Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What kind of world are we living in...

... when you type the words "Exile on" into the iTunes Store search box and the first entry that comes up is "Exile on Mainstream" by Matchbox Twenty? Pleasant enough, these Matchbox people, but really?


I was of course seeking to give myself a Christmas treat by purchasing the newly remastered Stones album of a similar name. There is some suggestion that the alternate version of Loving Cup is the best Rolling Stones song ever.

Details to follow.

Oh, and while I'm at it, what kind of world are we living in where a man such as myself, living in what New York Magazine calls the best neighborhood in New York, walks out the front of the house to find the street still filled to the gills with snow?
Still filled to the gills?
That's a nice line, isn't it?
Yes it is.
Thank you.
Sounds like country western music.
Got home early from the bar last night/But I'm still filled to the gills today
Something like that.
Shot my foot off to avoid the draft/Now I wish the pain would go away.
Perhaps that's enough.
The chorus goes: I'm walking funny, but it ain't the beer. Plus some other stuff to make it fit.
Really, in a kind of hardscrabble way.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The drinking of the Schlitz

I just got an email from Sweden, the subject line of which reads "Du har f├ątt pengar!" Which is good, apparently, since it contained, in its own sort of electronic way, $967 bucks. I had initially thought it was pornographic spam, but apparently not. The 967, for you completists, breaks down to 800 for a four-print package and 167 freaking bucks for FedEx to send a tube weighing less than a pound to Sweden. And they think that Wikileaks guy is a crook?

So my holiday gift initiative is going well. Better, certainly, than my Goldman Sachs new partners initiative, but that's not saying much. So I decided to celebrate by buying some beer. Went to the supermarket and saw they were selling a 12-pack of Schlitz for $9.99. Schlitz! I couldn't help myself.

When I was in high school I had a lovely burgundy 1969 Camaro with a black vinyl top, a 327, and four, as they say, on the floor. The last time I drank a Schlitz has to have been while sitting in or near that car. My friend Dave probably handed it to me in Giberson's field. Which was a place.

Anyway, so it's been a while. And now that I'm two cans into the 12-pack I can report with some confidence that Schlitz isn't very good beer. But I usually drink Bud Light, so who am I to say?

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Perfect Gift for the Person who has Everything

How about a signed, numbered giclee print of a Geoffrey Raymond painting?

The prints measure 23"x32" and come on heavy-grade archival photo stock. I'm offering beautiful artisanaly-printed versions of five of my classic paintings with delivery guaranteed domestic by Friday, 12/24, at the latest.

Each print costs $250, is signed and numbered on the front. A personal message is inscribed on the back. A letter of authentication is also included. If you buy two or more, the additional prints cost $225. You can get a set of four or five for $800 and $975, respectively. Because of rush delivery charges, domestic shipping and handling will be $60 per order (includes any number of prints). Payments should be made through PayPal to gvraymond@gmail.com. You can contact me at that same email with questions. Orders must be received by Monday evening. No guarantees on international deliveries arriving before Christmas.

And I apologize for missing Hanukkah ... but better late than never.

The images being offered are:

The Annotated Fuld

The Annotated Fed

American Investor

Big Lloyd 3 (The Root)

Cramer: Naked Short

Taken together, an amazing visual representation of the last three years on Wall Street. Many of these actual paintings are still for sale. Go to www.annotatedpaintings.blogspot.com to take a look.

Happy Holidays.

Friday, December 10, 2010

For those of you on tenterhooks...

For those of you on tenterhooks, I am pleased to announce that The Annotated Ratner has been accepted for inclusion in the "Gentrification" show at the BAG Gallery. The show runs from December 18th through January 8, with the opening party on the night of the 18th, 6-10. All of which sounds like good clean fun.
I don't even know what a tenterhook is.
They were used back in the 14th Century.
Sounds grim.
Naaah. They were used to help wool keep its shape as it dried.
Yeah. Later, when they had machines to keep the wool in shape, they came to refer to a state of anticipatory anxiety.
Ahhhhh. Thank you for clearing it up.
You're welcome.
If you don't anticipate making the show but would like to weigh in on the painting, feel free to send along suggested annotations, either through the comments section or by private email. Annotations submitted so far include:
--Go Nets!
--Never heard of the guy.
--Good painting of a bad man
--No God, no shame
--Tar & feather him.
Closest to my heart would, of course, be "good painting of a bad man"--which is what I, the artist, dear reader, humbly attempt to do.
It would be fun if Jimmy McMillan would write something.
Jimmy McMillan. Ran for Governor of New York. Member of the TheRentsTooDamnHigh party.
Oh him. I loved his doo.
Me too.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

And then there's this...

It's a Brooklyn Thing

My friend Bruce Cahn, who's turning his photographs of black women into a book, sent me this photo yesterday in advance of our weekly meeting at the Peter McManus Cafe.

Fearing my loss of the upper hand, I responded with a "see you at 4:15" and a file of The Annotated Ratner. Of which this is just a cross-section:

All being well and good, I made my appearance at 4:20--a mere five minutes late, which wasn't so bad given that I'd had to account for a stopover at Pearl Paint to buy some canvas in computing my ETA. Truth be told, if the weather had been a bit warmer I'd have been right on time. But it being what it was, namely cold, I took a revised route:
R Train from 9th St/4th Ave in Brooklyn to Canal St in Manhattan.
Buy canvas at Pearl.
Re-board R Train, taking care to head uptown.
Choose NOT to exit the train at 14th Street and walk the seven or eight blocks required to get from Union Square to McManus.
Exit R Train at 42nd St/Times Square.
Wander around underground until I find the 6 Train.
Board the 6, taking care to head downtown.
Exit the 6 at 18th St Station.
Eschew the 18th St. exit; walk north to 19th St.
Exit station at the north-west corner of 19th and 7th Ave--the exact location of the Peter McManus Cafe.
All this done, I entered the bar and pulled up a stool next to 20th St Dave (as differentiated from Grumpy Dave and Dave with the Attractive Girlfriend), who was sitting next to Bruce.

"Where's the painting?" he leaned across Dave and asked.
"What painting?"
"The Ratner one."

I then explained that while I had sent him the photo, I hadn't planned to exhibit the painting at the bar (something I regularly do, by the way).

"Nobody in Manhattan knows who he is," I said.
"I do."
"Really. Who is he?"
"He's that financier who became the Car Czar."
"No. That's the other Rattner."

So we took a quick poll of the denizens. Plenty of people had heard the name Bruce Ratner but not a single drunk, when polled, could identify who he was. I rested my case. Then today, a member of the commentariat named "Annotation 1" left a comment. It read: "Never heard of him."

I continued to rest my case, understanding that this whole Ratner thing is a Brooklyn thing. Go to Manhattan and they don't know the guy from hunger.

But in Brooklyn--well, that's a different story. There's even a play about Ratner and the Atlantic Yards (which would be a cool name for a band, assuming The Yardbirds remains spoken for). It's called "In the Footprint: The Battle over Atlantic Yards."

The review in what I think is the website of New York Magazine goes like this:

Ideals aside, we all know we're puppets of forces much larger than our little selves. So it's comforting, when Big Money rips a big hole in Brooklyn, to see docu-theater troupe The Civillans rush in like avenging macrophages, to fill the bleeding void with smart art. In the Footprint: The Battle Over Atlantic Yards is a thoughtful, head-and-heart history of the mostly-disastrous Nets stadium development project, and the latest work of Civilians artistic director Steve Cosson, co-writer Jocelyn Clarke, and composer-adjutant Michael Friedman (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, This Beautiful City).

Deploying their time-tested techniques--i.e. performing in spoken-word, scene and song the unexpurgated text of interviews conducted by company members with a wide variety of citizens, civil servants and partisans on all sides--the Civs sort through the fallout from the largest eminent domain seizure (and mass relocation of city residents) since the Robert Moses era: The half-shadowy, half-hapless, distinctly Iraq-era push to bring the New Jersey Nets to Brooklyn and restore "dignity" to a borough that's been scoreless since the Dodgers bounced in 57. (Oh, and plus: Condos!)

Footprint is social theater at its querulous best, picking up the significant slack left by a vitiated journalism. (At one point, BK's bloggers form a literal Greek chorus: All of them clad in bathrobes.) Switching roles and accents at a dizzying clip, the company forms a kind of collective Brooklyn Oversoul. Ratner, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg come off the villains of the piece (they're played by a backhoe, a basketball, and an empty suit, respectively, if not respectfully), but there's precious little demonizing going on here. The Atlantic Yards debate was and is monstrously complex, turning black political leaders against black community coordinators, white liberals against progressive city fathers, and made unlikely bedfellows of ACORN, Jay-Z and Frank Gehry. (The entire ensemble is uniformly sensational, but look for Donnetta Lavinia Grays as Bertha Lewis, the pro-stadium ACORN chieftain who becomes a sort of tragic hero over the course of the evening.) In the Footprint leaves you not with a rant or a slogan, but with a wistful riddle of urban living, set to Friedman's sad and simple pop: "You are only entitled to the space that you have / You are not entitled to the space that's all around you."

In the Footprint is playing at Irondale Center in Fort Greene through December 11.
Click here for the website.

So I am reasonably confident that most people wandering through the "Gentrification" show at the BAG Gallery (138 7th St, between 2nd and 3rd Aves) will know who the guy is, since it's clearly a Brooklyn thing and we are in Brooklyn.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Annotations Welcome

In the old days I used to inscribe a 6" lightly-penciled grid on the surface of my canvases to match a similar grid on the surface of my resource photos. If you go back through some of the more comprehensive sequences you can usually see it in the early stages.

I'd use the grid to painstakingly, sort of, transfer the outline of the photographic image to the face of the painting. This is a process (although it's stood the test of centuries) about which I'm becoming more and more ambivalent.

So with Ratner I just drew a center line on both the canvas and the photo, just to give myself the lay of the land, and then had at the thing.
Free-hand, if you will.
Just so.
What I like about Rat #1 is that it seems quite a bit looser than my recent work. And I think that's a good thing.
How come one shoulder's almost completely black and the other is your usual squiggle?
I liked the way the black shoulder balanced out the bulge of black hair on the opposite side of his head.
Wow. You actually think about stuff like that?
Sure. I'm a painter. What do you think I think about?
Now that, my friend, is a question.
Yes it is.
What's your first annotation going to be?
I'm thinking "Rat #1", but I've got time. What would yours be?
Now that, my friend, is a question.
Yes it is.

Monday, December 06, 2010

The Rat, Volume 3

Painting the Rat. Basically done. Penultimate and final images (barring additional noodling with the nose):

The Rat, Volume 2

Herewith, The Annotated Ratner, in two bits ...

Here, for reference sake, is the original pic:

Obviously we're not done. But I'm trying for a more gestural approach these days, so we're not far from done.
'Gestural' is what we're going with?
Yes. Why do you ask?

Well ...

Well, gestural is one thing. But if it looks like the whole side of his head is caved in ...
The left side?
The left side of the painting, yes. The right side of his head.


So tough noogies. If part of the gesture absolves him of the need for a third of his head, then so be it.
Rhymes with Soviet.

What does?

So be it.

Yes it does.
What are you saying?

I'm not saying anything. I'm just saying.
Anyway, I do like the sourpuss mouth. Actually I like the whole thing. It's gestural.

Friday, December 03, 2010

The Rat

Reggie Jackson once described George Steinbrenner and Billy Martin like this:
"One's a rat. The other one's a mouse studying to be a rat."
Which is a pretty good line, I must say.

Here in Brooklyn, however, if you ask people who Rat #1 might be (and this excludes national politicians--a ripe category for sure but not applicable here), the answer as often as not is Bruce Ratner. He, for those of you not in the loop, is the real estate developer who is tearing up a part of downtown Brooklyn called the Atlantic Yards, which currently looks like this ...

... and erecting a collection of mixed-use office/residential buildings plus something called the Barclays Center which will house something called the New Jersey Nets.

Me? I'm of two minds. The Nets (which are now majority-owned by some Russian oligarch after the bottom fell out on Ratner) have the makings of a pretty good team. That is to say they have an excellent young center and an excellent young point guard. The rest, as they say, is trimmings. So, two years hence, when they hit Brooklyn (they currently play in Newark), it could be a pretty good all around thing; at least as regards roundball. The other side of the coin is that they played a lot of eminent domain hardball, and a lot of people/businesses have been shown the door in a not so gracious manner so that the Nets could have someplace to play once they got to B-Town.

All of which brings me to an upcoming show at the BAG Gallery called "Gentrification." I'm submitting a blank portrait of Ratner with the idea that it be annotated during the course of the show. Which is nice because it'll be a lot warmer INSIDE the gallery than OUTSIDE, where I usually stand.

Ratner looks like this:

and this ...

... which is the one I'm painting. As we speak.

I love the pinched look to his mouth. This is the look on his face when he hung up with Frank Gehry, who was scheduled to design the whole thing but who dropped out when they started slashing the budget.

The call for entries, for you completists, can be seen here.

At some point in the proceedings, the whole Atlantic Yards thing was supposed to look like this:

Which I thought would be pretty cool. But what do I know? Now it's slated to look like this:

My, how the mighty have fallen.

Were it me, and I'd been kicked out of house and home in the name of improving Brooklyn, I'd be a damned sight happier seeing them erect the first (which is something, if I do say so myself) than with the second (which looks like a piece of shit).

My favorite part of the new design? The pointy end of the triangle, which looks like a parking lot designed to hold maybe 500 cars. This is assuming anybody would be stupid enough to drive to downtown Brooklyn to see a basketball game. Sheesh.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Good clean fun...

As you may know, man cannot live on bread alone ...
Is this your usual excruciatingly-coy preamble to another boring post about how you love watching Formula 1 racing almost as much as you like selling paintings?
Yes it is. How did you know?
I could just feel it.
Should we then just go right to the videotape?
Might be best.
Okay. Here it is...