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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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20 August 2021

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No. 2,405 (cartoon)

I saw James Brown perform live.

No one’s ever seen him perform dead.

21 August 2021

Chuck Close Was No Amateur

Chuck Close is dead, and that’s that. His work speaks for itself, so I have nothing to add. Except this ...

I’ve been repeating a quote of his for decades: “Inspiration is for amateurs.” After reading a few obituaries, I see that his observation came in at least two flavors:

“I don’t believe in inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs.”

“Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work.”

There are probably many more variations of his spoken words, just as there are with his visual work. When it comes to reiteration versus repetition, he stayed on the right side of that fine line.

22 August 2021

Redeat Wondemu’s Big Mistake

The Washington Post published some of Redeat Wondemu’s portraits of Ethiopian workers. He was raised in Addis Ababa, so they were better than had some American photojournalist spent thirty-six hours there on assignment. So far, so good.

Wondemu also wrote the accompanying text, in which he compared his work to Irving Penn’s, whose photographs he tried to emulate. Big mistake. In that light, they looked like a student assignment.

“Penn spent more than two decades perfecting his photos,” Wondemu wrote. “I hope to do the same. For now, I am excited to be sharing these images with you.”

Aspiring to publish good work in a couple decades is a reasonable goal, but showing the weak images you started with is, as I said before, a big mistake.

23 August 2021

Where There’s a Hit There’s a Writ

In alphabetic order in an incomplete sentence: Dead Kennedys, Sex Pistols, and Violent Femmes.

I never had no formal education in writing. I do recall hearing somewhere that, when citing examples, one should use more than two and fewer than four of ’em. I narrowed down the options and chose three instances.

“Instances of what?” you didn’t ask, but I’m agonna tell you anyway.

When popular music ensembles, colloquially known as “bands,” disband, they leave behind their music preserved in a thicket of contracts. Humans being humans, this results in members of the defunct group suing each other over their musical legacies.

Just pulling your leg, gotcha! Nah, of course they sue each other over money. Today’s example involves John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten versus the other Sex Pistols. Rotten lost, so a Disney drama will feature the band’s tunes. (I wonder, will Is The Queen A Moron? will make the cut?)

The members of countless other musical ensembles have fought similar brutal internecine legal battles; that’s why I stopped counting once I got to three. If that ain’t punk rock, then roll over Sonic Smith and give Sid Vicious the news.

24 August 2021

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Goddamned Hornworm

“Oh my god!” Eric shrieked. “There’s a goddamned hornworm in my tomatoes!”

I thought that was a pretty funny curse from an agnostic. And what in the hell did he expect from an organic garden?

25 August 2021

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Found Sand Painting

When a person of noncolor appropriates the styles and practices of another culture, there’s usually heck to pay, or at least a shrill tongue-lashing. Let the record show that the person(s) who made the sand painting at the end of South Loftus Road is/are anonymous, and that I merely documented it.

The sand painting—or maybe it’s a drawing?—appears to have been created when someone drove a small bulldozer off a trailer onto an asphalt road. The dozer deposited the sand in its cleats and treads from a previous job; that created what I found to be a visually pleasing series of parallel lines on the asphalt.

I don’t think anyone else noticed it at the terminus of a dead-end road. No one took credit for it. No one made any money from it. It will disappear in the next deluge. No knickers were twisted. The found sand painting was an unqualified success.

26 August 2021

Learning From Failures

Gomez bollixed up everything again. I could say that again; perhaps I just did.

“It’s not as bad as it looks,” he lied unconvincingly. “And anyway, I learn more from my failures than my victories.”

“I always wondered how you got to be so smart,” I lied unconvincingly.

It ended up being much worse than it looked; no surprises there for either of us.

27 August 2021

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Five Unwinnable Chess Games

I aspire to mediocrity at chess, but will probably never achieve it, given my lack of progress since I was thirteen. As a chess player, I don’t know enough to come up with an elegant scenario that can only result in a draw. As an artist, though, I created five impossible scenarios for games that can’t really be played, let alone won.

Ideally, you’d print and view Five Unwinnable Chess Games, but, since you’re not going to do that, squinting at it on your little electronic doodad will have to do.

I love absurdity, so it looks like I chose the right planet.


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©2021 David Glenn Rinehart

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