Another local history

Five years ago tonight some of the folks here at TGW got together  for an event in Washington D.C..  I had an opening at the Corcoran Gallery of Art.  While planning the exhibition I noticed this odd thing.  The opening was to fall on the 10th anniversary of the death of the American artist Donald Judd.  Since a small part of the exhibition involved a piece inspired by a trip to Judd’s compound in Texas, I decided to memorialize the moment.  To sponsor a tribute, if you will.

Sadly, Donald Judd was struck down while still quite young,  at the age of 66 from Lymphoma, on February 12th, 1994, while still at the very top of his game.  Richard Serra, perhaps the “world’s greatest living sculptor,” writing in the summer issue of Artforum 1994, called his death “a great shock.”   He had only been diagnosed in October of 1993.

My understanding of Judd’s work, and the work of his contemporaries, took a radical turn  during the summer of 2001.  Farrell Fawcett, Dave B. and I made the artworld roadtrip to Marfa Texas to see what all the talk was about.  Perhaps like many people, I has gone there a skeptic, and had returned a believer.

Seeing his work, and taking in the scope of his ambition, in that harsh desert, was very penetrating.  The New York TImes critic Roberta Smith, who worked for the artist in the early 1970s, once cracked in print that in Marfa, Judd was a “god in residence.”

He must have had an ego the size of all Texas to do what he did.  And while his dealer, Leo Castelli once said, “Mr. Judd was a man almost entirely lacking in a sense of humor,” I’d like to imagine that perhaps that wasn’t completely true.  The fantastically funny American painter John Wesley was Judd’s best friend.  And he allowed the artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen  to put up a really funny “Monument to the American West” on the grounds at Marfa.

The tribute was planned in the Fall of 2003 while walking around Chelsea one day looking at art with Dave and TGW fan Bacon.  I had read somewhere that Judd liked bagpipe music, and would listen to it on occasion.  This seemed so strange and interesting.  So I had decided to hire a bagpipe player. Walking around that day,  we happened to run into Ms. Smith, from the Times (strangely in an exhibition of John Wesley’s paintings at the old Fredericks & Freiser space.)  I asked her if Judd really loved bagpipe music and she responded “yes because it had no correlative.”  When she told me this she leaned into that word a little, correlative.  And then she added, “You know like Beethoven is about  . . . nature or something.”  She inflected this remark with a kind of dismissive tone that was funny, and sharp, and interesting. When I mentioned toasting with scotch she remarked “make sure it’s single malt.”

Judd was really about the singular essences of things.  Tools, Art, Ideas, Living Arrangements, Music and Liquor.  It’s a really fine set of ideals.  Although perhaps a little heavy handed at times.  To kind of remake Judd’s legacy a bit, to play with it, I decided to align it with one of my other cultural heroes, Joseph Smith.

I don’t know that much about Scottish music, but I do know that the Mormon hymn “Praise to the Man” was originally composed to the tune of “Scotland the Brave.” So I reworked the lyrics for our event.  Substituting salvation through Jesus for salvation through art.  A typical strategy.

The night of the event Glenn Dixon who writes for the Washington City Paper showed up wearing a bright red jacket.  In his review of my exhibition he noted that I had an interest in two of America’s “high dungeon poets of exclusion” Joseph Smith and Donald Judd.  I like that phrase, “high dungeon poets” there was something very American male about both of these dudes.  Driven by inner forces to outlandish ends in a geographic and political climate that allowed white guys to do the craziest things.

Pasted up below are a couple of photos along with croppings of the invite I sent out, and a snippet of Glenn’s review.  It was a fun night five years ago.  Thanks to you for coming. And Dave, THANKS FOR FINDING THE BAGPIPE PLAYER!



40 responses to “Another local history”

  1. I’ve thought a lot about what Glenn wrote over the years and I think, as far as I can tell, it’s The Church of Good Times.

    But he was probably already a member.

  2. wow, this is one wacked out layup here.

  3. so if this comment comes out correctly, it should fall just to the left of this photo. that’s adriana’s coat and hand, bacon, dave, and the bagpipe guy.

  4. then skipping down to this photo

    Glenn, me, Dorsey & Doug.

  5. Dave says:

    This layout is wack.

  6. i think we have a “perfectly wrong” thing here.

  7. Dave says:


    That was a really fun night. I recommend hiring bagpipe players.

  8. This layout is wack

    See the deal is, the images judd-11.jpg and glenn-dixon1.jpg have class “alignright” which in your css, is defined as “float:right”; and they’re at the bottom of the post. So the stuff that follows the post — i.e. the sharing icons, the timestamp, and the comments — will trail along next to the images. If you wanted all that to be below the images you would need to put something like <div style=”clear:all”/> after the images; but that seems like more trouble than it’s worth. I kind of like the text running along next to the images, it’s visually interesting.

  9. Dave says:

    You know, I’ve never quite figured out that div clearing business.

  10. Rogan says:

    9: *swoon*

  11. alright! talkin’ shop.

  12. Jane says:

    9&12: “swoon”? More like “huh?” css jargon…bleh.

    LT: Anyone who decides to hire a bagpipe player to add texture and meaning to an event is good in my book.

  13. Rachel says:

    mmm, Bacon.

  14. LP says:

    It was a very fine night, indeed. And I loved that Glenn the writer showed up in his bright red puffy coat. Ah, I miss seeing the Twitchell shows — it’s been too long since I was in the right city at the right time!

  15. Rogan says:

    Lane, I really like the comparison of Donald Judd and Joseph Smith. Two great tastes that taste great together. And I’m sure I speak for everyone who wasn’t there at the opening when I say that I wish I was there at the opening, to see your work and to commemorate Donald Judd. Joseph Smith was such a bigger-than-life American figure, and owning his stories and life as a part of a personal cultural heritage is sort of like being related to Paul Revere (another treasure-digging lothario) — you can whip those stories out on the 4th of July like Dirk Diggler at the end of Boogie Nights. It doesn’t get any more American than that!

  16. rogan, are we FB friends?

  17. Rogan says:

    19. No, but shouldn’t that be rectified? Check your FB notices.

  18. Nutty, appropriate and outrageous, utterly heartfelt.

    These adjectives describe you well, Lanie-boy. How fitting that they should also describe a thing you put together.

  19. yeah, you’d know . . . runs in the family. and hey your dad was there! it was cool. ask him sometime about the 3 lane new york city cab style move i did taking him back to his hotel that night. i’ll never forget that, . . .

  20. Oscar says:

    Lane, are you wearing a single white glove?

  21. Natasha says:

    D. Judd was a philosopher, right? While looking through his work right now, it occurred to me that he created art, which was ontologically innocent. It was the whole point. What an amazing concept. Thanks, Lane!

  22. yes oscar and purple socks.

    Yum Natasha, yeah I guess, he studied philosophy. Is there a Judd philosoper too? I don’t know the history of philospphy.

    ontologically innocent, that sounds amazing, what do you mean.

  23. oh oscar sorry i thought that was a wise crack, upon further inspection . . . it’s probably gray wool but it does look white, sorry. it was not however, NOT studded with rhinestones!

  24. but really you should see that coat of adriana’s . . . now that’s a class act!

  25. It looks like leopard print. It must looks absolutely smashing with that olive complexion and dark, silky hair.

  26. Ginny Tonick says:

    Is it 5 o’clock yet?

  27. Natasha says:

    Lane, I just read his biography. He did have a degree in Philosophy from Columbia University School of General Studies.

    I researched “Ontological Innocence” for a friend, and wrote a series of short notes on FB using the concept to philosophically oppose Prop 8. Here is a part of my note in regards to the concept itself: “Ontological innocence was first mentioned by Plato in “Parts and wholes: The Metaphysics of Structure”, where he spoke of Monists using ontological innocence for the purposes of explaining the wholeness of matter, which angered him, because, in my opinion, he was a big follower of Parmenides (“For never shall this prevail, that things that are not are”)….”Ontological innocence” exists in opposition to “ontological commitment”, where for an assertion to exist there must be another commitment to another assertion without which the first one would not make sense, whereas ontological innocence allows for assertions to exist on their own… according to Monists, things can only be ontologically innocent, if they exist as a whole and there is no additional need for anything extra (color, for example, yellow is yellow).”

    Judd uses the concept of ontological innocence in his artwork. Each piece exists on its own with no further need for interpretation; the mere fact that it is – is its statement.

  28. PB says:

    #30 *swoon*
    not sure what it means but it reads sexy

  29. Dave says:

    Plato did not title any of his writings “Parts and wholes: The Metaphysics of Structure.”

  30. RIght, you’ve got to get back to the pre-Socratics for any serious discussion of the metaphysics of structure.

  31. thus, “things that exist, exist, and everything is on their side.”

  32. & “the simple expression of complex thought”

  33. All of my little tools disappeared. Without the little button for making a link, I have no idea how to do it.

  34. Natasha says:

    #31 :)

    #32 No, it was actually Verity Harte, who wrote that work. I did not use the correct punctuation while editing out the irrelevant to the subject parts. It should have read “by Plato…in “… Parts and wholes…”” etc. Thanks for the correction.

  35. Natasha says:

    #32 Dave, v sleduushii raz budesh’ po-russki pisat’, ya k tebe toge budu pridirat’sya :) Da i obyazatel’no k tvoey “udivitel’noy postroyke” priderus’, nado bilo sdelat’ tank, on u menya srazu po vsem stupen’kam zabralsya. Russkii umor, tanki i fizika :) Ti poluchil mou pochtu? Poshli pogaluysta otvet esli poluchil.

  36. Tim says:

    How high can a dungeon be?

  37. & then the chain break out in russian!

    can we get ilya kabakov in here.

    (lane congratulates himself on making a really sly art reference . . . he he he)