100 Acres, Goose the Market

Indianapolis has always seemed like a surprisingly unexciting city for its size (pushing a million), even if I’m glad we live an hour away from the airport and a big-city mall, Trader Joe’s, etc.  (We’re sort of sick of the Children’s Museum, but it is very good.)  But lately the city has seemed to be looking up in various ways… We had a great little jaunt on Friday to our two new favorite places in town:

(1)  Goose the Market.  This place is sooo good.  We are dangerously obsessed with their Batali sandwich (named not for Mario but his father Armandino Batali, if you please), described by Bon Appetit, which named Goose the “top sandwich shop” in the U.S. a couple years ago, as “a standout Italian sandwich with coppa, soppressata, capocollo, provolone cheese, and tomato preserves.”  It’s a butcher/deli bar plus basement wine/beer bar plus small grocery with some nice vegetables, dried grains, and so on.  Really charming.  We did somehow manage to spend $48 on two sandwiches and what I imagined as “a few other things,” but really it’s not at all over-priced.

[photo from Helloindianapolis.com]

(2) We brought our Batalis and assorted snacks to the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s “100 Acres” Art & Nature park for a picnic.  A New York Times article describes it:

Twenty bone-shaped benches by the Dutch artist and designer Joep van Lieshout sprawl across a meadow, forming a huge human skeleton; the piece, “Funky Bones,” is meant both to evoke the remains and artifacts of the American Indians who once lived in the region and to offer a place to picnic and lounge. A terraced pier overlooking the park’s 35-acre lake and resembling a topographical map was designed by the sculptor Kendall Buster of Richmond, Va., as a perch for fishing or reading, except when the lake floods every year. All eight of the artists’ installations, which dot the park’s unruly woodlands, wetlands, meadows and lake, were conceived to handle wear and tear from people as well as nature.

“We didn’t want it to be a precious thing,” said Lisa Freiman, the museum’s curator of contemporary art and director of the park. “There are no restrictions. Whether you create them or not, people will touch and climb on the sculpture anyway.”

The girls loved the place and tore from installation/sculpture to sculpture.  By chance we visited on the weekend when a very short-term project was in place, sound artist Craig Colorusso’s Sun Boxes:

Marvel at a field of 20 solar-powered speakers, each programmed with a different loop of guitar notes, for an effect of an overlapping field of sound. The sounds of Sun Boxes have been described as both soothing and energizing, as they react to the natural fluctuations of cloudiness and sun to create an ephemeral composition. All are welcome to enter the sound environment at will during the three-day installation.

These were lovely… you could hear at least traces of the sound throughout the park, rising and falling at intervals.  It was overcast (started to rain lightly just when we were leaving) and there were a bunch of people hanging around the boxes who I assume were ready to cover them with tarps (or remove them? probably the former) if needed.

The girls had not been particularly excited about this outing, and once we were there, they kept stressing that it was “so different from what I thought.”  When I pressed them about what they thought it would be, Iris said, “like an art museum, and next to it, just some normal sculptures.”

Our plan was to go afterward to Havana Cafe which we read about in this article about Indianapolis’s ethnic food scene, but we got too tired and went home.

“Catfish” and “The Shop Around the Corner”: Opening the Envelope

We watched Catfish the other day.  It would make a good double feature with Banksy’s (fascinating) Exit Through the Gift Shop — both movies feel very of-the-moment in what they do with documentary form and what they say about 21st century mediated identity.  Catfish is hard to discuss without giving too much away.  It’s about Nev Schulman, a photographer who lives in NYC with his brother Ariel and friend Henry, and a long-distance relationship Nev develops via Facebook and email with, first, an 8 year-old girl and her mother, and then the girl’s 21 year old (or so) older sister (they all live in rural Michigan).  The young girl sees a photograph Nev had published in The New York Sun of a ballet dancer, and does a painting based on the photo which she mails to Nev.  She’s incredibly talented for such a young kid, and soon she’s sending Nev more paintings, and he’s in touch with her mother (initially as an artistic mentor for the girl), and then with her sexy older sister.  A flirtation develops, and then things start to get weird.

Apparently when it was first shown at Sundance, some accused the filmmakers (Nev and his buddies) of having faked the film — perhaps as a reaction to Exit through the Gift Shop, which is obviously faked in various ways.  I for one believe the Catfish boys, though, that it’s at least mostly legit and un-manipulated.

Coincidentally, we also watched (this one with the girls) the classic 1940 Ernst Lubitsch rom-com The Shop Around the Cornersuch a great movie.  The two films really have quite a bit in common in their portrayal of love and desire as mediated fantasy, routed through communications technologies — in this case, of course, the postal system and P.O. boxes (You’ve Got Mail is to some degree a remake, but let’s forget about that).  James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan work together in the shop, drive each other crazy, and maintain a postal/epistolary romance with what turns out to be one another.  In one great scene, Stewart goes to the cafe where his mystery love is waiting for him; he can’t bear to look, so asks his friend Ferencz (this all takes place in Budapest, btw) to peek in the window.

Ferencz: She has a little of the coloring of Klara.

Kralik (James Stewart): Klara? What, Miss Novak of the shop?

Ferencz: Now, Kralik, you must admit Klara’s a very good-looking girl.

Kralik: This is a fine time to talk about Miss Novak.

Ferencz: If you don’t like Miss Novak, I can tell you, you won’t like that girl.

Kralik: Why?

Ferencz: Because it is Miss Novak.

The imaginary object of desire now transforms into his disliked co-worker, metaphor into metonymy. Confronting the actual object of his desire is a bit like opening the holiday bonus envelope:

The boss hands you the envelope. You wonder how much is in it, and you don’t want to open it. As long as the envelope’s closed, you’re a millionaire. You keep postponing that moment and…you can’t postpone it forever.

Kralik, having peeked through the glass window of the cafe, has opened the envelope, and it takes him a while to reconcile what he sees in it with what he had imagined.  For Klara, for most of the rest of the movie, the envelope remains sealed.  There’s a running trope about “counterfeiting” and authenticity: “You don’t have to tell me that it’s imitation leather. I know that.”  (No one wants to be the dupe who mistakes the fake for the real.)  Or: “Are those real diamonds?” “They’re pretty near.”  This as Kralik puts the necklace on Klara, supposedly as a trial run for his actual girlfriend.  The idea of a “real” diamond suggests an escape from fantasy and mediation: fulfilled love as a transcendence of imitation and role-playing.  But of course the movie shows that desire is all of those things.  There is no “real” or authenticity that can rise above fantasy, just a “pretty near” matching up of desire with physical/bodily reality.

Reading books or newspapers offers another version of what Klara and Kralik had found in their epistolary relationships.  It’s Bovaryism, desire as mediated escapism:

Here’s another emblematic shot: Klara and Kralik are together in her bedroom. He’s come to visit her because she missed work, not physically sick so much as heartbroken (hard to keep the physical and the imaginative/psychic distinct).  He’s there with her — notice he is almost touching her — but is she in bed with him?  Yes and no: she’s there with his letter, which she reads to him, not understanding the circularity of this performance.  There’s a weird combination of all-saturating eroticism here along with chastity, in that she (at this point) has less than no interest in the physical Kralik.

In Catfish this all plays out through Facebook rather than mail, but with a comparable mix of misdirection, role-playing, and a sense that desire becomes revealed as a fantasy world of projection and invention.  There are matching shots: in Catfish, of the Facebook page as a new message pops up; in Lubitch’s film, of the actual P.O. box through which once or twice we actually glimpse Klara as she peers, looking for a new letter.  As befits a contemporary version of Lubitsch’s scenario, though, in Catfish the inventions manifest themselves less in words than in visual images (paintings, photographs, and especially Facebook images) and sounds (there are some interesting counterfeit singer-songwriter performances).

Some reviewers have found some condescension in the way the geography of Catfish plays out: the savvy but trusting professional-class boys from NYC head to the heart of rural, working-class Midwestern darkness where they find lies, invention, and a shamefully uncontrolled fantasy.  Nev moves, in a sense, from the media and the internet as we might like them to be today — facilitators of talents and emotional connections that can move swiftly across time and space, enabling new networks and expressions — to the media as they may in fact be: murky pools of potential deceit, role-playing, and solipsism.  (Although in the end, especially if you watch the DVD extra interview, the movie feels surprisingly sweet, I though.)

Catfish is all about what happens when Nev opens the envelope.

Kenneth Anger at the IU Cinema

I’ve been looking forward to Kenneth Anger‘s visit to the IU Cinema for quite a while.  The 300 tickets for the evening showing of some of his films sold out at least a month ago, so I was not the only one.  My understanding of Anger was actually pretty received and second-hand.  I own his scurrilous early-Hollywood tell-all history Hollywood Babylon (first published in France in 1959; the version I have is the 1970s one that sold 2 million copies, I believe) but had never seen full versions of any of his films.

The evening showing included two of his most famous, 1947’s Fireworks and 1964’s Scorpio Rising, along with a few very recent short films.

Fireworks is quite amazing.   It’s actually difficult to imagine it being made at that date.  It’s a 15-minute fantasia in which a good-looking young man played by the 19 or 20 year old Anger dallies with and is beaten up by some buff, muscle-flexing sailors.  Blood spurts out of Anger’s nose and milk pours on his head; it culminates with the fiery explosion of a Roman Candle sticking out of a sailor’s crotch.  Anger says he was influenced by early-cinema pioneers like the Lumiere brothers and Melies; it’s easy to see the influence Fireworks must have had on David Lynch and queer cinema of the 1980s and 1990s by Gus Van Sant and others.

Scorpio Rising seems similarly way ahead of its time.  Anger himself has aptly described it as “a death mirror held up to American culture… Thanatos in chrome, black leather, and bursting jeans.”  Biker dudes caressing their motorcycles, reading comic strips, petting a Siamese kitty, buckling their leather jackets and slipping into leather boots.  Death’s heads, Nazi insignia, and grim reapers.  Pop songs of the moment:  “Blue Velvet” by Bobby Vinton, “Torture” by Kris Jensen and “I Will Follow Him” by Little Peggy March.  And “Wipeout” for the inevitable fiery crash.  David Lynch must have been inspired by Anger’s use of “Blue Velvet.” I believe Anger invented the jarring juxtaposition of cheerful, peppy pop songs with scenes of violence that directors like Martin Scorsese (who’s said he’s a fan of Anger’s) made so much a part of their method; there’s no question that Scorsese’s use of pop songs in Mean Streets had to be directly influenced by this movie.

We went (with our visiting friend Jane) to see Anger’s afternoon talk as well as the evening show, which also featured a Q&A.  Not sure we really had to go to both.  Anger was for the most part very unreflective about his work, sometimes almost hilariously so.  One example: someone asked a question about the origins of Fireworks.  Anger told a story about the 1943 Zoot Suit Riots in L.A. when sailors beat up zoot-suit-wearing Latinos, explaining that it was the inspiration for the movie.  OK, fair enough, but someone followed up to ask, “could you say a little more about how those events turned into this film?”  Anger basically had nothing more to say other than that it was based on a dream he had in which he the one beaten up by the sailors, and that he considers it to be an anti-war film.  In the two hours or so of on-stage discussion I saw, he had almost nothing to say about the homoeroticism of his films (though to be fair, he was asked very little about this directly) nor about their formal innovation and experimentation.  From his conversation, you might never guess that his movies were anything but fairly straight-forward narratives.  He seemed mostly interested in technical issues about the camera and film stock, and about his continual difficulties in finding funding.  (He’s never made a feature film, despite various efforts.)  Another example, when someone asked him about his ground-breaking use of sound and music in Scorpio Rising, his answer was something like, “well, those were the songs that were popular on the radio that summer.”

One funny thing happened.  In the Q&A he mentioned that he had been going to show three recent films, but that the IU Cinema director Jon Vickers (who was standing right there) had told him one of them was too racy for the “mixed audience.”  Anger implied that the film had one “explicit” scene as seen through a peephole, but that it was fairly tame.  Someone pressed him about this — the audience was not happy –and finally Vickers took the mike and explained that since the audience had not been warned about very explicit content, he had not wanted to spring this one on us.  He suggested that after the Q&A, there would be a brief break allowing anyone who wanted to leave to do so, and then the movie would be shown.

It was 9 p.m. and I was starving and sort of wanted to go eat dinner, but of course we could not be the prudes to get up and leave at that point!

The movie turned out to be, basically, a little piece of arty porn featuring closeups of some kind of wealthy industrialist receiving fallatio from his bodyguard while another titillated guard watches on a surveillance camera.  This to the soundtrack of the Police’s “I’ll Be Watching You.”  Pretty lame, actually — and definitely pornographic, so I felt kind of sympathetic to Vickers’ actions (after all, this is a public institution in Southern Indiana and you don’t necessarily want to get the attention of Republicans in state government), even though he came off initially as the bluestocking censor.

Despite Angers’ generally low-affect tone, his affection for the Kinsey Institute came through clearly.  He told a neat story about how he met Alfred Kinsey in the late 1940s, who turned up at an early showing of Fireworks and asked Anger if he could purchase it for the Kinsey collection.  Anger said, sure, you can have the reel we just watched, so they made the transaction on the spot, and Anger later (in the early 50s) visited Bloomington and did interviews with Kinsey.

Montreal: Bagels, Otto Dix

So, I am not going to write about my entire trip to Montreal now, just two details.

  • Montreal Bagels.  I learned about the Montreal Bagel phenomenon a month or two ago when I read a review of a new “Montreal-style” bagel place in NYC.  Hmm, cannot seem to find that review now but here is a 2009 article about Montreal vs NYC bagels.  We were at a gathering in the Mile End neighborhood and our host Jesse said we could get some at midnight nearby.  I think he recommended Fairmount but we accidentally ended up at St. Viateur instead (I believe they’re within a block or so of one another).  We got a dozen, all four of us had one fresh from the brick oven, and then John and I had the rest for snacking in our hotel room.  I have to say, in some ways it feels that the Montreal bagel is simply a bad, imitation bagel: not boiled but baked, and a bit sweet, it has some qualities in common with a generic mass-produced bagel from Einstein Brothers or the like.  And yet, I did really like the St. Viateur bagel.  It’s thinner, sesame (for some reason sesame is the standard; St. Viateur said they order some absurdly large amount of sesame seeds per day, I forget the amount), and straight from the oven it was really delicious; not very sweet but with a hint of pastry taste.
  • Otto Dix show at the museum.  This blew me away, especially the Der Kreig [War] series of prints he made in response to his experience in the trenches in WWI, modeled after Goya’s “Disasters of War” series.  These are devastating and just amazing.  A body in pieces found in the ground; soldiers in various scenes with prostitutes; wounded soldiers with faces distorted and ravaged; soldiers advancing in gas masks looking like frightening ghosts; a soldier in the trenches eating a meal, oblivious to the skeleton next to him.

The show has the complete set (I think?) on display and it was amazing to walk through the entire sequence.  The sections of his work on prostitutes and “sex murders” were also gripping and quite disturbing.  Especially creepy was one painting of Dix himself walking in a predatory manner after a prostitute.

After 1933 he moved to a house on a lake and of necessity began focusing on landscapes and other less confrontational or challenging kinds of work.  I found those paintings sad, because not very interesting to me; they felt entirely compromised, although maybe there are other ways to think about them.


Today’s project was making valentines for school (classmates and teachers).  I gave them a big pep talk about how much better homemade ones are — they seemed to buy it.

Target was predictably disappointing.  There’s a whole section of the store now dedicated to Valentine’s Day stuff, but no colored construction paper to be found anywhere.  It’s as if they’re actively hostile to the idea of someone making their own.  We bought some overpriced glitter and went to Dollar Tree, which had good paper for $1 a package, also various stickers and other decorations.  (There are girl stickers — hearts, unicorns — and boy stickers, cars and trucks; I made only the most half-hearted, because so obviously doomed, effort to question this opposition.)

They spent much of the afternoon creating these.

Pretty great, I think.  We also spent some of this weekend painting their bedroom pink, so all in all the household has become significantly more girly.  Out tonight someone observed that I had a single shiny glitter on my left cheek.

Oh, by the way, as we were walking into Target Iris told me that from a nature documentary they watched with mommy they learned about how you shouldn’t leave lights on when you don’t need them: “because if you leave a light on for too long, it makes it easier for the polar bears to catch the penguins.”

Funerals and Bis Poles

I hadn’t been to one in several years, but this week I went to funerals on Friday and Saturday nights: Friday night here in town, a colleague who was murdered, Saturday night in NYC, a relative, younger than me, who died suddenly.  It was very weird to be in that funeral space, literally and psychologically, twice in two nights.  (Sorry to my friends whom I didn’t have a chance to see in NYC — it was a quick and sudden trip.)

On Sunday morning I was up and had two hours before a family brunch on the upper East Side, and since I noticed that the Met opened at 9:30, I headed over there.  I didn’t have an urge to see modern art, but headed first to the Ancient Greek and Rome wing and the the sarcophagi, or “flesh eaters,” the name referring to the limestone that was thought to dissolve the flesh of the corpses laid within it.  In the mood I was in, all of the artifacts seemed death-obsessed, and I was thinking about how so much human creativity is dedicated to memorializing, commemorating, representing, and in these cases, even literally storing or housing the dead.

I wandered into the new wing of arts of Oceana, e.g.. the Pacific Islands.  I was floored by a lot of the art on display here, particular these Ancestor (Bis) Poles and canoes.

This is one of at least 6 or 7 displayed in a row.

The Asmat honored their dead with feasts and rituals, which both commemorated the deceased and reminded the living to avenge their deaths. The towering Asmat “bis” poles were made for these funeral feasts. The basic form of the bis is an openwork pole incorporating several ancestor figures and a winglike projection that represents the pole’s phallus.

In Asmat belief, no death was accidental. Each death was always caused by an enemy, either through headhunting raids or sorcery. Death created an imbalance in society, which the living had to correct by taking an enemy head. When a village had suffered a number of deaths, it would hold a bis ceremony, which consisted of a series of feasts held over several months. A number of bis poles were carved for the ceremony and displayed in front of the men’s house, where they formed the center of a mock battle between men and women. The poles were kept until a successful headhunt had been carried out and the balance restored. After a final feast, the Asmat abandoned the bis poles in the sago palm groves from which they obtained their primary food. As the poles decayed, their fertile supernatural power seeped into the earth and fertilized the sago trees.

I found these spectacular, deeply strange in form, intention, ideology, and belief system, and with a vertiginous sense of near-flight in the jutting of the inverted figures on top so boldly out into space.  There are the familiar ironies of these ritual objects, the entire raison d’etre of which depended on their instrumental use, ephemerality, and eventual decaying in the sago tree groves, lavishly displayed in the museum as art objects.  And the ideas about death, revenge, vital powers, aesthetic expression — all struck me as thrillingly alien.

The bis poles are upside-down sago trees — the phallic projection is created out of the roots of the trees.  A pole is a natural object taken from nature, aesthetically reshaped, inverted and placed back in the grove of trees once again to decay.  “Inversion” seems one of the primary gestures of these artworks: upside down men and trees, sticking up in displays of force.

They seem to be something like death clocks?  Until the death is avenged, they stand as a monument and a reminder of the revenge that must follow.  Once that occurs, they’re returned to the forest.

I’m not saying I think we should adopt the custom, but as funereal artifacts, the sarcophagi and bis poles seem more aesthetically and spiritually satisfying than the rites and objects we tend to come up with.  I was charged with making an ipod playlist to broadcast after the ceremony, which can’t exactly match up to the Bis Poles when it comes to ritual closure (although Marion Williams singing “I’ll Fly Away” and John Coltrane’s “Naima” are nothing to sneeze at for sorrow and grandeur, either).

At one of these funerals, a close friend of the deceased had made 1000 multi-colored paper origami cranes, which were displayed on the stage as people spoke: that was lovely, and did seem to tap into some vein of pre-modern death ritual.

Maybe what I find appealing, in theory if not in practice, is the idea that every death is caused by an enemy: someone to blame definitively, and something to do about it; no accidental deaths.

Posted in art


Saw an interesting lecture today by a writer/cultural historian named Rachel Poliquin about the history of taxidermy and its legacy in contemporary art.  She’s curated an exhibit that just opened in Vancouver, where the museum has had sitting in its basement a collection of old taxidermy that no one wanted to see for 50 years.  So Poliquin got a grant to refurbish and re-purpose this creepy, abandoned old collection.

She didn’t mention the fact, but could’ve, that the most famous symbol of the excesses of contemporary conceptual art and the art market is Damien Hirst’s “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living,” a taxidermy tiger shark preserved in a tank.  It’s interesting that this is so, that an art-form (or whatever it is) so strongly associated with archaic old Victorian practices became the signature of 21st century conceptual art.

One of Poliquin’s points I especially liked was that a shoe or an upholstered arm-chair is, essentially, taxidermy.  Abstract taxidermy, maybe.  We make a lot of things out of animal skins.  When they look enough like animals, we call them taxidermy.

What kind of sign is a taxidermy animal?  Is it indexical, iconic?  A taxidermy fox is often taken to represent the fox species, and so is an iconic sign of the larger group and concept.  But it is also indexical, a representation of the individual animal that it was.  In fact it is presented not as a sign but as the thing itself.

Here’s a bit of the handiwork of my favorite taxidermist, the Victorian Walter Potter:


I’m looking forward to Rachel Poliquin’s book Taxidermy and Longing which will supposed be published by Harvard UP in 2010.  Here’s her website.

Asterios Polyp


Strongly recommend this new graphic novel, David Mazzucchelli’s Asterios Polyp.  It’s being hailed as a landmark of the genre, and I agree — it strikes me as among the best graphic novels I’ve read, along with the likes of Maus, Charles Burns’ Black Hole, Ghost World, Persepolis, Jimmy Corrigan, and I’m not sure what else (I’ve never gotten too into the neo-superhero stuff like Watchmen).

Mazzucchelli got a BFA at RISD and became a successful comics artist at Marvel Comics in the 1980s, then started doing non-superhero stuff, like the graphic novel version of Paul Auster’s City of Glass.  He’s apparently being working on Asterios Polyp for a decade.  Here’s the NY Times review, which dubs the book “a big, proud, ambitious chunk of a graphic novel, with modernism on its mind and a perfectly geometrical chip on its shoulder” and “a dazzling, expertly constructed entertainment.”

It’s a novel of academia, in part; Asterios Polyp is a famous “paper architect” and professor at Cornell who’s become famous for designs that are never actually built.  The story is told in circular, recursive cycles with a bit of a film noir type set-up: we begin with the collapse of Asterios’ elite life and his fall into impoverished obscurity, and then re-trace the steps that led him there.  These include his marriage to a shy, talented sculptor who feels overwhelmed by him (until her own success begins to threaten him), his obsessive-compulsive behaviors and deeply ingrained intellectual snobbism.  As with any really successful graphic novel, the art is thoroughly embedded in the story and vice versa; in this case the art is quite spectacular and even show-offy — it definitely repays close scrutiny and multiple readings, with different characters, plots, and time frames all given their own distinct styles.  (It probably reminds me most of Chris Ware’s work in the brilliantly fussy/minute attention to graphic design and the interest in retro and recherche 40s-50s style; kind of amazing that Mazzucchelli worked for years on Daredevil, although in fact I’m sure doing comics for Marvel was ideal training for this).

Perfect Game Paintings

In all the to-do about Mark Buehle of the White Sox’s perfect game (assisted by Dewayne Wise’s amazing 9th-inning catch), I was amused by one detail.  It’s apparently traditional for the pitcher of a perfect game to treat or honor his teammates in some way:

Buehrle is ordering special wine bottles for all of the White Sox, but [Dewayne] Wise and the catcher, Ramon Castro, will get something extra. Both will receive an original painting of their roles in the game, a work of art to commemorate the masterpiece Wise made possible.

Nice to see fine art painting playing a prominent role in this kind of story.

May I make one suggestion as to the painter — how about Juliana Hatfield?

I’d be curious to learn what painter gets this gig in the end.

Jello Sculpture Art or Not?


Sarah discovered this t.v. show Art or Not? which is on the Ovation channel, whatever that is.

It’s entertaining, although there’s something about the premise that is a little bit corny — I mean, the question isn’t really whether the jello sculpture, say, is art (what else would it be?), but whether it’s crappy art or at all smart/interesting.  Each episode features some contemporary artist and then a few responses to the work by critics, art professionals, and ordinary joe types.  Most of the commentators are blandly positive: “conceptually, the jello sculpture makes a really interesting statement…”  What makes the show is this guy Matt Gleason who is amusingly mean and biting with a kind of Michiko Kukatani flair for the crushing one-liner.  On Shepard Fairey, for example, creator of the Andre the Giant icon and, recently, one of the better-known Obama posters (which we actually have on our wall): “he’s a brand promoter… At the end of the day, it’s a very empty experience.”

Gleason is the (an?) editor of the Coagula Art Journal which on a quick perusal seems really good.

I’m sure Gleason is very conservative about the contemporary art scene and perhaps unfairly prejudiced against certain kinds of conceptual art, but it’s just fun to encounter a strong-willed critic who has a forceful P.O.V. and is not afraid to call out work he finds empty or vacuous.  This drives me crazy about a lot of contemporary art criticism (what little I see of it), its tendency towards bland description as a norm.

I’ll also point out that Gleason was a big fan of the tattoo artist they had on the show, so it’s not as if he’s only into oil painting or whatever.  This is an excerpt from the Shepard Fairey episode of the show: