Friday, October 28, 2011

Once again, it's been more than a month, and an eventful month it has been. Among other events: the New York Film Festival came and went, and i tried to make it to as many press screenings as i could, which wasn't easy since i was overwhelmed with more medical tests and procedures, and on three occasions i was shut out of the screenings. But this year seemed to be quite a solid festival, i didn't see anything that i felt was really deficient.

I shall be writing on a number of the films i did see in a little while, but i wanted to make a few comments.

I went to the opening for Jonas Mekas's photo show at Agnes b.'s store in Soho; Jonas seems to be in fine shape, and his children Oona and Sebastian were there, which was amusing, since i hadn't seen Sebastian since he was a child! But Jonas and i remarked on how sad the summer had been, with the deaths of many friends/associates/compatriots in the avantgarde cinema. David Stone, Jonas's brother Adolfas, Robert Breer, Jordan Belson, and George Landow. George Landow's death was particularly difficult to hear about, because he had become almost a recluse, and, though it was easy to keep track of his activities (any new film of his was sure to show up at events like the Views from the Avant-Garde of the New York Film Festival), to keep track of him was not as easy. I wasn't the only friend who lost track of George (who renamed himself Owen Land some time in the late 1980s); after he left his teaching position at the Art Institute of Chicago, he started on a very peripatetic existence. I knew that he had been ill in the last few years, but, aside from that, i didn't know much else. But, still, it was a shock to find out about George's death (he died on June 8, 2011). P. Adams Sitney has a very touching essay on "Owen Land" in the November 2011 issue of Artforum; it was quite illuminating (for example, i didn't realize that George and P. Adams had been friends since childhood, their families living as they did in the same apartment building in New Haven, Connecticut). That George had started his career as a teenager was something i knew; i met him at some point in 1970-71. This idea of teenagers in the avantgarde is crucial (i think) to understanding the explosion of the arts in New York City during the 1960s. But i lost touch with George in the mid-1980s, and so i had no idea of the difficulties of his life (various illnesses, etc.).

Yesterday, Larry and i went to the press preview for "Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties" at the Brooklyn Museum. We had anticipated it to be a show of the museum holdings of American art during the 1920s; instead, it turned out to be a remarkable and wide-ranging show with works drawn from an incredible array of institutions across the country, such as the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, the Sheldon Museum of Art in Lincoln, Nebraska, the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, Arizona, and the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. It's a wonderful show (curated by Teresa A. Carbone), which serves as a corrective to the simplistic narrative of abstraction-as-artistic evolution which is part of the master narrative of the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum.

So a lot to think about....