Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Daily Conversation

Christopher Reiger
"some shambles of apology"
Pencil, watercolor, gouache, acrylic, sumi ink and marker on stretched Arches paper
25 1/4 x 30 inches
"We opt for what we want as daily conversation in the privacy of our minds, and whether on most days we get to watch the sunrise and listen to a snatch of the genius of Bach. It's not expensive to pay attention to the phases of the moon, to transport lemon lilies, and watch a garter snake birthing thirty babies and a catbird grabbing some, or listen to the itchy-britches of the Canada geese as autumn waxes. We will be motes in the ocean again soon, leached out of the soil of some graveyard, and everlastingly rocking."

-Edward Hoagland, "Compass Points"
Tomorrow night the New York art world will kick start another season. I've been trying to get charged up about the September frenzy, but when I visit Artcal's "Openings : Next 7 Days" listing, I'm daunted by the number of shows. This, despite the fact that I look forward to seeing a great many of them.

After eight years in New York, my stomach still tightens when I anticipate attending openings. Whether taking the polite chit-chat route or opting for an intoxicated art party approach, I'm out of my element. People tell me that I handle myself well enough; I suppose I do - I'm not a misanthrope - but the anxiety and the resulting physical discomfort rarely seem worth it. I prefer to be alone when I'm looking at art.

So, this year, as usual, I plan to attend only my friends' openings. All well and good, except that the reclusive temperament isn't well suited to an art career. Curiously, I'm less worried about this fact than I once was. Work is going well in the studio and, most importantly, I'm happy. As William Gaddis wrote in "The Recognitions,"
"What's any artist, but the dregs of his work? The human shambles that follows it around. What's left of the man when the work's done but a shambles of apology."
This being the case, listening to those Canadas is all that much more important.


Oly said...

Alone, and yet with so many.

Whatever, Chris.

You have more friends than most people in a lifetime for somemone who considers themselves anti-social.

Come on over to the REAL dark side.

PS-- Check out my review of the Tomster, if you like.

No photos yet, and mistakes throughout, but probably one of my better works (hmm, I wonder why...)

Have a great Super Thursday.
I'm working the 20th Street scene.

Hoping your tapeworm is of the friendly variety.


Hungry Hyaena said...


True enough. I do have a lot of friends. Honestly, part of the reason I do is my social anxiety. In order to more easily navigate an uncomfortable situation, I'm relatively nice to most everybody I meet and I'm abundantly honest and self-effacing. As a result, things go smoothly and I can get the hell out of dodge more quickly. Not surprisingly, then, the lion's share of my friends are peripheral. I have only a very few close friends.

Last night I checked out Tom Lendvai's (the Tomster's) opening at Winkleman. On the way there I was baffled to see most people choosing to navigate the packed north side of 27th street rather than walking down the nearly empty south sidewalk. Of course I elected for the latter option and, glancing over at the throngs of hipsters, fashionistas and art bums, I was granted an ugly reminder of the fact that people go to openings to be seen and heard, not to see or listen. If I wanted to be seen, I would have pursued acting. Writing and painting are fundamentally solitary activities; if it were not in bad faith, I would bail on my own openings. They are wretched things.

Teofilo said...

Hello, Hungry Hyaena.

I have a question about some of your pictures from Pantanal. How can I send you an E-mail ? (I've looked everywhere for your E-mail address, but couldn't find it).

Oly said...

It's so funny, Chris.

Because it's just the exact opposite for me.

I'm socially outgoing when I'm one-on-one and people always think I'm "not shy", yet I have very few friends-- except in other cities.
In big groups, though, I can barely speak-- so shy.
But I still put myself out there.. why, I dunno... 'cuz I'm sick of my ceiling, I guess.
World's tiniest violin, I know.

Did my first Williamsburg opening jaunt last night... I think I prefered that just because I could get a table after sweating my guts out at their unairconditioned spaces, and sit by my lonesome at that S&K??sp? restaurant, eat a plate of pierogis with a Stella as I poured over the evening's art cards, zines, mags, bios, statements, price lists, etc., a copy of The BRail, and potentially plot out each of my new reviews.

Egad-- I only have about 10 or so I need to write that I've promised I'd do.
Crap, what have I started?

The reason I go to shows is for taking photos of art and then reviewing them on my blog.
That's all.

Of course, if I could ever get a job that would go soewhere or get anywhere in life out of it, too, I suppose I wouldn't complain.

Had a guy introduce himself to me last night at Momenta and acted shocked that I blog just because I like to write about art-- like I should be getting paid to do it.

Well, yes, I guess I should, but then that goes right back to the "who you know" in this art scene.


To artists, I've always been the 9-5 business world bland milquetoast secretary; to the business world, I'm this loopy artist and so very rock and roll.

Little do they know I'm a journalism major and writer at heart who likes artsy stuff, yet needs paychecks to survive.

Sorry, I'm venting on your blog yet again.

Any advice?
How do you deal with the art plus the writing part-- cuz you're a great writer.

And, you know, The Brooklyn Rail can kiss my ass.

"Sure, you can send us a submission, but most likely it will be trashed and no one will read it."

Word for word quote from their publisher.


molly said...

Ha ha. This is pretty much exactly how I feel. I'd rather be living in a cabin in the middle of nowhere or on a sea's shore. I stay in a city because of my art career. This past week I forced myself to the september openings in Chicago. I could barely see any of the work for the crowds, felt constantly uncomfortable because I was alone and feeling so awkward I could not make a conversation anyone wanted to be a part of for long.
I force myself to stay here and go to all the art events but then I'm too much of a weirdo to engage so I might as well be out looking for garter snakes. It would be much more enjoyable.

bioephemera said...

Dude, whoa. That painting is phenomenal.

Having just been aggressively social in a semi-professional setting all day for the past seven days, I can relate to your reluctance to do the superficial dance. But I have to point out that sometimes it can be fun when you least expect it. I'm having fun. Who saw that coming?

Hungry Hyaena said...



None. I've been paid for articles only a few times (notable publications include the esteemed "Ranger Rick" and "The Eastern Shore News"...the big time!).

It's a compulsion. If I should end up destitute, I'll probably still be drawing and writing.

Good luck with your pursuits.


Happy to hear someone feels the same way. To tell you the truth, I've been questioning why I live in NYC for the very reasons you describe.


Thanks for the compliments. The painting seems to be the one that everybody loves...unfortunately it's over five years old, "Thbbbt!"

I'm glad to read that you're enjoying a little socializing. Save a little of the Kool-aid for me, please.