Friday, December 26, 2008

apples and oranges...

During the last days of 2008 there were some robberies that occurred in New York City that caught some attention from the local press in connection with the general raise in crime that has occurred during this period of economic decline. However, 'petty' theft of tens, or hundreds, or even thousands of dollars during armed (and unarmed) physical assaults pale in comparison to the scale of deceit and robbery that can occur through legal means.

For example, hedge fund manager Bernie Madoff is accused of swindling investors, some as notable as Steven Spielberg, out of billions of dollars and, while under house arrest, was caught with checks made out to family members and associates worth approx. 173 million usd in an effort to hide his personal fund from persecutors. In addition, think of all the loan officers, banking institutions and appraisers who made a financial killing during the housing bubble and stand to profit from the subsequent government bailout. In contrast, the average bank robbery nets approx. $2,000. From a practical standpoint, if one is going to commit a crime in order to profit, while-collar crime demonstrably trumps petty larceny anyday (I mean you get the same prison sentence more or less).

But the point here isn't to condone or condemn either but to point out some of the things that are 'legal'. Various legal edicts, Papal Bulls, laws, statutes, constitutions, and the like have been passed since the Code of Hammurabi in 1760 BC providing the legal context by which the "State" and religious institutions have codified their actions. Think about 'The Conquest'. The vanity of man, whether 'Men of God' or not, who would draw up a map of the New World and divide it amongst two European powers. Lands with their own history and culture, claimed in the name of Kings and Queens. Rebellion amongst the Indians only fed the stereotypes of their 'savagery' and justified the continued occupation by the Spaniards. Similar to arguments that Iraq must remained occupied until the violence dissipates without the admission that the violence may be in part due to the actual occupation. Or how, sixty years ago, Israel was craved out of occupied lands by the legal proclamations of the dying remnants of the British Empire and today are denying sovereignty to the very people whose land was taken in order to create the Israeli state in the first place.

It would be illegal go into someone's residence and physically remove them but you could buy up all the land around them, inflate the prices, in order to 'force' out residents. Crime doesn't pay, unless one can change the law and legalize the 'action'. Sort of like rendition, torture, and waterboarding (practiced since at least the Vietnam War). Petty crime, most associated with deviants, inner cities, and minorities, allows for small-time gains but to really obtain substantial wealth through deceptive means necessitates legal, institutionalized and socially-accepted channels through which actions can be executed. Any great fortune, it is said, has infamy as a partner and perhaps if people realized a suit and a briefcase was more effective than a doo-rag and a weapon, my friend with 'street dreams' wouldn't have court records...or at least Swiss bank accounts in addition to their legal issues.

"Mas puede la pluma que la espada" (The Pen is mightier than the sword)

~Spanish Proverb

Thursday, December 11, 2008

shine on you crazy diamond...

How does one put a price tag on anything? Besides the cost of the raw materials that comprise of any given object and the necessary markup, there are all types of factors such as supply, prestige, goodwill, etc. that conflate prices. One of the biggest challenges for any artist is placing a price tag on their work that is considered "fair" for both parties. I say f*ck fair! My business degree has taught me that the prices of most things are so subjective, and even more so in the art world. Plenty of the most successful artists, from Titian to Reubens to Velasquez, Warhol and Murakami have utilized assistants to increase production output, only signing the finished artwork. 

Damien Hirst, 42, may well be the world’s richest artist, however it is debatable how much he actually is involved with his actual product. As the highest-priced living artist (his most expensive piece selling for approx. 100 million usd), wouldnt an individual purchasing his work want the actual craftsmanship of the artist, rather than those of assistances and interns? While most of his money comes from the sale of artwork, Mr. Hirst has a company, Other Criteria, that licenses his imagery, creates products, and sells them on the Web. In addition to Hirst’s own prints, editions, books, posters, and T-shirts, the company markets the wares of other artists. And this is just one piece of an umbrella corporation, Science Ltd., that oversees Hirst’s vast studios, 120 employees, and other business interests.

This past summer (2008) Damien Hirst officially became the world’s most expensive living artist both at auction and in the gallery, bypassing even long-established greats like Jasper Johns. In June, Sotheby’s London sold Hirst’s Lullaby Spring, a 2002 medicine cabinet filled with hand-painted pills, for £9.65 million ($19.3 million), superseding Johns’s auction record for a living artist. But that’s nothing compared with the £50 million ($100 million) price on For the Love of God (2007), Hirst’s diamond-encrusted platinum skull, which London’s White Cube gallery sold in August, reportedly to a consortium that included the artist himself. 

Hirst's work is an examination of the processes of life and death: the ironies, falsehoods and desires that we mobilise to negotiate our own alienation and mortality. His production can be roughly grouped into three areas: paintings, cabinet sculptures and the glass tank pieces. The paintings divide into spot and spin paintings. The former are randomly organised, color-spotted canvases with titles that refer to pharmaceutical chemicals. The spin paintings are 'painted' on a spinning table, so that each individual work is created through centrifugal force.

Hirst recently stated, "If I want to sell new work, I'll price it lower. If people have got less money, you can either just shut your door and say, 'Screw everybody', or I can wait until everyone can afford my work or price it cheaper." Thus, you can't measure the success of Damien Hirst with traditional concepts of art world success. After all, Hirst is exploring different markets in order to sustain his art dynasty, so to speak.

Value is defined as the degree of usefulness or desirability of something, especially in comparison with other things. However, what is useful to someone does not have to be equally useful to somebody else. In that respect, “value is in the eye of the beholder.” Furthermore, what is useful in one context does not have to be useful in another context. So value is, by its very definition, subjective. Is a Hirst piece worth the money? Is a Picasso? Is a Renoir? Is anything worth what is paid for it? How would you value a $300 pair of jeans if you were hungry? Or sick? Or stranded on a desert island? Perhaps not much. In the end, art is composed of materials...plastics, canvas, paint, staples and little else. The value-added is the skill and the intangibles of the artist. I am not fortunate to have assistants but I have learned one thing: never to feel like i have sold myself short.

"But the answer to how to live is to stop thinking about it. And just to live. But you're doing that anyway. However you intellectualise it, you still just live"

~Damien Hirst

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

sobre mi mala educación...

The paradigm of economic globalization is sharpening the historical processes of social marginalization of the indigenous peoples.  Meanwhile, in the cultural arena, a process of “homogenization” is beginning, which attempts to undermine the pluricultural identity of the continent, ignoring the fact that the construction of modern citizenship involves the challenge of reconciling the historical and cultural specific features of each community with world development and modernity. What does this mean? This mean that in the realm of global cultural politics, artists and individuals from peripheral countries (i.e. those not from the "first-world") are more often than not overlooked and unknown outside of a limited regional context. When is that last time you bought a CD from a musician based in Burkina Faso or Estonia? Often the cultural dominance of a particular country, or group of countries, follows their global political and economic dominance.

One of those underappreciated in the canon of the arts is Oswaldo Guayasamín, an Ecuadorean artist who dedicated his life to painting, sculpting, collecting, fighting injustice and adulating the virtues of the Cuban Revolution in general and Fidel Castro in particular. He was given a prize for "an entire life of work for peace" by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The magnificent work of Oswaldo Guayasamin, whose images capture the political oppression, racism, poverty, and class division found in much of South America. His death on March 10 1999 was marked by a day of national strikes by the indigenous people (whom he spent his life supporting) and other sectors of society, and was considered a great loss to Ecuador.

Once the home and studio of Ecuador's most famous modern artist, his spacious museum in Bellavista, a northern residential area of Quito, now houses an extensive collection of the artist's own work, from the beginning of his 'career' at the age of 7, right up until his death in 1999. He is famous for his abstract humanist works, that both reflect and denounce the violence of the 20th century with its world wars, civil wars, genocide, concentration camps, dictatorships, and tortures. Sadly, not much is known of this artist here in the United States, or many others from Latin America, Africa and other developing regions of the world. Often
finding the best of the best requires a little more searching beyond the conventional.

"Hay un único lugar donde ayer y hoy se encuentran y se reconocen y se abrazan. Ese lugar es mañana"

~Eduardo Galeano

Saturday, November 15, 2008

amor a puerto rico

These past couple of months I have been involved in several projects concerning art and exhibitions and each has always been a unique experience. You never know what kind of crowd you are going to get an any given event but most certainly you will get a mix people but almost always, especially with group shows, you will not who the artists are and even the artists themselves will not know one another. Usually the only common point of interaction is through the curator(s) or the organizers. There is no moment in time, as in other forms of art such as poetry, theatre, etc., were the face of the performer is known or is presented to a captivated audience. The actual work usually is the only form of direct communication that the audience will have with the artist. 

Of course, this little fact allows me to have fun with the people looking at my art. Often I will stand behind them and eavesdrop on their conversation or even ask them questions like: what do you think this means? or even make general pointed critical comments about the work and see if people will agree or perhaps even argue that they like the work. This allows me to see how successful I am in conveying the intended message to a particular audience as well as getting a different perspective of certain aspects of the work. On the other hand, listening in on conversations also allows me to overhear people who just don't know what they hell they are talking about as well.

Before going to any museum exhibit, gallery show, etc. is helps to know the theme of the particular show. For example, if you are going to see a show advertising the late works of Picasso don't be surprised if a painting such as Guernica is not displayed. So at the art show Borimix 2008, which commemorated the 100th anniversary of the birth of Juan Antonio Corretjer, is was interesting to receive criticism over the amount of 'nationalist' symbols within my painting (namely flags) and how these symbols drove people apart rather than 'uniting' them. Now it once noted by painter Rafeal Tufiño that some of the most nationalistic painters were French, such as Ingres and Géricault, and Spanish, such as Velásquez and Picasso. In reality, all cultural productions add to the nationalist dialogues in varying degrees. More importantly, Juan Antonio Corretjer was active in the Nationalist Party, a cause that people are still dying for, and being persecuted for, on the island of Puerto Rico as I know on a personal level.

What this individual was touching upon was the lack of social and political capital of the Puerto Rican people and a notion that somehow the right of self-determination does not apply to them. Am sure that the Queen of England thought George Washington to be a terrorist during the late 1700s in the same way that France thought little of Houari Boumédienne in Algeria during the wars for independence in the 1950s. If it were Revolutionary War soldiers carrying the American flag rather than the British Union Jack. Though Puerto Ricans are citizens of this country, this great bastion of democracy, people on the island do not vote in elections and are not represented in Congress. The U.N. still officially considers the island a 'colony' and a ruling by the Supreme Court in 1920 determined that though citizens, Puerto Ricans on the island were not afforded the same rights as mainland citizens. Such much for that whole Bill of Rights 'equality' thing. 

Creating unity amongst people should never come at the subjugation of one group in order not to 'stir trouble'. It's like telling the slaves back in the 1800s, hey "take one for the team", "just do your work and everything will take care of itself". This concept that agency is the exclusive domain of the "Other" springs from doctrines such as "Manifest Destiny", first/third word hierarchies, and colonial legacies. In this age of globalization, people have varying loyalties and varying allegiances and this world is not about making others comfortable or conforming. Normally, having people critic your work without them knowing you are the artist is fun but not when you are battling ignorance. 

I have travelled to places such as Finland, Paris, Egypt, Tokyo, Thailand and everyone in their respective countries has this one thing in common: they are fiercely proud of their culture and their heritage and (surprise) they believe theirs to be the most prominent and superior. And nothing is wrong with that but not at the expense of other cultures...I mean it was only a painting...only colors...representing flags and people who have died in exile or killed by CIA radiation experiments. Perhaps next time, a canvas or papier-mache of dismembered limbs of innocent victims from U.S. Navy bombs in Vieques, P.R. would be more a more unifying and appropriate gesture.

"Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious"

~Oscar Wilde

Monday, November 10, 2008

a note on the week hence...

The victory of Obama was met with much jubilation and celebration here in Harlem, in the rest of the country and indeed in many other countries, and for good reason. Despite persistent attack ads and the strange appeal of Sarah Palin to a greater number of individuals in quintessential red states, Obama scored an electoral vote landslide and will be the new president come January 20th. How refreshing to see that the course of history in this country has been irrevocably altered, forever.

However, while it may have taken over 220 years for the election of the first African-American president steps must be taken to ensure that the same amount of time does not elapse until there is another colored person ascends to the seat of such power against in this country. How will these events affect the course of everyday events of the average colored person in this country. No longer is there any excuse to aspire to anything less than the highest positions of power and social, culture, and political power in any facet of life. It also lay waste the ability to make excuses and succumb to any sort of inferiority complexes or societal obstacles.

That being said it must be noted that Obama was not elected based solely upon the merits of his race or the country dying for change from the b.s. job that Bush has done overall during these last eight years. He was from a broken family, as many minorities are, but his parents were educated. His mother had her PhD and his father was an economist for the Kenyan government. Obama himself was educated in Occidental College (in L.A.), then Columbia, then Harvard. His wife went to Princeton and then Harvard Law School. She too was from humble economic means growing up on the southside of Chicago. Despite being lawyers they both were community activists and they were educated but not merely for the sake of having degrees but in order to achieve certain objectives.

The point is that too many people of color will get caught up in the jubilation of his victory without realizing the path it took to get there. Too often, our role models had been actors, athletes, and entertainers...bullshit poisonous movies like Soul Plane, images of neo-Samboism. Rappers and music impresarios rapping about nonsense, fully knowing that the path to success was not facilitated or paved with monosyllabic vocabulary and "nome sane" at the end of every sentence. Michael Jordan didn't pave the way for Obama, he only encouraged people to shoot a damn ball, not to go to school or help the community. In fact, there were times when I was in junior high school that I would cut class just to be one of the first people to buy jordans on the day they were released. And neither did 50 cent, puffy, or Russell Simmons. All those a$$holes with reality shows yelling at people on tv and humiliating assistants and making them walk to juniors to get cheesecake didn't pave the way for a man like Obama. The others only showed people how being a persistent jackass works when you are rich.

So next time a child is tempted to watch Kobe play against Boston I hope he chooses to watch MSNBC or youtube Obama at his democratic convention speech and simply listens...take the battery out of his tv remote...and listens. Listens to an inspiring voice, a man who made a difference, a man of the same hue and physical characteristics as the child who they see standing before them when they pass by a mirror. Or next time a woman's good for nothing boyfriend tells her that he is trying to make a demo tape (for the 1000th time), I hope she decides to date the one who is shooting to be the CEO or maybe the broke ass law students from the city university. The one with a lack of a social life, bags under his eyes, book under his arms and coffee in hand. May every child see within themselves a Michelle or a Barack Obama...

Monday, November 03, 2008

empty spaces...

So I was recently at an event in downtown Manhattan that was marketed through Facebook and was dismayed at the actual turnout. Although over 1,200 individuals were invited to the event and nearly 95 had confirmed there were only 3 individuals actually there. Now this is not the first time this had occurred but I was wondering whether this was simply a phenomenon amongst my 'cyber-friend' social group or whether people were simply apathetic or disinterested in meeting up in real life. However, this question was answered the other day as I was flipping through the NY Times Magazine from 10.26.08 and came upon this article:

i guess a .25% turnout isn't that bad...

“The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved”

~Mother Teresa

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

any colour like you...

All artists essentially borrow from artists of the past in much the same sense that authors or fashion designers do. Pablo Picasso, for example, borrowed from pictures by Cranach and Titian, Poussin and Ribera, Chardin and Zurbarán, El Greco and Courbet, Degas and le Douanier Rousseau. The list goes on and on. The real trick of any artist is to consume massive amounts of information, images, words, poem...anything and anything...the real sorts of things to be socially conscious of the state of affairs in the world.

In my studio I have a pile of magazines (the economist, time, art news, etc.) and three months worth of the new york times, in addition to bookcases full of books pertaining to various subjects (history, poetry, art, sociology, etc.). As every creation is limited only by one's particular store of knowledge, my challenge is not to read everything, to know everything but to know just enough to accomplish the painting or project at and tomorrow. 

"Painting is just another way of keeping a diary"

~Pablo Picasso

Monday, October 27, 2008


Hit up the Metropolitan Museum to check out the Morandi exhibit very much limited himself to painting similar scenes over and over – still life paintings of bottles and boxes, the view from his window. However, the objects Morandi selected for his still life paintings transcend time – they have no labels, or any details to indicate the time of painting. Similarly, there is little in the paintings of the view from his window to reveal anything of the time at which the paintings were made. 

There are no figures, and buildings are almost exlusively represented by blocks of a single colour. While this is unquestionably an impressive collection of Giorgio Morandi's work, it is ultimately makes quite a dull exhibition, in my opinion. Unfortunately Morandi's lack of variation in subject matter render the exhibition depressingly monotonous...though my like our  actual existence. 

"A half dozen pictures would just about be enough for the life of an artist, for my life"

~Giorgio Morandi

Sunday, October 19, 2008

trámite: hsiao...

Recently checked out a gallery closing of Trámite: Hsiao (a creative interpretation of the Chinese classic scroll "Hsing-Ching", The Classic of Filial Piety, an exhibit by Miguel Trelles at The Gabarron Foundation. Trelles reproduces the practice of painting from reproductions, creating a body of work that proceeds as a consequence of an individual’s respectful engagement with copies of works of art that do exist, and that form the very foundation of a culture in a perfected form. Trelles’ paintings do not aim to be copies in the spirit of the originals, much like the copies by Chinese artists themselves. In this exhibit the scrolls are re-interpreted in the style of mayan codexes.

This 'Chino Latino' styles points to quintessential Postmodernist ideas of the decenteredness of meaning, the valorization of autonomy, the regained importance of the local and the particular, the recombination of values, and towards the infinite possibilities of the human existence. But quite frankly all post-modern art is a juxtaposition of disparate elements and tends to refer to a cultural, intellectual, or artistic state lacking a clear central hierarchy or organizing principle and embodying extreme complexity, contradiction, ambiguity, diversity, interconnectedness or interreferentiality, in a way that is often indistinguishable from a parody of itself. It has given rise to charges of fraudulence. Who the hell knows nowadays? Creativity is hard enough, much respect to anyone who is so fortunate as to be touched by such inspiration...

"Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties"

~Eric Fromm

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

above the clouds...

The US government throwing $250 bn at a consortium of banks and the fact that this has not "persuaded" these institutions to loosen up their credit lines reminds me of a woman who is wined and dined and never satisfied. Always asking for more and never quite satisfied with that they possess, this sort of individual will more often than not bite the hand that feeds it and offer their provider no respect. Nothing, no entity or individual, should be indispensable to humanity on either a national or an international scale. 

People should not be held hostage to some centralist entity nor should all hell break loose as if the globe is some giant honey comb and the queen bee has died. As the maxim goes, often attributed to Charles de Gaulle, "the graveyards are filled with indispensable men" ("Les cimetières sont remplis des hommes indispensable"). 

"In Bolivia we nationalized [gas] for the people to have money, while the United States nationalizes the crises of the wealthy"
~Evo Morales

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

paper airplanes...

As artists and creative individuals in general we are ambassadors of our ideas and thoughts and are, in large part, solely responsible for the particular paths we embarking upon in our professional journeys. Only you can make yourself relevant in this world. Little in this game, or in any facet of life is solely predicated on talent but rather ambition and drive, networking and politicking.

Whether am painting or not I am still analyzing people, studying the appearance of things, not their objective correctness. I do most of my paintings when I am not painting, in my subconscious. The images dance around in my head and lay dormant for hours, days or sometimes even years until the are manifested on a canvas, and even then they often have a life of their own that is separate from my original vision...

"The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine"

the inhumanity of money...

When 3 trillion dollars in wealth suddenly disappears in the course of a week from the New York Stock market (not to mention global markets), one starts to question the whole concept of value and worth. It is stunning to see just how much of the value of the global market is determined by "confidence". 

All of the solutions to this global financial crisis has been to infuse the markets, banks, companies etc. with additional capital, to bailout out companies (i.e. socialize them) with public funds but not to re-evaluate the need for, and our dependence upon this system. What holds real value? People with the means have reportedly been purchasing actual gold bouillon and storing it but in the end what is gold but just another commodity? Another finite resource? How is tangible value created, traded, and stored? Why is onus given to sustainability of corporate entities but not the individuals that comprise them? What value does creativity, art, or ideas have in this context? 

"Art is always and everywhere the secret confession, and at the same time the immortal movement of its time"
~Karl Marx

Saturday, October 11, 2008

comfortably numb...

People tend to take social networking websites such as Facebook and Myspace a little too seriously nowadays. Not every cyber marriage proposal or online 'i love you', qualifies as the real thing. The very nature of the Internet makes communication highly impersonal and gives people the freedom to make statements that they can later deny accountability for...

...Information technologies, besides their benefits, have served to complicate modern life in infinite ways. One should not receive a frantic text message asking them to explain what another individual typed on their wall. Who cares? Little of what occurs in life is of any substance. Rare are the truly remarkable moments and even fewer are experienced in the realm of cyberspace.

"But they are useless. They can only give answers"

~Pablo Picasso, about computers

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

abstract original...

Recently, after painting 28 paintings in 36 days, i took a step back, and a day off, to reflect on the whole creative process and how these physical manifestations of one's self become internalized and recontextualized by different individuals. At a recent exhibit opening, i had several people come up to me and ask me why this and why that? Why these color or images versus another one, etc. 

Quite frankly, it does not matter the meaning i choose for a particular piece. one sets about with one idea but slowly and gradually it transfixes and transforms me in the process and the final product is independent from its initial intended purpose. In many regards, it is like a child, whom a parent rears and attempts to guide down a certain path only to realize that that child chooses its own path and own destiny though it may pattern its behavior off of their parent...

...let inspiration guide you and do not confine it simply to your own limited frames of reference...

"All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness"
~Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

Friday, October 03, 2008

the flyest...

Life is as much about substance as it is image and portraying a uniqueness that sets individuals apart from the masses. The Art world in many regards bears out these fundamental maxim more so than other aspects of life. Dali, Picasso, Basquiat, all cultivated an image that was distinct and left a lasting impression that paired their unique talents with their equally unique personalities.

Where does one draw the line between "show" and being one's "self". I argue that all parts can make up the whole and that one does not compromise the other in order to achieve the means to a certain end. What people lack is the the ability to be a sort of "chameleon" in different social settings and adapt to their surroundings in order to best take advantage of them. And if I so choose to compromise then fuck it, am trying to be in the Met and MALBA someday...haha!

"always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it"
~Bruce Lee

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

ten feet to the left of dumpling man...

running around downtown by astor place the other day trying to maintain some distance from my little studio that has, of late, become a miniature prison as i have been preparing for an upcoming art exhibit.

ran into james delavega's studio to catch up and absorb some inspiration from a long time friend and mentor and maybe even bum a cigar or two off of him as we politicked on art and life. What's unique about his work from the time he was in el barrio is his ability to constantly reinvent his style and address important social issues of the time in various mediums such as acrylic, oil and spraypaint. But perhaps even more than that, hanging out for a couple of hours on this area of 8th street allows you to observe a crossroads of new york as people constantly walk in and out of the store and pass by on the streets. plus its next to dumpling man, which is like culinary  kryptonite to my soul...

"poor is the pupil who does not surpass his master".
~Leonardo da Vinci

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

driving my ducks to a mighty poor pond...

the current financial crisis has me thinking of the good old days of business school sitting in those finance and marketing classes learning how to price derivatives and develop ads to sell coca-cola and fast food to people who didn't need it all in the name of profits.

what stood out and ultimately led to a shift to cultural anthropology (and marketing) was the lack of humanity in money. think of the game of monopoly, the object is to acquire the most and gradually bankrupt your opponents after taking everything they have.

this is the central tenet of modern capitalist business, which is based upon an Anglo-protestant ethic. earthly success is seen as a a direct consequences of god's favor. the objective is to acquire the most, more than necessary just to maintain alive on this planet. business is not about people, it is about non-stop acquisition and the drive for eternal profit. oil companies do not need 44bn usd a quarter they need 54bn. business is simply a non-sustainable cycle of "more". now it does not matter as much if mcdonalds is driving to make more profits to the detriment as much as banks and mortgage houses approving ARM mortgage for people who could not afford houses, leading to foreclosures and flooding the rent market, allowing landlords to increase rent due to the increased demand.

lastly, nothing in business is left to chance. as a finance student we calculated every conceivable aspect of companies was analyzed and re-analyzed (acct. receivables, debt ratios, etc.,) and even customers (actuaries would estimate the life expectancies of people and risk management would estimate the expected debt that would never be repaid) in order to determine the viability of their current and future operations, so it seems unlikely to me that "geniuses" on wall st. could not foresee the fact that if people could not afford a house the day they bought it, when their mortgage adjusted a few years later they would be in the street. there needs to be more humanity on the bottom lines of balance sheets.

"money often costs too much"
~ralph waldo emerson

Monday, September 29, 2008

may you live in interesting times...

today congress defeated the bailout bill and the ride on the 2 train during rush hour was most interesting with all the wall street-types sitting rather subdued and humbled on the subway as nearly $1 trillion dollars of "value" was wiped out from the u.s. economy.

later on, as i sat to argue with at&t wireless customer service before boarding the train on the upper west side i was able to eavesdrop on a man speaking on a pay phone (?) loudly about losing much of the value of his mutual fund investments and anticipating having a tough time paying the bills during the upcoming month. no bailout to be found on 94th and bway today, just the kind of inhumanity in business that made me shift from finance to marketing in undergrad.

"May you live in interesting times"

colors, colors, colors...

so, this has been my reality for the past 26 days or so, uncapped paint jars and cans, 6am bedtimes, trying to knock out a painting a day for an upcoming exhibit on latin heritage month (28 new canvases in total). All this time inhaling these toxic acrylic paints have gotten me to think of colors...the infinite possibilities of shades and patterns and blends.

the magical quality of pigment that have the potential to transform opinions, thoughts, emotions, or...even the ability to bore people to death...ha! we shall see october 6th.

"Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions"
~Pablo Picasso

Sunday, September 28, 2008

¡viva columbus!

Why is it that Latino Heritage month begins and ends in the middle of two seperate months? 

I understand September 15th being the day all of central america gained its independence (back when all five countries were one unified territory) but the fact that Columbus Day, that great harbinger of indigenous extinction that he was, falls within the "month" dedicated to Hispanics is rather odd...can we get a whole month...? maybe august (actually asian/pacific islander month) or september...

just anything that doesnt have Columbus Day in it...

"Sanity is a madness put to good use"
~George Santayana

the frog and the scorpion

i was introduced to this fable by the friend Dayana, which goes a little something like this:

  1. a scorpion asks a frog to carry him across a river.
  2. the frog is afraid of being stung, but the scorpion reassures him that if he stung the frog, the frog would sink and the scorpion would drown as well.
  3. the frog agrees.
  4. In mid-river, the scorpion stings him, dooming the two of them.
  5. when asked why, the scorpion states, "I am a scorpion, it is in my nature".
which got me thinking about the inability for an individual to suppress their "nature", in any sense, the same way a leopard cannot change their spots. Daily, such truth in action is on display within this crazed city, with many people alternating the role of frog and scorpion setting aside common sense and misplaced confidence in the good nature of the unproven, a move which ultimately destroys all parties.

"Can the Ethopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil".
~Jeremiah 13:23, NIV


Saturday, September 27, 2008

a chance meeting with death...

Walking on La Rambla in Barcelona looking for inspiration, estrella damm, and a distraction from summer school, i came across this puppeteer with a puppet of death.

Interestingly enough it was the most popular of the attractions on La Rambla that morning, with individuals on all ages intrigued by a reality of our existence that most of us fear...

"Life and death are one thread, the same line viewed from different sides".
~Lao Tzu

goodbye blue sky...

I have found myself rather fascinated and discouraged at the same time during this U.S. political season and the seemingly fanatical allegiance to a given political party regardless of whether the other party may, for these next 4 years, be able to govern better or have candidates that are more competent (re: Palin). 

What happens at the national level is so complicated and diluted by party politics, compromise, lobbyists and corruption that little of what is said can pass the truth test with flying colors. How much change can occur from the top-down remains to be seen. Furthermore, the electoral system belies the whole "democratic" majority rules thing and it is rather unfair that states like Ohio, etc. become the key decision makers for the rest of the country. With all due respect to rural America of Grant Wood "American Gothic" fame,  over 70% of the population is urban and since the decisions of presidents that can potentially raise the ire of terrorists will most likely impact the citizens of San Francisco, New York, and D.C. rather than Columbus, Ohio or Omaha. 

"There are many men of principle in both parties in America, but there is no party of principle".
~Alexis de Tocqueville