TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT January 2002

LETTERS

LETTERS

LOST AND FOUND

To the Editor:
As it happens, Lee Lozano [“Making Waves: The Legacy of Lee Lozano,” October] was my first cousin and close friend as well as my all-too-frequent houseguest in Dallas in the years 1982–86. Had your correspondents done their homework—which is to say, read Robert Wilonsky’s exhaustive, not to say exhausting, posthumous Dallas Observer report, “The Dropout Piece” (accessible at www.dallasobserver.com/1999-12-09/news/the-dropout-piece/)—they would have known, at the very least, that Lee never dated Joey Ramone, but rather, in her last decade, resembled Joey Ramone in her attire, hairstyle, choice of eyewear, and lanky, sinuous bearing. In point of fact (and curiously absent from Wilonsky’s article), the downtown figure with whom Lee was most intimately identified throughout the late ’70s and early ’80s was filmmaker Scott B. Thus Artforum’s Joey Ramone factoid was pure urban myth.

An egregious lapse that the Wilonsky article shares with Artforum is the further promulgation of the myth of Lee’s “lost decade” in the ’70s. Numerous individuals know full well of her whereabouts throughout that era. These included: Dan Graham; Yvonne Sewall Ruskin, the widow of Max’s Kansas City owner Mickey Ruskin; and Lee’s other first cousin, Jeremy Knaster, a motion-picture electrician and actor who was perhaps Lee’s closest confidant in the ’60s and ’70s. In sum, the record continues to show that Lee Lozano is as elliptical in death as she was in life, and that her conceptual masterwork, The Dropout Piece, continues to puzzle not only those of us who knew her, but those, including some Artforum readers, now discovering her for the first time.

Mark Kramer
New York

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CLIPPED WINGS

To the Editor:
Adam Lehner’s article “Moving Pictures” [November] is an important start to considering the question “What will become of the art world?” I am both a struggling painter and a New York City firefighter. Everything has changed, subtly or not, in the fabric of our culture, and our taste has been altered. I would like to see the artworld find a set of values that involves more than getting attention. The citation in the article of Richard Phillips’s show, including a “woman shooting liquid from her vagina” and a portrait of George W. Bush between magenta panels, is very telling of what the art world has come to. It’s no longer about having something to say but about having a clever gimmick and lots of faux-intellectual gibberish to tack on to it. As I was reading the article and having this thought, Roberta Smith was introduced at just the right time. She proves that there has been a lack of substance from critics, who too often are like certain politicians telling the people exactly what they think they want to hear. Her critique of the Bush painting is laughable. Why does an event that happens after the work is made change what and how she would write about that work? Especially when she uses words like “dignity and monumentality” to describe the Bush portrait, words that would not normally have come out of her mouth when describing something like this. She’s proof, as someone once said, that art criticism is to artists as ornithology is to the birds.

James Austin Murray
New York

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GROWING PAINS

To the Editor:
Allucquère Rosanne Stone’s comments on Heinrich Zimmer’s “Abu Kasem’s Slippers” [“When Words Don’t Fail,” November] resonate. Readers may or may not be familiar with Zimmer (1890-1943), professor of Sanskrit in the ’20s and ’30s at the Carl Ruprechts Universität in Heidelberg before coming to the United States, where he spent his final years in exile. In New York he taught briefly at Columbia University and also lectured at the Analytical Psychology Club, which met each month at the Brevoort Hotel. There, on January 15, 1943, Zimmer presented his analysis of a myth of the Celtic hero Conn-Eda, “Integrating the Evil: A Celtic Myth and a Christian Legend,” which is also full of relevance to today’s War on Terror. This tale involves a young prince who, undergoing many trials on his way to the throne of Ireland, loses his innocence in the face of evil. He thereby becomes mature enough to assume the responsibility of king of the land. Zimmer’s analysis is that “evil’s function is to continue the dynamism of change and evolution which constitutes the universal pattern of life. Antagonistically cooperating with the beneficent forces, it assists in the weaving of the web of life’s carpet. The experience of evil, and to some extent this experience alone, produces maturation—that is, real life, real command of the powers and tasks of life. Evil has to be accepted and integrated.” Perhaps the lesson for us—as Americans whose new-millennium innocence was lost on September 11—is that we have been forced to become more mature as a nation.

Jeanne LaVallee
New York

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DARK DAYS

To the Editor:
Peter Plagens [Focus, December] describes Ada’s Garden as having a green background. The background is dark gray.

It is depressing to have my paintings reviewed by a critic who is inattentive or color-blind.

Alex Katz
New York

Peter Plagens replies:
“English racing green” isn’t green as in Kelly, but rather almost black. And that’s the color I saw in the painting. But if Mr. Katz wants to swear that there’s absolutely no green paint mixed into his “dark gray,” I’ll concede that my perception was affected by a combination of gallery lighting and a little synesthesia from the title, Ada’s Garden.