While I take care of some backlogged correspondence, grading, and a few other things.... Be back after the holiday.



A! Square! (Neutral! Shapeless!) Canvas! Five! Feet! Wide! Five! Feet! High! As! High! As! A! Man! As! Wide! As! A! Man’s! Outstretched! Arms! (Not! Large! Not! Small! Sizeless!) Trisected! (No! Composition!) One! Horizontal! Form! Negating! One! Vertical! Form! (Formless! No! Top! No! Bottom! Directionless!) Three! (More! Or! Less!) Dark! (Lightless!) No! Contrasting! (Colorless!) Colors! Brushwork! Brushed! Out! To! Remove! Brushwork! A! Matte! Flat! Free-hand! Painted! Surface! (Glossless! Textureless! Non-linear! No! Hard! Edge! No! Soft! Edge!) Which! Does! Not! Reflect! Its! Surroundings! A! Pure! Abstract! Non-objective! Timeless! Spaceless! Changeless! Relationless! Disinterested! Painting! An! Object! That! Is! Self-conscious! (No! Unconsciousness!) Ideal! Transcendent! Aware! Of! No! Thing! But! Art! (Absolutely! No! Anti-art!)

Quote from Ad Reinhardt, with exclamation points added after every word, replacing all previously existing punctuation, and capital letters added to the beginning of each new sentence.



This morning all attempts to write ground to a halt under the weight and complexity of the issues being written about, and a general crisis of confidence on my part. This writing practice of this blog has been failing lately. There have been announcements of things. There have been some good subjects taken up, but they have been inadequately explored. The lines of thought are fragmented. They stop short. They fail. This is indicative of a larger struggle.

This is a post that admits failure. But it does not ask for pity, or forgiveness. Failure is a part of the process of development. But to admit failure does not excuse it. Failure must be accepted, acknowledged, and changes must be made. The changes that are made, the changes that lead to success, to happy and productive work, those are the important things. Because those changes provide a framework to overcome the failures that are further down the road. Failure will not stop you. Fear of failure will.



And if you live in the SF Bay Area, you should come. I will be there, behind a table, waiting to show you (maybe sell you) some books and broadsides. The details:

Pacific Center for the Book Arts
Annual Book Arts and Printers’ Fair
Saturday, May 15

9 AM - 3 PM

Fort Mason, Building A, San Francisco

Free Admission

And if you’re very interested in this whole thing, I’m sure they still need volunteers to make it go.



I have been looking forward to this day, today, for some time now. Today, May 5, 2010, is the official 10th birthday of the NewLights Press. It is hard to believe that the first book was released 10 years ago. I really didn’t know anything when that book came out, and NewLights was founded. I didn’t really know what a small press was, what they were supposed to do. I didn’t really know much about making books. But I knew that I wanted to make books, and that I could do it, that I had to do it. I could not have imagined where I would be now, the kinds of book that I would be making now, ten years ago. I think that means I’m on the right track.

This tenth anniversary will pass with no readings, no exhibitions, no fanfare beyond this blog post. It will be a quiet anniversary, marked by reflection and determined work. This day is important—but everyday is important, every moment of activity applied to a work larger than the self, is critically important. It is in those moments, when no one is looking, when we are alone with and focused on the task at hand, that a luminous future is carved into the days to come.

When I started writing on this blog, one of the primary concerns that kept popping up was the idea of maintaining a vital studio practice despite all of the monetary/temporal obstacles that face young artists (paying job or making work?). That remains a primary concern, perhaps the primary theme of my logistical scheming from day to day. I’m not sure that the struggle to work, and to work well, will ever disappear. Perhaps there will be a magical day when NewLights will become my sole source of income (I think I’m trying to talk myself into making that leap), and the issue won’t be time, it will simply be a matter of staying sharp and making sure that the work is still vital, dynamic, moving, that the work is still doing work.

This will always require effort, energy, and thought. If it didn’t, it would be time to quit.

So the struggle continues, thankfully. There is a tremendous amount of work to be done.
The official close of Year 10 will be about a year from now, on May 15th. The goals of the NewLights Press in that year are:

What You Will, a book of poems by Kyle Schlesinger
91% Battery Power Remaining, broadside by Justin Sirois
South of the Beast, broadside by Brian Evenson
Hotel Rules, broadside by John Yau
The Tragedy of Cymbeline, broadside by Brenda Iijima
Meat Cove, Cape Breton, broadside by KC Trommer
Detourned Painting, artists’ book by Asger Jorn/NewLights, et al
The New Manifesto of the NewLights Press (second iteration)
(De)Collage, unique altered book
Some sort of editioned altered book
The Heads, a book of poems by Justin Sirois
ZZZZZZZZZ [an island], fiction by J.A. Tyler, a multi-part book published by several presses—more on that project as it develops.
& others still in development, still under consideration.

Looking at that list, my heart skips with an ecstatic fear. There is a lot of hurt on that list, because of that list. A great deal of joy, though, too.

I can’t wait to show you all of the new books. Thank you for your support over the last 10 years. I couldn’t have done it without you, it wouldn’t have been worth doing without you.

& so we begin again.



Here are some zingers from the sculptor Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957):
I met icon-makers during my youth in the country. I remember that an icon-maker before starting to paint, or a maker of wooden crosses before starting to carve, would fast for a few weeks in a row. They prayed continually that their icons and crosses would be beautiful. Before it is begun, the creation of any artist needs a pre-established orphic atmosphere. Today painters work with a beefsteak and a bottle of wine by their side. The sculptor holds a chisel in one hand and a glass in the other. The vapors of alcohol and rich food come out of the artist’s mouth and pores like the fetid emanations of a horrible corpse. This kind of thing is no longer pure art; it is art governed by the earthly forces of alcohol and over eating. […]

One day, in Switzerland, in front of a beautiful mountain there was the most beautiful of cows, and she was contemplating me in ecstasy. I said to myself, “I must be someone if even this cow admires me.” I came closer; she wasn’t looking at me, and she was relieving herself. That tells you what you need to know about fame.

Both of these statements were taken from: Roger Lipsey, An Art of Our Own: The Spiritual in Twentieth Century Art, (Boston: Shambhala, 1989), pgs. 228 and 229, respectively.