Sunday, September 21, 2014

Shifting Plates II

Two years ago, a great area printmaker, and truly one of the nicest people I have ever met called Steven Chapp invited me and several other printmakers to participate in a print exchange called Shifting Plates.  He once described the act of coordinating a print exchange as akin to herding cats.  This year he must have been bored because he again invited 15 cats to be herded.   The result has been a wonderful portfolio and a series of upcoming shows organized by Steven, the schedule of which I include below, together with pictures from a gathering in which we received our portfolios of sixteen beautiful prints.  These exchanges are such a great way to acquire original art work!  Go see the shows in order to view the work.

Exhibits Schedule for printmaking exhibition- Shifting Plates II

  1. Upstairs Artspace, Tryon, NC Oct. 11 – Nov. 21 2014
  2. USC Upstate- Spartanburg, SC Jan. 16- Feb 20 2014
  3. Aiken Center for the Arts Aiken, SC April 13- May 9, 2015
  4. Pickens Art Museum, Pickens, SC  Sept. 15 – Nov. 12 2015


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Us and the Other

Funny, yesterday I wrote about us wanting to see ourselves in the other; and today, speaking of the same "us" and "other" Richard Fernandez opines that the other is trying to make us be like them.

This is gonna be a long century... if we get that far.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I Am Gaza-ed Out


Today (7/15/14) I wrote the following letter to National Public Radio.  NPR a big window into the news for me since I listen to it in the studio; but sometimes they just piss me off:

I have put “Morning Edition” on my “contact a show” box, but the fact is that I have a rhetorical question that applies to all your news programs.  Why is it that when you report on the number of deaths in Palestine, you always characterize them as being “civilian deaths” without explaining (and it should be every time you report on it) that these deaths are civilian precisely because the Gaza launch sites are embedded among the civilian population, the women and children you always talk about?  The launch sites are planted among the homes and institutions of daily life in the densely urbanized Gaza strip; and no matter how targeted the Israeli attacks are, they will hit civilians in order to try to curb the Palestinian attacks against its own people.  In failing to report this, and to reiterate it, your reporting is incomplete and biased.  I understand the nature of this bias; Israel is a rich and powerful country (though it certainly did not get there through entitlement, even though the world likes to forget why Israel was created in the first place and how it made itself into what it is, so unlike all its neighbors) and the tendency in civilized nations is to root for the underdog; and the Palestinians look like the underdog; but that’s not good reporting or analysis. 

I don't think Israel is right in all its actions; but your news always makes it sound like they are always wrong.  I think I am finally truly done giving to my local NPR station; I’ll just freeload.

I am seriously sick and tired of listening to one-sided reports about Israeli action every time “those people over there” get into skirmishes.  And, sad and horrible deaths or not, that’s what this latest Hamas offensive is “one more again”.  It's their usual MO of lobbing rockets at Israel and getting a bunch of their own people killed to get back under the limelight of the press in order to get more monetary and political support from the people who back them up.  And on and on it goes.  It’s all very sad for everybody; and, no Mr. Kerry, there will never be peace in the Middle East. 

This being said (as well as, sad), I was thinking about my letter and asked myself why precisely it is that we feel compelled to root for the underdog?   I concluded that we do so because we can’t see past ourselves.  In the end we assume (or want) “the other” to be just like us; just a disadvantaged self.   We want to help them because we assume that their wants and needs are just like ours; and being empathetic, we feel a need to equalize the playing field, however we might do that.  This urge of ours is commendable but often leads to mistaken actions.  This particular other does not want the same things we want; and that’s the root cause of a  whole lot of wishful thinking that never gets fulfilled.

My final, and repetitive, thoughts, on this here day of “no cease fire”, have to do with the fact that no matter how badly Jews are treated, and no matter how much of a minority they ALWAYS are, in terms of numbers anyway, they are never seen as the underdog.  That might have something to do with the fact that no matter how many pogroms there have been in attempts to stomp them down and out, they seem to, not only survive, but also to thrive.  It might have something to do with the fact that instead of vying for handouts, they go out and build things; and it might have something to do with the line of thinking elaborated upon here by Richard Fernandez.  Whatever it is, on bad days, I find it unfair.


Once upon a time, Israel was a piece of land carved by the Brits and given to a bunch of bedraggled Jews after a war that had eliminated half of their world population (in the millions, not hundreds).  A place voluntarily settled by some crazy (yes, crazy, for who else would want to go there of their own accord?) Jews wanting to go back to the second temple and make a new home for themselves, plus a lot of others in boatloads turned away from “bastions of humanism” like England and America.  Boatloads of refugees turned away to fend for themselves among enemies.  I bet the Brits and whoever came up with that cockamamie plan didn't even count on their survival, as a nation, or anything else.  Carving up “an Israel” in the middle of "nowhere" was expedient .  It got rid of the pesky problem of assimilating millions of sick and starving refugees from the unthinkable conditions of the German Camps; a Jewish population that nobody wanted, in a world torn by war.  Setting them free, out there in the desert, sounded like the easy solution.  And not even then were we (yeah, we, for my name is Cohen and I can’t hide) thought of as the underdog. 

Well, those bedraggled Jews, they survived.  And they made that god-forsaken desert grow; not through entitlements, not through handouts, and not by lobbing rockets at their enemies from within their settlements, but by working at it.  

When it comes to the Middle East, I mostly keep a level head and an altruistic attitude, I even often root for the "greater in numbers underdog" and thus excuse too many wrongs; but today I am just pissed off,  I've had it: I’m Gaza-ed out.


Saturday, July 5, 2014

what up?

Soccer's back on Google home page!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Google's home page: implications




Got on the computer this morning to do a Google search, and something was different. Gone were the cute graphics cum link having to do with soccer (futebol as I know it) that when clicked upon would send the user to updated information about the World Cup games throughout the day.  What changed from yesterday to today?  Oh yeah, the US lost to Belgium.   What are the implications here?  It could be that the designer/programmer that puts together the home page is out today…  But what if they stopped putting up the cute graphics and stats because of some jingoistic and tribal reasoning about Americans not caring now that their team is no longer in the running.  And what, then, are the implications of that?  To me, if losing a game makes us lose interest in the championship; I think we should never again intone the words “peace in the middle east”.  I know, sounds convoluted, but think about it.  

...Hell, could be the guy/gal (designer) is just sick...

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Results: the weird thing about revolutions…

  
Is a historical perspective even possible without irony these days?  ..or ever?

I spend a lot of my time in the studio with the radio turned on to the National Public station.  Of late, the powers that be on our local NPR have decided to dedicate the entire afternoon, starting at 1pm, to different news programs instead of dedicating half the afternoon to classical music.   Now, national news organizations, especially those funded from the same source, tend to focus on the same stories with about the same editorializing, which makes for a repetitive afternoon.  As I am in the studio and only half listening anyway, I don’t mind absorbing news in such fashion.

This past week, the 70th anniversary of D-day, for which I was not alive, happened to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the massacre at Tiananmen Square, for which I was.  The coverage of these stories played themselves out in my studio, all week, before everyone moves on to covering the World Cup, in the basket case of Brazil, on this upcoming one; and as I mucked about making prints with Duchamp in mind, I half listened to it.  I heard stories of old veterans talk about their experiences during WWII interspersed by interviews with too young to remember Chinese people on the meaning of Tiananmen to them.  The coverage of D-day made me decide to go visit Normandy next year; and the interviews with young successful Chinese people made me wonder about history and revolutions.

While I work in my studio, the stories I hear on the radio usually remain in the background.  Occasionally some stories pop into the foreground; and this week, a small part of one interview in particular did so for a few minutes.  It was an interview with a young woman who might or not be a reporter; I wasn't paying attention at that point.  What struck me, and moved the story to the foreground of my consciousness, was her answer to the interviewer asking what Tiananmen meant to her, and how she viewed herself as compared to the young people that rose in protest that day.  Her answer is what made me pay attention.  Tiananmen meant very little to her; and she went onto say that the kids in the square that day were more idealistic than the Chinese youth today.  Today, she said, the youth are more materialistic and more interested in personal economic well-being.

The things that the kids were fighting for on that far away day twenty five years ago at Tiananmen: a more democratic and open system of leadership, did not seem to matter at all to any of the Chinese youth that I listened to on the radio this past week.  In sum, they are more interested in personal capital accumulation than democracy, which, lest my memory fails me, was not one of the goals of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. 

…1.5 million killed, god knows how many imprisoned, complete appropriation of private property by the state; and all the Chinese want now seems to be capitalism without the messiness of democracy….  

This was when I said “wow” and went back to thinking of Duchamp.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

not a poem

Benefits Supervisor Sleeping, 1995 (oil on canvas) by Lucian Freud(1922-2011) / Private Collection / © The Lucian Freud Archive
Benefits Supervisor Sleeping, 1995 (oil on canvas) by Lucian Freud(1922-2011)