Marina Abramović at the Museum of Modern Art

May 2010,

Abramovic sitting at NYC MOMASay what you will about New York City, even when it attempts subtlety, it still knocks you over the head.  And so it is with the Marina Abramović retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, a series of utterly haunting performances that have the superficial gloss of a middle school play underpinned by a steely, jagged pathos that stabs you right through the eye.

Even the retrospective’s title – The Artist Is Present – plays along.  The artist is literally present, sitting silently in a large open square for hours on end (...continue reading).


Beauty from Blight

January 2010, “Big Ideas” Atlanta Magazine

“The Connector” splits Atlanta like an open wound.  Imagine that sunken eyesore – from Memorial Drive to Atlantic Station – completely covered by an undulating, tree-lined promenade with outdoor cafes, bike paths, fountains, soccer fields, dog runs: four long miles of new parkland!
Expensive yes, but slim parcels at the park’s edge could be sold for low-rise development, a windfall big enough to pay for construction.  Best of all, this verdant ribbon would finally stitch together our serpentine urban core.

Cities around the globe have covered thoroughfares and rail lines to transform blight into beauty.   So can Atlanta.

(The left photo shows the current south-facing view of downtown Atlanta and to the right is John Morse's rendering of the interstate covering greenway.)

Greenway before Greenway after

Fargo Dispatch

August 2009,

While getting a decent martini anywhere is a godsend, finding one in Fargo, North Dakota – a spot not far from what is literally the center of the continent – ranks as true deliverance.

At the Hotel Donaldson, a once-fine-then-seedy-now-fine-again hotel on Broadway, a street in the middle of downtown Fargo currently undergoing a revival that reveals a rare glimpse of this city’s Wild West heyday, the HoDo Bar serves a brutally cold, utterly crisp Stoli martini with the confident élan of a watering hole (...continue reading).

Aerial Fargo

Let's Go!

“Socrates Sculpture Park” 2006, Yale University Press

Openings in the early years of Socrates were always thrilling – a thousand people milling among the art, children finger painting beneath a tarp, volunteers selling hand-painted t-shirts to raise a bit of money – and extremely happy.

On one of those gloriously sunny Sundays, attendees included people with severe physical challenges from a nearby facility gamely navigating the park’s rough terrain in wheelchairs and on crutches.  One broadly smiling young man was on a gurney – not on his back, but stomach, arms stretched out in front of him à la Superman – piloted by Mark di Suvero.  In his typically frisky fashion, Mark practically raced his charge from sculpture to sculpture with the frenetic glee of a contestant on Supermarket Shopping Spree.  From a distance, the young man appeared to be flying.

I’ve often thought of Mark’s sculptures as the earth standing up, not so much as gravity defied as the sky acknowledged -- it’s up there, let’s go!   And so it is with Socrates:  Not so much a garbage dump denied as a waterfront embraced, less a pitiless city bureaucracy and more the urban idyll, not a wretched corner of housing projects, rather a community that wanted love and wanted to love, not a man nailed immobile by paralysis but, instead, soaring.


The Surrealist Next Door

September 2010, Introduction, Curator's Statement (unpublished)

"The simplest Surrealist act consists of dashing down into the street, pistol in hand, and firing blindly, as fast as you can pull the trigger, into the crowd."
Second manifeste du surréalisme

When Andre Breton directed and issued the second surrealist manifesto in 1930, the notion of a mass killing of innocents on a crowded street at the hands of a madman with a pistol was so far from reality that it could legitimately be called beyond real, that is, surreal.

I emailed a friend who was among those trapped inside the Discovery Channel headquarters this summer when a gunman (...continue reading).