Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Takin' me back....

   I remember when I was a little kid, I craved excitement. I loved the carnival, the circus and pin-the -tail-on-the-donkey....I loved chaotic environments because that's where I felt most at home, when things were still and quiet at home I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the drama to begin. I never wanted to make the drama begin myself,  I didn't really know how ...... and my older brother and sister and mom and dad were all so much better at it then I could ever be. But there was always some drama playing out between my parents and siblings, I survived by learning how to be entertaining or invisible.

   So when I first came to NYC I loved the pace and the constant surprises, I learned how to recognize the different sounds of the uptown and downtown trains at my subway station and I rushed and ran when I heard my train coming. Now, when I hear that sound I tell myself it's not an emergency. As I'm preparing for the final exit from my art studio of 8 years, the place where I make my artwork, not the apartment where I live. I spent a couple of weeks waking up in the middle of the night with an overwhelming sense of dread......."I'm not prepared",  "It's too much work" "I won't be able to find an affordable studio" , "I can't aford a mover"........thoughts like this overwhelmed me, but I addressed the move one step at a time, I'm halfway done and Ive learned so much in this process....mostly that I don't have to be in a hyper-excited state of emergency to get it done. It's just part of the job, a regular part of an artist's life. Other people have gotten through it and I will too.

   It took a long while to learn this, to not catastrophize every major event in my life and even though I knew I shouldnt, I couldnt get out of that was like an addiction.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Kansas City 1999

It's been a fantastic experience preparing for the move to my new studio, I've had six weeks before the final move. I've already brought some things into a friend's storage space thank you, my friend!…. and in preparation for the final day of the move I've had a lot of time to go through everything in my studio and find good homes for the things I no longer need and examine everything I've amassed. 

   The gems from my record collection I've been posting along with snapshots from early on in my career. As  most art world people know, Bill Arning and I were boyfriends for 8 years, from 1994 to 2002 and Bill loved to take snapshots. Even before Instagram and Facebook he was always taking snapshots and giving me copies of the ones that I was in, Ive lost some things to basement floods and other clamities  but I was really thrilled to come across the group I'm posting here.These pictures are from New York:Neither/Nor at Grand Arts in Kansas of the few times Bill curated me into a show. I don't see that with any regrets or remorse as it was very strange kind of a double edge sword to be dating a well-known curator as I was just beginning of my career. I met all kinds of fantastic people through him, which benefitted me enourmously and that was very helpful in getting my talents out into the world,  but some people were suspicious of any success that I might've received thinking it was a result of my famous boyfriend. 

   I remember very early on,  Bill decided to have an after party for a show he curated at a Gay Bar in the East VillageVillage called “The Bar" . I happened to have a self organized exhibition of my own paintings up at the bar and at Bill's party someone came up to me and said “Wow this must be so great to be getting shows like this because you're dating this famous curator” ....... I think this guy was serious, maybe he didn't know that it was really easy to get a local bar that you patronize to put up your paintings, anyway, it was clear that some people had some kind of suspicion about any success I would achieve. although Bill and I did not talk about this a lot it was clear that he was not going to be curate me into every show he was doing and I was fine with that. I wanted to be recognized for my own talents and really did not want people to be suspect of my career for any reason, I figured my talent can speak for itself. 

 In 1999 Bill organized an exhibition for Grand Arts in Kansas City called "New York: neither/ nor " and I'm really glad he curated me into this because the whole lot of us got to go out there and spend a week in Kansas City putting up this exhibition and having as much barbecue as we could possibly stand and having rooftop parties, smoking like crazy. In most of these pictures Bill and I have cigarettes in our hand and not sure where this happened but it one point we snuck Rachel Harrison into a men's room…. maybe it was at the "Dixie Belle" the fantastic Drag Bar in KC,  I'm not sure where but in any event it was really fun trip and a great exhibition, I’m really proud to be part of it .

 On my way to work at The Museum of The City this Sunday morning here in NYC and I think seriously about so many opportunities I've had and made the right discussions or maybe it seem like the right ones at the time, but certainly no regrets….there are things I want to achieve that I haven't achieved yet and I do my best not to beat myself up over that . I've been doing the best I can with the tools I had at the time and now I try and see every challenge is a new set of doors, a new set of experiences to learn from. It’s taken a long time for me to get over my fears of both success and failure and accept my God-given talents and feel I am  worthy of them and just plain own who I am....I like myself, I'm a pretty good guy....

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Gifts Keep Coming

I had a thing a while back with someone who was hot, smart and a lot of fun. He said he was kind of new to guy/guy relationships and I took his word for that. He said he wanted to be in a committed relationship of at least one year before he came out to his parents. I was like, "where do I sign up ...!!!" I could do this! I could be the one who is there for him and then after a year I'd be presented to the parents, have knighthood or something bestowed upon me and be declared a hero, I couldn't wait.

The idea of being needed is very appealing. Many years ago I committed to stay in a relationship with a BF who joined AA. We had moved apart but I promised I'd be there for him for that first year and it felt good to be needed like that. I was proud of myself after that first year when I was there for him.

Now I realize, it is great to commit to helping a friend or partner, but it's not about getting some kind of reward at the end, it's not about me, it's about them. No rewards are guaranteed, but they'll probably show up in unexpected ways....maybe now or maybe sometime in the future or maybe they already did, years ago.

So when me and hot/smart/fun went our separate ways I was devastated, I missed him....but it was something was that prize that I was working for being denied me. This lesson took a lot of time to learn. I'm grateful that I was able to learn it...

Crawling Out from Under a Rock

   I got a new studio in Bushwick, for the first time my studio is not in a basement and I feel like Ive crawled out from under a feels great. I guess I always thought I had to have some shady under the table kind of deal and thats what Ive had in the past. Consequently, I've had very few enforceable rights when the landlord wants to move stuff through my space or come in and change the plumbing.....I thought I had to just put up with that until I made enough money to afford a more professional space.

It turns out a got a space similar to my current basement, with less floor space but twice as much wall space in bushwick for 2/3 of what Im paying now......amazing, and I deserve it!

Friday, November 21, 2014

I'm Not Perfect....

 I teach at the Museum of the city of New York and I recently made a mistake, and admitted it.....someone immediately said to me "I could never do that!" and we started talking and I got to thinking how I used to have a hard time admitting when I made a mistake, consequently, I had a hard time forgiving others when they made mistakes.....I realized, the bar was just too high for me and everyone else.

Now that I got a little easier on myself and can admit I make a mistake, without beating myself up.....I'm a lot easier on the people around me too....try it!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Mina 'Something' 'The fool on the hill' da 'Mina canta i Beatles' '93

Its weird to say this but, I adore MINA. Cher and Madonna are fine by me, all the other Gay Icons have probably done something I like but for some reason Mina is the diva for me. I get so much pleasure watching her performances from the 1950's up until  now. If I were ever asked who would you like to perform at your MoMA OPENING, THE ANSWER WOULD BE, OF COURSE MINA, because Ive gotten so much pleasure listening to her recordings

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Am I perfect?

It feels really uncomfortable saying  "I'm perfect" but maybe with all  my imperfections I actually am perfect. I've been tossing this idea around with a friend of mine and it still feels really odd to say it with conviction, maybe beacuse Im so much more comfortable finding fault with myself....but I'm going to try and convince myself that I'm perfect after all...

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Books In My Life

Mark Twain- The Innocents Abroad, James Baldwin - Giovanni’s Room ,  Roland Barthes - Camera Lucida, Jacqueline Susann - Valley of The Dolls, Shakespeare - The Complete Sonnets, Dante - The Divine Comedy, Patricia Highsmith - The Boy Who Followed Ripley,  Rachel Kushner - The Flamethrowers, 

I’ve always had a relationship with books and its always been changing, when I was a little kid in Minnesota I loved reading this book about a boy who lived with his single dad in a NYC apt and every evening he would have to put on a clean shirt to go down to the coffee shop for dinner with his dad, then there were the Boxcar Children books that I loved and the giant Art History book with the tipped in plates that I would lug around as a little kid to keep me company in the car as I accompanied my mom on errands.

Once I started making art in earnest as an adolescent, I had no time for books, it was always make make make, My high school art teacher, Brad Nuorola, gave me a little corner of the art room to call my studio and I was tearing through projects, jumping from one medium to the next, high school was amazing and somehow I got through it without passing Algebra or reading a single book. I’m not exaggerating, I did not read a single book in all of high school.

So when it came time for college and my Dad was pressuring me to attend his Alma Mater, The University of Minnesota, I grudgingly went for a year and got straight A’s in art and f’s and in completes in everything else. I came to NYC after my freshman year, that summer of 1981, dropped off my portfolio at Metro Pictures…and when I returned to Minnesota at the end of summer I found a letter from the University informing me that I was not welcome back… i worked as many jobs as I could, saved as much as I could then headed off with $2,000 to england, then europe and the middle east…hitchhiking, trains, youth hostels and lots of books….Mark Twain’s “The Innocents abroad” was a revelation, this most american of writers was wise and witty in his critique of american culture and most importantly, in pointing out that all we read is mediated, there is no such thing as neutrality, most especially in newspapers. I also tried reading the Koran when I was traveling through Syria, Jordan and Egypt but the people I met in those countries kept telling me you could only read the Koran in the original Arabic so I got discouraged but was blown away by the art and architecture I saw in those countries…When I can back to NYC in the summer of 1983 in addition to seeing sonic youth at White Columns, I was curious to explore another side of my sexuality, but with AIDS rearing it’s ugly head, it wasn’t a great time for exploring….I read as much as I could and Giovanni’s room by James Baldwin was the standout from that period.

To my amazement I was accepted into Columbia’s School of General Studies in the Fall of 1983 and took to Shakespeare voraciously….his way with metaphor and his meter in the sonnets made me see, for the first time that writing could be art. I took a class with the brilliant Rennaisance literature scholar Joseph Mazzeo who encouraged me to read Dante in the original Italian. Mazzeo became my mentor at Columbia and I was amazed  how deeply books could teach me about me and the life I was living. It was also then that I learned I have a touch of synesthesia….when Mazzeo discussed the concepts Dante was using in his art, I would nod my head ferociously and one day he called on me to interpret what he was talking about……I saw a yellow pyramid encircling a blue sphere and started to explain this to the class, their eyes grew wider and their stares were incredulous…….I got the idea that I might be different in ways I never knew. 

The way Dante was reinterpreting the teachings of the bible as stories of contemporary Italy was mind blowing and was what inspired me to photograph music and other non material phenomena.

When I was done at Columbia I ran away to the west coast. One day at a bookstore in Seattle I cam across Roland Barthe’s “Camera Lucida”. I had been photographing people places and things for around 10 years by that point and except for a few exceptions, photography was still at the margins of the art world. In this slim, modest book Barthe’s explained the power that photography had over him and how it worked…..I had never read such a brilliant dissertation on how one medium worked. I returned to New York and photographed voraciously.

One summer I went to a friend’s cabin in wisconson and picked up “Valley of the Dolls” I loved the campy movie but the book was something else entirely….it was about a society coming apart at the seams….it was about the upheavals of the pre hippy sixties in the US….how new it was for women to have power and how everyone was renegotiating this new landscape…it helped explain why adults seemed so shaken in the ’60’s.

In 1991 I read a review of Patricia Highsmith’s last Ripley Novel. I didn’t know it at the time but I was already familiar with Ripley. My Favorite movie “The American Friend” By Wim Wenders was based on “Ripley’s Game” so I picked up the first Ripley book I could lay my hands on and it was “The Boy  Who Followed Ripley” . This stylish, bisexual criminal lived in the south of france with his galmerous French wife and ran off to Berlin on the weekends to listen to David Bowie in gay clubs and cabarets….I read all 5 Ripley books and numerous short stories. I love her stance and point of view.

This past winter I picked up “The Flamethrowers” by Rachel Kushner so it doesn’t have the benefit of time…..but I loved this book. The protagonist is someone a lot like Donald Judd and he navigates the 1970’s soho based art world smoothly just as his relatives must create futurism in pre and post war Italy. Art is life and death to these characters and I did not want this book to end. Even though I checked it out of the library I slowly savored each page, finally paying way more in overdue fines than a new copy would have cost.

Books have scared me and caused immeasurable comfort pleasure and euphoria in me as well…..

Sunday, August 24, 2014


I just ran across this photo of me at FRIEZE art fair on QUI-STYLE working my MONITALY jacket and 20th anniversary SUPREME Tee. I' can't believe I've been shopping at that store for 20 years, they're still really nice to me there....that's loyalty


This may have been the first time I saw this artist's work, still one of my favorite Chinese artists.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Museum of The City of New York

I started working at this museum last month giving a talk, teaching visitors about New York. When I was a little kid I told my parents that "when I grow up I'm going to move to NYC and be an artist"  and that's exactly what I'm doing. With 7 solo shows under my belt and inclusion in a group show at the museum of modern art and positive reviews in the New York Times I would have to say that my life is kind of a dream come true and living in New York City is a big part of that dream so it's really fun to be working at this museum. I never would have guessed that I would enjoy standing in front of a large crowd every day and speaking to them would be so rewarding but it really is and the visitors have a lot of questions for me too, sometimes they look at me in awe and say 'What's it like to be an ARTIST in New York City???""

I realize it is kind of amazing and I love sharing my experiences. Some people recognize the building as the set of the old TV show "Gossip Girl" which I used to watch too a long time ago. So much has changed since then, all for the better.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

A Week of Pride....

My friend Philip Faustino has been posting these messages daily on Facebook

Philip is  a Sergeant First Class In The United States Army and I think he's a very wise man

I collected these and am posting them here so I can have easy acesss to them to read whenever I'm plagued by self doubt or any of the other demons that rob me or any of my friends from living full, rich lives....

Pride is when you stop hiding & pretending and start accepting & living.....

Pride is knowing that if you can't love yourself, how the HELL you gonna love somebody else...

Pride is learning to stop making excuses & stop feeling sorry for yourself

Nobody wants to be invited to your self-pity party.......God doesn't make mistakes; you are who you are for a reason - embrace it!

Pride is remembering & acknowledging those who walked the walk and fought the fight so we could live a little more comfortably today....

Pride is knowing that acceptance & tolerance is a two-way street; it goes both want to be treated fairly & equally, then that attitude needs to be reciprocated towards everyone else......

Pride is not just a Sunday afternoon parade, celebrated once a's celebrated every day, every minute, every second........learn to love yourself & be proud of WHO you are, not WHAT you are......

Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Normal Heart

I thought it was so cool that the recent HBO production of "The Normal Heart" used 2 songs from Roxy Music's "Avalon " album.....Roxy Music is the first ever band that mattered to me....when I heard "Love Is The Drug" on the radio in high school it was as if some spirit from some nether region was speaking to me gave me chills. they were the first band I ever saw live and Ive since seen them at least 3 times, same for Bryan ferry solo. The Ironic thing is that when "Avalon" was released I was living in london and they played the title track on radio constantly and I had no idea who it was. I didm't really even pay attention to it....I was so much more into punky, new wavy sounding bands so this very adult sounding album didn't register with me at first, but now.......I love it

Andres Serrano @ West 4th Street

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Living and Sustaining a Creative Life Panel Discussion at Strand Bookstore.....

What a great honor this was to be able to share my experience at Strand bookstore, thank you Sharon Louden, Unversity of Chicago press and everyone who encouraged me to come to NYC to live my dream of being an artist....

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

This is a great time to be me..

Over the last few months I was asked to participate in a panel discussion at Strand Bookstore for my contribution to "Living and sustaining a creative life", I appeared in people magazine and artnews magazine and I was photographed at Frieze art fair for a style blog and asked to donate to the Visual Aids charity auction supporting a very worthy cause. I used to feel uncomfortable listing my achievements like that but now I think it's pretty cool. I used to have to pad my resume to make it look substantial before I sent it out, now I have to edit it down because at 4 pages it's too long for most prospective employers or galleries to read through. I used to have to invent a character or persona before going on a date or an important interview, now I just stay in touch with who I really am and I always do better than I did when I was playing a character or trying to be what I supposed others wanted me to be. It's really great to be able to relax and just lean into who I am.

Artnews Reviews "Living and Sustaining..."

I'm thrilled to be In Artnews for my contribution to "Living And Sustaining A Creative Life, Thanks Sharon Louden! @LoudenStudio

Friday, April 18, 2014

People Magazine compares George W Bush's Portraits To Mine!

Wow, I never thought I'd be mentioned in people magazine, or that my name would appear in the same sentence as George W. Bush's name, but here it is! You can read the Article here. I like what I have seen of Bush's Portraits, Berlusconi and Putin especially. Here's my self portrait followed by Bush's portrait of Berlusconi

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Andrews Sisters - Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy Of Company B

This was on a compilation tape of his favorite music that my dad sent me before he passed away. It's hard to imagine that there was a time when this was radical and  parents hated this. I'm reminded too of the time when I was a little kid and and we had driven my mom to the train station as she was going away for a couple of weeks, then, my dad drove us to the department store where we were each allowed to pick out an album, I picked the Mama's and the Poppas and my dad bought them for us. Before that time there was no Rock'nroll music allowed in our household, that was a great day!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Paypal Releases The Worst App Ever....

 Around thanksgiving of last year I noticed a sign in my local coffee shop "The Bean" saying " Use your paypal app and your Lunch is free!" so I downloaded the app and I got a free lunch for a couple of weeks in a row, then paypal offered more free things as long as you used the app to pay. I got a beautiful steak at Dickson's Farm Stand in the chelsea market for free, espresso affogato, burritos, indian was too good to be true....well it did come with a catch, it only works about half of the'd be standing on line to pay and then when it was your turn, there was some glitch with the app or I hadn't signed in properly and someone from the store would have to walk me through it, or, I just wasn't showing up on their screen for some reason so I'd have to close out the app and res sign in again, or their internet was worked about half the time and the other half of the time I'd be subjected to some annoying , shameful experience. Then it got so bad that business' that were listed on the app put up signs saying "PAYPAL NOT ACCEPTED!!!" or they'd say "Our Internet is down" This happened to me the second time I went to Dickson's Farmstand Meats when a new after christmas promotion was listed on paypal. I ordered a duck leg confit to go and when I said I wanted to use the paypal app to pay, the cashier said that their internet was down. The building in which they are located "Chelsea Market" is home to many internet based businesses such as birch box etc and they are right across the street from the google building and their internet is down....hmm, that seemed a little fishy. Then other business' which were listed as having offers refused the app or I would buy something and the discount would not be applied so I'd have to spend 20 minutes on the phone with paypal and sometimes they would rectify the problem and sometimes not.......I did get a lot of great free stuff and discovered some amazing local business' my favorite discovery is "I am Coffee" at 9 St. Mark's place where they make an incredible Mochacino with hand shaved chocolate on top and it's free! As long as you use the paypal app....

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Living with a Keith Mayerson Painting

Yesterday I took down my large Keith Mayerson painting called "To Michelle" from 1999 for its yearly cleaning and I spent some time thinking about just how lucky I am to have it.  I almost didn't take it and wanted something smaller instead, but when I think of all the pleasure Ive gotten from owning this I don't know what I was thinking, why I had any hesitations....I love this painting and am so grateful that I get to live with it

The Flamethrowers

I'm really loving this book by Rachel Kushner called " The Flamethrowers" alas I am near in the end of this book and will prob finish it today. One of the characters came up with a list of possible titles for his memoirs and I found one on here I want to use for mine, they're all so good..

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Magic Continues.....

And the number one thing Im glad about is that I'm here..... in NYC. It seems like I went through a crazy period of long distance relationships....Brazil, Budapest, China. When presented with these challenges just thinking "Sure, we can make that work...." but ultimately the challenges of long distance relationships took me away from my work in my studio, my career. It was an interesting time period and I got to travel a lot which I do love, but it's nice for me to focus on being grounded and to concentrate on my career as an artist above all else.......I don't really have to follow someone to Shanghai if I want a relationship....there are plenty of interesting, single gay men in NYC

Thursday, March 27, 2014

What A Month

In the last month I've seen my two best friends get married and participated in a panel discussion Strand Book Store for "Living and Sustaining a Ceative Life". At the VIP opening for the Armory Art fair I was told by The super cool art advisor Clarissa Dalrymple that I looked "terribly smart" and NY Magazine Art Critic Jerry Saltz gave me a shout out from the podium as he was giving a talk at The New York Academy of Art...I'm feeling very grown up these days.....and I like it, I'm very glad to be living this life

Monday, March 24, 2014

I'm a Published Author

My friend Sharon Louden asked 40 of her friends to write an essay on how they pay their bills and the financial and business realities of being an artist and Ill be on a panel at Strand bookstore wednesday night peaking about it...more info here....

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Tony Feher at The Bronx Museum

You've got two more weeks to see the most beautiful exhibition in all of New York City. Tony Feher closes at the Bronx Museum of Art on February 16, for more information on the show follow this link... takes the most ordinary objects, empty glass jars for instance and fills them with colored water or marbles or collections of random cast offs and displays these in neat orderly arrangements that are anything but formal. I was reminded of that feeling I had when I was a little kid and I would discover something in my grandparents modest basement....jars of nuts and bolts say in my grandpa's wood shop and I would try and guess why this wise adult that I respected so much would save these things and I attached all kinds of meaning to these random cast offs. I felt like that over and over as I walked through these 2 rooms at the Bronx museum. Tony's an alchemist, he has the power to make me see the beauty in that which I too often take for granted. I went there on saturday afternoon shortly after I had taken a yoga class which had done for my body what this show did for my mind, calmed and stretched it and made me smile inside at the beauty that constantly surrounds us and is there for the taking, but which we soften miss.