28 Nov

Chuck Close Hits the Nail on the Head Re: The Failure of Most Artists.

But he didn’t say it first, I’m convinced.

Chuck Close Oral History Interview Conducted by Judd Tully for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 1987

JUDD TULLY: You must have been quite sophisticated in comparison to other people that were around in terms of being exposed to a lot of art.

CHUCK CLOSE: Yes. And I was a great student. I was exactly what everybody had in mind. I knew what art looked like and I could make something. Being a good student is a double-edged sword, I guess, because I got lots of pats on the head, I got lots of scholarships, I got grants and stuff Fulbrights and all that sort of stuff – because I was a good student and because of the relative ease with which I could make things that looked like art. The trouble is, if it looks like art, it must look like someone else’s art or it wouldn’t look like art. When I met De Kooning I said, “How do you do? My name is Chuck Close. I’m the person who’s made almost as many De Koonings as you’ve made.” [laughs] It’s true. I was De Kooning or I was Hans Hofmann or I was whoever it was.

JUDD TULLY: This would be familiarity from magazines, from –

CHUCK CLOSE: Yes. Growing up in Everett and Seattle and going to college there was a real cultural backwater. And the mountains are a kind of emotional distancing device. Seattle was not like other cities in America – or wasn’t then. It really drew the wagons into the circle. They loved themselves and they always referred to it as ‘God’s country’ and they hate everywhere else even though they’ve never been there. The whole culture if there is an interest in culture, which there’s very little, or was in the fifties, at least they looked towards the Orient. The art history courses were on Japanese art or were interested in American. They did American Indian art and Eskimo – Alaskan. There was virtually no interest in Western culture. Everybody who traveled had been to Japan. I never knew anybody who had been to Europe. New York was viewed with great suspicion. The heroes – the gods – were the people like Mark Tobey, who had gone to live in a Zen Buddhist monastery in Japan. Of course they overlooked the fact that he then went to live in Ireland or wherever the hell he was. Or was that Morris Graves? But there was tremendous suspicion of New York and those things. I immediately wanted to make stuff that was about New York. Alden Mason was very supportive. He was somebody who would not make great Northwest mystic paintings. To paraphrase Gertrude Stein, as soon as I discovered there was a there there, I went to it. I got out of Seattle, which I saw as an intellectual and cultural backwater, and wanted to go where it really was happening. The other part of being a good student is that it’s very hard then to develop any kind of personal idiosyncratic vision because your hand moves in art ways. It wants to make art shapes. I supposedly had a good sense of color. As far as that’s concerned, I think I had discovered that certain color combinations look more like art than other color combinations. So there were many, many habits and many skills which were developed in school that had served me very well as a student which later became a big problem in terms of differentiating myself from everyone else and trying to find out who I was, different from other artists.

28 Nov

Emma Goldman, Oscar Wilde, “If it looks like art…”

There is good reason to start from the beginning if you’re interested in making something worth making. Who was it that originally said “If it looks like art then it’s probably somebody elses art”. The web searches are telling me it’s Chuck Close, but I am so certain that I read that from Matisse or Picasso first.

Emma Goldman – Anarchism – What It Really Stands For – Anarchism and Other Essays

“A practical scheme, says Oscar Wilde, is either one already in existence, or a scheme that could be carried out under the existing conditions; but it is exactly the existing conditions that one objects to, and any scheme that could accept these conditions is wrong and foolish. The true criterion of the practical, therefore, is not whether the latter can keep intact the wrong or foolish; rather is it whether the scheme has vitality enough to leave the stagnant waters of the old, and build, as well as sustain, new life.”

From the 1917 edition of Emma Goldman’s Anarchism and Other Essays

28 Nov

Victoria Woodhull

The first woman to run for president lived nearby.

The My Hero Project – Victoria Woodhull

by Barbara Goldsmith

Recently, when I mentioned to a friend that the title of my book was Other Powers–The Age of Suffrage, Spiritualism and the Scandalous Victoria Woodhull, she asked: “Just who was Victoria Woodhull anyway?” It seems a simple question, but Victoria was not a simple person. She was conceived in 1837, during the frenzy of a religious revival in Homer, Ohio. Her father was an itinerant con man and a thief; her mother was illegitimate, illiterate and a religious fanatic. As a child, Victoria was raised in filth and squalor, beaten and starved, given little education and exploited in her father’s traveling carnival show as a clairvoyant and fortune-teller. Unexpectedly, she demonstrated such powers as accurately recalling past events and predicting future ones, finding missing objects and people, and affecting cures. She also relayed messages from loved ones who had “passed over.”

From childhood, Victoria maintained that she was guided and protected by the spirits, who occasionally let her visit a utopian world in heaven unlike the chaotic, miserable world in which she lived. Like Joan of Arc, she listened to voices that told her she would rise from poverty one day to become “ruler of the nation.” At 15, in order to escape her father’s brutality, Victoria eloped with an alcoholic doctor who fathered a retarded son and so botched the delivery of their daughter that the baby nearly bled to death. After five years, Victoria left him and struck out on her own. Eventually, her belief in the spirits enabled her to form alliances with such powerful men as Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, to become the first woman to own a Wall Street investment firm, to found her own newspaper, to speak before Congress demanding that women be given the vote and finally, to run for U.S. President in 1872 against the popular incumbent, Ulysses S. Grant, and the powerful newspaperman, Horace Greeley. In short, she set America on its ear….

28 Nov

Astor Place Riots

A book about something that happened nearby, long ago.

ACCOUNT OF THE TERRIFIC AND FATAL RIOT, at the New York Astor Place Opera House, On the night of May 10th, 1849. With the Quarrels of Forrest and Macready, Including All the Causes Which Led to that Awful Tragedy. Wherein an infuriated mob was quelled by the Public Authorities and Military, with its mournful termination in the Sudden Death or Mutilation of more than Fifty Citizens, With Full and Authentic Particulars. New York:, H.M. Ranney, 1849.

27 Nov


Allow the processes of creation, discovery and discussion to be visible on the artists personal website. Post artworks, ideas, sketches and experiences as blog entries assigning them lables so they can be seen either chronologically or by category.