Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I've Been a Bad, Bad Blogger

What is it about the encroaching cold and dark that puts my mind to sleep? Is it just me? I have a long list of proposed blog posts, and I haven't been able to complete any of them. They have titles like "Kathryn Bigelow Reminds Me We're Still At War", "Apocalypse Girl", "Gwenyth Paltrow Triple Feature" and "The Tyranny of Exceptionalism". I do promise some end of year/decade lists in the coming days. Why have a blog if you don't make lists?

I'm just vamping here. I think my mind is still a little dull and sleepy. So, here's a picture:

Virgodog says it looks like me, but it wasn't meant to. Another Lucy Troma related idea. I was very excited about the gothic arches in the background as, historically, drawing buildings has not been my forte.

Monday, November 9, 2009


I've been spending the past few days working on the graphic novel script for Die Like A Lady, so I've been going over all my original research (which I hung on to - my pack rat ways once again vindicated) and looking at some new material. A couple of years ago John Gilmore put out a book, L.A. Despair, which includes a nice, long meaty chapter on Barbara Graham. I'm finding it incredibly useful.

I seem to be getting all obsessed with crime again. Maybe I'll finally get around to doing something on the murder of William Desmond Taylor. Maybe a graphic novel is the only medium that will do what I want with the material, as it's the most complicated murder I've ever read about.

I've also been playing around with a lot of ideas for what the novel should look like. I first thought maybe ink, ink wash - a nice noiry black and white. Now I'm leaning towards something a little grainier, more tabloid-y. On Saturday I went to my first Dr. Sketchy's. The wonderful Darenzia and Nicholas held poses inspired by "Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman Co-Creator Joe Shuster". Apparently, after being swindled out of his stake in Superman by DC Comics, Shuster made his living by drawing fetish comics, many using characters identifiable from his more mainstream creations. They're pretty amazing stuff.

I didn't realize until today that the four images I chose to upload are completely different stylistically from each other. Aside, of course, from making my blog ever more Not Safe For Work, they almost look as if they were done by different people. Hmm.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Barbara Redux

In addition to "Lucy Troma: the Graphic Novel", or perhaps as a test run, I may be doing "Die Like A Lady: the Graphic Novel". In 2002 I wrote and directed a play of the same title which has haunted me in one way or another ever since. The production nearly put me in the hospital from exhaustion, malnutrition and stress. I weighed about 100 pounds at the end of it and I was just shattered. "Die Like A Lady" tells the bad girl life story of Barbara Graham, the last woman to be executed in the state of California. I first read her life story on a true crime website and I thought it was such fascinating stuff - mainly because she had a series of opportunities to escape her downward spiral to the gas chamber and managed to either be bludgeoned by fate or to fuck things up herself. My play was a clown show and a comedy and an example of the self mythologizing nature of all Americans. The famous Susan Hayward movie "I Want To Live" was based on her life, but although it was pretty racy for the '50s it was full of lies. It tried to make her more sympathetic by pretending that she wasn't a junky and a murderer (the movie was okay with her being a whore).

When I was in the middle of working on the show people asked me why I found her story so fascinating and I never had an answer. One thing I do know is that I'm not done with it. I think I know what this story itself is, however. You know those incredibly dangerous women in the noirs of the 40s and 50s? Did you ever wonder what Brigid O'Shaughnessy's life was like before she ran into Sam Spade? Or what had happened to that monstrous woman played by Jane Greer in "Out of the Past"? Or all the damaged, slutty, criminal women played by Lizabeth Scott and Gloria Grahame? Or Hammett's girl with the silver eyes? Take them out of the context of making Robert Mitchum's or Humphrey Bogart's life a misery, and their lives were very likely a lot like Barbara's, just with better clothes and lighting.

So I've been working on some sketches. I've done some ink/ink wash drawings which are a mess as I did them on the wrong kind of paper. Can one be in love with pencils? Because I'm in love with my color pencils. They arrived in the mail yesterday as buying the 72 pencil set from Amazon turned out to be cheaper than buying the 48 pack from Pearl. As I fleetingly mentioned, I've been trying to branch out into color, and one of the problems with this is that I'm not a very good painter. So I got these colored pencils and so far I love them. The only downside that I can see is that I think I have a repetitive stress injury from a marathon of pencil sharpening last night.

But I'm super excited about this and my script is so spare and carefully plotted and so light on dialogue it's pretty much ready to go, story-wise. I miss Barbara, though like a true noir dame she has infected me like a virus.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Patchwork Girl (Last Oz Related Post This Week!)

This is total insanity. I was looking up the previously mentioned unfunny comedian Charles Ruggles on imdb, and the first credit listed is an unconfirmed role in a 1914 film of Patchwork Girl of Oz! It's not precisely a masterpiece, but interesting nonetheless.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For For Getting Our Lips Sewn Shut and Being Eaten By Crocodiles

Murders In the Zoo is on DVD for the first time and maybe it's the Benadryl talking but I thought it was pretty great. I am completely obsessed with Kathleen Burke, the crazily perfectly art deco looking actress. And then I noted that the film was directed by Edward Sutherland, Louise Brooks' first husband. I think he has a type. But really, she looks like a piece of illustration. Unfortunately she winds up being eaten by crocodiles. It's that kind of movie. Okay, she wasn't much of an actress, but it's a total shame she never wound up hanging out with the surrealists in Europe because they would have gone mad for her.

There is also some modern CSI style lab work and an inexplicably hammy turn by somebody named Charles Ruggles. This is pretty much a straight up horror movie. There's the delightfully creepy murderer played by Lionel Atwill, a bunch of people who are there to be killed, and the love interest (the boring couple who survive). But Charles Ruggles gets top billing as the unnecessary and annoying Zoo publicist. Since when does the unnecessary comic relief get top billing? I have a feeling someone if the front office thought the movie was "too dark" and it needed someone more famous, so they shoe-horned in this unfunny comedian.

Lionel Atwill and Kathleen Burke

I really wonder what happened to Kathleen Burke. She got married and retired from the movie business at 25. She did lots of radio until about 1940 (when she was still not yet 30) and then fell off the radar. She died in 1980, and no one's really sure what became of her in the intervening 40 years. Maybe she became a hard-boiled Chandleresque dame. But I suppose it's more likely she became a housewife and led a perfectly ordinary, uneventful life. But I can dream, can't I? Or perhaps at one point I can invent an exciting and fictional alternate 40 years and all questions will answered and all mysteries solved.

Here is the completely grisly opening sequence:

Zoo isn't on Netflix and TCM sadly doesn't have it On Demand. You can purchase the DVD at the TCM store either as a part of their Universal Cult Horror collection (which looks awesome) or individually.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It Can be Really Dispiriting

Last night at open drawing I did some of the worst work of my adult life. It was completely horrifying. I don't know whether I had gotten cocky, or if I was just unfocused, but wow was my work terrible. It was like I lost all my superpowers.

But then I switched to pen and inkwash and things got a little better.

Steampunk in Oz and Elsewhere

Suddenly every post is in some way inspired by Oz (which, in my defense, is so much better than that week when every post was inspired by the Holocaust). I had been thinking about my favorite Oz book (Ozma of Oz), and about Tik-Tok the clockwork man, and decided that now was a good time to finally read the Ann* and Jeff VanderMeer edited Steampunk anthology that's been sitting on my shelf for a while. Like most anthologies, it's pretty hit or miss, but happily, the hits predominate. There are three non-fiction essays included and, in my opinion, one glaring omission.

The stories that particularly impressed me were:

"The Giving Mouth" by Ian R. MacLeod. It's beautifully written and so very, very strange. I'm not sure it strictly qualifies as Steampunk according to my understanding of the term - it's set in a fictional feudal dystopia with mechanized elements, but the writing is lovely. It reminded me a bit of some long, strange meandering fairy tales I have read (again, with mechanized elements). The only quibble I have is that the world building was a little stronger than the story telling.

"Seventy-Two Letters" by Ted Chiang was simply awesome. It's set in a slightly altered Victorian England where golems are being created and given life in factories by scientists and sculptors. It's about 50 pages long, and in this short space he manages to tell an intricately plotted story, explore the moral implications from the point of view of labor, bio-ethics, eugenics, religion and gender. The fact that the story remains exciting and it never bogs down is a tiny miracle.

"Victoria" by Paul di Filippo is so daffy, light-hearted and well written I loved it in spite of my better instincts. I hate it when men write stories and all the women are whores because it's really the most boring default setting imaginable - and this is no exception. But - otherwise this story is such an engaging delight I'll pretty much forgive it anything.

Speaking of one's better instincts, Joe R. Lansdale's splatterpunk Boy's Own story, "The Steam Man of the Prairie and the Dark Rider Get Down: A Dime Novel" is completely and totally disgusting. It's full of violence, rape and assorted over the top mayhem - and I couldn't put it down. Sue me.

The Neal Stephenson and Michael Chabon entries are also totally worth reading, but that's to be expected.

Now for the glaring omission. This might have more to do with my personal interests, but I think leaving Oz out of the Steampunk equation is madness. Aside from Tik-Tok the clockwork man, L. Frank Baum's Oz books are filled with mechanical inventions. Both Professor H.M. Wogglebug, T.E. (the "H.M." is short for "highly magnified", "T.E." is short for "thoroughly educated") and the Wizard come up with lots of exciting mechanical inventions and devices. The sensibility in Baum's books is so remarkably modern, so specifically American, they really do deserve to be mentioned in the same essays as the Steam Man from the much more poorly written and rarely read boy's stories. Again, it may be my own prejudices at play, but is that the issue? That the Steam Man is from literature aimed at boys and Oz is so happily inclusive of girls? I don't think the omission was intentional, but I really do think it worth noting.

They weren't among my favorites, but several female writers were represented in the collection. I love the VanderMeers' sensibility - I also strongly recommend their completely engaging The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide To Eccentric and Discredited Diseases. They are both on the faculty at Clarion this year. I've been thinking about applying for a while but have never gotten myself together in time -I'm still a little traumatized from missing the Neil Gaiman/Kelly Link year.

* Interestingly, in the interview with Ann VanderMeer I linked to, when asked how she became interested in genre, she responded thusly:
Hard to say. I’ve always been an avid reader and lean more towards horror, fantasy and science fiction in my reading tastes. My dad had a collection of all the early L. Frank Baum books from his childhood. And I’m not just talking about The Wizard of Oz, I am talking about the entire series. These were the editions from the 1940’s and they were absolutely beautiful.
One more thing I'd like to note: how hilarious is Tik-Tok's patent infringement notice?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sock Monkeys, Monsters and Penguins!

A facebook friend posted Greg Stones's website and I was pretty instantly smitten. He paints watercolors of Monsters, Sock Monkeys, Penguins and Flashers. It really doesn't get any better than this. Oh, and in totally unrelated news, 59 more shopping days until Christmas. Helpful links provided below.

Penguins, Sock Monkey, Death.

Hats, Rose, Zombie

Zombie, Penguin, Boobs

Five Penguins, One Monster

For the economical, he also has some prints available. I thought this one was particularly appealing:

Fallen Robot

Sadly, his print, "Zombies Hate Hippies" is temporarily sold out. But his book, "Goodbye, Penguins" is happily still available! For only $20! Available: here. You know. Just in case you were thinking of purchasing one as a present for a friend who likes monsters and penguins. But, like, no pressure. Did I mention only 59 shopping days until Christmas? I did? Oops, sorry. Oh, Greg Stones accepts PayPal. In case you're interested (monsters and penguins!).

(All images via Greg Stones)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Feast For Bush!

My multitalented friend Lauren Garfinkel just posted her wonderful Feast to Commemorate 8 Years of George W. Bush. I've posted some highlights below, but you really should take a look at the whole thing.

Trout À La Waterboard:

Heck of a Job Brownie:

Shoe Fly Pie:

I think the person on the roof tuile is particularly lovely.

Lauren has been working in food for a long, long time and it's so exciting to see the finished results of this project.

(images courtesy the artist via

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Who doesn't like a good desecration?

I know, I know I spent yesterday's blog post raving about how much I like the fin de siecle commercial art from the last century. And I do. But I also have a real fondness for the punk rock desecration of dada and the burgeoning surrealists after the First World War. A couple of weekends ago I went to the Art Book Fair at PS 1. I didn't bring much cash or my checkbook as I didn't want to spend more than I could afford. The one thing I did buy was an unbound sheet from Max Ernst's surrealist novel, Une Semaine du Bonté.

I'm really pleased with it, but I'm not sure what to do with it. It's two sided, so it's complicated to frame or mount. The thing managed to survive a world war pretty much unscathed and there's a part of me that thinks it might be appropriate to shoot bullets through it. I've been thinking about this since going to see the Emory Douglas exhibit at the New Museum. It's really extraordinary stuff and so worth seeing, but I've always thought there's something a little weird about looking at revolutionary art in clean museum spaces devoid of the context in which it was originally created.

The theater we made in the '90s on the Lower East Side felt revolutionary, and out of that sprung the New York International Fringe Festival, which has become a cultural institution itself, for good or ill. A lot of theater artists I respect feel that we are in post-narrative times and the only argument have against this is that I really, really like narrative, which isn't an argument at all. Humans crave structure and this craving comes from a deep, primitive, DNA level of need. (one of the things I've read that really helped me make sense of the world is, "Humans like categories, nature likes a spectrum"). And if there's one thing I've said again and again it's that structure in a theater piece does not equal plot.

I haven't completed a play in a really long time. I'm a very bad playwright. I began working on a play called Tricks With Makeup shortly after 9/11 which has been gnawing at my brain ever since. I never thought of it as being surrealistic, but that's what it is. Then a year or two ago I began working on it again as a short story. I think I just need to finish it and not worry about it making sense. I've also been (finally) working on a new play called The City is an Island, which like Tricks With Makeup takes place in a bar. I keep on thinking of City as my Brecht play, silly as that may be in light of the NYC Kill Your Idols aesthetic I was raised with. It's an apocalypse play with songs.

A lot of theater is really boring, and I think the proliferation of MFA programs has caused this country to be inundated with even more boring, bad theater. It's frightening to me that people writing boring bad plays in MFA programs are compounding the problem by teaching innocent little undergraduates. Today someone on Facebook posted this interesting article about Lesbian theater artists, which included the following quote from Sarah Schulman:
"The most destructive ethic in mainstream theater is that familiarity equals quality. They think that work that repeats what is already known is good, and work that expands what is already known is wrong or badly written."
Happily, Schulman is teaching now, and Paula Vogel (the playwright who made me want to be a playwright) is heading up the program at Yale and I've heard that Scrappy Jack is teaching, too. Baby steps, I guess, but I truly believe that good art is not born out of the University system, and if good art does emerge from MFA programs it is a completely inadvertent and random occurrence, and not any sort of proof that this is an effective way to train artists. My displeasure with how theater is taught in schools really deserves it's own post, so I won't go into it too deeply here. Let me just say that theater is multi-disciplinary by nature and that fact is pretty widely ignored. Also, good artists tend to figure things out for themselves in or out of school. So, I guess what I'm saying here is that I'm ready to throw myself back into the fray. A lot of years have passed, and one of the people I used to talk about this stuff with is working for Big Law, others don't speak to me any more, and I've become reacquainted with other artists that I used to know. I'm pretty sure I want to spend my middle years making things, so I really need to start now.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

So, who's up for this?

I think I have a shiny new obsession which is really the very last thing in this world that I need right now. A friend's remarkable facebook photo led me to this post on Coilhouse.

Sigh. I am completely, gobsmackingly in love. The photo at left, and the others posted are actors in costume from the original 1908 Moscow Art Theatre production of Maeterlinck's The Blue Bird.

I've been staring at these pictures for a day now, and all I can think is that we live in aesthetically barren times. Or maybe I'm just out of step with the prevailing aesthetic of my own time, which is far more likely. I wrote about this a little earlier and I am more obsessed than ever with the art (both commercial and fine) in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Mind you, I have no desire to live in those times as I like voting and birth control and computers and antibiotics, but the art was really, really lovely.

I went to acting school in a long ago other lifetime, and this is where I first realized that I find a lot of theater to be really, really boring. I blame a lot of this on American theater artists in the 20th century foisting their very male oriented emotional melodramas upon all of us, worshiping at the shrine of Stanislavsky - but, wait. An interesting little fact: the director of this remarkable looking production of Maeterlinck's very interesting fairy tale was none other than Constantin Stanislavsky.

Although lots of people have conflated that goddamn Method with the teachings of Stanislavsky, they are really entirely different. I'll take the Russians any day, clearly. I realize I'm on shaky ground here, as my most loyal commenter Fuzzy Bastard knows infinitely more about these things than I do (two of my most constant readers have studied theater in Moscow, actually) so I'll return to what I can talk about with some kind of authority.

By which, I suppose I mean the realms of the visual and of fairy tales. I don't think many people could put together a convincing argument against the statement that the commercial and book illustration of the turn of the last century was unmatched by anything either before or since. The combined elements of new, modern printing techniques, a strong pre-Raphaelite influence, art nouveau, a fashion in elaborately illustrated gift books, and the resurgence of the literary fairy tale formed a perfect eco-system for the best illustration ever seen.

The super high end work like Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac and Kay Nielsen (who lived long enough to do a lot of the artwork for the Night on Bald Mountain sequence of Fantasia) is so good I can't even get my head around how it was done on an even basic technique level. But I think the ones who influenced me most deeply when I was a child reading fairy tales and learning how to draw were the lesser lights like H.J. Ford and John R. Neill. Probably because I could figure out how it was done. One of the things I've always found particularly delightful about Neill is that his work is so obviously a part of the mechanical, steam age. The artistic pairing with L. Frank Baum was perfection.

The photos of the actors dressed for Stanislavsky's production of The Blue Bird have a bit of that same machine-age feel. I've been fascinated with Maeterlinck's play since I was a child and read Noel Streatfeild's wonderful book Ballet Shoes in which Pauline and Petrova played Mytyl and Tytyl in a West End production of the play. There was a silent film version directed by Maurice Tourneur (which looks lovely) and a later sound version with Shirley Temple (which looks dreadful). It has been pretty solidly out of fashion since then.

What worries me is that looking at all this makes me want to do nothing else besides directing an elaborately staged and designed revival.

I'm really trying to branch out into color

Baby steps.

I can't fight it any more

I think I've finally made the really scary and work intensive realization that Lucy Troma really, really wants to be a graphic novel. I've basically known this from day one, and I've been fighting it tooth and nail. I've lost and the work begins. The good news is, I've been working so hard and drawing so much that I'm getting both faster and better every day.

This is completely unPhotoshopped. I'm having some software problems so I will clean it up when I've sorted them out.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Art modeling is a really undervalued skill-set

I went to Jazz & Sketch last night with didactictrash and the models were completely super awesome. The only disappointment was that I somehow managed to forget my ink supplies so I only had pencil to work with. The poses were interesting, the models didn't look bored or put upon.

Something else I've noticed is that I sometimes have real difficulty with the 10 minute poses. The 2 minute and 5 minute poses are great for quick sketches, and the 20 minutes are perfect for longer studies, but the 10 minute ones tend to make me clench. Hm.

The Nietzche Family Circus

I've been trying all day to achieve the right tone for what is probably my least anticipated blog post ever, but in the mean time I felt like I had to share my new favorite website: The Nietzche Family Circus!

I've had it open in a window all week and it's given me much unalloyed joy.

For out of fear and need each religion is born, creeping into existence on the byways of reason.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Max Quarterhorse, and some thoughts on comics and plays

Robert Attenweiler (pictured left), author of ...and we all wore leather pants, has just done something I've been meaning to do forever, i.e. he's posted a graphic novel version of one of his plays. Now, whether it's the "first ever Independent Theater-to-comics crossover" I kind of doubt*, but I'm a fan of hyperbole, so I'll let it slide.

The first five pages of The Adventures of Max Quarterhorse are up, and it's pretty freaking great. I really like illustrator, Miriam Gibson's drawings - I'm curious how much of it was drawn straight into the computer. I spent a ridiculous amount of time this morning reading the Tapir Tooth blog, which from the sparse information provided, I gather is a collective of illustrators and sequential artists she co-founded.

It's pretty deeply strange to me that there isn't more overlap between writing for theater and writing for comics as the skill set is so similar. Off-hand, aside from Robert, I can only think of one or two people who do both. I originally envisioned Lucy Troma as a graphic novel. The idea of doing that many drawings was entirely too daunting, although I haven't completely abandoned the idea.

Another thought I had - does anyone else besides me like the idea of published plays being done in graphic form? I'm such a bad playwright, I hate reading plays, but if they were in comic form they would suddenly be so much more exciting - and likely would sell much better, too.

* I began working on the second incarnation of Antarctica after working for a few months on the graphic version. I've had lots of it posted on Facebook for a couple of years.

(image: Miriam Gibson via

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Post-FringeNYC: Viral

Just a quick note about Mac Rogers's show Viral. See it!

He wrote the truly wonderful Universal Robots that was included in the same Plays & Playwrights anthology as Antarctica. I don't say this a lot about my contemporaries, but he can really fucking write. His dialogue is magnificent. His ideas are creepy and weird without any sort of overplaying of his hand.

It's about three people who are sexually aroused by watching people die - not by watching violence, but by watching the life-force leave the body. It reminded me a bit of J.G. Ballard's Crash, a serious examination of a sexual fetish that I'm not entirely sure exists and is the blackest of black comedies. The acting is just lovely too, Rebecca Comtois (pictured above, with Kent Meister and Matthew Trumbull) particularly stood out to me.

Note to Manhattan Theater Club and Playwrights Horizons: many of the plays you've been producing in recent years have been embarrassingly bad. Really. There are other American playwrights besides Itamar Moses and Christopher Shin. Promise.

Gideon Productions
The Soho Playhouse
15 Vandam Street
Sunday, September 27, 6pm

(photo: via


Sorry for spewing highlights from my sketchbooks all over this blog recently. Maybe it's the political climate or maybe it's the actual weather, but words have not been my friends recently.

But isn't that a lovely tree?

Do you think drawing people on the subway is invasive?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Painting with watercolor is like carving in stone

The title of this post is pretty much the summation of what I've learned about painting with watercolor. You cannot screw up because you can't fix anything. I'm used to that because of pen and ink, and it's kind of exhilarating, actually. But pen and ink is much easier to clean up in photoshop as there aren't those textural issues that seem so integral to watercolor.

There is also some ink wash above, in addition to the watercolor, I found these really fantastic French inks that have a gorgeous color (the Higgins colors tend to look a little washed out, though I am still a Black Magic fan), but need to be watered down slightly for use in fine pen nibs. I've been using the same pen nib for years - I have a reserve of several dozen so I should be okay for a while if they become impossible to find.

I'm doing a damaged little girls and squid series. The above painting isn't entirely finished, but I thought I would post anyway.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Post-FringeNYC: His Greatness

I've seen an awful lot of theater over my 40 years, but I just realized when sitting down to write this, that I've only ever seen one or two Tennessee Williams plays performed on stage, and I don't know that I've ever seen him done particularly well. I've seen the movies, though, like everybody else, with poor, crazy Vivian Leigh playing poor, crazy Blanche DuBois and Brando and Newman and Taylor. Maybe modern actors aren't up to Williams, or maybe they're just not right for his plays. Maybe you need beautiful, serious actors with movie star charisma and speaking voices from earlier in the 20th Century. People sound so different in the aughts of the twenty-first century than they did in the mid-twentieth. Whatever the answer, the world has changed and Williams is a little out of fashion.

I saw Canadian playwright Daniel MacIvor's play His Greatness Saturday afternoon at the Soho Playhouse, where it has one performance left as a part of The FringeNYC Encore series. It shows a couple of days in the last years of (unnamed) Tennessee Williams's life. His life has become a sodden, sordid drunken mess. He is attended to by his fortyish assistant a former lover and rent boy, who now acts as Williams's secretary, nursemaid and procurer. The action takes place in a sad, mid-range hotel room in Vancouver, where one of Williams's unsuccessful late plays is being produced. The relationship between these two men, like many bad marriages, is both funny and sad.

This isn't usually my sort of play, and having seen four or five Daniel MacIvor shows over the past ten years or so, it isn't his usual play either. It was such a regular play compared to Never Swim Alone or Beautiful view. I've also sort of decided at some point that I don't care about plays or movies if they don't include and girls. About halfway through I realized, "Oh! This is Daniel MacIvor doing his own version of a Tennessee Williams play." And then it all made sense to me. It's really well done and totally worth checking out.

His Greatness
Soho Playhouse
Fri. September 25, 7pm

Friday, September 18, 2009

Select Image, Scan With Right Hemisphere, Draw

Your brain is likely very different from my brain, but my brain is happiest, I've found, when I spend a significant amount of time focusing on pictures rather than words. I've started working on a project combining words and pictures that I don't want to say very much about yet, but I will likely be posting bits of it here in the coming weeks.

I've said before, that I'm terribly rusty. I used to draw all day, every day (it was the only possible way I could have gotten through school), but now that I am no longer held captive with a pen in my hand, drawing seems to have fallen by the wayside. God, I am rusty as hell.

I've posted some quick sketches I've done over the past couple of weeks. My brain is much happier and now I must get busy with my own work. Whee! By the way, the busty blonde below is The World Famous Bob.

Wiemar Germany Was a Very Small World

A couple of weeks ago I offhandedly wondered if Lilia Skala knew Hedy Lamarr as they both worked with Max Reinhardt at about the same time. I received the following answer from Libby Skala (Lilia's granddaughter) via facebook:

By the way, both sisters - Lilia and Lisl knew Hedy Lamarr in Vienna as Hedy Kiesler, says Grace, Lisl's daughter. Also, I remember my grandmother saying she was playing Hedy Lamarr's mother in a Viennese stage production when a Hollywood scout came back stage after the show and said he wanted to bring Hedy to Hollywood. Thus began her film career.

I think if I ever write my Hedy Lamarr magnum opus, the Skala sisters will have to make cameo appearances.

(photo: Lilia Skala, Austria, 1930 via

Other People's Art

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon wandering around Chelsea popping in and out of galleries looking at art. It's always fun, but I was generally underwhelmed.

Rita Lundqvist's paintings are fun to look at, they have these sort of blank comic book-like figures painted on dark, empty, textile fields. I like how they looked, and maybe I'm permanently in search of a context, or of some kind of narrative, but without context they seemed a little lost and sterile. I feel as if I had one hanging in my house I would get tired of looking at it.

Carla Klein's show was in the same gallery, and I was much more impressed with it. I loved her really modern, car oriented vision of landscape. Her paintings are dark and moody and quiet, landscapes as seen through a windshield or at night. She uses a really limited palette that is full of blues and grays and feel like thunder.

Both are at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery and run through October 24.

I also saw the new Kara Walker exhibit, and I feel like a total Grinch, but I wasn't in love. When I first saw her black and white paper cut-outs my mind was well and truly blown. I really liked the white on white painting/collage (sorry, the catalog is not online), and the 3D paper works, but the video didn't work for me. It seemed oddly half-assed, the story was moving and the shadow puppets were exquisite, but the filming was sloppy and she perhaps could have used a little dramaturgical help. Her still images are so sharp, they could cut glass - here the effect was muted, fuzzy around the edges. I don't think there is much I can say about her work that hasn't been said a hundred times, her work is glorious and shocking and, I think, necessary.

Her show runs through October 17 at Sikkema Kenkins & Co.

(image: Tanya Bonakdar Gallery)