Archive for the Misadventures in Art Category

Hide The Dog

Posted in Adventures and Interludes, Animal Stuff, Life Performance Art, Misadventures in Art on April 1, 2008 by Admin

In travel, at present a thing of the past, it’s the animals encountered in visited places that I find the most fascinating. I find it especially intriguing to encounter animals in other countries because they speak a foreign language and this makes them seem far more sophisticated than I, and all the more exotic.

siamesecat.jpgIn Bangkok I kept running into homeless Siamese cats. Cats everywhere. All Siamese. At breakfast one morning with a tour guide, Mr. Rom, it wasn’t until the words were out of my mouth before I realized the absurdity of the observation, “It’s so odd; all the cats I see here are Siamese.”

In Chaing Mai I was chased by a pack of street dogs. It began when I encountered a solo dog on an early morning walk and, due to the language barrier, he did not understand that I was his benign touristy friend, and so he issued a special signal bark and 4 more dogs appeared and began circling closer and growling and so I ran into a nearby shop that sold elephants and had to wait till the mad dogs got bored and left. Since this took an hour and the shopkeeper’s body language communicated expectation and annoyance, it cost me 2 elephants to stay in his good graces while I waited out the menacing dog pack. Since the elephants were too big to pack, I later gave them, and the straw hat I was wearing, to a cleaning woman in a bathroom at the train station. I think she was gesturing that she liked my hat and my elephants but maybe she was trying to tell me something important. At any rate she seemed pleased with the gifts.

htd-monkey.jpgLater I met a monkey who accepted my gift of an orange but only after turning his back repeatedly on me, finally taking the orange after I placed it on a neutral table between us and retreated. I think he disdained my mispronounced Thai greetings from my Berlitz language guide which I called, “Thai one on”.

So on a trip to Las Vegas years ago I was fascinated by the little dogs of the house at which we stayed. They were pasties-wearing, slots-loving little things and their toys were roulette wheels and scantily-clad waitresses with trays of free drinks.

Every November my grandmother would head west to stay with her son in Las Vegas for the winter. One of us always traveled out with her and so I took my turn once in a while. We couldn’t let her fly alone because of the confusion of changing flights and also because she wore hearing aids and, as she got sillier with age, was loudly fascinated by people she found, “interesting”. In the midst of a crowded airport she’d spy said people and first came the warning elbow to your ribs, followed by the humiliatingly loud, “GET A LOAD OF THAT ONE!” and then she’d giggle while I apologized profusely and made twirly gestures next to my head.htd-grammie.jpg

Often I’d bring friends along as my cousins had plenty of room in their house plus a hot tub and cases of champagne stacked in the garage. My cousins had these little dogs that weighed about 2 pounds apiece. On this trip my friend Al (who once let a strange man on a beach in Mexico put an iguana on his head which ended up costing him like, a million pesos) flew out with us, and my friend Elisabeth, who lived in San Diego, met us there. At the airport I left Al alone with Grammie for a few minutes while I went in search of a skycap and when I returned, there was Al with his head in his hands while Grammie elbowed hysterically. Al nodded at the squirming couple across from their seats and made me promise never to leave her alone with him in public again. Grammie loved bon bons, root beer floats, the Red Sox and Wayne Newton and, when in Vegas, always wore her satin baseball jacket with the Mirage logo stitched on the back.htd_al.jpg

The little dogs were, I think, Silky Terriers, and they loved company and followed us around. We tried playing dog games with them but they didn’t seem to enjoy fetch, frisbee, or jumping through flaming hoops so we hit upon, “Hide the Dog.” It began innocently and spontaneously; they were so tiny that they fit just about anywhere. So one evening, on a whim, I hid one under the covers of Elisabeth’s bed. When she pulled back the covers and screamed we found it hilarious and a new game had begun. It evolved into one of us hiding them all over the house while the others went in search. We decided to share this game with my cousins, as a surprise of course, so we’d randomly hide them in their paths. When Laurie got home from wherever she was, she’d begin making dinner so, in anticipation of this, we’d put a dog in a cupboard or in the cuisinart. The dogs loved this game. You could tell because they eagerly came back to be hidden again.htd_terrier.jpg

The game stretched over many days and had the effect of conditioning the residents of the house as they’d open cupboards slowly and with anticipation. Life was no longer routine; every small domestic task now had an element of possible surprise. Life now had more meaning. It served to cause heightened awareness of simple tasks and an expectation of the expectedly unexpected in previously mundane daily tasks. Shower curtains were pulled back slowly, briefcases and lunchboxes opened with caution, coffee filters were inspected. By seizing on the portability of the little specimens and their gleeful compliance in this experiment, we gave the little dogs a newfound sense of purpose and an elevated sense of being, thus eradicating all previous existential crises. It was a noble pursuit indeed.


Prior to agreeing to participate in this game the little dogs reported suffering from mid-life ennui and existential angst. They had come to expect regular feedings with intermittent walks and random displays of affection but interviews showed that they had no sense of purpose and wondered if this was all that life held.

In subsequent interviews the dogs’ responses indicated a greater appreciation of life due to the newfound awareness of the previous routineness and newly elevated amounts of attention and intermittent participation in said recreational testing. In short, the dogs benefited from heightened mental acuity as they learned to navigate life from new terrain (such as dishwashers and teakettles) and the feeling that they did in fact have an effect on their environment in the form of the surprised exclamations of those who found them.

It was hilarious fun. I think the little dogs suffered after we left and it may be necessary to return one day to resume the game. I am going to name my book after this game.


Having a scanner means digging through old images and remembering. I forgot about all of my old black and white photography assignments. I took this picture with a manual something-or-other in a town somewhere north of Las Vegas. To get there we passed mailboxes alongside the road. What was interesting about the mailboxes is that there were no houses or driveways as far as the eye could see.  Just mailboxes along the way, alone and out of place. We didn’t dare stop and peek in. I wanted to leave a letter but we had no paper and pen. Leaving a dog would have been cruel; I knew what you were thinking.

Does money (inadvertantly) validate art?

Posted in Activism?, Art & Competition, Art Critique, Communication, Confusion, Misadventures in Art, Narcissisim, Popular Culture, Rejection is not my favorite thing, The Process of Art on March 15, 2008 by Admin

How many times can Horton hear a Who? Is consistency a valid measurement of art, even if selectively applied? What, at the end of the day, is actually being judged?

I have a point. And it’s not about me. It’s about artists. And art.

Big, possibly pointless and ridiculous, idea at the end. Although, my last ridiculous idea did generate some crazy coverage and discussion…

Last night at the fabulous reception at The Northampton Center for the Arts featuring work from Dean Nimmer’s upcoming book, Art From Intuition, I had a conversation with a friend who went to The Fuller Craft Museum last Wednesday for an application review.

The (edited by me, in seafoam green) text for the event reads like this:

ASDGFH, Executive Director of The Qwertyuip Gallery, will walk through the jurying process for the ZXCVB Artist Awards. She will discuss how the jurying process has changed with the digital age and share a selection of award applicants, and critique their submissions .

This lecture is free.

50 cent at the barmitzvahSince once again I forgot my camera and therefore do not have pictures of the reception, I will insert random images from other things here to illustrate, incongruously perhaps, this post. Pictures make everything more interesting. Especially this picture from when 50 Cent compromised his street cred by performing at a 10 million dollar barmitzvah for a very lucky girl who got to dance next to him on stage and which was captured by a cell phone camera even though no cameras were allowed. He looks like he is trying to hide.

Anyway-this friend, who I will call Petunia, because I did not ask him for permission to use his name and report on his reporting of the event and because I just love the name Petunia, reported back to me on the application review because my application was among those reviewed. As a matter of fact, I was something like the last set of slides reviewed or perhaps the among the last – I did not manage to log, in my WhyWhyWhy brain, what my exact place was in the lineup. I like being last though so for the sake of this post I will call myself last.

Anyway-as they flashed my slides on the screen Petunia of course recognized my work. He said that the curator said two things: My photography is inconsistent and her main comment/criticism was, “How many times can you apply glass to an appliance?”

Amelia EarhardtAt the after party for the reception this statement made for a lively and somewhat hilarious discussion with fellow artists, people, and governors. The first response was, “How many times can you apply paint to paper?” Exactly.

To that was added, “How many times can you apply glaze to ceramics? How many times can you fire things in a kiln? How many pieces of furniture can you make? How many times can you make a silver teapot? How many times can you carve stone? How many times can you shape metals into jewelry or trees or sculpture? How many butter dishes/figurines/self-portraits/collages can you make? How many surrealist landscapes can you paint? How many still-lifes can you paint? How many videos can you make? How many installations can you install? How many drawings can you draw? How many times can you apply movement to a performance piece? How many times can you apply words to music?

I think you get the point. I am starting to get it myself.
I could call out every famous, infamous and other artist as a respected example of doing the same thing over and over. Let’s take Joseph Cornell; How may times can you glue together found objects? It’s often thought of as exploring a concept or theme. It’s often thought of as a cohesive body of work. It’s often thought of as working Cultural “council”within a genre. But this is all according to my first grade art teacher so there’s that. I will give myself 1000 points for creating my own genre even though by doing so I don’t fall neatly into grant categories and this affects my grantability. I will give myself no demerits for this post though. I am not being defensive and I am not defending myself so much as defending artists everywhere who do the same thing, repeatedly and over and overly. But I am addressing and somewhat debating the critique of my work. I don’t think that addressing a critique of my work makes me defensive. have you ever had a conversation with someone who invalidates every point you make by automatically taking the opposite stance and then, when you try to explain yourself, says, “You’re so defensive?” That’s one way to “win” a debate I suppose. I think it makes me a mere person who longs to thoughtfully respond to critique of my work which, I would hope, was a thoughtful and constructive addressing of my whole what I do-ness. It’s all so addresserly and thoughtful.

I will call this phenomenon a post-ly genre debatiquecal thought post. Ok–I will accept a handful of demerits for once again mangling a word from the english language and for my redundancy tendencies. Someday I will cash in all those particular demerits in some way and get myself some sushi and a new pair of shoes with fresh heels which I will immediately start grinding down in the bizarre and destructive way that I do. I turn shoes into little rocking chairs and I blame it on my spinal disorder since I don’t walk with my neuroses. Well, I guess I do, hand-in-hand, every day, but not literally. Currently I have no shoes with complete heels and that is a budgety thing which leads me to the next part of the critique, the photography of my work.

I am not saying that I deserved this grant and should have gotten it. I am saying that I should be rejected because of the quality of my work and not because of the photography of my work or, because I am exploring a consistent theme or genre.
VoltaireI had this whole email debate with a person at the Massachusetts Cultural Council last year (I lost); What is more important? What is being judged? The art? Or, the photography of the art? I have a lunch date next week with the Governor of Massachusetts to discuss this particular issue. He has promised to buy me sushi, but not shoes.

Ok–that lunch date is imaginary. But Deval and I have often imaginarically (500 demerits) debated whether or not state grant money should be need-based or solely merit-based and whether or not the art itself is of utmost importance or if the judgment of any art should be based on the photography of said art. He doesn’t know of any grant money available to fund photography of art deemed worthy of the most professional photography and he gets the intellectual concept that it becomes a fiscal cycle and chickens and eggs and omelets. Does the best art come from artists with trust funds? Does the best art come from otherwise funded artists? Does the best art come from poverty? Or, as I suspect, is money irrelevant to true art? Or, again, as Deval and I both suspect, does the best art come from the soul regardless of financial or other circumstance? BUT, the ability to afford frequent reshootings of your work so that it is all “consistent” and has the same lighting and vision is enabled by money.

My photography was called out as inconsistent. It was said that jurors like to see consistent photography of art. That’s funny when you consider that the in the same review I was called out on the over-consistent nature of my work. So, the art should not be consistent but the photography of it should certainly be consistent. This confuses me. This confuses my inner child who still always asks, “But, WHY?” and still gets the reply, “Because that’s how it is”. I cringe whenever I hear about, “how it is”.

oldnew_large.jpgMy work weighs fuckloads. It is also really delicate. The work in the slides reviewed at this talk was made over a period of 5 years. It was photographed professionally by different photographers and in different settings and all of my photography is really excellent and was shot by really talented people (How many times can you be talented?). You know those contests where there is some large glass container of jellybeans or buttons or snips and snails and you are asked to guess how many are in it? Guess how much it would cost to rent a 14 foot truck and two brawny Chippendales (how many times can you put on tight pants and a bowtie?) and bring my work to a photography studio and leave it for a week to be photographed (How many times can you take pictures of things?) on the same paper and by the same vision of the same photographer in the same lighting and vision. Lastly, on the money topic, does not being able to make enough money to support myself in a fancy photographer-ly fashion and spending all the money I do make on conservation-grade, museum-quality adhesives and fancy glass stains from France mean that I am also somehow invalidated as a grant-able artist? I wonder if the desire for money and the ability to go get it resides on the side of the brain I use less? <–Ok, that bit was defensive.

Of course we have to figure in that I’d have to leave the Chippendales at the photography studio for the week so they could wrestle my 350 pound fridges onto the paper and off again for each shot and then they’d likely request a per diem for food and travel expenses (How many times can you eat lunch?) Then we have to add back in another truck rental and those expensive Chippendales again to move all of the work back to my studio. Closest guestimate wins a set of hand painted wineglasses by Yours Neurotically. (How many wineglasses can you paint?)

I am willing to bet it costs more than I spend on almost-expired food at Deals and Steals for one year. One last comment reported back by Petunia: my work does not seem to have evolved but, again, is consistently the same. Hmmm. I thought I was making great strides especially when I covered the cloth bag of the vacuum cleaner with glass by first fortifying it with fiberglass and resin and bondo and hours of careful sanding of the resulting, ever-shifting landscape/canvas. I think it is time to move on to my next career as an auto bodyist.

giant_cat.jpgAfter this post I guess I’ll not be applying for that same grant next round. But I’d rather rant than not, and I’d rather not keep spending money on stamps for applications. The money spent on a stamp would buy 2 almost-expired power bars at Deals and Steals and some days that constitutes lunch. And as I struggle to write this post with my wireless keyboard which is all wonky because it needs new batteries and which keyboard makes it bearable to use my 500$ laptop (and only computer) I find myself wondering where those next batteries are coming from.

I HAVE AN IDEA, (which means everyone should duck): Why don’t we arrange an event where grant rejects do the flip side of an application review? Why don’t we do a curatorial review and invite all the curators in the whole world to be the audience. This event will be free. <–No, scratch that. The curators will pay $1000 each to come and I will get caterers from non-struggling restaurants to donate fabulous food and wine and the proceeds will go to a special grant fund which will be awarded to artists of exceptional work exhibiting soul and search and wit and yet which does not fiscally afford special photography and who lack the financial means to buy professional and consistent photography? We will require tax returns and those who show no earnings because they are supported by spouses or trust funds will not be eligible. The recipients must have true and demonstrable need. I am interested in supporting the truly hand-to-mouth artists who still determinedly pursue their art because they can’t imagine not making art. And by art I mean art for art’s sake and not work altered solely to make it saleable. Amen.

I don’t know what it is like to be a curator on a grant jury. I do know what it feels like to be an artist and to struggle to afford photography. I can’t imagine having everything shot at once. I wonder if we lose sight of each other’s perspectives and the whole concept of art. I expected this rejection but I expected it on the grounds that the other applicants made better work, better suited for the aesthetic ideals and conceptual intent of the gallery and grant, not because the other applicants had better and more consistent photography.

Disclaimer: I applied for the aforementioned grant online and no stamp expenditures were incurred so any suggestion of missed lunches is false and in no way bolsters my argument.

Cover Me – Reception Images and Coverage

Posted in Activism?, Communication, Misadventures in Art, Narcissisim, The "Cover Me" exhibit on February 9, 2008 by Admin

This morning the Boston Globe article is coming out. It seems that due to a space crunch it has been delayed a few days. (update–it is out. Click here.) I am afraid that I have big crazy hair, in the images which inspired my big hair story post below. The hilarity of my life and my faux-saintly cross to bear is to be always somehow embarrassed by images of me. It was a windy and rainy day – the sort of day that necessitates coiffley-restraint. Why didn’t I bring something to tie my hair back for the photo shoot? I know I did have bungee cords in the trunk of my car. I wish I’d thought of that. The one picture of myself that I don’t mind as much is the one on the cover of Dean Nimmer’s book. When I saw that image for the first time my first thought was that when I put in highlights evidently I only get the top layer, thus creating a hair color gradient of sorts. My second thought was that my friend Cassandra gives great haircuts. I didn’t know what I looked like from the back. At the least I am glad that it is not too obvious that those jeans have duct tape patching the holes in the lower pocket region.

Anyway – reception photos can be found here and I am posting a few below, which link to larger images. From my perspective, everyone else looks perfectly fabulous.

I guess the story will now come out Monday or Tuesday, closer to the rumored Valley Advocate article which I am told will be next Wednesday. I feel it necessary, because of comments I keep hearing due to my magnetic feedback field, that this exhibit was not an attack but simply artists addressing repeated cuts in arts coverage in the form of their art. It seems so logical to my non-magnetic logic field report. According to my personal quadratic formula, it is a valid and thoughtful commentary and the work in the show that addressed the issue did so nicely and artfully.

All images by Hana Skirkey

Cover Me - Mo Ringey

Mike Karmody’s piece, “NIMBY“, (not in my backyard) provided the interactive entertainment and made for some pretty great photo opportunities.

Cover Me - Mo Ringey

Cover Me - Mo Ringey

Cover Me - Mo Ringey

Cover Me: The Reception – Sunday, February 3, 3-5 PM

Posted in Communication, Exhibits, Misadventures in Art, Philosophy?, The "Cover Me" exhibit on January 28, 2008 by Admin


(Image clicks through to larger image) I made a blog post last Spring because I kept hearing the same conversations about arts coverage. And because I have a big mouth, I wrote about it in my blog and it turned into a show. I invited several artists to be in the show and almost all accepted. Some declined because of the topic, a valid reason and I respect that. I may have shot myself in the foot in putting on this show and I may never get coverage around here again. But I have lately been thinking that I should live in Australia anyway. And it is a valid opinion shared by a lot of artists and so someone has to have a big mouth perhaps. And then move somewhere else.

Below is the press release for the show which was sent to a very long list of publications. As it turns out, the date we chose for the reception is Super Bowl Sunday which is something of an intriguing coincidence because sports is one area of the paper that will never suffer for lack of interest and/or coverage and this timing might well impact attendance at the reception. This actually makes me think of the new trend of, “Art Face-Offs”, which I wrote about previously. Even Saatchi Gallery is utilizing this phenomenon which seems to make art more competitive but also, as it is based on random voting, something of a popularity contest. I suppose it’s harmless but I wonder if it does have an ability affect the way people that visit such sites will judge art as in, this piece got the most votes therefor it is the best. So this reception is an attendance face-off with the Super Bowl. The Women’s Times listed the reception in their Arts Listings section. I did not see it listed elsewhere but truthfully did not pick up either of our two local papers but only checked the Valley Advocate because it is free.

Anyway, the game will be on in the lounge downstairs from the gallery and I think it doesn’t start till 6 PM anyway and the reception is 3 – 5 PM. I posted below all images from the show that I have thus far.

Cover me: Artists Address The Lack of Arts Coverage
February 3 – 26, 2008
Reception: Sunday, February 3, 3-5 PM
Hampden Gallery at The University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA

Cover Me is an exhibition born of a post on my old blog, “Art & About with Mo”, published on the Valley Advocate website. The post, “Wednesday, April 04, 2007. ARTS COVERAGE & SOME GUY I DATED IN HIGH SCHOOL”, commented on oft-heard artists’ laments regarding the dwindling coverage of arts in the news and suggested a call to action; a show of artists addressing the issue of arts coverage. As a result of the post, Anne LaPrade, Director of Hampden Gallery at UMASS, offered (it was rather more of a dare) me the gallery for the month of February of 2008 to host the exhibition.

The show does not necessarily purport to create coverage or affect change in arts coverage but rather to give voice to work created by a variety of artists and mediums to address, satirize or otherwise highlight this concern. It will be interesting, however, to see if a show speaking to non-coverage, or the larger issue of mass appeal, will actually be covered. Arts writers I have spoken to about this issue express sympathy and a similar desire for expanded coverage for their own reasons.

I chose artists to cover a broad range with the common denominator being that all create work which I find to exhibit soul, search and wit. This range includes: the underexposed; the overexposed; gallery directors who have a decades-long relationship with, and seasoned opinion about, arts coverage; instructors of art; internationally exhibited/exhibiting artists; New York City artists; an artist who recently opened a gallery; the recent MFA grad; and, sheepishly, me. Sheepishly because I didn’t necessarily choose me for this show but agreed to be part of it at Anne Laprade’s urging.

Artists were invited to create 2D or 3D work to address or respond to the topic in some manner. I chose the artists, and the resulting work was not curated. I chose voices, and let the show unfold of its own accord.

As artists we all have had experience with arts coverage, lack of coverage, positive, neutral and perhaps negative coverage. We include press clippings in grant applications and promotional packages. Press can help to validate our work and ourselves as individual artists.

The work for this show is meant to be an opportunity to act as a voice to express thoughts on this topic. I humbly hypothesize that the lack of arts coverage is not necessarily an indication of the preferences of an editorial staff or a publication’s reporting ideologies, but rather, seems a response to mass appeal in an attempt to sell papers. The larger issue is that of mass appeal. Mass appeal called for the weekly arts column in one local paper to be replaced with coverage of American Idol. Reality television is perhaps of broader interest than the reality of the artistic accomplishments of the members of a community.

The premise of this exhibition is not assumed to be novel, nor does it address a new concern. Rather it addresses an ongoing concern of importance to all artists. It is somewhat risky in that it begs a response from those in a position to affect response and who are gently chided by the premise. And, to quote the blog post that started it, “It beats bitching next to the brie”.

In conclusion, there is no attack meant by this show and most of the local arts writers with whom I have contact express a desire to have more time (and budget) to cover arts events. They write about art because it is topically appealing to them but they are under pressure to cover things people will actually read. I often ponder why art in our backyard is of seemingly little interest to readers of the local papers. Not in my backyard is of more interest and gets more press. But that’s an old question with implications across topics. And there is no missive aimed at the masses or those that read American idol coverage over local arts. We are included in the masses.

About some of the artists and their work for the show, in their own words:

CAREY ASCENZO graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2000 and, after moving to New York, worked as Operations Coordinator for the following seven years at SculptureCenter, a nonprofit contemporary art organization dedicated to experimental and innovative developments in contemporary sculpture. Since summer 2007 she has held a position as Studio Manager for renowned artist partnership Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. Recent exhibitions include Smack Mellon Studios (Brooklyn, NY), and the New York Design Center. Her work was included in the most recent of the “Tragic Book” series published by Brooklyn (Brooklyn, NY).

Carey writes of her piece for this show–“it is a bit more generally about the implied/perceived power of the newspaper, and relates to a particular newsroom fantasy I’ve had since childhood.

Specifically, I am shooting video of a bunch of people in a row stating “LET’S PUT THIS BABY TO BED!!!” a la Perry White in Superman, which I find myself screaming from out of car windows whenever we go by a newspaper building. “The Daily Hampshire Gazette” is a frequent recipient.”

Watch Carey’s piece on youtube:


IAN BURNS on his piece:

The piece I would like to put in the show is a sound piece which is a comment on what makes “news” these days and who are the respected voices.

I have lifted the voice of Harrison Ford speaking the words I needed from his various films and collaged them together to have him speak about 13 of Jenny Holzer’s fantastic “Truisms”.



These portraits represent the juxtaposition and collapse of external and internal processes. The subjects are encompassed, inside and out, by the sensation of potential disaster and lack of control. They are consumed and at the same time are totally exposed. They are trapped in the moment, seeking coverage, but unable to achieve even the coverage of their own whole skin.

These drawings are part of a multi-media work in progress entitled Unnatural Disaster. However, the portraits themselves were inspired by the concept for the Cover Me group exhibition. If we deny arts recognition, we are in danger of destroying our cultural and human vitality. Within a contemporary context, the arts promote an interrelational understanding of social processes. The more we are lacking in arts coverage, the more we are lacking in true nourishment and will not only develop an unbalanced and inaccurate perspective of the world, but we will further become disempowered and dull.



Anila Zaidi

Left Panel
New York Times, Arts: Black, White, Read
Acrylic on MDF
13” x 22”

Right Panel
Hampshire Gazette, Arts (Draft): Black and White

Acrylic on MDF

12” x 22”

The New York Times is one of the few newspapers that devote an entire section to the arts, more impressively, an entire page to fine arts.

For “New York Times, Arts: Black, White, Read”, I combined the layout of an actual arts page with the riddle “What’s black and white, and red all over?”. The solid black rectangles comprise the page header; the article is presented as red rectangles, for it is, read by many. Of course newsprint is not white, this is why I chose the gray background, and to fully mimic the page I dented the wood in place of a print roller.

You might wonder, “Why not a local paper like The Hampshire Gazette or The Republican?” Shamefully, an “Arts” page does not exist. They do contain a “Living” section, which encompasses articles on food, travel, weather, and Bridge. Apparently a community can live without art.

However, I do imagine such a page on some desktop publisher’s hard drive, with this in mind, I fashioned “Hampshire Gazette, Arts (Draft): Black and White”.

The white background represents his computer screen. The outlined black rectangles as the page header, they are not solid as with the New York Times panel, for a page number nor the date of publication currently exists. The page is empty, he wonders:

“Who is going to read about art?”

He draws two black rectangles and prints the page. On the top box he paints a strip of correction fluid, symbolizing the “CORRECTIONS” column heading of his local newspaper. Red he decided, for the print in the box below. A cryptic red read answer to his question; one is impelled to decipher, to care: 1111111<3 111<31111<31<31 = “No one cares.”



As the soul of the arts goes, so goes the soul of the community.

Residing in Springfield for twenty-seven years I’ve seen a systematic reduction in community arts coverage by the Springfield Newspapers. This position has manifested itself in the lack of recognition of our numerous visual arts venues, often leading to their demise. Artists, gallery directors, curators and the public at large are notoriously under served. The public is kept out, and the arts do not flourish. As a result artists migrate to other more welcoming areas. In a community that sorely needs the arts, our newspaper chooses to highlight events at The Quadrangle, while neglecting the vital smaller venues and their contributions.

My piece is a symbolic representation of how the newspapers are quick to cover News, Weather and Sports, and neglect the visual arts. The window exterior is covered with clippings of these events with a little leisure thrown in. The interior is less accessible. The barbed wire represents the Springfield Newspaper’s attitude and how it affects both the community and the artists.

When the soul of the arts is tortured – we all suffer.

Larry Slezak
January, 2008


Lisa Scollan


As I think back on how much I would draw as a child, I realize how important creating art has always been to me.

Loss has been and continues to be a central theme in my work. My many drawings as a child often expressed happy moments in my life. My sense now is that these drawings were an attempt to preserve happiness and to protect myself from its loss.

My work also is an expression of the struggles I see in life. It portrays the opposing forces of good, evil, purity, negativity, vulnerability, determination, despair, and hope.

To fully express the joys in life assumes responsibility. The rose, often depicted in my work as a symbol, gives meaning to my core thoughts on life. Wherever there is beauty or happiness there can also be pain.

My work has its roots in symbolism and spirituality. It incorporates the fundamental elements of life: fire, water, earth, and air.

My paintings and drawings flow from mind to hand with an unconscious spontaneity. As elements of the painting or drawing reveal themselves to me, I am constantly analyzing the composition for balance, rhythm, and motion.

Through my art I hope that people can identify and confront their own struggles.


Mike has made a Cheese Ball Machine (not pictured: In its place I have inserted an image of the Sea Monkey Pocket Pen, “Port-a-Pet”, which goes with his bio which I wrote for him in lieu of the bio he never wrote and never sent to me. ;-))

Sea Monkey Pocket Pen
Bio: Mike Karmody has been fascinated by many things since he was a young seahorse (the one with the nice smile and polka dotted tie) including Swingline staplers, scented candles, quantum physics, concrete and art. Mike has studied. At places. Mike loves sushi.













Danish artist, LINE BRUNTSE, is an Assistant Professor of Sculpture at Millersville University of Pennsylvania, she currently lives and works in Lancaster, PA. Line primarily does large scale installation based work. She has shown widely in the northeastern region of the states as well as in Denmark and Austria. Her most recent exhibitions include In Between the Lines, at Maryland Art Place, Baltimore, MD; Gloucester New Arts Festival, and Hotel Pupik 2007, Austria.


GREGORY S. KLINE received his B.F.A. in Sculpture from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a M.F.A. in Sculpture from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He has taught various sculpture courses at the
University of Massachusetts including Bronze Casting. In addition, he has been the Sculpture Technician and an instructor at Hampshire College for the past eight years. His primary interests include metal casting and steel fabrication and assemblage sculpture. Professor Kline has exhibited his work nationally and is in numerous private and public collections.


HOLLY S. MURRAY grew up amidst the wild beauty of rural New England. She is a graduate of Syracuse University, with a B.F.A. in painting and printmaking. She holds a M.F.A. from the University of Massachusetts, where she studied ceramics and photography.

Throughout Murray’s career, her art process has traversed the terrain between the studio and interactive public collaboration. The content of her art is concerned with cultural and social issues. During the mid nineties, Murray’s nationally traveling show “On the Home Front”, an installation documenting family violence, garnered wide acclaim. An outgrowth of that work explored issues of aging within American popular culture. The result was a series of paintings called “Death, Desire and Ecstasy”. These themes evolved into body of work, called “Good Breeding”; examining the intersection between bio-technology and mega-agricultural practices. Presently, she is continuing her investigation of biogenetics and its effects on our world with her painting and works on paper.



I’ve always found the world an incomplete place.

Just when I feel I have a grasp on things some new sight or wonder unfolds before me revealing the full glory of my ignorance.

Photography provides a window into this incomplete world; a world I shall never truly know or fully understand.

How we do what we do, why we do what we do are questions ever unanswered and always intriguing.

In photography I see mirrored the unknowable nature of the world.



This is the piece I am struggling to finish. To make the deadline I did actually deliver the chair but am working on the pieces that go with it.



Posted in Misadventures in Art on August 8, 2007 by Admin

March 19, 07
Countering fetishized actions of banality? Or current mysteries revealed?

splasher2.jpgI found this bit at The Gothamist the other day (all quoted passages are in quotes, logically, and tildas, to make them more obviously quoted things. I think of tildas as little, ta-da!s):


~”Against Streetart: Tale of the Paint Splasher

Over the last few months, someone has been splashing paint over major streetart works all over the city. The “Splasher”, as he’s come to be known, has a taste for targeting major pieces by Swoon, Obey, Momo, and others. His trail of paint-dripped terror extends from Williamsburg, to Soho, and back again– and he’s already obliterated dozens of pieces.

Often, in the wake of his attacks, the Splasher also leaves wheat-pasted screeds, attacking the streetartists as tools of capital, calling their work a “fetishized action of banality” and “a representation of the most vulgar kind: an alienated commodity”.~

Whoever this splasher is, he warns that his wheat screeds, one of which is titled, ART: THE EXCREMENT OF ACTION, contain bits of glass and will harm whoever dares to remove them. The splasher is determined to get his message across and does not want it messed with or his sign will cut you. The article links to more pictures of the destruction at the flickr account of one FlowerfaceKillah but when you click on the link, the images have now been removed. For some reason FlowerfaceKillah felt the need to post and then remove his images of the destruction. Stay with me, it gets more interesting…

Then, the people did some research and report their findings:

~”Here’s our best analysis: the Dadaists are an anti-art, anti-culture movement that originated in WWI Switzerland. That classic image of the Mona Lisa with a moustache and goattee penciled in? You guessed it: Dadaist. Their deal? They mock the status-quo and live in the moment.The Manifesto appears inspired by an essay penned by contemporary British novelist Jeannette Winterson. Her Product is the Excrement of Action rails against the societal infatuation with productivity – our modern compulsion to consider the physical output and tangible results/rewards of all our actions in life, rather than just “living our dreams”. She specifically references art and artists in the piece:

Artists suffer from this tendency most of all; for their vocation itself depends on making products out of the raw material of real-life experience.”~

and this post prompted the following comments:

~”At 5:22 PM, Flower Face Killah said…
It’s not “dadaists”, it one person doing all of this.
At 11:47 AM, mark said…
Go back to your own blog flower face. By the way do you think it would anger the anarcho-syndicalists to find out that I would be willing to pay maybe up to $20 to get one of their wheat-grass papers to fill up the empty space on one of my walls?”~

What does all this highly intellectual, crazy artspeak actually mean?

Well, in secret spy detective class we learned that the guy who lit the fire is almost always to be found among the spectators and the message left behind often contains clues, not only to his true identity, but to the real message he so desperately needs the world to discern. When a person resorts to such attention-demanding and hostile acts it means they really want to call attention away from what they perceive to be a commonly held and extremely erroneous public perception. Often they are angry because they see others getting attention for something they have done or wish they could do (at least this is what I hypothesized in my psychology textbook, which I only halfheartedly wrote in my imagination).

So I am posting the manifesto in its entirety here with my expert analysis from my secret spy decoder ring, font size randomizing decryptologizer software, and I while I have uncovered the true message of the manifesto, I will leave it to you to decide just who seems the most likely Raskolnikov here:


A Dadaist once smashed a clock, dipped the pieces in ink, pressed the ink-soaked pieces against a sheet of paper and had it framed. His purpose was to criticize the modernist idealization of efficiency. Rather than inspiring the widespread smashing of clocks and the reevaluation of time in society, the piece of paper has become a sought-after commodity. The production of a representative organ(the ink-imprinted paper) for theaction (the smashing of the clock) guaranteed this outcome. Likean idealistic politician, the piece of paper, despite its creator’s intent, can only represent, and it is for this reason that it instantly became a fetishized object segregated from the action. Only in a culture obsessed with its own excrement are the by-products of action elevated above action itself.

Representation is the most elemental form of alienation. Art as representation is no exception. It is just another means by which our perceptions and desires are mediated. Art is the politician of our senses: it creates actors and an audience, agents and a mass. True creativityis the joyful destruction of this hierarchy; it is the unmediated actualization of desires. The passion for destruction is a creative passion. We are all capable of manifesting our desires directly, free of representation and commodification. We will continue manifesting ours by euthanizing your bourgeois fad.”~

Mystery revealed.


Posted in Misadventures in Art on August 4, 2007 by Admin

Last summer I included a call to artists in my arts email newsletter for an international assemblage exhibition in Berlin. I got a lot of emails about this call for submissions, asking me for more information. I don’t actually research each call, and so I trust that artists will look into each venue and do a quick google search to find out if there has been any negative press or controversy about a venue before applying. But the assemblage call seemed intriguing and so I decided to test it by going through the whole application process myself. I became my lab rat and entered the maze.

The application fee was 50 euro which came out to be like 35$ dollars or so. It called for an image of the specific piece you’d like to be considered for inclusion and so I chose, “Narcissivision”, which recently sold.

Calls for artists are often partly fundraisers. The application fees add up to revenue for the venue. I am fine with that. If a gallery has to review hundreds of submissions and then show it at their space then they deserve to be paid for this. They pay rent and often only get paid when work sells and they get a commission. Art does not fly off the shelves like Home Entertainment Centers and so it is a gamble. Application fees are a large part of the revenue stream. If a venue gets 1000 application fees at 50 euros each then my infallible math skills tell me that that equals 50,000 euros, which would cover a lot of costs and sushi. I think of sushi like wampum, I often trade web work for raw fish and rice. Sushi is currency; euros are currency. So far this all makes perfect sense.

I found this particular call in one of my international arts newsletters to which I subscribe. So, this venue had to pay to be in this newsletter that goes all over the world. All logical and sensible. But forward thinking people would ask themselves, “what if such a call to artists could next year get 100,000 applications? Or, a million!” That’s like 50 hundred thousand million euros. That is serious bank. If I were this venue I’d be thinking constantly about how and where to advertise to make those fabby numbers happen. More advertising? Word of mouth? The cult of underground internet spread-ability? Controversial publicity stunt? Infamy has its own power, as we know, and power is money.

So I applied and handed over my paypal euros and “Narcissivision” was accepted. Now came the daunting task of shipping my work (“daunting” and “task” are words that frequently appear together. They seem to fit, in a Sisyphean kind of world view. You know how when two words become one they are called contractions? I’d like a word for when two words always appear together. Like, “Hilarity ensued”. I am going to put this on my to do list; create such a word for when this happens)

Anyway – back to shipping my work to Berlin. It’s a great city for art. It would look fabulous as a line item on my cv.

But then I got an education. To summarize 3 weeks of research into a few sentence fragments; You can ship work via the USPS cheaply enough but it would still cost a lot of hundreds and would be uninsured. I contacted international shipping companies. For $1800 plus various fees I could ship it to customs in Berlin and insure it for its full value but it would need a letter of documentation from a licensed appraiser and I would need to hire another shipping company in Berlin (and pay a hefty collections fee and various customs taxes), to collect it at customs and bring it to the gallery, more hundreds of euros. And, were anything to happen to Narcissivision, I’d actually never be able to collect the insured value unless I could prove that I’d sold a evry similar piece for that amount and even then… well, I learned the “even thens” are rampant.
If it sold, I would pay xx% to the gallery, xx% to local taxes, another xx% to country taxes and another xx% for some other charge (I forget) so I decided even if it sold for its full price, it would end up costing me like %125 of the sale price plus shipping, thus negating any profit and so I decided I could not afford to be in the show and I declined. I wondered how people could afford to be in this international show? Who are these artists with all this money for shipping and fees?

When you *pay* to be in a show it is sometimes called a vanity show. Not overtly of course. But such shows are commonly referred to as vanity shows. I am not saying that this show is a vanity show, I am just saying that the phrase, “Vanity Show” exists and it is a thing people who can so afford pay to be in and it can often look like a nice line item on an exhibition history or cv. I am not one of those artists who can afford to be in international shows but I would have been if i could have worked it out. This experiment proved that.

Anyway-back at the ranch in which this tale is staged, I was anxious to get the final announcement to see who won 1st place of all the assemblage artists in the world who applied to this show. Most shows have prizes and monies so this makes it more attractive to enter. The possibility of “winning” a mention plus cash makes you hit that “pay now” button faster than you might have, just to be in a show in Berlin. This show had a small cash prize or two.

I finally got the official email notification listing the winners. It showed an image of a really resonant and brilliant piece but the image had no artist credit so I assumed that of course it was the first place winner’s work. It was a beautiful piece with the aura of “winner” exuding from every pixel. That same winning piece is on the cover of the show catalog one can buy but I didn’t have that many increments of money either so I don’t know if perhaps inside the cover the winning artist is credited. I scoured the show website and there is that fabulous piece again but still with no credit.

The email announcement listed the winners under that aforementioned image. The first place winner was named Marvin Francis. I googled Marvin Francis and it turns out he is in prison in Kentucky for murder and he makes sculptural pieces graphically depicting the horrors of prison life with toilet paper, water and paint and none of his work looks anything like the featured, uncredited, winning work in the announcement, which is made of wood and glass and newsprint. Odd, that.

I emailed the show’s sole creator, director and listed juror, Pablo (who is listed as winning various placings in past of his shows), who had previously answered my emails in a timely fashion, asking who is the artist who created that stunning work featured in the email. No reply. I emailed a few more times. No reply. And then I found a few, but very few, blog posts here and there with medium outrage levels. the story evidently did not spread very far but there were a few people who were incensed that Marvin Francis, the winner, could kill a man yet still win an art contest. The 3 or 4 discussions I found all seemed to have this one point of view; you should not award a murderer a prize. It became a moral issue.

Well, I get that. I don’t know Marvin and I wasn’t there that day of the murder and I know none of the circumstances of his life or of that ill-fated robbery. It is horrible that a innocent man (it was a shopkeeper and a robbery situation) died. And people really should not kill each other. I am firm on that.

But, if the jurors of the contest deem his work to be the very best, then their decision stands for said contest. Jurors are appointed to make such decisions in a juried contest, not popular opinion. Mass appeal might dictate what is covered in newspapers but it doesn’t decide winning art in a juried show. And if the contest rules do not state that incarcerated persons cannot enter the competition, then his submission is valid and their decision did not bend any rules so they can do what they want and by “they” I mean Pablo, the sole listed juror. I am not an art critic so my opinions about Marvin’s work are not worth mentioning here. If I were worthy of being an art critic then I might be an art critic. But I can’t help but wonder this; if said jurors officially deem his work to be absolutely the most superlative and winning-est of all the work entered, then why isn’t that winning work the one piece pictured in the announcement email? Why is his work not the piece on the cover of the show catalog? Why do they (Pablo) not stand behind his work by proudly positioning it in the email announcement and on the cover of their catalog? And I further wonder if the contest received enough free publicity from the moral issue such that the number next year’s applicants will be ever higher and generate more wampum.

Appointed Jurors in an art contest get to pick the winning work.
The winning work deserves to be heralded as such on the show catalog cover.
People really should not kill each other but they can enter art contests if the rules allow.
It is expensive and tricky to ship work overseas.
Controversy is controversial.
Applications fees are mathematical.

The Metaphor-Go-Round

Posted in Misadventures in Art, Philosophy? on August 3, 2007 by Admin

88_mgoround.jpgMerry-Go-Round explanation From Wikipedia-

“Although modern carousels (especially in America) are mainly populated with horses, carousels from earlier periods frequently included diverse varieties of animals, including dogs, cats, rabbits, pigs, and deer, to name a few. Within a given country, carousels are generally all built to rotate in the same direction, with the choice derived perhaps from the rules of the road of that country. In Britain, it’s the reverse in both cases. Another reason for the choice may be that the British felt it necessary to enable the rider to mount the wooden steeds in the “proper” fashion, inserting the left foot in the stirrup and swinging the right leg over and up onto the animal.
The Americans, on the other hand, were more concerned with people being able to “grab the brass ring” while spinning round and round. Since most people are right-handed, the machine would have to travel in a counter-clockwise direction so that the right hand would be free to reach for the ring.”

Why is no one on the horse? Is the terror in his eyes due to the inexplicable (yet always metaphoric) appearance of Sisyphus and his pet rock? (Of course Sisyphus didn’t even rate a rooster, his life is totally Sisyphean).

Did Crazed Pony throw his rider? Did Crazy Pony forget to take his meds? (my extensive research turned up a discussion/support group who lamented the *Meddy-Go-Round* of drug treatments).
Who was that now-missing rider, so carelessly tossed aside at the merest reaction of fear to a man weilding a big rock?
Where is Narcissus? (Well, he couldn’t tear himself away from his pond, that’s to be expected).

Why did Jamoka only get a chicken? Is it because of his clear disdain for the Merry-Go-Round? Or is it because of his fur color? or lack of political connections? He seems resigned to his fate. Or else he’s about to lose his “Flatulence free miracle dog food” breakfast.

And Mother Superior? How did she outlive the Von Trapp children? Her faith is unshaken as she goes round and round, her face a mask of contentment and faith. Or maybe *she’s* on the Meddy-Go-Round!? I’m with her approach.

How could Sisyphus possibly be passing Power-operated Crazy Pony on the outside? Is he doping? Is that rock filled with cork? And what will happen when the evil ride operator mischievously/accidentally/gleefully turns up the speed? Such are the mysteries of life.

And has anyone seen Benign Girl?


Posted in Misadventures in Art on August 3, 2007 by Admin

One of my favorite online sources for art is The Museum of Bad Art, which actually physically exists in Dedham, MA. Once in a while art comes along which is so incredibly bad as to be genius. And the curators at MOBA write such brilliant text for the work that I go check the site often to see what new art reviews they have posted. Because I aspire to one day making a piece that will make it past their jury, I have added my own contribution at the end, from my lab safety supply catalog.

Peter the Kitty

Oil on board by Mrs. Jackson
10.5″x7″. Acquired from Salvation Army Thrift Store, Hyde Park by Scott Wilson

Stirring in its portrayal of feline angst. Is Peter hungry or contemplating his place in a hungry world? The artist has evoked both hopelessness and glee with his irrational use of negative space.

Mama and Babe

Acrylic on canvas by Sarah Irani, 1995. 24″x30″. Donated by the artist

The flesh tones bring to mind the top shelf liqueurs of a border bistro. With an astonishing emphasis on facial bone structure, the artist flirts with caricature and captures features of Mamma’s face which remind us of a former First Lady. The upright marionettish pose of the babe hints that the early bond between mother and child is as formal as it is familiar. Good old-fashioned parental respect is at the center of this celebration of color and contour.


Acrylic on canvas by Unknown
Donated by Elizabeth and Sorn Poeckle, Copenhagen, Denmark

A remarkable fusion of ski resort and wolf puppy — stoical in his yellow-eyed silence, frozen beneath the ice-capped peak, “Dog” eloquently challenges the viewer to reexamine old concepts of landscape.

The Futility of Man

Insulated Glove, Air, Inflator, Hook and Pile, O-ring
Found in my Lab Safety Supply Catalog

The glove seems to signify the futility of man in its yearning posture, bleak visage and robotic yet anguished, splayed fingers. Clearly an homage to the dark side of the human psyche, the G-99 inflator looms menacingly nearby, tilted inquisitively toward the glove yet simultaneously apathetic to the plight of the glove. The G-99 strings signify its own struggle against the bondage of its physical being and its unwillingness to acknowledge its own capacity for empathy, exploring instead its inner voyeuristic leaning toward predatory opportunism.


Posted in Misadventures in Art, Popular Culture on August 3, 2007 by Admin

Best Friends Forever!


A funny thing happened on the way to the Open Square reception last week.
Just as I was leaving the phone rang. It was Paul. Paul works for the Rachel Ray Show. Pat, who with her husband Roy had popped in at my reception at The Pegasus Gallery in Provincetown a few weeks back and then had invited Maureen and I to a seafood luau on the beach complete with bonfire the next evening, had emailed the show thinking that Rachel Ray’s set needed a fridgequeen fridge to make it really cool. Nice thinking!
So Paul asked me to send some pictures of myself and my fridges and samples of my radio show (Wednesday mornings from 8-9 AM on Valley Free Radio, WXOJ-LP 103.3 FM) and other useful information. So I agreed to do so and went off to the reception and, uncharacteristically for me, did not mention a word about the phone call to anyone. Okay–one person but that was IT.

But then I thought about it and it hit me that they wanted this stuff because they were considering having me on the show and I got really nervous. There aren’t even pictures of me on my website except the one on my old, set out to pasture, site with me sitting inside a fridge wearing my double cartridge chemical respirator. I don’t like pictures of me. TV involves cameras.

3 days later Meredith called. Meredith works for the Rachel Ray show. Meredith was high energy. Meredith asked me about me and my fridges and other appliances. I guess my narrative lacked that certain Je Ne Sais Wow! because partway through she cut in and said, “Okay! Thanks so much! We’ll keep you in mind! Just in case, you know, we do a show like that, you know, something… crafty-like. Thanks!!”

And so there will be no “Mosely Mo (Mo is short for Mosely Josely which is what I was called growing up) and Rachel Ray show”.

But in the interim I *did* think about what it would be like to be on the show, IF they would refrain from calling my sculptures *craft*…

I didn’t see myself on her couch on the set in NYC with a room at a fancy hotel with a doorman, but rather sitting in my special garden along the canal where I make plaids and we’d be all bundled up because it’s getting cold and maybe we’d have a bonfire. And we’d chat about art and appliances and, just like my hero Polly in, “I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing”, I would make the most astoundingly brilliant comments about life and art and the Theory of Relativity and then all my friends would nonchalantly drop by, conveniently wearing their art as sandwich boards or sculptures as hats. It’d be just like Pee Wee’s Playhouse and everyone would get on TV! There’d be no end to the parade of artists with art in hand and I’d introduce them all to Rachel Ray.

I’d say, “Amy “Bannerqueen” Johnquest! What are you doing here? Gosh! Your “Resurrection Boy” banner looks fabulous as a dashieki! Rachel, did you know Amy and I are showing at the NCA next month? Do come!” And RR (we’d be BFFs by now) would be so chagrined that she couldn’t make the reception with rumored accordion player and wine and cheese but she’d buy everyone’s art because she’s a big, rich TV star! And then that song, “Love is in the air” would come on and we’d all laugh and dance around the garden in the setting sun and get parting gifts like Swarovsky Crystal-encrusted Blackberries and Harry Winston diamond friendship rings and gilded sushi.

So you can see why I’ll never be on the Rachel Ray show. But my version of events was fun while it lasted.

Pictured: Rachel Ray WOWing the studio audience with my sculpture, “Narcissivision”.


Posted in Art Critique, Communication, lessons in Art, Literary, Misadventures in Art on August 3, 2007 by Admin

Starring Elaine and Blair

I found this pretty great vintage ad but it’s not clear to me what exactly it is advertising. So I decided to cast these two in my favorite movie, “I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing”, and give them scintillating art dialogue for my enjoyment.


Elaine: “I think he is somewhat incapacitated by his emotions.”

Blair: “New York is wild for his oblique pragmatism.”

Elaine: “The static structure is offset by his whimsical sociological references.”

Blair: “There is a hopefulness in his contextural destruction.”

Elaine: “The lack of resolution of his themes almost adds to a vaguely literal internal transformation of the subject.”

Blair: “But you are wrong. It is his obsessive resolution that certainly drives a well-defined non-literal external static quality of the noun, not the subject.”

Elaine: “That’s a really nice sweater.”

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