In the Age of Plasticene

Henry Hudson: Anger, Anxiety and the Apocalypse (Gallery S|2)
h/t Sotheby’s

Bonus: more Lori Nix

What Would the Room You’re In Right Now Look Like In the Apocalypse

Nix + Gerber from The Drawing Room on Vimeo.

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Most Interesting Man

Stacy

Stacy

Two notes: yesterday the game was won when a throwing error on a successful force out at home allowed three runners to score in the top of the first extra inning. This is the kind of unusual stuff that helps make Free Play Softball Great, again.

I’ve mentioned before that as far as I know, in our core group of twenty or so players, two have earned pages in Wikipedia, an astronomer, and an educator/theorist, (the “DaVinci” in his field.)

But, I will put my money on Andre being the most interesting man in our world. He is a chef, actor, director and wicked left handed pull hitter.

Andre, one of his daughters, grandkids

Andre, one of his daughters, grandkids

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Poetry Of the Tear

KW

Kenneth Warren (1953-2015)

To be in different states without a change
is not a possibility (Charles Olson)

I visited, with Dan Slife, the Saturday 9/3 event in Buffalo, A Celebration of Ken Warren. It was held in The Poetry Collection of the University of Buffalo, at Lockwood Library. The brutalist University architecture led to an initial ‘esoteric’ moment, as we tried to find the The Poetry Collection, and the room given over for an afternoon to the legacy of the great esotericist/American poetics/guardian of the punk hole/and master of the House Organ.

You see once in the Lockwood Library, the friendly fellow at the service desk had no idea where The Poetry center was located. We found a flyer and saw it was in Capen Hall, but we understood that Lockwood Library itself occupies Capen Hall. Luckily, for a moment, we noted it was in room 420, so we hopped into the elevator and took it to the fourth floor. No room 420.

We returned to the ground. A co-ed had stopped at the bottom of the stairs and we confessed our minor desperation and asked her if she knew where The Poetry Center was, or was room 420 in the very building this exchange was taking place within.

I have no clue about the poetry stuff, but room 420 is probably accessible by either the front elevator or the elevators down the corridor that reach another section of the fourth floor.

Dan and I gave each other a look. Sure enough the second set of elevators reached a corridor on the fourth floor that was inaccessible by way of the elevators facing the front doors.

Ken Celebration (1)

Cube O’ Olson

A probe generated by Stephen Calhoun April 13, 2014. I did two random rolls in series. This was submitted to House Organ in April 2015, six weeks before Ken Warren suddenly died of a heart attack.

Learning Intention:

Tell Charles Olson Something He Needed to know, But, Alas It Is Too late

submission to House Organ April 15, 2015 - unpublished

submission to House Organ April 15, 2015 – unpublished

Steve Lewandowski wondered if I would like to get in line and speak to Ken’s memory. As it happened I went last. In this very good spot I spoke a little bit of how Ken’s interests and my own overlapped, told a Sufi teaching story, and reminded everyone that Ken’s sincere interest in how you are doing often first met a fresh report with the temporary observation,

You’re fucked.

Parker and Beckett spoke, a high point, Dan played a song, and a long line up of poets and literary types brought some A Game to the afternoon’s delightful, and bittersweet proceedings.

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Roger’s Blues

Without wishing it, we human beings are placed in situations in which the great principles entangle us in something, and God leaves it to us to find a way out. C.G. Jung (Good and Evil In Analytical Psychology, Civilization In Transition)

My neighbor Roger Talbott recently retired from his post as a Methodist minister. I’m following his new blog Fear Not Online. At the moment he understands it will be concerned with the second half of life.

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Artist Stephen Calhoun

artiststephencalhoun

My new web site features my art, art based in symmetries and surprise. It’s live today!

ARTISTSTEPHENCALHOUN.COM

I’ll be highlighting some of its features over the next few days and on twitter.

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The Way Nobody Looks

FreePlay

It was not a close game Sunday. …except one team won the first three innings, and the other team won the last four innings. This is what is meant by the underlying score.

Nobody keeps score this way!

A Necessary Autumn Inside Each
You and I have spoken all these words,
but as for the way we have to go,
words are no preparation.
There is no getting ready, other than grace.
My faults have stayed hidden.
One might call that a preparation!
I have one small drop of knowing in my soul.
Let it dissolve in your ocean.
There are so many threats to it.
Inside each of us, there’s continual autumn.
Our leaves fall and are blown out over the water.
A crow sits in the blackened limbs and talks about what’s gone.
Then your generosity returns: spring, moisture, intelligence,
the scent of hyacinth and rose and cypress.
Joseph is back! And if you don’t feel in yourself the freshness of
Joseph, be Jacob! Weep and then smile.
Don’t pretend to know something you haven’t experienced.
There’s a necessary dying, and then Jesus is breathing again.
Very little grows on jagged rock. Be ground.
Be crumbled, so wildflowers will come up where you are.
You’ve been stony for too many years.
Try something different. Surrender.

Rumi, source of version unknown

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Lori Nix

The Discovery Channel Visits the Studio from Lori Nix on Vimeo.

via Newsweek: Post-mankind Vision of Photographer Lori Nix

Lori Nix web site

6. In your opinion, what are the most important things (whether bad or good) that photography should offer/convey to viewers?

Photography is very subjective and every person will come away with something different from the same picture. My personal opinion is that photography should elicit some form of emotion in the viewer, be it awe, anger, or humor. Photography should also introduce the viewer to a new perspective. (Lori Nix Q&A)

Lori Nix Photo Instagram

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Not Close to the Beginning

artiststephencalhoun.com

This small acrylic painting took me six years to complete.

My project for the near future is to move my artist’s web site to a new hoster and a new domain artiststephencalhoun.com.

Eventually all my various web sites attached to squareone-learning.com will be united at inmotion hosting.

This means I have to decide what to do with the legacy art works. Most of these are not based in mirror symmetries, yet, one of these pieces provoked Deba Gray to begin to fashion my becoming a public, rather than an attic, artist.

Short term, my favorite older pieces will be posted here under the new category, art – legacy works.

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Artist’s Statement, Part II. & III.

Hat Thangka II (Stephen Calhoun 2016)

Hat Thangka II (Stephen Calhoun 2016)

Secondary and Tertiary Contexts and Multiplicities

ARTIST’S STATEMENT (middle section)

II.

I came to this as a matter of my lifelong drive to satisfy my curiosity. This mission demands that I wander, experience, explore, do experiments.

III.

To steep ourselves in a subject-matter we have first to plunge into it.— John Dewey

If you have not experienced a thing, it is not true!— Kabir

The goal of life is rapture. Art is the way we experience it. Art is the transforming experience.
— Joseph Campbell

Follow the perfume, not the tracks.— Shams of Tabriz

Commentary: My art isn’t post-modern. This doesn’t mean that a post-modern trip is impossible. All trips may be possible. From my personal outlook, there is a cybernetic reaction possible and so I’m doing the only thing I know how to do. What gets read into this counter-normativity my work supposes? Whatever it is, it is tertiary. It would interest me. There are some bridges which could be fashioned. These would join the secondary to the tertiary!

What’s the best explanation of what you are seeing? This is a very hard question.

I’m working a cybernetic formula too. It has three constituents. It would shock and delight me were anyone to figure this formula out from the reflection on experience, or, (easier,) from the background.

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Free Play At Bat

Actions have consequences. Skilful actions have beneficial consequences. Patient, enduring effort in skilfulness of body, speech and mind brings about spiritual progress. Patient, persistent effort in ethics, meditation and study brings about spiritual growth. Patience is a Perfection (paramita) because it is an aspect of Reality, an aspect of Wisdom. The Wisdom of Enlightenment is expressed in the concept of the law of conditionality. The law of conditionality states that everything arises in dependence on conditions. Spiritual progress too arises in dependence on conditions, and in the absence of those conditions it does not arise. We need to patiently and persistently create and put in place the conditions for spiritual growth to arise. This is in accordance with the law of conditionality. – Ratnaghosa

Free Play 8-21_0099

After seven weeks that saw seven games decided by seven runs, the regression shifted. A rout was evoked. This is in accordance with the law of conditionality.

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Zeitgeist, Summer 2016

four-horsemen_zeitgeist

Buddha&Cat

The risk of inner experience, the adventure of the spirit, is in any case alien to most human beings. ~Carl Jung; Memories, Dreams and Reflections

trumpwich

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Artist’s Statement, Part I.

FB-Landing Cage 36x27-Stephen Calhoun

Ongoing, and maybe, never ending project aims to describe what I’m up to, as an artist. In my case, my hope is that the statement unhooks the viewer from its priming effect. My artistic goal hopes to invert the conventional idea that the viewer is supposed to correctly decode the artist’s authoritative objective, itself intentionally encoded in the so-called global unified material object. I do not encode my work with this end in mind, so there cannot be anything but authoritative experiences.

ARTISTIC STATEMENT

I.

My art’s aim is to grip the viewer, and then inspire the viewer to seek their own unique discoveries in each piece. The pieces present deep opportunities for visual serendipity by drawing the viewer into experiential, insightful, seeking.

I do not create images to pre-program or encode the viewer’s experience. Each piece is underdetermined up to the point of the viewer’s enactive presence and constructive experience.

The pieces aim to invoke a kind of pareidolia. (Pareidolia–the grasp of order from seeming randomness–is the psychological phenomenon where people see recognizable shapes in clouds, rock formations, or otherwise unrelated objects or data.)

The engaged viewer completes the image’s possible program by virtue of their own subjective and unique experience.

My artistic intention is evoke the truth of spontaneous discovery. Each piece captures an experimental result. The viewer’s unique encounter and seeking completes the experiment.

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The Wonder of Decay

Art of the Collection: The Photography of Rosamond Purcell from Hans Weise on Vimeo.

An Art That Nature Makes, Molly Bernstein’s new film about the artist Rosamund Purcell, has opened, and closes tomorrow. Clearly this will be a must see once the Film Forum in NYC receives its due.

Ms. Purcell doesn’t count as an influence on my own art, although we work in related veins. I’m a naive artist after all! But, I’m relieved one of the world’s finest photographers never became animated by mirror symmetries! Many of her photographs possess qualities worthy of their being cut and re-coalesced.

Still, as it is with most (of us) artists working with photographic set-ups, Purcell is famously a scavenger and collector.

Wunderkammer

Collectors of our sort do end up with their own cabinet of curiosities.

from the article An Eye For Anomaly,

The rotted book, along with the other objects she has amassed in her studio, reflects her fascination with “things that are transitional — between natural and artificial,” as she puts it, and with decomposition’s way of forming strange and symbolic juxtapositions.

Yes. Same rotted page.

Note her comment during this Q&A about randomness. This would be the subject I would engage her on if I ever had the chance. I couldn’t make out the question about kitsch, also a concerning subject.

She’s not in the collection of the CMA. (Shakes head)

No (!) Wikipedia – her books:

Egg & Nest (Harvard, 2008)
Owls Head: On the Nature of Lost Things (Quantuck Lane, 2007)
Bookworm (Quantuck Lane, 2006)
Ricky Jay: Dice: Deception, Fate and Rotten Luck (Quantuck Lane, 2002)

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A Year That Made Me

Roxboro-69-IMG_0093

Late during the event approximately half the attendees remained and got together for a memorable photo.

(Susan tells me, “Why would I want to attend a first grade reunion on a work night?”)

Last night I met up with some of my peeps from ninth grade. Jim Duffy reminded me he bought a Peter Frampton LP from the record store I worked at from 1970-1974. But, for everybody else, it was the first time I had encountered them since graduation day in June 1969. Forty-seven years!

Plus there were a few persons who had matriculated to Roxboro from Fairfax Elementary, and this means I first met them in 1960.

It was blast. It made me dizzy. We’re at the age where life brings on the bittersweet, but as more than a few told me, ‘At least I woke up on the right side of the dirt.’ The event occasioned my telling people that twin brother Tim has passed away in 1993. This elicited some moving and warm remembrances. It is amazing how quickly people reconnect and do so warmly and with vulnerability.

Nowadays, Facebook supports the generation of reconnections. Yet, nothing surpasses the fleshy, embodied connection! This is especially so because of the singular impact ninth grade made on me.

Ninth grade at Roxboro Junior High in Cleveland Heights began unfolding in September 1968. I had just turned fourteen. At the time I was a happy-go-lucky, shy, kid who didn’t get the striving thing.

School wasn’t an attractive way to spend time because, as I understood it back then, teachers would just tell you stuff without really telling you the good stuff, such as, how what they were telling you connected up with other stuff.

Ninth grade would end up the one school year (of not too many,) that is etched in my mind for its transformative import. The school was doing a pedigogical experiment called something like, the humanities program. Toward the end of September the head of the program, a rumpled, chain smoking english teacher, James McGuinness met with me in the teacher’s office suite. He sat me down, and brought in a first year teacher, Ron Palladino.

He told Mr. Palladino something similar to:

“Take Stephen under his wing and support in any way Stephen’s quest for knowledge while also helping Stephen organize particular presentations which will verify his learning.”

I don’t know what interactions in the first weeks of school moved Mr. McGuinness to assign to me a personal guide. What next transpired was the only terrific academic year I ever put together.

(Although, when I next attended the private school Hawken, I was a good, not stellar, student–except for cursed spanish class. Still, McGuinness and Palladino had raised the bar impossibly high.)

In retrospect, I recognize how McGuinness had completed a narcissistic circuit–a good thing–and so, ninth grade was my greatest school year.

I’ve had to conjure the equivalent of McGuinness and Palladino over the decades I’ve tenaciously continued to self-direct my learning, exploring, making connections, creating spider webs of knowledge. The moment in September 1968 I experienced support and affirmation for my aspiration about the satisfaction of curiosity was key.

It was also the year of a ferocious dual block set by Mike Baum and yours truly on a muddy field during the last minutes of the fourth quarter in the season’s last football game. This block collapsed the left side of the Wiley Junior High School defense, and allowed Tom Olmstead to scamper into the end zone. His touchdown were the first points Roxboro had scored in five football games. Nobody noticed the block at the time, except for me and Mike. High fives.

Ninth grade was the year Taj Mahal and Bonnie Raitt came to visit Roxboro, and hang around for most of a school day. It was the year my hormones overflowed while granting no great romantic triumphs. Our social clique was very influenced by our liberal parents; (and thanks for all the good times, Kate, Joan, Sarah, Sara, Greer, Kathe, Dave, David, Paul, my brother Tim, and others–no doubt.) I have sustained a friendship with Kate Kuper since the fall of 1966!

It is really close to impossible to fully explain and describe what it was like to be fourteen in an era easily marked by stretching it between the election of 1968 and the Woodstock Festival of August 1969. Or, alternately stretching the year between Coventry Village and Cedar-Fairmount.

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Thick Now

Stephen Calhoun, artist

Activist Totem

My artist’s statement has been updated.

Goal: make myself thicker!

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Fundamentally Temporary

FreePlay-August5_DSC0052

In any complex string of events in which each event unfolds with some element of uncertainty, there is a fundamental asymmetry between past and future. Leonard Mlodinow

Over the last six weeks, Free Play Softball league has shown six games decided by five runs. As the handicapper, I’m enjoying the regression to the mean. This too shall pass.

taleb

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Creative Fire

In this second volume of The Sparks of Randomness, The Atheism of Scripture, Henri Atlan pursues his investigation of human life, which he grounds in a distinctive intermingling of the biological and cognitive sciences and traditions of Jewish thought. The Atheism of Scripture offers up a paradox: its audacious thesis is that the Word or revealed scripture can be better understood without God. It must be decrypted or analyzed atheistically, that is, not as divine revelation, but in and of itself.

The Sparks of Randomness, Volume 1: Spermatic Knowledge (Cultural Memory in the Present) Amazon

What does it mean to be the being observer?

[General Complexity] draws its epistemological implications from the point of view of the subject who knows: complexity would compose a “new paradigm” (Morin, 1977) or “new alliance” (Prigogine and Stengers, 1979), which is potentially transdisciplinar. Therefore it gives a theoretical account of the properties of self-organization and autonomy of the physical, biological, and social systems from the perspective of the process of their observation. Complexity would express the extent of ignorance of an observer who is unaware of the information of the observed system itself (Atlan, 1979) and the process of “construction” (von Foerster, 1981) of an external object that is unattainable by the cognitive system of a subject. It is characterized more by their own “operational closure” and “internal consistency” (Varela, 1979) than by the faithful representation of the external reality. This approach, going back to the historic Macy Conferences (1946-1953) on Cybernetics (Dupuy, 2000), was widely developed in the 70s since the transition from a “first-order cybernetics” or cybernetics of observed systems (Wiener, 1948) to a “second-order cybernetics” or “cybernetics of observing systems” (von Foerster, 1981). A. Malaina, 2015

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In the Details

Jheronimus Bosch, Touched by the Devil TRAILER from Pieter van Huystee Film on Vimeo.

new Film now playing in NYC: Pieter van Huystee’s Hieronymus Bosch: Touched by the Devil

The Cruel Beauty of Hieronymus Bosch: 500 Years of Breathtaking Imagery

As for the obvious relationship between Bosch and my own art, the director of the documentary ends his interview at Hollywood Soapbox with this:

He added: “It was important for me that the viewer had always the feeling that you’re there next to the painting. … If somebody came to me after the screenings and said, I’ve seen ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’ many times in real, but he says, ‘It always remains on the distance because it is so detailed. And you don’t come close, and you don’t get emotionally attached to the painting if you see it in real.’ So in the film, in the documentary, I have the opportunity to be very close, sometimes to a square centimeter.”

In many ways, Huystee documents the paintings from the vantage point of Bosch. The director is as meticulous a craftsman, working from close-ups and always focused on the details. “The devil is in the details,” he said. “I hope people can reflect on what he was painting. He was not telling us something. You’re telling yourself something by looking at the paintings.

hieronymus-bosch.org

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Throw Back What You Catch

Throw Back What you Catch (3 Panel Version)

Throw Back What you Catch (3 Panel Version)

Garage sales are a primary source for the raw material for my photographic and generative art work. The process of gathering these materials together is part of my creative process.

In late June I ventured down the driveway of a beautiful Georgian style house in Shaker Heights, and arrived at the point of sale, where several portable tables were set up. Yet, what caught my eye as I scanned the large backyard were several desiccated peonies. On closer inspection I observed a really well thought out landscape and flower garden, centered on a tiny cabin and pond. To myself, I went, “Hmmmmm.”

Turning my attention to the tables full of cast offs and objects, I spotted a plastic bag with small figures in it. I looked inside and discovered it was the oddest chess set I have ever seen. Its motif was fishing and hunting, so, for example, the pawns were depicted by leaping fish, and, apparently, the King was a hunter with a rifle at his side, and the queen was a fisherman with rod and reel at his side, or visa versa.

Making the purchase, I told the older woman, of the two presiding over the sale, that I had a question for her, but, that I had to go out to my car to get a card to show her something.

In short order I came back with the post card for my art opening, handed it to her, and asked her,

“Would it be alright if I cleaned up your peaked peonies. I’m an artist and I use dried out flowers and stuff in photographs?”

She looked at the card, and told me that she too was an amatuer photographer. She looked at the art work depicted on the card.

“Wow!”

She thought for a moment and told me,

“You may help yourself to anything past its peak in my garden.”

(Bingo!) Then she got up and gave me a tour to show me where the goodies were in her beautiful garden.

Over the next few minutes I gathered up fallen roses and peonies and lilies and dried out ferns and other botanicals. As I did so I hatched an idea.

“Ma’am, I have had an inspiration. I am going to build a new piece out of this chess set and all the stuff I have picked up in your garden. This piece will use only stuff from this visit.”

She was surprised and then pleased. I told her she would be the second person to see the finished piece. It was at this point that we introduced ourselves to each other, exchanged contact information.

This all resulted in a bunch of excellent raw photographs. I finished two pieces several weeks ago. Titled, Throw Back what You Catch, it comes in a three panel small size, and in a six panel large size. The large size is four by six feet (and would be printed to aluminum.)

I presented her with a signed, framed paper proof of the three panel piece this week. She was tickled and reminded me I could hunt and gather through her garden “any time!”

***

My human encounters while garage ‘sailing’ provide me with great joy, just as well as tromping around the neighborhoods of the east side of Cleveland helps me stock up on vital artistic resources. For example, when people learn that I want to buy junky costume jewelry to put in photographs, sometimes they will tell me to ‘hold on,’ and go into their house and come back out with what they fetched, and then give it to me for free. This happens all the time.

Upon reflection I understand that my creative aims make room for my art being participatory in the way my goals allow for a friendly and serendipitous conjunction of human interaction, enacting/transacting, recycling, and, ‘reversioning’ of botanicals, junk, and objects.

In this way, art pieces come to embed: social processes, objects with specific origins, and the many stories about how stuff comes to end up in my hands.

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Free Play Weird Regression

IMG_0086

IMG_0085

Packing up on a very hot day, after a fourth one-run outcome in a row.

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