18 January 2013


in no particular order:

- Man Ray / Lee Miller: Partners in Surrealism – this exhibit at the legion of honor had me spellbound. it was the first time i had ever seen ray’s work in person. a reminder about his being a filmmaker and fashion photographer and his ready-mades. to be close to such innovative works, to sit and watch some of his films, and to put it all into context with history. in terms of collaboration, i had no idea about lee miller and her contribution, conscious or unconscious (after all, ray continued to be quite obsessed with her after their split), to surrealism and photography, and war reportage. a really great afternoon at the museum.

- i was so moved by the man ray/lee miller exhibit that i went out and bought books on both ray and miller and the exhibition. the ray biography, Man Ray: American Artist by Neil Baldwin, is one of my favorite books this year. art and artist viewed through the lens of history. art and ownership. how an artist views art and politics and the changing world around them. this was a pivotal read for me.

- Dan Thomas-Glass – The Great American Beatjack Volume 1 – generosity. love. family. music. dan is one of the most sincere poets out there. and you can feel him putting it all out there. each and every poem. makes you want to believe in something.

- Jay DeFeo: A Retrospective - San Francisco Museum of Modern Art – second best museum show i’ve seen this year. i was particularly drawn to her painting, large scale assemblages of depth and color and texture. and i’m not talking about The Rose, which i found to be much less interesting than some of the paintings that pre-dated it. i found myself wanting to live in a room filled with her art, wanting to live with those paintings. i found myself trying to avoid The Rose and its weight. we went to SFMOMA to see this exhibit and the jasper johns retrospective; we couldn’t stop talking about defeo’s work as we walked through the johns galleries – she was so much more diverse, so much more impressive.

- Chris Martin – i rarely leave readings wanting to run right out and purchase every book ever written by the reader, but this was the experience i had upon hearing chris give a mid-day sf reading at books and bookshelves. American Music and Becoming Weather became two beacons of genuine language for me this year.

- Marina Abramovic The Artist Is Present – i could go on and on about this movie. i’ve never been a huge fan of performance art, but this film goes so far beyond documentary and performance art. it’s about process and the role of the artist, but more than anything, it’s about how much of oneself an artist is willing to invest in their art. profound. moving. i walked away with so much from this film.

- The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye - i approached this film thinking it was going to be about one thing and walked away appreciating it for so much more. the extremity of art imitating life and life as living art. this film is crazy and beautiful and entertaining and just plain crazy. crazy. love.

- Frank Ocean, Channel Orange; Miguel, Kaleidoscope Dream – these two artists/albums rekindled my faith in modern r&b. just listen.

- Chromatics, Ceremony - johnny jewel and co. put out one of the coolest cover songs this year. their take on new order’s Ceremony is hauntingly good. and that guitar. electronic tears.

- Nite Jewel, P.Y.T.- there are some artists that should never be covered. i think michael jackson is one of them. really. nite jewel does the king of pop justice on this stripped down slow jam. really. second best cover this year.

- Bruno Mars, Unorthodox Jukebox – ok pop music, i’m in. i’m not sure what’s going on with the new “look” bruno mars, at last sighting an homage to erik estrada via 70s coke pimp, but there is definitely something interesting going on in this album. there’s songwriting. but also, there’s a duality, a sense of “these are the songs for radio” and “these are the songs for me” coming from mars; there’s some pop “artistry” here. and it’s good. and a little wrong (seriously, just listen to “Gorrillas”). i feel a little guilty when i listen to this album. but not so guilty that i won’t listen to it again.

- there is something about the end of this year that made me sonically retreat to classic rock. an overwhelming feeling of really needing to be comforted and surrounded by something familiar, something that’s endured, something with history. steely dan. (early) fleetwood mac. doobie brothers, you too. december’s been difficult. thanks for getting me through.

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