Golden Silver Nuggets, from Lee Friedlander

…and from Richard Benson. Given the relative paucity of Friedlander’s statements, this is gold, Jerry, gold.

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Re: J. & J.

Nourishment from Debra Brehmer.

Several people from yesterday’s Achievement Award event at MOWA asked if I’d post the acceptance speech I gave for Shimon and Lindemann’s award. It wasn’t really a speech, just a Top Ten list of what I’ve learned from being their friend and gallery dealer. It was actually a Top Seventeen.

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“What does it really mean to ‘achieve?’ With a nod to David Letterman’s top ten lists, here are my top 17 important life lessons I’ve been fortunate to absorb through my friendship and business relationship with J. Shimon and J. Lindemann.

1. I’ve learned from them firsthand that persistence and faith in your ideas and vision are the essential ingredients in an art career. They have had a 30 year career of steady, continuous work. It took 25 of those years for the market, museums, and collectors to fully respond.

2. Organization and professionalism, ‘taking care,’ paying attention to details, loving the details… in every aspect of any undertaking these have profound repercussions. It is not just good business practice. This care and focus that one applies to every task, from the large and conceptual to the cleaning the glass for the frames, shows up in multiple sparkling ways and sets the right tone for any serious endeavor. It means something. It shows you care. It is a strangely undervalued and concealed aspect of love.

3. Kindness can and should be at the core of our existence, often expressed in the simplest of means, which is the sincere use of ‘thank you.’ Of course you must really mean it, but it goes a long way. And I’ve also learned that toughness, exactitude, and high standards can indeed coexist with kindness.

4. They taught me to value the people in our lives, warts and all. To make them part of your family. To extend love to them. It will enrich their lives and your own.

5. They have taught me what living your life in the art world really means, at its most essential core: it means you have chosen to stay connected, to stay thoughtful and reflective, and that you will take on the large challenge of processing what you see and experience in life… slowing down your contact with where you are and what you are. Making art is a way of noticing and noting, of getting more out of life, via awareness.

6. They taught me to never undervalue the ‘familiar.’ I complain about how many times I’ve driven up Oakland Avenue to Pick ‘n Save over the past 20 years. It’s so easy not to value that, to be completely blind to the amount of content, information and weirdness in those seven blocks. The familiar becomes mundane only when we allow ourselves to become numb.

7. Stay connected to the handmade, the quiet time. Focus and process, sit at your desk and draw a picture or write about your day. And listen to music or make music.

8. Be sure to balance your life by getting out of the art world and into nature. Grow things. Connect with the earth. Feel and appreciate a sunny day on the farm. Applaud when it rains just enough. Celebrate when the apple tree blossoms.

9. J. and J. have reinforced my already instinctive desire to be aware of history. Take a long glance backward to fully understand where we are now. Be sure never to feel like we are somehow more special than what came before. Look at history to remind ourselves that we are part of a continuum. And that the history of humanity is actually very short. One Million Years is 3 Seconds: that was the title of a show they did at the Wristen at Lawrence University in 2008. It was about “four older Wisconsin men who avoided the homogeneity of American consumer culture.” We truly cannot understand anything about our current lives if we don’t think about history.

10. To value the ‘elders.’ This relates to number 9. With the fire and impetuousness of youth, we move fast, all the time. People who are old and settled, who have found certain comforts in where they are and how they have lived, are like engrossing novels. Find good friends from other generations, both younger and older.

11. Never trade old friends for what seems like new more powerful ones.

12. Know, as securely as possible, that the work you do, if done with earnest intention and thought, is its own reward, regardless of public recognition or sales.

13. Believe in the value of being human and try not to fear the pain.

14. Send handwritten postcards to friends and acquaintances, and not just for birthdays and holidays. Enrich your snail mail life while we still have this antiquated system of hand delivery. Marvel over it. It is so retrograde and so the opposite of how we do things today. Allow your own handwriting to be an intimate ‘hello.’

15. And related to Number 14, remember the notion of a ‘parlor,’ a place to sit, sip a drink, and converse with friends. A parlor, as defined in the dictionary is: a room for the reception and entertainment of visitors to one’s home; In Latin it is called a locutorium. ‘Locu’ meaning to talk. ‘Torium’ is a place. The civility of an unrushed conversation is a beautiful thing. I’ve had many with J. and J.

16. And almost last, and perhaps the most profound J. and J. inspiration of all is that wherever you are, is the place you are. Don’t waste your time wishing you were somewhere else or the conditions were somehow different. Accept the good and bad of the place and love it like an ugly puppy.

17. And last, the most simple but most important and difficult thing to remember: we won’t have each other forever. Not even in a photograph.”

Also from Ms. Brehmer: http://portraitsocietygallery.com/2015/05/24/wis-con-sin/

Q. o’ th’ D.: William Gass

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“So to the wretched writer I should like to say that there’s one body only whose request for your caresses is not vulgar, is not unchaste, untoward, or impolite: the body of your work itself; for you must remember that your attentions will not merely celebrate a beauty but create one; that yours is love that brings its own birth with it, just as Plato has declared, and that you should therefore give up the blue things of this world in favor of the words which say them: blue pencils, blue noses, blue movies, laws, blue legs and stockings, the language of birds, bees, and flowers as sung by longshoremen, that lead-like look the skin has when affected by cold, contusion, sickness, fear…chant and pray, since the day may begin badly, in a soggy light that moistens the soul before consciousness has cracked so every thought is damp as an anxious forehead, desire won’t spark, and the morning prick is limp…consequently speak and praise, for the fall of the spirit, descending like a diver toward the floor of the ocean, is marked by increasing darkness, green giving way to navy, then a hair-wide range of hues which come to rest, among snowing fish and plants as pale as paper, in a sightless night; and our lines are long when under water, loose and weedy, turning back upon themselves like the legs of a dying spider; we grow slack of feature in our melancholy, and the blue which marks the change is heavy, thick as ooze…so shout and celebrate before the shade conceals the window: blue bloods, balls, and bonnets, beards, coats, collars, chips, and cheese…while there is time and you are able, because when the blue has left the edges of its objects as if the world were bleached of it, when the wide blue eye has shut down for the season, when there’s nothing left but language…watered twilight, sour sea…don’t find yourself choir’d out of choir and chorus…sing and say…despite the belly ache and loneliness, new bumped fat and flaking skin and drunkenness and helpless rage, despite dumps, mopes, Mondays, sheets like dirty plates, tomorrow falling toward you like a tower, lie in wait for that miraculous moment when in your mouth teeth turn into dragons and you do against the odds what Demosthenes did by the Aegean: shape pebbles into syllables and make stones sound; thus cautioned and encouraged, commanded, warned, persist…even though the mattress where you mourn’s been tipped and those corners where the nickels roll slide open like a slot to swallow them, clocks slow, and there’s been perhaps a pouring rain, or factory smoke, an aging wind and winter air, and everything is gray.” –On Being Blue

It’s The Big 85 For Ornette!

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Cecil comes to the party and he’s all “Y’know, I’m still a year older than thou.”

Check out how thought-through Ornette Coleman’s music really is:

Aaron Siskind’s Own Distillations

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“When you make a picture by yourself… and you look at it, just looking at it is one thing and then when you show it in class for other people to see, it’s something else. Sometimes, the pleasure from the picture disappears completely, the meaning of the picture, the value of the picture. Then when you take that same group of pictures and you put it up in a public place, it is something else again. The picture is being given a trial at various stages; it is being tested. You see it differently; you see it on the wall; you see it more in relation to other pictures, or you think about it in that way. So that there are various conditions under which you see it. In the book it is different, too. So all these conditions will arouse different kinds of thought, different kinds of feeling. Hell, what else do you want from a picture.”

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“We don’t know what photography is. Photography is what people make it. All it is is just a matter of definition and a definition is merely a matter of convenience. Any statement of what photography is always comes after the photography has been done, it doesn’t come before. So the definition to a large extent is determined by the practice, and I think it is too early to say you can do this, you can do that, and you can’t do the other thing.People are trying to protect their little area and it is a lot of nonsense. Sometimes the motivations are clean and clear and other times they are not. You use whatever you can or you use whatever people around you are using, so that they can understand what you are doing. Nobody make photography by themselves; it is all made in groups. People are influenced by each other. All of these statements about what is right and what is wrong about photography is a wrong way to approach it. Then again, it is what is meaningful, what is beautiful, what is exciting, what is esoteric, what realizes certain ideas you have—ideas of forms and so forth. Those are the things that matter. And in the end what matters is the pleasure you get out of it. Not fun-pleasure, but deep-pleasure.After all, art is not necessary; it is an ornament.It is something else, something that flows out of the civilized parts of our nature. You can live without it, but you live much better with it.”

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Wisconsin’s Artists Of The Year

…are the photography collaborators Julie Lindemann and John Shimon. Check them out.

https://blogs.lawrence.edu/news/2014/12/lawrence-professors-lindemann-shimon-named-wisconsins-2014-artists-of-the-year.html

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http://www.shimonlindemann.com

Street Ethics vs. A Winogrand Tutorial

This was going to be about listening to Mr. Winogrand, but along came a question to the weekly column “The Ethicist” regarding the appropriating of one’s likeness in public arenas. The issues seem murky. Mr. Klosterman: “A photograph is generated by a machine that uses optical technology to capture your actual likeness. It is literally a one-to-one depiction of who you are at a specific moment (unless the photographer uses additional technology to distort it). But a drawing is always interpretive. It’s not really you; it’s someone’s artistic construction of what she believes you look like (and if the artist is into something like Cubism, it might not resemble you at all). You possess the rights to your image, but you don’t possess the rights to what someone thinks you look like.”

Then the responses kick in; check it out. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/27/magazine/sketched-out-on-the-subway.html?_r=0

Some of the responses include these statements:

“Actually, having your image drawn is the same as being photographed. And neither is unethical. You are free to take photographs of anyone in public. The question comes down to whether one has a reasonable expectation of privacy. A person riding a public subway has no reasonable expectation of privacy. That’s what ‘public’ means.”

“A very important distinction our ethicist fails to make is that certain looks are creepy and others aren’t, and to look at someone in a way that makes them uncomfortable is certainly unethical. Your right to look at a person in public does not supersede the person’s right to not be made uncomfortable.”

“I am not sure about the ethics of taking someone’s picture (as distinct from making a sketch) in a public place, but in the U.S. a photo is legal if the subject can have no reasonable expectation of privacy where the photo was taken. Thus, a photo of a couple kissing on the steps of the New York Public Library is legal, but one, using a telephoto lens, of a couple making love on a deck hundreds of yards away from possible viewers is not. In the latter environment you can have an expectation of privacy. In Europe there is a different presumption: no photos unless the photographer has received explicit permission.”

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Now, here’s the important part: Garry visiting Geoff Winningham’s class at Rice University (with Lee Friedlander sitting in). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wP6lP3UaP24