BIRDTALK



FULTON RYDER

Post-Place: The Life and Times of Jack Parr, Lord Buckley, and Totie Fields

We the people. We don’t believe you. 
False narratives vs. street smarts.
Babylon blood clot. Or is it bumbo-bloodclaat? Doesn’t matter. A solid wall of expletives.

Hey kids. What time is it?
Kids.
Remember that one? 
The question? Where’s it from? An early-morning Saturday cartoon show from 1954? What, too young? If you want to cross-generation and time-machine, you can YouTube it. It’s on your phone. Everything is on your phone. All kinds of H. G. Wells’s predictions are in that thin piece of hardware, and everybody carries one around, upgrading customizing bent over looking watching reading sending talking to sharing shutting off and on spending endless hours with strangers and friends waiting to receive and signal trying to walk in a straight line without looking up and bumping into constantly talking out loud connected to hearing aids then pointing to, photographing videoing logging onto a new app filtering sorting storing downloading deleting saving.

Tattletales of Brave Influence.

They say if you want convenience and a friction-free life just click and swipe and your backdrop will be Surf Camp. Elephant’s breath anyone?

Screenshotting a google. 
I just got a new iPhone 20.
I just googled “post-place” and the first thing that comes up: ctpost—cannabis-derived oil finding place in ever more products.
Word.
I google “twitchy.com” and the first thing that appears: Alyssa Milano alerts candidates to her 2020 plan (“the Jon Ossoff blessing” hangs in the balance).
I’m not sure what that means. But that’s okay. It sounds like birdtalk.com.SNL.org.PBR.can.
Narrow it down.
Young Twitchy.
Bingo.
Harmony Korine: Young Twitchy at Gagosian-GalleriesNow.
8 days ago.
There’s some portrait of a grandfather that comes up next to “all Korine.”
(Maybe it’s Harmony’s father who belonged to a hippie commune out in Bolinas in the late ’60s. Harmony was born into his father’s hippie cult, in Bolinas, a town famous for having no sign to tell road-trippers where it was located. I’ve been there. No wonder Harmony’s mother helped keep Richard Brautigan’s American dust cleaned. Anarchy in the USA. Harmony’s father is now living in Panama. For the past 20 years. In Panama. No way. Yes way. WTF. That’s two personal connections right there.)

Abbreviations. Hashtags. Emojis. Ideograms.

I go down the rabbit hole a little further.
I type in “extremely naked and enthusiastically playing the bongos.” 
A quote from Harmony: “The works were re-created in oil paint on canvas from images I constructed on my iPhone. I usually took these photographs around my home in Florida, and then painted over them with different characters. These light characters hang out with dogs, or dance on the abandoned boat dock. I would sit outside alone by the water and create alien-like friends on a low-key cosmic tropical playground.”
That’s what he says.
Greasy-headed drool locked up in a tote bag of championship Total. 
Total is good enough for me.

I walked into the gallery with Harmony. It’s on the fifth floor, 980 Madison Ave. First room off the elevator. Once a series of office rooms, now converted into a generic showroom. Low ceilings, no windows. It’s as if WeWork built a gallery space. 
I immediately like.
Heart it.

Even though I hadn’t read Harmony’s quote above, I get everything about the paintings. Right off. Right off the bat. Every so often “the get” happens. Grand slam. Round-tripper. RBIs. Jimmy Piersall. Happily surprised. I’m happy. Feeling good. In front of art. Nothing better. Fear strikes out. 

Digital.
Analogue.
Mixtape.
Terms usually associated with music sometimes can be applied to visual art. Gaslight Moondog.
The digital part is the phone. That’s where the paintings start. The analogue is the traditional materials, canvas, stretchers, paint. The two polar bears, combined with Harmony’s wack and doodle, create a kind of new special effect that looks everyday normal. Granted. Not everyday. The medicine is a little of this, a little of that. How hard can it be? That’s according to Jesus. 
Jesus says, “Let’s party. Let’s have some fun.” Jesus saves.

Composed. Manipulated. Filed. Transferred. 
Gummed.
Gummed up.
Gumbo.

He no judge. He no scold. He no moralize. Sentimental soul. 

The place is the phone. The post is the art?
I don’t know. 
Hedonistic hippie/walking Zen-koan persona.
A virtual orchestra of completely unhinged Willie Bobo–level solos. Gales of canned laughter. Maybe it’s a toddler’s bedtime story.
I’m working on it.

“At least you’re taking your own pics,” I tell Harmony.
I continue: “Because if you’re not, you’re going to get deposed.” 
I continue: “Giving deposition is post-place.” 
I continue: “If you’re being sued for something that harmlessly doesn’t belong to you . . . you’re going to be set up, grilled, sit in a hot seat, trying to survive seven hours of stone-cold killing staring straight into a videocam in a conference room somewhere in the bowels of Even Lower Manhattan trying to answer slippery stupid legal questions about what’s art.”

“What are you supposed to say?” asks Harmony.
“Something about beachcombing.”
“Innocent,” says Harmony.

Six art handlers show up. “Do you guys want a water?” 

They look “post-place.”
That’s what I tell Harmony about his paintings.
He says, “What’s that?”
I say something about past present future. Then I say, “It’s like drag racing with Jungle Pam.”

“Jungle Pam,” says Harmony.
Excited.
That’s the thing about Harmony. 
You can throw out something INSIDE WORLD, and he knows about it.
Mr. Wizard.

When I arrived in New York in 1974 there was this term “post-studio” floating around. Description? Art made. Then photographed. Then the art that was made and photographed was abandoned. So what was made and photographed was a record. 
More music.
Back in 1974, post-studio was a good fit for me. I couldn’t afford a studio. [Rim shot]

We finish our waters.
We watch the six art handlers move more paintings into the room. Gallery Army. Be all you can be. And if you can’t be all you can be, then be what someone else can be. 

You used to be on the phone. 
Now you’re in the phone. 

The past is the past. 
We all agree.
All together now.
You used to be on the phone in the kitchen. Touch-tone. Or, in Harmony’s father’s day, rotary. There was usually only one phone per family and it was hardwired to a wall. Depending on the flexibility of the curl in the cord, you could maybe walk six feet without letting go of the receiver. Back in Harmony’s father’s day, Mobil was the name of a gas station.

Right before the dawn.
In 1972 I got my first phone hooked up in my first rental up in the state of Maine. Way up, north of Rockport, Andrew Wyeth country. I took a Magic Marker and wrote “Donkey Boy” on my first intercontinental off-white plastic fantastic contraption.

Hee-haw.
You feelin’ me?

The Now Phone.
Somewhere between Children of Men and cosplay.

You’re taking an Uber to the airport, sitting in traffic, and making art on your phone.

“Didn’t you just make this art coming in from LaGuardia?” I ask Harmony.
Harmony says, “Yea. Kind of. I guess. Sort of.”

Kind of. 
I guess. 
And sort of.

Do androids dream of electric sheep?
Even in fair condition, a first edition goes for north of 5K. 

“Sitting in traffic can be your studio,” I say.
“That’s post-place,” Harmony says.

“Let’s stop bumming and look at the paintings.”*

*In the history of golden-age comic book covers, there have only been two times where an illustration of a comic book superhero was superimposed over a photo-realistic background. One was a Sub-mariner. The other, a Superman. This presentation did not go over well with readers. The result of this pre-Photoshop mock-up, or what used to be called a “splash”. . . was a complete dud. An Edsel. Detroit quickly retreated and went with Falcons and Fairlanes. 
Let’s splash out: #RobertMcNamara #Edsel #Ford #TheWorldOfVideo #Acetate #whiteout #GiantPhoto #DirectPositive #160Tungsten #kodachrome #backyards #pool #dog #trippy #psy #astroprojection #DavidWeiss #ColonelKlink #SuperDave #SouthBeach #tropicalplayground #LightFlares #blockbuster #BusterCrab #TrailMix #DJtrippyHeadrin #TangerineDream #maggotbrain #EDM #mutantdisco #trap #illmatic #bigdaddykane #streetwearco #liquidsoul #anon #minimart #RadiationFunk #nagasaki #worldstar #easylenses #coding #hacking #updates #backup

October 12, 2018

High Times
November 1–December 15, 2018
Gagosian Gallery, West 21st Street, New York

First there were the “dead” heads. (Nothing to do with the Grateful Dead.) Drawn with a Bic pen back in 1972 and ’73. Richard brought these heads with him to NYC when he moved there in 1974. There were about twenty of them. They were drawn from the heart. “They were probably the first things I did that ever had any soul.” But when Richard reached NYC he wasn’t interested in anything to do with feelings, especially his own. He wanted nothing to do with himself. He wanted to change places with someone else, even just for a day. Just to see what it would be like to be someone else.

Someone else’s shoes.

He knew the heads were the real thing, but he didn’t want the real thing. He wanted something realer. Realer than real. A very real real that was a kind of “virtuoso real.” He put the heads away and started living inside other people’s shoes. For twenty years he lived in a lot of shoes.

Next came the Hippie Drawings.

1998.

He had moved out of NYC by then and had kids, and the honesty that he saw in the drawings that they were making reminded him of his own heads from back in ’72 and ’73. But he wasn’t ready to make something with his own blood. That’s how he explained it: “with my own blood.”

So after digging his kids’ drawings, he got to thinking of making drawings based on what he thought a hippie would draw. The “basing” (the direction, deflection, substitution . . . whatever you want to call it) was a way he thought he could “get away with” . . . and, at the same time, “get out of the way.”

The Hippie Drawings that he started making in 1998 and continued to draw for the next couple of years were supposed to be shown in London in early 2000. But, for reasons he can’t explain, he canceled the show and instead just published the catalogue. “At least you had reproductions of the drawings. I was always thinking about the idea of ‘at least’ and ‘almost’ all the time.”

So that’s what he did. Almost. And at least.

The gallery he was supposed to show the Hippie Drawings with ended up publishing a book of the Hippie Drawings.

He put a self-portrait of himself on the cover, from 1968, when he had long hair and a beard. “Yeah, I kind of looked like a hippie, but I wasn’t a hippie. The portrait was about looking, not being.”

Next up, de Kooning.

In 2004 Richard received a de Kooning catalogue from LA MOCA that Paul Schimmel put together. Richard was spending the summer out east, close to de Kooning’s studio in the Springs. Richard didn’t have a studio. So he took the catalogue and sat in a chair and ripped into it. He “hippified” it.
Some of the de Kooning drawings in the catalogue reminded him of his own Hippie Drawings. De Kooning had style. Richard didn’t. So he used his hippie “pose” and de Kooning’s style, mashed the two together, and started drawing directly in the de Kooning catalogue.

Filled the whole thing up. A new head. A new arm. A leg. He even drew the word “HIPPIE” on the cover. He collaged body parts onto de Kooning’s women. He turned some of de Kooning’s women into men. (The “turn” was what he called “my contribution.”) The contribution was a way of connecting to de Kooning’s women. The connection changed de Kooning’s women into a kind of hybrid. A new gender. Inclusive. All things body. Everything at the same time. Men and women. Women and women. Men and men.

He says he can’t remember the circumstance or why, but he sent the hippie de Kooning book back to MOCA. There was talk about buying it. But they didn’t. They passed. “Hippie de Kooning” was returned and Richard put it away.

A bunch of years went by, and as years go by, books have a way of hanging around.

High Times calls.

“Yes?”

“This is High Times magazine.”

High Times magazine called to ask if Richard wanted to do a cover. Something about an anniversary cover. Twenty-fifth anniversary? He doesn’t remember the exact number. But they wanted to know if he could give them some Hippie Drawings for a July cover. Richard was surprised. How did High Times know about the Hippie Drawings? The hanging-around book.

The only thing Richard knew about High Times was that his friend Glenn O’Brien used to be the editor. “Editor at large.” Glenn coined the term. Richard had never looked at or paged through a copy of the magazine. He wasn’t even aware that it was still being published. “Yeah,” they said. “Bigger than ever. Pot is everywhere. And if it isn’t, it will be.” They wanted to use five different Hippie Drawings and put out five different covers. Richard went with it.

A year after High Times . . . Q-Tip.

Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest visits.

Q-Tip asks Richard if he wants to illustrate the Tribe’s new album cover. The Tribe hadn’t put out an album in eighteen years. And Q-Tip wanted a Hippie Drawing for the cover. The bell rings again. How did Q-Tip know about the Hippie Drawings?
Got to be the book. The hanging-around book. If there’s some other explanation, all Richard will say is “beat hippie punk.” Yeah, I know—it’s not even an explanation.

A year to a year and a half later, A Tribe Called Quest’s We Got it from Here . . . Thank You 4 Your Service comes out.

Richard can’t stop playing it. Continued rotation. “The rhymin’ noodle.”
In the middle of High Times and the Tribe, Richard was working on a body of work he called Super Group.

Super Group started off simple. One day Richard removed a 33 1/3 rpm record from its sleeve. He held the sleeve in his hand and stared at it. It was paper. It was square. It was foxed. It was yellowed at the edges, and had a hole in it. Even on its own it had inherent meaning. Without thinking Richard took a pencil and signed the sleeve: “To Richard Hell from another Richard Hell.” It was quick. No thought. No intent. Not much of anything. Just reaction. Instant memorabilia. Richard signed the sleeve, framed it, and hung it in his studio. It hung there for a year. After a year of walking back and forth in front of it, Richard went through his record collection and found nine Sonic Youth albums. He removed all the records from their sleeves and gridded and pasted the sleeves with white acrylic paint onto a canvas. He called the painting Nine Sonic Youths. This is a correct title. It’s an accurate title. An accurate description. More of that realer-than-real.

The different “aging” of the nine sleeves reminded him of Agnes Martin. Not exactly the same, but the look of the painting had that soft minimal off-white tone of Martin’s paintings.

The next one was the Kinks.

Sixteen.

Sixteen Kinks.

Richard said he had only three Kinks records in his collection, so he had to go to a used record store to get some more. That changed things. What it changed is going to a used record store. One, he started going more. And two, he wasn’t buying records for the record but for the sleeve the record is in.

Richard started referring to this body of work as the Sleeve Paintings. It was an okay title, but not a really good one.

Fast-forward.

Six months after discovering he could buy all kinds of record sleeves on the Internet (as the Sleeve Paintings start to get bigger, this made using sleeves as a background a lot easier than going to a used record store and carting home a shopping bag full of records), Richard came up with the name Super Group.

He had started writing the names of bands directly onto the sleeves. Writing out the names of groups like Cream and Blind Faith, groups that he grew up with, reminded him of the term used to describe what these two groups were supposed to be:

SUPER GROUP.

This was better than Sleeve Paintings.

Super Group was lucky. Another lucky title. Another good title. Another nonfiction title. It fit with what he was making. The fit was perfect. “Perfect is true. Perfect is art.”

In the summer of 2016 Richard made a painting of four figures that he called his own Super Group. The painting was based on his early Hippie Drawings. The four figures were a made-up band, but “making up” was something Richard was still having trouble with. “Making up is always trouble.”

By the next summer he was still writing the names of bands on sleeves but he also started adding small hippie-like drawings to the sleeves. The combination of sleeves, names, and drawing made it to Berlin in September 2017, where he had a show called Super Group.

After returning from Berlin he stopped writing the names of bands on sleeves and then stopped using sleeves, but he kept on drawing and painting the hippie figures.

Back in 1998 you couldn’t own your own inkjet machine.

But this was 2017.

And every artist he knew had their own machine, and so did Richard.
The Jet Generation.

Richard started to make inkjet reproductions of his 1998–99 Hippie Drawings.
It’s got to start somewhere. And that’s where it started. He was appropriating himself. He didn’t put it that way. But that’s the way I can put it.
His old became new by using new technology.

You can inkjet on almost any surface . . . paper, canvas, linen, cloth. You can scale what you feed into the jet, big or small. It gives you a head start. The printed image can be redrawn, drawn over, added onto, or collaged with other drawings. A new painting can be rephotographed and that new painting can be fed back into the inkjet and you can print it out and start over. Change it. That’s what jetting is good for. Change. And you can do it quickly. The jet spits out the image on canvas in the morning and by the afternoon with nothing but an oil stick you can mark a new eye, nose, and mouth, and have a whole new painting.

High Times.

Calling these new paintings High Times made sense. It was an open title. “Open-ended.” The title was a lifetime of experiences. And besides, someone had already put that title on five of his Hippie Drawings. It wasn’t like Richard thought it up.
Fun.

“And it was fun.”

It was fun making these paintings. “Or at least I thought it was fun.”

That’s what Richard finally told me. And he told me wasn’t sure if he’d ever had fun making art.

He couldn’t recall if the emotion or the point of view of “having fun” had ever entered into his past experience of making art.

And if it wasn’t fun, so what?

It was true. And if it wasn’t true, the feelings were true.

Feels good. Something was good again.

“And I’m not sure I’m even pretending.”

And not pretending he was cool with.

“Yeah, I was cool with that. It was time. It was time to go back, remind . . . circle back to the ‘dead’ heads and do something that I was born to do.”

“Check it out.”

The High Times are him.

—Joan Katz

Joan Katz is a writer and has known Richard Prince since 1990 when they were in a band together called Black Bra. She lives and works in Prague.

.


Rock Lobster: October 20, 2017

Take my paintings… please.
I’ve been sampled.
The four painting that are currently hanging at the Lobster Club, 99 East 52nd St., are not mine. Although they are based on paintings I did in 2011-13, they have nothing to do with me. 
Nada. Zilch. Zero.
I was never consulted. Never asked. And I never gave permission.
It’s okay.
I’m only dying.
You can take my work and do anything you want with it.
I will not object. I will not lawyer up. I will not sue.
The four paintings at the Lobster Club are decorations, fabrications, interpretations, “covers”. 
Sort of like when a songwriter’s song gets recorded by another singer.
Judy Collins singing Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now. (Mitchell has said Collin’s “version” was disappointing, commercial, embarrassing, skinny, “made me wince’, “one sided”.
What’s genuine anyway?
Maybe the four paintings at the Lobster Club are a tribute.
Like when fake Kiss bands dress up like Kiss and play Kiss songs.
I’m not sure why an artist would have a “Tribute Artist”, but I think there’s plenty of Led Zeppelin band’s out there trying to be Led Zeppelin. (I’ve heard there’s artists in China painting nurses. Good luck.) 
“The paramount concern is not to care.” 
T.E. Lawrence said that.
Tell me… what should I care about?
As I’ve said before… there’s always someone out there who’s going to try and make you more popular. More mainstream. More digestible. Palatable. Easy does it. It comes with the territory.
Luckily I don’t have producers, engineers, handlers, contracts. I’m not beholding.
It’s a free concert. 
I’m not looking to tell anybody anything. 
I’m not interested in that little “c” in a circle.
What me copyright?
All I ask is that you don’t pawn off mine as mine. Don’t re-make a Richard Prince and pretend it’s a Richard Prince. Own up to it. Give yourself credit. Get your head out of your ass and stop kissing mine.
You did it, I didn’t.
I hate everybody.
I’m in denial.
I don’t hate anybody. 
Want to make art? Don’t

The Ripple Paintings. 10/26/2017

Not your everyday semi-realistic preparatory plaster castor fresco with a splash of satiric
humor over a Whitney Darrow caricature.

Sidebar: Darrow is one of Richard’s “fab’s”. A longtime New Yorker cartoonist. He was also
Jackson Pollock’s roommate.

A little of this. A little of that.
How hard can it be?

The Ripple Paintings are in the middle of two bodies of work.
The first body… Super Group. The third body… High Times.
The Ripple Paintings were made between 2015 and 2017.
Richard Prince told me “the rips” started off (“Major Tom’d”), by collecting cartoons published
in Playboy. Cartoons that were originally published between the years 1967 and 1970.
“Three years that I remember, revisit, still think about. The turn on, turn up years. The years the
circle replaced the square. The years the groove moved the twist and the uptight and upright
lost its vote. The years Mr. Jones didn’t know what hit him. These years opened up and let me
out. Man, I felt like I cleaned house. All the phony baloney shot out of my ass. All my life I had
been lied too. Now I was awake. I was receptive. And all I needed was something to agree
with. Between 1967 and 1970 I agreed to say no.”

“I’ve been working on the railroad.”

Richard told me it was a simple idea.
“The cartoons that were submitted to the magazine were watercolors. That’s what was
handed in, delivered to the art director. It was how they were made. Gouache on illustration
board. Sketch, wash, and punch line. I bought the magazines on e-bay. I bought thirty-six
issues. I flipped thru the magazine and tore my favorite “toons” out of the magazine, put the
torn page on the floor, and poured more watercolor on the cartoon. Water on water. My red
watercolor on their yellow cartoon. Fifty/fifty. My contribution? My psychotic breakdown of
my psychic connection. Also a contrasting color. My red water on their yellow water. I would
come back the next morning and my red would dry in its own way. It had personality. Travel,
leak, pool, stains and puddles. And on the way to drying, the dry would ripple the paper. The
pour would do its thing. A secret ‘cover’. The drying stayed up all night. Land of a thousand
dances. The spread of my watercolor really didn’t have to do with me. It was independent. The
form had a life of its own, a mind of its own, and each morning after ‘the evaporation’… I got
a surprise.”

“Trippy.”
I asked Richard if he could pass The Acid Test.
“Probably not.”
“I’ve always been a fan of Ken Kesey. ‘It’s the truth even if it didn’t happen.’ ‘And when you
lose your laugh you lose your footing.’
But I’m late to the Grateful Dead. I just started listening.”
Then he went on a little Birdtalk about the Ripples.

“They’re sexy.
Hit and miss.
Anyone can find me.
Everybody has to listen to Mom.
Balance.org.
Unmasking? Good luck.
Most of the time I don’t have much fun. The rest of the time I don’t have any fun at all.
Que Sera Sera. (I wish)”

Richard kept telling me it was a stupid idea. I’m not even sure he said “idea”. But he did say
“stupid”. He emphasized the word. Like it was a badge. A medal. An award. “You don’t have to
look up the word in the dictionary. If you do, your probably not an artist.” He riffed that like it
was one of his joke paintings.
He liked that his stupid idea lacked common sense. He repeated. Watercolor on watercolor.
“More water. More color?” It wasn’t a question. It was a fact. And Richard likes to have facts in
his works. Non-fiction. Something he can point to and name. He likes his titles to be what
they are. The mistakes are great and he loves making them, but coming up with a name for
the mistakes has to be a bull’s-eye. It’s about helping. “Don’t get mad. Get glad.” Eliminate the
posture. Eliminate the guessing. The speculation. The subjectivity. Richard doesn’t like politics
of symposium.

A second coat of paint.
The "jet" is nothing but hardware.

Richard knew how he wanted to translate the new covering.
Ink jet.
He’s been using Ink Jet since 1985.
He told me back in ’85 there were only two places in the country you could “send away” for
an ink jet print.
“It was primitive. Four colors sprayed out on a glossy tarp. The interpretation wasn’t very
sophisticated and the reproduction of what you wanted reproduced was usually dull, cheap,
and not very accurate.”
A lot has changed. Now you can have your own machine and instead of sending away to a
commercial lab, you can spend the afternoon typing and coding exactly what you want and
watch what comes out in your own space. Echo. Soul. Emotion. The three ghosts are like
Casper. Friendly. Convenient too. Immediate. No waiting. “No saving up box tops and sending
them off to Battle Creek Michigan.”

“Ancient footprints are everywhere.
You can almost think that you’re seein’ double.
Someday, everything is gonna be smooth like a rhapsody.”

There are all kinds of canvas and paper you can put through the printer, and the way the ink
jets out... is fast, sweet, positive. It’s like some kind of new carburetor blending air and
injecting fuel into a proper ratio. It bursts out a combustion of implausible liquid juice.
“Mine has a Holley and nitrous oxide. It’s a clean machine. It’s not a miracle, but it does the
job.”

“I’ll take my chances.”

“Electronic scissor.”
Richard tells me that’s how he use to describe re-photography back in 1977.
And cartoons?
He’s been dealing with the subject since 1985.
“I wanted something to draw, so I re-drew cartoons.”
“I love cartoons. Funny drawings. Serious humor. Subversive. Laugh out loud. Another way of
surviving. They’re part of the magazine. And I’ve always liked to open up a magazine and see
what’s up. Every magazine is an Inside World.”

  • Twitter
  • Instagram