Sarah Palin First Impressions

Before I had even a moment to recover from the history making of last night and Obama’s incredible speech, my cup overfloweth with excitement about McCain’s vice presidential announcement this morning, a visual bonanza! So much to see, so much to chew on, I don’t even know where to begin!

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I will try not to dwell about lame TV producers of McCain’s announcement this morning.. God knows what screens to the left and side of his head that made everyone behind him look like they were either shifty or channeling Ramtha. Nor McCain, whose peeps can’t get it together to use a teleprompter and look us in the eye. (Hello, McCain.. there’s new technology out there…Google much?) Today’s on screen gaffe was almost as bad as when Hilary had every member of the Clinton administration standing behind her when she was defeated in Iowa vs. Obama’s endless sea of admiring smiling faces.

Nor am I going to talk about the fact that Sarah Palin just plunked out a baby IN APRIL. This is the profile of pro-life “my friends”. How about being a pro-mother? I know people make babies and go back to work. I am one. But this ain’t no nine to five job. This is the vice president of the the United states whose running mate had cancer and just turned seventy two today. I can’t wait to see the debates and know she’s lactating and has cheerios in the bottom of her purse.

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What I really want to talk about is her hair. Can someone please get this woman to a SuperCuts? What is that thing on her head? I admit, I am completely jealous of her flawless Linda Carter Skin. And I fully expect her to take out that plastic hair clip, pull off her glasses, rip off her blazer to reveal either Wonder Woman or Demi Moore in Disclosure. But the hair has GOT TO GO.

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The choice is such a transparent attempt to get the Hillary votes. Some said that when Obama chose Biden, it was a sign of the party’s feeling Obama’s weakness on his foreign policy experience, but this is far more dramatic and cynical. No offense to older men, but sometimes they make bold moves just to let us (and themselves) know they’re still alive. I think this is the case with the with the Republican Party in general. Hey, let’s start another war!

She’ll probably do well in the debates. She’s likable, women rule in general and she’ll be underestimated. Having never seen nor heard of her before except her speech just now, even I like her…for PTA president. As a former Hillary supporter, I have to admit, the first thought when I saw Joe Biden up there with Obama, was “Darn… There’s no more girls up there.” While I love seeing a woman in the fray, this is indeed an unusual pick. I just learned that she’s a die-hard creationist. Can you imagine? Someone a heart beat away from the presidency who doesn’t believe in science? I’m dumbstruck.

All I know is that I’m more excited about television watching this fall than when Mel Gibson got outed as an anti-semite or when Rielle Hunter curiously declined to get her infant’s cheek swabbed (DNA test) twelve hours after John Edwards offered a paternity test to prove that he wasn’t screwing around on his wife. This is going to be the gift that just keeps on giving.

Don’t touch that remote.

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Artist as Exhibitionist

2008-06-13-nytimescover.jpg Much has been made of the recent Memorial Day Weekend Issue of the New York Times Magazine displaying, not a war veteran, but former Gawker editor Emily Gould languishing on a bed sporting a wife-beater and tattoo. It is not about the blog culture so much as an 8,000 word autobiographical tale about her experience in it. She paints a portrait of herself as a compulsive over-sharer where she describes, in great detail, how she blogged about her every thought, told amusing stories of boyfriends, skewered media insiders and experienced total humiliation by Jimmy Kimmel on live television before being ousted from New York’s subculture and media world. Aside from babes on beds selling more magazines, the repentant pose begs us to pity the entire generation of bloggers who expose too much of themselves online. “Poor, poor generation…“, say the editors “See how naughty you’ve been? Just like the tattoo, you’re gonna regret it!” Meanwhile, there she is, the “recovering exhibitionist” lying half naked on the bed. The joke’s on us and especially the NY Times. In fact, I think this picture I found of Emily is far more apt:

2008-06-13-emily2.jpg Emily Gould
As an artist, I was captivated by the piece on several levels. The narrative details Emily Gould’s journey piercing through the event horizon of celebrity culture and going from being the observer to the observed. What fascinated me most, however, was the x-ray view inside the mind of someone who craves the attention of strangers. As the entire spectacle of her feature betrays, Emily Gould is a masterful exhibitionist. In a sense, the second picture summarizes the ideal attitude you need to have to be an artist– act like you don’t care, but do it half-naked and look hot (i.e: express/expose yourself and make great art).

For fine artists, often solo creatures, it’s easy to get lost in the monastery of the studio (except for those artists with factories of people who paint for them, such as Damien Hirst, Takashi Murakami or Kehinde Whiley) and frankly shocking to suddenly then have to lift one’s head above the walls and care what other people think. I suspect there are more artists of talent and skill uncomfortable exposing themselves than artists with less talent that are and the latter always gets more action.

I am not an exhibitionist by nature. Yet writing here has taught me a great deal about getting over the fear of vulnerability. I started writing this column on an intellectual dare from Arianna Huffington, a friend and collector, who always told me “Dahling, I love the way you think, you have to write it down, you should blog about it!” “But I’m not a writer, I’m a painter,” I would protest. Writing is hard for me. Unlike painting — which I can get lost in — I don’t get lost in writing. I squeeze out every sentence. If I do get lost, it might be for a paragraph, but then I have to bludgeon it into spontaneity until my arms ache.

Although I certainly don’t write about my shampoo or my dog, writing online gets easier each time I do it and I start to understand the compulsion. I think of it like this: if I could take all the pages and pages of confessional material on the web and plaster it on the interior of a gigantic dome, I can envision this universal mind, and I start, by putting something out there weekly, to feel my place in it — as if I represent a couple of neurons or glands and if I stop I might make the mind lose the abliity to see the color red or find its keys.

2008-06-13-firstpainting.jpg Kimberly Brooks. “The Conversation.” First picture at an exhibition.
I painted for years in silence before showing my work. The first time I hung a painting at a group exhibition, I was as nervous as if it were a first date. I arrived late and saw people standing around and talking about it. I blushed and laughed behind them. I assumed that they would know it was me who did it, like they could tell. The Internet was far more terrifying. The first time I uploaded my art work, I created a password-protected website. I then handed out postcards with the password on it and attempted to control who viewed the work. The thought that anyone could look at it anytime was akin to someone watching me take a shower. I finally took it off for the world to see.

I keep relearning the concept of the artist’s impulse and the need to share; that the desire to express and loving the Zen of process are separate from seeking and desiring the admiration of strangers. Now I’ve come to see acquiring an ease with attention itself as just another tool of the trade, like turpentine or a good studio space. As an artist I remain an exhibitionist-in-training. As for Emily Gould, in that regard, anyway, I tip my hat.

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The Nudist and The Chemist

As an artist, I consider art on a sort of spectrum in my mind by the manner in which it is rendered. I picture two opposing ends: one a chemist, who has a pristine lab and measures everything in the most precise manner, conducting experiments in a white coat with the thinnest of pipette, a Bunsen burner, and a notepad to meticulously record results. On the other end is the nudist, someone completely of the body who paints without a trace of inhibition, who never decides what to put on the canvas in advance but just instinctually slathers it on with a huge brush or spatula, perhaps even while sipping a glass of wine with the other hand, all while naked. In my mind I call the two types of artists “The Nudist and The Chemist.” With every painting, I fall somewhere in between–with “The Nudist” being my ultimate goal as an artist, like Howard Hodgkin or perhaps the elder Matisse, working in bed into his eighties with yards of fabric, sunglasses and a big pair of scissors.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kimberly-brooks/the-nudist-the-chemist-a_b_91633.html

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