Talking about not talking....

Well, it has been a very interesting couple of days.

My friend Tom runs a blog called The Good Men Project.  He was putting together a edition of the blog on race.  And he asked me to contribute.

I should say that Tom and I have been friends for well over a decade.  I've held his children, he's seen me cry, we've have very similar experiences with mental illness in our families and have had to come to terms with a lot of our dreams and limitations as men.  He's a great guy and I love him a great deal.  So when he asked to me to write about race I knew that he was asking me, his friend, to write.  He wasn't asking his "black" friend to write.  He knows me, knows the range of my interests and thoughts and values that.

Tom may certainly look white, but he's never acted white.  I will leave it to my hero, James Baldwin, to explain what I mean.

As a policy, I don't usually talk about race.  It's too difficult.  But as I said, Tom is my friend and because he asked me to, I figured I would tell him, in an unvarnished way, why I don't want to talk about race.

There's been a pretty wild response to my letter to Tom.  I am really grateful to him for the opportunity to say things that I have been thinking for a long time.  My friend Patrick sent me a link on tumblr that had "reblogged" a section of it over 300 times.  I am sort of amazed that so many people are reading it.  As of now, there about 700 reposts on Facebook.  I know that isn't "viral" but people are sharing what I wrote.  I didn't upload a cat video, I wrote a polemic and people are interested in it.  That is really wild to me.  The comments have been pretty interesting.  Some people really don't get what I am saying and some people really need to not sit at the computer all day writing responses to blog posts.  I have seen the same guy on a bunch of blogs.  He really makes me glad that my home address isn't published with the article.

One of the reasons I started this blog, or rather why I came back to this blog, was to really start to try to write.  I wanted to dismantle the notion that an artist is purely a visual person, that somehow I lost my voice because I make images.  A lot of the artists I admire were terrific writers about art and culture.  Fairfield Porter was the art critic for The Nation, at a time when the flavor of art had very little connection to his practice as a painter of the observed world.   I always loved that he loved art so much that he could write about it as well as make it.  I aspire to that.

Thank you, Headmaster....

"Headmaster is an assignment-based queer print publication based out of Providence, Rhode Island. Smart and sexually provocative, Headmaster appeals to a discerning audience of man-lovers."  That's what it says on their website and it is very true. I got a very sweet email (after a particularly shitty day teaching) from Jason Tranchida, one of the editors of Headmaster.  He told me about the magazine (I loved name) and sent me a copy.  I loved it and was thrilled that he and the editors were considering me for an assignment.

The email containing my assignment was very enigmatic:

"Choose three or more characters from various works of literature.

Create a series* of paintings placing these characters in a single contemporary context.

The paintings, as a series, must expose the characters’ relationships to each other.

* 5–7 paintings."

I was a bit stupefied.  I could not for a second imagine how to do something like this but Jason (like any good headmaster) clarified things for me.  I got another email from him and after reading it I started thinking about Fassbinder's Querelle. I watched the movie years ago but I felt the urge to see it again.  I was really in love with Brad Davis.

I created a suite of paintings called for genet that you can see in Headmaster No. 2.  This issue also features the work of Stéphane BarbierJesse Burke (who also took the stunning cover photograph), Heyd FontenotKrys FoxSteven FrostM KitchellJohnny MurdocJoseph Segal, and Thomas Weidenhaupt.  The work, layout, and presentation are sexy, elegant, and captivating.  It's great company to be in.