My Pet Rock Has A Red Triangle Heart

Where My Pet Rock Came From

Available at ARTSHOP

Late stage capitalism sucks. We live in a time of unprecedented resources and technology. Yet, no one seems happy. People seemed overly concerned someone else is trying to get one over on them. Folks are obsessed with money and how to pay for things. The smallest illness can put someone in an unrecoverable economic downward spiral. In America, we can’t address basic social problems because somehow it would upset the financial order of things. My friends work too much, struggle too much, and fear falling off what little pile they have made for themselves.

I make art to tell stories. I brought home a couple of coasters from the bar thinking I would make some little paintings on them. I painted them with gesso and transferred a page from an old encyclopedia I had lying around. The first painting was a doodle. I was laying fields of color, aqua, bright orange, soft purples. For this triangle in the center, I mixed some red watercolor with red acrylic and I liked how it was translucent. Later, when I looked at the small painting, I thought, if I had a pet rock that is how I would paint it. My Pet Rock Has a Red Triangle Heart was born.

My Pet Rock Has A Red Triangle Heart In A Field of Letters
5″ diameter; image transfer, acrylic on bar coaster; 2018

My work habits are such that I get up and write and when my head is too gooey to write some more, I take a nap. And when I wake up, if I don’t feel like writing, I make art. Often what I am writing about filters into my art making. Lately, I’ve been trying to understand the relationship between art and society. This means I’ve been reading a lot of Donald Kuspit who writes things like this:

“The issue that haunts this paper is whether ideology, including the ideologies of technology and corporate capitalism, which converge in the ideology of the spectacle–a mind-numbing dumbing down of consciousness–represses, even denies, or at least systematically suppresses, interiority and subjectivity, or whether the spectacle grants them a new lease on life, bringing with it a fresh consciousness of feelings and sensations, more broadly, of subjective possibility, indeterminate yet invigorating, despite capitalism’s apparent determination to manufacture spectacular appearances that belie and discredit their reality, for feelings and sensations interfere with efficient functioning in the world of action and technological society.” (1)

Kuspit got me on to the work of Daniel Bell who predicted the post-industrial society back in 1973. Bell also tried to understand the contradictions of capitalism, specifically, how we can live in a time of unprecedented resources and be so unhappy.

When I get to deep into economic theory, I like to watch YouTube videos about history. I stumbled onto this Channel 4 documentary hosted by Rupert Everett, The Scandalous Adventures of Lord Byron, in which Everett retraces Byron’s early 19th century jaunt through the Continent. While the Grand Tour was a common thing for noblemen to do, Byron’s journey was special in that he was seeking liberation of his self and his creative soul, which he found. And I thought, Nobody liberates themselves any more. Probably because it costs too much. And then I decided to send My Pet Rock on a Grand Tour of his own. A few paintings, some collaging, and some writing and word-collaging later, My Pet Rock: A Tragedy & A Love Story was made.

My Pet Rock is a tragedy and a love story where the Byronic hero journeys to the Caribbean to Europe to the Middle East. He meet artists and writers, longs for lovers at home, and dies after eating Kentucky Fried Chicken across from the Great Pyramids of Giza. With guest appearances by Carl Werner, Louis Marie de Schryver, Eduard Gaertner, Jean-Frédéric Bazille, Claude Monet, Tears for Fears, Dean Martin, Rudolf Ernst, Antonio Maria Esquivel, Agostino Brunias, Daniel Bell, José de Espronceda, and Duckey. My Pet Rock is a parable about capitalism. I hope you enjoy it.

PURCHASE THE ZINE

(1) Kuspit, D. (2011, February 8) Secrets of Success: Paradoxes and Problems of the Reproduction and Commodification of Art in the Age of the Capitalist Spectacle. Retrieved from HERE.

Paintings

PURCHASE PAINTINGS AT ARTSHOP

Collage

What Will Be of Us

“What Will Be of Us” is a continuation of the series, “I Keep Myself Together“, in which Kadour pairs photographs with texts to evoke a response in the viewer. “I am interested in the isolation of contemporary life and the sometimes intense personal drama that plays out without anyone really knowing. When I watch people, I often make up stories in my head about them. The titles of the photographs are snippets of those stories; moments of dialogue in a full work of theatre. By presenting the images in a circle, I hope to convey to the viewer the sense that they are peeking into a world or looking through a spyglass,” wrote Kadour in 2013. In working this way, Kadour taps into the tradition of text-based works expressed by Lawrence Weiner and Martin Firrell and the text/image collage work of Barbara Kruger.

MANIFESTATION

Exhibition

“What Will Be of Us” is intended to be exhibited as a grid that alternates texts and images.

Individual prints are 12″x12″ in 12.5″x12.5″ frames. Edition of 3. INQUIRE TO PURCHASE

Zine: What Will Be of Us

This zine, What Will Be of Us, shows the text with matching images in book form. Details: 36 pages | 7”x5” | saddle-stitched booklet | 2016 | ISBN: 978-1-927587-20-1 | AVAILABLE HERE

 

 

 

The Veneration of Ruskin

“The Veneration of Ruskin” celebrates the 19th century art critic John Ruskin. The 200th anniversary of his birth will take place in 2019. The project draws on Kadour’s interest in apotheosis, altar making, and still life paintings. The series of eleven collages cannibalize Ruskin’s drawings and Dutch flower paintings. Accompanying the collages is an altar to Ruskin that features a fabric tapestry and a table of objects and flowers designed to evoke the still lifes used in the collage. In addition to an exhibition, the project is manifested in a zine and a catalog that reproduces the eleven collages and the source works Kadour used to make them.

In the catalog essay, Kadour explains that he selected Ruskin because of a personal affinity with the writer and artist, because of his vision of the role of art in society, and because he was “moved by Ruskin’s sadness, the self-torment, and his beautiful mind to venerate him with flowers.”

Kadour works conceptually and manifests concepts in prints, photographs, and small sculptures designed to be exhibited in installation. The project continues Kadour’s exploration of influences that began in 2012 after the death of his grandmothers. In the project, “Twelve Days of Christmas Gifts for Yoko Ono,” each day from December 25th, 2012 to Epiphany on January 6th, 2013, Kadour made a “Christmas gift” for Yoko Ono, gifts for grandmothers who were no longer there, inspired by a cultural grandmother. The objects varied from prints to small sculptures to a collection of Edo-period Japanese poetry to performative acts. Each “gift” was documented and images and the instructions were shared online and through social media and later as a book. The project also continues Kadour’s work using altar making as an expression of contemporary art. The series “My Junk Taste Like Flowers” is both a documentation of objects and an expression of joy about them. This series is photographs of sculptures made with “junk” which are venerated with flowers. Kadour writes, “Arranging my junk was like restacking and reordering memories. The whole was other than the sum of its parts.”

In “The Veneration of Ruskin,” the collages serve as secular version of the Stations of the Cross leading the viewer to an artistic altar. The purpose of this is rooted in an understanding of Modernism that relocates the divine to the individual. Kadour cites a deep human need to apotheosize heros, something that is increasingly difficult to do in our society. While Kadour is interested in expressing veneration for a personal hero, the purpose of the exhibition is to model behavior and encourage the viewer to ask of themselves: Who would they venerate and how?

MANIFESTATION

Installation
Shrine to Ruskin

Shrine to Ruskin is a variable installation of a fabric tapestry, found and plaster objects, and silk flowers on a raised surface. The objects and flowers are intended to evoke the still lifes used in the collage. About Altar Making

Prints
Veneration of Ruskin Collages

The series consists of eleven prints: 10″x8″ collages on 15″x12″ paper. Edition of 5 plus two artist proofs. INQUIRE TO PURCHASE

Zine
Apotheosis Ruskin

This zine, Apotheosis Ruskin, is an aesthetic rehash of the series in book form. Details: 24 pages | 7”x5” | saddle-stitched booklet | 2017 | ISBN 978-1-927587-21-8 | AVAILABLE HERE

Catalog
The Veneration of Ruskin

The catalog shows eleven collages and the source works Kadour used to make the collages. An essay about why Kadour chose Ruskin also appears in the catalog. Details: 28 pages | 10″x8″ | saddle-stitched | 2017 | ISBN 978-1-927587-22-5 | AVAILABLE HERE

Talk: “Ruskin at 200”

In a forty-five minute slide-show and talk, Kadour speaks about Ruskin’s philosophy of art in society, the importance and problem apotheosis in contemporary society (and art in particular, i.e. How do we separate art from problematic artists), and the concept of secular altar making.

Everything That Is Wrong With You & How to Fix It

The book begins “You are a piece of shit and nobody likes you.”

Ric Kasini Kadour’s Everything That Is Wrong With You and How to Fix It takes as a point of departure Austrian playwright Peter Handke’s 1966 anti-play Publikumsbeschimpfung during which actors cast insults at the audience. The book is illustrated with Kadour’s photographs of banal objects and New Orleans oak trees.

Read as testimony, the book speaks to the buffet of verbal, emotional and environmental insults the come to us every day. Kadour gives voice to these stings and rages and then turns them on their head.

As a sermon, the bravado of the title carries itself through the piece. Kadour speaks to us from on high, exhorting us to examine ourselves in both the darkest and brightest places.

As social critique, Kadour, like Handke, uses “words to encircle the audience so they’d want to free themselves by heckling; they might feel naked and get involved.”* But where Handke’s play devolves into rhythmic chatter, a nonsense that negates both the insults and the praise, Kadour ends Everything… with a call to action.

Everything… includes a commentary by Christopher Byrne, “Remembering Everything”. Byrne writes, “Everything That Is Wrong With You and How to Fix It is writing that is meant to be dissected, examined and internalized. Read it how you will.”

Details
7”x5”
saddle-stitched booklet
36 pages, 12 colour photographs
2015
ISBN 978-1-927587-18-8

AVAILABLE HERE

*from an interview with Handke that appeared in The Drama Review, Autumn 1970.

 

How To Price Your Art

How to Price Your Artwork: A History

by Ric Kasini Kadour

On April 28, 2005, I was asked to participate in a panel discussion in Burlington, Vermont about pricing artwork that was hosted by the South End Arts and Business Association. A few dozen people sat around the organization’s offices on Flynn Avenue while each of the panelists made a brief introductory statement about pricing and selling artwork. When it was my turn, I read a poem.

In earnest, “How to Price Your Artwork” contains little practical information about actually pricing artwork. The point of the poem is to underscore the ridiculousness of art pricing. A more practical discussion of pricing art is to say that in the current market, art is like real estate. The value of property is equal to the price for which it is sold. Where a two bedroom, two bath condo in one city may cost ten times more if it is in another city, a painting by one artist may cost ten times that of another. And while one would like to think that skill, value of materials, or time spent making the painting would impact the price; it is much more likely that the price is determined by the pedigree of the artist and the gallery’s assessment of how much its clientele will pay for artwork. There is method to the madness, but systematic stupidity is still stupid. There is little connection between the price of artwork and the value of artwork.

That disconnect is part of the eccentricity of the art world. It is what allows for extravagance and excessiveness. It would be charming if it also didn’t alienate people from art. The ridiculous speculative nature of the art market prevents people from taking art seriously. Artificially high prices keep art out of reach of most people. They also undercut arguments in favor of public support for the arts. In this scenario, very few people win. This is why I presented “How to Price Your Artwork” at a panel discussion in April 2005.

After the talk, a number of people came up to me and asked me for a copy of the poem. I sent it off to a few people who were there. But people kept asking me for copies so I decided to turn it into a little book. I turned the poem into a twenty-page, saddle-stitched, 4.25″ x 7″ chapbook with a collage of paintings on the front and back. In November 2005, I released a signed, edition of 100 copies.

“How to Price Your Artwork” was significant to me for a number of reasons. This was my first art product and first zine and a change in thinking about how to market my writing, art, and creative endeavours. While I continued to write for other people and make large art, I became enamoured with the idea of making small, accessible art products. This led to making art products for other artists, building and running an art shop in various incarnations and a project called INSTANT ARTSHOP, where I set up the store of art products at various places around North America. INSTANT ARTSHOP has gone to traditional art spaces and fairs and it has gone to places like flea markets in Rhode Island and farmers markets in Amish country. It is one thing to feed contemporary art to those wrapped up in the art world. It is something else to explain a pack of “I <3 Yoko Ono” magnets to a trio of Mennonite girls or explain “Love Guns and Other Weapons of Affection” to a man in full NASCAR drag. I don’t have had those experiences when I am selling $5,000 paintings.

Money is a part of culture. How we choose to organize our resources helps define our society. In the 20th century, wealth was dispersed to a much larger degree than it is today and, for better or worse, consumerism democratized our experience. Andy Warhol explained it best:

“What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coca-Cola, Liz Taylor drinks Coca-Cola, and just think, you can drink Coca-Cola, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.”

Those times are in the past. The art we talk about today tends to be art for the affluent. And while a Coke may still be a Coke, a Takashi Murakami throw pillow is going to cost you $375, roughly the weekly take home pay of someone who makes $10 an hour.

At the end of the panel discussion, the best advice was this: Price your art to sell it. There is no point in pricing art so that it never sells. You can always make more. More importantly, a $100 painting on the wall of someone who wants it is more valuable than a $10,000 painting sitting in your garage or that same painting sitting in someone’s art warehouse. What matters are the people you reach and connect with. Those are the people for whom art is made.

Details
8.5″x5″
saddle-stitched booklet
28 pages
2015
ISBN 978-1-927587-17-1

AVAILABLE HERE

I Am Calling Today…

This book begins “I am calling today to ask, Are you happy with your credit card processing?”

It asks, “Are you happy with your resilience, your capacity for evolution?”

And then it offers you tulip bulbs.

The story is set against Pantone’s Top Colors of 2016 which includes such luminaries as Snorkel Blue, Green Flash, Iced Coffee, Limpet Shell, and, our personal favourite, Peach Echo.

Details
7”x5”
saddle-stitched booklet
28 pages
2016
ISBN 978-1-927587-18-8

AVAILABLE HERE

Twelve Days of Christmas Gifts for Yoko Ono

I was sitting with a friend at Second Cup and the conversation came around to Yoko Ono. No other public figure teeters between adoration and unfounded opprobrium. At some point in the conversation, I said that I would make Christmas Gifts for Yoko Ono: paper sculptures and odd little concept pieces. We laughed, but the idea stuck with me.

In 2012, I lost both my grandmothers and, like most times when you lose something, the thing lost becomes the most important thing to you. I have been thinking a lot about grandmotherness. And I started thinking about Yoko Ono as a cultural grandmother. Love her or hate her, every contemporary artist owes some gratitude to Yoko Ono. Painting to Be Stepped On taught us that art need not be on a wall. The concerts she hosted at 112 Chambers Street taught us that you can change music forever from a sparsely furnished apartment. Grapefruit taught us that all you have to do to make art is think. The Fluxus Film No. 4 taught us to be sexy. The performance of Cut Piece at the Sogetsu Art Center in Tokyo taught us to trust each other. Painting to Hammer a Nail In taught us that we don’t make art alone. The tower of light that beams into the sky two months each year from an island off of Reykjavik and the 500,000 wishes buried underneath it taught us to think monumental. Yoko Ono embodies the avant-garde, but what makes her work and her life remarkable is this: In the face of ridicule, ignorance, and sometimes outright hatred, Yoko Ono makes art that is free of cynicism, bitterness, and irony. That’s amazing.

2012 was a year of sorting things out, except I didn’t realize it until the very end. It was a good year. Things kept getting better and the better they got, the less satisfied I became. The less satisfied I got, the angrier I became. And when my grandmother died, I decided to drive from Montreal to Miami. A 2700-kilometer road trip is a great way to figure things out. One of the conclusions I came to was that I wasn’t writing and making art as much as I wanted.

“Twelve Days of Christmas Gifts for Yoko Ono” was an art making and writing project that pays homage to a cultural grandmother. Each day from December 25th, 2012 to Epiphany on January 6th, 2013, I made and shared a Christmas gift for Yoko Ono.

The Christmas Gifts were published in ARTSHOP Magazine.

SEE THE GIFTS HERE

Art Is Food

Art Is Food, Feed the People. Art is Food, Eat Something. These have been the mantras of ARTSHOP since 2005. The phrase comes from a poem I wrote and read at an Art Town Meeting in Burlington, Vermont in February 2005. So many people asked me for a copy of the poem that the following summer, I illustrated it and turned it into an artist book that was screenprinted with the help of Benoit Depelteau. So many people wanted a copy of the book, that I released a mass printed version of the book.

Details
7.5″ x 5.5″
saddle-stitched bound
20 full-colour pages
2008
ISBN 978-0-9771397-1-2

AVAILABLE HERE

ART IS FOOD

Art is food. Our country is hungry.

You cannot pry apart the two chocolate sides of a Georgia O’Keefe painting and lick the creamy vanilla center.

The rampant elements of a de Kooning do not make a nice stew.

Do not smear Pollock on your organic buckwheat toast in the morning and wash it down with a cup of steaming hot Andy Warhol.

Art is food. Our country is hungry.

 

Art is food and our country is hungry.

I believe that now, more than ever, we need the nourishing, nurturing, restorative power of art.

These are uncertain, confusing, and painful times. We are assaulted by war, disease, and conflict. Our country is suffering from neglect. The social bonds are unraveling. Human connection becomes harder and harder to maintain.

Our country is hungry.

 

Art is food.

Art is a nourishment you cannot buy at the grocery store. You cannot find at the mall. You cannot call 1-800-SEND-NOW and have delivered by FEDEX to your doorstep.

Art is scarce.

It does not grow on trees. It does not rise from the land each spring. It does not ooze from the snowcaps. A drought of sacred ails the land, fortitude is hiding too far beneath the surface, and Art cannot be found as easily as it should be.

Art is food and our country is hungry.

 

We have a duty to bring art into the world, to thrust it upon our neighbors, to force it upon our children, to make our community a vibrant, dynamic fortress of art.

Our country is hungry and we have the food.

We must, We must
Because our country is hungry,
and because Art is food.