bluets #5


On my way home, after I reached street level, I stopped in a drinking establishment, where a number of men who must have worked in a nearby office were celebrating the retirement of one of their own. As I was standing at the bar, not touching my drink, but merely looking down at it, wondering whether I’d really wanted it or had only thought I did, one of the men asked me to take a photo of he and his colleague, who was the one whose retirement they were celebrating.

bluets #4


No one wanted to look at the woman on the train who was begging. She came up to me with her hand out, and, though I felt bad for doing it, I shook my head and looked the other way. Then she turned to the young couple who was sitting across the aisle from me, but they did the same thing I’d done. She went on down the length of the carriage. It was the same with everyone the whole way down.

bluets #2

artman2Across from me on the train was a man who was returning to the same city I was, and who said to me, when he saw the cover of the book I was reading, “There’s no such thing as art. Art is the word people use when they want to suggest that mystery or ambiguity exists in a situation where really there is none.” I wasn’t sure how to respond to this, because we hadn’t yet been in conversation; he’d spoken abruptly, without provocation, as if he’d been thinking of what he was going to say and then had said it. And even then, after I’d had a moment to think, I still didn’t know how to respond.

bluets #1


While I was walking yesterday, on a busy downtown sidewalk, in a city I wasn’t familiar with, I saw the body of a man who’d jumped from one of the top floors of a nearby building, and had landed on the roof of a car, crumpling it. I wasn’t within sight of the man when he’d jumped; he’d done so a few minutes before I’d arrived. And I’d only seen him now because, walking toward the station where waited a train I intended to board in order to depart this city, I’d turned down a block I’d not meant to turn down, by mistake. The sketch above is of the face of a man who’d also seen the body of the man who’d jumped, and who’d stopped to look at him.

a photograph by Truett Dietz

TV in a Pool of Clouds (digital image, 2010) by Truett Dietz

“This particular image is from the pool I learned to swim in as a child. In the late 90s some teenagers had a party there and one of them actually drowned. The pool got sued and ended up closing and has since become overgrown and very eerie feeling. I went back with my brother one day and we jumped the fence to look around. The place had been trashed and much of the furniture had been thrown into the pool. It was early afternoon and that television was just floating so perfectly near the surface. I only had my cell phone camera with me at the time so I took a picture of it, but ended up coming back the next day with my camera to re-take the shot. Last time I saw it, the TV had sunk…”  — Truett Dietz

Mortality and Flatulence: a Conversation with Luca Dipierro

I first saw Luca Dipierro’s work in an animation he’d made for a book of short stories by Dawn Raffel.  It was a stop motion video based on a story in which a young woman and her father try to find their car in a parking lot one night in winter.  The wind off the lake is sharp; it burns their ears.  The parking lot is almost empty.  Suddenly the father says, “Now I remember.  We’re not here.”

There is a weirdness in Dipierro’s work that is also in that line of dialogue.  To say, “We’re not here,” is something that can only be true if it means something else.  Because of course they are there.  We can only be where we are.  What the father really means, in that instance, is: “Our car’s not here.”  But if he’d been allowed to say it like that – so matter-of-factly – something incongruous would have been missing.

Luca Dipierro in front of "Foreverland", a storefront he painted in North Carolina

The words were Raffel’s, and they stayed with me, but so did the animation, which was simple and precise, yet full of a strange and frightening wonder.  The characters had heads that looked too real, or not real enough.  An ordinary object, like a woman’s handbag, seemed capable of more than it ought to be capable of.  After I saw that animation, I looked for other work by Dipierro.  I saw that he was working on an art zine called Das Ding, which is German for ‘The Thing’.  So far there have been three issues. Each issue, wrapped in a cellophane envelope, is a beautiful paper object with words and drawings.  They remind me of little dreams; they are always about something, but it is difficult to describe what.  Their characters and creatures often find themselves in trouble, and either they get out of that trouble or they do not.  Or maybe what you think is trouble, for them, turns out to be something else.

You can find Das Ding here.  Below is a conversation I had with Dipierro. Continue reading

the world re-imagined, or a book cover as art, or what snoop dogg taught me about mark leidner

"Beauty Was the Case that They Gave Me" by Mark Leidner (Factory Hollow Press, 2011)

I was on the Internet when I first saw the cover of Mark Leidner’s new book, “Beauty Was the Case that They Gave Me”.  I can’t remember what site I was looking at when I saw it, but I stopped for a minute, my hand on the mouse, which in turn was on the mousepad, which in turn was on the desk on which my computer resides. Two questions occurred to me, either at the same time or one right after the other (which made them seem to have occured at the same time).  They were: ‘Do I like this?’ and ‘Why has Mark done what he has done?’  Depicted was lower Manhattan, circa 1970, with the twin towers in the background – not fallen, but destined to fall.  And beside them, in mid-leap, a collage-style cutout of an NBA baller, made to appear as though he would imminently throw down a dunk at the unlikely height of those two very towers.

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Lucian Freud, 1922-2011

Lucian Freud died Wednesday.

I like his paintings because they’re beautiful in a strange way.

I like this portrait he did of Queen Elizabeth II, at the Queen’s request.

"Queen Elizabeth II" (2001) by Lucian Freud

I like the dignity here, and also that there isn’t any flattery other than the flattery that comes from being painted by someone who is trying to see in you what cannot always be seen.

art and self-restraint: the work of david shrigley

I laughed a little when I found this drawing on the website for David Shrigley, a Glasgow-based artist.

There’s not much to it, but for some reason it’s funny. Also a little unsettling. I realized I was laughing not so much because it’s comedic (though it might be) but because it’s absurd. There’s hardly anything in the drawing, yet it succeeds as a complete work, whole in itself: are we being watched? Should we be afraid that we’re being watched? Should we laugh at the fact that we’re afraid of being watched? Shrigley could have included more in the way of subject – the figure of a person, a building – but would doing so have improved the work itself? He must not have thought so. And I agree, though I’m still intrigued by the reason why he must not have thought so.

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