Monday, March 16, 2009


If they weren’t so small they’d kill you. From my 3rd floor window in Carroll Gardens I’m watching a convention of twelve cats, loosely organizing themselves cat fashion in the neighbor’s back yard. Six seem to be related, because they’re all grey with ringed tails. Two others are Siamese. Two are black, one with boots. Three walk the top rail of a chain link fence. Now a decision has been made to change backyards. Some cats go over the fence, some through the hole below. They re-convene. Tails twitch. A victim has been chosen, or maybe that cat’s “IT” because all the others join in to chase it under the euonymus. Cat fight. Yowling. Everybody scatters. Reorganization in smaller breakout groups has occurred. Do cats think about art?

Most of the time, an art magazine arrives in my mailbox and I throw it into the mix of printed matter I will later slog through to feel better informed. This month’s Art in America International Review is an exception. I get at it right away, because It’s full of images that actually work. They have something to say. They bear extended looking. Kamrooz Aram’s paintings address the intersection of video games and Persian miniatures. Steve McQueen and Hannah Wilke are here. There’s a feature on Martin Kippenberger, whose show I plan to see at MOMA very soon. And a quote that really grabbed me, because it was both a YES! and a DUH – was this about Shepard Fairey’s designs. “Ironically, Fairey’s designs, which are often esthetic flirtations with the propaganda graphics and exhortations of communist Russia, China and Cuba, are much in demand in the corporate world.” Why is that? Not only is the message behind the images spelled out (“These sunsets are to die for,” “OBEY” and “HOPE”), but beyond that, the grim color and heavy-handed forms exactly mirror the mental images inhabiting the heads of corporate wonks.

Shepard Fairey’s work is on view in Boston through August 16, and in spite of his popularity with corporate types, Boston cops have not been so thrilled. You’d think that a city that started off by throwing tea into the harbor would have a soft spot for political messages, but apparently that’s not the case.

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