The Uncertain abstraction of Eve
A Young Lion Appears in the Brush
by David Arthur Walters
Shortly after I took up writing about the use of arté to sell real estate as artéstaté in South Miami Beach, and sent along a copy of my artful and urbane article (‘Artécity Life’) to Miami Herald real estate reporter Matthew Haggman merely for his information and amusement, Artécity’s publicist extraordinaire Dindy Yokel advised me as follows:
"Matthew Haggman and nearly everyone else in town that covers real estate (and art for that matter) have written about the Artécity condominium project already and will continue to do so. Why not find a topic that is not so well covered and then you can perhaps start clean and get where you want to go. "
Ms. Yokel inadvertently sent me a copy of her email to Matthew Haggman, advising him that my opinion on art was worthless, as I was some sort of madman who expected her distinguished client to just give me a condominium at Artécity. In fact I had said some such thing in a Jack Benny sort of way, not expecting her to take it seriously – I must say, and at the risk of being perceived as a hypocritical artékritik, that in fact I would not mind having a real estate developer as my esteemed patron. Our teacher Confucius enjoyed residing in palaces and performing the sacrifices accordingly, but he would rather sleep by the side of the road with the crook of his elbow for a pillow than sacrifice his integrity.
I applied for a position at the Miami Herald, where truthful expression and the quality of thinking and writing apparently play second and third fiddle to those "market needs" defined by the publisher and editors, and to the luck of the draw as well. At least according to Tom Fiedler, the paper's executive editor, who responded honestly to my application:
"A complex calculus comes into play in choosing columnists -- market need, experience, reputation, credibility in a subject, demographic profile (i.e. race, gender and ethnicity) -- that goes beyond the ability to write well. Some excellent writers simply never get a column because they're in the unfortunate position of not being the right something-or-other to suit the paper's needs at the time when an opening occurs."
I seriously considered Ms. Yokel's advice, for her website self-publicity proclaimed to the entire world her fine reputation, her integrity, and her loyalty to illustrious national and international clients such as Artécity developer Alessandro Ferretti and Gunther IV of the Bahamas, the tax-dodging German shepherd who bought Madonna's house awhile back. She had also served the Burger King Corporation, which I think was once owned by a dog food company. She was then a current member of the board of directors of artécitycard provider Miami City Ballet, as well as the former publicist for artécitycard provider Bass Museum and for the City of Miami Beach. After considerable reflection upon her decision to dictate my topics, and after meditating upon the nature of artéstatë in general, I decided to serve arté as its antithesis for a spell, as artëkritik for Artéwôrldé. By the way, work on the deconstructionist artéziné is in progress, and I shall soon proceed to outline a manifesto entitled, ‘The Death of Arté’. I expect it to extinguish the bonfire about which the current clique of distinguished progressives and conservatives viciously rotate with noses to rears – I hope I shall cause them to finally turn from the ashes of their vanities to Orizen above for guidance.
No doubt Ms. Yokel bemoaned the fact that I was not educated to the cultural stupefaction enjoyed by the power elite who preside over Miami’s boxed-in life. The absence of orthodox credentials can be a blessing or a curse, depending upon one's perspective. I had no choice but to consider my disqualification as my qualification, and pursue gainful employment. A box-agent asked me to write down my chief virtue and chief vice in the boxes provided on a square form. I was disqualified because I wrote down the same ethical term, ‘integrity’, in both boxes. So much for integrity!
Yes, I have mixed feelings about boxes. One the one hand, I feel cramped in them and crave life in higher dimensions, such as the fourth dimension for starters. On the other hand, I have felt quite snug and comfortable in boxes from time to time; that is, on a part-time, flexible basis..
Boxes are not all alike: they differ in formal dimensions and content. I certainly did not want to live in a cardboard box, so I knocked on the doors of boxes stacked into gleaming towers in downtown Miami. Over five hundred box occupants did not respond. Several box holders slammed their doors in my face because they wanted newly minted college grads eager to think in the box. Since box life is the fast-paced, multi-tasking, gadget-filled, hyphenated business-life, hackneyed phrases must be substituted for genuinely creative thinking, which takes much too much time. Nearly all the box holders use one of my favorite terms, ‘integrity’, in their statement of values, and the majority of the boxed-in publicly displays the words ‘innovation’ and ‘creativity’ as well.
Fortunately, box holders are ambivalent about box life, so they pass around articles advising box-holders to "think outside of the box"; but alas, they dare not think outside of the box for long if they want to remain in it. In any case, I thought they might want to pass around my brilliant essays in order to see themselves outside of the box, for I was really outside of the box looking in at the time. One box director asked me what I would be willing to sacrifice to get into his set of boxes. When I said I would sacrifice two chickens a month and a wife or two when I got them, he ushered me out of his box.
Since my access to boxed-up life was being denied in Miami, I thought that I might as well think outside of the box in a more or less revolutionary manner. As I beheld the downtown Miami skyline from the bus going over the causeway one morning, it appeared to me as an imaginative work of modern art, ala Cuban Cubism. The box towers were leaning and twisting, as if they were towers of Babel competing for a place in the blazing cubist Sun – a fiery cube no less. Each brick or office box in the tall box towers was slightly different than the other boxes: each irregular variance constituted the name and competing argument of its occupant. I envisioned said boxes on the whole and individually from various perspectives at once as the scene fragmented before my very eyes. Somehow the bus I rode and the causeway wound and wended through the towers, one of which had the form of an ocean liner standing on its stern.
There was a good deal more to these images from multiple perspectives outside of the box, much more, but the whole thing was definitely beyond words. Since I did not want to sleep on the vision and lose it in my dreams before I arose the next day, I sought out a new acquaintance of mine, a young, born-again Cuban Cubist by the name Darwin León, and told him about my vision of the "Towers of Babel in Miami," suggesting that he paint the scene for me, since I am a painterly painter without a painting as well as an artécritik who aspires to be a postmodern art personality. He said the term 'Babel’ was not quite right. I said 'Towers of Miami' would suffice to the same end, for the sophisticated patron of the arts would grasp the allusion. I most regrettably did not have the means to commission the work, but I hoped he would take the hint and produce it on speculation. After all, I thought, the subject should suit him well.
Darwin León had been virtually rejected and ignored by the powers who preside over Miami's artéworldé. The artéjury said that he, like Picasso, was not "consistent" enough, did not repeat himself long enough to be commercial, nor was he “contemporary" enough; that is, he did not suit the definition of the "market needs" of the artémarket. His work is brilliant, said one prominent art personality, looking down his long nose over the neon-green frames of his eyeglasses, but if he wants to sell it, he will have to make certain “adjustments” to suit the current taste, for which his work, surrealistic as it is, is presently “too graphic” due to the reality of the Sur of his surrealism. Wherefore Darwin does not have access to a box in the artégallerie, where his art, if only it could get on the wall long enough, might sell out despite its shortcomings, which are at once its virtues – his older work has already sold out privately, to collectors who should be ashamed of themselves for the price they paid, knowing fully well that Darwin is a starving artist with a family.
“Well,” I said to Darwin, “think of it this way – you are Miami’s foremost Refusé, therefore rejection is a compliment, for you are making history!” “No, it is WE who are making history!” he exclaimed, placing profound emphasis on the ‘we.’
Galleries would be no problem once Darwin León is discovered, I knew, and he would be discovered, of that I was certain. Perhaps then he would paint my Towers of Miami. I could only hope he would not be ruined and his art debased as a consequence of his stunning success. He might be Lincoln Road Artécentre’s Señor Ceniciento now, I told him, but after his fairy godmother shows up, the light from the bonfire of arté shall illuminate his work, and he shall be able to buy the place and turn it into the art academy of his dreams. I then spoke of revolution, of having faith in Nothing and returning to Nothing when nothing else works, because Nothing really works – Malevich was too square to begin with hence missed the infinitesimal point in my absolutely spacey opinion. But Cuban-Americans are not so fond of revolution, at least not until severely disappointed by neoconservative norteamericanos. Darwin speaks figuratively of an art revolution now that he has been wrongly called a cultural fascist for expressing his love for skilled artistry in every shape and form; but he spoke less radically at that time, of a renaissance, of youth blazing trails from the origin of modern art, an origin occluded by the dense commercial underbrush that I would fain slash and burn.
The empty bottle