Thursday, January 31, 2008

Constant State of Suspended Disbelief

Since Kate Ware (via Ted Newbold, via Helen Cunningham) facilitated the first purchase of my photographs for the Philadelphia Museum of Art, I have been in a constant state of suspended disbelief in relation to how my work has been received. It was about 5 years ago when the PMA acquired those photos and it hasn't stopped since. I have great confidence in my vision, my mission and my work but can I believe what's happened in terms of accolades? I don't know. I haven't given my self time for lengthy reflection about how my work is perceived on a wide scale. I'm just moving forward with 95 and I can have time to celebrate and cerebrate when I'm 40 and I-95 is over.

(I learned later to call the Philadelphia Museum of Art the "PMA" and not the "art museum." But my provincial ways have never allowed me to let go of the real name, the direct name, "the art museum")

And now I'm friends with Kate Ware! Actual friends!


From Seinfeld, "The Glasses," 1993

"UNCLE LEO: I'm supposed to tape this nature show for him (Jeffery), he loves nature. Botany, zoology. You know his botany teacher from college stays in close touch with him? They became friends!

JERRY: Oh really?

UNCLE LEO: That's pretty rare! I mean, actual friends! Like equals! They have dinner together, they have discussings..."

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

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Monday, January 28, 2008

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

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This portrait is a possible contender.

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This portrait is not.

This the Book Title Top of the Running- We Love Having You Here: America 2007-2008

Coming October 2008-
by Zoe Strauss

Saturday, January 26, 2008

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Dorothea Lange. The Road West, New Mexico. 1938. Gelatin silver print, 9 5/8 x 13 1/16

Screen capture from 1952 Chevrolet television commercial
"See the USA in Your Chevrolet - Dinah Shore"

Aside- I love Dinah Shore, one of our many famous Southern Jews. M-wah!


The rapid change in American travel culture is mindblowing. We're reinventing industry and consumerism as the US shifts labor and production to far from the source of product use. And we're forced to respond to a reconstruction of travel knowing fossil fuels must be phased out. Dudes, you know the culture of the great American expanse and travel is changing way faster than Nixon's mandated 55 MPH.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Calling All Misanthropes and Optimists: Mr. MacFeat's Opening

Michael MacFeat

Reception: Friday, January 25, 4-6 p.m.

January 22 – February 29

Don't miss it.

Michael MacFeat Concealed Weapon (Die Welt), 2000, brick and newspaper.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Back from Mississippi

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Class tomorrow. Thursday or Friday will be a report.

Monday, January 21, 2008

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

I meet many people, and with the exception one guy in Las Vegas, everyone everywhere thinks George Bush is the biggest asshole ever born.
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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Free Grant Information Session For Creative Capital

Monday, January 28
6-7:30 p.m

at Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial
719 Catharine Street
Philadelphia, PA

Creative Capital Foundation is a national nonprofit organization that supports artists pursuing adventurous and imaginative work in the performing and visual arts, film/video, innovative literature, and emerging fields. In 2008, Creative Capital will be considering proposals in the performing arts, innovative literature, and emerging fields.* Far from a traditional funder, Creative Capital is committed to working in long-term partnership with the bold and groundbreaking artists that we fund by making a multi-year financial commitment as well as providing advisory services and professional development assistance. We have a special interest in projects that transcend discipline boundaries and reveal something new about the moment in which we live. For more information, please visit

Friday, January 18, 2008

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Philadelphia International Airport

Without a doubt, Philadelphia is the greatest city in the world. Unfortunately, if you're flying into the greatest city in world you are flying into the hot mess we call the airport. Philadelphia greets visitors to our great city, and residents eager to get home, in a grotesque manner. It genuinely pains me to write this post.

Recently I had flown back home and after getting off the plane there was no one to tell the passengers what carousel our luggage would be on. So we all just followed signs to "Baggage Claim" and when we got there no one was there to tell us where luggage would be coming out AND all of the signs were broken. See below.


Also, there was no place to sit because every available bench had a homeless person sleeping on it, including a man who had urinated in his pants. There were several elderly people who couldn't sit.


Finally one of the carousels started to move, but nothing was coming out. The guy pictured below came over and started to check out the carousel... apparently the belt leading up to the exterior go-round was busted. After about 20 minutes of a horrible noise eminating from the busted belt, the entire thing shut down. Eventually the man had to use his feet to move the belt that leads up to the carousel, a la Flintstones, and then he tossed the luggage down to the revolving belt. That's what's pictured below.

Um, why is our airport such a mess? I could yell out "T.O.B.A.L.!" Or I could yell out, "Notlim!"

A.W. Thompson: Incendiary Iconography: Photos About the Cold War's Legacy

Click on the above to take a look at some photos from A.W. Thompson's series documenting the end stage of American nuclear weapons production, including photos from the former Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant.

Thanks so much to Patti Hallock for sending this info my way. Patti is a Philadelphia native and recent graduate of Parsons's MFA Photo program.

Your House: Laser-cut art book by Olafur Eliasson

Thanks to Eric Gjerde for pointing out this beautiful book.

Monday, January 14, 2008

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Sellout is a new blog focused on the often difficult practical aspects of being a visual artist. Money is a focus and I love that, because for some reason people are fucking NUTS when it comes to talking about money. Why this is, I don't know.

It's important to figure out how to live and survive if you want to produce work. Also, it's important to figure out how to live and survive, period.


This last week my lady was in excruciating pain, unbearable pain, from a tooth. She got a root canal this week and it cost one thousand three hundred dollars. She has a kind of dental insurance that will refund some of the money paid, but we had to pay for it up front. Hellloooo, "Thank God We Have Enough Money Right Now To Pay For Tooth Fixing." That tooth payment was an awful lot, but we could still do it.

I take generic Zoloft and if I wasn't on my lady's health insurance with RX, I'd be fucked. I was on welfare for many years, and if I didn't have her insurance... whoa. My guess as to how I would eventually end up affording health care would be to go back to "indigence" and get back on Medicaid OR get a full time job which would have benefits. Both would impact my calling to produce work, there ain't no doubt. I'm saying this having just received a 50 thousand dollar grant... which, by the way, will allow me to finish I-95 and produce my work in the style I've become accustomed to, through at least 2010; ink-jets as well as color copies and adhesive backed lamination, swimming pools, movie stars. In the last few years the meaning of money has changed dramatically for us, particularly for me. I own a studio... well, the bank owns it for the next 28 years really and I can own it if I can keep paying for it that entire time. But that's really fucking big. The idea that I have that much money is beyond my scope. Please lord, please keep me from Joey Coyling with this $ and help me figure out how to make it last FOREVER!


Aside: In 1981, Joey Coyle found $1.2 million in the middle of the street after it had fallen out of the back of an armored car. He was kind of a mess and it ended up bad.

Aside Aside: The person who I bought my studio from told me a story that involved Joey Coyle, Meth, a gun hidden in the coils behind a refrigerator and Joey's girlfriend, Linda. The most interesting part of the story involved how people thought for YEARS after the money was gone that Linda had some of the cash hidden away. Once, years and years after the money was gone, someone broke into her house and sledgehammered the basement floor looking for money hidden under the concrete.

Joey Coyle Obit

Finders Keepers: The Story of a Man Who Found $1 Million by Mark Bowden

Saturday, January 12, 2008

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I made these images when I was in El Paso in September and they have become important to the central idea for the book.

Rocky Flats Project

As part of my cold war obsession, I'm cooking up a plan to photograph right outside of Denver, CO at the former Rocky Flats atomic weapons production facility. My plan is to photograph both the former Rocky Flats plant workers and the changed landscape where the plant once stood. I'm just beginning to map out a plan and realistic time table for producing the photos. I am absolutely committed to this project and while I want to begin producing the photographs immediately, I will need some time to research where I'm going and who will be amenable to being photographed. And let me tell you... I'm going to kill it with this project. I'm really passionate about it and planning on spending time over several years working on a number of photo projects related to post-cold war issues. As far as I know there's not a body of contemporary work devoted to the ongoing issues related to the Rocky Flats plant, or an extensive body of work involving former nuclear weapons plants or the former plant workers.

The Rocky Flats Plant was a weapons production facility of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission that operated from 1952 to 1988. The plant is now closed, the buildings have been razed, and there are plans to convert the nuclear weapons plant to a wildlife refuge. Although the EPA has given the aok on the clean up, many environmental workers believe that the ground is still contaminated. My main interest is the workers who have acquired occupational illnesses having worked at the Rocky Flats plant.

Here's a lot of info on the plutonium and uranium laden world of Rocky Flats, CO.

1. "In 2005 Former FBI agent Jon Lipsky describes the US Department of Energy's ongoing cleanup effort at the Rocky Flats nuke site, scheduled to be completed by 2006, as "woefully inadequate -- a farce." As for the decision to make Rocky Flats a tourist destination, he said, "There is nothing safe or sane about it."

In 1989, Lipsky led an FBI raid on the Rocky Flats nuclear-weapons plant in Colorado after receiving reports that the plant posed a huge public-health threat. His raid, which took place over 18 days and involved more than 100 FBI and EPA officials, gave way to a nearly three-year criminal investigation into widespread radioactive contamination of the air, water, and soil at the 6,240-acre site and the surrounding suburbs of nearby Denver."

source- grist

2. "Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt ruled that Dept. of Energy (DOE), contractor or subcontractor employees who were exposed to radiation from 1967 through 2005 did not meet the statutory criteria for addition to the Special Exposure Cohort (SEC). He determined there was sufficient information and records available to estimate workers’ radiation doses with sufficient accuracy. Ill employees who worked at Rocky Flats from 1952 to 1966 were given SEC status because many were not monitored for their neutron radiation exposure.

By not being part of the SEC, over 22,000 former Rocky Flats workers will have to individually prove their radiation exposure caused their cancers. Meeting the statutory criteria is not easy. Applicants have to undergo a long, bureaucratic process that often takes several years. Many die before being awarded compensation. One in 10 Rocky Flats workers who qualified for compensation died before receiving it. Nationally, more than 60 percent of the 72,000 cases processed were denied."

source- USW

3. "So far, half of the more than 2,300 sick Rocky Flats workers have been denied compensation and were told their cancers and other illnesses are unrelated to years of working in some of the country's most dangerous industrial buildings at the now-demolished atomic bomb plant 16 miles northwest of downtown Denver. Hundreds more wait for responses.

Today, more than 60,000 former nuclear weapons workers are ill and believe that their ailments are linked to their Cold War work. The government denied almost all such links until 2000."

Monday, February 6, 2006

source- Rocky Mountain News

4. "On February 14, 2006, Berger & Montague won a jury verdict of $554 million on behalf of thousands of property owners against the former operators of the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant, located about 17 miles northeast of Denver, Colorado. The verdict against the contractors, Dow Chemical Company and Rockwell International Corporation, is the largest verdict in Colorado history, and the first time a jury has awarded damages to property owners living near one of the nation’s nuclear weapons sites. It includes an award of $200 million in punitive damages. According to the National Law Journal's "Top 100 Verdicts of 2006," Berger and Montague's victory in the Rocky Flats Litigation was the third largest jury verdict in the United States in 2006."

source- Berger Montague

A shout out to Bun, who worked on this case in the early 90's.

Rocky Flats Cold War Museum

Nuke Worker

Rocky Mountain News 1

Rocky Mountain News 2



Kid searching for Trinitite at the Trinity Test Site in New Mexico.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Our New Mayor and ?uestlove

Inaugural Ball
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New Year's Eve 2007

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G. Broadway

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Katie Over the Hump Dec 2007


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Sept 2006

Ode to Logan Circle

I grew up in a few parts of Philadelphia, but I spent the longest of my formative years in Logan Circle, a little neighborhood between Arch St. and the Parkway and between 18th St and 23rd St. It's a center city neighborhood within a few blocks of the big museums on the Parkway. Our house was 2 blocks from the Franklin Institute and my local library was the Main Library on the Parkway. It was great place to live as a kid.


aside: In terms of Philadelphia libraries, interestingly enough the Cottman St. library was a really good library when I was growing up, I don't know if it still is. (friends, the Cottman St. library is in the heart of the Northeast, which, to put it delicately, is not a bastion of culture)
AND it beat out the Rittenhouse Square library by miles, which wasn't nearly as comfortable or expansive.


I lived in Logan Circle from 5th through 12th grade and it was a fascinating place, economically diverse based on the original structure of the neighborhood, and a true, albeit small, neighborhood. Although a big gentrification push was happening even before we moved there, it was a mixed neighborhood with a very diverse, and enjoyable, group of neighbors.

My family lived on Spring St. for a year and on one rowhome side were the Newbolds, a wealthy couple with a newborn son. On the other side of our home were the Ebners, a working class family with 6 (maybe 7 kids) and with the youngest at Hallahan. They had a sink that didn't work in the bathroom but they owned and Atari AND an Intellivison.

We then moved to Van Pelt St. and our next door neighbor was "Alberta Mac", whose house was falling apart and was plagued with "critters" aka "mice." Alberta's son, who lived off and on with her, had a secret nickname of "Gary Gillmore." He was often drunk and he wore a jaunty Eagles tam-o'-shanter cocked to one side. Once, he shot at a cat from his window into our back yards. What the fuck.

Then they sold the house, it was rehabed, and Bootsie and Jim moved in. I loved Bootsie and Jim, but you can see from the name shift alone what was happening on the block.

Anyway, the block included a host of awesome people including, but not limited to: Joanne "Super Butch," Patrick's Family "Broke and Dealing with a Hyperactive Child" and Ray Murray "Host of Evening Magazine." It was quite a mix and a lovely neighborhood.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

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