Kimmelman on Ray Johnson, circa 2002

noguchi by blind iris

noguchi by blind iris

Look to your left (Liberty Street) and you will see the small turn-of-the-century French pastry in creamy, classically-detailed stone that housed the neighboring Chamber of Commerce. To your right (Cedar Street) is a stone-faced building of the first great skyscraper period (pre-World War I through the 1930’s).
Move on, toward the East River, following the travertine plaza that flows elegantly on either side of the slender new shaft, noting how well the block size of the marble under foot scales the space. Surprisingly, the site and the 52-story tower are trapezoidal in shape.

Bill Haskell of Aria on Grant, 1522 SF gifted me two random pieces of ephemera, a print of a 70 year old soccer match, and a page from a calendar reading March 16, and the randomness had me thinking and then talking about Ray Johnson, who I mainly knew, what little I know, here at 11:44 on 08/10/14 from Michael Kimmelman’s book, Accidental Masterpiece. That plus one purported Ray Johnson I saw in a gallery in Carmel, once or twice.
carmel karma arm

carmel karma arm

Here is a random lift from NYT in 2002: bon voyage Bill in Belgium: I am meaning to send him some random photos I took in Chicago in 2009, custom printed at Keeble by M.B., into little business cards templates.

LIFE itself might be a work of art. That is modern art’s most radical proposition. Art doesn’t have to be a painting or drawing. It can be the way an artist acts and speaks. Andy Warhol was Andy Warhola’s masterpiece. Joseph Beuys played the role of Professor Beuys. There have been more extreme cases, too: artists who shot or mutilated themselves.

Then there is Ray Johnson, who made no distinction at all between art and life, or in his case, between art and death. His suicide has become his most famous work. On Jan. 13, 1995, at the age of 67 (6+7=13, Johnson’s friends always note), Johnson jumped off the Sag Harbor bridge on Long Island. ”I like to say I’m the ocean,” he once told a friend, ”and like the tide, I mash up everything.”

How odd that something so spectacular would come to be associated with someone like Johnson, who, though by no means a recluse, lived by choice on the margins, making mischievous little collages and other eccentrically beautiful, technically brilliant, ironic and zany works he either stored away or disseminated to friends and strangers via the Postal Service.

But then, he seemed to have calculated everything he did in life, as if all of life were a game, played by his peculiar rules, understood completely only by him.

edit to addly oddly: i punched leah“leah garchik” and “bill haskell” into this machine and out popped aaron rubin who is traveling between santa cruz and seattle as we speak and maybe will end up at lytton plaza to do his two bits worth to defend the Constitution from whatever this thing ism.

more mk via andrew rice of nymag:
“As journalists, we have this control of the spotlight,” Kimmelman said. “So power, ­talent, and capital gravitate to where the spotlight is shining.” Earlier this year, he wrote a fond obituary for Ada Louise Huxtable, the first Times architecture critic, praising her recognition that “buildings are lived in, after all, not just sculptures or monuments on a skyline.” The remembrance read like a manifesto—and a rebuke to his more recent predecessors, notably ­Herbert Muschamp, a monomaniacal ­aesthete who championed an ­international class of “starchitects” like Frank Gehry and Rem Koolhaas.

more
huxtable quoted by kimmelman:
When so much seems to conspire to reduce life and feeling to the most deprived and demeaning bottom line, it is more important than ever that we receive that extra dimension of dignity or delight and the elevated sense of self that the art of building can provide through the nature of the places where we live and work. What counts more than style is whether architecture improves our experience of the built world; whether it makes us wonder why we never noticed places in quite this way before.”
note : i am stealing the hand-colored noguchi image as a tribute to the plaigirst jonah lehrer, or comment on, ergo fair use.

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About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player; he also sang in local choir, and fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32
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