An artist of the everyday

The small but fascinating Richard McGuire exhibit at downtown New York City’s Alden Projects has been extended through November 18th. If you aren’t really familiar with the street art that the New Jersey-born visionary multidisciplinary artist and comics creator produced during the late 1970s and early 1980s—newsprint graphic work he’d wheatpasted all over the Lower East Side, wildly dynamic show fliers, and more—a trip to Orchard Street during the course of this month will do you some good. (A bigger show in Connecticut features sculptures, too.)

At NYC arts and politics paper The Brooklyn Rail, Megan N. Liberty writes about the exhibitions and the new monograph that accompanies the Alden Projects show, declaring McGuire “an artist of the everyday.” Here’s Liberty:

The diversity of Richard McGuire’s work is surprising; from his illustrations for The New Yorker and McSweeney’s and published graphic novels Here (2014) and Sequential Drawings (2016) that treat the book as a sculptural object—something I’ve argued in a previous review of Here—to his musical and performance career as a founding member of the post-punk band Liquid Liquid, McGuire’s artistic output is multidisciplinary. Richard McGuire: Art For The Street 1978 – 1982, published to accompany the show of the same title at Alden Projects, NY, adds a new layer to this impressive body of work, detailing his early years enmeshed in the performance and street art scene exhibiting work in museums and galleries alongside Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Harring, with whom he became friends, and on the street alongside Jenny Holzer’s Truisms and SAMO© poetry. 

Read the whole piece at The Brooklyn Rail. Back in 2014, I wrote about McGuire’s graphic novel Here at my site.

Kept hanging on

At Avidly, Spencer Everett writes about Diana Ross & The Supremes and the weight of a late 1969-era performance on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” The group’s official last show would occur less than a month later in Las Vegas, but Everett sees this televised performance as the final act. Alarmingly, they ran through a “medley” of hits on the show that night:

Reducing these songs to their most elemental signatures not only saves (prime) time, and not only stuns us with the concentrated formula derived from what had tenderized us months and years before— the medley is also honest for its sheer economy, because it distills what works and disregards the rest. This central tenement of pop music was realized only sporadically in the previous decade, and Berry Gordy had the vision to pursue it from 1959 because he would not tolerate—as he could not afford—to release anything less than the hits we would live by. And if tonight is December 21st, 1969, as it remained throughout my 90s childhood, then that was ten years ago— both a blink of an eye and infinity away. In a certain narrow sense, then, this main-lined medley is something like the apex of Motown’s formal achievement.

Read Everett’s whole piece at Avidly.

For no real reason other than to recommend them, I think these are the last five Motown releases or Motown-related LPs we’ve played at home:
David Ruffin, My Whole World Ended (Motown, 1969)
Freda Payne, Band of Gold (Invictus, 1970)
Dennis Coffey, Evolution (Sussex, 1971)
The Temptations, Psychedelic Shack (Gordy, 1970)
Marvin Gaye, I Want You (Tamla, 1976)

Hillary Chute on comics and violence in Syria

At the New York Times, comics scholar Hillary Chute looks at several current graphic works that directly relate to a civil war-torn Syria. In her column, she reviews comics from Don Brown, Molly Crabapple (and journalist Marwan Hisham), and Riad Sattouf. Here’s Chute, on the third installment of Sattouf’s autobiographical comic:

It’s as if violence is its own country, free-floating and borderless, which Riad ends up visiting more and more. In one of the book’s strangest, most ingenious sequences, Sattouf dedicates four and a half red-and-black saturated pages to a detailed comics-form rendition — like a mini-“Classics Illustrated” — of the 1982 film “Conan the Barbarian,” in which Conan ultimately beheads a man who claims to be his father. Riad and his cousins watch on television, rapt. Later we see — in the icy blue tones of France — how this connects to Riad’s love of cartooning, and even his talent: A panel shows him drawing Conan amid lopped-off body parts, as the book foregrounds his burgeoning artistic ability. “I drew lots of scenes of barbarism,” the narration reads. “I enjoyed the savagery.” If Sattouf grew up inspired to draw versions of violent fantasy movies, eventually he came to draw the violence of his own childhood.

Read the whole column at the NYT. I was thinking about Chute’s recent detailed history of reported and nonfiction comics recently when I wrote about the work that graphic journalist Olivier Kugler does in his coverage of Syrian refugees.



Tapes of everything

Before “music discovery” meant algorithm-driven recommendation engines, we found bands and DJs and record labels through radio shows, record shops, mixtapes, and other tangible interactions with human beings.