Happy Happy. Joy Joy. (Chaotic Zen)
October 26, 2013
“This is a song about a whale… NO!!!! This is a song about being happy.”
The birds are singing, the sun is shining less intently, and the clouds are all puffy and floating in that vast blue sexiness that we like to call a sky, and that’s just swell. Sigh… isn’t Life just nifty?
I thought so too, so we should get moving- but before we do, I have to address a small issue first.
As I noted, my last screed focused on the troubling aspect of PHX’s artistic apathy and it’s chilling effect on possible future success. Along with my take on that particular problem, I also meted out a well-earned artsy bitch-slap to a local non-entity, also known as “Scooter” Harris, a never-was who constantly bags on the PAS, despite his never actually contributing anything of substance to it.
If I were to draw you an analogy, his theoretical critiques are akin to having Pat Robertson conduct a symposium regarding the works of Motley Crue- it’s just that asinine, and yet- still strikes as highly comical to those of us who know exactly what’s going on behind the scenes and in the river.
Concerning his weak attempt at character assassination in regards to myself and curator/gallery owner Robrt Pela, I wryly stated the following: “Every village has its’ idiot, and apparently… the village next door loaned us theirs as a courtesy “.
Normally, when I engage in a battle of wits with an obviously unarmed opponent, I don’t usually give them both barrels, mainly due to the fact that when it comes to this scene, it’s sort of comparable to shooting at kittens with an ICBM.
An egotistical overkill as it were, especially when the majority of my detractors seemingly lack the ability to fight back effectively. But I do appreciate it when they try. Honestly, I do. It gives me hope that maybe, someday soon, they’ll be a worthy adversary- the kind that has a secret handshake, a flying car, and a nifty laser decoder ring.
However, his approach to the inherent issues within the PAS has been much more diplomatic than mine, and for that I have to give the kid some mad dog props. Staying on the path without killing someone is almost damn near nigh impossible in this scene some days, but he manages to do it, and do it well.
Served (via the Sustainable Communities Collaborative) as Project Manager & Curator of “Exit to Left: History Along the Light Rail,” a three-city photo exhibition, lecture series, and website dedicated to documenting historic properties along the light rail line in Phoenix, Tempe, and Mesa.
See what I mean? That’s the definition of “worthy opponent” right there kids.
Unlike most of my detractors, he came at me head on and at full speed- an approach that garners a lot of respect from this here Artbitch, hence the reason why we’re all cool with each other now.
I don’t mind losing, I just don’t want to lose to the mediocre, and he is so not that.
As to how it was possible for him to ring my bell…
Not to mention that I was also partying like it was 1999.
And did I mention that he cheats?
And if Time refuses to help me on my quest?
Or hitting him with my walker.
Other than my now fellow ally Connor, I honestly can’t think of anyone who’s ever been able to lay a glove on me, whether it be metaphorical or reality based. It’s not that I haven’t had my share of confrontation within this scene, trust me, I have- it’s more along the line that my adversaries seemingly have no ability to get to the heart of who I am, and that’s why they fail so miserably.
To those of you who just perked up, cease thy optimism- I’m not going to give you a primer on how to get under my skin. I may be snarky, but I’m also not stupid. In fact, I already can see the question forming in your head in regards to my always being ready for battle: If I don’t like, respect, or fear you, why should I care what you say about me?
Overall, I don’t. But there are a few caveats to that way of thinking, nonetheless. The only opinions I have ever valued come from those rare few that I truly respect. Whether that esteem stems from your abilities, character, or intellect matters not to me. What is important is that once you have earned my admiration, it’s very hard to lose. Moreover, while it has happened in the past, it’s been quite some time since I righteously abandoned anyone to the dark side of the moon, sans the album.
Here’s the truth of the matter- when it gets right down to brass tacks, I loathe two specific types of people: spineless cowards and/or ignorant bullies. Characteristically, they’re usually one and the same, but not always, and if there was any sort of contest for failed social experiments, the Internet definitely would qualify as a serious contender for allowing these arrogant cravens to propagate in the manner that they have.
It’s been my observation that in the world of the real, very few people would dare say what they unconditionally spew without a thought all over the web. As I’ve often noted, the net is a lot like numerous shots of tequila- after consumption, everybody’s ten feet tall and fearless as f**k.
Until someone dares to get in their face, that is.
Then it’s akin to watching Jello under a heat lamp, as they liquefy back into the candy-ass pond they crawled out of. If I had a dollar for everyone who’s ever uttered their honest opinion about me behind my back rather than to my front, I’d be comfortably ensconced on my private Ding Dong island, being served Mojitos by my cyborg monkey servants.
You know… like you do.
“Seriously… how have you survived this long without being eaten?”
While I am known (or hated, depending on your POV) for being intensely harsh about the PAS, I still believe in what it’s trying to do, and imagine what it might be if we could all just make that sucker run lean, mean, and clean. We’ve got the talent, we’ve got the space, we just have to get that art-car in the garage and make it as bad-ass as we see it in our collective mind.
Criticism doesn’t always imply disdain for forward progress, nor does it want to be cast aside- it can (and should) be used as a blueprint towards strengthening the base for whatever concept you’re attempting to construct from the infinite ether of creativity.
But not always. Not by a long shot.
I’ve always striven to provide a balance of sorts to my assessments of the PAS and it’s pond of Creatives- a sweet/sour approach, as it were. For every metaphorical swat with the belt, I also try to offer a resolution to the issue at hand that I’m griping about.
Heck, even the Phoenix New Times is starting to write articles worth reading about the PAS, and while I’m pretty confident that Mangling Editor Amy Silverman still hates Phoenix with the heat of a thousand suns, it’s nice to see that even she has to acknowledge what’s going on downtown, albeit it grudgingly.
I know, I know- give the poor lady a break. I will concede that it must be exceedingly galling to get up every morning and have to start your day off by eating a giant bowl of crow-flakes in regards to your long held belief that this town sucks, and seeing glimmers of growth on the horizon, nonetheless.
To be fair, they’re still churning out the same yellow journalism fluff they’ve always produced, but who cares? Andy Warhol once said: “Don’t pay any attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches.” – an ideology I can fully get behind, and one I have lived with for most of my so-called career.
In spite of my flippancy, I do mean that with respect- I freaking love CT.
For me, CT has always been a two-tiered event- one level is the show itself, the other is the rare social interaction that we get to have with our fellow Creatives under the guise of an art show.
I get to catch up, meet the new blood, hang out with my fellow dinosaurs, all the while gauging the depth of the creative sea in PHX. This year was no different, and despite the objections by some that CT has gotten less innovative and more “mainstream” as the years have rolled on, I personally could find no fault with this years’ offering as a whole.
If I were to play Devil’s advocate, I’d forward the thought that CT hasn’t mellowed, it’s matured. I for one, am nothing like I was 14 years ago, and I seriously doubt any of you are either. Sure, those core values remain, but as we move through our lives, the perspective is bound to change, which isn’t always a bad thing.
My outside take on the whole dismissive “Chaos isn’t as cool as it used to be” mind-set? If you don’t like it, then start your own yearly group show. It really is that simple, depending on one’s inherent ability and dedication to promote and curate such a monstrous behemoth.
And if you’re not willing to do just that, then please stop droning on about it already.
Happily, there was no sign of the faux slanderous drama that was inflicted upon CT last year by the PAS’s resident artsy crazy cat lady, Suzanne Falk*, whose childish rant within the pages of the PHX New Times did absolutely nothing except help swell attendance and publicize the show.
That success by the way, was partially due to her ludicrous (and ultimately baseless) charges of homophobia and misogyny falling on deaf ears- a self-serving move that in the end, backfired, and elevated Randy’s public profile via all the publicity she unwittingly helped create for him.
And while I’m on the subject, I’d also like to point out Suzy’s latent hypocrisy, as she did attend this year’s show, despite not having any work displayed in it. So, I guess that it’s okay to attend an event that you publically (and loudly) claimed was ubiquitous with homophobia and a sexist agenda, just so long as you didn’t contribute a piece, right Suzy?
That minor irritation not withstanding, Chaos 14 was packed to the rafters with the PAS’s art elite and their protégés, along with the art-curious. And if there was a singular emotion running through the show that night, it would have to be one of “I’m ok, but you… you’re just great!”
When I left after closing the show down, I seriously felt like the hottest bitch in the room, and not just because I was wearing leather pants. Which by the way, is the first official sign that Winter has come full swing in PHX. At the risk of sounding a tad bit sycophantic, I’d put forth that when it comes to putting together a show of this magnitude, nobody has done it as well or as consistently as Randy Slack.
To speak the Truth, haters gonna hate, but they’re going to be doing that hating within a very small circle- everybody goes to Chaos, and whether they like the show or not, I’ve yet to meet anyone who didn’t enjoy themselves on some level, even if that’s only to bitch about what Chaos is or isn’t.
Many moons ago, I once had a teacher tell me that when you no longer got butterflies in the stomach before a show, that’s when you know to quit and walk away- because you’re done, kiddo. For me, it’s close to 25 years that I’ve been involved with the Arts in one form or another, and I don’t see the end of the road just yet.
When it comes to local promotion, CT shows off the talent and passion that exists within this scene, and serves as an excellent barometer of where the PAS is going creatively. And while it remains the defacto model in regards to putting on large art-related events in this city, I do hope that it won’t be the only one in the years to come.
Imagine it. Being paid to do what we love, and being respected for it at the same time.
That’s the kind of warm happy vibe I think everybody can get behind, even this snarky bitch.
Hopefully, one day serious and well-financed Patrons will help shape PHX into the “must see” destination for all things creative and visionary, viewed by the world stage in the same way that NYC and LA. are- a serious contender that holds it’s own while maintaining it’s unique identity.
But until that happy day arrives, I say embrace the Chaos.