Tuesday, February 28, 2006

can a painter project?

art: spent a good part of saturday over at my masi's. was playing with my cousin's notepad pc, which has this great drawing interface. attached is one of the resulting sketches. this was originally a photograph i shot while in india a few months ago. from this pc software, i am able to import an image, and then draw on top of it. i thought the sketch came out well, but felt a little odd about the process. i ran across this article at clickwalla on souza. it mentioned his obsession w/ a camera obscura, which apparently allowed him to project images onto his canvases from where he could paint. i recall being a kid and getting this little light desk thing that let me put a picture in it, and a piece of paper, and i could trace over the image. i was fascinated. like most kids around 11 years of age, reproducing realism was my artist ideal. much later in my art years, i can safely say its not a big deal to sketch things, but often it is a pain blowing up an image from a photo onto canvas to form a starting point for a painting. i can see why souza wanted to skip the effort, and get on w/ the more exciting aspects of his paintings. ameen and i started chatting about this last night - bottom line, is it sleezy in some way to follow such a process? i would think this argument would be considered settled by marcelles du champ's toilet hanging show many years ago. certainly the art world claims it is, nonetheless, i think deep down, even the most ardent "art is what the artist says it is" mantra chanters, have a problem with it. it took ameen 20 minutes and some pondering to finally conclude, yeah, its fine, so long as the artist doesn't hide the process in any way. i, however, think its fine, but am still feeling unsettled. why am i unsettled? if someone can hang a urinal up and call it art -- if legions can shoot photos and call it art -- if legions can accept both as art, why is it such a big deal for me to shoot one's own photo, project it, and jump start the composition process? oddly, it doesn't even bother me to now know one of my favorite painters followed such a process.

A Day in the Life of Mateo

My friend, whos adopted name is now apparently 'mateo', is having a hoot down in mexico. Since my life is far less exciting these days, with his permission, I'm posting a recent email he sent me. this one is titled: Prepare yourself for verbal diarrhea!

Life continues in the land of the sun. At the moment I have a bit of a cold, I think I got a chill last night because it was suddenly cold and I had the fan right on me all night. Its wierd to have a cold in a super hot climate. However its very mild and the old digestive system is running like a champ.

Not much new to report. Today was an excellent day, I got up at around 9 and went over to my friend Jerry's house around the corner to see if he could help me fix my moto, which hasn't been running since I got here. Instead he had to install a window at another friends house, an odd job he was doing, so we went over there instead. There we bumped into my friend Alexis who had dropped by to pick up some tiles for his house that Tony had bought for him, so I offered to help load them into my truck and carry them up to his house. Then Tony shows up and we hang out a bit and talk about his indian neem tree in the back yard and he shows me a plot of land next to his with a great view of the beach for 8000 dollars. We discuss possibilities. I read the introduction to "Rebel Sell" which I find very interesting, the premise is that the dominant counter-culture paradigm today is the "Matrix" like concept that we are all being manipulated by "the establishment", and the accepted leftie way to fight it is, like Nemo in the Matrix film, to refuse to accept the established world as is and pursue personal pleasure, since the ultimate act of rebellion in a media orchestrated world is to identify and pursue goals that you yourself want rather than the goals society sells you, (the book suggests that this paradigm is flawed and efforts to subvert the establishment simple serve to strengthen it) I borrow the book, we go visit Alexis's observatory he is building out of cob with a homemade thatched rotating doom roof for the telescope, we take some grass cuttings to plant at Jerry's house, there is a nice variety of grass Alexis is growing that is very strong and requires little water, then I drop back by Jerrys house, he invites me in for some leftover minestrone (Jerry is an italian who is opening a restaurant here in 4 months), I have a chance to flirt a bit with Ciara the sexy italian who is camping on Jerry's land, we eat the minestrone, a little bread, buon apetito, saver the local plant life, have some coffee, plan to go camping in the desert with the witch doctors over Semana Santa which is Easter, plan also to go to the big waterfall by Huatulco to go swimming next week, I ask Jerry for the email of a mexican friend who went back to DF, he looks for a while in a big pile of little scraps of paper and finds lots of things he forgot about but not my friends number, I remember I was supposed to help Coenraad and James build a cob pizza oven down in Arroyo 3 for the community center but am glad I forgot becuase the work site is in full sun and its nicer to just sit at jerrys house, outside under the shade roof he built, and look at the beach stretching down below only 200 meters away. So much here is homemade, if you want something like furniture you make it yourself or you get a friend to make you something. It occurs to me that during the whole day I never had the slightest idea where I would be or what I would be doing 30 minutes ahead, and that this might just be the best definition of freedom that I could come up with. Then I went back to my house for a liittle nap, afterwards I talk to the mexicans staying in the room next door, they tell me they come from a town in the mountains where mineral water comes out of the tap. I tell them they should post a big Welcome to -- sign outside their village announcing that the place is so great they even shit in mineral water, they think that is so funny they about fall out of their chairs laughing. My spanish is really coming along, you can measure it in terms of comic timing. Then Christopher and I go play soccer with the local team, 5 on 5, lots of fun, after sunset I come home shower and get sucked into a stream of consciousness email that is interruped by Karrie and James who stop by before walking down the beach to try Guille's fruiti di mare pasta at the last palapa hut on the beach. I read out the first half of my email and Karrie gives me her email address and asks me to send it to her as well. We agree to meet at the local watering hole in an hour for a drink. That's convenient because Luigi is bound to be there after his two day trip to the mountains for a little fresh air, and we have to talk about the company we have decided to start together. Mexican law requires that a company have at least 2 founders. He wants to build small scall water collection and maintenance systems here to sell to locals to improve local water usage and quality, which fits in well with my ideas. However Coenraad has suggested an idea I might have to coopt, which is to open a cafe that rents guitars to travellers on an hourly, daily, or weekly basis, and provides 15 minute starter lessons for anyone who wants to learn a few chords while they are hanging out on the beach, and in the afternoons you host a bob marley jam session for anyone who wants to play extremely simple songs and feel like a rock star. I think its a pretty good idea.

Thats pretty much what my days are like around here, when I'm not building cob or looking for land. I thought I found something pretty good but my latest feeling is that I could probably hold off and wait for a really good deal and keep my money for future projects... There are lots of deals to be had and I am reallly not in a hurry...

Hope you are well! By the way, I met a really great artist here who runs a restaurant, quite gourmet, probably the best restaurant in town, from Mexico City DF, you'd like his place. Ameen, your pictures look great on my wall by the way.

Ciao! Hope you are riding some snow once in a while for me. I'm currently listening to Sowehto's Where its At by Charlie Hunter, you know the song? Its so good, my latest favorite, not counting Come up to my Room by Princess Superstar which my dad would dismiss as "lower chakra stuff". You should play it at work once in a while. By the way I'm being turned on to lots of good music here. When I come back for a visit I'll have another hard disk full of stuff I think.

Matt (currently Mateo)

europe vs. radical islam

politics: i stumbled across this interesting book review in slate called Europe vs. Radical Islam - Alarmist Americans have mostly bad advice for Europeans by Francis Fukuyama. here is a snippet:

... the deeper source of Europe's failure to integrate Muslim immigrants, as Bawer recognizes, is not trendy multiculturalist ideas embraced by the left, but precisely Buchanan's blood-and-soil understanding of identity—a mind-set that until five years ago prevented a German-speaking third-generation Turk from acquiring citizenship because he didn't have a German mother. According to Bawer, "Europeans … will allow immigrants into their country; they'll pay high taxes so that their government can dole out (forever, if necessary) rent support, child benefits. … But they won't really think of them as being Norwegian or Dutch. And they'll rebel mightily against the idea of immigrants living among them as respected, fully equal professionals." American identity, by contrast, has from the beginning been more creedal and political than based on religion or ethnicity. Newly naturalized Guatemalans or Koreans in America can proudly say they are Americans. Pat Buchanan may not like it, but that is precisely what rescues us from the trap the Europeans are in.

you can read the full review HERE.

Monday, February 27, 2006

nostalgia realized

life: for much of my childhood summers, i'd toss wood in and out of pickup trucks, haul it around in a wheel barrow, chop it up w/ an axe, and stack it till my arms were sore. in the winter i'd come home from a long day skiing at the mountain, stoke up the fire, and hang my wet gear up to dry before the next day of mountain fun. i'd laze hours away half asleep by the fire, occassionally waking to finish some homework, or just poke the fire around. of course none of this mattered to me at the time - mostly the chopping and hauling were simply a pain. well i've spent the majority of the past 15 years since i left home woodstove-less, with the exception of some time spent at camp cody in bellingham, and for some odd reason, have longed to get my own stove. so, today was just a thrill. we installed a classic norwegian j√łtul stove into the studio. after futsing the past couple months in repeated failed attempts to get our fancy pants radiant floor heat system to work, it was lovely harnessing simple medieval technology -- throw wood in, light match, enjoy heat. well now winters in the northwest can once again feel fine - douglas firs swaying under heavy wind, endless dark, rainy nights, and now, the cozy fire to make it all right.

Saturday, February 25, 2006


movie review: just saw mike nichol's film "closer." well, it was moderately entertaining. i really have a hard time liking films where i fundamentally don't like any of the characters. all of these people were quite annoying. julia roberts plays this depressive photographer that only shoots "sad" people; she casually almost-leaves her men repeatedly. then there are these 2 brit guys that are significantly annoying in there own way. one is a sort of whining literary adulterer type - the other a raunch obssessed dermatologist adulterer type. the only mildly redeeming character is played by natalie portman - who is this needy stripper girl, who eventually finds her own way, i guess. also, there were some bizarre chronology jumping going on. despite all this, it was shot well, the characters were reasonably well developed, fairly artsy and while julia roberts is in it, it has nothing to do w/ typical hollywood, which for me, is good. i give it 2 1/2 stars.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

civil war in iraq

since the day bush decided to invade iraq, i have been saying this will in all likelyhood result in 25 years of civil war, a war i believe will make lebanon's 25 years of strife seem relatively pastoral. i believe yesterdays bombing of Askariya, shiite islam's holiest shrine, is the turning point. i think the past year's activities have already proven iraq was in a civil war, but now it is undeniable to even the most ardent optimist. to the secular, it's difficult to illustrate just how terrible a crime this is. for believer's it is simple, and the emotional response can be sadly uncontrollable. with each passing hour, iraq is spinning toward a state from which it cannot return. already the revenge attacks have begun. many sunni mosques have been destroyed in retaliation. sunni imams have been killed assassination style. soon the sunni's will begin their revenge attacks for these revenge attacks. despite the near unanimous pleas of all leaders: secular, religious, iraqi, and non-iraqi, the cycle of revenge has begun. i think of the utter devastation caused in india driven by sectarian violence during partition, and my heart saddens. i can no longer see a reasonable outcome in iraq for many years to come.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

rumbles in rumble valley

life: i had a truly epic day at the mountain sunday. went up to camp cody on saturday night. spent the evening cozzying up to the woodstove with some good friends, wine, and laughter. then timothy, daniel and i went up to mt baker for a just stunning day. waist high powder all over the mountain. first tracks most of the day. its tough to pick the best run. dropping gun tower back into rumble valley was just delicious -- uncut, 27-degree-utterly-abnormal-for-the-cascades-light powder. first run out on the elbow was a hoot as well. for lunch we did a little relaxing out in the sun w/ a nice large sapporo and some tasty sweet potato fries. here are some nice pictures from the day on baker's site. all in all, a once in a few years day like this makes me, for atleast a few moments, want to return to the days where snowboarding was all i thought about.
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