Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Ephemeral Art

October 31, 2015
One of my sidewalk chalk drawings from the 1980's.

One of my sidewalk chalk drawings from the 1980’s.

Artists often go out of their way to make their work last.  They make sure that they use quality paper and colors.  Some crayons and pencils don’t fade as easily.  These pigments are lightfast.  Also, they try to frame and store things carefully.  Precautions are taken to keep works on paper from being dog-eared or getting dirty.

Other artists don’t care about such things.  They use cheap newsprint paper, poster paint, house paint and kids’ crayons.  Many are in the middle.  They try to use the best quality materials yet will compromise when they need to.

Then too, there are those of us who employ risky mediums upon risky surfaces just for the joy of it.

This includes most street art.  If it’s outdoors and on public view, it may well end up being destroyed.  The most beautiful mural in the world can be tagged, defaced or painted over.

My own art on Detroit’s abandoned J.L. Hudson’s building was destroyed when the structure was imploded in 1998.  Over 500 of my chalk drawings went down with the building.  Two years’ work was gone just like that.

My friends Jim Puntigam and Vito Valdez painted an extraordinary series of paintings on the interior walls of Detroit’s Cobo Hall parking garage.  This was one of my favorite unsung Detroit art projects.  It ended up being painted over.

Detroit’s Tyree Guyton has had his Heidelberg project artwork torn down by bulldozers and burned by arsonists.  He uses abandoned houses as a foundation to create upon.  This sometimes leads to this work being targeted.

There seems to be a mural boom going on here now.  Hopefully these include some good ones.  I need to take the tour and figure out my take on it.  They’re all fragile, though.  Public murals don’t always last for decades.  Some don’t even last a month.

Artist Keith Haring did a series of chalk drawings in the subway stations in New York in the early 1980’s.  I saw some of this work at the time.  This work was obviously temporary.  I liked that.  It’s clean and fast.  This work was one of the factors that inspired me to use chalk in my own street art.

In the past 30 years, I’ve done hundreds of sidewalk chalk drawings. I also did a series on some railroad underpasses.  By its nature, this work contains the seeds of its own destruction.  Chalk is far more impermanent than paint is.  If I were ever threatened with arrest my plan was  to tell the police “Just give me a bucket of water, some soap, a scrub brush and a few hours and all of this will disappear.”

The whole idea of temporary or ephemeral art often takes it out of the realm of money.  You can sell sketches of the work or photos of the work, yet the work itself is usually unsaleable.  Much of this work is public work.  It brings art to people who rarely go to museums.

Environmental art is another type of ephemeral art.  Often not many people see such works, when they’re built in out-of-the-way places.  In these cases, the only way to see it is to travel to it.

Some, like Robert Smithson have used bulldozers and machines. Others, like Christo and Jeanne-Claude, employ large teams, including volunteers and construction workers, to execute their plans.  Their work is almost always temporary.  They remove all traces of it when it’s time to take it down.

Then there are people like Andy Goldsworthy.  He goes off into nature and stacks rocks or arranges leaves or twigs.  This is painstaking work. He goes to a lot of trouble to create lovely things which won’t last long and that few people get to see.

My photocopied handouts can also be seen as a form of “disposable art.”  Some of them I send out in the mail.  Others I give away in person.  I’ve looked at my passing them out in public as performance art.  This has been a sort of parody of people on street corners passing out commercial flyers.

Some of these giveaways end up in the trash or get recycled.  Yet some are appreciated, kept and even treasured.  I try to offer people something magic: art, poetry, quotations, cartoons.

Temporary art seems to stand against the art world hierarchy and politics.  We try to create art that’s direct and reintegrates itself into real life.  It’s not tied to commercial influence.  Away with false barriers! Hooray for ephemeral art!

At work, circa 1980's.

At work, circa 1980’s.

Land Art/ Earth Art:

Robert Smithson:

Andy Goldsworthy:

Christo and Jean-Claude:

Keith Haring:!/about-haring/to-new-york#.VjbQdfmrSM8

My work:

A fading Sidewalk Drawiing.

A fading Sidewalk Drawing.

In the World of Scissors and Glue

September 30, 2015


Sometimes I wish that I could edit my own life in the same ways as I’d edit a movie or a book.

The little snippets get left on the floor or sent off with the recycling.

Existence is a bit of a collage.  Breath is our glue, heartbeats are mucilage.  The shards of color, of cut paper all seem to vibrate or even to explode.  The fabulous clipping sound is actually nothing but the “snip snip snip” of our days.

Eyes float in space, seeing deep inside of life.

Things are turned inside-out, upside-down and backwards.  The frayed and the afraid are both carefully retangled.

These are not the normal blues.  They’re wildly alive and ferociously awake.

Making Art for Yourself and/or Giving it Away

August 31, 2015

Date Stamped dn “People beg to give themselves away.  But who can give one’s self away in a world that no longer knows how to receive?” -Franz Kafka


In the United States, it’s very difficult to be an artist.  I suppose that this is true in many countries.  I’d like to study statistics and see which countries are best for artists to live in, and why.

The countries where it is bad for most of their people are also bad for artists.  That’s obvious.

For me, it’s been difficult.  Yet I stick to it.  I persevere.  I’ve had to.  I’ve been luckier than most.  I’ve had my share of press coverage,  Every few years I get an article, a review or an interview.

I did a successful, massive street art project.  I did this without permission and never got into trouble over it.  They did blow up my artwork, though.  I didn’t get to keep any of it.

I helped run an art gallery in Detroit for over ten years.

I showed my art in France and was there for the opening event.

I get to organize and maintain my own digital collections archive of my artwork.  This is through my library job at the University of Detroit Mercy.  When I do this, I get to go though my material archives and decide which works I consider to be most successful.

Yet in a way, it seems as if I make all my art first for myself.  I’m the one who has to store and organize it all.

I rarely make large paintings, because I’m running out of space to store everything.  My largest painting is rolled up like a rug, in my way.  It’s too big to store anywhere.  I don’t want any of my art stored in the basement or the attic.  If your art studio is also your living space, eventually the accumulated art will take over.

Yet I draw obsessively, every day.  It’s mostly small sketches.  It’s what I do.  I experiment. Not every experiment works, yet I’ve always tried to push the envelope.  I keep on keeping on.  Why do I make art, and where does it go?

I’ve had encouragement from friends and family.  I’ve had three or four collectors who have bought good groups of my work.  Other individuals have also purchased work from me, mostly from gallery exhibitions.  Thanks to you all.

Greenia_Index_021For the most part though, I’ve given it all away for free.  I’ve done this through my street art, on abandoned buildings and on sidewalks.

I’ve created, copied and distributed a free poetry two-pager for thirty years plus.  It comes out once a month.

Most of my musical and puppet performances are done for love, not money.

Some people take issue with this.  They think that it’s very wrong to create only to give it away.

We’re not doing it because we’re trying to make it harder for those who want to be paid every time.

We’re doing it because the way things are set up, it’s the only way that we can keep going.  It’s either “do it for free most of the time” or else just stop doing it.  For me, the choice is obvious.


“The Poetic Express” Take Three: Postal Correspondence and Performance Art

July 31, 2015


The story of The Poetic Express includes the various methods I used to distribute it.

For a many years, I had a very lively “postal life.”  I sent out good mail, so I often received good mail in return.  This was a major means of distributing The Poetic Express.

Once I received messages in a small metal can which was transformed into an art object.  Another time, I opened my Post Office Box only to find a lovely drawing on a piece of wood.  They’d just mailed the wood itself without wrapping it up.  The address was written on the wood. That was from the Zeitgeist/ Galerie Jacques artist Roger Hayes.

I’d always decorate my envelopes. I’d draw on them or apply stickers or rubber stamps.  I’d hoard the coolest postage stamps and stick them on in patterns.  My postal scales got plenty of use.

I was part of several mail art circles.  Much of my correspondence was with friends and family.  I paid special attention to the Surrealist movement.  It was similar the web and the Internet, in ways.  Yet it was quite labor intensive and time-consuming.  If email hadn’t come along, I’d have extended it all even further than I did.

As more people switched to email, I got less and less postal mail.  I finally had to close my P.O. Box.

I intend to start a major series of postal mailings as part of this anniversary: thirty years and heading toward forty years.


Also, I’d pass out my xerox work everywhere I went.  I used it as a therapeutic means by which to overcome my shyness and social awkwardness.  I tended to talk too quickly.  Sometimes I likely seemed a little rough or scruffy.

Years later, I heard that some people knew me as Red Bag, or as Mister Red Bag.  This was due to my usually carrying at least one red Detroit Public Library plastic book bag.  Eventually I switched to using a black shoulder bag.

I’d always be carrying too much stuff around due to my not driving a car.  When I brought things home from work or if I went shopping, I had to carry everything with me.  I couldn’t “leave it in the car.”

I developed and cultivated a sort of role or persona.  I looked on my distributing the Poetic Express in person, as a form of theatre or performance art.  I’d often create some of my brightly colored sidewalk drawings as well.

I’d size people up and ponder “Is this the sort of person who might enjoy some free poetry?”

Most people gladly accepted it.  I even got inquiries “Do you have any more of that free poetry?” or “Any poems today?”

Others were more dismissive or hostile.

Impromptu street recitals or readings did happen occasionally.  I rarely performed at  organized poetry readings.  When I did, I’d really get into it.  By 1988 I began to include puppets.  Sometimes these puppets would shout or sing my poems.

I rarely, almost never, asked for donations for the poetry.  Sometimes, when people insisted, I’d accept them.  I even received a few surprise checks in the mail for printing costs and general support.

I still pass out my poetry to people.  It’s usually less of a performance now.  I try to carry issues of The Poetic Express with me at all times.

“The Poetic Express” Take Two: The 30th Anniversary Exhibition

June 17, 2015
Two enlarged issues of

Two enlarged issues of “The Poetic Express” and original artwork for a DETROIT METRO TIMES cover.

There’s exhibition called The Poetic Express in Context: 1985 to 2015  here at the library of the McNichols campus of the at the University of Detroit Mercy.  This post provides further context.

Since 1975, I’ve been photocopying my work and distributing it. I found ways to get it to people. I’d pass out copies to strangers and people I knew. This distribution often became a form of performance art.

I’d often be out drawing in chalk on the sidewalks and passing out free poems or other texts. I’d do this with a certain spirit or attitude. I was energized, always merry and bright.

When I started The Poetic Express in April 1985, it went to a new level.  It’s my monthly two-page poetry and art publication.  It’s all my own work.  It includes a comic strip called SURREAL THEATRE.  There are tributes and dedications to artists from the past and present.  There are memorials for people who have died.

This exhibition celebrates thirty years of my putting this out every month.  I try to put this body in work in context of what was going on around Detroit.  I also relate it to my other connections and explorations outside of Michigan.

It’s on display from June 1st to August 21st.

The library’s in the middle of campus, near the fountain:

Summer Hours:

A description of the Exhibition:

When you walk in the entrance to the library, you’ll see showcase number one.  This is an exploration of the Detroit poetry scene, as I experienced it.  I was usually an “outsider.”  I rarely went to poetry readings or performed at them.  The major exception to this was the Freezer Theatre on Cass.  I was involved with that group in the early 1980’s.

Before that, I’d enjoy readings at the Horizons in Poetry series at Cobb’s Corner and elsewhere.  This was started by the late Ron Allen and John Mason.  I attended most of the LINES readings at the Detroit Institute of Arts.  George Tysh and crew brought in people like Jayne Cortez and William Burroughs.  They usually performed in the same bill with a local poet.

This showcase also displays such publications as Agenda, Art Light, Corridors, Solid Ground, the Fifth Estate, the Freezer Theatre Anthology and the more recent Quill Puddle.  There’s also a tribute to poet Jesse Nowells.

From 1975 on, I was around the Detroit cultural scenes, passing out photocopies of my work and hanging out.  In 1980, I started to exhibit my visual work in art galleries.

“The Surreal Theatre” digs those crazy holes and goes underground. Also, lower right, a poster for a 2008 exhibit at MOCAD.

In showcase number two, I focused on the Surreal Theatre.  A regular part of The Poetic Express was its comic strip, SURREAL THEATRE.  Here I honed my cartooning skills, which I later used for posters, paintings and for drawing in chalk, on abandoned buildings. The SURREAL THEATRE work is also related to my puppet performances.

This showcase focuses on this side of my art.  This includes original artwork for the Metro Times and Athens, Georgia’s Flagpole. There’s also art for posters for a 2008 MOCAD exhibit and for the Dally in the Alley.

All showcases include actual issues of The Poetic Express and related ephemera.

Showcase number three displays five issues of The Poetic Express.  They’re on display so that they can be easily read.  I’ll keep changing these issues during the run of the exhibit.

From 1985 to 2015, there was a lot going on around Detroit.  The Poetic Express was part of it all.  It was distributed all over, especially in the cultural center area and downtown.  Showcase number four has more about the Detroit scene.  It includes Marsha Miro’s Detroit Free Press review of my 10th anniversary exhibit at the 2-South Gallery.

A wide range of Detroit-based publications are represented including Broadside Press, Corridors, Orbit, Woodward Magazine, The Left Bank Publication, The Furnace, Dispatch Detroit and StuporCitifest, the Detroit Festival of the Arts and the Concert of Colors are also acknowledged.  Abandon Automobile was a 2001 poetry anthology.  I had work included in that.  Lurch was a Brooklyn literary-arts magazine.  I’ve had a lot of visits to and adventures in New York City.

This showcase deals with my postal correspondence.  Pictured, lower center, my WORLDS book,.

This showcase deals with my postal correspondence. Pictured, lower center, my WORLDS book.

In the 1970’s, there was a boom in photo-copied and self-published work.  This included zines and fanzines.  For me, this led to sending out a lot of letters.  Mail art and a lively postal life were a precursor to the popularity of the Internet and the World Wide Web.  Showcase number five explores my dedication to communicating through the mail box.

Highlights include my self-published 1980 WORLDS book, Ground Up,  the Broken Clock festival at the Zeitgeist and a booklet for an Art Brut exhibit.  There’s work by poets Wardell Montgomery and Don Handy.

Then there’s an enlargement of my last letter from Miriam Patchen.  She was the widow of the great poet Kenneth Patchen.  There’s some stamps.  Sending out mail is a lot of hard work.  Yet it’s a joy to get interesting mail.  I want to get back to it.

Showcase number six includes more of The Poetic Express and more SURREAL THEATRE.  There’s also a framed original “master copy.”  I usually do these on smooth surface Bristol paper.  There’s also some material relating to my 1990’s street art project on the downtown Detroit Hudson’s Building.

Showcase number seven is a flat case.  This includes a copy of another recent blog post about this anniversary.  There’s a Metro Times article from 2002.  There’s more The Poetic Express and SURREAL THEATRE, including panels with cartoon characters reading photography comic books.  Then there were the issues that were distributed in Mexico in 1989.  Stacks of The Poetic Express were part of a larger show of Detroit artists in Zacatecas City.

I’ve filled around 50 blank books with drawings, collages, poetry, quotations (including long passages copied from books) and other assorted writings.  I kept a daily journal for many years.  Sometimes, I even paint the covers.  This is  explored in this showcase.

Next to it, on top of the book return bin, are free back issues.  They’re up for grabs.  Take all you’d like.  You can take one or take ten or twenty.  It’s all good.

Showcase Number Eight honors various influences and favorite artists.

Showcase Number Eight honors various influences and favorite artists.  I’ve written poems for them.

In 1987, I started doing an annual, two page “Dedications Issue.”  I’d also dedicate poems throughout the year, including some memorials.  I wanted to honor and to be inspired by my heroes and heroines, both past and present.

Only a few of them are depicted here in showcase number eight.  These include Arthur Rimbaud, Guillaume Apollinaire, Pablo Picasso, Alfred Jarry, Duke Ellington, Max Ernst, Octavio Paz, Ted Joans, Arshile Gorky, Penelope Rosemont and the women who were involved with the Surrealist movement.

Pictured here: material connected with Fats Waller, Leonora Carrington, John Coltrane and Gérard de Nerval.

Pictured here: material connected with Fats Waller, Leonora Carrington, John Coltrane and Gérard de Nerval.,_Zacatecas

“The Poetic Express” Take One: POETICS

June 1, 2015

v29_9Part of the reason that I started doing The Poetic Express was to force myself to write more poetry.

Even if you’ve a good work ethic, sometimes it’s best to light a fire under yourself.

I’m forced to write at least  5 to 15 poems every month.  I’ve been doing this since April of 1985.  I’ve written nearly 2000 poems for The Poetic Express.  I should be close to reaching this goal by the end of this year.

If I count the poems I’ve written aside from The Poetic Express, I’m sure that it’s already over 2000.

There are similarities in my approach to my visual art.  There, I’ve certainly done over 10,000 drawings.  Quantity isn’t quality.  Yet if you have enough focus and intent, eventually quantity will help light the path toward quality.

It seems to me that I’ve managed to find my own voice.  I haven’t found anyone else who writes poetry quite like mine.

Those closest to it are my heroes and heroines from the past.  People like Bob Kaufman, Kenneth Patchen, André Breton, Joyce Mansour, Jayne Cortez, Benjamin Péret, Antonin Artaud, Arthur Rimbaud, St-John Perse, Apollinaire and more.  I love Surrealism.  As regards the wider avant-garde/experimental tradition, I’m quite selective.  I don’t like everything.

As for people writing today, I search for those who are on my wavelength.  I’m open to them.  As for those who I don’t really connect with, there’s still a lot of their work that I can appreciate and can respect.

In my poetry I look for magic, for wordplay, for the decisive image, for humor and for strange pictures.

I’m drunk on language and swept away by a sea of images.  I think that I have something to say.

May 30 and 31, 2015

The Poetic Express in Context: 1985 to 2015

April 30, 2015

v29_12It’s hard for me to believe that I’ve been doing The Poetic Express every month for 30 years.  It’s a good body of work.

When it started in April 1985 I was starting a job at Crowley’s Department store in Detroit’s New Center area.  I’d bus there from the east side and hang out in the area after work.  I was in my early 30’s.

By 1992, I’d moved down to “my favorite neighborhood” in the cultural center / Wayne State University area.  I could walk to work.  Since then, I’ve lived a lot of life.  I got serious about making visual art and about performing.  I play and sing with two musical groups.  I also do puppet shows where I go for the humor, both wacky and absurd.  I’ve shown my art in France and got to spend a week in Paris.  I visit New York nearly every year.  I’ve helped run an art gallery and performance space, the Zeitgeist.  Since 2001 I’ve been working at the library at the University of Detroit Mercy.  Often I just get insanely busy.  I feel like I’m working two full-time jobs.  Yet I still find time to catch my breath and to stop and smell the flowers.

It started like this:

In the 1970’s, I’d been typing up my poetry on a manual typewriter and printing it up onto double-sided sheets.  I’d pass them out to friends and to strangers.  I started The Poetic Express to force myself to write poetry every month.  Also it was a forum for my drawing and for my comic strip Surreal Theatre.  I think that my drawing and my writing improved year to year.

I was trying to declare my independence from the world of “normal poetry” which seemed too insular and rarefied to me.  I’ve only been published in a few poetry magazines and anthologies.  In most of those, I didn’t submit my work, but was invited to participate.

I’ve always felt myself to be an outsider in my way.  I come from a place that’s beneath the underground.  I feel part of a tradition of experimental art which goes way back.  I have a special affinity for Surrealism.  I’ve gone through hard times and suffered.  There’s been nothing too extreme, just the sort of things that most people go through.  It’s all helped to mold my character and to strengthen my resolve.

The Poetic Express has been a public face and a laboratory for experimentation, work and play.

Much of the context is tied to my life in the city of Detroit.  The act of passing out copies to friends and strangers in public was usually a performance.  I’ve spent countless hours writing letters, weighing them, including inserts and goodies along with them, drawing on the envelopes, etc.  It’s fun, yet it’s very labor-intensive and very time-consuming.  The boom in zines and self-publishing was encouraging, yet by the time that really took off, I’d already been at it for awhile.  All these things are something that was like the Internet before the Internet really arrived.  One attempts to network and  to communicate as best as one can.

As part of the online version of The Poetic Express, I’ve written a special introduction for each volume.  I include links to websites which reference the people I’ve dedicated poems to, my heroes and heroines.  These intros also relate each volume and each year to how I’m living my life.  I also share my personal favorites among the poetry and Surreal Theatre comic strips.

It has an “underground cult following.”  People have stopped to comment and respond.  My ten-year anniversary exhibition was reviewed in a Detroit newspaper.  I have letters which respond to and comment upon specific poems.  People have The Poetic Express posted on their refrigerators.  Once someone told me that the work had helped them get through a bad period in their life.  Such things mean more to me than “riches and fame” would.

Anyway, thanks to all who’ve enjoyed and supported The Poetic Express for all these years.

Here’s how I’m going to celebrate the anniversary:

1. I’m installing an exhibition called The Poetic Express in Context: 1985 to 2015  here at the library of the McNichols campus of the at the University of Detroit Mercy.  It will be on display by June 1st and will run until August 21st.

The library’s in the middle of campus, near the fountain:

Summer Hours:

2. I’m going to do one or two special “bonus issues” of The Poetic Express.

3. Probably sometime next month, in May 2015, the 2014 run of The Poetic Express will appear online at the University of Detroit Mercy site.  (Update: this should appear in early June).

4. I’m going to start a long-term postal art campaign.  I want to number the mailings consecutively from one to one thousand.  We’ll see whether I actually make it to 1000 or not.  I’ll use this to distribute my huge supply of back issues.  Plus I can use up some of my massive supply of free return address labels.

If you want to get a mailing, write to me at my email,  Or find me on Facebook and message me there.

If you mail me an SASE, you’ll get more stuff and get it more quickly.  That’s a Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope.  Try not to use the smallest envelopes.  Get a larger or medium-sized one and fold it up.  It’s 49 cents (or a forever stamp) for one ounce.  If you’d like more, it’s 22 cents extra for two ounces and 44 cents extra for 3 ounces.


This is link to my Maurice Greenia, Jr. Collections site, scroll down and click onto The Poetic Express:

The Poetic Express at 25:

The Poetic Express from November 2006, on drawing:

On Zines:

A notice.  This includes more of my take on The Poetic Express :

From 2007, Artist’s Statements and Exhibits

March 31, 2015

1987 july 6

“To me, the quality of art is tied directly to its human content. It should say something about (or lead us toward) what it means to be a human being in this world, in all its depths and complexities.

This doesn’t have to be direct or obvious. It can also be subtle and poetic. Yet it should be there, or the work will leave me cold.

Much of the creative work around us seems to take the opposite track. There’s a place for ‘time killers’ and distractions from life. ‘Dumb fun’ can be a harmless diversion for some, at times.

Yet a steady diet of sweets, white flour and alcohol will injure you, eventually, no matter how good it seemed at the time.”   February 2007

The complete version:

Later in the same month, on February 23, 2007: from The Frenetic Gazette, Number 10:.

“Yes a little FRENETIC GAZETTE once again. I’m in my frenetic art-making mode, the first big blast for 2007.  …I can paint a number of works concurrently, with vastly different styles and approaches. Working full time, fighting and struggling to find time to PAINT can feel like a peaceful war. Sacrifices are made. Irrational juggling predominates.

Anyway, this work is for an exhibit called “WINDOWS TO OTHER WORLDS (with select artifacts)” and also includes artists Carlos Bruton, Gwen Joy and Karl Schneider. I’m curating-organizing this exhibit with help from Jim Puntigam. If you get this soon enough, tomorrow night the Space Band will perform at a closing event for the installation PLAYFUL CHAOS. Music will start around 8pm with others also performing and a jam session.

WINDOWS TO OTHER WORLDS opens March 10, 2007 and I’ll be doing a puppet show.”

Then, from June 2007:

For a Wilder Laughter:

“Of the many serious problems facing the world today, some are rarely mentioned.  One of these is the severe shortage of humor, good jokes, the absolute comic and their glorious residue.

This residue is, of course, human laughter”

The complete version:

“Laughter can reveal the truth and throw it back into the face of the lie!

Don’t be afraid to let go and laugh.  Be open to it.   Seek for it.”

datestampAlso from June 2007:

“Through Surrealism, I learned the difference between “mere artistic propaganda” and authentic works of art informed by politics.

Artistic propaganda has a hard time matching (or keeping up with) the real propaganda which all of us face every day.

To be informed by politics is to seek out, to become aware of and maybe somehow to know the hard truths of this country, of this world. To be aware is to beware.”

This is from an Artist’s Statement written on June 16, 2007, for STATE OF THE UNION, an exhibit at the Gallery Project in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  The complete version:

Also from 2007

For Future Generations, For Posterity

February 27, 2015

grebaw_0296As an Artist and as a Poet, I am strongly, passionately in favor of the future generations.   I live my life in solidarity with those who are yet to come.

The weight of the past and the weight of the future both feel heavy.  The past has done its best, or its worst.  The future is like a clean piece of paper, surrounded by flames.

What to do?  How to take action?  How to inspire others to take action?  These things are always on my mind.

Who does the future belong to?  Does it belong to the people who will live in it?  Those who are young now will be aged, when the clock turns.

Part of this future includes us, we who live in the present day.  The other part of this future includes our grandchildren, our great-grandchildren and beyond.  I’m in love with those who are and with those who will be.  Where is the divide?

There don’t seem to be enough people fighting for future generations, trying to speak for them.  Most which does go on is connected to environmental concerns.  Climate change exists and it’s a serious concern.  Yet it’s just the tip of the iceberg.  There are many ways to fight for the future.

Yet on so many levels, in so many ways, a great many people seem to be actively against posterity.  They’re so caught up in their own interests that they rush forward, grasping.  Their motto; “We want ours, now!”  In this case, it’s often money but it’s not just money.

What sort of world will our actions leave environmentally, economically, artistically, spiritually and more?

Some don’t care or don’t understand.  To them, those who are yet to be are like phantoms.  Subconsciously, they may wonder “What if there is no future?”  Or perhaps it all seems too abstract and unknowable.

Conservatives, Liberals and Progressives can’t seem to really stand up for the future.  Instead of making large steps forward, they try to just stand in place.  Often, they even go backwards.

Yet many people go beyond this indifference.  There seems to be a real disdain for future generations.  This often curdles into contempt, disgust and hatred.  To them, the young and glorious future is a great enemy.

The old fight against the young, sending them off to war, making it hard for them to make a living and damaging the world in which they’ll have to live.

They can’t see the future generations.  When they try to, it repulses them.  Maybe it confuse them or bores them.

I see those who are yet to be pointing their fingers back at us.  They accuse us: “Why did you do this?” or “How could you have let this happen?” or “What were you thinking?”

Yet who are these future people?  What is posterity anyway?

Look at your own face in the mirror.  Look at the faces of your parents and your children.  Look at your brothers and sisters.  Look at your friends.  These are the faces of the future.  If you truly care about them, you should be able to take the leap and to care about the days to come.

Art is the Permanent Revolution

January 31, 2015

Still image from the film Art is a Permanent Revolution


Frans Masereel, Otto Dix, Honoré Daumier, Käthe Kollwitz, Goya, Pablo Picasso, George Grosz and others all are referenced in this documentary film, Art is…the Permanent Revolution.  I saw it last night and thought it was quite good.  It chronicles the history of the “fighting printer.”  The artist protests. They respond to events by making prints. Some end up being shunned, imprisoned or killed.

Etcher Sigmund Abeles, lithographer Ann Chernow, woodcutter Paul Marcus and master printer James Reed are featured “in the present day.”  It’s recent at least, as this film came out in 2012.

Because I’m an artist myself, it was interesting to see the printing processes.  They go through a lot of the details and explain how they are done.

Most of the historical images aren’t identified in the film proper.  They are in a bonus feature on the DVD.  I may write more about this film later, after a few more viewings.

I may have more to say about the Charlie Hebdo killings too. Yet maybe this post,  and the articles that I chose to link to here will be enough.


I recently saw the old World War Two film 49th Parallel from 1941.  In one scene the character played by Leslie Howard has his Picasso and Matisse paintings, a book by Thomas Mann and his own notes all destroyed by a pair of Nazis!  The “enlightened man” is forced to respond to the anti-art forces, culture under the boot of the fascist.  He ends up knocking one of them down.

If you want to see a related video clip click onto this site, then onto “Savage Tribal Methods”


There’s a tradition of protest that enters into satire.  Making fun of everything can be subversive, in and of itself.  Witness the work of people like Tex Avery.  His work, like much of Hollywood, is laced with humor which veers into racism and misogyny at times.  Avery has a “no-holds-barred” approach and his work is screamingly funny.

Even old cartoons can be tough for the sensitive to view.  It’s not just cartoons.  Hundreds of movies have displayed similar material. Strange and troubling images, dialogue and sequences appear again and again.

Tex Avery is just an obvious example.   I love his work.  He goes too far.  Some of this excess is great.  Yet some gags can disgust or upset the modern viewer.

There’s the excuse that they were attacking everything.  All types of institutions, people and ethnic groups were mocked and kidded.  Yet there’s a fine line between doing so in a way which seems OK today and doing so in a way which makes most of us cringe.  In the 1960’s, some started to push things even further, mainly in cinema and underground comics.


That tradition continued at the Charlie Hebdo magazine.  They go after everything and everyone and aren’t afraid to offend people.

Satire usually doesn’t get to be so dangerous.  Eleven people were killed.  Four of them were cartoonists. One of the cartoonists had been working since 1954.  Another started in the 1960’s.  They were very well-known in France.

Artists can still be slaughtered because of their art!  It’s a horrible thing, to be sure.  Let’s hope that nothing like this happens again for a long, long time.

Juan Cole on the Charlie Hebdo attacks:

Noam Chomsky on the Charlie Hebdo attacks:—Fill-in-the-Blank-20150110-0021.html

The Guardian:

The New Yorker:



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