Sunday, August 19, 2012

Where Copying Enhances Creativity. . .

Conventional wisdom holds that copying kills creativity, and that laws that protect against copies are essential to innovation and economic success. But are copyrights and patents always necessary? Kal Raustiala and Christopher Sprigman approach the question of incentives and innovation in a wholly new way in The Knockoff Economy — by exploring creative fields where copying is generally legal, such as fashion, food, and even professional football. h/t: Oxford University Press blog.

Drawing Never Dies, Robert Hughes

No. 163, Nancy Charak, artist, 22"x30", pencil on 90# black Stonehenge.
Here are excerpts from the late art critic Robert Hughes' address to the London Royal Academy in 2004.

"In the 45 years that I've been writing criticism there has been a tragic depreciation in the traditional skills of painting and drawing, the nuts and bolts of the profession. In part it has been caused by the assumption that photography and its cognate media—film and TV—tell the most truth about the visual. It's not true. The camera, if it's lucky, may tell a different truth to drawing, but not a truer one. Drawing brings us into a different, a deeper and more fully experienced relation to to the object. A good drawing says “not so fast, buster”. We have had a gut full of fast art and fast food. What we need more of is slow art: art that holds time as a vase holds water; art that grows out of modes of perception and making, whose skill and doggedness makes you think and feel; art that isn't merely sensational, that doesn't get its message across in seconds, that isn't falsely iconic, that hooks onto something deep-running in our nature. In a word, art is the very opposite of mass media. For no spiritually authentic art can beat mass media at their own game.

". . . A quarter of a millennium later, things are different. But drawing never dies, it holds on by the skin of its teeth, because the hunger it satisfies—the desire for an active, investigative, manually vivid relation with the things we see and yearn to know about—is apparently immortal."

Hanky-Panky with Neanderthals Under the Palms?

Hanky panky under the palms, at the back of the cave, the back seat of the. . . .ooops, went too far on that.


Studio Space to Share Chicago

Studio Space At Cornelia to Share!

Two painters who share a wonderful space at the Cornelia Arts Building (“CAB”) are looking for a painter to share with us. The CAB is at 1800 W. Cornelia, one block south of Addison at Ravenswood, close to the EL with decent parking. The studio is on the second floor, good light from two north facing windows, good ventilation, 24/7 access and wi-fi. The CAB has about 40 working artists in many disciplines, 3 to 5 well attended open houses per year, a blog, a website, and an expanding reputation in the Chicago arts world. $200 per month. Email Nancy Charak at

Saturday, August 18, 2012

My First Internet

My first internet connection pre-dates the WWW; I dialed up the university library through the special menu on the screen, waited for a high pitched screeech that was the two machines connecting with each other, and then tree driven menus appeared necessitating going up and down the various tree limbs to find what you were looking for, because there was no search function, or at least one that wasn't so geek that only a high level programmer would know the code to do it. And, because it was communicating through what we now so charmingly call a "land line," it took time and money because that's the way it used to be, expensive and slow. So I logged on at night, the later the better, the later the cheaper.

Putin v. Pussy Riot

How many times does one get to headline a blog with that, eh? Here's what the kerfuffle is about. h/t to Annie Laurie at Balloon Juice.

... Pussy Riot has no formal membership, tries to operate anonymously, and cites the riot grrrl movement as inspiration. According to a member of the collective: “We developed what they did in the 1990s, although in an absolutely different context and with an exaggerated political stance, which leads to all of our performances being illegal—we’ll never gig in a club or special musical space.”...

Here's a timeline....these gals took on not only Putin's (which rhymes with Rasputin's) sacred cow, they did it in an active Russian Orthodox cathedral. Can we call both of those sacred bears?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Sharon Swidler at Woman Made Gallery

Scarlet Tanager, Sharon Swidler, artist

Sharon Swidler's painting, "Scarlet Tanager" is included in Woman Made Gallery's upcoming exhibit "Inspired By: Celebrating Illinois Women Artists".

Opening Reception: August 24, 6-9 pm
Exhibit Dates: August 24, 2012-September 27, 2012
Woman Made Gallery
685 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL. 60642

Nancy Charak Caffeine VI Exhibit!

Nancy Charak exhibiting with other fine artists of the Artists' Breakfast Group in the Caffeine VI at the Greenleaf Art Center.

Opening reception Sunday, September 9, 1 to 4 pm.
Exhibit runs from September 9 through October 6, 2012
Greenleaf Art Center
1806 W. Greenleaf

Artists' Breakfast Group blogspot,

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Artist of the Day: J.M.W. Turner

The Houses of Parliament burned in 1834, J.M.W. Turner hired a boat and made sketches.

Beer Cave versus The Pantheon

In an earlier post, I wrote that I wanted very much on my next vacation to visit The Pantheon in Rome. However, after reading this post from Edible Geography and watching the video fly through the beer cave in Nottingham, England, I'm rethinking this seriously.

Quote: "Malting is the process by which barley is germinated and dried, in order to prepare it for the next stage in beer-making: fermentation. There are nearly thirty malting caves under Nottingham, each with a well and soaking vat of some sort, a larger germination room, on whose sloping floor the wet barley would be spread and allowed to sprout, and a roughly spherical kiln room, in which the grain was roasted."

I'm squinchy about caves, but I really want to see these places.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Must Be Shared Category

That's it, that's all I got, but it's good.

Exhibiting at OpenWall Chicago!

Exhibiting at OpenWall, at Alderman Ameya Pawar's 47th Ward Office, 4243 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60618.
Opening Reception Friday, August 17, 2012, 6 to 8pm
The exhibits runs until September 21, 2012.

Robots, Ctd.

To continue a continuing thread, robots! I'm fascinated by robots as imagined by artist Kathy Weaver, by robots as engineered by NASA like Curiosity and Voyager that are flung out into the heavens and these guys. Thanks to Andrew Sullivan, who is as fascinated as I am.

The term robot was introduced to the public by the Czech interwar writer Karel ńĆapek in his play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots), published in 1920.[39] [h/t Wikipedia].

I add that the legend of the golem also comes from Prague and the Czech lands. The Sefer Yezirah ("Book of Creation"), often referred to as a guide to magical usage by some Western European Jews in the Middle Ages, contains instructions on how to make a golem. Several rabbis, in their commentaries on Sefer Yezirah have come up with different understandings of the directions on how to make a golem. Most versions include shaping the golem into a figure resembling a human being and using God's name to bring him to life, since God is the ultimate creator of life. Often in Ashkenazi Hasidic lore, the golem would come to life and serve his creators by doing tasks assigned to him. The most well-known story of the golem is connected to Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel, the Maharal of Prague (1513-1609).  [h/t Jewish Virtual Library]

Monday, August 6, 2012

Bower Birds and Curiosity

Our species needs some remodeling. Yesterday Curiosity landed safely on Mars, a wondrous human achievement. Yesterday I had dinner with artist friends, and I marveled at how art ennobles our lives. Yesterday a racist asshole walked into a house of worship and killed six people for no fucking reason other than that he wanted assistance in committing suicide and he had the arms and ammunition to do it.

Bowerbirds make art; it's nice to begin to think that other species have this impulse.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Curiosity on Mars!

Teddy Bears and Mathias Rust, Common Ground

Studio Total via EPA
The teddy bears — 879 of them — landing by parachute in a residential area in Minsk, Belarus, on July 4, the country's Independence Day.
What do teddy bears and Mathias Rust have in common? They both got generals fired. To put a little detail out there, on July 4, 2012 (coincidentally, Belarus's independence day) a human rights group from Sweden in a light plane flew over Minsk and dropped 879 teddy bears, which carried pro-democracy messages. In response the strongman of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko fired the generals in charge of air defense and border patrol.

Mathias Rust was a German teenager who on June 1, 1968, flew a rented Cessna from Finland to Red Square. His original plan was to land inside the Kremlin, but he wisely realized that landing there could lead to immediate arrest and disappearance. Rust's violation of what was then Soviet airspace led to the firing of many senior officers, including Defence Minister Marshal of the Soviet Union Sergei Sokolov and the head of the Soviet Air Defense, former World War II fighter ace pilot Chief Marshal Alexander Koldunov. (h/t Wikipedia).

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Friday, August 3, 2012

Sacred Spaces, Ctd.

Louvre, Paris, April 2011, my on-going fascination with watching people looking at art.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Artist of the Day: Paul Delvaux

I grew up in the Art Institute of Chicago and the Field Museum. I'll write about my Field Museum experience in another post. The Belgian artist Paul Delvaux is one of my favorites, which is strange to me because in general the Surrealists mostly leave me cold but there is a haunting, ambiguous eroticism in Delvaux's work that has always mystified and enchanted me.
Paul Delvaux, artist
Paul Delvaux, artist
Paul Delvaux, artist, The Village of the Mermaids

Here's a reference to Delvaux's The Village of the Mermaids, which I used to stare at, seemingly for hours, a poem by Lisel Mueller.

I still don't know what to make of those strange doe eyed mostly naked women wandering ethereally, that's a word isn't it, ethereally, in sylvan glades, ruins, near oceans. with strange clothed men looking on and walking away. I should add that the Mermaids painting disappeared from view for a number of years while the Modern Wing of the Art Institute was being built. When I saw the painting again after some number of years, it was like seeing an old friend.

Paul Delvaux: The Village of the Mermaids
Oil on canvas, 1942
Lisel Mueller

Who is that man in black, walking
away from us into the distance?
The painter, they say, took a long time
finding his vision of the world.
The mermaids, if that is what they are
under their full-length skirts,
sit facing each other
all down the street, more of an alley,
in front of their gray row houses.
They all look the same, like a fair-haired
order of nuns, or like prostitutes
with chaste, identical faces.
How calm they are, with their vacant eyes,
their hands in laps that betray nothing.
Only one has scales on her dusky dress.
It is 1942; it is Europe,
and nothing fits. The one familiar figure
is the man in black approaching the sea,
and he is small and walking away from us.

Rarely Seen Contemporary Works on Paper

Romare Bearden, The Return of Odysseus, collage
As an artist who is most comfortable working on paper, I always enjoy looking at prints and drawings by the biggies. Often it provides a window, not merely into process, but into the playful mind of the artist, in a way that the importance and stolidity of a canvas cannot always evince. So I took myself to the Art Institute of Chicago to see Rarely Seen Contemporary Works on Paper.

In particular I noted the work of Susan Hettmansperger, Kara Walker, a stunning Romare Bearden collage, "The Return of Odysseus," and Caroll Dunham. There is a work by George Atkinson, "Illinois Skyscape No. 22," that defies categorization as it is pastel rendered so finely that it looks like photo-realism. I took in the paper works of Julia Fish and Martin Kippenberger's hotel stationery series. Nice to note that Chicago and Illinois artists in addition to the "Hairy Who" were put on exhibit.

The Bearden work is one of a "suite of twenty watercolors, originally conceived as collages, Bearden reinterprets scenes from Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey. With great attention to composition, color, and clarity, Bearden skillfully renders the fantastical and sometimes frightening characters and obstacles that the hero, Odysseus, must overcome to find his way home to Ithaca after the Fall of Troy. The idea of journeying, whether by land or sea, by railroad or ship, is one that translates across cultures and across time. Bearden’s portrayal ofThe Odyssey through a cast entirely composed of black figures illustrates the historical continuity between the ancient struggle of finding one’s home and contemporary African American life."

"In choosing to portray a character such as Odysseus, the quintessential traveler in perpetual search for home, Bearden invokes multiple associations with his own personal history and the Great Migration of African Americans within this country, as well as the colonial history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade that displaced millions and Africans between the sixteenth- and nineteenth-centuries." Quote Source.

Romare Bearden, The Return of Odysseus, Art Institute of Chicago

Europa and the Bull: Jacques Lipchitz

Europa and the Bull is one of the oldest myths in our known oral history. There are obvious sexual implications as bulls are emblematic of virility and supreme male power. Here are two sculptures by Jacques Lipchitz, one in the University of Arizona Museum of Art, and the other in the Art Institute of Chicago. Here's a link to the Lipchitz work in Chicago.

To quote Peter Dawkins: "The myth relates how Zeus fell in love with the beautiful Europa and took on the form of a magnificent white bull in order to win her attention and affection. She subsequently fell in love with him, placed garlands around his neck and climbed onto his mighty shoulders. Zeus promptly took off with her, flying across the dark ocean of the universe to the Earth, where they came to rest in a secret place and made love. The result of their union was the birth of Hermes (Mercury)."
Europa and the Bull, Jacques Lipchitz, Art Institute of Chicago
Europa and the Bull, Jacques Lipchitz, University of Arizona Museum of Art