PRINT November 2012


Jonathan Horowitz

Jonathan Horowitz is an artist based in New York. This fall, his exhibition “Your Land/My Land: Election ’12” is being presented concurrently at seven museums across America. “We the People,” an exhibition he curated with Alison Gingeras and Anna McCarthy for the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, remains on view in New York through November 9.


    In the mid-1930s, Robert Moses filled in one-third of Pelham Bay to create Orchard Beach, the “Riviera of New York City.” No expense was spared on the site’s towering modernist pavilion, a crescent-shaped structure housing a five-hundred-seat restaurant, changing rooms, and shops. Today the building is boarded up, and the adjacent beach is used primarily by low-income residents of the Bronx. A study is being conducted to determine the building’s structural integrity, and depending on its outcome the pavilion will be either restored or demolished. “Great buildings inspire greatness in people,” Robert Moses once said, and while it’s hard to imagine any of the architectural follies of Central Park being torn down, this WPA masterwork could soon meet its end. What’s needed is someone from the Bronx with a lot of money looking for a cause. J.Lo?


    By the time I moved to New York, in the mid-1980s, the world of sexual liberation and danger associated with the city’s West Side piers had become part of a pre-AIDS, mythological past. But Alvin Baltrop’s photos of the crumbling waterfront and its denizens provide an intrinsically fascinating vantage onto what the piers might have been like. This exhibition featured a great selection of what Baltrop saw, from scenes of ships and sailors during his time in the navy to life on the streets of New York, where he lived until his death in 2004. The photographs in the show, alternately vast and intimate, are taken from a quiet and unobtrusive perspective, lending Baltrop’s subjects a dignity that’s rarely preserved in photographs of “interesting” people.

    Alvin Baltrop, American Beauty (Navy), 1970, gelatin silver print 8 1/2 × 12 3/4". Alvin Baltrop, American Beauty (Navy), 1970, gelatin silver print 8 1/2 × 12 3/4".

    I’ve often thought, “Why can’t there be a healthy vegetarian fast-food chain?” Chipotle isn’t that, but it is a really good place to get a quick and easy, palatable vegan meal. They even have brown rice. Note to carnivores: There’s no such thing as humane meat, so beware—terms such as free range and organic used to describe chicken, pork, and beef mean essentially nothing.

    Chipotle chips and guacamole. Photo: Beth Galton. Chipotle chips and guacamole. Photo: Beth Galton.

    Reading of Paul Ryan’s great admiration for Ayn Rand, I went and watched King Vidor’s film adaptation of the writer’s famed 1943 novel on iTunes. (Rand wrote the screenplay.) The story is chiefly considered a paean to individualism, yet it’s also about modern architecture, which is a very strange subject for a Hollywood melodrama. In the film, Gary Cooper plays a young architect driven to advance his vision no matter what the personal cost, and his stoic performance is as blank and monumental as a skyscraper. Patricia Neal plays Cooper’s would-be love interest, channeling a characteristically Vidoresque undercurrent of insanity as she repeatedly fails to steal Cooper away from his work. In the end, artistic creation is affirmed as the ultimate good. I’m not sure Paul Ryan would concur.

    King Vidor, The Fountainhead, 1949, 35 mm, black-and-white, sound, 114 minutes. Gail Wynand (Raymond Massey). King Vidor, The Fountainhead, 1949, 35 mm, black-and-white, sound, 114 minutes. Gail Wynand (Raymond Massey).

    Every few years, something goes epically wrong on TV. At the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards, Britney Spears stumbled through her dance routine without wearing her corset and in subpar hair extensions. This year at the Republican National Convention, Clint Eastwood—similarly, there were hair issues—went onstage and ad-libbed an incoherent comedy routine addressed to an empty chair. In both cases, the producers made the assumption that the stars were so big it would be enough if they just showed up. The MTV producers were right, but the RNC team? With so much at stake, it’s amazing that they would have been so blinded by Eastwood’s celebrity. The actor, however, did deliver a riveting piece of performance art. It made you think, maybe art really can change the world—or at least the outcome of an election.

    Clint Eastwood at the Republican National Convention, Tampa, FL, August 30, 2012.


    Published in 1899, this tale of duty, seduction, and abandonment reads like a prototype for a Harlequin Romance. But with its strong, feminist slant, Chopin’s novel rises far above pulp fiction. It unfolds like a dream, things just seem to happen, and the narrative has a remarkable lack of moral restraint—the protagonist deserts her husband, children, and home, and no judgment is passed. Even now, the story’s departure from social conventions is surprising; one can only imagine how shocking it must have been in its day.


    Like Lina Lamont in Singin’ in the Rain, artists speak at their own peril. There’s the risk of saying too little and sounding dumb, or saying too much and spoiling the mystery. So I really appreciated the announcement Flood made for his excellent show at Luxembourg & Dayan earlier this year—a video trailer in which the artist just lays it all on the line (albeit in the form of a pop song sung by a stand-in): “I made the monsters / To mark the murders / Society creates / We all participate.”

    Mark Flood, The Hateful Years (Ask Mescalito), 2012, digital video, color, sound, 4 minutes 49 seconds. Mark Flood, The Hateful Years (Ask Mescalito), 2012, digital video, color, sound, 4 minutes 49 seconds.

    Opened by the lesbian-feminist Bloodroot Collective in 1977, this bookstore and vegetarian restaurant appears to have changed little since. It’s a lovely environment, with tapestries hanging from the ceiling and mismatched antique furniture throughout the room. This is a dining system designed to make you think about food service—there are no waitpersons, and you bus your own table—but most important, the food served is incredibly delicious.


    In the 1920s, Giorgio de Chirico abruptly walked away from his Surrealist dreamscapes, and the flat planes of color he had used to depict space gave way to neo-Baroque renderings of gladiators, horses, and flowers. Before long, he made a cannibalistic return to his early signature style, shifting and jumbling things back and forth. What resulted was an oeuvre that is both radically unself-conscious and radically fraudulent. Whatever his motives, de Chirico’s disregard for pedestrian notions of propriety and taste is greatly inspiring.


    In the wake of the US Supreme Court’s decision in favor of Citizens United (prohibiting the government from capping corporate and union campaign funding), millions of dollars in campaign ads have flooded the airwaves; cable news outlets no longer uphold even the pretense of neutrality. In this political climate, the bold-faced lie bears seemingly little repercussion for politicians seeking office. Organizations such as offer something of an antidote, objectively filtering campaign claims. Whether or not the truth matters remains to be seen.