New Years Resolutions 2014
Tonight at 6:30pm, Trenton Doyle Hancock will resurrect his 1998 performance “Off-Colored” in a new context. Hancock will bring to life the mythical creature called the Mound. He is fed huge bowls of Jell-O and, in between feedings, sings a spiritual hymn taught to him as a child by his grandmother. The singing references Hancock’s religious upbringing but also reaffirms his connection to his relatives and loved ones who are no longer living. By bringing these hymns into the museum space, Hancock draws a connection between his religious past and his present relationship as an artist to the museum.
The event will take place at NYU Grey Art Gallery. Tickets required: http://bit.ly/HCHDfN
Visit: http://radicalpresenceny.org/ and use #RadicalPresenceNY on social media to keep up with all the “Radical Presence” programming.
Image: Trenton Doyle Hancock, Devotion, 2013
Photo: Max Fields
More work from a former classmate of mine. Check him out!
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So yesterday I went to the #GlobalCitizensFestival on the Great Lawn in Central Park. It’s a socio-political event mainly designed to bring attention to a variety of issues. This year was about ending poverty; addressing the plight of women and girls relative to economic equality, reproductive rights and family planning, political voice and education; as well as something called Ekocycle which is basically about recycling and wearing sustainably made clothes.
I have to say, I was aware of the festival peripehrally but didn’t really know what all it entailed outside of the music. The event needs some work. First off, from a messaging standpoint they’re all over the place - Women, poor people, Africa, Water, Recycling, political empowerment, family planning. I mean all important issues but not necessarily the easiest to connect together. And that made it feel disjointed and the messages go lost.
Also, there were way too many speeches. The star power of people like Soledad O’Brien, a few super models, Hugh Jackman’s wife, Gerard Butler, Bono and Will I. Am were not enough to overcome the dry nature of what they were talking about and all of the CEOs of obscure charities and companies no one had ever heard of who came up to speak and pat themselves on the back.
The one award they gave out to a young guy from Africa who is doing some amazing things with education in Uganda they buried towards the end of a dozen other speakers and it felt like an after thought - it should have been a feature. Then there’s the issue of the viability of the mission and some rather contradictory concepts they spouted. For example, when introducing the president of Liberia, they remarked that after years of men running the country into war and shambles it took a woman president to come in and make progress.
To me, that is antithetical to the argument that gender is a neutral and women should be on equal standing to men. That the previous regime was a mess is a reflection of their in ability to lead, corruption, greed and lack of character. Not lack of an additional X chromosome. If women are equal, then things aren’t bad because men are in power things are bad because the wrong PEOPLE are in power - regardless of their gender. The way they presented her makes the logical conclusion that their is a “better” gender for leadership. Also, as soon as a women fails, then it’s “women” failed not that particular leader failed. Equality is about removing evaluations based on incidental attributes like race, or gender - just like hair color or eye color or height. I think they missed the mark there.
Now for the real point of the event:
The festival - and the reason I attended - featured performances by Kings Of Leon, Elvis Costello - who was a special unannounced guess who I could have seriously done without (he was not in good voice and felt way out of place), Janell Monet - also a surprise (this one pleasant. She KILLED a rendition of Smile!), Alicia Keys, John Mayer, Bono, Maxwell and Stevie Wonder.
I’ll start with the Kings since they opened. First, I was not thrilled that they opened because the opening act usually plays the shortest set and since I was on line finding my way in I missed the first song. Second, the ROCKED! They did the obvious Use Somebody and Sex on Fire but the highlight for me was Family Tree and my personal favorite Beautiful War which was one of the first times they’ve ever played it live. Love them, love the album, loved the set other than its length.
Then came Elvis. I am not particularly familiar with his music but I know he’s a popular act and who he is. What I didn’t know as how bad he’d sound and how boring he’d be. In fact, Bridget Moyniham introducing him was far more interesting than his performance.
Janell Monet - introduced by supermodel Karoulina Karkovia (sp?) - absolutely slayed in the one song she did. At first I was like “eh” because it’s hard to hear the classics done by newbies. But she sang it in a completely different arrangement and her voice hit octaves I didn’t know she had and I didn’t think would resonate in an outdoor amphitheater setting but really did. Great. Later in the show she came on stage and sang along side Stevie Wonder. Literally, along side him as something was wrong with her mic and she had to share his. She was absolutely amazing singing classic Stevie with Stevie! And she is a really pretty girl!
Alicia Keys, where do I begin? Well, I’ll start with the good stuff. She looked drop dead gorgeous! She has a pompadour style hair cut that really looks good on her and she’s been in the gym because her midriff bearing side cut out dress was sexy but not slutty and she worked it out. She also managed to belt out two songs in good voice, on key and without straining - Like you’ll never see me again and If I Ain’t Got You. Other than that, she performed really well from a stage presence stand point and charm stand point and her messages about empowerment were well stated. However, she was not in good voice as has been her MO Lately. The majority of the time she was underneath the notes, off key or straining. She ruined Fallen. Also, I don’t know what this obsession she has with west Indian influences in her music but it does not work with her voice or style - over it. I don’t know what happened but something changed after she made the switch to life with Swizz Beats. Maybe she has a vocal issue she’s not made public or maybe she’s feeling herself and her life and motherhood and being a wife and her new sexiness so she’s not working on her vocal instrument now that she’s made it. I don’t know but it’s disappointing. She is one of the best musicians and song writers of our generation and she was one of the best vocal talents as well. It’s hard to stay on top from a hit song stand point over the course of a long career and it can be hard to deal with vocal changes as you get older but this is not right. Really too bad.
Of the acts I was aware of, John Mayer was who I was least interested in. In fact, I could really name any but two of his songs. I figured his claim to fame was one good hit song and banning lots of actresses and pop stars. Boy was I wrong! That dude is talented. His first few songs were light on vocals but he picked it up and his voice is actually quite good and he has a surprising range. I did not know he had a falsetto. He did some Marvin Gaye, some Greatful Dead everything. He got things turned up! I have a new found respect for him to be sure.
Then came Bono. He wasn’t a scheduled performer and he didn’t do a set. All he did was deliver one of the best introductions I’ve ever seen. He intro’d Stevie Wonder in sort of a singing/storytelling voice that talked about his career, achievements, history everything! He took the audience to CHURCH! It was very entertaining and definitely was the right amount of hype, pomp and circumstance for such a big act.
Then of course there was the true headliner and originator of the festival - Stevie Wonder! He did two songs, brought the president of the UN on stage for a couple mins, went back to his set, stopped and delivered a short (like 1.5 mins) speech on his views on gun control/Trayvon Martin, went back to his set and brought in not one but two special guests, sent them on their way and extended his set beyond the end of the show!
This man did everything. We were singing, dancing shouting grooving. I mean 16000 people all just having a great time in the dark in central park was amazing. He sounded terrific, did all the standards and his rendition of John Lennon’s Imagine (which he used to highlight his point on gun control) had everyone near tears it was so beautiful. He also did an audience participation bit where he had us sing “We are global cit-i-zens, and we’re gonna change the world!” Took a while for people to get it right but he demanded we do it and of course we did! He then brought Maxwell (the second of his two guests) on stage to show us how to sing it! He looked and sounded good too (a lot better than the slightly drunken mess Sansarae Dean and I saw at the Versace show earlier this year)
I know they streamed live and it was on TV but I can’t imagine it captured what it was like to be there. He was doing things on that stage musically and vocally that most acts in his generation let alone this one can only dream about. I have never seen him live before and I was so happy I did. It was a real moment. And it was one of those “music unites people” moments. I talked to strangers I would never look at in real life, everyone was smiling and even the police officers were clapping their hands and singing!
Volatile Humanity, A Poem By Eddie Myles, Jr.
You talk of peace, I profess my love
They wage their wars in names above
There might be truth but we hear only lies
Shiny eyes are a great disguise
To save the world to make us win
Lets both solve - the world’s problems
But we can’t because we don’t really care
And you and I, we aren’t really here
Given breath - and life and thought
To each his own, that’s what we’re taught
And every man’s brutality,
Evince a volatile humanity
Do we feel? And, do we love?
And is my force from up above?
We rise in times of charity
We kill with such great clarity
You claim to know me - but I’m different now
I used to be him, now I disavow
My juvenile hypocrisy
My blatant and volatile humanity
@hollowman007 @818das @sansarae hey, you guys should follow my coworker @woodybatts. He has so kick ass creative stuff on his feed. This is a screen shot of his profile page where he’s made some composite images out of the little Instagram squares uploaded in order! You guys know how I love interesting art. Plus this dude has some pretty sick ink! #follow #art #artist #artists #digital #pink #awesome #cool #instaart #followhim #hot #illustration #pop #modern
@woodybatts A coworker of mine, who’s also an artist, gave me a gift of this really cool mug that changes color with the temperature if the beverage you out in it. You can find I’m at the local artist market on bleeker. Or at woodybatts.com #woodybatts #hiimwoody #mug #hustlejuice #cool
Yes We Scan
The slogan "Yes We Scan" and a modified version of Fairey’s Obama appeared on banners and placards held by protesters during Obama’s visit to Berlin earlier this month. In a statement to the L.A. Times Thursday, Fairey said that he welcomes the use of his art as commentary.
"I have never been an unconditional Obama supporter or cheerleader," Fairey said. “So I’m pleased to see people subvert my Obama images as a way to critique him and demonstrate the wide gap between some of his promises and actions. Subversion of well known symbols and images for social commentary has long been a technique in my repertoire."
Art is after all one of the greatest forms of social commentary!