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Monday, October 31, 2011

Community/Halloween


8:08 on Halloween by the beach in Los Angeles. Weather probably in the 70s and free of the now seemingly omnipresnt fog. Three cats and two dogs closed in upstairs. Gates open. Pumpkin carved and lit. Luminarias with votive candles, lights framing the walkway, scary toys and candy in place since 5pm. Ridiculous headbands set on head and lipstick polkadots around the face.

Yet so few trick-or-treaters.

Dark houses all around.

Halloween has become disappointing for those of us without the young kiddies in our nest. Even more so since parents now take their children elsewhere, in search of the greatest gain or the greatest entertainment. Behind our gates we may exist but on Halloween the portals open up to ghosts, scary beasts, cinderellas, pirates, Frodos, lions and tigers and beasts, oh my, on All Hallow's Eve. But what is the use of the open gate if none cross through?

What those who take their children elsewhere do not realize: the treasure hunt for the "best" can too quickly turn into loss. When Halloween becomes a time of acquisition - the greatest amount of candy - but not of neighborhood connection, it becomes just another event. Connection in a block is about character. About individuals who chose to live in the next apartment, in the next home, in the next block. It is about getting along with/getting to know those around you. Asking something from them - the candy - but also giving of oneself - the pleasure an older neighbor takes in the costumes and enthusiasm of children grabbing those handfuls and handfuls of sweets. It is a moment to visit, albeit oh so quickly, and to admire and talk.

And for the neighbors who avoid the holiday: their loss as well. Their aging or avoidance should not exclude their interest in the newcomers. Halloween is one of the few times that we all can come together in a ostensibly non-religious, non-political, just "neighborly" event.

At the turn of this century when working on my book for teens on civic activism, I was equally enchanted and dismayed by Robert Putnam's book, BOWLING ALONE, where he comments on the decline of social intercourse and that the opportunity for communication with our fellow societal participants in this great scheme of life was waning. The more we converse and associate only with "like" fellows, Putnam says, the less we understand the greater scheme.

When neighbors choose not to participate in the one communal holiday of the year; when parents take our children where they can find the greatest material gain or for "safety" even when children have been scaring each other and themselves down the neighborhood streets for generations, we all lose. For real gain is best measured in meeting their neighbors and interacting with each other.

This is community - for the good and occasionally for not - but this is what holds us together and helps us understand how to go forward with a diverse population. Today with protestors down at your neighborhood OWS, with educators, family and friends wondering what has happened to our American society where we cannot seem to find a common ground that works for specific solution notwithstanding the grander ideological differences, and with generations lost in a world narrowing each day as others categorize our "likes" and preferences, community becomes all the more precious. Halloween, candy, scary cats aside, somehow seems like a good idea in so many ways these days.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Downtown Sunset and all the art.




Amazing light while driving Downtown after an unexpected short rainstorm to a number of Art Events including the VIP openings of ArtPlatform, a new contemporary art fair in Los Angeles, Pulse (which I never made but will this weekend for it is the introduction of PULSE New York/Miami into LA), and MOCA's opening of a serious new exhibition, UNDER THE BLACK SUN, all about political art practice in California from 1974 & 1980



Some quick pics of downtown Los Angeles and from the art fairs. With all the imagery surrounding, it was perfect that LA itself shone. We saw the sunset waning but pics of last night are all around the web, a lot on FB, for all of us LA are captivated by that incredible moment when the city is washed clean, the marine layer lifts and the mountains themselves are spotlit. Brings us all to the moment we or our parents fell in love with this perfect geographic space to be.

From the car (for it IS LA and isn't that where we view almost everything?):



From the art fairs:








It keeps getting better!


On Friday, my gallerist Craig Krull called to say that Peter Frank, an art critic & curator whose words and views I so respect, had written a review of my just closed show FINDING CHINATOWN in the October issue of Fabrik Magazine. (pg. 54).

So honored! Also delighted that Peter really seemed to have "gotten" what the work is about.

At ArtPlatform last night (next post), I walked around after gathering approx. 10 copies of Fabrik.