Thursday, December 31, 2020

Robert Boyd's Book report: Kathy Acker in Seattle

 Robert Boyd

Last book report for 2020. This time I talk about Kathy Acker in Seattle, edited by Daniel Schulz with contributions from Acker herself, Larry Reid, Kathleen Hanna and several panel transcriptions.

Robert Boyd's Book Report: Yard Art and Handmade Places: Extraordinary Expressions of Home

 Robert Boyd

Tonight I did two reports. First was this one on Yard Art and Handmade Places: Extraordinary Expressions of Home by Jill Nokes with Pat Jasper, with photos by Krista Williams except for some photos by John Fulbright. It deals with gardens and environments in houses all around Texas. I focus my report on her chapters on Charlie Stagg, Cleveland Turner, aka the Flower Man, Vince Hanneman who built Austin's Cathedral of Junk, Rufino Loya Rivas' Casa De Azúcar in El Paso, and Dr. Joe Smith's yard sculptures in Caldwell, Texas.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Robert Boyd's Book Report: Superpresent

 Robert Boyd

Today I report on Superpresent, a new art & literature magazine from Houston. The editor is Kevin Clement, and I discuss work in Superpresent by Kristy Peet, John Adelman, Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon, R.C. Rice, Brandon Hernsberger, David McClain, and Justin Varner.

Long Live Koyama Press!

 Robert Boyd

Annie Koyama is a Canadian woman who was involved in the Toronto art scene. Without knowing all that much about this part of Koyama's life, I have to assume that Toronto, like any other big city, has a vibrant art scene. A little more detail is available in this short oral history of Koyama Press published in Quill & Quire, a trade magazine for the Canadian publishing industry. Apparently Koyama Press was initially financed when Annie Koyama made a very good investment in the stock market, and was motivated by a health scare. I imagine her thinking, life could end at any second, so I better do something I really want with it. (I guess we should all be glad that her secret ambition wasn't to try heroin.)

She decided to bring this project to a close this year. Koyama Press lasted for 13 years, and she shut it down on her own terms (which is rare in the world of small press--they usually end because they are forced to end, as I personally know).

Anyway, there aren't many publishers that I think of as having a personality. I think the publishing industry is too corporate for that these days. But small presses are the exception, particularly if they are still run by their founder. While it is sad that Koyama Press is going away, it has always been down to Annie Koyama. The entire line of books reflects the taste and vision of one person. Raise a glass to the great Annie Koyama.

This is the logo for Koyama Press: "Kickass Annie"

I want to list a few of my favorite Koyama Press books.

I haven't written extensively about Eleanor Davis. I should have written about this book. You & A Bike & A Road is a diary comic about Davis's epic bike ride from Tuscon, Arizona to Jackson, Mississippi. She intended to go all the way to her home in Athens, Georgia, but she reached her limit earlier than hoped. She drew it as she traveled which gives the book a very immediate feeling. Her father built the bike for her, and this ride had to be the adventure of a lifetime. And her telling of the story is moving--all the people she meets on the way, the things she witnesses--some quite shocking. But one question is why even do this crazy thing?

I highly recommend this You & A Bike & A Road.

Another Koyama Press author I esteem is Jesse Jacobs. I reviewed two of his books, By This You Shall Know Him here and Crawl Space for the Comics Journal; both books are excellent. 

Julia Wertz's The Infinite Wait and Other Stories is simultaneously hilarious and painful. I wrote a brief review of it here, but you should search it out and read it for yourself.

But these are just a small part of Koyama Press's output. Annie Koyama published many other great books, most of which are still available for purchase. You can see them here. I've read about 35 of them, but there are actually quite a few I haven't read. Her standard of quality was high. I know she has been giving artists grants through her personal grant-making venture, Koyama Press Provides. But I believe that is meant to end when the press does. So I wonder what Annie Koyama is going to do next. Something personally satisfying, I suspect.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Robert Boyd's Book Report: Mozart

 Robert Boyd

Today I looked at Mozart, a short biography of the composer by Peter Gay.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Blast From the Past: Richard Stout on Modern Art in Houston

Back in 2012, Richard Stout asked me to help him turn a lecture he had recorded into a video. I did so and uploaded it in several parts onto YouTube. The subject matter is modern art in Houston in the 1950s and 1960s. I was looking at my YouTube channel today and was reminded of them. I originally ran these videos on this blog back in 2012.

I got to know Richard Stout by eating breakfast with him and other artists on Fridays. He was born in Beaumont in 1934 and died this year, in April. Another reason why 2020 sucked so bad. What I get out of these videos is his depth of knowledge and erudition. These qualities were always present when one talked to him.

Modernism in Houston Art: 1950 to 1970, part 1

Modernism in Houston Art: 1950 to 1970, part 2

Modernism in Houston Art: 1950 to 1970, part 3


Modernism in Houston Art: 1950 to 1970, part 4

 Modernism in Houston Art: 1950 to 1970, part 5

 Modernism in Houston Art: 1950 to 1970, part 6

 Modernism in Houston Art: 1950 to 1970, part 7



Robert Boyd's Book Report: Eileen

 Robert Boyd

Today I looked at a novel called Eileen: A Novel by Ottessa Moshfegh. Eileen was Moshfegh's first novel, and she's published two since. I noted in my book report that the cover is by Thomas Ott.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Monday, December 14, 2020

Robert Boyd's Book Report: The Complete Hate

 Robert Boyd

This week I read the massive Hate boxed set by Peter Bagge. I've written about Peter Bagge's work often on this blog. One of my favorite cartoonists!

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Robert Boyd's Book Report: Neruda: The Poet's Calling

 Robert Boyd

Today I talked about Neruda: The Poet's Calling by Mark Eisner. Spoiler alert: I enjoyed this biography quite a lot.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Real Estate Art: 3723 Knollwood St.

 Robert Boyd

I haven't done one of these in years. The thing is that after several years of relative quiescence on this blog, COVID has triggered a bunch of new videos, it has made me interested in blogging again. I will never go back to the days of 2012 when I (and my collaborators) produced 330 blog posts. (Not unless someone wants to pay me.) The last real estate art post was done in 2017.

So this morning, as I drank my coffee, I idly was flipping through and came across this gem in River Oaks. This house can be yours for 7 million dollars. And it is filled with art. (Which I assume is not included in the purchase price.) A lot of the art is under glass, so it's hard to tell if it is a print or even a poster. I will leave that for you readers to decide. A few pieces I could identify--I leave the rest to you, dear readers.

I think this is the front door. You can see art in the front hallway.

I like how they designed book-shelves to display their art books. Books not for reading, but for displaying.

This is the front hall. I have no idea what these artworks are.

There is something blue hanging over the fireplace, as well as several pieces to the right and several in the book-shelves to the left.

The woman on the pink painting appears to be practicing yoga.

I like how these two door pieces on either side of the window, but I love the three dimensional thought-balloon to the right.

These two pieces appear to be Robert Longo drawings.

The piece hanging in the breakfast nook appears to be an Andy Warhol flowers print, but I've never seen one this dark.

More art books on display, as well as a pair of what appear to be abstract prints. And, if that neon in the fireplace?

Three handsome black-and-white pieces are perfect for this all-white room.

Here's a painting I recognize. It appears to be a painting by Houston artist Paul Kremer.

I like that this upside-down portrait is in the bar. If you pass out, it probably looks right-side-up.

More art books on display. The print on the right of the TV looks familiar, but I can't identify it.

I don't recognize it, but I like the circular piece here.

In this bedroom, we have a George Rodrigue piece. It appears to be a poster. The presence of a Rodrigue makes me question their taste a little.

Cute dog. 

The black-and-white text piece over the bed in this black, white and grey room. It's a challenging piece of art (that I can't identify), but it seems perfectly designed to match the room. 

More poster art?

The Robert Indiana print on the left fits in with this jaunty room.

Oh my god! Is this an actual Jasper Johns?

If you can identify any of these, please comment below.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Robert Boyd's Book Report: Music & Literature No. 4

 Robert Boyd

Today I looked at Music & Literature no. 4, a journal devoted to deep dives of a relatively small number of writers and musicians/composers. In this case, the people under discussion were:

Brazilian novelist, Clarice Lispector

Irish double bassist and composer, Barry Guy

Swiss early music violinist, Maya Homburger

American poet, Mary Truefle

I talk a little about each of them, with side-trips to Rachel Kushner, Hélène Cixous, and Benjamin Moser, author of the biography of Clarice Lispector, Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector.

And I want to leave you with a piece of Barry Guy music that I liked, After the Rain.

I went back and looked for additional photos of Hélène Cixous and found one where she has on her "sphinx" make-up.


Thursday, November 26, 2020

Robert Boyd's Book Report: Alright, Alright, Alright: The Oral History of Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused

 Robert Boyd

Today I look at Alright, Alright, Alright: The Oral History of Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused by Melissa Maerz. I've written about Linklater before on this blog.

Thanksgiving with William Burroughs

 Robert Boyd

Happy Thanksgiving. It's a bummer that we can't get together with our families this year. Here's a little William Burroughs to keep you company.

And here is the Burroughs recording that inspired the name of this blog.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Revisiting Old Favorites at the Museum of Fine Arts

 Robert Boyd

I went to the Kinder building at the Museum of Fine Arts here in Houston last Saturday--the first day it was open to the general public. For many viewers, what was exciting was that they pulled so much art out of storage. Some were things that had never been on permanent display before (and some piece may never have been displayed before). For me, that meant that a few old favorites that I had not seen in a long time finally got pulled out of the garden shed to be seen again. 

Claes Oldenburg, Giant Soft Fan -- Ghost Version, 1967, canvas, wood, polyurethane foam

 This sculpture by Claes Oldenburg used to be in the front lobby of the Caroline Wiess Law Building (the curved part that faces Bissonnet , designed by Mies van der Rohe). I saw it many times when I was was in high school and college. Ironically, it seemed like part of the furniture there. Always waiting for me to walk in and see it. But sometime in the past 25 years, the museum moved it into storage.

Claes Oldenburg, Giant Soft Fan -- Ghost Version, 1967, canvas, wood, polyurethane foam

 Aside from being an amusing and ironic piece of art, it reminds me of when I was a baby art-lover. The entryway to the Mies building is a spectacular space and seeing this classic piece of pop art made me feel at home. I know it's meant to be an oscillating fan, but the base always reminded me of a antique phone receiver. Because the blades of the fan are drooping, that conical shape is kind of the dominate shape. 

Claes Oldenburg, Giant Soft Fan -- Ghost Version, 1967, canvas, wood, polyurethane foam

 I know Oldenburg was creating what to him seemed like ordinary household items, but many decades later, it feels like Oldenburg is depicting antiques. Who uses an oscillating fan anymore now in the age of air conditioning? And I am starting to feel like an antique, too. Perhaps that is why I was so moved to see this piece again.

Another piece that used to be displayed in the Caroline Wiess Law Building that was pulled out of storage is this huge Louise Nevelson wall. In the new Kinder building, they have it displayed in a hallway where it is impossible to back up far enough to fit it into a photo on my phone. That isn't really a criticism of how they are displaying it--just a comment on how big it is!


Louise Nevelson, Mirror Image 1, 1969, painted wood

I've always liked how Nevelson stacked up wooden boxes in a way that announced, "This is art." The materials seem so humble--literally wood scraps. According to the information card, she reused wooden boxes that had once been pedestals. A little band saw, a few nails, some black paint and you have an art! Even as a young guy I was impressed.

Louise Nevelson, Mirror Image 1, 1969, painted wood

My photos lighten the color of the piece. It is much more black than it appears in these images. 


Louise Nevelson, Mirror Image 1, 1969, painted wood

Looking at this piece after so many years reminds me of Nevelsons I have seen since. There is a huge public Louise Nevelson a few blocks away from my apartment (cast in metal). I am also reminded of a short story by comics artist Megan Kelso called "Queen of the Black Black" from 1997. When she did her first book collection, she titled it Queen of the Black Black. It was an entirely fictional story about Louise Nevelson as an older woman lording it over her servants whose job it is to clean her dusty sculptures and otherwise assist her--and listen to her stories about how she was a young, beautiful, promiscuous New York artist. In an afterward, Kelso admits "it is not in any way biographical." However, it works as a story, and keeping Nevelson's sculptures dust-free must be an on-going nightmare for museums.

Megan Kelso, Queen of the Black Black cover, 2011

This issue of keeping Nevelson's sculptures clean is the subject of Kelso's cover to her collection.

Dawolu Jabari Anderson, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Tar, 2009, Latex, acrylic, and ink on paper
This one was hard to photograph because it was under glass. I've only seen it displayed in the MFAH once, and it was in a show of black art. But what they do in the Kindle building is to literally integrate the "black art" with the rest of the collection. It is no longer relegated to token status. 

Dawolu Jabari Anderson, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Tar, 2009, Latex, acrylic, and ink on paper
This image is from the MFAH's website. It's not a great photo, but at least you don't get the glare of the glass.

Dawolu Jabari Anderson is, as far as I know, living in Houston, and I've seen his work several times over the years. But I haven't seen anything from him in the last few years. Has he moved away? Stopped making art? I don't know. I would love to see what he is working on. I love these pastiches of old comic book covers combined with African-American folk characters. He was a part of the collective Otabenga Jones & Company (which was in a Whitney Biennial a few years ago), and like a bunch of African American artists about his age from Houston, he's obsessed with comic books. But where is he now?

 The next few images are not artworks that have been in storage for decades, like the Nevelson and the Oldernberg. They were, until a few weeks ago, over in the Beck Building with other 20th century artworks--many of which have moved to the Kinder Building now.

Lyonel Feininger, Self-Portrait, 1915, oil on canvas

Feininger was apparently living in Berlin when he painted this bilious, cubist self-portrait. The wall card describes him as being an "enemy alien" at the outbreak of World War I, but I think that is an error. Feininger was born in the U.S.A., and the U.S.A. didn't enter the war until April 1917, long after this painting was done. But it does raise the question--what did Feininger do between April 1917 and November 1918, during which time he really was an enemy alien? I don't know, but as soon as the war was over, he became one of the first teachers hired by the Bauhaus.

I became a fan of Feininger because of his short-lived comic strip, The Kin-der-kids, which was exceptionally well-written and beautifully drawn. Feininger had been working as a cartoonist in Germany and France since 1894, and his studies of avant garde art leaked into his cartooning. The Kin-der-kids was the first cubist comic strip. It was collected into a book, The Comic Strip Art of Lyonel Feininger: The Kin-Der-Kids and Wee Willie Winkie's World,  by the defunct Kitchen Sink Press, and apparently reprinted by Fatagraphics. But what hasn't been collected (in English, at least) are his German and French cartoons. I would buy that book, if some publisher wanted to publish it.

 Elie Nadelman, Tango, c. 1918-24, cherrywood and gesso

I don't really know much about Elie Nadelman. This sculpture was always kept in a gallery of 20th century American art in the Beck building, but now it lives in the Kinder building. It looks like a piece of folk art, but it's not. Nadelman had studied art in Europe and knew avant garde artists there, but moved to the U.S. and became interested in folk art. His own work melds his training and his interest in folk art.

 Elie Nadelman, Tango, c. 1918-24, cherrywood and gesso

This sculpture has long charmed me. The thing about an educated artist like Nadelman imitating a folk style is that he can never be truly naive. But so what? It works and is lovely--what else do we need?

Monday, November 23, 2020

Robert Boyd's Book Report: I, René Tardi, Prisoner of War in Stalag IIB: After the War

 Robert Boyd

Today's report is on I, Rene Tardi, Prisoner of War at Stalag IIB Vol. 3: After the War, the third volume of Jacques Tardi's biography of his father as a soldier and prisoner in World War II. I've reviewed volume 1 and volume 2 earlier on this blog. Here is everything I've written about Jacques Tardi on this blog.