Thursday, November 10, 2016

False Teeth

An original drawing by Antonio Adams.

Election Night 2016 I got sick of the whole damn thing and made a carrot cake.  It was soothing, to tune out all of it and crack some eggs and make something sweet.  It was a box cake, with a little container of icing, so it wasn't like I was the Barefoot Contessa or anything, but still doing one stupid thing like that made a lot of crap go away at least momentarily.  I wasn't scared of what was going down.  It was more like I was apocalyptically disappointed.  I haven't really bumped into that kind of instant depression in a long time, but there it was:  the monster winning, everything I thought decent and kind just poof, gone.  And then the monster's idiot parade continues on, all the way into history and power and the Whitehouse.  And so on so forth.

It is what it is.  You can't predict what he's going to do because he lies all the time anyway, and he'd probably tell you that just to get your vote.  But one thing is for sure:  it's pretty set in stone that he will keep on kissing the asses of the people who shout how great he is and desperately need someone to help them blame somebody else for how rotten their situation is. Monday morning quarterbacks are talking about how that's the real tragedy here:  no one was listening to the Rural Working Class and boy oh boy now they are getting their revenge.  Well I got news for you:  I am from that stock, and still circulate within its circles at times, and the RWC does need help but it's the kind of help that's truthful and sober and quiet, as in TPP or no you're still shit out of luck if you think "your way of life" will return just like it was before. Monumental cultural/economic shifts have happened that have disconnected the RWC manufacturing base from the global market, and no amount of screaming at the top of your lungs to lock somebody up will alter that.  No amount of shifty dealings and heavyhanded negotiations can change that situation.  China does not care about you, nor does it give a shit about you-know-who and all his wonderful businessman skills.  The RWC is going to have to change how it sees the world, how it deals with what the world taketh away, and then move forward accordingly, as in:  there are no saviors.  Just strategies.  Plans.  Hope comes out of that kind of pushing forward.  It does not come from standing around with signs that say somebody is a "cunt" and by the way all lives matter.

Poverty and lack of opportunity is the one universal for a lot of people, of all races, nationalities, religions, sexualities. And uniting to combat those circumstances might be a wonderful start to a Utopia, but somehow uniting around changing the system to redistribute the wealth and chances always gets enmeshed in identity politics so sordid and flat-out wrong it makes you want to make another carrot cake.  All sides on that one too:  from thousands of whiny-assed RWCs jumping up and down wanting to make America great again to posh universities filled with safe-spaces just in case of micro-aggressions.  No priorities just pontifications and victimizations and posing and bitching so on so forth.

I really never loved Hillary, to be honest.  I understand the distaste for her shrillness, for her need to seek power and then turn it into a public display of phony tenderness.  I get it.  But you know what?  I voted for her because I knew all of the things I don't like about her are the things that make shit work in government, as in steely reserve, automaton-hippie smile, and above all else a greedy need to be seen as a problem-solver so craven and self-serving that it makes you actually get things done.  Of course I voted for her also because I don't think she will unleash a new phase of orgiastic fascism.

Anyway, after making the cake, after realizing for sure it was all the way over, after witnessing the pundits on every network looking shocked and pale and disappointed at their own impotence and stupidity, I went to bed and it just so happened that I was on the last few pages of As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner.  I reread this book every few years.  I've probably read it 15 or 16 times now.  It has velocity, sorrow, grotesque humor, soul-stirring poetry, floods and fires and broken legs.  It is about a family of rural working class nobodies whose mother Addie is dying and her oldest son builds her a casket while she watches.  All her other children are in their own little moments of lunacy, despair and tragedy.  They end up taking her corpse across the country in a vain attempt at burying her where she wanted to be buried, but by the time they get there, well, she sort of smells bad and there are buzzards following their every move.  Not funny-weird, not-funny-haha, just goddamned funny the way life is.

But it's her husband, Anse, who closes out the book in the most hilarious and human manner. Basically his quest to bury his wife reveals parallel, multi-tasking motives:  he also wants to get false-teeth so he can eat victuals the way God intended him to.  And then also,  just through serendipity, while borrowing a shovel with which to dig his wife's grave from a lady he's never met he falls in love and asks her to marry him right there on the spot.  Right after he puts his dead wife's stinky remains in the ground.  Tah-dah.

Happy ending for sure.  When I finished the book I just thought to myself:  thank God for books like this that take you away from grand concerns and worries and terrors and allow you to relax into situations so complicated and stupid and vexing as to make you feel alive and somehow sympathetic beyond words and beyond even maybe consciousness.  The people Faulkner writes about in As I Lay Dying are pure white-trash, poor, crazy, stupid, pissed off, petty, and lost.  Yet they all feel so alive and beautifully rendered you want them never to leave you, even while buzzards flutter above them, even while they are setting fire to your barn.

That's the spirit I am going to live in and on.  Not love or hate or whatever, but I think a version of good old-fashioned wonder.  Not the joyful kind, but the kind that allows you a poetic and distant understanding of how the world actually works, and maybe even how it will fix itself by getting new false teeth when all is said and done.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Yours Truly

Tomorrow we're going to be pouring the concrete platform for the permanent sculpture commemorating Raymond Thunder-Sky's cultural status here in the area.  I've written so many times about Raymond sometimes I think I'm really not writing about him anymore, just telepathically conveying what he means to me over and over until the meaning becomes my status of things, the way I hope people see the way I think.  Raymond, to me, was a godsend because he helped me in many ways imagine and re-imagine what I wanted to make happen in the world, as well as how to survive what happened once things get put into place.  

That may sound odd, but Raymond was a specter of survival more than anything else; he used the world to his purposes and found ways to keep going even though the world often seemed not to care.  His ghostliness, his weirdness, made him more powerful and yet also easy to dismiss, and his art, elemental and hilarious renderings of destruction and madness and creativity done in Magic Markers, has that same quality:  some people look at what he did as endless unnecessary doodles, others as social commentary, and then others (like me) simply a vibrant, anarchic diary of existence translated through a need to be seen while disappearing.    

Here's the official data about the sculpture:

“The Raymond Thunder-Sky Spirit Tower”
The Center for Great Neighborhoods

“The Raymond Thunder-Sky Spirit Tower” is an outdoor sculpture created by renowned international sculptor Tom Tsuchiya, commemorating the life and legacy of Raymond Thunder-Sky, a Native American artist (also labeled with a developmental disability) who traveled around the region dressed as a construction worker and clown, drawing construction and demolition sites in Cincinnati, Dayton, and Northern Kentucky.  He left behind over 2300 drawings after his death in 2004, and these drawings, along with many of his tool-boxes, costumes and other items, are archived at Thunder-Sky, Inc., a gallery opened in his name in 2009 in Cincinnati.  Mr. Tsuchiya has completed many private and public sculpture commissions, including statues of Cincinnati Reds players at Great American Ball Park, completed in 2004.  In 2009, he was commissioned to create the "Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award,” the trophy that is annually given to the National Football League's best offensive line.  Other works have been exhibited at Cincinnati's Fountain Square, New York City's Grand Central Terminal, and Washington D.C.'s National Mall.  On September 15, 2016, 4 to 7 pm, “The Raymond Thunder-Sky Spirit Tower” will be unveiled at the old Hellmann Lumber Mill at the corner of Fisk and MLK (formerly 12th street) in Covington, the new office complex for the Center for Great Neighborhoods.  During the unveiling ceremony featuring Tom Tsuchiya with give a short talk about the creation of the sculpture, as well as what Mr. Thunder-Sky meant to his creative process.  As well, inside the Center of Great Neighborhood’s new offices, works by local artists commemorating Mr. Thunder-Sky’s legacy will be presented, as well as a video documenting an educational program that took place at the Carnegie this summer in which Mr. Thunder-Sky’s drawings were used as inspiration for short plays.  “Demolition Man: Selected works from the Raymond Thunder-Sky Archives,” the first retrospective of Mr. Thunder-Sky’s works since his passing in 2004, opens April 28, 2017 at the Carnegie.  All of Mr. Thunder-Sky’s drawings can be viewed at    

Bill met Raymond back in 1999.  He introduced me to Raymond's drawings before I got to meet the man himself, and I was kind of blown away by the simplicity of his art's philosophy and execution. Bill and I were members of an artists collective in Cincinnati and so we were able to curate/sponsor Raymond's first show of drawings.  From that a lot of things unfurled, including a relationship with the great Antonio Adams, lots and lots of shows, eventually founding a non-profit called Visionaries + Voices and opening a studio in Essex Studios in Walnut Hill which was modeled on the artists collective we were in.  And then V+V transforming into an organization/studio solely about artists with disabilities, and then Raymond passing away in 2004, and Bill and I helping V+V to grow into 2 facilities/programs with a staff and clientele.  And then figuring out we needed to keep Raymond somehow in the mix, in 2009, we left V+V and started Thunder-Sky, Inc. in order to reclaim that sense of art without labels, harkening back to that moment when Bill first showed me those Raymond drawings in 1999, using that nostalgia and stubbornness to keep ideas and aesthetics in the mix without the  diagnostic/programmatic/charity overlay.  

For seven years we've kept it going at Thunder-Sky, Inc.:  exhibits and stunts and events that feature artists of all socioeconomic, cultural, educational, etc. backgrounds showing what they can do under the regal banner of a Native American construction-worker dressed up like a clown with a tool-box of markers, getting a kick out of how people build things only to tear it all down and rebuild.  Rinse and repeat.

And now a great sculptor named Tom Tsuchiya has generously created a wonderful monument to Raymond.  When we pour the concrete tomorrow (ironically on the anniversary of 9/11, which is completely unintended and yet kind of brilliant without being brilliant), I'll be thinking of Raymond Thunder-Sky not as a memory but as a force of nature, a weird silent asteroid who came through this area and paved the way forward for a lot of human beings, including yours truly.

To Raymond.

Below are photos with captions of some of the history of Raymond's life, and the history of the sculpture.  

1999:  Raymond with Paul Rowland and Antonio Adams outside the Base Gallery in Over the Rhine, where this whole shebang started.

Raymond drawing, with a mention of Covington, Kentucky.

Antonio with a print of a drawing of Raymond by David Mack, circa 2012.

Drawing of the concrete platform and the Raymond Thunder-Sky Spirit Tower by Sculptor Tom Tsuchiya.

Tom with a replica of the Spirit Tower.

Plague for the Raymond Thunder-Sky Spirit Tower.  David Wecker was one of the first journalists to write about Raymond.

Tom Tsuchiya's plan-out for the sculpture.

Raymond in Chicago, by the then-named Sears Tower...

Saturday, August 27, 2016

As I Want You to Be

Last Saturday we went to see a Nirvana cover band at Bogart's in Cincinnati, a sort of rundown, grungy, funky venue that houses a lot of memories for me (we saw Foo Fighters there right when their first album came out, Frank Black sans Pixies, Flaming Lips, etc.).  It was a beautiful thing to hear those early nineties songs again, in the land of the living, played the way they should be played, banged out and elemental, no talk.  The cover band's name is Orchid in the Ivy, and I know nothing about them except that they can play Nirvana songs, but that's okay.  They did it exactly the way they should have:  shut-mouthed and reverent in the church of skillful and demented punk-pop.

Kurt Cobain's main talent, above all else, was his obsessive welding together of vulnerable melodies with pure chainsaw fury.  His down and dirty hurt was always glazed with an outsider-art attention to detail, whimsy and torture welling up into a burst of guitar chords that sound kind of familiar at first but right when you get into it you also get assaulted.  The assault was Kurt's art escaping its prison, letting you have it.  He was pissed at you for enjoying his little fucking ditties, and yet those ditties, and your response, was all he cared about.

And so all week I've lived in the shadow of that cover-band cathedral, listening to all the songs again, mesmerized by all he was able to pack in his short time on earth.  One song kind of became my mantra as I drove around in my Kia Soul:  "Come as You Are."  The second single off Nevermind, that song has incredible chops, a powerful bass hook that grinds you into its atmosphere, and lyrics that don't give away anything but also tell you everything you need to know:

"No I don't have a gun.
No I don't have a gun.
No I don't have a gun."

What the hell is more vulnerable and succinct than that?

That surrender somehow confiscates an era's cynicism.  It lets us know what the world is about more than a whole slew of newspaper articles or tweets or speeches.  It's not poetry as much as secret code. Needless to say I got into that song in 1992, when I was 27 and in graduate school.  I was in a fiction-writing class, and I played the hell out of "Come as You Are" while drafting the short story I scanned in and uploaded below.  I wrote it in three weeks and decided not to submit it to workshop because I loved it so much and didn't want people to pick it apart.  It turns out to be the first piece I was able to get published in a national magazine.

Christopher Street was the bastion of gay lit back in the 70s and 80s, so I got in on the tail-end of its glory and tenure, but am still kind of proud that they chose to publish "Mars," which I just reread, all caught up in my Nirvana k-hole.  It's not a bad piece of work.  I recognize all kinds of tricks and tics that make what I write what I write forming within it:  simple declarative no-nonsense sentences and paragraphs, a cryptic poetry circulating inside scenes revealed with as little poetry as possible.  Not a lot of laughs in this one, but I learned as I went how to make things at least a little more comic.  "Mars" is about a foster-kid named Paul who eventually gets brutally killed, after a life spent trying not to be what everyone wants him to be.  It has a sort of shadow-narrative, as well (I was all into The Great Gatsby at the time and wanted to white-trash-gay that Fitzgerald shit up), about a gay not-foster-kid who sees in Paul a specter of meaning and transcendence nobody else can in his world.

But that song, right?  "Come as You Are," all momentous and full of doom and tenderness.  I wanted that to be in the story too.  I followed its rhythm and snark as I wrote, and when I saw the watery-rusty-chandelier music video, with Kurt with his dyed-amber hair and nasty green sweater and pale-angel countenance, singing into the camera like the camera was his parole officer, well then I understood where I stood in the world of literature and art and just the world:  I was trying to not so much elevate trash and tragedy as to grasp it through the glamorous haze of punk's magic mirror, a reflection giving off such a shitty glow you start to understand how sometimes you can't turn the lights on and you can't turn the lights off.  You can only wait for things to settle back down so you can go to work.

It's a sad story, "Mars."  I was afraid to go back and read it again because I thought I might be embarrassed by its sophomoric attempts at gay grunge, but nope:  it's pretty good.  It has all kinds of chasms and humorless hurts and yet there's also a strange, sweet, unspoken love that slithers through it, kind of the way Kurt's voice growls and whimpers through "Come as You Are."

No it doesn't have a gun.      

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Horror, the Horror

Trey Edward Shultz and Krisha Fairchild in Krisha.  Shults not only writes and directs, he stars too.

I haven't written a post in almost three months.  Too much stuff to do, plus I'm working on getting a draft of a novel done, which takes a lot of concentration and soul and nerve.

Which brings me to why I'm blogging now:  I stumbled on so much concentration and soul and nerve in a new independent movie I've watched twice now I felt compelled to sit down and do this.   The movie is Krisha, and it is written and directed by Trey Edward Shults, starring his aunt Krisha Fairchild.  It's his first full-length movie, and it is a masterpiece of technical skill and empathy and horror.

Watching Krisha is so revelatory because of its concise, controlled madness, banality and sorrow merged with a slick, dynamic sense of style, kind of like if Hitchcock and Cassevettes had a baby.  It mostly takes place inside a Houston, Texas suburban McMansion on Thanksgiving Day, with cars parked all along the grass and in the driveway.  A sad busted-up truck pulls up, the bottom of a hippie skirt sticking out of the closed driver door.  Krisha gets out in all her Sleeping-Gypsy glory, grabs her suitcase on wheels and initially goes to the wrong McMansion, finally stumbling onto the right one, where her sister and other family-members, including a son she abandoned many years ago, take her back into the fold in scenes so awkwardly meaningful and breathtakingly real you feel like you're watching security footage, not a movie.

And yet it's security-footage once removed, filtered through the brain and heart of a true artist.  Shults knows exactly what he is doing, and on a shoe-string budget with his actual family-members doing the acting he produces thrilling set-pieces, lush camera-work, effortlessly composed yet completely on-point scenes that reveal so much without curling into sentimentality of any kind. He can pan, grab a close-up, mute the sound, fixate on an everyday object, all in one swirl, and with all of that he's able to relay tons of fact and joy and hate without dabbling in exposition or dialog.  It's all visual and movement.  He's done his homework, and yet he doesn't show off:  it all serves the story he's telling, the people he's trying to figure out.

The lead actor, Krisha Fairchild playing Krisha, devastates with her moves from smug spiritual priestess to terrified little girl to jealous drunk Medusa yearning for her own version of innocence and happiness to return.  It's one of those performances that linger in your head, just like the movie does, and you can't think of anyone else, movie star or not, who could have pulled it off any better.  Krisha sets up her own little fiefdom in an upstairs bedroom in the house, pulling out pictures and her little locked box of drugs, her Ziplock baggie of makeup, resting her sweet little dog in a blanket on a sofa. That room she takes over is like the psychological nest in Roman Polanski's Repulsion, with Fairchild taking on Catherine Deneuve in the vulnerable yet terrifyingly insane department.  But you fall in love with Krisha in a way you don't with Polanski's character-study.  It's Schults' gaze I think.  Even though his aunt is playing a part, you feel a connection through the camera that's truthful, hurt, full of love, not willing to make amends.  The whole setup is dead-on kitchen-sink tragedy but then it reinforces itself, building into a love-letter written to someone you can't find a way to love even though it's all you want to do.

Krisha is at times a horror movie, a high-style sitcom, a meditation on family and love and loss, an experiment in style, and a visual poem that takes everyday objects and situations and invests in them a Kubrickian coldness and intensity that leave you feeling as though you've seen something brand new and yet totally recognizable, comforting in its strangeness.

At the end of Krisha, when all goes to hell, you feel bruised and elated, kind of astounded by what art can really do.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Very Special Episode

"Gloria's Boyfriend" is an episode from the fourth season of All in the Family (2/2/74 is when it first  aired).   Just stumbled onto it a little bit ago on cable, and then rewatched the episode on You-Tube (here).  I spend a lot of my time trying to figure out how to help job seekers with developmental disabilities access good jobs in the community, and "Gloria's Boyfriend" is all about that very topic, albeit a little dated.  And yet the way the subject matter is handled and worked through reminds me of how much things really haven't changed too much.  Possibly the language has been overhauled (the "R" word is used both pedantically and insultingly in the episode), but the actual tropes and metaphors and fears still kind of linger when you approach the idea of someone labeled as developmentally disabled being able to be a part of the workforce, a contributor to the way we all get things done everyday.

 "Gloria's Boyfriend" tells the story of George the Box Boy at Ferguson's Grocery, and the one day he brings the groceries home as a favor to Gloria.  It's obvious he has a crush on her, and for a minute or two you get the feeling that's the creepy direction the story is going.  But the actual narrative gets focused around a subplot, in which Archie and Michael are using an adjustable bench-plane to help refit the upstairs bathroom door that isn't shutting properly.  That door becomes both a metaphor and a plot device, as does the faulty tool Archie is using:  the bench-plane's blade is not yielding any wood shavings as Archie glides it across the door. 

In the episode, George is given to us as a big, sweet guy who is a little slow, but capable of expressing himself as well as having the ability to understand when he's mistreated  and when he's welcome.   The conversation about him among the Bunker clan is a survey of the ways people with developmental disabilities have been represented and seen over the course of the 20th (and now 21st) Centuries:  menace, innocent, deviant, oversexed, simpleminded, and so on.  The pendulum from "how sweet" to "how dangerous" is quick and steady, especially when Archie talks.  In fact, Archie in the episode is a sort of stand-in for the way many people understand what "developmental disabilities" are.  He's constantly warning his daughter to watch out for George's advances ("Stop getting him all excited -- people like him have a one-track mind," he says), while when speaking directly to George he's condescendingly kind and didactic (he tells George to take a break, sit and watch as Archie and Michael try to whittle down the door so it'll fit, using the tool that does not work). 

The crisis moment comes when Archie again speaks to Gloria about the possible dangers of her friendship with George, and George overhears.  Archie feels the need to spell what he considers is George's main diagnosis and prognosis:  "You gotta be careful around a d-u-m-m-y."

It turns out George can spell, and he tells everyone that in fact he's not a dummy, and he's going to show them all he's not.  He runs out the backdoor.  This instigates a conversation among all of the family about how George from Edith's perspective is a "nice gentle boy," and Archie counters with examples of "his kind" from movies like Of Mice and Men and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, while Gloria and Michael defend George as "special" and "retarded," but able to work and live in the world just like anybody else. 

Later in the day, Gloria goes back to Ferguson's to get ice cream, returns to tell everyone that George has been fired.  They all hope it wasn't because they asked him to stay a while earlier, and also because of what Archie had said.  Then a knock at the door, and George's dad comes to find out where George is, as he had heard from Mr. Ferguson about the firing, as well as the fact that George's last delivery was here at the Bunker's.  Another history and

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Dog and Butterfly

I bought Big Science by Laurie Anderson (LP version, not CD or cassette) with money from one of my first paychecks from Kentucky Fried Chicken.  At sixteen, I was entranced by her music and her image after serendipitously seeing a video of "O Superman" one winter evening on some late-night cable basement TV show.  That light emanating from her mouth, that electric-bolt style of hairdo, that voice, oh that technocratic-lady voice.  The synthesizer sadness of it all is what truly got me though:  there was a hook there, a pop-song need to please, and yet Anderson never escaped her own beautiful, repetitiously mournful pretentiousness, her need not to please.  Every song on Big Science opened up new little doors inside a melancholy/psychotic dollhouse; it became the soundtrack of my high school years.  I returned to it over and over, trying to figure out what I was supposed to do with myself, and then most of the time I would just give up and luxuriate in the big strange universe Anderson conjured, constantly edified by the sarcastic sincerity of her voice, her way. 

I've seen her a couple of times live, and still that same feeling comes through.  She's all-out, balls-out art-school-precious, but also there is a mean-spirited and wild blankness to her delivery that counteracts that preciousness.  It's that off-kilter meanness that blossoms into her sense of humor too.  Her music and writing brim with self-deprecation and moral wiliness; when she's not meditating on something serious, she's pulling the mask off her own seriousness:  

I turned the corner in Soho today and
Looked right at me and said:  Oh no!  Another Laurie Anderson clone!   

That's from "Talk Normal," a little ditty off her 1986 album Home of the Brave, a jaunty, funky hot mess of songs and ideas and jokes that gives off a toxic glow, while also somehow summoning the smell of suntan lotion being applied on the beach. 

Anderson is a mixed bag of greatness, a clone of herself, and a sort of touchstone I'm glad is there.  Without her, I wouldn't be the same.  The world wouldn't be.

And so last night I watched her 2015 movie Heart of a Dog, and I was completely floored.  A documentary that loops around itself, meditation into riddle into sidebar into punchline into philosophy, the movie is a sort of Laurie Anderson manifesto after the fact.  And the whole shebang hinges on her love of her dog Lolabelle, a little terrier who passes away and yet leaves such a distinct impression I'm still kind of reeling from the experience of witnessing Anderson's total love and aesthetic devotion to her.

Heart of a Dog in short is a masterpiece of seriousness of purpose, of intent, of mode and mission.  A cinematic hodgepodge of thoughts and feelings, drawings and mood music, texts and poems, the movie captures what it means to be a human being in all of this shit by investing all its intentions in the spirit and image of a dear little dog.  While that sounds a little twee I'm sure, it's really all we've got to go on, if you get right down to it.  Loving someone, something, that's beyond your scope of comprehension, and yet returns that love with an intensity and grace beyond any understanding.  That's Lolabelle in a nutshell.  That's Heart of a Dog.

Anderson's narrative voice in the movie is the same as the narrative voice in Big Science, thank God.  Cartoonishly erudite, a little too full of itself and careful, it has a cadence and tone that turns musical in one moment and caustically cautious the next.  It's like coming home. 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

I'll Stick with You Baby for a Thousand Years

Last Friday, April 29, 2016, we hosted a great big extravaganza at Thunder-Sky, Inc. that allowed me to understand better why we keep doing Thunder-Sky, Inc.  Upstairs it was "Radically Visible," a fashion-show/danceathon/performance-art-glitter-fest, with Sky Cubacub, Lindsey Whittle, Antonio Adams, and Craig Matis all delivering the goods in the form of neon-colored fashion, ecstatic make-up, big gaudy collages, gloriously stylized poster-sized photos, and the kind of energy that helps you to re-invigorate what you want not only out of art, but out of life.  It was like an extended funky parade all night, all that electricity boxed in and vibrant and burning in all directions, and by the end, when everyone was dancing and carrying on, the floor felt like it was about to collapse.  That almost collapse is what "Radically Visible" was truly about, a beautiful crew of artists and models and everyday people blending into one big bombastic moment when snobbery and skepticism leave the room to go sit outside in their cars, and vision replaces judgement:  all feeling, walls and floor shaking like a kite blown around by wind.  All smiles, sweat, and silliness.  You don't need anything else sometimes.  

And then downstairs we were doing a David Bowie tribute (curated by Emily Brandehoff) that pulled together over 40 or so artists' visions of what Bowie meant, our basement wall-to-walled with interpretations of his greatness.  Crayon drawings right next to oil paintings, conceptual found objects situated with upfront portraits of the artist as he was, as he wanted to be.  Bowie's world was about being radical and visible too, of course; he was always in search of some otherworld to replace the glum, phony one we're all usually stuck with.  

We karaoked the hell out of some of his greatest songs in that basement.  And as I screamed out the lyrics to "Golden Years," I felt somehow vindicated, although I really didn't understand the point of the vindication outside of the fact that we are keeping Raymond alive in the humblest of ways, dedicating art and time to his memory, archiving almost everything he left behind:  Raymond Thunder-Sky, urban legend and Cincinnati curiosity transforming year by year into mythological god and mentor.  And mid-song, my lungs burning from me trying to imitate Bowie's angelic/demonic baritone, I realized I was staring up at the shelves holding Ray's toolboxes, all those toolboxes he carried around town as he rode buses to get to demolition sites so he could draw them.  Those metal and plastic boxes contained his drawing supplies, candy, photographs, pieces of his ongoing clown costumes... 

Everything we do here celebrates the triumph of his strangeness, the rigor of his freakishness. 

I'll stick with you baby or a thousand years
Nothing's gonna touch you in these golden years...

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Alien Day

The head has lost its condition
all the world has been bitten into
Tentacles smell like nasty ice
The back of the mouth has that battery-acid tenderness

The colors are what you see back-lit in fever
Not colors but fingers
Facelessness is the true expression
Particles inching into place

What you've always wanted
is to be defenseless
Primary, pulled into and out of the world
You crave the shape of things hiding inside

Stainless steel eyelids
You crave the love of a dog
But nothing else comes through
until your bones and muscles feel

That flush of loss
a disintegration
blurred into a furious coupling
reptile and rigor, motors and flab

The tissue always wins
in this world
metal inside a million little cells
tiny teeth biting and biting, chewing into

the one reality left on a planet no one knows.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Funk Machine

"Funk Machine" was the first song Prince wrote.  He was seven years old, and he did it on his dad's piano.  I always think of him writing and producing music just like that, all on his own, driven to make it all up even when he wasn't even aware of what a superstar he was going to be.  He seemed to be able to access that part of himself for most of his life, with or without attention or approval.  

The false trope of "outsider artist" is something I'm always thinking and writing about, that super-precious concept of super-precious "outsiders" or "savants" making super-precious art in seclusion or in places that have been created for them, and art collectors and academics staking claims on their "authenticity" and "strangeness."  As in:  "Is the artist autistic or just crazy?"  I heard that little gem at the NYC Outsider Art Fair a couple years back.  

But here's an outsider artist for the ages, without all that baggage and nonsense:  look at him up there, comfortable in his lair, water-coloring his next "funk machine," the world just a tug on his purple satin sheet.  His face is saying, "You better just leave me the fuck alone right now."  

That photo comprised one of the record-sleeves of his magnum opus, 1999.  The smoky furtive light, the neon pulsing heart-shaped heart, the bouffant hair, the seductive pose.  Lord have mercy. And it's a pose for sure, and yet the pose indicates creativity in a basement, solitude yielding something both super-secret and something to be super-shared.  He wrote for the masses, made music that crossed every borderline (race, class, sexuality, gender, religion, and son), and yet he was the king of the outsiders in the best sense of the word:   toiling away in his basement-kingdom (eventually enlarged and compounded into Paisley Park), configuring and refashioning what makes him want to be alive.  Obviously it was the creation of music.
Now that he's gone, I just want to remember him in that essence, that moment.  He knew exactly what he was doing.  I also want to remember myself buying 1999 in 1982, some freaky kid in a little town, poor white trash, drawn to Prince's style and music since stumbling across Dirty Mind.  I'd waited months for 1999.  And when I got home I played that thing over and over, getting in sync with his high-dungeon, punk-drenched super-funk, knowing this was his masterpiece.  There are moments all over that record that turn into trances, that invite you into his purple bedroom to witness the techno-purple majesty of his purple genius.  One of the best is "Automatic," the almost ten-minute song that starts the second record on the album. It's a Sodom and Gomorrah UFO full of synth-pop pleasures and vibes.  It makes you both elated and a little scared, a product of some dark laboratory filled with S&M apparatus and lavender light.

"Baby," Prince coos toward the end, right before a chorus of spastic/erotic screams and cries commences, "you're the purple star in the night supreme."

He had to be looking in a mirror when he sang that.

Saturday, April 16, 2016


Raymond Thunder-Sky

David Bowie

Lindsey M Whittle

We're opening two shows this month at Thunder-Sky, Inc.:  "Radically Visible," featuring costumes, photos, collages, drawings, and other art by Antonio Adams, Sky Cubacub, Craig Matis, and Lindsey M Whittle, as well as a group show curated by Emily Brandehoff, "Bowie in the Basement," featuring about 40  or so works from a variety of artists, celebrating Bowie's life and art.  When I was pulling together news release info, I came across the above three photos, and they've stuck in my head, so that means of course a blogpost about Raymond, Bowie, and radical visibility, but also beyond that I wanted to reconstitute a little of Raymond's myth and menace and glory, conjure up his presence from back in the day, when people did not know what the hell to do with him.  And despite a lot of bull-shit he persevered, finding a way to be what he wanted to be, who he wanted to be.

Raymond had no choice really in that department.  For him, costume, performance, art, life, and being Raymond all intermingled into one sensibility that seemed forever eschewing conformity but also never flaunting the eschewment self-consciously.  I am what I am so just get fucking used to it -- that's all over his face in pictures, especially in the one up top.  He toured Cincinnati like that, all clowned- and construction-workered-up, silently going about his obsessive business of drawing from real life the destruction and construction people did to their surroundings, haters be damned.  And there were haters,  people who treated him like a freak without kindness or even just plain everyday manners.  I'm not going to go into those stories because they don't matter here.  He survived, created his own universe, found a way to make meaning out of what he wanted the world to be.  

He left behind those costumes too, which we've archived at his joint:  hard-hats, clown-suits, boots, overalls, clown-collars, hats. Shininess juxtaposed with burlap ruggedness, a show-off propensity pushed up against the need to be part of a team.  At the end of the day he merged show-business and working-class desires, furtively and yet also somehow loudly proclaiming his right to be a great big beautiful freak, while also trying to invent a job for himself.  (His construction-worker drag came from the fact that he truly wanted to be a construction-worker.  He actually started putting on the work-clothes and showing up at sites with his drawing materials because he couldn't get hired on as an actual construction-worker [he didn't have a driver's license so they couldn't].  He willed himself into that status through a sort of flaky and beautiful camouflage.)

The freakishness and the self-created celebration of the freakishness go hand in hand with Raymond. He was his own one-man band in many, hermetically sealed ways, but also willfully open-ended, walking and walking and walking in that get-up all over the city, riding buses, being a part of the world bubbled-off but completely in the maelstrom, a sort of Native-American-Shriner's-Clown-Working-Class Dandy.  

Nineteenth Century poet and philosopher Charles Baudelaire was always riffing on and refining his metaphysical takes on the "dandy."  He defined dandyism as an elevation of aesthetics to living religion, that a dandy in his finest fineries simply walking about the wretched city, shining like some self-created aristocrat, pisses off the responsible citizenry existentially because the dandy has paid so much close attention to his own existence and identity outside of the realm of their control, and their taste, their lives. 

Casting Raymond as a "dandy" kind of helps situate and contextualize what the artists in "Radically Visible" will be up to, as well as gives some backroom logic to "Bowie in the Basement."  In their work, Sky Cubacub is on a quest to reestablish the meaning of fashion and clothes as both demarcation and demonstration of the way someone should be able to live and love. Antonio Adams, one of Raymond's best friends, carries on Raymond's legacy through his own sense of kingly garments and a continuous reinvention through art of his own mythologized self.  Lindsey M Whittle takes silliness and freakishness in as forms of alchemical oxygen, breathing out little kingdoms of goof and color, and Craig Matis' collages use the circus, itself a version of over-the-top captivity and release, as metaphor for reconfiguring the struggle to be exactly who you need to be, no matter what constraints and condemnations.  

Then there's David Bowie, king of the dandies, shape-shifting his way from space-cadet to thin white duke to harlequin and beyond. Bowie has left behind a legacy of I-am-what-I-am-so-fucking-get-used-to-it; he managed to change the world by appearing not to be in it.  Somehow he was able to crack the code of all clowns and freaks:  be exactly who you are until the day you die.  

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Work History

When I was thirteen, all I wanted was a job as soon as possible.  I wanted this job to separate me from my life and family somehow, maybe even from myself.  A job seemed almost romantic to me in that way:  weekly earned income, a place to go besides school, friends at work instead of the many a-holes I had to contend with at school, cigarette breaks, free pop, a uniform, saving up for a car.  I was not popular at school.  I hid from most everyone in either the school newspaper office or the art-room.  I was always trying to figure out how to get away from peers and cheers and everything having to do with "school" and "spirit."  At work you have to show up, clock in, do your job, go home; at school you have to go to class but there's all kinds of mandatory extracurricular crap, social events and activities and odd run-ins, PRESSURES that make life a lot more complicated, and basically at least from my purview miserable.

My family was working-class and poor, so maybe this hunger for employment and solidarity came from my not knowing any other way except escape through work.  But I knew that school wasn't really my thing, so I kind of understood instinctively that work would have to be.

And it was.

I got my first job at thirteen at a greasy spoon called The Irish Point.  The old couple who ran the place, Pauleen and Irving, paid me and some other kids out of the drawer at the end of the night, so it was a dream come true.  I didn't even have to wait for a weekly check.  Pauleen and Irving had an apartment above the restaurant where they lived, and at the end of the night, I would carry up the night's cash and receipts, and Pauleen would give me the wages for me and the rest of the crew -- usually just two other people, a cook and a server.  I was a car-hop and dishwasher at the start and worked my way up to grill-cook by the time I was 15.

The Irish Point was all roughed-up linoleum and fake-wood-paneling, frayed vinyl booths and a juke-box that seemed to always either be playing "The Year of the Cat" by Al Stewart or "Life's Been Good" by Joe Walsh.  I worked my ass off there, and found friends my own age who went to the same high school, but who would not even look at me in the hallways at school.  At the Point somehow we were equals, sharing shifts, duties, rushes, jokes.  One time, Pauleen and Irving had a health inspector come through and a shitload of citations were dispensed.  A bunch of us volunteered to come in and do deep cleaning on a Saturday to help them pass the inspection.  I remember I had a really bad earache, but I still showed up and cleaned out the tarry grease filters above the fryers and grill, because I knew everyone was counting on me.  All of us swept and mopped and painted and did all we could to make sure the place was as clean as possible.  Nobody got paid.

Irving and Pauleen were pretty old.  There were still a bunch of Bennie Goodman records on the jukebox from their glory days.  They were heavy smokers, and basically I think they were just running on fumes, trying to get by, their small apartment above the Point so overcrowded with furniture from the house they used to live in it was almost like a miniature Egyptian tomb.  That Saturday, though, we all cleaned that place like it was the House of God, and by the end of the day, my ear hurting so bad I wanted to cry, I felt a part of some weird, sad family, focused on our short-lived future together.

What I do now for work is try to help people with developmental disabilities get jobs in the real world with livable wages.  Many times this is a hard thing to do, because a lot of the people I'm trying to help and work with often aren't on the same wavelength I am.  I guess the "wavelength" I'm referring is the one I just wrote about above:  that need to have a job in order to know who I am, what I'm capable of, and to be a part of something where I'm equal to everybody else.   Also, to escape through that process of constantly showing up, doing what's expected of you, and feeling as if what I'm doing is if not important at least getting me closer to what is.  And yes that crappy job at Irish Point was a stepping stone to more crappy dish-room-smelly jobs at Kentucky Fried Chicken and Rax Roast Beef and Bonanza Steakhouse and TGIFriday's and so on so forth, but at least I kept busy, in a zone, and I made friends, and I found a way to find meaning in what I was doing, even if no one else could, or even wanted to try.

This isn't an Horatio Alger gig by any means:  I didn't pull myself up by my bootstraps.  I just worked, because I had to, and besides that I felt an almost primal urge to enter the workforce in order to leave behind stuff I found meaningless and annoying.  That excitement, even in the face of mop-water buckets and overloaded bus-tubs and the smell of fryer grease in my clothes, got me through because I knew I was doing something about my situation, even though it was not a dream come true by any means. In fact, often times it was a nightmare (alone, in a dishroom with a thousand bus-tubs stacked on the shelves and floor by the dish-machine, people yelling they are out of forks and drinking glasses upfront -- just try that one on for size).  No matter what, though, working that hard without a lot of payoff is, and really has to be, a nasty-smelling, super-exhausted version of hope. Not something you look forward to doing, God knows, but something you have to tolerate in order to create the momentum to go on to do something else, hopefully better.

Of course one of the biggest issues for job-seekers with disabilities is they often get stuck in that zone of "menial work," always at the bottom of the totem-pole, often in the dishroom or bussing tables or some other entry-level pigeonhole.  Ironically, though, if you don't start somewhere, then you don't have a platform to show what you can do.  And that desire even to start out menially sometimes gets squelched, ambition lost because there's no way up or out.

Trying to get beyond the issue of businesses and employers assuming that everyone we're trying to support is only dish-room-valuable is just the beginning though.  A lot of social-work-types and caregivers and teachers and others many times want to help the people they support by asking them about dreams and wishes, etc.  "What do you want to do?"  Instead of:  "What do you need to do?"   Dreaming is great and necessary, but I guess I also want to include in the conversation: what are you willing to do to make that dream come true? That's just as important, right?

The choices you have to make sometimes wear you out.  You have to make your own moves, piecing each phase together in order to make sense as you get there, improvising, pushing, trying, failing, trying, failing..., Hopefully laughing, getting through, with co-workers, family, friends.  And you'll need a lot of help.   But it's you at the end of the day who has to do most of the work, and most of the dreaming. You can't confuse the two though:  "dreams" are fuel for getting through what you have to do to take care of yourself, to be responsible enough to better yourself and contribute.

We have a huge amount of work to do in order to support employers and businesses to get over the prejudice of perceiving people with disabilities as only capable of certain kinds of work.  That systemic pigeonholing and scapegoating will only finally go away, though, when all people with disabilities who want to are given a chance to show they can do the work, put in the hours, have the ambition and grit to push through.  That Catch-22 is the core problem:  people with disabilities not given a chance to ascend, but also not wanting to try because they're not given that chance.  That self-fulfilling prophecy on both sides has sadly often become the status-quo.

Just to be clear, many people with disabilities in this area are getting good jobs, with and without anybody's help.  I don't want to end this on any sour notes.  I could tell you success stories till the sun goes down, but I want to focus on the many other folks who are floundering, trying to connect but a lot of the times giving up.  It's vitally important to remember what it takes for anyone to get somewhere:  ambition, sometimes foolish, sometimes tempered by reality, but always that ambition is an engine that allows you to push past frustration in order to see you're going to be okay, this is worth it, don't worry.  No amount of support and outreach to businesses and to people with disabilities works without confronting the fact that you have to want to work hard to get anywhere, and you have to have the opportunity to prove it, and for that proof to matter.  That last statement might be axiomatic for everyone entering the labor market, but it's truly profound for people with disabilities looking for work.

Which brings me back to the Irish Point, that Saturday when a bunch of us gathered together, no pay, to help out the old couple who owned the place.  I can still feel that ear-ache.  But despite that I also felt obligated not just to Irving and Pauleen, and the kids I worked with there, but also to that sense of myself as a part of something, contributing to something, connected to a purpose beyond myself and even a pay-check:  it was a sort of duty, I guess, informed by my ambition to grow up.  Get on with it. Make something out of nothing.

Sunday, April 3, 2016


(On seeing Rodney McMillian's "Untitled," in "Thirty Americans" at Cincinnati Art Museum)

That's the funk of 40,000 years,
right there,
every stinking moment
curled up in little bits of tar

ghosts after work
spreading from boots,
that exhaustion is the engine
of life

That's the fucked-up giant's
nasty petticoat,
the wife-beater on the floor,
lampshade off,
light like a baseball bat to the back of your head

Apartment complexes are carousels,
trees drip down into dreams,
that fountain of motor oil and
soft drinks,
sugar and poison,
grease-pencil R&B

Nervous numbers scratched close
to a telephone,
envelopes stacked, never opened,
that night we almost did it

Flares going off
like Jackson Pollock just does not give a shit
like Fred Astaire just puked
like Marcel Duchamp has the diabetes

And that smell, that bacon-gasoline
smell of hell
or plain old

We all get up and go,
nothing too interesting

A cozy haze the color of a dog,
clouds and pancakes,
pancakes and clouds,
the syrup all over the goddamn floor

Somebody got pissed, somebody always gets pissed

And then card games, Superbowls, toothaches, W-2s,  flat-lines, flunk-outs, birthday cards, car trouble, back flips.

This shit is untitled,
this thing here,
it's not much to go on,
but it is
everything we got.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Christine's World

Watching Louie Anderson perform Christine Baskets on the FX dramedy/comedy/hell-I-don-t-know-what-to-call-it-really Baskets is not actually about watching someone perform:  it's watching someone be.  Anderson is so damn good you lose track of what he's doing, and you find yourself completely enmeshed in what Christine is doing, saying, acting like, thinking even.  It's the kind of acting that can only be seen on TV because you need several episodes of it for the whole process to sink in, and then suddenly an epiphany happens and it's there:  we're witnessing brilliance.  Let's call it "art."  Why not? 
The epiphany for me came in the third episode, and my adoration just grew from there:  Chrisitne curled up on a couch, covered in a shimmery quilt, talking about the beauty of the curly-fries.  Louie is in drag in the scene of course, in the whole show, playing Zach Galifianakis' somehow inert and yet completely overbearing Republican mother, Christine, who lives in a suburban dreamhouse in Bakersfield, California stocked with Costco items of every sort.  The drag is really just a way to get there:  not a lot of makeup, simple hair, blowsy, beautiful, no-nonsense, older-lady clothes that are only noticeable because they are designed not to be (except for the incredible Easter bonnet Christine wore in the Easter-themed episode, which is probably the best Baskets I've seen so far).  Christine seems to have stepped out of someone's actual life, stumbling Purple-Rose-style onto the FX platform, ready to go.  It's effortless, what Louie does, and yet his contribution has the nuanced, steely-eyed essence of someone really knowing how to make shit matter.  
Even though the show focuses primarily on Galifianakis' inept clown-wannabe (he went to a French clown school only to flunk out and return to Southern California to be a rodeo-clown), and that's OK, it's Christine who is the center of the show's universe.  The atmosphere and ethos of the show emanate from Louie's way of being her, a style that cancels out style but somehow manages to be better than stylish:  it's drag without camp.  Instead of parody and mockery, Louie, and the writers/creators of Baskets (Galifianakis, Louis CK, and Jonathan Krisel) seek homage in the bleakest and most banal of places.  The show gets off on absurdity, but not the kind that makes people look weak and worthless; it's absurdity that somehow saves people from themselves, even while they figure out how shitty everything is.
Christine is not really brave or incredibly intelligent, or really worth our time.  She just is.  And her existence is significant because it's not.  She lives in her own bubble of Ronald-Reagan wishes and Costco dreams.  She doesn't seem mean-spirited, but she is sort of gnarly and vindictive in the best of ways.  She can do a passive-aggressive one-off with the best of them, and yet you truly believe that she loves herself and the people she chooses to love.  She seems to have a heart made of two-by-fours and vinyl siding, and that's a compliment she would approve of I think.
I keep thinking of Raymond Carver when I think of Christine too, and Louie's way of pulling the whole thing off.  Carver wrote beautiful blunt and nuanced short stories about nobodies, most who live in California.  His stories have the same rote, sweet no-nonsense intent that Louie gives Christine.  Baskets totally benefits from that sensibility.  What could have been a Galifianakis lark about a down-and-out rodeo-clown with French inclinations opens up to become a minimalist and stark meditation on what it means to be a nobody in a world of nobodies, with Christine the empress of it all, a queen driving around in a maroon Chevy four-door sedan going to pick her elderly mother up for church, or eating a hotdog at (yup) Costco, commenting on how inexpensive it is, and you also get a drink.  Carver's stories opened up from closing down, and Louie's sense of timing and shaping of scenes, the way he uses his face not to register feeling but thought, is that same process of closure being the door to something else:  he's writing a book of short stories about Christine Baskets every time he enters a room. 
So here goes:  Louie Anderson is now a genius in my book, and while Baskets is funny and sweet and filled with odd and off-kilter laughs (as well blessed with another great performance by the gorgeous deadpan Martha Kelly as an insurance agent with a broken arm and a humble need to go missing), it's really not the show as much as Christine's world I'm interested in.  And I don't want a spinoff ala Laverne and Shirley or The Jefferson by any means.  I'll watch Baskets just for those few minutes when Christine appears, saunters through, says something stupidly on-target, and then goes back to hosing off her driveway.   

Friday, February 19, 2016


Mr. Cornell
Joseph Cornell is one of those peripheral and yet totally important figures in contemporary art history who haunts and informs a lot of what is made and seen today.  He passed away in 1972, and yet his influence and the scope of his ghostliness illuminate a lot of what has happened artistically and aesthetically in the 20th and now 21st Centuries.  He was humble and yet ambitious, ingenuous yet sophisticated, "outsider" yet completely in sync with his contemporaries, including the Surrealists and everything after.  He lived in a small, unremarkable house on Utopia Parkway in Queens, taking care of his brother who had cerebral palsy, and working a lot of odd jobs to sustain his household that included both his brother and mother.  He basically spent his lifetime outside of those activities making intricate, oddly meaningful "things" out of materials he lifted from life:  postcards, fabric, toys, bottles, glasses, etc., all usually aligned poetically and ominously in shadow-boxes.  He also made movies, created hefty dossiers devoted to movie-stars and waitresses, wrote, and even collaborated with his brother on a series of delicate drawings/collages that merged fairy-tale wishes with a scratchy/gorgeous obsession.  In fact, most of what Cornell did seemed burnished by an overarching obsession to find meaning in what is already in front of you, as if a junk-drawer in your kitchen is a primal resource for reinvention and even transcendence, every little doodad and left-behind nothing a reason to daydream, to travel while remaining still.
Our next Thunder-Sky, Inc. exhibit, “Utopia Parkway Revisited: Contemporary Artists in Joseph Cornell’s Shadow" (opening February 26, 2016 with a reception 6 to 10 pm and closing April 9, 2016). features beautifully and incidentally Cornell-inspired works by Jeff Casto, Marc Lambert, Christian Schmit, Matthew Waldeck, and Matthew Waldeck Jr.  They all make art that both mimics Cornell’s approach (collage, sculpture, assemblage, and appropriation), as well as the spirit involved in his vision, creating and recreating an aesthetic universe based in nostalgia, obsession, and pop culture.  Casto's works are the closest in spirit and materials to Cornell's boxes, but he also has his own sense of deadpan whimsy and ache, as if he's taken in Cornell's need to make something out of nothing and pushed resources and dreaming to their limits.  Lambert's works featured in the show respond to Cornell's use of everyday materials (Lambert paints on ceiling tiles), and also to his starry-eyed sense of cinema and history.  Lambert meticulously recreates universes collaged from movie-scenes and folklore, juxtaposing Sasquatches with pyramids, pterodactyls with UFOs, a psychic boyhood embellished with a sense of sentimental ache and poetry.  Waldeck, Jr.'s drawings have that same sense of longing for Utopian context.  Executed in magic-marker on 8" X 11" sheets of paper, they function as a sort of illuminated manuscript informed by television, solitude, and a search for more than is there.  Waldeck, Sr. creates funky, frenetic dioramas (and other contraptions) made from machine parts and other junk.  They playfully reference space-travel, carnivals, and miniature civilizations, in a Cornellian flourish and flicker.  Schmit's one piece in the show is truly masterful, and acts as both a comment on, and a rapturous biographical portrait of, Cornell, constructed with a painstaking accuracy and ingenuity pretty much akin to everything Cornell accomplished.
It's going to be an incredible show.
A lot of times I argue on this blog that biography often handicaps the way we see and consume art, that knowing that the artist has a diagnosis or hardship or whatever shouldn't get in the way of feeling and understanding the art for what it is and can be.  You don't want to lose focus or respect by attaching charity and other kinds of condescension onto the whole shebang.  But Cornell's work and life intermingle in ways that go beyond "diagnosis" and "charity."  From limited means and a "small life," he forged an incredible body of work that somehow captures lightning in a bottle every time you witness it.  He dedicated his life to minutiae and what it means when you take the time to excavate it, to reinvent and reimagine it.  He discovered vast planets inside the smallest of boxes, and allows us today to take such endeavors completely seriously. 
Matthew Waldeck, Jr.

Matthew Waldeck, Jr.

Matthew Waldeck, Sr.

Jeff Casto

A wall of Jeff Casto works
A wall of Marc Lambert works

Marc Lamber

Marc Lambert

Christian Schmit

Jeff Casto