Thursday, January 19, 2012

Les Coleman | More of Les

Les Coleman © Trispectacles (1995). Photo by Nancy Fouts.

More from British artist Les Coleman

Ventriloquists drink gottled geer.

There is no future in being a clairvoyant.

You can be sure that if it's in small print, it should be in large print.

The dice had never learned how to count beyond six.

Terror struck at the very heart of his epiglottis.

The smell was blinding.

Please refrain from prohibiting.

Seaside holidays should be seen as a last resort.

Audience tells stand up comedian to sit down.

The autobiography of a ghost writer.

They sawed the magician's coffin in half before lowering it into the ground.

Reading his own obituary caused him to have a heart attack.

He had all the symptoms of hypochondria.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith use a false name when signing the hotel register.

Copyright © by Les Coleman. Used by permission.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Mary Snyder Behrens | American Canvas

Above (top to bottom) © Mary Snyder Behrens, American Canvas II, III and IV (2002). Mixed media on board. Each measures 48h x 30w x 4d inches.

THIS SERIES, called American Canvas, began in 2002. It is a sequence of canvas-less "paintings" that are comprised of discarded maps, law book and hymnal pages, stuck to dried latex house paint. These form the ground on which painting and pencil and other various markings are applied… >>more

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Cubist Food

A cartoon by Frank King (April 1913), making fun of cubist art.

James Elkins in Why Art Cannot Be Taught. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2001, p. 68—

Art school catalogs from the turn of the century are filled with reproductions of student paintings that look like slavish copies of John Singer Sargent or Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, and exhibition catalogs from the 1950s show hundreds of students' works that emulate abstract expressionism. The lesson I draw from looking at older art school catalogs and graduation exhibitions is that fifty years from now even the most diverse-looking work will begin to seem quite homogenous. Works that seemed new or promising will fade into what they really are: average works, mediocre attempts to emulate the styles of the day. That's depressing, I know: but it's what history teaches us.


Joshua Fineberg in Classical Music: Why Bother?: Hearing the World of Contemporary Culture Through a Composer's Ear. London: Routledge, 2006—

Most art is crap. This may be a shocking idea to many people. We think of art as the great masterworks we know, and it's very easy to forget the mountains of mediocrity that were sifted to lift Bach or Dante or Emily Dickinson to their Olympian heights.


Alan Fletcher in The Art of Looking Sideways. Phaidon Press, 2001—

I made my weekly telephone call to my mother. "What have you been up to this week?" she asked—as usual. "Nothing much," I responded—as usual. Then adventurously said, "I've been putting a book together." "Oh, what's it about," she queried—with vague interest. My mother wasn't into reading, she equated it with working. "Well," I improvised, "it's about seeing." "Oh, I see"—she said. Then changed the subject. "Are you looking forward to going on holiday next week?"

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Identical Twin Cities

John Page, Together Now (2011). Collage on canvas, 34 x 40 in.

Trevor Fishlock, in Americans and Nothing Else. Cassell (1980)—

Minneapolis and St Paul..are nicknamed the Twin Cities. They are divided by the Mississippi River, and united by the belief that the inhabitants on the other side of the river are inferior.


Harrison Salisbury, in Chester G. Anderson, ed., Growing Up in Minnesota. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1976—

Once [after he moved to New York], on top of the Woolworth Building (the Empire State Building did not yet exist), a man asked my mother what it was that lay beyond the Hudson. She said New Jersey. "Oh, yes," he said. "Well, I've never been west of the Hudson." How to explain Minnesota—not only west of the Hudson but west of the Mississippi? It was not easy. New Yorkers didn't seem to understand the difference between Minneapolis and Indianapolis. And even when I explained they didn't seem to think it really made a difference. I knew that New Yorkers were very sophisticated people. In fact, I was ashamed of coming from a place out west where, as I understood the New York view, no one really lived and certainly no one from New York ever ventured.


Art Buchwald, More Caviar. New York: Harper, 1959—

Brno is a vry nce cty, but we ddn't get a chance to spnd mch tme thre... Thre are mny twns in Czechoslovakia wthout vwels, but Brno is the lrgest one of thm all.

Monday, January 2, 2012

David Meyer | On Ernie Summers

Coles Phillips, Know All Men by These Presents (c1910). Library of Congress.

The following passages are from David Meyer's memoir of his friend Ernest Summers, in Ernie and Me (c2003)—

His antics in restaurants were always entertaining. "As Shakespeare once said, 'What foods these morsels be!'" was his usual comment when a meal was served... He would scoop up unused silverware into his coat sleeves and let it spill out again as he was paying for the meal. He was never rude to waiters, but he often confounded them. He kept a stack of freshly minted one-dollar bills glued together at one end so they appeared to be a pad of paper. As Ernie tore off singles to pay a bill, the expressions on the faces of the wait staff or cashiers were wonderful to watch. Decades before the advent of portable cell phones, he carried a phone receiver with a cord attached to the inside of his suit coat. A ringing device was in his pocket. We would be in a restaurant and as the waitress was taking the order, Ernie would have the phone "ring." He'd reach into his coat, pull out the receiver and put it to his ear. After saying "Hello" and "Hold on," he would hand it to the waitress and say, "It's for you." No one I saw who was given that fake phone ever hesitated saying "Hello" into its receiver.


On our first introduction he asked me how old I was.
"Seven," I think I told him.
"D'you know how old I was when I was your age?" he asked.
"I was eight."
It wasn't only waiters Ernie confounded; children were included.
"If S-O-U-P spells 'soup,'" he'd say, "What does G-O-U-P spell?"
"No... 'Go up,'" he'd reply.
He'd also show how he had eleven fingers. "Ten, nine, eight, seven, six," he's say, counting backwards, "and five on this hand makes eleven."
Early on he gave me a piece of advice which I have never forgotten:
He who takes what isn't his'n,
Pays a fine or goes to prison.

I've Got A Room in Chicago

Canadian Pacific Railway (1940s)

Anon: I've got a room in Chicago, and she's got a flat behind.

Francois Rabelais: Nature abhors a vacuum.

Tennessee Williams: A vacuum is a hell of a lot better than some of the stuff that nature replaces it with.

Charles Bragg: Nature abhors a vacuum cleaner salesman.

Anon: Hey. Pop! Vot is a vacuum?
—A vacuum is a void.
—I know it's a void, but vat does dat void mean?

Anon: Sorry about my dancing. I'm a little stiff from badminton.
—I don't care where you're from. You'll never dance with me again.

Henry Moore: [Before getting married] I had argued with all my friends that really artists shouldn't get married, they should be married to their art. After all Michelangelo wasn't married, Beethoven wasn't married and so on, all the examples of really good artists who weren't married; but after meeting Irina [his future wife], I began to say Rembrandt was married, Bach had twenty children and so on. All this attitude changed, and within six months we were married.