Deadwood officially dead

“Deadwood: The Complete Seasons 1-3” (Michael Almereyda, Timothy Van Patten)

Beth passed on confirmation of what we already expected, namely that Deadwood creator David Milch would never film the four hours of follow-up as promised by HBO and David Milch. Boo.

If you’ve been holding your breath about “Deadwood,” you can now exhale.

The HBO western drama is officially, categorically, absolutely dead — with no possibility of a movie to wrap up storylines that have been dangling for nearly two years.

“Deadwood” departed in August 2006 when creator David Milch, apparently weary of the project, moved on to “John From Cincinnati,” a truly bizarre sci-fi drama starring Austinite Austin Nichols that caught on with a few critics (including me) but very few viewers. It was deemed a gorgeous head-scratcher by most.

After “Deadwood” ended, HBO tried to calm frantic fans with the promise of a future movie that would address the conclusion of the violent goings-on in the Dakota Territory. But as time dragged on, the prospect faded. Actors moved on to other projects, and now Milch is working on another HBO series about a corrupt NYPD squad in the 1970s.

[From “Deadwood” officially dead … no movie planned | TV Blog]

Bummer, but not unexpected. Apparently too expensive a set, too many high profile (expensive) actors, and a high-strung creator with a recent high profile failure (John From Cincinnati). Oh well, another unresolved, flawed drama, just like real life.

Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock?

“Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock? (Documentary)” (Harry Moses)

What a great film1 . An epic culture clash between the mumble-frackers and the regular 18-wheeler-driving Janes (so to speak)

When brash trailer park resident Teri Horton bought a secondhand painting for five bucks, little did she know it could be a genuine Jackson Pollock worth millions. This film documents Horton’s volatile 15-year journey into the heart of the art world’s elitist establishment to have the painting authenticated. The clash between stuffy art dealers and the cussin’, beer-drinkin’ Horton is funny, eye-opening and utterly unforgettable. [From Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock?]

Teri Horton, a truck driving, trailer park resident with a stubborn streak is annoyed by the stuffed shirts of the New York art world, and refuses to give up when they tell her the painting she owns is not authentic. To a non-member of the art gallery crowd, her evidence seems solid (for instance, a fingerprint smudged on the back of her canvas that matches a fingerprint found on a paint can in Jackson Pollack’s studio, and on the back of another authentic painting), but the various experts, such as Thomas Hoving, former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, disagree. The film, released in 2006, doesn’t have a happy ending (she refuses the offer of $9,000,000 from a Saudi sheik), but doesn’t have an unhappy ending either.

Ben McGrath, of the New Yorker, wrote a small article on the topic2 recently, which begins:

The art world, we keep hearing, is in a fine mess, awash in money and bereft of direction, and a recent documentary, “Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock?,” seems to prove the point. In it, a retired truck driver in California named Teri Horton buys what she considers to be an ugly painting as a gag gift for five dollars at a thrift store, is later told that it looks like a Jackson Pollock (the title refers to her initial reaction), and then struggles to convince anyone who matters that it could be the real thing. The film pits old-fashioned art authenticators (Thomas Hoving, the former Met director, runs his fingers over the painting before declaring, “It’s dead on arrival”) against a forensic scientist in Montreal, Peter Paul Biro, who finds what he believes to be Pollock’s paint-stained fingerprints on the back of the canvas. Horton says she has turned down an offer of nine million dollars for the painting from a Saudi collector.

The other day, at Cipriani Dolci, in New York, Kevin Jamison, a graduate student in government and politics at St. John’s, and the co-founder of a fledgling art consultancy, flipped through a copy of Ellen Landau’s “Jackson Pollock,” comparing the reprints in the book with a pair of images stored on his iPhone. These were of paintings he’d bought, for twenty-five dollars apiece, at an antique shop in Norfolk, Virginia, this summer, and they looked, to an untrained eye, like plausible Pollocks, at least in the sense that they were abstract and drippy. “They were under a stack of paintings about this tall,” Jamison, who has a baby face masked by stubble, said, pointing at the tabletop. One is seventeen inches by twenty-one inches, and painted on rice paper, using only white and gray. The other is twenty-six by twenty-six, on canvas, and much more colorful: green, yellow, red, white, and black.

Jamison watched “Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock?” upon returning from Virginia, and then set about finding what he hoped could be useful forensic details, which he also showed on his iPhone: a flake of gold paint, visible only under magnification (Pollock used gold spray paint in his studio); rusty vintage staples; and a peculiar screwlike indentation that he found on the left side of the larger painting, which he believes could match a similar mark that he spotted in Pollock’s “One: Number 31, 1950,” at MOMA. (A caveat: referring to the painting’s left side “depends on what someone considers the top or the bottom,” Jamison said. “I’ve been looking at it for a couple of months and hanging it different ways.”)

“As of now, what they’re worth is what I paid for them,” Jamison said. But Peter Paul Biro, the forensic expert, has agreed to examine the paintings in person early next month, and Jamison has also corresponded with Richard Taylor, a professor of physics at the University of Oregon, who examined fractal patterns in some of the contested Herbert Matter Pollocks (two dozen paintings discovered in a Long Island locker) currently on exhibit at Boston College’s McMullen Museum of Art.

“Jackson Pollock” (Ellen G. Landau)

great fun: essential viewing for anyone at all interested in the art world and/or forensic science.

  1. The film’s title is probably Who the Fuck is Jackson Pollack, but good luck finding a copy that prints the full title, even in our post-Carlin world []
  2. which is why I rented the film, duh. []

Michelangelo wears Kabbalah bracelet

“The Sistine Secrets: Michelangelo’s Forbidden Messages in the Heart of the Vatican” (Benjamin Blech, Roy Doliner)

Could be another case of Dan Brownism (conspiracy theories created without much basis in fact, but fun), I don’t know enough about Michelangelo or Kabbalah to proclaim with any authority.

The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, which the renaissance artist worked on for four years in the early 16th century, is actually a “bridge” between the Roman Catholic Church and the Jewish faith, according to The Sistine Secrets: Unlocking the Codes in Michelangelo’s Defiant Masterpiece.

The book, which is already on the New York Times bestseller list, is the work of Rabbi Benjamin Blech, an associate professor of Talmud at Yeshiva University in New York, and Roy Doliner, a tour guide at the Vatican.

Scanning through the arrangement of figures on the vast 14,000 square foot ceiling, the authors have found shapes that correspond to Hebrew letters.

For example, the book states, the figures of David and Goliath form the shape of the letter gimel, which symbolises g’vurah, or strength, in the mystical Kabbalah tradition.

[From Michelangelo ‘hid secret code in Sistine Chapel’ – Telegraph]

Making obscene gestures toward the Pope? Do tell…

The authors believe Michelangelo picked up his knowledge of Judaism while at the court of Lorenzo de Medici in Florence.

In addition, they say there are several attacks on Pope Julius II, who commissioned the work, embedded in the painting.

Disgusted with papal corruption, they think Michelangelo painted the prophet Zechariah in the pope’s likeness.

Behind him, one angel is “making an extremely obscene hand gesture at the back of his head.”

RIP Brendan Scanlon aka Solve

Solve Danger

[click image for full version]

RIP Solve aka Brendan Scanlon. Died entirely too young. My condolences to his family, friends, and many fans. I’ve taken several photos of his work, but didn’t know him personally.

Prominent renegade Chicago street artist, Solve, was one of four homicides registered in Chicago this weekend, raising even more the already large number of violent crimes and shootings in the city this year.

Only twenty-five years old, Solve, A.K.A. Brendan Scanlon, was found with multiple stab wounds to the chest at 3032 W. Palmer Blvd. at 2:40 a.m.

A suspect is in custody for the stabbing incident, but no charges have yet been filed.

The murder Of Brendan Scanlon delivers a overwhelmingly saddening blow to the art and graffiti community of Chicago. Solve was a major influence and participant in the emerging and struggling Chicago street art scene in a city with one of the strongest anti-graffiti laws and tactics in the United States.

[Click to read more .: Chicago Street Artist Killed in Weekend Violence, R.I.P. Solve]

see also discussion here, and brief article at the Sun-Times.

Brendan Scanlon, of the 2800 block of West Palmer Blvd., according to the medical examiner’s office, was found with multiple stab wounds to the chest at 3032 W. Palmer Blvd. about 2:40 a.m., Kubiak said.

As of 6:30 a.m. an adult offender was in custody, but no charges have yet been filed.


— update: obituary in the Sun-Times

At least one person is in custody for the fatal stabbing of a well-known local graffiti artist in the Logan Square neighborhood early Saturday.

The man was found with multiple stab wounds to the chest at 3032 W. Palmer Blvd. about 2:40 a.m., according to police News Affair Officer Laura Kubiak.

The man, identified as Brendan Scanlon, was leaving a party when he got into a “verbal altercation” and was subsequently stabbed, police said.

Police were “talking to people” Saturday evening and as of 6:30 a.m. an “adult offender” was in custody. No charges have been filed.

Scanlon, of 2846 W. Palmer Blvd., died of a stab wound to the chest, an autopsy determined Saturday. His death was ruled a homicide by the County Medical Examiner’s office.

Scanlon graduated from the Illinois Institute of Art in 2007, and worked as a freelance artist and graphic designer, according to his Web site.

Scanlon is reportedly the man behind SOLVE, a local graffiti and street artist. Many people discussed his death on a Chicago Street Art online discussion forum Saturday.

“The Chicago street art and graffiti community has suffered another devastating blow to our family,” one of the forum members posted Saturday. A memorial featuring Scanlon’s work is reportedly being planned.

Scanlon wanted “to be a respected member of the international design community,” and thought “art is one of the things that makes life worth it,” according to his Myspace profile, where friends posted mournful comments Saturday.

Grand Central Area detectives are investigating.

[From Fight leads to fatal stabbing of local artist :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Metro & Tri-State]

GapersBlock profiled Solve, and some other Chicago street artists a while ago.

His handle is a verb, not a noun. SOLVE uses his street art to “foster a more positive, productive society.” His work tends to be among the most confrontational in the Chicago street art scene — and that’s precisely his aim. Although he primarily works in larger format paste-ups, SOLVE brings his inventive and colorful style to other aspects of the North Side, especially signal boxes.

SOLVE wants you to know that he is not in a gang. And neither are most street artists.

RIP Solve closeup

Solve RIP Heartbroken tiny RGB

Continue reading “RIP Brendan Scanlon aka Solve”

David Byrne Sonic Architect

A second reason to visit New York this summer (the first reason).

“So, what do you want to know?” asks David Byrne, beaming beneath a straw fedora, as erudite and affable as ever, even with a couple busted ribs. “What’s not apparent?” He’s gesturing to an ornate antique organ, the only adornment to this cavernous 9,000-square-foot hall in the Battery Maritime Building in Lower Manhattan. A bewildering farm of tubes and wires runs out from the back and snakes along to the walls, the towering columns, and the pipes looming overhead, as if the instrument itself were on life support. Not much, at first blush, is apparent.

David would like it if you came and had a go at the organ. Or, more accurately, the venue itself. Playing the Building, his partnership with arts gurus Creative Time, is basically an interactive experimental-music station, a chance for you (and/or your kids) to pretend you’re a member of Einstüerzende Neubauten for a couple minutes. Each key on the organ connects to a tube, which connects to some facet of the building, which dutiful whirls or clanks or whistles or saws at your command. The tones are generally arranged low to high on the keyboard, though you can’t exactly play “Stormy Weather” on it; it’d be more satisfying, perhaps, to rattle off a few full-keyboard slides, Bugs Bunny/Jerry Lee Lewis–style, though so far, everyone seems too polite (or too fearful of busting the thing) to do this. Probably just as well. Your choice, though. Spray-painted in yellow onto the cement floor at the foot of the organ is a simple request: “Please play.”

[From village voice > music > Down in Front: David Byrne: Sonic Architect by Rob Harvilla ]

The exhibit will be open till mid-August – he ought to take it on tour to a few other urban environments around the world (including Chicago, of course).

David Byrne blogs about the installation:

Playing the Building — my installation in the Battery Marine Building — opened to the public today. Creative Time had music, hot dogs, beer and ice cream downstairs. (No food or drink from the party was allowed in the actual installation space.) My iPod provided the music and I saw at least one couple dancing! The line to play the organ traversed all the way to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. The fire department only allows 150 people in the space at one time since the exits are not all well lit — hence the long wait times. But there were other long lines were just for ice cream or beer.

Bucky Fuller: Dymaxion Man

“Buckminster Fuller: Starting with the Universe (Whitney Museum of American Art)” (K. Michael Hays, Dana A. Miller)

I’d really like to go to this exhibit at the Whitney – Bucky Fuller was a wild cat.

One of Buckminster Fuller’s earliest inventions was a car shaped like a blimp. The car had three wheels—two up front, one in the back—and a periscope instead of a rear window. Owing to its unusual design, it could be maneuvered into a parking space nose first and could execute a hundred-and-eighty-degree turn so tightly that it would end up practically where it had started, facing the opposite direction. In Bridgeport, Connecticut, where the car was introduced in the summer of 1933, it caused such a sensation that gridlock followed, and anxious drivers implored Fuller to keep it off the streets at rush hour.

Fuller called his invention the Dymaxion Vehicle. He believed that it would not just revolutionize automaking but help bring about a wholesale reordering of modern life. Soon, Fuller thought, people would be living in standardized, prefabricated dwellings, and this, in turn, would allow them to occupy regions previously considered uninhabitable—the Arctic, the Sahara, the tops of mountains. The Dymaxion Vehicle would carry them to their new homes; it would be capable of travelling on the roughest roads and—once the technology for the requisite engines had been worked out—it would also (somehow) be able to fly. Fuller envisioned the Dymaxion taking off almost vertically, like a duck.

Fuller’s schemes often had the hallucinatory quality associated with science fiction (or mental hospitals). It concerned him not in the least that things had always been done a certain way in the past. In addition to flying cars, he imagined mass-produced bathrooms that could be installed like refrigerators; underwater settlements that would be restocked by submarine; and floating communities that, along with all their inhabitants, would hover among the clouds. Most famously, he dreamed up the geodesic dome. “If you are in a shipwreck and all the boats are gone, a piano top . . . that comes along makes a fortuitous life preserver,” Fuller once wrote. “But this is not to say that the best way to design a life preserver is in the form of a piano top. I think that we are clinging to a great many piano tops in accepting yesterday’s fortuitous contrivings.” Fuller may have spent his life inventing things, but he claimed that he was not particularly interested in inventions. He called himself a “comprehensive, anticipatory design scientist”—a “comprehensivist,” for short—and believed that his task was to innovate in such a way as to benefit the greatest number of people using the least amount of resources. “My objective was humanity’s comprehensive success in the universe” is how he once put it. “I could have ended up with a pair of flying slippers.”

Fuller’s career is the subject of a new exhibition, “Buckminster Fuller: Starting with the Universe,” which opens later this month at the Whitney Museum of American Art. The exhibition traces the long, loopy arc of his career from early doodlings to plans he drew up shortly before his death, twenty-five years ago this summer. It will feature studies for several of his geodesic domes and the only surviving Dymaxion Vehicle. By staging the retrospective, the Whitney raises—or, really, one should say, re-raises—the question of Fuller’s relevance. Was he an important cultural figure because he produced inventions of practical value or because he didn’t?

[Click to read three more pages of Annals of Innovation: Dymaxion Man: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker]

Don’t think I’m traveling to NYC anytime soon however. There is a slide-show up at the moment.

“Critical Path” (R. Buckminster Fuller)

Francis Ford Coppola Finances His Movie with Wine

I have new-found respect for Francis Ford Coppola (though it has been a long, long time since he’ made a great film), I like his wine, and his new film sounds interesting. Coincidently, I have several volumes of world religion study from Mircea Eliade on my shelf, yet I was unaware Eliade wrote fiction too. From the NPR podcast

Coppola’s success allows him, at this stage, a certain freedom. He financed

Youth Without Youth himself — “as I intend to do with all my films now, (in) this last part of my career.”

That means, of course, that he’s not required to shop his script around, taking edits from every producer and studio chief with a finger in the financial pot. And while every script can benefit from outside input, Coppola says he gets that from his own production team: actors, cameramen, editors and other colleagues.

“I think it’s the market research aspect that’s trying to eliminate risk in the movie that’s partly what’s wrong with films,” he says.

Not that he’s immune to public opinion.

“I make movies in the same way I would cook a dinner,” he says. “I want people to come and enjoy it. I don’t want the dinner to be over and (have) people saying, ‘Well, that was interesting; I want to think about it.” [not transcribed: Robert Siegel, the interviewer, cracking up]
So, from here on in, it’s Francis Ford Coppola, independent filmmaker?

“I think in my heart I’ve always been an independent filmmaker,” he says. “Oddly, and very strangely, I became wealthy in other businesses.

“In a sense, everyone who buys a bottle of Coppola wine is my executive producer and makes it possible for me to pursue other movies that I feel passionate about — that I love — and that I make irrespective of whether they’ll be commercial or not.”
[From NPR : Francis Ford Coppola Seeks Answers in ‘Youth’]

Well worth listening to the entire interview (also available for free at the iTunes store – search NPR – Movies)