TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT February 2005

TOP TEN

Loren Goodman

Loren Goodman, whose Famous Americans (2003) was selected by W.S. Merwin for the Yale Series of Younger Poets, is currently a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at Kobe University in Japan, where he also trains professional boxers.

  1. ERIC FENSLER’S “PSA” FILMS No encounter with imagination over the past year has given me more pleasure than Eric Fensler’s twenty-five short videollages. Of these exuberant and inspiring reworkings of G.I. Joe public service announcements, my favorites include the Rasta sing-along, “Fire on Your Sleeve,” and “Help Computer.” Though supplanted on Fensler’s own site by a cease-and-desist letter from the Hasbro legal department, you may find them on heavy.com and elsewhere.

  2. KEN BROWN His correspondent art travels long distances, enlisting that ever-available collaborator, the postal service. Don’t call him the Unibomber of Art—just count yourself lucky if you get an envelope from Germany, open it, and find one of Brown’s delicately augmented and annotated photographs, a mini-frieze, or skillfully garbled letter. Then write him back. Looking forward to his June show, “Letters from Mr. Brown,” at the Goetz Collection in Munich.

    Ken Brown, The One Plum Tree Left, 2004, collage, 3 1/2 x 5 3/4". Ken Brown, The One Plum Tree Left, 2004, collage, 3 1/2 x 5 3/4".
  3. LON CHANGELY A former noisician and theremin devotee known mainly for his vast, compressed internal landscapes in the late ’80s and early ’90s, Changely has reemerged in the field of sculpture. As Angel Akuma, covering last year’s Tokyo Midnight Art Extravaganza, writes: “[T]his former leader of the Disappearance Movement that stole the show at the Roppongi Hills World Craft Fair in ’95 has shifted to presence and the emotive. His verbal carving The Pure Me resembles nitroglycerin in its propensity to set off controlled explosions within the heart.” I agree.

  4. JOAN NELSON Five years in Japan has given new meaning to the paintings of Joan Nelson. Her steadfast foliage of solid wax on hard wood . . . bullet-train Hiroshige? New projects and inspirations: painting with illumination on layers of glass (“I saw one I liked at the Modern Museum, Dalì’s, and wondered why no one ever pursued that”). The ocean floor (Scientific American): “lines, dots, sea worms . . . a fantasy direction . . . now back to something you can see, with neon colors.” Portraits: “It’s fun—snapshots of people caught in some moment. People I miss and haven’t seen for a while.” Rumor has it a children’s book is in the works. Artist-husband Don Powley’s enormous abstractions are the secret find of 2005.

    Joan Nelson, Untitled (#457) (“Influenced by a Distant View of Niagara”, 1804 J. Merigot), 2000, oil and acrylic ink on wood, 30 x 30 x 2 1/4". Joan Nelson, Untitled (#457) (“Influenced by a Distant View of Niagara”, 1804 J. Merigot), 2000, oil and acrylic ink on wood, 30 x 30 x 2 1/4".
  5. LISA ZERKOWITZ When I see one of Zerkowitz’s elegant pieces, it strikes me that glass—like life—is a slowly moving liquid. Her welded, inked, steel panels hold kiln-formed and blown glass elements; in combination, the permanence of steel and ephemerality of glass form a third, magical, material presence. Luminous and translucent, these works involve children’s games, plants, and leaves from her travels. With her partner, equally apt glassmaker Boyd Sugiki, she inhabits a world wrapped around her art.

  6. CHARLIE BIDWELL Ecstatic photographer, an artist of the air. OK Cowboy, Pink, Cyclone, Pure, Stardust. I think I’ll have a flying dream. His Chrysler Building and Empire State pinnacles anchor the sky in clouds and night. In Lincoln Memorial, he “shoots” the president, seated, from behind an offstage pillar. With plenty of negative space and diagonal energy, Bidwell keeps his promise to show things “in a way that’s rarely been seen before.”

    Charlie Bidwell, Greyhound, 2003, black-and-white photograph, 18 x 18". Charlie Bidwell, Greyhound, 2003, black-and-white photograph, 18 x 18".
  7. TAKASHI HIRAIDE: POSTCARDS TO DONALD EVANS(Tibor de Nagy Editions) My favorite book of 2004. Among other things, a poignant lesson in how to include yourself in the good company of those you admire. With trips to Tokyo, Iowa City, London, Lundy Island, and the Netherlands. Atmospheric suspension of the slowness of snow falling. “What you had started partly for fun became your life.” Brilliantly translated from the Japanese by Tomoyuki Iino.

  8. VIRGIL MARTI You grow up in the Midwest, you think certain things are cool. Later, you learn they’re not, and that makes you like them even more. Making candles in a milk carton at summer camp . . . Cut to: Marti’s gorgeous and chunky Ode on a Paul Smith Bag. See yourself in the Lotus Room . . . I love the Mylar. The real feeling it gives you—sensational. My notes from last year’s exhibition: “This painter and master printer has created an installation at Elizabeth Dee that surrounds you. You’re in it, say, admiring Landscape Wallpaper with Star Border & Shrooms & Flame Dado, when you realize it’s not just comfortable but sublimely elevating.” Virgil Marti, vanguard of the new baroque.

    Virgil Marti, Landscape Wallpaper with Star Border & Shrooms & Flame Dado, 2001. Installation view, Elizabeth Dee Gallery, New York, 2004. Virgil Marti, Landscape Wallpaper with Star Border & Shrooms & Flame Dado, 2001. Installation view, Elizabeth Dee Gallery, New York, 2004.
  9. VEERAPHOL NAKORNLUANG-PROMOTION With the waning of Ali, Tyson, and Roy Jones, is it possible that “the greatest” is now this diminutive boxer from Thailand? Five foot three, 118 pounds, Veeraphol—known as “Death Mask”—is one of the most impressive practitioners of body and performance art I’ve seen in the past five years. A continuum of physique, presence, behavior, and modesty that is stunningly human, he’s defended the world title he captured in 1998 fourteen times. An American exhibition is long overdue.

  10. JOE BRAINARD: I REMEMBER (Granary Books) This book is so good I can hardly describe it. Uniquely wholesome, it has the same thick, physical feeling of life as his Prell-bottle sculpture, admiration for Nancy, and repeated desire to start all over again. And why not? Call it honesty—pie, sun-filled arms, Oklahoma, or things as they are. A relaxed grace: something like reclining in the soft, huge upholstery of the world, of winning Wimbledon with lobs. Can’t wait to read Ron Padgett’s memoir (Coffee House Press, 2004).