Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Hall of Fame for Great Americans - Restoration Edition

The pied piper of American decline should point his cavalcade of black Escalades with tinted windows from his 5th avenue redoubt in direction of the West Bronx campus of Bronx Community College and the Hall of Fame for Great Americans that sits at the rear of the campus.

The Hall of American greatness has not had a new induction of a great American since 1976 and has not had a bust installed since 1992.

The lack of new inductions in over forty years may have been a bellwether of American greatness' absence that the piper has successfully decried.

Standing at that dais, he could demand new busts immediately be added to the Hall as a sign of American greatness' restoration under his watch.

Artists should also create a Hall of Fame for those Americans who have been erased in the original march towards American greatness.

They should also maintain listing of busts of new inductees who are currently pending erasure as the piper initiates his grand restoration.

I will begin the later process by including in the Hall, a photoshop image that I have made of Dorothy Gale who was promised a bust by the Munchkins, a promise that has, as of now, remained unfulfilled.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Strange, Wild, Improbable Journey of the Triumph of Civic Virtue over Unrighteousness: A first reading from Howard's book length monograph Damnatio Memoriae on Saturday, Sept. 24th, 2016 at Artslope, Brooklyn

Civic Virtue among the tombstones of Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn

The site of Civic Virtue's abandoned home in Kew Gardens, Queens.

Civic Virtue's first home in City Hall Park, Manhattan.

I recited excerpts from my chapter on Frederick William MacMoinnes' The Triumph of Civic Virtue Over Unrighteousness at the Kumon Pop Up Space for the Park Slope Windsor Terrace Artist Group's participation in Artslope. To read the excerpt, please cut and paste the following link:

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Poster announcing the Artslope group exhibition published. Please join us from 9/17 to 9/25 at 575 5th Ave in Park Slope on the corner of 16th St.

I would like to thank Bob Hagan for introducing me to the broader community of local artists and for inviting me to participate in the following:

Artslope/9/17-9/25 at 575 5th Ave in Park Slope

[here is the link to the poster Bob designed:

I will also be participating in the Gowanus Open Studios, again at Bob's invitation: Brooklyn Colony, 274 4th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215, October 14-16, 2016 and

with Bob at his studio for the Park Slope Windsor Terrace Open Studios in November 2016.

Please check out Bob's work that occupies a similar patch to the Anna Pierrepont Series:

Monday, September 5, 2016

Brooklyn Daily Eagle provides quotes from my statement at the commemoration of the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument in their Sept. 5th, 2016 issue

Please check out Rob Abruzzese's discussion of the commemoration of the prison ship martyrs of the Revolutionary war that took place on Sunday, August 27th.

Mr. Abruzzese discusses my remarks:

'A few speakers pointed out that those who sacrificed and fought in the war actually led similar lives to those who live in the area today. Of course, day-to-day activities are not the same, but the speeches painted a picture of people who weren’t soldiers, but rather ordinary people trying to get through their lives.

“The skateboarders [of today] experience joys and freedoms denied the earlier youth, yet the latter's untroubled abandon would not have transpired without the suffering and sacrifice of the former,” Skrill said.

“As I watch today’s youths frolic and play, I am fairly certain that had the young patriot youth been floating above the monument, he might have had the wistful desire to join them in their joyful American lives. After all, he was a child,” Skrill continued. “Having the opportunity closed to him by his sacrifice, he might have said of that sacrifice, ‘well done.’”

Monday, August 29, 2016

Strange Journey of Triumph of Civic Virtue over Unrighteousness, reading from my new pictorial monograph Damnatio Memoriae at Artslope, Saturday 9/24 at 4pm: 575 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY

Reading from my latest book length monograph Damnatio Memoriae, a survey in drawings and words of political attacks against public monuments that have been deposited their remainders throughout the art museums and public plazas of New York City. I will read publicly for the first time excerpts from the work concerning the incredible journey of Frederick William MacMoinnes' the Triumph of Civic Virtue over Unrighteousness.

Securing the space where images of Civic Virtue is to be displayed and the recitation to take place is on account of the nearly tireless efforts of members of the Park Slope Windsor Terrace Artists Artists Group, which I have recently joined. The artist group will be exhibiting in an empty storefront on 5th avenue in Brooklyn during the entirety of Artslope. I invite all attendees to my reading to also explore the work of my fellow PSWT artists.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

My remarks on the 240th anniversary of the Battle of Brooklyn at the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument 108th celebration in Fort Greene Park Brooklyn, August 27th, 2016

Thanks to the Society of Old Brooklynites for offering me a place on the dais to reflect on the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument on August 27th, 2016. I include the remarks and a link to the video.

My remarks begin at 6 and one half minutes in.

I would like to thank the Society of Old Brooklynites for inviting me to speak today and Michael Spinner, the organizer of this event, the Society’s president George Broadhead and Holly Fuchs for this invitation.

On this late August day, we gather on a battlefield of the revolution with patriot graves just behind us. In his first inaugural address in 1861, Abraham Lincoln stood at a dais like this one and stared over a sea of celebrants gathering in the early moments of the Civil War. He evoked the mystic chords of memory that stretched from revolutionary war battlefields and patriot graves to swell the chorus of the Union. If we close our eyes and listen for a moment, can we hear the chorus?

I teach art at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights and have been working for the past five years on drawing New York City's public monuments, including the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument, for my project, the Anna Pierrepont Series. I then combined the drawings with essays that explore how public monuments function to compel or bury memory in the public square.

My work concerns, in drawings and words, how or indeed if the monuments scattered through our physical environment strum memory’s mystic chords and ‘swell its choruses’.

My current book length project is damnatio memoriae, which concerns the destruction of public monuments for political reasons. Damnatio memoriae includes dozens of on-site drawings of remainders from these attacks that have been deposited throughout the art museums and public plazas of New York City.

My last major work 'HMS Jersey' was exhibited and recited at St. Francis in 2015 and is to be published in War, Literature and the Arts. I quote a 19th century plea that was included in HMS Jersey.

“there ought to be raised a Colossal Column whose base sinking to Hell, should let the murderers read their infamy inscribed upon it; and whose capital of Corinthian laurel ascending to Heaven, should show the sainted Patriots that they have triumphed”

This column arose from these word to continue the binding of the American union to Revolutionary war battlefields and patriot graves.

In my pictorial essay 'Erasure' that was published in the literary magazine 'Newfound: Art and Place in 2014, I described my drawing of the Prison Ship Martyrs Memorial in the late fall of that year. I wrote that I made a drawing of this monument while "Skateboarders alternated between practicing tricks and hanging out at the base of the monument".

In 'HMS Jersey', I also mention the odd coincidence that two skating rinks had once been constructed over two major battlefields from the Battle of Brooklyn.

The young skateboarders practiced tricks on the stairs of the monument on that blustery day. I remember them careening down the stairs, attempting to maintain balance, but more often than not, falling to the ground to the amusement of their friends. They would spring up from their falls and with the durability and energy of youth grab their skateboards and try over and over again to successfully ride the steps to the bottom. 

A young farm hand perhaps in tattered broadcloth standing on a ridgeline just south of here on this day in 1776 must have possessed similar youthful energy, and joked with his buddies as troops from the world’s most powerful empire were descending upon him before dragging him in defeat past his fallen brothers on the field of battle to confinement in the hull of the Jersey.

This young man then witnessed his youth disappear as he passed the hours of his short life within the dank, dark and squalid belly of the Jersey, before ultimately giving, what Lincoln so eloquently described in Gettysburg as, 'the last full measure of devotion'. The skateboarders in 2014 experienced joys and freedoms denied this earlier youth and yet his suffering is the foundation of their happiness. The latter's untroubled abandon would not have transpired without the suffering and sacrifice of the former.

As I watched these youths frolic and play, I was fairly certain that they did so with only a dim awareness of the remains of that young farmhand and his brothers beneath their wheels and do not see their lives as intersecting with those of an anonymous youngster who traded the pleasures of youth for self-sacrifice.

The skateboarders' ability to partake of life's bounty was a direct consequence of the young patriot's choice to forgo these pleasures and take upon himself unspeakable suffering before being cast from life's mortal coil.

This is the world we live in, we stroll, dance, romance, eat, sing and yes skateboard if we are fortunate enough to live in a world where the call to sacrifice is a dim echo. Lincoln was urging his listeners to remember the patriots such as our young farmhand, whose sacrifice resulted in the Union that they were being urged to defend and that we, 240 years hence celebrate with dancing, singing and yes skateboarding.

I ask again, do you hear the chorus?

This commemoration is an attempt to attach, ever briefly, the bounty of the skateboarders to the sacrifice of the young patriot. What if, upon the day I made this drawing, the patriot youth had been floating above the monument and observing those skateboarders.

He may have felt the wistful desire to join them in their joyful American lives but having that opportunity foreclosed by his sacrifice, he most certainly would have said to himself of that sacrifice 'well done'.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

My drawing of a bust of Edward Snowdon at Brooklyn Museum recorded in Blog post:

Rheaa Rao, a journalist who I have collaborating with, has posted a montage of an on-site drawing that I created of a bust of Edward Snowdon on display at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in winter 2016.

Ms. Rao has been assisted by Daniela Castro and Johanna Chisholm

The bust, Prison Ship Martyrs Monument 2.0, was created by Andrew Tider and Jeff Greenspan among others.

Ms. Rao, Castro and Chisholm have recounted the extraordinary saga of the bust's journey from being installed by the artists for less than a day in Fort Greene Park in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. The bust was removed from the Park by the New York City Parks and Police departments. It was recovered by the artists in a high profile legal proceeding and is currently installed in an exhibition entitled 'agitprop' at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

I have been drawing the bust and the bust's absence for my newest project for the Anna Pierrepont Series and discussing the work, along with Rheaa, with the artists.

The events surrounding the whiplash journey of the bust have exposed some of the most profound issues of our age, which I am exploring in words and drawings in my latest project.

Thanks to Rheaa, Daniela, Johanna, Andrew and Jeff and all the others who are advocating for the ideas that been swirling around the bust's creation and reception.