Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Paris and Me at Art Basel Miami

Well it's been a week and a half since the insanity of the Miami Art Fairs and slowly life returns to normal. I wish that I could take credit for the above picture but it was taken by good friend and amazing artist Julian Montague. Without a doubt, the best part of the weekend was catching up with old friends. As has become standard in the past few years, I shared a hotel room with my two other wives Brian Ulrich and Matt Siber; however, this time we were also blessed with the company of the wonderful and talented Sonja Thomsen. Highlights included running around town with Nate Baker, cocktails with Alec Soth, dinner and introductions with Taj Forer, not nearly enough quality time with Amy Stein, breakfast with Cody Hudson, gallery chatting with Michael Foley and Tom Gitterman, and on and on and on. Of course for me, the absolute highlight was spending a ton of quality time with the Munich gang: Nicole, George, Mark and Florence. Oh yes, and I can't forget Paris. Hopefully she spent some of her time buying art in addition to shoes.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Git's Mix

I confess, I have been a terrible blogger this past month but I have a very good excuse: I've been working on my brand new mix tape for this, my most ambitious blog entry to date. I've been making mix tapes for as long as I can remember - memories of sitting in my parent's dining room with a boombox and a tape recorder trying to follow Cyndi Lauper' s "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" with Falco's "Rock Me Amadeus [The Salieri Mix]." In high school my tools became more sophisticated when I bought a boombox that had a double tape deck and later a stereo with cd -> cassette. The mix tapes from this period consisted of songs by The Who, The Doors, Blues Traveller and The Steve Miller Band (no snide remarks, please).

In college I used to make a mix tape for every season: Fall (Neil Young, The Guess Who), Winter (early 70's Miles Davis, Herbie Mann), Spring (The Byrds, The Zombies), Summer (A Tribe Called Quest, Beck). During my Sophomore Year of college I began to write a music column in the school newspaper with my friend Drew. The name of the column was "Awesome Sounds" and my pen name was "The Comeback Bitch" (I was good at dramatic comebacks in Streetfighter 2) and Drew's pen name was "F2" (He would only buy items from the F2 slot on the campus vending machine). Each saturday night we would put on our Union Suits (one piece thermals with a butt flap for all of you non-New Englanders) and our Sorel boots, trudge through the deep Vermont snow down to the music room, smoke a joint and proceed to listen to music and record our reactions. Click HERE to read our column from February 23, 1995.

In the past few years my mix tapes have become less and less frequent, averaging out at about one per year. The last real gem was entitled, "Songs To Make You Throw Up In Your Mouth" which I created with the sole intent of seducing my girlfriend (she's now my wife so I guess that it worked). I would say that these days, the majority of my music listening takes place on the train during my morning commute to downtown Chicago. There are certain songs that over the past few months, I've found myself continually gravitating towards and repeatedly listening to. The idea struck me that it would be fun to build a mix of these songs and hand it out through my blog. Unlike John Cusack in High Fidelity, my mix isn't aimed at expressing an emotion or an attitude, rather it's simply what I've been listening to lately. It has taken me two months to build this collection (build, listen, re-edit, listen, rearrange, listen, re-edit, listen, etc.) and on that note . . . I hope you enjoy:

The first song on the mix is by one of my favorites, Sufjan Stevens. For those of you not familiar with his work, Sufjan embarked in 2004 on a project to write an album for each of the fifty states. To date, he has created albums for Michigan and for Illinois (where this track is from) and is rumored to be working on albums for the states of Oregon and Rhode Island. This is a great track for listening to on headphones, it is extremely layered and beautiful with his voice floating in and out throughout the background tracks of the song. I guess with Chicagraphy on the mind, I couldn't resist starting of the mix with a song devoted to my beloved Chicago. The image of him crying in a van with his friend is just too much, I recommend all of his albums.

The next track is "Any Major Dude Will Tell You" by Steely Dan. I must say, I'm not a huge Steely Dan fan (I find a lot of their music to be kind of cheesy) but Pretzel Logic is a great album. Oddly enough, the first time that I heard this song was a cover version by Wilco. In any case, who couldn't love a song that starts of with the lyrics, "I never seen you looking so bad my funky one." Steely Dan always makes me think of my friend Elizabeth, they were heavily in her rotation when we used to live together in Boston.

This next track is a new favorite, Free's "Oh I Wept" from their 1970 album, "Fire and Water." Most famous for their song "All Right Now," Free eventually evolved into the awful 70's band "Bad Company." Embarrassingly enough, Bad Company were one of my favorite bands in Middle School. I used to play guitar to their song "Shooting Star" in my friend Tim Carroll's bedroom while he noodled away on Pink Floyd and U2 licks. The one thing I will say about "Shooting Star" is that it's featured in one of my favorite scenes in Kevin Smith's 1994 film Clerks (it's playing on the car stereo when they are driving to the funeral of Dante's friend). Despite all of these tangents, Paul Rodger's vocals are amazing and the song has pretty great groove.

The next song on the mix is Donovan's lost classic "Get Thy Bearings" from his 1968 album, "The Hurdy Gurdy Man". An odd footnote about this song: "Get Thy Bearings", was sampled by Biz Markie on his song "I Told You" from his album "I Need A Haircut" that was originally released in 1991, but recalled from shelves because Biz Markie had not properly cleared his samples. I first heard this song on a mix tape that was made for me by my good friend Carson Ellis. Carson is one of my oldest and dearest friends and we've been swapping mix tapes for more than ten years (you might know her artwork from the album covers of The Decemberists). At first I felt weird about taking a track from her latest mix only to put it on mine but hey, a great song is a great song.

This is a song by Bonnie Prince Billy entitled "Cursed Sleep" from his 2006 album "The Letting Go." I've been a fan of Will Oldham's for a long time and this track is really beautiful and brooding. For a pretty awesome side note on Will Oldham, Click Here to watch a pretty hilarious video featuring him and Zack Galifianakis in Kanye West's video, "Can't Tell Me."

This track is Badly Drawn Boy's song "About A Boy" from the soundtrack to the 2002 film by the same title. Ok, two very embarrassing things about this track: 1) I first heard it on a commercial for Hummer SUV's. The commercial features a little boy on an outing in the family Hummer who makes a snowball and saves it for show-and-tell at school. I found myself actually looking forward to the commercial and eventually figured out who it was by and purchased a copy. 2) The second embarrassing thing about this track is that it is from a film featuring Hugh Grant. The embarrassing thing is that I'm a sucker for pretty much anything featuring Hugh Grant which has led Robin to claim that I'm her best girlfriend ever. Oh the shame, the shame. . .

At this point the mix starts to get a little bit more upbeat with Belle and Sebastian's 2006 song "Funny Little Frog." I've been a Belle and Sebastian fan since my Boston days as well and despite the fact that their music can be a bit wimpy at times (as illustrated in Jack Black's rant in High Fidelity), this song is a keeper.

And so we get to The Clash with their 1980 classic, "Police On My Back." Originally written and performed by "The Equals," I was happy to see this song featured in last year's Judd Apatow film, "Knocked Up." The thing that I love about this track is the way in which the guitars mimic the sound of a European police siren. When I was in Munich this fall, I immediately though of this song every time a police car or an ambulance would pass by with its siren on (sirens sound different in the US). Although I'm still not sure about "Sandinista!" in its entirety, the album has definitely been growing on me in recent months.

Who knew that you could follow up The Clash with The Jackson 5 and create a smooth transition?!?!? I had always associated "Ready Or Not, Here I Come" with Lauren Hill and The Fugees 1996 album "The Score" but was excited last month when I came across The Jackson 5 original version from their 1970 classic, "Third Album." No matter what, I'll always have a soft spot for The Jackson 5 and for anything Michael Jackson that pre-dates "Bad" (but as Robin says, "poor Michael").

Next up we have Chicago's very own Lupe Fiasco with his track "Daydreamin' from his 2006 release, "Food and Liquor." I find the whole album to be pretty amazing but for me this is the stand out track (any song with the lyric, "I still got some damage from fightin the whitehouse" is alright by me). Not only is Lupe Fiasco smart in his critique of mainstream hip-hop culture, but he also teams up on this track with Jill Scott who is one of my all-time favorites (Philly has Jill Scott and Zoe Strauss all in the same city! I'm thinking about relocating).

And finally to bring it all back out (a la Ricky Gervais) we have Cat Stevens with his track "Maybe You're Right" from his 1970 release, "Mona Bone Jakon." A snarly song, it's got a classic Cat Stevens feel with being too overplayed on the radio. Well, I hope you've enjoyed this tour through my headphones of the past two months and if you're sitting at a desk and would like to hear my mix in its entirety, click play on the Quicktime button below and sit back, relax and take it all back in once again.

Monday, October 01, 2007

It All Comes Back Around (a picture from a picture)

Today I received an email from a man named Rob with this picture attached. This is the image that was made on February 27, 2007 and that is featured on my Garbage Can Project. It turns out that he works in the neighborhood and was out for a walk when he encountered the carts. In his words, "I guess everyone is watching everyone these days." I couldn't have said it better myself.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Attention All Photography Students . . .

I always find it so difficult to explain to my photo 1 students how to light a photograph . . . until now. Thank god for Tyra, this woman can do everything! Click here for Tyra Banks photo lecture 101 (warning to all photographers: this clip might make you throw up in your mouth).

Thursday, September 20, 2007

NYUKI (Sleep Conversation, 9/17/07)

My wife has this incredibly evil habit of talking to me when I'm asleep to see if she can get me to enter into a nonsensical conversation with her. When it works, she writes it down. Here is our conversation from last night:

Robin: I love you
Me: I love your mom
Robin: You love my mom?
Me: Yeah
Robin: What about me?
Me: You're ok too
Robin: What's so great about my mom?
Me: Nyuki
Robin: What's Nyuki?
Me: It's what's so great about your mom
Robin: What is Nyuki?
Me: New and delicious human snacks

Memories of Munich

Brian and Matt and I returned from Munich last Sunday and after a few days of playing catch up, I finally have a moment to sit down and write a little something about the trip. I think the plans for this show really started a few years ago when we met Nicole (the director of the gallery) at Review Santa Fe.

The four of us hit it off incredibly well, met up in Miami this past winter and began talking about doing a show.

After arriving on Sunday morning, Brian and Nicole and I took a train to the Austrian Alps. Went to a small hilltop where George's parents live (George is Nicole's boyfriend and is hilarious) and spent two days eating, drinking amazing Austrian wine, hiking in the alps and sleeping / snoring off the jetlag. You can view some pictures from Austria by clicking HERE.

The following few days were spent working on installing the show, wandering around the streets of Munich and of course drinking a ton of beer. One of the best parts of installation was becoming friends with the lovely Ms. Florence Baur Pictured here juggling a coffee, a pretzel and a copy of my book Social Studies:

I have posted a number of installation shots and they can be seen by clicking HERE.

On thursday, Matt and Brian and I took the subway out to the Octoberfest grounds. Octoberfest actually starts this week but it was really fun and interesting to watch everything being built. I had no idea what to expect and was thrilled to find what was more or less a huge carnival with gigantic empty beer halls. It isn't that often that I shoot a lot of pictures just for fun but I found myself inspired and started snapping away (so if anyone has any editorial work for me in the future- wink wink, nudge nudge). My photographs from Octoberfest are posted HERE.

Last friday was the big opening night. It was the opening of the Munich Art Season so every gallery in town was open and the streets were pretty mobbed. Talk, drink, talk, drink, if you've been to a few openings you've been to them all. A great time, I have a few photos posted HERE

The night of the opening, we all went back to George's apartment where we talked and drank and had a great time until about five in the morning. Needless to say, we all woke up a bit groggy the next day at about noon. Hangovers in tow, we went down to the gallery where Nicole and Florence had prepared a large traditional breakfast. There was a long table in the middle of the gallery filled with meat and pretzels and of course some more beer. Eat Drink Laugh, Eat Drink Laugh. At one point in the midst of all of this, a local Art Historian came in with a large tour group and began to discuss our work. It was a completely surreal experience, hilarious and unforgettable. To view photos of our hangover brunch click HERE.

After brunch, Matt and Brian and I went out to buy some goodies for our wives / girlfriends / fiancees. George was determined that before returning to the states, it was mandatory that we go sailing on his boat (One hour south of Munich). So Brian, Nicole, George, their friend Mark and I all loaded into a car (Matt was at dinner with his aunt and uncle) and headed out. There was absolutely no wind on the lake and the motor was dead but we had a great time drifting none the less. It was the perfect way to end the trip, one of those moments when you know that you are in the midst of future memory (look at me, I'm so deep...). To see the photos from our sailing excursion, click HERE

The next morning Brian and I left for the airport at 6am. I was so excited to see Robin and also pretty sad to say goodbye to my friends in Germany. It's hard to have people who you care about living so far away but we'll see each other again soon. And now to cap off my story, I got caught by US customs trying to smuggle some sausage into the country. Those Bastards!

For a random sampling of additional photos click HERE

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Von Ulrich im Munchen

Monday, September 10, 2007

Live from Austria

Munich or Bust

In dem Haus!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Eat Your Heart Out Gary Winnogrand / Diane Arbus / Lee Friedlander / John Szarkowski / etc...

As summer comes to a close, I've begun to archive the Gitelson family photographs. When my grandmother Esther died in 1997, I inherited her archive of family photographs (being the photographer of the family). After many years, I've finally begun to scan all of the images, many of which are starting to decay. The above picture is of my grandmother Esther Gitelson. This one goes out to Minneagrapher Colleen Mullins.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Hey Hot Shot

I just received word that a selection from my series "Dream Job" will be featured in the show "Hey Hot Shot" at Jen Bekman Gallery this September 13 - 16. If you find yourself in NYC during those days, swing by the gallery and check out the show.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

If It Were Left Up To Me

When I returned from Guatemala in 1997, I was really confused about what to do with myself. That being the case, I drove up to Boston to visit my friend Cable. Cable has been one of my best friends ever since the sixth grade. We met in gym class where our lockers were next to each other due to the proximity of our last names in the alphabet. We both had Led Zeppelin patches on the back of our jean jackets and have been friends ever since.

During my visit, Cable tried to convince me to move up to Boston so that we could spend time together and work on our art (Cable's always been one of my biggest influences). On my way out of town the following week, my head was still cloudy about what I should do.

Somewhere on the Mass Pike I popped in a cassette (yes, a cassette) that I had dubbed off of Cable and the song "If It Were Left Up To Me" by Sly and the Family Stone came on the stereo. It was one of those weird experiences when you hear a song at exactly the right moment and something clicks in your brain. By the songs end, I had made up my mind to move to Boston where I was to live for the next four years and develop my ever lasting loyalty to my beloved Boston Redsox. This one goes out to Cable, hoping to do the same for you as you once did for me.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

In A Land Far Far Away ...

Next month, fellow Chicagraphers Brian Ulrich, Matt Siber and I are flying to Munich where we will be exhibiting our work at Galerie f5,6. The three of us met the director Nicole a few years back in Santa Fe and have been working on putting the show together ever since. The above image is the postcard that I created for the show. If in Munich . . .

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Visitation of Papa Git

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Chocolate Lover

I was looking through some old hard drives today and came across this video that I made in 2003 back in Grad School. At the time I was really interested in found materials and when I stumbled across a torn piece of manuscript, making this movie seemed like the obvious thing to do. Because the sheet of text was torn, sentences were abruptly cut off. Chocolate lover features me (as the man on the stairs), Donna Rickles as Kendra Ann, Dustin Mertz as Cameron and Jen Davis as Sharon. I'll be posting more lost videos as I unearth them in days to come.


Each morning I have to sit for roughly three hours in order to watch all of the surveillance video from the previous day. That being said, I'm always looking for new things to listen to in order to pass the time. Three of my favorite radio programs are This American Life (this weeks edition is about the dark side of the art world . . . spooky!), Radio Lab (find out if Ghengis Khan's your daddy) and Sound Opinions. Check them out free on line . . .

Friday, July 27, 2007

Blast Off!

This morning I launched my newest project: The Garbage Can Project.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Stolen, Damaged or Burned?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

You Are Beautiful

You Are Beautiful, my favorite Chicago art coop (?). Believe it or not, I actually always feel better about things when I see these pieces in the public spaces around my neighborhood. What art should be, I encourage you to check out the site, You Are Beautiful. The best of the Chi.