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Dear Mom,

Sorry I haven’t called in a while, I’ve been super busy.  This weekend three art fairs come to town!  Frieze, Felix and Spring Break. You remember me telling you about art fairs?  Well, basically they’re a temporal point of cultural convergence in the world, the center of gravity so great that light actually bends around the contours of the structure that was erected just to house all that artwork and people for the weekend. 

Wednesday night I heard from a friend that they were coming to town from New York, so I decided I better get it together and buy a ticket so I don’t miss out on seeing them and all the paintings.  The ticket was $95 dollars for a day pass!  Can you believe that?  That’s what I pay for my car insurance every month. I think I’m gonna use the birthday money you sent me to pay for it, so thanks for that.

Frieze was in Beverly Hills this year, but the first year I went, 2019, it was at Paramount Pictures Studio.  Pretty wild stuff, there are movie sets in the back that look like the streets of old New York City.  Artists actually built installations inside the sets then.  Something about it reminded me of the book by Nathanael West called “The Day of the Locust”.  I won’t spoil it for you and I think there’s even a movie about it,  but in one scene he was looking for someone he lost while on a Hollywood movie set.  The description of his panic as he ran through the various sets was timeless.  It’s a brilliant scene and exposes the artifice, I mean the fakeness of it all.  You know what I mean, like when you love something so dearly, but then one day you realize it’s all based on an unspoken agreement that it should exist?  The main reason it does is because of an insane amount of labor and coordination and some duplicity.  Well maybe a lot of that, it’s up to you decide, I guess. 

I had to park really far away and got to walk through Rodeo Drive, everyone was taking pictures and carrying Louis Vuitton bags.  So nice.  I got to the fair finally and made my way into the place and it immediately hit me that I was about to be around a lot of people, I mean, it’s been two years basically and I’ve only really seen my cats and some friends.  I remember being excited when I bought the ticket.  I wanted to see art, to see the type of things that I remember seeing before, like in museums, you know?  The idea of what art is to me, I wanted that to be met this weekend, so the immense vessel emptied by pandemic isolation could be filled again.  I know, I can be dramatic.  How are your cats doing, by the way?

Also, it was like, well, I also wanted to be seen, my image.  I wanted it to be bouncing around the hall of mirrors in everyone’s consciousness in that moment, walking around in and out of the booths, art objects being conflated with the complexity of human beings.  There were around 100 galleries, spaced strategically in little compartments.  Imagine walking around in a Peter Halley painting and you might understand how it was.  At first very seductive, yet it’s impossible not to imagine the horror of being trapped in it. I noticed really fast that the whole place was shaking, like it was built on wood palettes.  Remember those from when you were loading trucks for that moving company for all those years?

These types of events can be overwhelming and you really have to filter out a lot because of the visual overload.  If you were here and saw all the paintings you totally would have said, “what is all this s*!t?...Oh neat, look at all the little hairs on Takashi Murakami’s legs. Is that a butthole on his head? I get that art’s an investment for sure, but why these particular paintings”? I don’t know the answer to that, Mom, but take pictures, because most of this stuff will look way better on your phone, in fact I think it’s made with that in mind. I mean, it’s hard not to try and make sense of it because that’s what our brains do, they develop patterns and an illusion of continuity based on each of our own limited experience of moving through all this.  My lived experience as an artist has developed into a value system that sometimes I feel proud of, it’s always changing and growing.  I tried to graft that on top of what I was seeing but it didn’t fit.  There was a noticeable incongruity so I stopped trying, otherwise I would have just got really angry and left, but I wanted to see painting so I just kept going through it lol.

The most amazing thing I saw was a Terry Winters painting in Matthew Mark’s booth. The palette, the colors all operated in tandem to project an incredible.  It was a real painting, everything made sense and I was transfixed because finally, I got to see a painting that showed me a system, but it also showed me who I am and in a way, showed me the image of myself broken down into pieces, a mitochondrial crawling on and within the surface of our sun.  I guess it was kinda like what I imagine the interior of my body looks like, but without contours, an endlessness down to the microscopic level, all the parts imbued and buffed with a painterly incandescence.  The armature of his work seems to be the thought process, self generating and deconstructing in subsequent paintings all within the umbrella of infinite horizons. He’s a special painter. 

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Terry Winters @ Matthew Marks Gallery @ Frieze LA

I was studying the timing of a Liam Gillick piece when I looked over my shoulder to see a man staring at me.  He had a camera and it took a second but I realized he was standing next to two women dressed in latex, Botox city, who wanted to take a picture next to a painting.  I don’t remember which one, but it was neon colored with a word painted on it.  I think they probably wanted to upload it to instagram because their followers like it, which translates into a presence on the algorithm. I think it’s called thirst trapping, something like that.  Wow, if only the artist knew lol.  I don’t really like that kind of stuff because it makes me feel the same as when I eat too much sugar, regretful and worried about my health.  Maybe I'm too overprotective of my brain and it’s delicate system of interconnectedness, but I want to protect it from certain things that are corrosive and empty, like sugar or high fructose corn syrup.  It’s appealing but ultimately gets stored as fat and will kill you over time.

After I walked away, I looked down at my finger and it was bleeding!  I got all excited about looking good for the fair and had cut my thumbnail too short earlier in the day. I was picking at it the whole time, so maybe it’s my fault that I caused it to bleed.  It wouldn’t stop and I was embarrassed because my image was bouncing around the consciousness of so many people and now I had a bloody thumb.  What’s more is that it got on my shirt sleeve too, damnit, and it was my only nice white shirt I have.  I bought it on sale when Topman went out of business in 2019.  I finally got the nerve to wear it and now it’s a bloody rag.  I basically just got to the fair too, so I was in trouble!  Ok, I'm exaggerating a little bit, it just got on my sleeve, so don’t worry.  I went to the bathroom to get some toilet paper to compress it and stop the bleeding and stood in the hallway for a while away from everyone.  I leaned back against the wall, only it wasn’t a wall, it was a fake wall, like an armature of wood or metal that had a sheet stretched over it, the whole long hallway!  I almost fell backwards through it but thankfully nobody saw me lol. 

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Mindy Shapero @ Nino Mier Gallery booth @ Frieze LA

I went to see some more and on recommendation found Mindy Shapero’s paintings in Nino Mier’s booth.  They were gorgeous, radiant paintings, a chandelier’s dance of causality, chain-linking across the flat surface, concentrically developing outward toward and beyond the edge.  They suggest the importance and persistence of our infinite, subjective cellular decadence and they moved me well beyond the confines of my limited frame.  The meticulously layered paintings of Ray Yoshida immediately came to mind, although the light and organization were very different. Oh and a part of a poem I memorized by Nabakov came to mind too:

I can’t tell you how
I knew - but I did now that I had crossed
The border. Everything I loved was lost
But no aorta could report regret.
A sun of rubber was convulsed and set;
And blood-black nothingness began to spin
a system of cells interlinked within
Cells interlinked within cells interlinked
Within one stem. And dreadfully distinct
Against the dark, a tall white fountain
Played.

At that point, I had begun to lose track of my location within the organization of the space and I was seeing the same people over and over again.  Mostly the person not wearing a mask and the woman in a pink dress that was hovering and mechanical, snapping pictures randomly.  All the smells and people and work began to meld into one amorphous datamosh and it was at that point my brain told me, “Jesus Christ get me out of here”.  It was an involuntary mental interjection and I absolutely listened to it. I walked my way back .7 miles to my car through Rodeo Drive and to the parking garage where I used the bathroom.  I reached down to discover my zipper was unzipped the entire time.   

Love, Keith

P.S.  Do me a favor and stay out of the ocean for a while.  I just saw on the news that a man was eaten alive by a shark off the coast of Australia.  I know, I know, it’s far away from you but you know how I am. It was a really horrific video though, the man was bitten in half and the shark jumped out of the water and landed on top of him to finish the job.  I wonder if it smelled blood in the water?

You can check out the fair online at:


https://www.frieze.com/fairs/frieze-los-angeles
https://felixfair.com/
https://www.springbreakartshow.com/


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