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Ring In the New: 2015

I don’t aspire to greatness as an artist, or even to consideration in that category. If I’ve exceeded your expectations of the rewards of engaging with criticism, I’d prefer to think that I’ve expanded your definition of what criticism can do, rather than that I’ve stepped into some parallel universe and switched roles. […]

The Photographer and the Painting (1)

If it’s acceptable (or not) for painters to work from photographs, and to replicate closely or paraphrase broadly the iconography of photos, do photographers get to do (or not do) the same with paintings? And, if they do, why do all the complaints about image appropriation seem to come from the photography side of the spectrum? […]

Election 2012: Image World (14)

There’s a direct relationship between the klutziness in the handling of visual imagery and the demographics of the Republic Party and its subsets. Bluntly put, if I wanted intelligent advice on effective and persuasive 21st-century mass communication via visual and electronic means, I wouldn’t expect to get it from over-40 Caucasian small-town midwestern and southern males and females. […]

Bob Dylan: The Painter and the Photograph (5)

I have the greatest respect for Gray as a Dylan scholar. I’ve actually read the print version of his hefty 2006 Bob Dylan Encyclopedia from cover to cover; it’s eccentric but, overall, brilliant. It also contains the following statement, on page 433: “Jazz musicians generally regarded the blues, too, as beneath them, and thereby disqualified themselves from playing any of it well.” This is one of the most deeply ignorant comments about jazz by a renowned writer on popular music that I have read in my entire life. […]

Bob Dylan: The Painter and the Photograph (4)

If you read his published interviews, his liner notes for his own and other people’s albums, his autobiography Chronicles: Volume One, and take into account the hundreds of songs by others he’s included in his own performances and recordings, you’ll find him giving credit and paying homage to countless figures in the creative arts on whose work he’s drawn for inspiration. He’s done that voluntarily, and (in my opinion) forthrightly and generously. Which make his lack of candor in this situation all the more disturbing; it’s beneath him, an untypical act of bad faith. […]