Friday, December 18, 2009

Does God Love Gaga?

I have had this trouble lately. Shedding guilt. There are multiple times throughout the day where I stop myself and wonder, does God still love me? I know it sounds foolish in our contemporary age of no religion, no belief, no accountability, but it still happens to this Catholic raised man.
Regardless of your belief system, American culture has bombarded us with images, speeches and commands of something bigger than ourselves. Honestly, I think we make any of our god(s) too small. Shouldn't the god(s) be bold, be courageous and fight for something they deeply love? I use Gaga as an example of many of the visual artists I love and connect to because I question my following of her constantly. (Most contemporary artists are like that, pushing the moral edges of our culture.) She prances around mostly naked and talks about sexual acts openly (while encouraging others to participate). She is not a moral compass. Nor has she ever claimed to be one.
This is my point. None of us are moral compasses, but we can help each other connect to our lives. I am pretty sure Gaga has a belief system (raised Catholic in NYC) and she has shed parts and kept others. Yet, I have seen that we have disconnected from our careers, our passions and our culture. We have created our own realities to sit idly by and watch it fall apart around our bubbles. Most world religions mention something about seeing their particular god in one another. Maybe instead of asking if God loves Gaga, we can spend more time loving each other (doctors, lawyers, artists, toll collectors, accountants, religious people). Because, I definitely heard Gaga say "I love you all" in a room full of people who all felt like little monsters.

This was posted a couple days after I had posted this entry: Huffington Post article, "God Hates Lady Gaga."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Single Man, Directed by Tom Ford

I have wanted to see the adaptation for Christopher Isherwood's novel, The Single Man ever since I knew that Tom Ford had bought the rights. The film was impeccable. It was patient and tedious. The film is pregnant with sorrow and joy. It everything that one would expect from a true artist of fashion and style. Ford was perfect to direct such a story of loss, especially with a man losing his husband of 16 years. They are trying to market this as universal love, but I think it circumvents love. It is gay. At the core, the most beautiful core, it is gay. Why are they so afraid to say that? The professor, played by Colin Firth, is in an excruciating, relentless pain of losing his love. They fought so hard to make the relationship so healthy. Go see it. Go sit and enjoy the awesome visual glory of The Single Man.

Mel Bochner

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Golden Ticket.

If anyone has been in contact with me in person, they have probably heard me mention Lady Gaga at least once (if not more). Most people toss her aside as just another pop-star wannabe, seeking attention.

Nonetheless, I have seen her as much more. I have seen her as a visual artist who is pushing the limits of a culture barred by boundaries. Especially, in these uncertain times, we need people, art, and music to shake us up and wake us to our reality. Instead of a spectacle, I see much of life in her music and performance art.

I have had quite a time getting access to a ticket for her show in San Francisco (even though she made it quite clear on Ellen that she would want anyone of any economic class to see her live). I have had the ticket for barely four days now and I have been trying to sell it. For multiple reasons, the 100 or so dollars I would make from the ticket would relieve (at least temporarily) the stress of life. Yet, I explained to my father the multiple things going on my life, the stress of moving, the competition of the art world, my own personal struggles and beyond. He listened and just simply asked, "what do you need right now Gregory?" I said, really Dad I need a few bucks so I can keep this ticket. I know, I know. A few bucks for a fucking pop concert. There are so many things wrong with it. I get it.

Yet, there are so many things I believe that are right for me. If anything will make me a more well-rounded art critic, supporter and aware person. I think it is in my blood. Something about Lady Gaga (Stefani) has fascinated me since 2007. I listened to her and something in my heart resonated with her. I stopped many times and thought about all the war, poverty, inequality, politics, Obama, democracy, and hatred in the world. All I could think about was that she had a part of my heart. She understood the years of abuse, pain and suffering that I felt when I was growing up as a young confused boy. So few people in my life have had to struggle with the questions of sexuality and longing to feel normal. So few of my "social justice" friends have had to not only fight the "system" but also fight the "system within." I asked questions that few people ever asked at a very young age, some that I feel Lady Gaga actually tries to give an outlet to.

It isn't just about who I wanted to have sex with or a relationship with. It was about who I wanted to be. It was about my dreams and aspirations to help this country and world be a better place. Most people will scoff at this thought. It doesn't matter. Once art touches someone in a certain way, it has already done its job. That is something no one can interrupt. That is between art and the viewer. For me, Lady Gaga interprets something through music, fashion and dance that touches my inner longing to be Gregory. I can't explain it fully. For most, it is silly. For me. it is touching, beautiful and mysterious. Let it be all of them. But, for now, my father has given me a gift that I never thought he would give me. The opportunity to keep that silly piece of paper that will allow me entrance into the place she will sing. The gift to dance like no one is watching. The gift to sing like no one is listening. And the gift to just be me.

And it will be a monster of a time, let me tell you :)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


I really do get fascinated by the connections of life. Today, I went into the museum early and wandered through our galleries. I continue to stand in awe of the collection that the de Young has acquired. It is unique and diverse and yet the curators have been able to tie it together. At least, in the case of our new exhibition on Amish quilts and our new acquisitions. It was mentioned in the Amish exhibit that there is the simplicity of many modernists artists. Nancy Ewart of the SF Examiner wrote more about this connection noticed by the collectors of the quilts:

"On first encountering Amish quilts, the Browns recall, “We were amazed by the bold graphics and striking colors, the very opposite of what we had expected. And we couldn’t get over the way some quilts seemed to anticipate abstract artists such as Josef Albers, Victor Vasarely, Frank Stella, Mark Rothko, Sol LeWitt, and Ellsworth Kelly, among others.” Looking at modern art has prepared us to appreciate their bold designs yet we should not look upon the quilts as simply works of art. They were made to be both aesthetically pleasing and utilitarian and, yet, still had to adhere to the code of the Ordung, an oral tradition of religious rules governing Amish social customs and moral life."

I would argue the simplicity and color combinations are also used by Keith Haring (just not as noticed by American Museums). After I experienced the quilts, I went to our recent acquisitions gallery and I was faced with pieces from Donal Judd and Sol LeWitt. I am enthralled with the simplicity and bold combinations of color. There was a quote by Robert Shaw, a curator, that nailed the experience of the art. The Amish women came way before Le Witt, Albers or Rothko. They were not seeking anything, they didn't have to strip everything away from their lives. The quilts are a reflections of their community, their lifestyle and their quiet separation. As I continue to strip away the baggage I carry from growing up in Middle America, I was given a quiet reminder of what living simply is all about. Go and stare at a quilt for a while. It takes it away, even just for a moment.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Day With(Out) Art- World AIDS Day

A great website the raises consciousness on the visual arts and HIV/AIDS

Day Without Art, December 1, 2009 - From The Body Website

Day Without Art (DWA) began on December 1st 1989 as the national day of action and mourning in response to the AIDS crisis. To make the public aware that AIDS can touch everyone, and inspire positive action, some 800 U.S. art and AIDS groups participated in the first Day Without Art, shutting down museums, sending staff to volunteer at AIDS services, or sponsoring special exhibitions of work about AIDS. Since then, Day With(out) Art has grown into a collaborative project in which an estimated 8,000 national and international museums, galleries, art centers, AIDS Service Organizations, libraries, high schools and colleges take part.