In the early evening of October 31, with the power having been out for almost 48 hours, James cooked dinner for my mother and me. She was in town to attend the closing of our show at English Kills, and thanks to Hurricane Sandy, got to extend her stay by four days.

James wore a headlamp brought to us by the wonderful Michelle Vaughan, so that we was able to cook using our gas stove and oven, including boiling water for washing dishes. We had gas and running water, but no electricity, from Monday (10/29) at 8:40pm until Friday (11/2) at 6pm.

We ate pan-grilled duck breast, roasted potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and pan-grilled plum tomatoes. We drank Argyle Pinot Noir from Oregon and Vineland Estates Pinot Meunier from Ontario.

Our table was lit with an assortment of candles in American candlesticks acquired by James over the decades. The ones pictured below date from about 1680 to 1830.

We were wondering if Mom’s trip would seem dull after her two-week trip with us to Germany earlier in the year, but thanks to Sandy it was an adventure. It was quite odd, having streets a few blocks north of our West 23rd Street building with full power. We ate out a few times, and also made regular runs for ice, batteries, or phone charging. Miraculously, we had to throw out almost none of our food that had been in the refrigerator or freezer, but James is definitely cooking nice meals each night, to make sure nothing is wasted, since the power returned. Mom’s flight out of Newark left on time Friday morning, well before we had electricity again in the apartment.

2012-11-04 in general

This will not be one of my more eloquent posts. I struggle how to fit all of my thoughts on this subject into one blog post.

I voted for Barack Obama in 2008, but I cannot at this point endorse his record on civil liberties, whistleblowers, and war crimes. It does not matter that Romney can be expected to be worse on those issues. Romney has not committed war crimes yet. Obama has.

I’ll begin with the Geneva Conventions, Article 146.

Art. 146. The High Contracting Parties undertake to enact any legislation necessary to provide effective penal sanctions for persons committing, or ordering to be committed, any of the grave breaches of the present Convention defined in the following Article.

Each High Contracting Party shall be under the obligation to search for persons alleged to have committed, or to have ordered to be committed, such grave breaches, and shall bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before its own courts. It may also, if it prefers, and in accordance with the provisions of its own legislation, hand such persons over for trial to another High Contracting Party concerned, provided such High Contracting Party has made out a prima facie case.

Under Obama, the Justice Department has declined to prosecute torture, even in cases where CIA detainees died. The administration has pressured countries such as Spain to prevent investigations into torture by the Bush administration.

Not only has Obama failed to punish torturers, he has instead chosen to prosecute whistleblowers, at a pace unknown in American history. He has charged more people under the Espionage Act than all other administrations combined, and some of those charges are for revealing evidence of torture such as waterboarding. Some alleged whistleblowers, such as Bradley Manning, haven’t even been charged. Manning has now been held in military custody, often under conditions we would call torture if another country did it, for 900 days.

The treatment of Manning is not likely to be a unique case. President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), codifying indefinite military detention without charge or trial into American law for the first time in our history. His administration continues to defend indefinite military detention in court.

Back to war crimes. It is also a war crime to target civilians, or to fail to discriminate between civilians and legitimate targets in attacks. It is a particularly grievous crime to use secondary strikes, meaning attacks on people who are attempting to rescue or assist those wounded after an attack. Those tactics are being used in Pakistan. The people in those areas are also living under threat of strikes 24 hours per day.

There is no judicial review of these attacks. Obama and his staff decide whom to kill without any oversight from another branch. They also admit to counting all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.

I don’t know what the answer is — how an ethical citizen should behave in an alleged constitutional republic when our top leaders are free of impunity for crimes against our own laws as well as international law. Yes, Obama is better on a woman’s right to control her body. He is supposedly better on gay rights, but that is mostly rhetoric which has not been backed up by concrete action. Still, what is our responsibility when international crimes are committed in our name? Why do Obama supporters believe that crimes committed by a Democratic President are less bad than similar crimes committed by George W. Bush? I think back to a post I wrote in 2007 in which I talked about the firebombing of Dresden. If many Americans feel those civilians warranted the horrible death we and the British inflicted upon them, what is our deserved punishment for continuing to vote for these leaders without loudly protesting their actions?

2012-10-07 in general

Corydon Cowansage, Fence #20, 2012, oil on paper, 14.5 x 11.5 inches (framed)

James and I have befriended, and collected the work of, many artists we first discovered via the annual NURTUREart benefits. The next one happens on October 29, with a preview on October 28 if you buy a VIP ticket. Please support this non-profit. I have been consistently impressed by their exhibitions and programs.

Note: Benefit Tickets are $200 if purchased before October 15! Afterwards, the price will go up to $250.

The work above is one of the 265 available, and they can all be viewed on the preview site now.

2012-10-04 in general

Installation view from collection, with works by Daniel Rushton and Kim Schifino. Photo by Fette.

Chris Harding of English Kills Art Gallery has selected 48 works from our art collection, and will be showing them at his gallery in Bushwick, 9/21-10/28. Please join us at the opening, or come see it one weekend while it’s up.

The press release:

English Kills Art Gallery has installed a few dozen works from the Hoggard Wagner Art Collection in an exhibition which opens with a reception this Friday, September 21, 2012 from 7 to 10 pm.

Barry Hoggard and James Wagner, who share an interest in all of the arts, have assembled a large, very personal and extremely diverse collection of visual art begun modestly by Wagner ten years before the two met in 1991.

They began by acquiring a few works to enjoy in their own home, but very soon realized that part of that enjoyment came from supporting artists, galleries and non-profits which they believed should be encouraged. They were concerned, however, that there are limits to the number of people who could see the work they took into their home (and only a fraction of the collection can actually be displayed there). It was largely to make it accessible to as many people as possible, and for information purposes, that they created the Hoggard/Wagner Collection website.

For the same reason, the couple enthusiastically agreed to the suggestion of English Kills that a part of the collection itself be installed in Bushwick for six weeks. The Gallery alone is responsible for the choice of works displayed; the selection was made from among the 300+ pieces visible on the walls and surfaces of their home. There are approximately 600 more in flat files.

Hoggard and Wagner have never sold a single work from the collection and they do not intend to do so. No sale of any kind is involved in the English Kills exhibition.

Artists include: Nancy Spero, Keith Haring, David Reed, Wolfgang Tillmans, Clement Valla, Eric Doeringer, Sharon Louden, Felix Droese, Jules de Balincourt, Marco Breuer, Tom Fuhs, Bryan Zimmerman, Yasser Aggour, Michael J. Dvorkin, Deborah Mesa-Pelly, Jason Simon, Louise Fishman, Clarina Bezzola, Michael Meads, Mike Asente, Tracey Baran, Teresa Moro, Jaishri Abichandani, Rupert Deese, Alejandro Diaz, David Humphrey, Matt Dojny, Dan Golden, Gregory Botts, Rochelle Feinstein, Robert Wilson, Hiroshi Sunairi, Charles Goldman, Michael Williams, Wijnanda Deroo, Amy Feldman, Janine Gordon, Joe Ovelman, Kim Schifino, Joyce Pensato, Bruce High Quality Foundation, Margaret Lee, Ben Godward, Kiki Smith

2012-09-17 in general

If you look closely, you can see me in the crowd a couple of times.

The first of a number of videos from Varispeed’s performance of Robert Ashley’s Perfect Lives presented as part of Performa ’11 at Essex St Market in New York City’s Lower East Side.

Featuring: Gelsey Bell, Dave Grollman, Brian McCorkle, Paul Pinto, Erin Rogers, Dave Ruder, Aliza Simons, and Jeffrey Young

2012-01-26 in performance

Just under five years ago, I started working on an ad network for arts and culture sites called Culture Pundits, with ArtCat as the “anchor” site. Soon afterward, Tom Schreiber joined me as a partner in the venture.

In that time, we paid quite a bit of money to our member sites. However, the last year (especially the last six months) have been pretty tough for us, so we have decided to shut down Culture Pundits to concentrate on other projects — in my case ArtCat’s calendar, hosting products, and the online magazine IDIOM. It’s simply too hard to do a good job if one’s focus is spread too thin, and I’ve decided the time involved in running an ad network of over 20 sites, even with the help of Tom, would be better spent on these other projects.

I have set up an archive site to thank the sponsors we’ve had over the years, as well as a list of the sites in the network as of this month.

Thank you for your support of Culture Pundits and our member sites, and I look forward to bringing you new things on the web in 2012.

P.S. If you would like to support ArtCat and IDIOM, please visit our sponsorship page. You may also make a tax-deductible contribution to IDIOM.

2012-01-25 in general

Most people expect James and me to only be interested in the visual arts for some reason, but we’re also fanatics about any “new” art, be it music, theater, dance, etc. Since 2003, one of the places to hear and see new things, especially multi-disciplinary work (why isn’t there more of that?) has been Issue Project Room, founded by artist Suzanne Fiol.

They are now raising money to make capital improvements to their new home in an amazing space at 110 Livingston. Their benefit this weekend (Saturday, October 1, 2011) includes a special performances by Steve Roden and A^ction: Kim Gordon, Tony Conrad, and John Miller, plus an amazing art auction. Artists include: Peggy Ahwesh, Jo Andres, Paolo Arao, Kenseth Armstead, Assume Vivid Astro Focus, Donald Baechler, Paul Chan, Tony Conrad, Ethan Cook, Wayne Coyne, Peggy Cyphers, E.V. Day, Devon Dikeou, Daniella Dooling, Shawn Dulaney, Devin Elijah, Rochelle Feinstein, Suzanne Fiol, Neal Franc, Isa Freeling, Michelle Handelman, Joseph Holmes, Mi Ju, Art Kane, Robin Khan, Todd Knopke, Jutta Koether, Lauren Luloff, Christian Marclay, John Miller, Paul Miller (DJ Spooky), Stephen Moore, Ulrike Muller, James Nares, Yoko Ono, Tony Oursler, Carissa Pelleteri, Tristan Perich, Barbara Pollack, Lee Ranaldo, Brett Reichman, Steve Roden, Julia Rommel, Kevin Ryan, Cindy Sherman, James Siena, Gary Simmons, Jude Tallichet, Mickalene Thomas, Stephen Vitiello, Andy Warhol, Martynka Wawrzyniak, John Waters, Alyssa Taylor Wendt, Robert Wilson and Marina Zurkow.

James and I will be there, and hope you will join us at at Industria Superstudio in the West Village to support this important organization. Tickets are only $125, or $50 if you are already a member. You can also bid online for the silent auction artworks. However, if you don’t attend you will miss the performance and Ned Sublette as the live auctioneer!

2011-09-27 in general

Robert Beck, Untitled ("An Atlas of Human Figure Drawings" by Caroline Bedell Thomas/ "Art as Therapy with Children" by Edith Kramer), 2001/2004, Graphite, ink, and latent fingerprint powder on paper, 16 1/2 x 14 inches

This is one of several lovely drawings by Robert Beck based on art therapy drawings (found in a book of child personality assessment tests) in Crazy Lady, a group show curated by Jane Harris, at Schroeder Romero & Shredder.

[image via Schroeder Romero & Shredder]

2011-09-21 in art

James and I are thrilled to be on the benefit committee again this year for NURTUREart’s Annual Benefit, occurring October 11, 2011 at the Chelsea Art Museum on West 22nd Street.

The art preview site is up now, with over 250 works available on a first-come first-served basis, with those able to buy the VIP tickets ($500) getting in 30 minutes early. There is a lot of great work, but I’m not going to recommend anything, as James and I might want it for ourselves.

Please support this important organization and its move to the Morgan L stop in Bushwick!

2011-09-20 in art


Elisa Soliven

Erica Greenwald

Erica Greenwald

Erica Greenwald

There were other interesting artists in the show, but I have good images for these two.

Artist websites:

Don’t miss the other installation shots on both artists’ sites.

2011-07-05 in art