Maybe not in his pecs. We have been following the Russian situation closely, and the Christmas Eve protests in Moscow were quite incredible in the face of the propaganda and corruption inside the regime of Vladimir Putin. Protests on a mass scale in Russia are always a good sign that the totalitarian qualities of Putin are not winning or being followed by a subservient mass. The WSJ has a nice summary of the events unfolding for Putin, and how Russia got to where it is now.
The author writes, “The weakness of today’s Russia is that Communist values were never succeeded by genuinely democratic norms. Without these norms, Mr. Putin’s desire to rule forever is unrealistic. Even the effect of relative prosperity begins to wear off for a population forced to live with rampant lawlessness. This is the reason that the waves of protest in Russia will continue—and that, 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russians have another chance to gain the democracy that they sought but didn’t achieve after Communism’s fall.”
We just like this installation that Brooklyn Industries co-founder, Vahap Avsar, just opened at Charles Bank Gallery in NYC. As the gallery notes, “The sheer shock of an exploded NYPD patrol car inside the gallery space, makes the viewer stop and wonder about the events leading up to such a site. The ever present knowledge of the potential dangers in our global society is something that we have almost gotten used to, but once our everyday fears are transferred onto such a powerful signifier of authority and safety, we question the strength of the social structures we have created to protect ourselves and are reminded that while oppression exists anywhere, in all truth no one is safe.”
Introducing the new baseball iPad app, Pennant: Pennant is an interactive history of baseball like none other seen before. Using Pennant’s rich interface fans can browse and view data from over 115,000 games that have taken place from 1950 to 2010. Seasons, games and events are graphically represented in a clear, easy to interpret manner that takes them beyond the numbers.
The sky closed its eye today. For a moment I saw its breath, the fog clearing up and the path in front of me continuing on in endless resplendence. I threw my watch away, tossed it over a nameless bridge while the sun was falling from view. As of this moment I have been walking for an innumerable amount of hours. Time has no use when traveling without rhythm or pattern. I measure each moment in the amount of steps I take rather than the amount of seconds that pass. The road looms and moves long and slurring, a ribbon with unmatched tenor in this or any other moment in my life. I threw my watch over a bridge several hundred paces previous to the events in this sentence. I have been walking, I was walking and I will continue to walk- either until I reach where I am going or until my legs and limbs bleed and I cannot go any farther. If that comes to pass, I will have to wade to my destination, crawling and carrying myself with arms until I reach those streets whose image and name I have studied but have yet to set myself in other than in moments of imagined time and space, the densities of a dream being the things that have carried and brought me here.
I am walking.
I have kept my hands inside my pockets for hours now, continuing to walk, the blood barely circulating through my veins, the cold and its temperatures completely covering me. I feel a sickness washing over me, feel its neck, nape and lips all around me. The woman who I have been imagining comes back to me again, in brief snatches of person- limbs at first, arms, wrists and hands, and beyond that those features of a face before another car drives by me and its lights splash my current reality: I am walking 540 kilometers to get to a city that I have dreamed about since a child, a place whose myth cannot possibly match the one I have built up for it in my head. I see the cities around me, those towns and villages brief on my way and I see them like children congregating in the corners of street and road before getting to the doors and altar of Paris. At times, a person can live off dreams much more easily than reality.
What nameless faces, figures and fugues occupy the mind when it has nothing else to wander on-.
Night now and I have been walking endlessly since Frank dropped me off. Different sets of miles are digested and catalogued by my feet as I’ve begun to find characters and faces in the features of buildings, their architecture, and that other architecture of trees surrounding the path and street.
I crossed the Rhine around nightfall, the sun falling in snatches with patches of light whispering words through the fences of cloud blockading the blue in ventriloquial contusions of movement- unseen strings and vivid color dancing back and forth, as if the fight for day were one battled by clouds contumacious to the spinning of the sphere and the need for night to cover this region of continent and country.
A rain is falling outside my tent and everything that I can see outside is covered in the screen-mesh gauze which lines the entrance/exit of my tent. I try to move my hands but am unable to. Every appendage that juts out from my person is numb- ears, nose, fingers and toes. I can see my breath in front of me and with my breath I try to trace shapes to keep my mind occupied. Dreams have a way of closing in on one’s self, the psyche one of the many endless and endlessly explored hallways of a person. I have been writing every day of my life it seems, however, I have been walking only for one. This was my first night. The stars, when visible behind the clouds, give off an endless shiver of silver, their light reflected in hours’ old reflection of a glinting sun 93 million miles away from where I am and where I am feeling the same amount of distance from the sun from where I want to be. Paris, a few inches away on my map and several hundred miles away. On foot it seems like a destination all at once a mystery writhing and moving; a piece of cloth held by a nameless child whose hands and head are held out the window of a moving car. Cars move by me here just as in that previous sentence’s image and when they do I see their lights like fire- far off they signal out to me, a strange figure walking along the road, and far off further they leave me, going by my back or front side, leaving and pulsing away along the road’s vein at an inexhaustible and ludicrous speed, too fast for my feet to comprehend or ever reach.
I have been walking endlessly and endlessly walking for what seems like forever. It is my second day and all I can think to think of is how grateful I am for Frank who filled my bag with a small amount of rations and food. Upon looking through the bag, I saw a letter from him, covering a small amount of bills and a blade, the both of which gleamed like liquid.
Note: A monolith of roadway that seems as much a wall as it is a flat surface which my feet trudge along upon. I have seen it now, spreading along on the lines and vines of a reality that has since come through in the blight of a mind that cannot stop thinking. It is a breath still lingering on and long, slow slurring and whirring like an endless wind and reverie from a snowless night still freezing in temperature.
The car pulled passed me and stopped. Along the ridge, on the separate lanes spreading out amongst the trees of highway he stopped. I walked towards the vehicle, seeing very little at the time, my eyes blinded and burned, buried under the falling reservoirs that tried and attempted to come through in the vastness of the rain.
He honked once.
I walked up to the window and before I could speak he spoke.
(We’re screaming over the rain right now.)
“Why don’t you get in? You need shelter.”
I thought it over, glanced at the interior of the vehicle and made a decision that ended up changing who and what it is that I was to become after this journey.
He reached over and pulled the handle of the car.
“Come on, you’re getting soaked out here- come in, it’s fine.”
I get in the car.
He begins to laugh and leans over, extending his arm to cover the space behind my headrest.
“Bet you’re surprised that I speak English.”
I hadn’t even thought about it, but tell him yes.
He smiles and begins a long story about his mother and how she always tried to make sure that he knew English, I say nothing and continue to nod as he switches from one story to the next, going graphically into detail about things that his father did to the family before abandoning them. I apologize for no real reason but mean it sincerely. I think of him as a lonely man, one who just needs to talk to someone.
We talk for a brief while and I begin to feel safe in his company. He tells me he’s going a long ways, that he has to go back to his house in the country and that if I want to I can stay there with his wife or when he gets there he could let me out and I could begin walking again. Both seemed fine to me. I decided to decide when we got there and closed my eyes, an action I don’t remember committing but must have done for the next memory and sentence to make sense.
I opened my eyes. The rain was still coming down in small contrails; streams and rivulets of water bleeding and pulsing along the pane of windshield and glass. The car was rocking somewhat heavily. I turned to John who had both his hands on the wheel.
“On the side road- need to take this to get to my house. Don’t worry.”
I wasn’t worried until he told me not to be. A strange emotion- I brushed it off however, realizing that paranoia is something that can destroy a man.
We continued to drive further down the road, winding until eventually reaching a small house.
“Hmm, Lynda must not be here yet.”
He parked the car and turned off the engine, the car shaking itself still, the sounds of the engine purring in harmony with the rain on the roof until stopping. He stepped out and turned to me through the window-
“Watch the mud, it- actually – wait there – I’ll come around to get you.”
I stepped out and closed the door. He came up to me and grabbed me by the shoulders somewhat abruptly and aggressively.
“I thought I said to wait. I don’t want you dirty. Come on, let’s get inside.”
He touched me in a way that seemed to signal what it was that was awaiting me while we walked into that house- a place so foreign to me that it felt like we were the last two people here and the world whirring by outside of us was merely a set for some other film and all the curtains will soon rise and the credits will fade.
Images can remain in the mind forever, premonitions just the same.
We walked the twenty or so feet to his house, the door illuminated by a lone bulb hanging above the faded wood. He keeps telling me how there are no other houses around, how he likes to be here isolated and I begin to realize that there is no Lynda, he has no wife and that I am, as he says, out here alone.
It seemed with every step his body language began to change and his voice dropped. We walked further, thoughts whirring and running by in my head so rapidly that even now they are all I can think of as I recall and recollect these memories.
Strand of thought: The only thing I have to do is keep myself from going inside there and I’ll be safe, as long as I don’t get inside his house, as long as I don’t enter his house I’ll be safe.
I step inside the house.
The door closes slowly behind me and his arm, long and thin, reaches forward for the lamp; thin wires of hair protruding from every pore in a haphazard fractal of direction with wrists moving in circular motions and fingers, twig-like in their lack of flesh, reaching up and pulling the string of the lamp.
Pendular light now invades the room, the lamp and bulb swaying to an unknown meter, the chain clinking with every other movement.
“Take a seat.”
He smiles an unwavering smile, a smile that wont leave his face, a smile and grin that says more than I can put down and a smile that I cannot describe accurately for for me to delve into that memory of that face of that smile would be for me to delve into spaces and regions of thought that have since been buried and extinguished beyond the realm of remembrance.
He pulls out a chair and leans in close to me, his breath being felt on my neck before his utterance of three sentences / statements which I will remember verbatim for the rest of my acknowledgeable existence; every word and inflection suffused with a nonchalance so fully formed in every breath of his that it was beyond eerie, minatory or direful. It felt that I was breathing the same air as all the evils of this world and that all those evils had converged and merged together in the form of this one body next to me.
“You must be tired. Let me show you your room. Best for you to sleep as soon as possible.”
I inhale deeply, deep as I can, and get up with him.
And we walk down a thin hairline of hallway, the corridor stretching through numerous turns and portions of stairway, an Escher-like quest through labyrinthine quadrants, the light leaving my view after the third turn, don’t worry don’t worry he keeps saying, only a few more steps only a few more steps, and we walk with feet shuffling, my hands holding myself up and guiding my walk, I in front and he in back, fuck this is the end fuck this is the end; my hands are running along the surfaces of wall next to me, a hallway too thin for me to stretch out comfortably, still they are there, imagining a place and picture of my surroundings and the fear burning inside me being a feeling all-encompassing until we reach the room and he lights a candle- a flame that burns slow and long, a flame whose ethereal qualities still sing to me and a flame that I watch flicker longer than any other.
I look out the window in back of him: the moon perfectly framed in the pane.
I think of the moon as my mother; the road and destination as some other.
And, though I don’t believe in religion, I begin a prayer.
The candle continues to burn, crying small spheres of wax which harden on the surfaces of floor surrounding us like an ocean of carpet and wood. Our environment is as soundless and vacant as the obsidian hallways that led us here.
He tells me to sleep and I get under the sheets of the bed while gripping the handle of a knife in my pocket, his eyes and gaze sharper than any blade I could ever possess.
The inaugural entry to a new weekly series collecting stories, characters, words and letters from the life of Jason Jaworski.
Every text, story and sentence is true and something that happened.
I made sure the rope around my neck was tight. I gathered the small amount of books I had in my bag and a few other loose scraps of wood and tied them together with a string of shoelaces. I looked for a beam on the underside of the roof and tied the rope to it, making a knot and checking its structure to see if it could hold my weight. I waited. I sat down, crossed my legs onto my lap and stared down the pseudo-hallway that was the attic of a department store that I had broken into and found myself living in for the past few days.
It has been a little less than a week now. According to the Gregorian calendar, a new century has just passed and I am going to be a year older in a few months. I think of my family. My parents, the two of them such sweet and nurturing people. I see my sister in laughter, know that she is who she is and that eventually things will be alright for they are alright. I stand up on the makeshift stool and place the rope around my neck again. I make sure it’s tight. I stare forward, seeing everything in that nothing of wood beams and insulation. I see every thing and every moment that I have lived up until now and what I see takes me to a decision that my current self would laugh at.
There are moments when one can feel so low, as if the world itself could be a lighter burden than what one is currently carrying.
I step off the stool. I take my feet off the boxes and books I’ve tied together with the shoelaces from the shoes I have been wearing since winter. I step off the stool and my feet do not reach the ground. I dangle.
For a fraction of a second my entire weight is held by the bit of flesh, sinew, muscle and skin that makes up my neck. For a fraction of a second I see my life before me and I see that the greatest mistakes are not plural, but singular. The greatest mistake was stepping off of that stool. For a fraction of a second I become acquainted with what eventually meets everyone and for a fraction of a second I feel. I get scared. I become tired. And I feel sorry. For a fraction of a second I see their faces, see them looking around, finding me; in that fraction of a second I come to the conclusion of a decision which I made then and that I am still living up to.
My body falls to the ground with the sounds of wood snapping. The rope is still around my neck.
I fall in those few fractions of a second, the rope bending, its knot pulling on the wood and the wood, unable to hold the pressure of a slightly overweight adolescent, snapping and splintering before falling to the floor where I fall as well.
The echo is almost tangible.
I feel the room shaking and with the room shaking I feel myself shake as well. My face faces the floor and by the time I gather the strength to bring myself up, all sound and image is blocked from me and all I can feel is an immeasurable need to cough and purge whatever it is in me that is in me that is now trying to get out.
I cough continuously for nearly half an hour. After that almost thirty minutes, I vomit, staring at the pile of regurgitation and thinking “what the fuck was I thinking?”.
I pull myself out of the attic from where I am staying. I hear sirens which seem to be right around me but I pay no attention to them and instead stare off into the distances where the horizon line is a freeway and the sky meets it at this moment- this moment being night.
I inhale and exhale deeply. Repeat. I walk over to the edge of the roof and study the small constellations of cars parked in the parking lot- dots of metal and plastic several tons in weight but visibly so small from where I am. I inhale again but before I can exhale a gun is pressed to the back of my head and what I thought were the sounds of footsteps behind me are confirmed to be the sounds of footsteps behind me. I can smell metal.
A voice screams for me to put my hands behind my head. I exhale- cops.
I do as the voice says while a set of hands grabs my wrists and another voice tells me to stand up slowly. The whole time my eyes are staring out into the street.
I get up slowly and turn around slowly. The two men stare at me briefly, look me up and down, before asking who else is up here.
I tell them that, to my knowledge, no one else is here besides them and myself. They ask me what I’m doing up here, why was I screaming and why was I making such noise. They tell me that the man below whose job it is to run security at night thought that a group of people were breaking in from the roof. I start laughing and they tell me to shut up. I continue laughing and catch one of them trying to mask a smile.
“If I told you what it was that I was doing up here, you wouldn’t believe me.”
We have small conversation which has me taking them into the cavity of the roof’s attic where I was staying. I show them everything and they tell me how much of an idiot I am. I agree with them and we leave the hole, proceeding to the other side of the roof, its diameter an approximate 40 to 50 feet.
As we reach the edge, a sea of red and blue light starts to flicker and as I bring my eyes and face closer I see how many cops and cars there are below me. I count them like objects in a terrarium- six cop cars and eight cops not including the two that are next to me. The cop to my left, whose name I later learned was “Troy”, unlocks the cuffs which were wrapped round my wrists.
“We’re taking the ladder down now,” he says. The whole time, the other cop has remained silent. I am beginning to wonder whether or not he is a mute.
We reach the bottom of the ladder and immediately the handcuffs are placed back around my wrists. A large man approaches me and the two other cops who act as a bookend to my body. The three of them talk while the rest of the police mill about behind them.
After talking things over, the man looks at me and asks me specifically what it was that I was doing up there. I begin to explain how I was living up there for a few days and then go into more detail as to the events of that night. He looks at me and turns his head in a curious way.
“Son,” he says, bringing his hand up to me, “don’t be fucking stupid, okay?” He sort of verbally slaps sense into me.
My only response is a nod and then I’m escorted into the back seat of one of the whining cars. Troy turns on the engine and turns down the window to the back seat. They all talk for a few minutes before, one by one, getting inside their cars and, like the reverse of rainfall, they leave- droplet by droplet, car by car.
Troy gets in his car and asks me where it is that he should take me. I think for a moment and give him the address to the house where I grew up in. I tell him that my parents are there, that they don’t know that I’ve left, that they think I’ve been gone on an extended school trip. He responds with a smile and soon we’re on the freeway, headed towards the border.
We pull into the small apartment complex and before he lets me out he turns around and gives me a look as if to ask whether or not I’m going to do what I attempted to do again. I smile, feeling every burden and tragedy so meaningless now but so heavy then- lifted. Oftentimes, when in youth, a tragedy, event or emotion can seem somewhat cataclysmic for it is the first time one is experiencing and digesting those thoughts and feelings. I tell him “no,” and I feel it.
He looks back at me and nods, saying that I should, “go in there by yourself, your parents don’t need to know about me- just be honest with them.”
I thank him and walk off, opening and entering the door to the house, turning around before closing it and waving him off.
I walk upstairs, the entire house sleeping, seeming to be in the same state as when I left it. I head into a room on the second floor and sit down at a desk, bringing my arms to its surface and my eyes against a wall. The ceiling fan is spinning above me and off in the distance a distant snoring can be heard- my father.
I think of my father and begin to weep. I think of my mother and do the same. Such beautiful people. I see their faces, take out a slip of paper and begin to write.
And it seemed right then, that everything was about to begin.
Brooklyn Street Art: How has the response since the show opened?
Pedro Alonzo: The response has been great. The museum has had tons of calls about the exhibit and many visitors. The age of the average visitor also appears to have dropped. We are getting a younger crowd.
BSA: You have a number of installations all around the city. Was it easier to work with private owners rather than the city to secure building walls?
Pedro Alonzo: Although there have been people who work for the city who have been very supportive and instrumental in securing walls, all of the walls we used are privately owned. It was way too complicated and bureaucratic to secure city or state owned walls.
SA: Can you talk about the name “Viva la Revolución” and it’s significance to you historically?
Pedro Alonzo: The title of the exhibition is significant on many levels, from the fact that this year marks the 100th anniversary of Mexico’s revolution to the street in Tijuana, “Avenida Revolucion” where many under age southern Californians, like myself back in high school, spent the weekends drinking and dancing. The title also refers to street art’s defiant posture towards the arts establishment in being an art that is populist, intended to be understood by most people, not just the art world elites, as well as being a form of expression that references popular and/or urban culture. This show is about an artistic revolution, art that appeals to a wider audience.
We are doing some serious rearranging in our office and that is leading to some even more serious Spring cleaning! We have come across stacks and stacks of cool stuff we just don’t have room for, so we’re passing it on to you!
Friday May 28, 12-8pm
Saturday May 29, 10am-5pm
Burlesque of North America / First Amendment Arts
1101 Stinson Blvd at Broadway in NE Minneapolis
WHAT’S FOR SALE?
• vintage art, culture, music, and science books
• music and art magazines
• scratch + dent posters and one-of-a-kind test prints
• paper and envelopes (great for printing, greeting cards, etc)
• shelving and other home, studio, and office furniture
• magazines, stickers, shirts, posters, and other gems from the Life Sucks Dynasty
• new and used rap, rock, funk, jazz, dance, and metal LPs and CDs
• VHS and DVD movies
• hard to find vintage graphic t-shirts
• vases, plates, glass jars, and other kitchenware
• PLUS discounts on all of the other awesome Burlesque posters, t-shirts, and other merchandise
CO is a new exhibition space located on the corner of Stinson and Broadway in Northeast Minneapolis, above the former First Amendment Arts gallery. Owned and operated as a partnership between Burlesque of North America and Permanent (an art and design group formed by Joseph Belk launching Mid June), CO presents thematic multimedia exhibitions in collaboration with artists, designers and curators. The space includes over 2000 sq. feet, 20+ ft. high walls, mobile walls, and suspendible ceilings. Other resources for exhibitions include screen printing facilities, artist residences, and media outreach campaigns.
CO’s inaugural year will feature a range of exhibitions, including: the art of Doomtree, a Michael Gaughan – curated celebration of Spinal Tap entitled “Smell the Glove,” work from the Draplin Design Co. featuring acclaimed graphic designer Aaron James Draplin, an installation and series of paintings from Bush Foundation Artist Fellowship recipient Mali Kouanchao, and a mammoth retrospective of ’70s-era blaxploitation film posters.
The name CO was decided with our principles in mind. As a prefix, CO – modifies base words to mean together with, or associated with, and we approach projects in the same fashion. For each artist, designer, or curator who works with us, we are a resource for development, fabrication and talent, a dedicated partner in executing their vision. For us, the excitement is in expanding exhibitions so they transform the gallery into an ambitious multimedia spectacle.
ABOUT FIRST AMENDMENT ARTS
In the summer of 2006, graphic design and screenprinting studio Burlesque of North America moved their operation into a 3000 square foot warehouse space at the corner of Broadway and Stinson in Northeast Minneapolis. The front room of the space housed First Amendment Arts, an award-winning gallery which held monthly exhibits of painting, prints, and photography. Over the course of their four year run, First Amendment featured the artwork of local artists Eric Inkala, Broken Crow, Jennifer Davis and Jenny Schmid, internationally recognized artists Shepard Fairey, Gary Baseman, and Jay Ryan, and musical performances from P.O.S, Chooglin’, Calvin Johnson, Birthday Suits, and Cecil Otter. With plans of organizing even larger and grander art exhibitions, the First Amendment crew has closed its doors and teamed up with Permanent to open up this larger space with the flexibility to allow our artists to create just about anything they can imagine.
ABOUT PERMANENT AND JOSEPH BELK
Joseph Belk for the past year and a half has produced, created, and curated some of the most highly acclaimed conceptual art exhibits in the great city of Minneapolis. Starting at age 26, he has developed installations such as a block long public art project Save Canvas, the follicle-themed screenprinted poster show turned Locks of Love fundraiser Sweet Hair, an exhibit of paintings and multimedia art from Keegan Wenkman and Aaron Bickner about foreclosure and vacancy entitled Final Notice, Keegan Wenkman’s solo art show My Life as a Number, a floating circus of art installations, video projections, and live rock bands all aboard barges set assail on the Mississippi River entitled The Slow Mirror and the Metronome, Tribute to Radio Raheem – the annual hip hop dance party and boombox broadcast celebration with live cassette jockeys, and has continued to be a part of a variety of events like the fine food meets live rock music Gastro Non Grata and Bedlam Theatre art dance party Bomp!
His large scale productions incorporating art, design, music, and interactive elements set all over the Twin Cities have now found a new home and a partner. With Burlesque’s talents and experience in design, publishing, art and gallery success with First Amendment, it seems like a perfect mold for something different. A collaboration full of innovative and progressively approached projects and shows on a local and national level. Now with Joseph’s new young team of collaborators including Edward Quinn and Adam Burchard – Permanent has formed. A full service art and design agency. Focused on the concepts and synergy of both art and design. Self-produced and client-driven initiatives. Utilizing artists, designers, writers, and developers in a malleable process that can easily be grafted onto any project their involved in. This versatility not only makes them capable of working in many different arenas at the same time, but is also a source of inspiration.
Plain and simple, Keegan Wenkman is one of my favorite artists. I really like making prints for my favorite artists. I am happy to announce the release of “My Life as a Number”. A six print, 4 color screen printed suite making it’s debut TONIGHT at XYandZ Gallery in Minneapolis, in conjunction with Keegan’s opening party. 7-11pm. 3258 Minnehaha Ave S.
Here’s a couple sneak peeks of the prints…
I was lucky enough to get a quick look at the gallery yesterday and it is UNREAL. Cash in your piggy banks. Clean out your mattresses! How much plasma do you really need?!
More info on the show here and a nice write-up in this weeks Vita.mn
And if you happen to live in Minneapolis, there’s a handful of “My Life as a Number” prints around town…how many can you find?