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Hot Commodities 12
Late-Winter Blues 2002: Happy Fucking Valentines Day
By Scott Speh

So it’s Valentine’s Day and what am I doing? Watching TV and writing this column. It seems to me I was doing the same damn thing last Valentine’s Day. It’s ok I guess: TV is my first love. Last year it was Dawson’s Creek; tonight it’s Friends. Except that it’s not - the Olympics are on. What do I care about the Olympics? I want Rachel and Joey back. Damn you NBC. There’s a reason most of my Top 10 shows are on FOX. And I did watch a little of FOX tonight - caught the finale of Temptation Island 2 - good trash! And yes, I watched a little of that crap on NBC. How could I not? Speaking of TV, I forgot to list my favorite shows of 2002 in the last column. Can you believe that?! TV - the medium I hold dear over all others, how could I forsake thee? I’m sorry TV, please don’t hate me.

An old friend of mine recently asked me what I watch these days. Thank you for asking. Dear readers: spare me this indulgence. Oh excuse me; you say this whole damn column is a ridiculous indulgence. Deal wit’ it.

I love TV. Let's say that again: I LOVE TV. I hate pretentious twits who snub their noses at the boob tube. That said, most of TV is trash. But there is good trash and bad trash. Good: Blind Date, any teen drama on the WB, the Food Channel, most FOX reality shows (except for the Who Wants to Marry...series). Bad: daytime talk shows, UPN, CBS, PAX, Jay Leno (a truly evil man).

I unfortunately do not have cable but partake in it, nay revel in it when on the road, trapped in faceless Holiday Inns. When I have access to cable, I watch Howard Stern on E, the Food Channel, Wild on E, The Daily Show, South Park, MTV2 where I can find it, ESPN Sportscenter and any original series on HBO except the dreaded Arliss, what a fucking unfunny load of crap. Curb Your Enthusiasm is a dangerously horrific slice of black comedy.

As for network TV, I’ll break it down for you by the day (like you care): (Daily watching could include Simpsons, Seinfeld, Newsradio, and King of the Hill reruns, plus Letterman and Conan)
Sunday - King of the Hill, Simpsons, Malcolm in the Middle, The Practice
Monday - Boston Public, Ally McBeal
Tuesday - That 70's Show, Undeclared, 24
Wednesday - Dawson's Creek, The West Wing (Felicity when TWW is in reruns) and sometimes Law & Order
Thursday - Friends, sometimes Will & Grace
Saturday - SNL

Best of 2001 continued….

TV

1. 24 - This show is nothing but gripping.
2. Curb Your Enthusiasm - Larry David, the co-creator of Seinfeld and model for the evilest little character in TV history, the beloved George Costanza, plays himself as an even eviler caricature of Costanza. This is the most squirmingly uncomfortable show on TV. Laughter is rarely this perverse.
3. The West Wing - The show slipped a bit this year what with the smugness and misogyny at times overwhelming the high drama, but it’s still better than most.
4. The Simpsons - all time best, nuff said.
5. Malcolm in the Middle - The mom gets all the flash but the Dad is the strangest mix of pathos, love, braggadocio and patheticness. A ripe update of the bumbling dad stereotype.
6. Undeclared - Few laugh out loud jokes but everything here feels right, except for the out-dated posters on the co-eds walls. Jay Baruchel makes Woody Allen seem like a strapping and confident uber-male.
7. King of the Hill - The episode where Bobby learns self-defense is possibly the funniest show this season. “That's my purse. I don't know you!"
8. Friends - Soon, everyone wills have slept with everyone on this show and that’s kinda lame, but they had their best season in years.
9. Saturday Night Live - Tina Fey flat out rocks. As does Will Ferrell. And Jimmy Fallon.
10. Dawson’s Creek - Despite many shitty storylines (the continual adventures of Jack McPhee, the world’s most boring gay; Joey googling over that slime-ass professor, who is not all that), the introduction of Busy Phillips to the cast is the best thing they’ve done in years.

The Worst of TV: All David E. Kelley shows -offensive, inarticulate swill. Would somebody please tell me why I continue to watch? David E. Kelley is the antichrist. I watch is shows as a form of scream therapy. Makes me feel superior and smug. Seriously, he sucks hard; his shows are misogynist and utterly fucking preposterous and dishonest. And all the overhead shots of Boston curiously never show the ungodly gobs of construction mucking up the city. We’ve started a new drinking game: you must drink whenever a lawyer on the Practice asks for a favor! Prepare to get plastered.

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Scott, I know you don’t make art anymore, but do you still look at it?
Ohmigod. Did I really spend that much column space devoted to TV. You might ask when do I find time to do anything else. I don’t. But I have actually looked at some art recently.

Dannielle Tegeder
De Chiara Gallery, Chelsea
In her first NYC solo show, Tegeder ups her scale, but I’m drawn to 3 small square paintings in the front gallery. They have a clumsy freshness that the larger works lack. Not that there aren’t nice things about the large paintings, but I’ll get to the scale distinctions in a second. Let’s first describe these suckers - she starts with a colorful ground that creeps up 7/8ths of the canvas. These colors range from black to green to maroon to a pale yellow. The last 1/8th of the canvas is a different color. This dichotomy often looks like a horizon line or sometimes like a geological cross-sectioning. Sometimes there is a decorative pattern across the top: this I do not like. More on that later. Danielle then fills the lower pattern with a maze-like vocabulary of images; produced quirkily in a variety of quirky materials like ballpoint pen, gel marker, collaged chunks of paint and what have you. This imagery consists of scattered geometric shapes connected by straight lines of various thicknesses that shift at exacting right angles. Kind like Paul Henry Ramirez’ imagery taken over by Peter Halley’s assistants wielding mean protractors and t-squares. These larger shapes are often playfully embellished with micro-geometric shapes - tiny pearlescent circles piled up on another like fish eggs, concentric squares that are a little “off” like James Sienna’s concentric squares. Cones, ovals and metallic flakes pulsate in and about the major geometric shapes. Evidently (per the gallery materials) she keeps a detailed vocabulary of the shapes - which are named and correspond to her larger conceptual inquiry (more on that later too). I didn’t care enough to write the names of these shapes down - there seems to be a new vocab image since the last time I saw her work. It’s an accumulation of cone-like shapes that looks like a shimmering snowflakish Xmas tree ornament. I don’t care for it. I like the clumsiness (or I should I say the hand-drawn-edness) in her work. But this image is too clunky. And too reminiscent of the modernist chandeliers so elegantly depicted in Kevin Appel’s work. I’m also not digging the decorative bands across the top border - reinforces the artificiality of the painted surface - like a frame. Makes the scenes almost look like stage sets. I want to be able to slip into this cosmology Tedeger envisions without the self-consciousness these design elements evoke.

Conceptually the paintings seem to be about underground dwellings - you could extrapolate far enough to see Al-Qaeda style caves but they are more like fantastical futuristic (per the 1950’s) defense structures that the government might have concocted for themselves in the Rocky Mountains. They also look vaguely computery. Sort like circuit boards, silicon chips, and old school video games like Missile Command, Asteroids or Tetris. But I don’t really care about all that. I care about the painting. I suppose a painter should have a conceptual grounding to give them an excuse to make objects that are objectively worthless in the grand scheme of things. Like we need more paintings in the world. But I don’t need a conceptual excuse. Other reviewers might be drawn to these cell-like structures but I’m drawn to the visual thrills Dannielle traffics in.

So what concerns me is the dichotomy between the small and large works. And I don’t necessarily blame Dannielle for this dichotomy. What’s the problem: the big ones are too slick. I love the color, the compositions and the imagery but the execution is a bit soulless. Not soulless like a Peter Halley or any other famous painter who employs an army of assistants to produce the work. She stills paints these by hand and you can tell and that’s a major part of the charm of the work. I know - I’m nitting and picking here but the small ones are fresh, funky and chunky whereas the larger ones seem to lose a bit of spontaneity and speed and clunkiness that I find so appealing in the small ones. Now I blame this on her gallery. I’m sure they wanted a lot of product for the show so Dannielle presumably went into “production mode” which is a problem for artists who suddenly get popular. Galleries want to strike while the iron is hot, they want more and more stuff to sell and the artist has to grind it out in a short period of time. They can’t yet afford assistants (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing) and bend over backwards to appease the gallery heathens. All to forward their all-important career. Well, sometimes the art suffers. I don’t know if any of the above accusations are true to Danielle or her gallery, but it is a prevailing trend I see in emerging artists these days. (And really, I’m just jealous of their success).

Tegeder is a good painter and it’s a good show, better than most of the crap out there. I hope she keeps the funk in her work. Don’t sand off those rough edges for the soulless marketplace!

Brad Tucker
Lombard Freid Fine Arts, Chelsea
I feel a bit sheepish for really liking this show. It seems so 1995, like it just missed it’s cultural moment. Maybe his brand of neo-pop textual deconstruction and pathetic aesthetic never went out of style, or maybe Texas is a few years behind the times. The youth culture stuff also touched a nerve - the skateboards and amplifiers and other crap should be left to youngsters like Ryan Humphreys who produced the first show of this new pop stuff that I could stomach last fall. Is it wrong me to think that at 33, Brad is too old to traveling in such fluff and ephemera? Am I projecting my impending middle age downfall here? Shouldn’t I be thrilled and heartened to see a dude older than me make such young-looking work? The cast rubber sandals are pathetic but also fun and colorful and wistful and crappy all at the same time. Propping canvases on the floor, slouching them against the wall again, seems so retarded anymore, but what the hell, it’s works. Screw me. Good for Brad - keep on rocking me baby.

Art in Beantown

Justin Lieberman
Project Room, Allston Skirt Gallery
So there’s this frog, he sitting, in a side view, in front of a woman’s crotch, between her legs. The crotch is gaping and red. The frog’s mouth seemed to be covered in blood. This could’ve been drawn by an eight year old. I really don’t need to say this, but it’s the creepiest fucking drawing I’ve seen in awhile. Ewwww.

Drawings - not so creepy
The 17th Drawing Show
Mills Gallery, Boston Center for the Arts
A fantastic drawing survey, all the more fantastic as it was a juried show (by the imitable Bill Arning). And jam-packed too, with all the salon style hanging! The more the merrier. And to the delight of the fusty local critics, an incredibly expanded view of drawing that incorporated everything from video to paint to typing to capacitors. Fuck them narrow-minded fools Bill! You’d be hard pressed not to find something interesting here. Highlights included "Coffee Review" by Susan Jane Belton, a simple charcoal drawing of looking Dunkin Donuts cups. You know, you can’t spit and not hit a Dunkin Donuts in Boston; Rachel Perry Welty’s “Altered Receipts" - she filled in the circular forms in letters and numbers to make these cute little abstractions; I about shit upon seeing Lazaro Montano’s “Self-Portrait: MPB” - he utilizes a baldness chart thought I virtually exhausted in my undergrad work; John Rappeleye’s “Miss Wholly” - Rappeleye is a masterful appropriator whose paintings look more like collage than paintings and he hilariously continues to appropriate an image from one of his grad school professor’s paintings, much to his professor’s chagrin. Ha ha ha; Benjamin Cottam’s “Dead Artist: Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat” are sexy little elegiac portraits; I liked Steven Muller’s “Not as Obvious as it seems” because of it’s celebratory imagery of a hairy back. Rock on my hairy backed brother!; Jeff Warmouth’s recipe box “Recipe/Experiments” contained dozens of 3x5 cards that he mailed to himself and others containing either art or sandwich ideas. I like art and sandwiches; Rebecca Doughty’s “16 Postcards” finds her ridiculously inserting crudely rendered cartoon figures into vintage postcards; Laura Evans “Unfolding Triptych” and “Square” finds the formal qualities in brown paper grocery bags; Chuck McNally’s Romance vs. Cynicism” is a thickly painted artist book. Each page is heavily impastoed with generous collaging - the surfaces are incredible and the imagery mixes the sacred and the contemporary profane - my fav is P. Diddy dressed up as the antichrist; “How to talk about art” by Miriam Shenitzner, another artist book that hilariously pin-pricks the giant balloons of pretentious art-speak.

The Boston Drawing Project
The Bernard Toales Gallery
A delightfully simple project that yielded many minor delights. A show influenced by Pierogi’s flat files - making works on paper available to a larger audience. James Hull and Toales reviews artist portfolios on an ongoing basis and here they present a huge slice of these artist’s works, over 60 artists in all. The work was framed in simple, standard sized aluminum frames that were hung butting up against one another, in three rows. Another show where you couldn’t not find something to like. My favs were Aaron Parazette, Justin Lieberman and Karyn Kirke.

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San Antonio
SA had it all: great food, people and surprisingly vibrant art scene. ArtPace brings in fascinating artists for residencies; Blue Star Art Space is a killer non-profit contemporary art space with a variety of interesting spaces, including the UTSA Satellite Space, which hosts group shows. They were showing “Mostly Monochrome” - a group of paintings and painting-like things (a la Stockholder or DeBellevue) that was quite charming. Plus Joey, Michael and Leslie are opening a kick-ass artist run space called the Bower. They plan on bringing in emerging artists from around the country to give San Antonioans some national flava. I loved it so much I even applied for a job while I was there. Of course, summers might change my perception ever so slightly. Me no like it hot.

Shrimp Risotto
I’m making this bit of deliciousness tonight for my roommates. Don’t you wish you lived with me?

The Olympics
I don’t give a damn who won the couple’s figure skating the other night, but I did find a quote from the head of some international figure skating board to be utterly shameless. When queried whether American judges knew how to judge skating on the Olympic level, Italian Ottavio Cinquanta, president of the International Skating Union retorted, “Excuse me, don’t you have a state that voted a professional wrestler to be governor.” Not to be jingoistic or anything, but didn’t Italy vote a porn star to parliament? Excuse me!

Shelter me from the powder and the finger; cover me with the thought that pulls the trigger.

Happy Valentines Day (I hope you’re getting some)
Love Scott

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HC12
Valentine's Day 2002
Way too much info on my TV watching habits, plus Daniell Tegeder, Brad Tucker and art in Boston and much, much more...

HC11
Best of 2001
Moulin Rouge, Mulholland Drive, Missy Elliot, Jay-Z, James Ensor, Wayne Thiebaud, Radiohead, System of a Down redux

HC10
Thanksgiving from Hawaii
Serra, Pardo, Katz, Coen Brothers all suck. Grabner, Sienna, Prekop, Jay-Z all rock

HC9
Early Fall 2001
The Onion, Rodney Graham, Jim Lambie, Larry King, Music Movie Sundays, sucking up to Jerry Saltz and stuff...

HC8
Early Fall 2001
Skinny actresses, Fall Previews, Hair metal (again), and some other crap...

HC7
Late-Summer 2001
Chicago Art, Radiohead, Tony Kornheiser, another David E. Kelley rip and more...

HC6
Summer 2001
Wane Thiebaud, Printmaking, movies, more summer shows and more...

HC5
Summer 2001
Summer Shows, Paul McCarthy, Me, My Sister and more...

HC4
Spring 2001
James Ensor, Ennui, Journey, New Art Examiner and more...

HC3
Late Winter 2001
Dawson's Creek, Jessica Stockholder, David Salle, Albums of the Year and more...

HC2
Early Winter 2000
riffs on rock-Roll Singles, the West Wing, Bernard Frieze and more...

HC1
Fall 2000
The dirt on Damien Hirst, Jibangus, Cable TV and more...

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