As the Spirit Wanes

Brief note on my 48-hour revisitation of Bukowski, which has included a mess of poems from the Run with the Hunted anthology and a piece-by-piece viewing of Born Into This, the documentary from a few years ago.

There are definitely great things in here. Like “I Taste the Ashes of Your Death,” and “Spring Swan.” Real beauty and economy and imagery, all done with his realness and hardness that makes Bukowski stand out. And some of it is, of course, really funny or just a guilty pleasure of nostalgia for the gritty black-and-white of the 20th Century. Bukowksi is the 20th Century, in a lot of ways.

But I’d never before seen, to my memory, this short poem by Buk called “Art”: “As the spirit wanes, the form appears.”

What a perfect anachronism. In seven short words, the definition of post-modern America in the 20th Century – not just in art, but in everything: The black-and-white of causeless rebels that pervades to this day. If you’re formal, you’re soulless and bad. If you’re chaotic, you’re free and good.

Can I still enjoy this stuff, knowing that its author was such a slave to his own misconceptions? Probably. But I’d prefer it if someone could lead me to a Bukowski sonnet.


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Long After Tonight at Wood St. Galleries

A dancer, glistening with sweat, begins to spin. Slowly, at first, and as though controlled from above, suddenly increasing to ecstatic speeds before stopping. Around him, women in long skirts kick their legs high and shirtless men leap into the air, landing backwards on all fours in revival-like slow motion.

And all around: saints’ statuettes and alpha-omega Greek, the untouched garment-hems of the priestly class’s trappings, the tall candles and short benches of that peculiarly Scottish, passionate, protestantism.

In British artist Matt Stokes’ seven-minute film “Long After Tonight,” showing as part of Outer Body/Inner Experiences through Sept. 12 at the Wood Street Galleries in Pittsburgh, the frantic whirling-dervish dancers of the Northern Soul scene are set against the backdrop of religious iconography and obsessive-compulsive ritual in the beautiful Saint Salvador’s Church, Dundee, Scotland. Continue reading

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Public Record launches

Public Record PGH Dot Com.

The website – from which you can access iPhone-, SMS/TextMsg-, and Download-based versions of Public Record’s audio poetry tour of 19th-century crime in Downtown Pittsburgh, is up and running!

In celebration, the Public Record gallery show – including artwork inspired by Public Record poems and created by a slew of brilliant local artists – opens tonight at 937 Liberty Ave.

Hope to see you there!

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Public Record in the Post-Gazette

Public Record is featured in today’s NEXT PAGE feature in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. This is a ‘guest writer’-type feature, so the language is all generated from myself and the project itself, and I think it works well as an intro and taster. Plus their illustrator, the fantastic Stacy Innerst, did an original drawing for “Devil a Knife I Had” – which will appear in the show on Friday July 16!

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Public Record: The Long Way Home

Public Record artist Lisa Toboz has written a few wonderful posts at her The Long Way Home Diaries blog about the process of creating her work, with fellow PR artist Jeffrey Schreckengost, for the gallery show on July 16.

Work is rolling in now, from the likes of Lisa and Jeffrey, and also Wayno, Christopher Kardambikis, Erin Brubaker, and more still to come!

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Recent articles: Haegue Yang, Quantum Theatre, The Church

It’s been a long time since I’ve put up any recently published articles, so here’s a li’l roundup so I don’t lose track of things…

Continent-spanning, internationally lauded artist Haegue Yang has become one of the most exciting contemporary artists to add her work to the Carnegie Museum of Art’s permanent collection. I had the wonderful opportunity to interview her during her whirlwind trip to Pittsburgh to install Series of Vulnerable Arrangements – Domestics of Community at the museum over the winter, and wrote about her and the piece for Carnegie Magazine.

Quantum Theatre, Pittsburgh’s troupe-less experimental theater group, has become one of the flagships of the city’s artistic renaissance over the past two decades. My interview with founder and director Karla Boos celebrates their upcoming 20th-anniversary season, for Pittsburgh Quarterly. But, no, actually, it’s not online… eh, what’ya gonna do?

Growing up, Australian neo-psychedelic new-wave band The Church was a huge favorite of mine – and while they may have disappeared off of mainstream popular music’s radar, they never quit making records. When the band stopped in the ‘Burgh for their 30th-anniversary tour, I interviewed guitarist Peter Koppes, and wrote about ’em for City Paper. (And then, for reasons beyond my control, didn’t get to go to the show…  d’oh!)

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Public Record gains Sprout Fund support

I’m extremely pleased to announce that Public Record has won a Seed Award grant from The Sprout Fund (see below) to support completion of the project and its launch this summer!

And the results are already palpable: Original artwork illustrating the poems is beginning to roll in from the likes of legendary cartoonist Wayno and Encyclopedia Destructica co-founder Christopher Kardambikis, with plenty more on the way, and a couple of packed days in the studio finished up the entirety of the Downtown poems’ audio recordings – as of yesterday! Watch out for some more exciting Public Record developments in the upcoming weeks. Until then, time to quit celebrating at George Shattock’s and buckle down…

The Sprout Fund enriches the Pittsburgh region’s vitality by engaging citizens, amplifying voices, supporting creativity and innovation, and cultivating connected communities.  Founded in 2001, Sprout facilitates community-led solutions to regional challenges and supports efforts to create a thriving, progressive, and culturally diverse region.  With strong working relationships to many community organizations and regional stakeholders, The Sprout Fund is one of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s leading agencies on issues related to civic engagement, talent attraction and retention, public art, and catalytic small-scale funding.  With ongoing local support and continued appreciation by the communities it serves, The Sprout Fund will continue to catalyze creative solutions to pressing challenges, engage people in community conversations, respond to the needs of its target audiences, open doors to civic participation, and promote responsible stewardship of community interests.

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