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Jerry Saltz‘s Facebook page is a world unto itself. With as many “friends” as the Facebook Police will allow, Jerry regularly posts provocative questions that spark conversations that can go on for days, garnering responses from hundreds of artists of every age and stripe. What began as an experiment quickly took on a life of its own, a phenom that Jerry has described as a bit like being in a room with 5,000 people, all of them discussing art.

I am fascinated by the passionate and very public tussling that goes on in Jerryland. Rather than jumping into the fray, I usually go with the lurker stance. Some artists excel and thrive at real time art languaging. I need to mull, to contemplate, to sit quietly with ideas. I love that process, but it doesn’t happen instantaneously. After all, this blog was named Slow Muse for a reason.

One of the most recent topics on Jerry’s page was about the Wade Guyton show at the Whitney Museum. For those of you who are not familiar with his work, here is Roberta Smith‘s overview from her glowing review in the New York Times:

Like many artists Mr. Guyton, who is 40, is both a radical and a traditionalist who breaks the mold but pieces it back together in a different configuration. He is best known for austere, glamorous paintings that have about them a quiet poetry even though devised using a computer, scanner and printer. The show is titled “Wade Guyton: OS,” referring to computer operating systems.

Uninterested in drawing by hand, much less in wielding a paintbrush, he describes himself as someone who makes paintings but does not consider himself a painter…

While clearly not made by hand, his works are noticeably imperfect. The paintings in particular clearly tax the equipment that generates them; they emerge with glitches and irregularities — skids, skips, smears or stutters — that record the process of their own making, stress the almost human fallibility of machines and provide a semblance of pictorial incident and life.

The line between what the artist has chosen and what technology has willed is constantly blurred.

So earlier this week Jerry posted this statement on his Facebook page:

Last week some of you claimed that Wade Guyton’s paintings aren’t paintings. Some called them “prints” or “mono-types” or other things. Some said they’re not art at all because “he doesn’t touch them.” (In fact he’s perpetually tending & tugging the linen as it comes out of the printer.) In regards to categories like painting: Dislocations, adjustments, ruptures, and expansions are always happening. Always have. Always will. Let go of the neatness of identification (see Plato’s Cave). Painting doesn’t need anyone’s protection. Like love, let painting do what it does. Or not.

Particularly for those of us who are painters, these are topics that open floodgates of strong opinions that surge and churn. As of this post, there were 788 comments on Jerry’s page. I haven’t read them all, but here are a few that stood out for me.

***

I like them. they’re less about paint and “touch” of the hand and more about touch of the mind. how the mind puts things together, relates one image or memory to another. the troublesome aspect could be how impersonal they are. but i’m thinking he’s managing to avoid falling off the wagon entirely. the saving grace is in his choices of mashups. they do feel personal to me because…he manages to capture a mood and THAT touches me. his work is a flat tragedy of too much to bear.

Jennifer Wynne Reeves

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If I were able to live for 1 million yrs. I probably would still be using my hands to make my work–with a medium that is organic like paper and pigment. But, I would still appreciate having other artists use the most current technology to make THEIR work so I could look at it and feel more of who I am–and go for that with every thread of myself…call me Wilma Flintstone–It’s okay with me.

Kyle Gallup

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I could give a fuck if they are paintings or whatever, but are they good and why are always my questions. And the first? The best? Eff that shit too. Do they open the world and excite my brain? I don’t care about anything else. It is only empty dialog. New materials always find a way to present new cases, if you think about it. That is what is cool about technology and even paint has advanced if you think about how many different mediums there are now.

Alan Van Every

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I know you want a cease and desist from all dead-enders fighting for what painting is. However, you were correct to identify the label as political. This summer, you took offense to Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, claiming she “crowed that her Documenta would have ‘not much painting’.” You went on to say that Carolyn “seems hostile to art’s old unruly cave creature, painting.” Not coincidentally, she is crowned this years most powerful person in the art world. As ridiculous as the Power100 list is, your fight for painting in Documenta 13 might just as easily have put you in the ranks of a dead-end-last–war fighter too.

Aaron Holz

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Soul and a good brain connected to a good pair of eyes is the most important thing. The tools come later – to serve, not lead. Guyton’s stuff is too art-about-art for me.

If that sounds schizo, it is. BTW, Did anyone here read through the super-schizo 500-page 50th Anniversary Issue of ARTFORUM – Art’s New Media? I quote from it: “Media resist unification. They resist ontology. They are much like art. And art, we might say, is always becoming media.” — Michelle Kuo, editor, ARTFORUM, September, 2012. Perhaps as a result of reading this mass of conflicting information and opinion the takeaway was to forget such tired dialectical distinctions as analog/digital. Just look, listen, read, feel, enjoy, ponder, move and theorize with sensetive intelligence and without boundaries.

Joseph Nechvatal

***

Wade Guyton looks to me to be a really interesting twist on contemporary printmaking. But why the attempt to conflate his effort -or even describe it simply as painting -I am not directing this particularly at Jerry who could be simply reporting here as this is an ongoing effort with art world heavyweights the likes of Ann Temkins weighing in (I paraphrase) Pollock dripped, Richter squeegeed and Guyton hits the print button- well within the perimeters of extending the venerable tradition in western painting of radical innovation.’ In other words Wade -who is on the hot list with the international set of curators at the moment -is being touted as yet another way of assaulting painting while employing its strength as a tradition to ad contextual weight to his work -work that probably doesnt even need the curatorial assist. This is more from the painting is dead crew (well you can still paint -but there must be irony, some form of caveat that speaks to the degradation of painting.) When these people, the generic internationalists, happen to choose an actual painter, its usually a poor one -Tuymans is a good example, the apology for painting hence its degradation continues….its called spin. If it doesnt matter, why claim its painting—when it really is not—answer: it completely matters in terms of contextual weight.

Wesley Kimler

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Here goes…
The printer is a TOOL; Artists use tools.
The “digital” (as with images or photographs) is MATERIAL; artists use materials.
Job one of the artist is: EMBED THOUGHT IN MATERIAL (whatever material that is with WHATEVER tools).

I would highly recommended for the long-term health of your own particular Cave and your own particular Cave Art that you NOT worry over anything beyond these three very basic starting points.

Trust me on this.
I am a professional.

Take time to think about it. A lot of time. Ten, fifteen years at least. Then get back to me.
Trust me on this …

Or … see you OUTSIDE the Gates of Thebes …

(Oh and see the damn show; hate on it; hate on the ptgs; hate on me. Just DO NOT worry over the above things.)

—Jerry Saltz

***

So in sum, and in the long view, it really doesn’t matter if you embed specific thoughts or not in your work, what matters is that you make work that inspires other people to think, to feel, to have an ongoing relationship with the piece instead of just glancing at another abstract rectangle on the wall and never looking at it again. The goal should be depth, and therefore duration, for the viewer. It doesn’t matter if he or she grasps the artist’s thoughts or not.

Mia Pearlman

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There are a few voices in my world who consistently ring true, like that neighbor who puts things back into perspective after a robbery down the street has everyone unduly fixated on urban crime.

Jerry Saltz is one of those guys in the art world, and I repeatedly find his “set it right” point of view a valuable balm applied to the latest hot spot.

Witness his response to the latest kerfuffle, the 60 Minutes defamation of the art world by Morley Safer as seen through art fairs, wealthy collectors and the circus that constellates wherever ego and money come together.

From Saltz’s response on Vulture:

Art is for anyone. It just isn’t for everyone. Still, over the past decade, its audience has hugely grown, and that’s irked those outside the art world, who get irritated at things like incomprehensibility or money. That’s when easy hit jobs on art’s bad values appear in mainstream media. A harmless garden-variety example aired tonight on CBS’s 60 Minutes (I didn’t know it was on anymore), as Morley Safer went into high snark. Never mind that he did virtually the same piece in 1993…

In tonight’s segment, Safer delivered cliché after cliché, starting with “the emperor’s new clothes…” He worried that the “gatekeepers of art” permit such bad work. He doesn’t know that there are no “gatekeepers” in the art world anymore, that it’s mainly a wonderful chaos…

Rather than really looking at art, he’s focused on the distraction, on celebrity, cash, and crassness.

Saltz moves beyond the repetitive and well worn issues raised by Safer’s piece and addresses the larger context. I like this framing of contemporary art:

Safer told Charlie Rose and Gayle King, “Even Jerry Saltz says 85 percent of the art we see is bad,” adding that he’d suggest that it’s 95 percent. Whatever. I wanted to tell him that the percent I suggested doesn’t only apply to the present. Eighty-five percent of the art made in the Renaissance wasn’t that good either. It’s just that we never see it: What is on view in museums has already been filtered for us. Safer doesn’t get that the thrill of contemporary art is that we’re all doing this filtering together, all the time, in public, everywhere. Moreover, his 85 percent is different from my 85 percent, which is different from yours, and so on down the line until you get to Glenn Beck, who says everything is Communist. No one knows how current art will shake out. This scares some people.

Roberta Smith‘s New York Times response to the Safer piece chimes in with another reminder of the larger view:

No one bothers to explain that even speculators and the superrich don’t stay interested too long unless they have some knowledge of and attraction to art, however you may disagree with their aesthetic choices or be put off by the outrageous prices they are willing to pay.

Have they ruined art? No, they’ve just created their own little art world that has less and less to do with a more real, less moneyed one where young dealers scrape by to show artists they believe in, most of whom are also scraping by. Mr. Safer should visit that one sometime, without the cameras, and try to see for himself, beyond the dollar signs. Either that or he should just come clean: He could not care less about the new or how it makes its way, or doesn’t, into the world and into history. That’s fine.

The obsessions of others are opaque to the unobsessed, and thus easy to mock. Nascar, jazz, baseball, roses, poetry, quilts, fishing. If we’re lucky, we all have at least one.

For those of us who are obsessed and proud to be, the energy just keeps returning to the essential: chop wood, carry water.


Jerry Saltz in front of a piece by Takashi Murakami

The last few months have been a period of burrowing down deep for me, of incubation and isolation. But now my show is up in Provincetown and a new body of work has emerged, I am back up on the surface again and getting re-acclimatized. It feels similar to returning home after a month of trekking in the remote Himalayas where the isolation is so pure you really were in an enticingly news free zone. So when you come back you ask your friends, “So, what did I miss?”

It is in that catch up state that I’m coming late to conversations that have been bandied about over the last few weeks. One big nest of issues has erupted on Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere around Jerry Saltz’s piece on the Venice Biennale in New York magazine, Generation Blank: The beautiful, cerebral, ultimately content-free creations of art’s well-schooled young lions.

I took a pledge when I was young to never be a generation basher like my hippie-hating parents. Each generation brings its own set of defining issues, concerns, expressions and sense making. And whatever that is, it isn’t going to look or smell like yours.

But at the same time there is something in me that feels compelled to comment when trends don’t trend in a way that makes sense to me. It isn’t generational criticism (I don’t think anyway) as much as it is trend criticism. And while trends have a generational skew to them to be sure, but they are not only generational issues.

So Saltz’s comments correlate with a whole slew of observances I have about the practice of art in 2011. So much art now is “ready-made for critics who also love parsing out the isms of their elders.” I keep looking for art that passes the Roberta Smith litmus test who, like me, is looking for this: “art that seems made by one person out of intense personal necessity, often by hand.”

Saltz addresses the problem of an all too recognizable “generic ­institutional style”, one that rehashes the same issues over and over again:

It’s work stuck in a cul-de-sac of aesthetic regress, where everyone is deconstructing the same elements.

There’s always conformity in art—fashions come in and out—but such obsessive devotion to a previous generation’s ideals and ideas is very wrong. It suggests these artists are too much in thrall to their elders, excessively satisfied with an insider’s game of art, not really making their own work. That they are becoming a Lost Generation.

Strong words. Here are a few other excerpts from Saltz’s piece that stood out for me:

A feedback loop has formed; art is turned into a fixed shell game, moving the same pieces around a limited board. All this work is highly competent, extremely informed, and supremely cerebral. But it ends up part of some mannered International School of Silly Art.

Art schools are partly the villain here. (Never mind that I teach in them.) This generation of artists is the first to have been so widely credentialed, and its young members so fetishize the work beloved by their teachers that their work ceases to talk about anything else. Instead of enlarging our view of being human, it contains safe rehashing of received ideas about received ideas. This is a melancholy romance with artistic ruins, homesickness for a bygone era. This yearning may be earnest, but it stunts their work, and by turn the broader culture.

While this isn’t the program I’m watching personally, I see evidence of it everywhere. I resonate with Saltz’s cogent articulation of these issues. For those of us who are not caught in that particular trend net, there’s still plenty of breathing room to be found both in and out of our studios. That isn’t intended to sound smug and oldish, just a reminder to myself of how wide open art making actually is.

In his most recent piece for New York magazine, Jerry Saltz comments on the American Museum of Folk Art and its ongoing challenges. (As Jerry points out, the art is interesting but the space is a nightmare for viewing.) But this line was a particular keeper:

I love the museum because it’s committed to showing so-called “outsider art,” which I would define as art so visionary that the “real” art world can’t process it without relegating it to this ridiculous niche. (All great art is visionary; all great artists are in some way self-taught.)

Still recovering from the double barrel assault of current art world sensibilities that is Bravo’s “Work of Art” (better to remove the spaces and refer to it as workofart, or Work ‘o Fart?) and the brilliant but disturbing Exit Through the Gift Shop, I read this and it felt like someone had opened a window—a waft of clear, fresh, genuine air.


International man of mystery, artist Banksy

I am still carrying around a big chunk of Canada’s uncivilized wildness in me, and it just doesn’t sit well with culturally-induced cynicism. And art world cynicism is cynicism of a particular stripe, leaving one to search for a few gentle but targeted exorcisms to remove that nasty taste in the mouth.

The cynicism-inducing culprits are clear. The first is Work of Art, Bravo’s “reality” (so in quotes, that) show about making art. For me and my friends it was quick to become the summer’s top contender for the program we most love to hate. I know, Jerry Saltz is a judge, and we all love him. But one good guy can’t save a program so bereft of nutritional value. Please, someone say something soulful, authentic, resonant—just once! In this world, art is entertainment, novelty, a plaything.

The problem is that Work of Art is so high in the chip factor: You know it is bad, really bad for you. But like that bag of greasy, salty, preservative-laced, empty-caloried potato chips that you just can’t stop ingesting, they know how to hook you. I need to be rescued from my perverse curiosity! Even though I fast forward to the last 10 minutes of each episode so I only have to sit through the infuriating crit and the cheap trick elimination, that’s 10 minutes better spent doing something less painful, like beating my head against a cement wall.

The second oil spill of cynicism is actually an amazing piece of work and one that deserves full viewing by anyone interested in contemporary art. But you’ll need your Wellies on to wade through the art world slime factor which is in full view. The film Exit Through the Gift Shop, purportedly made by Banksy (England’s masked mystery man and street art’s reigning king) is one of the most engaging experiences I’ve had in a darkened theater in a long time. It is cinematic trompe l’oeil, a complex mirrored snake of a thing that turns in on itself and constantly undermines any sense of a grounding wire. Part documentary, part punkumentary, part tongue in cheek expose on art and the art world, there’s no way to know just who and what this is really about. It is smart, engaging and very provocative.

But this is provocation at a price. For anyone who approaches artmaking with sincerity and respect for the deep mystery of it all, there’s just no room for you in the world portrayed by Work of Art or Exit Through the Gift Shop. And visual art is not the only creative field squeezing out practitioners who are committed to their work and don’t play the game of image, appearance and hype. This excerpt is from Will Blythe’s New York Times review of Jennifer Egan’s new novel, A Visit From the Goon Squad, whose dystopic view of American life now and in the future sounds harsh, bleak and all too familiar:

Egan’s depiction of Jules, the celebrity journalist, embodies her sophisticated sympathy. Such types are normally easy prey for fiction writers, cheap signifiers of corruption. But Egan understands that the manufacture of image in the modern world is as routine as the assembly of Model T’s in the old industrial economy. Which is to say it’s done by regular people like you and me, not villains but folks just trying to get by.

It just may be that the most subversive path is to openly and candidly care most about the quality, integrity and intentionality of one’s work. And being actively subversive is a well tested antidote to cynicism’s paralyzing and deadening wake.


“Work of Art” judges (Photo: Bravo/Barbara Nitke)

I finally saw the first episode of “Work of Art”, referenced in the post below and being discussed, dissected and deconstructed on Jerry Saltz’s Facebook page as well as countless art blogs. Having just returned from a conference on how social and mobile media can be employed for social responsibility, my viewing lens has been complexified even further by some of the issues that came up during those sessions.

Here’s a list of what this show has had me thinking about. (This may be of interest even if you haven’t seen the first episode of America’s first art making reality show.)

1. Formula vs creativity
The show’s format is straight from the “creative competition reality TV show” playbook, a formula that has made hit shows out of making fashion and food. OK, you stick with what you think will work because no TV show—even a show claiming to be about creativity—is really about creativity after all. But the unwillingness to take chances on the format and explore new possibilities set the stage for just more predictable and mediocre TV programming that plays to the lowest common demoninator. Which of course doesn’t prevent it from being a hit with viewers. But that’s a different issue. Sort of.

2. What, no artist on the judges panel?
At least “Project Runway” had other designers as judges. The gatekeepers on this show are, with the exception of Jerry Saltz (who I will always give a pass to the way you give a pass to that brother who sometimes drinks too much and gets obnoxious but is elementally just the best guy), art merchants and tastemakers. Several of them in their intro spots made it clear that they approach art as entertainment. The “delight me ‘cuz I’m bored” approach to art doesn’t have room for the deeply personal, introspective moment that many of us are looking to have with a piece of art. “Art as entertainment” is just one approach to art and one that has many adherents. But a bit more of a balanced panel would have been a big improvement.

3. It’s the human drama, not the art
At the conference I just attended there was a lot of talk about how the internet has unleashed storytelling—particularly personal, single voiced storytelling—and how deeply that is changing our culture, our politics, our consumption, our way of interacting with each other. Caterina Fake, founder of Flickr and a major internet maven, laughingly referred to Flickr as an “emotional database”, describing “babies, pets and sunsets” as the backbone of the internet. Chris Hughes, one of the founders of Facebook, shared his concern about how narratives are getting compressed—the “meme of the day” syndrome—and worries that we are moving towards the superficial. “People who are funny and flaky tend to overwhelm the thoughtful, prosey types.”

Hughes’ concerns are played out in spades in this show. “Work of art” is essentially Survivor With Benefits. In my opinion a show that opens up how art gets made has some social good. I can see the value of the general public hearing and watching how a piece can come into existence, often through struggle and mistakes.

But viewing art through a television screen is never going to be optimal. The producers clearly understand this since the amount of air time given to the individual pieces themselves is miniscule. The camera does give lots of air time to sowing the seeds of the inevitable internecine conflicts we all know will emerge, in allowing the more eccentric and outspoken (can I say obnoxious as in really obnoxious?) personalities to rise to the surface. Maybe a better name would be “Artists as Gladiators.”

4. What is real and what is a game show?
Several bloggers have commented on the implications of crossing from game show to real world which in this case is epitomized by the prize of a show at the Brooklyn Museum for the winning contestant. I’m cynical enough to not be outraged by that blending since the art world is already a game show of its own making which, like underwear, is underneath all the trappings no matter what is on the surface. Most of my similar-minded artist friends don’t see “Work of Art” as some watershed event, looming threat or even a topic of conversation beyond this first episode. There’s room on the planet for all types of explorations. What I keep advocating for is equal time for us prosey types, those of us whose storytelling is expressed by making art that can hold a conversation with a viewer, that moves another person deeply, that shifts something in the body that feels significant, that brings a sense of mystery or transcendence That is something that cannot happen on TV, reality or otherwise.

This is the last posting on this topic I expect to make. But if your interest has been piqued, you can read Jerry Saltz’s latest thoughts about the show and his reaction to the first episode here.



“Work of Art: The Next Great Artist” contestants, judges, host and mentor. (Photo: Bravo)

Sebastian Smee, a most thoughtful and open-minded art critic who writes for the Boston Globe, has written a review of the oft-discussed, highly charged topic of Bravo’s new reality art series, “Work of Art.” For many of us, making art couldn’t be farther from television audiences, hosts donning cocktail dresses (China Chow) and token appearances by the increasingly irritating and unctuously insincere Sarah Jessica Parker. But reading Smee’s review this morning—which is basically a thumbs up—was the perfect antidote for my disaffection.

And besides, gotta love home boy Jerry Saltz in whatever form he delivers his high energy view of the world.

Plus there’s a nice bonus: Smee’s succinct description of where a huge portion of the art world has landed itself by way of Warhol’s legacy is, IMHO, right on.

From Smee’s review:

If everything I’ve described so far sounds like a familiar ingredient in the depressingly formulaic world of reality TV, it has to be said that “Work of Art’’ somehow rises above the formula. What makes it so engrossing is the way it brings out into the open, with brisk, unblinking efficiency, all the questions about art that most people feel too intimidated to ask.

It starts with the obvious ones: How do we judge art? Are artists like you and me, or are they different? Is success in the art world about vision and skill, is it about knowing how to sell yourself, or is it just a lottery?

Even within the first episode, the questions get more nuanced. For instance: How on earth do you go about capturing someone’s “essence’’ (as opposed to their appearance) visually, in a portrait? Is it enough to be told that an artwork is underpinned by various ideas, or does the work itself need to express those ideas? And can the process of creating a work of art be as important as the finished product?

I scribbled down a list of at least a dozen such questions the first episode nonchalantly tossed out. It was refreshing.

The whole subject of contemporary art often seems surrounded by invisible tripwires. There’s an inside and there’s an outside; and those on the inside often protect themselves from the task of explaining it to those on the outside by feigning superiority. “Work of Art’’ makes great play with this inside/outside dynamic by simply striding right through those invisible tripwires.

In his brilliant book “The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: (From A to B and Back Again),’’ Warhol said that at a certain point he stopped feeling emotions; instead of caring for people, he was fascinated by them. That describes more or less exactly where we are in our culture today. “Work of Art,’’ as well as any other reality TV show, taps into our need to be fascinated without the inconvenience, the risk, of further emotional investment. But curiously, within the show itself — in the tussle between Saltz’s eggheaded passion and Chow’s erotic calm, and in the conflicting attitudes of the various contestants — we observe a struggle over the carcass of a deeper idea of art.

All in all, it’s fascinating — and certainly good for more than 15 minutes.


Annie Leibovitz’s Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois’ passing has set the ripples in motion in every direction. After my eulogizing post about her work and her life yesterday, I was even more curious about the stories about her that Jerry Saltz gleaned from his increasingly muscular Facebook Tribe. And I mean muscular in the most flattering sense.

Here’s the lead in to his article in New York magazine:

Although I never attended one of Louise Bourgeois’s Sunday Salons held in her Chelsea townhouse, they were reportedly psychic-artistic battlegrounds. Open to anyone, artists could bring their work, wait their turn, and then get feedback from Bourgeois, who was said to preside over the proceedings like a queen. Some were made to cry; more shook in anticipation. But all seemed to leave with the sense of having passed through some sort of aesthetic fire. Here are few remembrances of Bourgeois salons past, from artists who attended.

Click here to read a few of these fascinating accounts. And for those of you who are friends of Jerry’s on Facebook, you can get the full fire hose treatment on his FB page.

Bless Jerry Saltz for keeping the cultural landscape lively. His Facebook page and passionate following are legendary and talked about everywhere (and sometimes with a derision that smells to me like rank envy.) His blend of the personal with a genuine advocacy for art and artists is unique in the high visibility cultural critic realm. I’m delighted by his invention of this unique hybrid position.

I recently wrote a response to a question he posed on Facebook about the real day-to-day life of the artist. My post, called Wisdom from the Art Tribe, included some of my favorite responses to that query. (At last count, Saltz’s question has garnered 445 comments.)

That post is now my go-to site when I am feeling discouraged. The range and abundance of wisdom (and honesty) that appeared in that exchange still amazes me.

Saltz’s latest question asks about the differences between writers on deadline and artists. As always, it is written in his signatory style, overly capitalized and freely punctuated:

What DO YOU artists do when the demons come?! Do you walk; drink; smoke cigarettes; masturbate; phone calls; computer; eat; cry. What? I’ve NO IDEA what yr. team does. WEEKLY CRITICS work on deadline so there’s no time for demonic possession. The ONLY thing we can do is say, “Shut the fuck up you fucks” & get right back to… work. But you artists! What DO you do when the demons speak?

With 440 (and counting) responses, the range of therapies offered is extensive. Some respondents took issue with the very use of the word demon since its connotations are tainted with religiosity. But we all know what he means, be it named or nameless.

For me it is not about demons but more about drying out. The absence of moisture, that’s the state I fear most. Like sex, an unlubricated studio session just can’t take you where you want to go! Being vigilant about staying in the oleaginous, that’s my best drought defense.

That, and patience.

Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles, and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving until the right action arises by itself?”

–Lao-tzu

***

From Still Water (The River Thames, for Example), by Roni Horn


(Photo: Gabriela Maj/Getty Images)

The rumors are not true. Jerry Saltz is neither leaving New York magazine nor is he shutting down Saltz Nation on his infamous Facebook page.

This was his notice on the NY Mag site:

Jerry Saltz Responds to Rumors of His Departure

Yes, the rumors are true, and I’m leaving New York Magazine. The editors made me an offer I couldn’t refuse: They gave me $106 million in severance because they couldn’t get me the 1932 Picasso, and they threw in the $28 million Jasper Johns “Flag,” and an apartment in the East 80s overlooking the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Plus cashews for life. (I love cashews.)

But seriously. In response to the funny widespread “news” that I’m quitting New York and scrapping my Facebook page: Neither is true, and that “farewell” post was not written by me. If I leave the magazine, I’m going out feetfirst (because I’m dead) or headfirst (because they’re throwing me out). They had me at, “We have cashew Fridays,” and now I’m addicted to getting e-mails from editors proposing “just one more revise” of my column, or blog entries that they want in 45 minutes, and constantly going to galleries out of sheer deadline pressure. And anyway, those limited individuals who structure their inner lives around hating my work, both on New York’s online-comment threads and in the blogosphere at-large, all seem to need me more than I need them. I may be keeping them off the streets, which might be viewed as a public service.

As for scrapping my Facebook page, alas: My wife says this pastime keeps me out of her hair and has, relatively speaking, a “calming effect” on me. It’s staying around, too.

It’s a good thing since Jerry is one of the few people I follow who actually makes the art world fun (and funny.) And if there was ever need for some levity, it is now.

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