Archive: January, 2010
|Octopus Hat, $34,
Our Yellow House
If you still haven't made a donation to the Red Cross or any number of other relief organizations in the name of helping post-quake Haiti, there is, of course, still plenty of time, and still plenty of people who desperately need all the financial help they can get.
Etsy's jumped on board with Hearts for Haiti, a fundraising shop where 100 percent of the post-Paypal-fee proceeds go directly to Doctors Without Borders, which has been working in Haiti for 19 years and operates three emergency hospitals in Port-au-Prince.
|Haiti relief pendant,
$18, Olivia Moon
Some details from the site:
This is an Etsy collective of donated items from hundreds of Etsy shops to raise money to rebuild Haiti. 100 percent of the proceeds from this shop (minus Etsy fees and Paypal fees) go directly to Doctors Without Borders in bi-monthly increments.
All items include seller-donated free shipping (most worldwide, see individual listing); because the need is SO great, we want you to buy and help support Etsians helping Haiti. The theme for the next few weeks is on heart items, but we have more than just that. Please ... know that your purchase in this shop not only gets you a great Etsy item but it also helps alleviate the needs in Haiti.
So far the little shop that could has raised more than $6,000 but it still has a long road ahead. If you're an Etsy artist who'd like to donate to the shop, e-mail email@example.com for more information; if you're a shopper, click here and spoil yourself, your friends and your family totally guilt-free.
I've included a few of my favorite products in this post; click on the image to visit the site. Tons and tons of baby stuff, jewelry and Haiti relief-themed crafts, but poke around for a few minutes and you'll discover a vast array of goods, from paintings and prints to pins and buttons, costing anywhere from $250 to $1.50. Happy hunting.
Buy us this.
It's a 2010 calendar featuring some of the greatest hits of Temple University's Urban Archives, a place where many a young Philadelphian has fallen in love with her city, and/or her fellow GUS classmates. (And yes, we know it's almost February, but some of us got the year off to a late start, kay?)
Check out the calendar, which is free (!) if you only get one and $5 for additional copies, in full here. If you're interested in getting your hands on it, head the Urban Archives themselves (Samuel L. Paley Library, 1210 Polett Walk, bottom floor, 215-204-8257), which are open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Welcome to 2010, Icepackers, where good and bad feelings mix and mingle in an unhealthy stew but with soft, CoQ10-drenched skin. Example: Is it good that Rich Wexler gives up his Sherman Arts Web site/booking gig to head to school, and find personal happiness? It's luuverly for Wexler, but sad for the community. (I'm a crammer: everything all at once.) The just-out All Creatures Sherman compilation (37 artists!) celebrates 10 years of weird quietude with a release gig at Green Line CafÃ© (Jan. 15) featuring Eliza of Buried Beds, Stephen Bluhm and more. There's also a Sherman cabaret starring scads of Wexler pals and film bits hitting National Mechanics Jan. 11. He's passing Sherman Arts' Web and booking to Emily Bate, West Philly muso and booker of The Mitten. She seems a sweet applicant for the Sherman spot not replacement. No one fills Wexler's shoes. Sob.
Sherman Arts, which dedicated itself to promoting indie arts events, will go by Quaker Inch Arts in Wexler's absence. But before Wexler goes off into in the Ivory Tower, he's looking to get 500 people to download his All Creatures comp that includes the likes of the Baird Sisters, Joe Jack Talcum and Birdie Busch. As of his mailing yesterday, he had 137 downloads, but help him get to the half-grand as a proper send-off, why dontcha? You can also download older comps for free. Just click here, scroll to the bottom of the page and unzip.
Check out the track listing after the jump.
- Bent - Snow Caps
- Why Can't We Fall In Love Forever? (Anything Is Possible) - The
Physics Of Meaning
- Steady Hand - Buried Beds
- Miscommunication - Josh And Pete Band
- Nebraska -The Armchairs
- (William Cresent Gets) Fired - Busman's Holiday
- The Stars Are Cities - Seth Petterson
- Sioux Falls - Lemming Malloy
- Don't Do This To Me Baby - Butterfly Fairweather Featuring Joe Jack
- Cardboard Wings - Birdlips
- Say Yes - The Theater Fire
- The Ground Beneath Our Feet -The Chairman Dances
- Infinite - Arlo And The Otter
- Lavender Gray - The Baird Sisters
- Robert L. Sinclaire Up - Christopher Bell
- Norway - Sandcastle
- Physics of Night - Emily Lacy
- Alma Song - Pwrfl Power
- Sing To Me - Stephen Bluhm
- A Song For Me - Noa Babayof
- Been Caught Stealing - Bob Carlton
- Passwords - Birdie Busch
- Minneapolis - Boca Chica
- Cantaloupe Sky - Angel Ocana
- In The Woods - Horse's Mouth
- Acid Rain - Tom Thumb
- Clear Recollections - Strand of Oaks
- All Creatures - Bird and Flower
- Building A Bomb - Little Tybee
- Content/Contempt - Cuddle Magic
- Birds Have Worries - Power Animal
- Numbered Days - Ravens and Vultures
- Ode To Long Hikes - Controlled Storms
- Mow Your Lawn - Agent Moosehead
- Ketut (Recorded Live at The Green Line) - Mikronesia
- Improvisation #3 - Andy of the Future featuring Chrome Tongues and
- Before We Begin - Cloud Minder
I've got the hardcore hots for New Yorker writer Tad Friend, who focuses on the entertainment industry and often writes their Letters from California. Friend's writing is funny and high-minded without being pretentious. He's one of the few New Yorker writers that can cover supposedly low culture without condescending to it. His piece about suicides at the Golden Gate Bridge also inspired the Sleater-Kinney song "Jumpers" and the excellently haunting doc, The Bridge. Is it hot in here or is it just Tad?
Friend will be at the Kelly Writers House tomorrow, Wednesday, January 20, most likely pimping his memoir Cheerful Money: Me, My Family and the Last Days of Wasp Splendor, and on WHYY's Radio Times tomorrow morning at 11 a.m.
Got some time on your hands? Read Friend's piece on Nikki Finke, blog goddess/Wicked Witch of the West Coast (depending on your perspective), who runs Deadline Hollywood Daily:
A combination town crier and volcano god, Finke evokes in her readers both anxiety and respect. One top studio executive says, "Nikki's blog you have to check, and the others you have to delete from your in-box. She's very, very, very accurate, extraordinarily soyou have a supposedly private conversation with two other people, and it's on her site within an hour." She usually posts five to ten stories a day, some of them just press releases or minutiae about elections at the Writers Guild, but many of them transfixing: anonymously sourced accounts of clandestine negotiations; photos of newly fired executives with red X's slapped across them (after she'd broken the news of their impending demise); boasts of "TOLDJA!" when something happens that she predicted, or, anyway, half predicted; and helpful career advice ("Stick it where the sun don't shine, you asswipe," she recently counselled a CBS publicist).
Tad Friend, 6 p.m., free, Kelly Writers House, 3805 Locust Walk, 215-746-POEM
Every Tuesday, Critical Mass pokes around the art blog world so you don't have to.
Local engineering grad student Jeff calculates for Shmitten Kitten that out of the entire city of Philadelphia all 1,448,394 people there are only 10 possible ladies that meet his girlfriend criteria (single, college-educated, female). Hopefully this will make you feel better if you're single come V-Day because, well, the odds are not in your favor to begin with â and it's nothing personal.
Philly's Chief Cultural Officer Gary Steur comments on an article from Next American City about sustainable and locally grown culture (vis-Ã -vis food). He says there are positives to Philly-grown and -contained arts movements (like Philly Fringe), but also points out the benefits of being a mecca for global art. Can't help but read this post and be glad that Philly has this guy in our corner. Smart and an art lover? Sign me up.
Add zombies to the list of suddenly sexy monsters. Geekadelphia, the Philly Zombie Crawl and the Troc team up to give the un-dead some more due with a screening of Zombieland on Mon., Feb. 8. You might want to take the afternoon off to get ready revelers are encouraged to ghoul-up.
The Philly Roller Girls 2010 season is about ready to roll. On Sat., Feb. 6, you can catch the Broad Street Butchers vs. the DC All-Stars as well as the Philthy Britches vs. the Heavy Metal Hookers.
Phrequency reports that filmmaker Joe Stakun, director of I Love My Bicycle: The Story of FBM (featured in this past summer's Bike Film Festival), will be donating the profit of every copy of his film sold on his Web site site this week to the Haitian relief efforts. Not only can you help the countless numbers of people affected by this tragedy, you also get a rad DVD. Talk about win-win.
City Paper welcomes guest Critical Mass columnist Jonathan Wallis, assistant professor of art history at Moore College of Art and Design. His column, "Perspective," runs monthly in this space, bringing a critical eye to a visual art scene that continues to thrive in Philadelphia. Questions? E-mail Wallis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Ben Pranger, Spaceship Log|
REVELING IN THE MYSTERIES >> With so much video on display in Philadelphia at the moment, my sensory faculties are almost pre-programmed to expect sound, movement and action when entering an artist space or museum. But when I walked into the single-room exhibition at Tiger Strikes Asteroid to view their current show, "Unveil," the effect was the opposite: silence and stillness. It rattled me. I had to slow myself down and consciously step out of my life-stream running on virtual communication and "connectivity" and put myself in neutral. The room contained two and three-dimensional work that shared something distanced from me of late: It felt distinctly human in a way difficult to describe. I felt a form of empathy through art that had been dormant for some time.
|Donna Ruff, Aurelia series|
"Unveil," curated primarily by two members of the TSA collective, Alex Paik and Alexis Granwell, is a matrix of mysteries addressed through artistic exploration and production. But what is unveiled in these works, according to Paik and Granwell, are not answers, but questions and much of what is seen is itself coded in various ways. Ben Pranger's sculptures transcribe texts from Ralph Waldo Emerson and Buckminster Fuller into Braille, and are made manifest through thin wooden pegs inserted into sections of raw, cut trees. Whirlwind Revelation, a large swirling staircase of wooden blocks with text from Revelation 21 (scroll down for image), was generated by submitting the sculptural process of "becoming" to angular shifts dictated by the recurrence of specific words within the biblical text. Donna Ruff's paper pieces enact a mysterious personal ritual inspired by Afghani goldwork, Islamic calligraphy, and scarification to transform surfaces into abstract, organic codes.
|Hunter Stabler, Sator Square|
We are taken into more arcane mysteries in Hunter Stabler's Sator Square, which layers an exquisite cut-paper skeletal dragon over a Latin palindrome configuration that has remained alluring since its discovery in the ruins of Pompeii. Linguistic codes are paralleled by visual cues in Corey Antis' paintings of spatial encounters that elicit the tensions between surface modeling and illusion (his work in the context of this show brought to mind Ernst Gombrich's discussion of two- and three-tone codes in Art and Illusion). The show is not without humor, and Adam Parker Smith's hand-cut paper collages offer both contemplative and light-hearted readings of the show's themes. Salami, a photographic collage of genitals, nipples and lips, and Hella Diamonds, consisting of cut shards of paper from Art in America, are both humorous and a bit profound driving home our continued obsessions and attractions to sex and material goods, while also harking back to more ancient references, mysteries and worship (the earliest known ritual use of diamonds was in India as religious icons, and sex ... no explanation needed, I think).
|Corey Antis, Blur (Yellow Room)|
I want to return to my initial response to "Unveil," and digress into a broader discussion about Paik and Granwell's group show at TSA. My appreciation of this show's overall effect was equal to my enjoyment of the individual works within it. A distinct feeling of empathy resonated strongly with me as I confronted the work in the small, chapel-like room at TSA. It wasn't until later, though, on reflection, that I was able to put this intimate experience into context: In his 1957 article for ArtNews, "The Liberating Quality of Avant-Garde Art," Meyer Schapiro examined the nature of abstract art and its opposition to the industrial and cultural production of modernity. "It is primarily in modern painting and sculpture," he stated, "that such contemplativeness and communion with the work of another human being, the sensing of another's perfected feeling and imagination, becomes possible. Paintings and sculptures, let us observe, are the last handmade, personal objects within our culture. Almost everything else is produced industrially, in mass, and through a high division of labor. Few people are fortunate enough to make something that represents themselves, that issues entirely from their hands and mind, and to which they can affix their names."
|Adam Parker Smith, Salami|
Yes, much has changed since Schapiro wrote these words, and the digital age offers seemingly limitless potentials for artists along the same lines as those he mentions with regard to painting and sculpture. And the notion of being alienated by a Culture Industry has also seen revisions. But there are burning questions today about the nature of humanism in the growing virtual age. Jaron Lanier's new book, You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto (recently featured in The New York Times) posits a skeptical future within the realm of virtual communication (Web 2.0). Lanier claims that we are being forced further and further into digitally constructed frameworks to define ourselves within "multiple choice identities," while also losing our individuality through digital collectivism that promotes what he calls the "hive mind." I can't help but hear echoes of Schapiro's modern "world of social relationships which is impersonal, calculated and controlled in its elements, aiming always at efficiency."
|Ben Pranger, Whirlwind Revelation|
This is not a slight against art driven by new technologies. On the contrary, those modes contain equal potential for artistic expression, communion and meditation. The interest here is in a distinct form of communication and empathy with the work of another human being through art. The work on display at TSA brought back to me forcefully a distinct quality of individually handmade objects and abstractly coded content. The work was there and ready; I had to do my part by disconnecting from one stream, and preparing to enter another where I was not privy to instantaneous or efficient communication (or narrative for that matter) in order to fully appreciate what was set before me. With so much information and so many "answers" provided by the collective "hive" of the Internet (what kind of knowledge, exactly?) available at our fingertips 24/7, perhaps the recent trend in popular culture for books and movies touting arcane knowledge, secret societies and conspiracy theories illustrates a sublimation of some of our desire for a different kind of comprehension (think Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons, Sherlock Holmes, National Treasure, and the endless spin-off books, etc). Could it be a twisted form of industrial supply-turned-entertainment to fulfill a demand/desire for something other than flat information accessible via the Internet?
|Adam Parker Smith, Hella Diamonds|
The human connection with the work at TSA that serves as example for this discussion is not retrograde. It is not art backpedalling itself to the time of modern divisions between cultures of production and the sanctuary of an avant-garde art. There are timely qualities to be read into the work in "Unveil" that evidence contemporary tensions. The works in the show serve up various entryways into communion with the spirit of humans as "makers" while also denying access to easy solutions, whether through transcriptions, translations or abstractions of linguistic and visual codes. And yet, ironically, by the very act of submitting to outside restrictions that dictate and restrict the degree of individually controlled creativity (such as in Pranger's Revelation Rising), some of the work suggests how those forces affect us and compete at present.
|Installation view, "Unveiled"|
Much of the work in this humble show at TSA plays with sophisticated levels of legibility and illegibility. I welcome the difficulty, even the frustration. I mentioned earlier that the curators avoided a search for answers, and I'm happy to be left in the dark and forced to think and feel a bit differently. "Unveil" reminds me of how powerfully fulfilling this particular form of human activity can be for viewers, and also demonstrates the necessity and relevance of this type of work in a growing digital/virtual age where we are more and more "connected" (to what? and how?) and "occupied" (by what?). Maximus to the crowd: "Are you not entertained?" No, thankfully, I'm not.
|Photo | Patrick Rapa|
|Jay Reatard at the Church, October 2007|
She'll come back as fire / And burn all the liars / Leave a blanket of ash on the ground
Jay Reatard the Memphis garage-punk who passed away last week at the age of 29 always seemed like a guy in a hurry. His shows were raucous, 25-minute sprints, and Youtube will show you what happens if you interrupt. His output was beyond prolific; the current total, including work by his various bands, is said to be 22 albums, released on indie labels like Goner, Matador and Sub Pop. By comparison, Kurt Cobain, who died at 27, left us with precious few songs to ponder and play ad nauseam. It's easy to see why Reatard would cover a Nirvana song, and this one it particular. He knows all about clanging guitar riffs and momentum shifts. "Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle," recorded for an upcoming tribute to In Utero but now widely available online, lets him color outside the lines freely without stomping all over the gritty prettiness of the original. "I miss the comfort in being sad," goes the chorus. A little overtly poignant for a brash, bareknuckle artist like Reatard, but nothing's gonna sound exactly right right now.
City Paper's annual writing contest was a smashing success! Some 400 writers submitted their work! We were floored. So we thought we'd celebrate with a live reading by the winners and judges. Should be lots of fun.
Here's the line-up:
- Fiction Winner Jessica Penzias, "Death By Oboe"
Poetry Winner Sean Webb, "The Bridge"
Fiction Judge Elise Juska, author of One for Sorrow, Two for Joy
Poetry Judge Thomas Devaney, critic and author of A Series of Small Boxes
- and me, your host
Wednesday, Feb. 10, 7:30 p.m., FREE!, at The Tin Angel at Serrano, 20 S. Second St, 215-928-0978, tinangel.com.
|"Baltimore, you forgot my birthday?
I feel like Molly Ringwald in Sixteen Candles,
but with no promise of Jake Ryan."
Ever year on Edgar Allan Poe's birthday that would be today, January 19 some random Baltimore-ian leaves a birthday offering of a bottle of cognac and roses on the author's original grave site. But, as the Baltimore Sun reports:
This is the first time since Jan. 19, 1949 that the person, whose identity is unknown, failed to arrive, said Jeff Jerome, curator of the Edgar Allan Poe House.
"I was very annoyed," he said.
Ahem, is Baltimore losing their Poe touch?
To Poe's descendants: Philadelphians would be more than happy to give Poe'boy his birthday offering but cognac is on the expensive side. Think he'd be cool with a Lager?
Suck it, Charm City. Give us back our Poe!
RELATED: We're Taking Poe Back
The Okayplayer store is closing up shop tomorrow, Tuesday, January 19, so they can do reboot for Spring 2010. Everything is 50 percent off so get there and clean them out for your fave hip-hop 'head. To get the discount, click this link, enter COLLECTABLE at check out or just watch as your discount magically appears.
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