Southern Living

Model of a American Southern Mansion, circa 1870


Nina Simone, Live, Montreux, 1976

I Want A Little Sugar In My Bowl

Nina Simone, Live Recording Session, Hamburg, 1988

A Subtlety

Kara Walker’s Marvelous Sugar Baby

Kara Walker’s A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby is not subtle. Dusted with 40 tons of bleached sugar, it stands nearly four stories high and lays 75 and a half feet long across the gutted cavern of the Domino Sugar Factory, which will soon be destroyed and replaced with a glossy condo complex. Even the actual title of the piece is not particularly subtle:

At the behest of Creative Time Kara E. Walker has confected:
A Subtlety
or the Marvelous Sugar Baby
an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined
our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World
on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant

It straightforwardly addresses its cultural concerns and historical commentary, even the more contemporary issue of the corporatization of art. There is-quite literally- the additional layer of the Domino sugar company having provided the material.

Of the work, Hilton Als has written:

Operating from the assumption, always, that history can be found out and outed, Walker’s sphinx shows up our assumptions: She has “black” features but is white? Has she been bleached—and thus made more “beautiful”—or is she a spectre of history, the female embodiment of all the human labor that went into making her?

Read all of his excellent commentary on the piece at his blog, Et Als.

I’ve learnt that there is a fight, in human beings, between technology and poetry.
- Alberto Alessi

Seeds That Fell On Stony Ground

The Garden at Prospect Cottage

It’s hard not to consider the garden that Derek Jarman created in the last years of his life as metaphor for his struggles in the face of illness from AIDS.

Near the end of his life and already suffering from the disease, the gifted filmmaker moved just two hours from London but to a different planet altogether. He purchased a piece of property and an itinerant shack that he transformed into a garden and cottage. It is located on an unforgiving stretch of the English seaside and in the shadow of the Dungeness nuclear power station. The area was never a seaside resort as the waters were not suitable for swimming and the weather less than lovely, to say the least.

Dungeness is perhaps the most unlikely place for an English garden. The only plant life that really flourishes are indigenous species like blackthorn, sea kale and gorse. But Jarman loved the area’s otherworldly atmosphere and almost unnatural light.  These elements were sympathetic to his exacting yet lush aesthetic and he became a magpie sculptor, adapting stones, driftwood, found objects and discarded tools as he intervened to shape his land.

On one side of Prospect Cottage, Jarman lettered the lines from a passionate lyric by John Donne. In deepest black they read:

BUSY old fool, unruly Sun, 

Why dost thou thus,

Through windows, and through curtains, call on us ? 

Must to thy motions lovers’ seasons run ? 

Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide 

Late school-boys and sour prentices, 

Go tell court-huntsmen that the king will ride, 

Call country ants to harvest offices ;

Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime, 

Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time. 

Thou, Sun, art half as happy as we, 

In that the world’s contracted thus ; 

Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be 

To warm the world, that’s done in warming us. 

Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere ; 

This bed thy center is, these walls thy sphere.

The Joke Was On Me

Faith No More, ‘I Started A Joke’, Live, 1997

The Whole World Crying

Robin Gibb, ‘I Started A Joke’, 1969

White, No. 1

'… white, although often considered as no color, is a symbol of a world from which all colors as a definite attribute has disappeared. This world is too far above us for its harmony to touch our souls. A great silence, like an impenetrable wall, shrouds its life from our understanding. White, therefore, has its harmony of silence, which works upon us negatively, like many pauses in music that break temporarily the melody. It is not a dead silence, but one pregnant with possibilities.'

-Wassily Kandinsky

In Memoriam
Charlie Haden, 1937-2014

'We're here to bring beauty to the world and make a difference in this planet. That's what art forms are about.'

In Memoriam

Charlie Haden, 1937-2014

'We're here to bring beauty to the world and make a difference in this planet. That's what art forms are about.'

Roots Showing

A Pair of Chandeliers

An unusual pair of vine root chandeliers (England, circa 1910) offered by Obsolete in Venice, CA.

We must have one love, one great love in our life, since it gives us an alibi for all the moments when we are filled with despair.

-Albert Camus

from Notebooks, 1935-1942

In The Crystalline Knowledge Of You

Stevie Nicks, ‘Crystal’, 1974


The Work of Astrid Dahl

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Karl Blossfeldt began his exhaustive photographic survey of plants and flora. Commissioned as a scientific inventory, Blossfeldt’s photographs are sculptural, surreal and reveal an anthropomorphic eroticism. Once rediscovered this work informed iconic work by Irving Penn and Robert Mapplethorpe.

It also inspired another artist working in another medium. When Astrid Dahl first encountered the work, she began to conceive the work that she continues today: stunning organic vessels and shapes rendered in unglazed and unadorned white clay. Ironically, although it is often overlooked, Blossfeldt was also a sculptor.

'The natural white of this clay quite simply, works for me. We are really down to 'truth to material'.

-Astrid Dahl