Sunday, October 23, 2011

Beyond the pop

Beyond the pop

Low Anthem rises high but remains grounded

By Jed Gottlieb
Friday, October 21, 2011 -
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A fat chunk of modern pop music resembles fast food. It may be tasty to the ears, but it’s mass produced without creativity and leaves you hungry for something real.

The Low Anthem is something real.

The Providence band — which plays and films a live DVD tonight at the Somerville Theatre — performs its strange and sublime folk rock on antique pipe organs, rusty singing saws, battered guitars and other odd instruments. It has recorded albums in a house heated by wood stove in January on Block Island and at ex-Providence mayor Buddy Cianci’s long-shuttered pasta sauce factory.

But as the Low Anthem transitions from local favorites to a global touring sensation, the band is determined to never serve fans a Big Mac.

“We know we have to face the reality we’re in,” singer/multi-instrumentalist Ben Knox Miller said. “We know we can’t hand-make our CDs anymore. But we can still try to do things differently, to never repeat ourselves.”

In 2008, when a Low Anthem gig attracted 60 people at Cambridge’s Toad, the band spent a month hand-painting 7,000 CD covers — a personal touch impossible to keep up with now that the band is playing to 100,000 fans a year.

“We have more than 40 songs for two albums, but they will be more than albums,” Miller said. “They’ll be a story, a picture book and a set of sculptures. It’s going to be a full multimedia project.”

The planned 16 sculptures are based on a piece Miller saw at the Burning Man festival. His hope is that strobe lights and spinning pieces will make the installation look like a primitive stop-motion animation film.

So far Miller only has blueprints, but he hopes to eventually bring the piece on tour. Actually, he hopes the piece gives the Low Anthem a reason to tour again. After spending the better part of three years on the road playing from Golden Gate Park to Oslo, Norway to Mass MoCA, the band struggles to keep its live show fresh.

“When we began, we were petrified of our audience,” Miller said. “Just now have we started to open our eyes and look around. We’ve gotten comfortable interacting with our audience, and all the smoke and mirrors disappeared. We want to rebuild some smoke and mirrors, maybe literally with this installation.”

The band may not play a single show in 2012 after wrapping up a tour of Canada in February — another unique quirk, the Low Anthem jumped at the chance to play Edmonton, Saskatoon and Quebec City in the dead of winter. The group may never tour again, although Miller says that’s unlikely.

“The goal is to spend the year on all-new projects,” Miller said. “If these projects go smoothly, we might be out on the road next year.”

Then Miller laughed.

“If we run into the problems ... well, who knows what will happen?” he added. “I know I just need to get back to working with my hands, back to building something.”

The Low Anthem, at the Somerville Theatre, tonight. Tickets: $19;


Thursday, October 20, 2011

More on Warhol Self-Portrait

Is That Warhol Fake? Even His Foundation Isn't Sure


How can you tell if an Andy Warhol silkscreen is the real thing or a fake? Even the Pop master's own art foundation has given up trying to tell the difference.
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts said Wednesday that in coming months it plans to shut down its authentication board—the only independent arbiter of the legitimacy of Warhol works that turn up on the art market.
The six members of the authentication board, which include museum curators from San Francisco and Denver, will issue rulings for its remaining caseload of about 175 possible Warhols before closing up shop for good, said Michael Straus, chairman of the foundation's board.
[WARHOL]Nick Rhodes
Joe Simon, who sued over his purported Warhol "Self-Portrait," above.
Mr. Straus said a recent string of costly legal disputes with collectors contesting the board's findings influenced the board's decision to give up its role as the "final word" on the late artist's creative output.
One of the highest-profile disputes involved a London filmmaker, Joe Simon, who sued the board four years ago after it refused to vouch for his purported Warhol "Self-Portrait."
By the time Mr. Simon dropped his suit last November, the artist's foundation had spent more than $7 million defending the board's ruling, with help from major law firms like Boies, Schiller & Flexner.
With the authentication board winding down, the roughly $500,000 a year it spent on travel and research expenses will be reallocated. Mr. Straus said the foundation plans to devote more of its efforts and money to making arts grants. It has already spent more than $206 million on such grants since its founding in 1987, three months after Warhol's death.
"We'd rather our money go to artists, not lawyers," Mr. Straus added.
Beginning Thursday, collectors who unearth a possible Warhol will need to seek out a Warhol scholar of their own, or consult the artist's official record of known works logged in the foundation's archives. Auction houses and Warhol-savvy dealers also can appraise and vouch for the legitimacy of works, but they may have a financial interest in finding them genuine.
Jose Mugrabi, a major dealer and collector who owns at least 800 Warhols, called the board's dissolution "totally irresponsible." He said there are still "hundreds" of Warhols in existence that have yet to be tracked down and authenticated by scholars. He said at least 100 of the Warhols before the board now belong to him.
"I have to sit down," Mr. Mugrabi said when informed of the board's vote. "They have an obligation to finish their job."
Auction-house specialists from Sotheby's and Christie's were more sanguine. Sotheby's expert Tobias Meyer said he will simply resell works that are already logged in the archival records. Brett Gorvy, an expert at Christie's, part of Christie's International PLC, said any fakes that roll onto the marketplace in coming months "will be easy to spot."
In part because high Warhol prices can feed the frenzy for other contemporary artists, collectors and dealers have long paid close attention to his prices. The Pittsburgh-born artist created about 8,000 paintings and sculptures between 1952 and his death in 1987, and they turn up at auction so consistently— about 200 works a year—that they have become a bellwether for the entire $25 billion art market.
Four years ago, a collector paid Christie's a record $71.7 million for a 1963 work, "Green Car Crash." Last year, about $337 million of Warhols changed hands at auction—more than just about any artist aside from Pablo Picasso, whose auction tally for the year topped $385.4 million, according to Artnet, a New York firm that tracks auction sales.
Mr. Simon, the filmmaker with the rejected Warhol, said he "isn't surprised by" the board's dissolution but hasn't decided whether to seek other Warhol scholars to vouch for his silkscreen.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Camp Kinderland

Camp Kinderland
Camp Kinderland and the Kinderland Kindershule
are going to Zuccotti Park to join Occupy Wall Street.
Come with us!
Saturday, October 15th - 3:00 PM
Meet at the northwest corner of Zuccotti Park
(Church and Liberty Streets)

Look for the big yellow banner. We're planning to do some singing and hope you'll come down to add your voice. We'll have guitars and songsheets--later in the week we'll try to send a link so you can print your own.
See you Saturday, October 15th
3:00 PM
NW Corner Zuccotti Park
at Church and Liberty

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Call for Artists: Wall Street Occupennial!

Art Fag City

by Whitney Kimball on October 5, 2011 · 0 comments

Liberty Plaza general assembly meeting

Art is mobilizing! The Wall Street Occupennial is gathering proposals, volunteers, and donations in order to hold a series of art events related to Occupy Wall Street. They are currently archiving all occupation-related art projects on the Occupennial’s tumblr page, and apparently an upcoming exhibition will take place outdoors, across from the New York Stock Exchange.