Too Scared to Tweet?

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You’ve seen the little bird everywhere, but it never spoke to you.

You told yourself it was for narcissists but now the traffic alerts are all on there. In fact, if a nuclear missile was heading directly for your house, it would be on Twitter before you could put your shoes on.

Time to embrace the feathers, then. It’s social, so think of it as a dancefloor full of people. In different parts of the room different music is playing. They are line-dancing over there, bossa nova-ing here, waltzing in the back. A new song comes up and everyone re-groups. Some people attract little cliques, and when certain popular people take to the floor, it gets the attention of the whole room.

So you arrive in the room and watch what’s going on. To help you, Twitter gives you a search box to find people you might want to connect with (@) and follow. Also a discover tag (#) with a list of trending conversations you might want to join in on. You have 140 characters to make your comment. It’s best to leave your tweet a little under the character count, so that if people want to share it, or retweet (RT) it to their followers, they have the extra space.

The only etiquette you have to remember is to be polite and reply to people when they tweet you, then if the conversation has run its course, thank them.

So, dip a toe in the water, follow a few people, contribute a comment or two and soon you’ll be in the swing, or the jive, or maybe even the macarena…

Launched with much fanfare at Art Basel, Miami, aims to introduce collectors to works by new artists. Using the same sort of algorithms that Pandora employs to pick music, or Amazon to suggest recommendations, has categorized 15,000 pieces of work with 800 tags, or ‘genes’, ranging from content and medium to art movements and influences.

Unable to spring for that Matisse? Plug in a couple of your favorite artist’s works and will come back with images you may like costing anywhere between $150 and $3m.

But is it anything more than a party trick? Have they cracked the algorithm to what makes collectors collect? That remains to be seen. Currently anything that gets artists’ work out in front of the public with the possibility of making a sale is to be applauded. The founders have done everything they can to establish the credentials of the work they showcase, so browsers can be reasonably sure that the works are originals by artists with a track record.

Give it a try. Who knows whether something may find a place in your heart, and on your wall.

June 26, 2012

Hunter Drohojowska-Philp review of the new book by the very thoughtful art writer Peter Clothier. Howway, bonnie lad!

Peter Clothier, Mind Work: Shedding Delusions on the Path to the Creative Core, 2012, Parami Press, 192 pp., $18.

Peter Clothier, an art critic and author based in Los Angeles, has dedicated himself to blogging and essays, most often in The Buddha Diaries and in the Huffington Post. His most recent book Mind Work: Shedding Delusions on the Path to the Creative Core, published by Parami Press, is a collection of writings that simulate time spent in lively conversation.

Nominally essays, Clothier’s writing is done, he says, with an awareness of his age, of his spiritual inclinations. He writes about letting go of one distraction after another to get closer to something that even he does not know. Some texts are musings on the violence of video games or television shows, but at their most interesting, the pieces are a frank stock-taking of his very self.

In emulation of a painter, Clothier writes a self-portrait in the nude, noting the areas that are holding up and others that are going down.  He begins with his feet and continues the appraisal moving upwards, bit by bit, describing in unsparing  detail how he looks in the mirror. “Arms. I have always been self-conscious about my arms. They seem to me skinny, unmuscular — no matter that I have been working out in my latter years, and have succeeded in strengthening them.”

Clother’s writing is intensely and increasingly personal, a position that he defends not only in his own work but in that of others. This position could be seen in the very title of his last book of essays collected over 30 years, Persist: In Praise of the Creative Spirit in a World Gone Mad with Commerce.

Inspired by Buddhism, his writing often manifests his belief that artists must create for themselves, even without approval from others or financial reward. That is a message we can hear again and again.
HUNTER DROHOJOWSKA-PHILP is the author of Rebels in Paradise: The Los Angeles Art Scene and the 1960s (Henry Holt, 2011).

June 26, 2012

Much surprise at the announcement of the closure of Artnet Magazine. Not a must read, it was none the less a useful tool. Fingers are pointed at Skates Art Investment Review for its crushing assessment of the magazines financials – it never once turned a profit. We hope Mr Robinson takes his twitter feed and finds some new backers.

June 18, 2012

All set to attend Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center. Can’t believe it was a year ago that we knew for definite that the urban chicken rebellion was a reality. Once the domestic fowl had two designer coops showing we decided it must be official. With a bit of luck there will be modernist beehives this year.

Dwell kicks off on Friday 22,

May 6, 2012

Left the brilliant sunshine behind to attend the Sunday afternoon talk at Los Angeles Museum of Modern Art (LACMA) given by Christina YuYu. In “Looking Back, Looking Forward: Contemporary Chinese Art” Ms. Yu achieved the impossible and gave an overview of the past 35 years in only 45 minutes. Luckily, she was very structured and clear in her approach, illustrating her talk with some names and works that were familiar to Western audiences.

Her talk had special significance for us here at Ajar Marketing. We’ve spent some time talking about what defines the term ‘Chinese artist’ – nationality? ethnicity? culture? We agree that artists who have emigrated as adults from China are defined as Chinese, but what of those who arrived in their country of residence as children? Or those artists whose backgrounds are in Hong Kong, or like Judy, Taiwan?

An interesting show at the Vincent Price Museum of Art in East LA, curated by Sonia Mak (recently of the Chinese American Museum, LA) brought the spotlight to five little-known artists working from the 1930′s to the present day – the eldest is 101 years old. Round the ClockChinese American Artists Working in Los Angeles, explores the careers of George Chann, John Kwok, Jake Lee, Milton Quon, and Tyrus Wong. The title refers to the fact that  the artists had to work around the clock to make their own art, after putting in a full day’s work in their day jobs. Personally I don’t think that things have changed much for artists today, but the premise is that these artists were discriminated against because of their race.

Of the five, one was born in the US and the rest arrived as children. The majority had jobs as animators in Disney’s studios and all the work produced in the 1930s and 40s, much of it as commissions from the WPA, bears the hallmarks of the California Regionalist movement, predominant in West Coast watercolor painting of the time. As their careers progressed, two of the artists began to reference Chinese brush painting and calligraphy in their work of the 1960s. The question is, did those artists feel emboldened by the liberation ideologies of the time to reclaim their cultural heritage? Was their practice of brush hidden during the early Regionalist phase? And, most intriguingly, did they put the stamp of their sensibilities on the films of Walt Disney, in particular with their work on Fantasia, Bambi and Aladdin?

Is it even possible for a Chinese artist to load a brush without feeling the weight of centuries standing behind their shoulder? Or are we now at a juncture where Chinese art is so sought after, that contemporary Chinese artists wherever they are located, can choose to reference their culture, or not?

Round the Clock: Chinese American Artists Working in Los Angeles

Christina YuYu’s talk organized by LACMA’s East Asian Council

March 2012

Greetings from London! Such a busy trip and so little time to see art. Squeezed in a visit to the Yayoi Kusama exhibition at the Tate Modern, where I found myself full of admiration, and unease, watching her work unfold. The extraordinary pressures that she faced as a Japanese woman making work in the contemporary art scene of the post-war era, pushing through mania, obsession and finally retreating from the world. Is there any more telling title for a body of work than The Self Obliteration Series?

The weather was superb, so I decided to visit the Freud Museum in sunny suburban Hampstead. Freud’s consulting room is on permanent display, just as he left it. A room crammed with books and small sculptures. His collection followed his interest in atavars, ageless symbols of human archetypes, and he collected from every culture and civilization. What was not immediately apparent, was small mirror, hidden behind some figurines on a side table at the foot of the therapist’s couch. It allowed Freud to watch his patient’s face, discretely. Yes, even this towering figure used smoke and mirrors to work his magic.

A temporary exhibition of  the work of Louise Bourgeois showed upstairs with one of her spider sculptures in the garden. The Freud Museum and Bourgeois seemed a natural pairing but sadly I thought that her work was diminished by the setting. Suddenly the Freudian elements in every piece became overwhelmingly dominant. The wall texts further tipped the balance. I can imagine a visitor unacquainted with her work, dusting down their hands – problem solved. There’s Ms Bourgeois banged to rights, pinned down like a dissected earthworm. Nothing more to see here. Move along…

January 2012

Art Fair season in LA and we had our timing right. By chance, Chinese New Year fell early this year and we were able to produce 新年快樂 cards to hand out. It was a remarkably effective way of sharing something a little special with the gallerists. Especially those from China who, after a full week of speaking English, visibly relaxed when someone  spoke Mandarin.

We not usually fans of Hallmark cards but a witty take on a commonplace occasion can be useful as a gentle reminder. So, who is for celebrating Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole Day on March 26?