Desert and the edge of one of its National Parks, Joshua Tree. There, among a dusty network of roads to nowhere, a ten-acre plot sprouts with assemblages made from the detritus of 20th Century America. Repurposed and redesigned to tell new stories, they cut, wind-worn and bleached, into a cerulean, high desert sky.
Dear Artist, Late yesterday afternoon and then again all last night a terrific storm passed…
The well-known physicist and writer David Deutsch is also well-known for the messiness of his workplace. Once, when a TV crew came in to record an interview with him, they offered to tidy up a bit before beginning. He told them they could if they put everything back exactly the way it was. They did.
German-born English psychologist Hans Eysenck, in his studies of the brain’s reticular activating system, suggested that we all have a set point for regulating arousal levels.
Fifteen percent of us, Eysenck determined, have a naturally high level of arousal, which makes us introverts. He also notes that when introverts develop the skills for managing social activity and relationships and then optimize their penchant for looking inward, they can be among the very happiest of people.
Artist Mitchell Freifeld wrote from Portland, Oregon to ask for more clarity concerning the letter “Ignorance,” which mentioned my dad’s criteria when jurying. “It would be a great benefit to have this road map ‘decoded’ in the simplest possible terms. I’m sure others who read the piece would like to see this as well.”
While these points are subject to modification — sometimes there’s something major to upset them, like, “I like it” — here’s Dad’s list, with my notes:
Floating through the Chelsea galleries, up and down the democratic elevators, through the mysterious doors where minimalist girls, like wax figures, sit at laptops in sparse foyers and do not acknowledge your presence. Where liveried guards suspect your bag and camera, here and there there’s a Burton Silverman.
Coming from a background of illustration, Silverman, an artist’s artist, has found a unique place in the realist revival. To read his partly biographical The Art of Burton Silverman, you might think he’s still fighting the art-wars of the sixties.
A young Canadian artist wrote, “I had meant to ask your dad about those mahogany wood panels. I have been looking for a wood panel that is cheap in cost so that I can paint more and is time tested and archival, and something I can trust. I tried to look into it myself, but can’t seem to find them. I would also use the wood panels to glue canvas onto for oils and acrylics. Are these mahogany wood panels still a professional choice to sell the work compared to a stretched canvas, or are they only good for studies? Does it matter?”
“To be put in any category not defined by one’s work is to be falsified,” said Elaine de Kooning, responding in 1971 to being characterized as a “woman artist.” She was pushing back against a new field of art history which was burgeoning on the sidelines of the contemporary art world called, “feminist art theory.” She wanted to be judged not by gender but solely on her ideas and skill.
Recently, an aspiring screenwriter friend told me she’d quit her day job. “I tried to just reduce my hours, but they kept creeping back to full time,” she said. “It was really hard to let go. I realized I was afraid of losing something I might never get back, instead of facing forward and going for what I truly wanted, which is to be a writer.” We agreed that committing ample space for a creative venture is a common barrier for would-be pros. “If I don’t go for it now, I’ll never know,” she said. We made a toast to the extravagant void in front of her.