December 2006

Monthly Archive

One Moment of Vision

Posted by ben on 30 Dec 2006 | Tagged as: essays, music

Just thought I’d link y’all up to probably the most sublime review of a rock album ever written; in fact, one of the best pieces of art criticism I have ever read. The author, Lester Bangs, is among the most celebrated American rock critics, and although he has written some crap, this review shows why he deserves that reputation.

Astral Weeks, insofar as it can be pinned down, is a record about people stunned by life, completely overwhelmed, stalled in their skins, their ages and selves, paralyzed by the enormity of what in one moment of vision they can comprehend. It is a precious and terrible gift, born of a terrible truth, because what they see is both infinitely beautiful and terminally horrifying: the unlimited human ability to create or destroy, according to whim. It’s no Eastern mystic or psychedelic vision of the emerald beyond, nor is it some Baudelairean perception of the beauty of sleaze and grotesquerie. Maybe what it boiled down to is one moment’s knowledge of the miracle of life, with its inevitable concomitant, a vertiginous glimpse of the capacity to be hurt, and the capacity to inflict that hurt.

Who is Bozo Texino? at FL!GHT

Posted by justin on 28 Dec 2006 | Tagged as: graffiti, upcoming events

Filmmaker Bill Daniel has contacted me about showing his film “Who is Bozo Texino,” at FL!GHT Gallery in January. Looks like the date is set for January 18th, and 5 dollars. Anybody who has seen me rabidly watch the trains go by and try to read the chalk marking on them will understand just how darn excited I am to be able to show this in the gallery.


This Spectacular Travel Adventure Faithfully Photographed In Realistic Black And White Film At Considerable Risk From Speeding Freight Trains And In Secret Hobo Jungles In The Dogged Pursuit Of The Impossibly Convoluted And Heretofore Untold History Of The Century-Old Folkloric Practice Known As Hobo And Railworker Graffiti And Chronicling The Absurd Quest For The True Identity Of Railroading’s Greatest Artist Will Likely Amuse And Confound You In Its Sincere Attempt To Understand And Preserve This Mysterious Artform.

####### WHO IS BOZO TEXINO? #######
Collosus of Roads in San FranciscoBozo Texino
Read on for images and statement.

Continue Reading »

Church Number 9

Posted by ben on 28 Dec 2006 | Tagged as: music

In the course of doing some research for a Han Bennink / Arthur Doyle gig I’m organizing, I came across an amazing blog which focuses on music, but occasionally throws in some film-related content. What makes this blog such a valuable resource is the fact that the author makes entire albums and live sets available for download. These are out of print or unreleased recordings, and many of them are very rare. The author’s focus is free jazz, but there are quite a few posts on artists outside this arena, such as Captain Beefheart and Tom Waits. If you’re into this stuff, I highly recommend you check in with Church Number 9.

Creation and Production Revisited

Posted by ben on 27 Dec 2006 | Tagged as: music

In my earlier Creation and Production post, I noted that “ceramics, more than almost any other art form, is forced to confront this tension between the creative act and the means of production.” At the time, that “almost” was meant to leave room for other functional art forms, such as furniture design or graphic design. I am now realizing that contemporary music faces this paradox in a different, but just as important way. Music, by its very nature, trades in feeling and spontaneity, and it when it becomes functional (e.g. Muzak) it betrays that nature. However, the tension between mass production and the creative act is very much a part of what musicians have to deal with, both in the sense that they are asked to churn out music in specific styles and in the sense that the work they create will (ideally) be duplicated millions of times over. Perhaps more importantly, if they ever do become successful, that success often hinges on a few recognizable songs, which are played ad nauseum. I recall seeing a Willie Nelson concert in which he introduced “On the Road Again” with the advice never to write a song unless you want to play it at every concert you do for the next twenty years.

But there is a musical movement which takes aim at these demands for repetition and mass production by sticking strictly to improvisation. Purely improvised music destroys many of the control structures that exist in the music industry by conflating creation and production. Through this conflation, improvised music refuses to let audiences demand specific songs, refuses to let a single songwriter or lead musician dominate the performance, and refuses to allow anyone to know what to expect. Ultimately, improvisation allows musicians to demonstrate a method for communities to organize themselves around awareness, feeling, spontaneity — and the personal integrity that comes with these things. Thus, many improvisers see their music as a political act, in the sense that it presents a kind of non-hierarchical politics.

However, improvisation may very well be impossible. As Derrida said in an unpublished interview:

“One can’t say what ever one wants, one is obliged more or less to reproduce the stereotypical discourse. And so I believe in improvisation and I fight for improvisation. But always with the belief that it’s impossible. And there where there is improvisation I am not able to see myself. I am blind to myself. And it’s what I will see, no, I won’t see it. It’s for others to see. The one who is improvised here, no I won’t ever see him.”

And so the improviser fights on in her quixotic task, unable to reach her goal or even to see her own progress towards it. But regardless of Don Quixote’s inability to slay a single giant or hold his beloved Dulcinea in his arms for a single minute, the world was expanded for his having fought the battle.

From the They-Don’t-Make-’Em-Like-This-Anymore Dept.

Posted by ben on 26 Dec 2006 | Tagged as: essays

Have we lost the art of writing a good manifesto??

Money quote:

When, in the year 1913, in my desperate attempt to free art from the ballast of objectivity, I took refuge in the square form and exhibited a picture which consisted of nothing more than a black square on a white field, the critics and, along with them, the public sighed, “Everything which we loved is lost. We are in a desert …. Before us is nothing but a black square on a white background!”

Merry Christmash

Posted by ben on 24 Dec 2006 | Tagged as: music

Well, if you must listen to Christmas music, here are a couple of mash-ups that should do the trick: Body Sleighin’ by ccc and Rudolph the Paranoid Reindeer by ToToM. (Hat tip: Hit n Run)

Hairy Christmustache 06′

Posted by justin on 24 Dec 2006 | Tagged as: mustaches

We met up this morn for the first ever Christmustache gathering in front of the alamo.  Due to the rain, festivities were shortened to just the photo shoot, and a few good larfs.  Meanwhile, I spent my time jumping so high i nearly fell on top of the other guys.  look on :

 Christmustache 06 holiday gathering feast and ritual love and desire

Spaztek Live (Emvergeoning Exclusive!)

Posted by ben on 21 Dec 2006 | Tagged as: art paparazzi, music, performance art

Spaztek, caught on video for the first time at the closing for Cruz Ortiz’ exhibit at FL!GHT.

Creation and Production

Posted by ben on 20 Dec 2006 | Tagged as: responses/reviews

Albert Camus wrote in his 1962 essay Creation and Revolution:

“Industrial society will only open the way to a new civilization by restoring to the worker the dignity of a creator; in other words, by making him apply his interest and his intelligence as much to the work itself as to what it produces…. Every act of creation denies, by its mere existence, the world of master and slave. The appalling society of tyrants and slaves in which we survive will only find its death and transfiguration on the level of creation.”

'Burned Again' from IN DUST REAL by Marek CeculaThis passage came back to me today as I visited the website of one of my favorite ceramic artists, Marek Cecula, which declares on the front page: “mass production is an inspiration for originality.” Ceramics, more than almost any other art form, is forced to confront this tension between the creative act and the means of production. Even among many sculptural ceramicists, we can see echoes of functionality in the work. This is fitting, since the world of ceramic art has been dominated until very recently by folk revivalists like Bernard Leach and Kawai Kanjiro, and before industrialization was a largely functional art form for thousands of years. (I know this is a simplification, but, after all, this is a blog). Cecula, who designs functional ceramics for mass production, is also a highly respected artist, and has confronted the tension between creativity and functionality head-on. In his most recent show at Garth Clark, he took traditional, industrially produced European tea sets and stacked them in various ways. He then re-fired them in a traditional Japanese wood-fired kiln, which melted the sets just enough to make them appear deformed, while coating them in dust and soot, and fusing the separate pieces together. The resulting sculptures are born of the clash between mass production and unique creation; but also between Western and Eastern (specifically Japanese) understandings of aesthetic value. Much of his other work explores this territory in other ways, and it is all worth checking in with – but I’d recommend starting with this PDF of the catalog for IN DUST REAL.

A Good Gloomy Day

Posted by michelle on 19 Dec 2006 | Tagged as: music

This lovely video will warm you up!

Sound Experimental Film Festival

Posted by ben on 17 Dec 2006 | Tagged as: responses/reviews, video/film

Yesterday was a drive down to Laredo with PBL and Mimi, where we managed to catch a glimpse of el otro lado, and about six hours of film, some experimental, some not-so-experimental. The host, Sound art space, is in a warehouse (natch) and features a gallery, frame shop, furniture shop, and a brand new toilet. The organizers culled work by students, amateurs, and professionals, local and international, so the range in quality was quite wide. At the high end I was overcome by Murray and Megan McMillan’s brief allegorical animation (Grasping Hand and Walking Method, available here), Dan Monceaux’s fluid and poetic exploration of the lives of two blind women (A Shift in Perception, available here), and one of PBL’s signature semi-narrative video collages (Pandora’s Bike, more info here). Ann Wallace, Gil Rocha, and Bertozzi & Shell also contributed strong work.

The folks at Sound are bringing some solid contemporary art to Laredo, and their upcoming installation by Murray and Megan McMillan looks to be a killer show. Keep an eye on these guys.

Hills Snyder plays a mean gee-tar at the artists talent rodeo.

Posted by justin on 15 Dec 2006 | Tagged as: art paparazzi, music

The second monthly artist rodeo put on by Ken Little went down without a hitch this past Tuesday.  Performers included ; Hills Snyder, Ken Little, Cruz Ortiz, The Maybe Laters, Jimmy Kuehnle, Lloyd Walsh, Potter-Belmar Labs, and some other rightfully deserving folks whose names i cant quite always remember.  It was quite a ruckus.  hover over photos for more info.  

Hills Snyder plays a mean geetar

Mike Casey looks on in obvious glee, later that night we were able to engage him in an intense match of chickenfoot dominoes.

Hills foot, gets a lot of action.

Hills Snyder

Jimmy Kuehnle Beating Himself

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a dozen convergences.

Posted by justin on 14 Dec 2006 | Tagged as: art paparazzi, graffiti

sometimes. it doesnt all make sense.

sometimes. it doesnt all make sense.


it makes very little sense.

just sometimes. it makes a lot of sense.

this is your quarry.

get to it .

tossed out on 1604

This weekend

Posted by ben on 14 Dec 2006 | Tagged as: upcoming events

A little group of us will be driving down to Laredo for the Sound Experimental Film Festival, which will be featuring work by Ann Wallace and Potter-Belmar Labs.

For those of you hanging around San Anto, check in with Riley Robinson’s show at on Saturday night.

Brian Eno’s big idea (UPDATE)

Posted by ben on 13 Dec 2006 | Tagged as: music, video/film

This is an interesting video Bruce Conner made to go with a Brian Eno / David Byrne song called Mea Culpa. The song comes off a 1981 album called My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, which is an interesting album, both artistically and historically. It’s a fairly early example of a record which stitches together samples and field recordings from such disparate sources as American talk-radio shows, Lebanese mountain singers and Muslim chanting (to name a few). But naturally, it wasn’t the first, and some feel that Eno and Byrne get too much credit. I’ve heard rumors that Holger Czukay from Can always felt that Eno had ripped him off. (He apparently played a pre-release version of his conceptually similar album Movies for Eno, who then rushed off to record My Life in the Bush of Ghosts with Byrne). While trying (unsuccessfully) to confirm this rumor, I discovered that Jon Hassell thinks he is the conceptual father of this album too. I guess it is a bit ironic to argue over who came up with the idea of musical appropriation first — but maybe I wouldn’t be saying that if Brian Eno stole my big idea…

UPDATE: Looks like YouTube took down the video. And that was by far the most interesting part of the post… You can watch a QuickTime version of it here.

UPDATE 2: The video is back. Sorry for the confusion

4 versions of cut piece

Posted by ben on 12 Dec 2006 | Tagged as: performance art, responses/reviews

1. sit down on the stage. next to the scissors. we will cut away the stage, and cut away the cloth you hide behind. you don’t need all those layers. the stage only robs you of humanity. we can make you human again. you’re not healthy. but we can cut away the disease you hide behind. sit down and stay still.

2. how could you sit there, unmoving? how could you give us those scissors? the cloth is there for a reason, and so is the stage. you stole our humanity. you used the stage to make us destroy it. this is carnegie hall, not some peep show. and even a peep show has boundaries. you’re not an artist, you’re just afraid of being human.

3. i cut her bra. on the stage of carnegie hall, i cut her bra. no one else could. they are afraid of revealing desire. they are afraid of being human in front of an audience. she got scared. she didn’t know what she was asking for. i took the scissors and made her a woman. she didn’t know what she wanted. only i knew.

4. what could i do? i just sat and watched as they cut away the world. who could be human without anything to stand on? who could speak with scissors cutting right through the floor? this might take some time. cornball. where are they speaking from, now that everything is cut?

these are responses to the video above, a 1965 performance by yoko ono at carnegie hall.

Graciela Iturbide at Wittliff Gallery

Posted by michelle on 12 Dec 2006 | Tagged as: responses/reviews, upcoming events

IturbideOftentimes San Marcos resides in its own collegiate bubble. If you are going to see any shows in Austin soon, make a short stop off Exit 205 to visit the 7th floor of the Alkek Library. Inside the cozy campus hideaway you will find the most extensive and sometimes shocking collection of photographs by Mexican nonpareil Graciela Iturbide. After reading a recent biography of Diane Arbus, these brutally honest black and white documents perpetuate a dark undercurrent of death and mysticism. But don’t let me tell you that, go see for yourself. Make note of my favorite, “Bombay,” which features a weathered, neglected artificial limb longing for the ever elusive disembodied “other.” Welcome back, bunny.

unit b people

Posted by justin on 12 Dec 2006 | Tagged as: art paparazzi, in yo face, party photos

..i couldn’t resist.

When John asked me to take some photos for the last show at unit B gallery,I had a blast, but I went a little overboard. Heres a documentation of nearly everybody who attended the show..up close.

Kimberly Aubuchon

Michele Monseau

ethel shipton

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Hometown Outland

Posted by ben on 11 Dec 2006 | Tagged as: upcoming events

Two events:

Tonight at (8pm) – I Made It, a 45-minute documentary about one man’s self-powered trek from Sweden to the top of Mount Everest. (He rode his bike from Sweden and used no supplemental oxygen in his climb.) Also: Patrick Zeller presents his 2006 motorcycle journey through Iran.

Tomorrow at (7pm-11pm) – Hometown Artist’s Rodeo featuring Potter-Belmar Labs, Gary Sweeney, Jimmy Kuehnle, George Zupp, Cruz Ortiz, Ken Little, George Gonzales, Paul Germann, Juan Ramos, Hills Snyder, The Maybe Laterz, Lloyd Walsh, Dennis Coffman et al.

Second SaturdaY in Tamalada Land

Posted by justin on 11 Dec 2006 | Tagged as: party photos

Second Saturday was outlandish fun. We went to Tamalada land at Marias Cafe on Nogalitos in San Antonio. This was our second year to go to this awesome event..and we all got full stomachs and lessons on the art of the tamale.

images go in this order : tamales, andy benavides, tamales, chris tracy, franco mondini-ruiz, ray gun, maria.


Andy Benavides

tamales in tamalada land at Marias Cafe on Nogalitos in San Antonio Texas

Chris Tracy looking ahead on his birthday

Franco Mondini-ruiz making tamales dec 2006 san antonio TX copyright Justin Parr

The Raygun eats it up, and spoons it out.

Maria with a basket of Tamales fresh out of the pot.

all images copyright Justin Parr 2006.

this is another song to spaztek telling him if i disappear will he still hear me

Posted by ben on 10 Dec 2006 | Tagged as: responses/reviews

the world is formed in the image of spaztek. with each mask it dies and is born again. with new borders. every border is a figment of a mask. every machine is a reinvention of the world. but billie holiday is not a machine or a world or a mask or a tear. she lives in the invisible waves that connect us. her mask is the air shedding its leaves. her border is the flower clinging to its petals. if spaztek could return the leaves to the air, or dissect the petals, maybe he could find her. maybe he could build a world out of all the invisible waves, a voice out of masks. but all spaztek knows is he’s lost and not gonna give up. and devil girl’s gone.

written in response to a cruz ortiz exhibit at fl!ght gallery.