Monthly Archives: November 2012

How to break a stone – in five easy steps.

1. Move your mind:


• Is the breaking of stone (or any material or space, for that matter) catastrophic or transformational? How is the view of the break changed when – additionally or solely – labeled “creative,” or “purposeful,” or “random,” or “predictable,” or “warranted,” or “gratuitous,” or “liminal,” or “signified?” (… to list a few common viewpoints) What are the criteria to judge such a label?

• What is the level of tragedy that is depicted in a specific break; or is the depiction a revolution, a rupture, or a salvation – however necessary, temporary or unexpected? How mediated would these outcomes be?

• More generally, What is the characteristic of the conflict that sustains the action, allowing it to be carried out – or is it really about an emergence of cooperation among various forcings?

• How can an initial read of the basic forms and actions that I deal with be reconciled with the deep geologic time and the wide historic import of stone and be brought into an epistemological rather than just a phenomenological discussion – and, really, how can the seriousness of these questions include a comic and humorous framework because of the unique demands of the human psyche?

• How does one move beyond the break – and beyond the tragic, the revolutionary, the ruptured, or the saved; the label, the criteria, the judgment: and to what end? Is there even an end (!?) and, if so, how strategic is it?

2. Move your body:


3. Repeat steps 1 and 2until the right stone presents itself.

4. Repeat steps 1 and 2 with chosen stoneuntil the method becomes clear.

5. Break.

I’m currently on step 3.

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Filed under Art, Geometry, Poem-ish, Sculpture, Video

New York City vs. Calcutta … or does it really matter?

One of my interests is Climate Change and related issues, and with Superstorm Sandy fresh on the minds of many and with sea level rise
being the theme of today’s New York Times Sunday section, I thought it was relevant to dig up some of my questions about the issue,
because I’m thinking about reframing my artistic process
and want to test out some ideas.

In a post two days ago, I mentioned Indian Sculptor, Rathin Barman, who lives in Calcutta. After I met him back in October, I started to do some research
and discovered that Calcutta and New York are roughly the same elevation. Two months ago – well before Sandy – I wrote the short essay below
and, even though it is the beginning of much bigger research project
that I’m not sure how to pursue,
I thought I’d share,
because it’s

Calcutta and New York City are roughly the same elevation. Which will succumb to sea level rise first? There is much speculation in this question, but the fact that both cities are vulnerable is indisputable, even when taking into account their different geologic and climatic zones. Sea level does not rise uniformly like water in a bathtub, rather it depends on complex and intertwining issues, ranging from the accumulation of atmospheric greenhouse gases to more subtle forces like the gravitational pull of the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets. How each city copes will depend on their economic strength, their relationship to larger regional governmental bodies as well as their present infrastructure and their ability to adapt to changing climate and changing human behavior.

Before either city succumbs, its populace and leadership will face a wide array of worsening challenges that will stress the viability of each city. Does “succumbing to sea level rise” mean complete submersion by an encroaching ocean? Probably not. The collapse of a city doesn’t mean no one lives there any more, but that the civilization and culture that defines it disappears and that its carrying capacity plummets. Rising sea levels and more extreme weather will help this along.

The landmass of the United States is geologically relatively stable and has both old (the Appalachian) and young (the High Sierra) mountain ranges; the subcontinent of India careens into Asia creating the world’s tallest range (the Himalayas). All these mountains are a product of a tectonically alive planet and help create local weather and influence global climate. Their yearly erosion is intense and – despite the differences in age and tectonic birth – their disappearance will take millions and millions of years. The stress on coastal cities is occurring now; their surrender to the seas will occur in tens to a hundred-plus years unless there is a massive turn around in human behavior.

Humanity is, now, akin to a geologic force that is changing the fundamental cycles of the Earth. There will be regional differences, but anthropogenic climate change and related issues will affect every country, every individual. The climate will get warmer and weirder than we expect, faster than we think. There will be more extreme weather events, almost all of them difficult for us. The United States and India play a major role.

This is just the jotting down of a few ideas and part of a larger piece, which I plan on giving much more attention,
because I am exploring the reframing of my artistic efforts
from investigating breaking stone
to that of laying bare
geologic force. 

This is the difference between an isolated moment of a discreet unit and the deep time of a pervasive cycle … more and … more to do.

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Happy Thanksgiving and Gratitude List of 12

In the United States, yesterday was Thanksgiving – a time where Americans meet over a meal for fellowship, connection and community.
I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving – and I hope everyone can find something to be grateful for.

It’s been a few weeks since I posted, because I’ve been planning a 6-month trip out of the country for perhaps the largest art project I’ve ever done.
I’m not ready to make it public, but stay tuned. I’ll announce soon, and if you want insider info:
join my mailing list,
and be sure to follow this blog
so you can follow
my progress.

This post is about gratitude. I’ve done so much over the last few months and I feel grateful for all that has transpired and I’ll like to share some of it with you.
In keeping with the main purpose of this blog, my list of 12 items below is a small window into some of what I’ve been curious about.
Make sure you go all the way to the end, because there’s a clue to my 6-month project that I’ll announce soon…

Can you guess what I’ll be doing soon?

Rachel Uffner GalleryRachel Uffner Gallery1. Opening – Anya Kielar: WOMEN; Rachel Uffner Gallery, New York, NY.

Rachel Uffner Gallery is a great gallery in the Lower Eastside and I am always amazed by the amount of art
that she gets into such a small space … and it always looks good.

Global Attractor and Messoud Efendiev2. Attended – Finite and infinite dimensional attractors for porous medium equations, Messoud Efendiev; ANALYSIS SEMINAR, Courant Institute, NYU.

Part of Prof. Efendiev’s lecture set out to show how you know whether a global attractor, a concept in chaos theory, was unique.
He pointed out – with great enthusiasm – that you first have to prove its existence! awesome, just awesome.

Teresita Fernandez3. Opening – Teresita Fernandez: Night Writing; Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York, NY.

Like the simplicity … fan.

Bryan Osbrun painting4. Opening – Bryan Osburn; Jason McCoy Gallery, New York, NY.

I’ve followed Bryan’s work for years and his painting has grown and changed in wonderful ways!

The Kitchen5. Attended – The Kitchen L.A.B.: Shannon Jackson, Elad Lassry, Tere O’Connor and Lynne Tillman; The Kitchen, New York, NY.

A discussion about the perils of understanding one’s present moment and not being subject to forces of objectification, intellectual tyranny and the mediated presence. My gloss: How can you express a unique presence? How can you describe it? How can you know it? The presenters made some post-modern moves and expressed the way they each dealt with these issues in their own art practice. All very slippery stuff … stuff I struggle with in my own art.

Alan Weinstein6. Attended – Microlocal analysis over the Maslov cycle, Alan Weinstein; Geometric Analysis and Topology Seminar, Courant Institute, NYU.

This lecture just blew me out of the water. The cutting edge of pure mathematics: You don’t get more abstract than this!
Will tackle this lecture in another post.

Samuel Nigro Cardboard Volume7. Made a bunch of these. They are cardboard volumes, 88 x 20 x 20” representing a volume of granite that would weigh 2 tons. You’ll see more of these soon.

Mark Dagley Red and Black Triangle

8. Opening – Mark Dagley: Structural Solutions; Minus Space, Brooklyn, NY.

One reason I really like Minus Space is because of its minimalist sensibility. I love this red and black painting.
The gallery is in my neighborhood – dumbo, Brooklyn, NY – right down the street from my studio, really.
The weird thing is that late one afternoon I received an email announcing a new post
of a blog I follow:

I had a quick look, and left my studio to attend some openings in the neighborhood and walked directly to Minus Space – and directly in front of this black and red painting. I couldn’t NOT make the connection!? I couldn’t make this up: Weird, Just weird … and non-rational.

Lucas Caleb Rooney Zara Aina: Share a Life

9. Met – Lucas Caleb Rooney, founder of Zara Aina: Share Life

Lucas is working on an amazing project, where he is pairing theater actors from America with children from Madgascar so both groups can connect, share their experiences and find a new outlet to tell their stories. The goal is to allow these children to develop theatrical performances as a mode of communication about their difficult upbringings.

Zara Aina: Share Life is having its inaugural benefit on Nov. 26th. Have a look at the site and buy a ticket. I’ll post more information soon!

Chinese Buddhist Sculpture in the West

10. Attended – Chinese Buddhist Sculpture in the West: Charles Lang Freer and the Xiangtangshan Cave Chapels, Presented by Keith Wilson, The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art; The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, NYU.

A lecture about the reconstruction of a Buddhist cave, built 1500 years ago in Northern China, and musings about how religious icons become objects of aesthetic displays.

Hurricane Sandy dumbo

11. Superstorm Sandy and The Election for the President of the United States of America.

These two events kept me busy, and they are related. Much has been said about both, and many pictures taken.
I’ll just add: We are, most likely, in a new climate state.

Jesse Bercowetz & Rathin Barman12. Met – My friend and sculptor Jesse Bercowetz introduced me to Rathin Barman, a sculptor from Calcutta, India.

And finally, Thanksgiving:

Samuel Nigro thanksgiving

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