November-December 2014 … The Global Online Magazine of Arts, Information & Entertainment … Volume 10, Number 6
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Posts from — February 2012

Martin Stavars/Photography

Martin Stavarz© Martin Stavars

The Ghosts of the Millenium, London, UK, 2009


Four Corners 

of a Photographer’s World

Interview with Michael Foldes

Ragazine: Where do you call home, these days, and where is your studio?

Martin Stavars: I live in London now. It’s a great starting point for journeys to anywhere in the world: thanks to two international airports nearby, you can travel to nearly every corner of the world, which allows you to plan any trip freely. I’m also working here on a large project – one, that I’ve been carrying out longer than any other. However, I only spend my time working on it and taking photographs when the conditions are perfect, which is a luxury you can’t always have when you’re on another continent and your time is limited.

Q: When and how did you get involved with photography? Did you start out working for an agency, or another photographer?

A: I’ve never worked commercially and I don’t do commissioned assignments. I do everything just for myself and I don’t think that will ever change. Photography has always been a passion of mine, which allowed me to find the meaning of life and fulfill every idea, even the most unreal ones. Of course, I do cooperate with galleries and agencies, but only in terms of print copies – not commissions for specific photos.

Q: Who or what would you say has been your principal motivator to take pictures? I see from your site that landscapes draw you in, but why not paint them?

A: My first inspirations were sea landscapes, made by one of the lesser-known Polish photographers. However, my photos captured something completely different: mostly urban landscapes. It wasn’t until later that I’ve gotten down to nature and by photographing the sea and mountains I gained experience and explored photography, mostly in its’ technical aspect.

Q: Do you have a formal education in art, design or photography that you bring to a session, or are you self-taught?

A: I studied in Warsaw School of Photography, which was an important turning point for my approach to photography. During Marian Schmidt’s lectures (who himself comes from the school of humanistic photographers, such as Cartier-Bresson and Doisneau) I was inspired to embrace a different way of working and perceiving the photographed scene. That’s when I got to know such classics in photography as Kertesz, Atget and Ansel Adams. I realized then, what an important role people play in terms of photography. And even though people aren’t the main focus of my work, they remain an important addition and are a great challenge for me.

Q: What kind of camera(s) do you favor, and why?

A: At this point I use Canon 5dkmII and Hasselblad 503cw. However, if I could, I would use a smaller camera, since in the photography I prefer my main activity is not taking photos – it’s looking for a specific frame. When I was in cities like Tokyo or Shanghai I used to walk up to several kilometers in search of interesting places. So the less equipment I have to carry on me, the better, because I can see more.


Martin Stavars / Photography

I’ve always been fascinated by landscapes – places that are absolutely desolate, where I can stay one on one with nature. For me, the growing joy right before pressing the shutter button as well as the possibility of interacting with the world filled with inspiration is as important as the creative act itself. This initial fascination has rapidly grown into obsession that eventually took control over my life.


Q: When you’re still shooting film,  how much do you manipulate in the darkroom? Do you scan and work digitally after the fact? What papers do you like to print on?

A: I don’t develop or scan films myself, I leave that to the professionals, since in the end my photos are printed on a wide format printer Epson 11800. I have two favorite types of paper: Hahnemuhle Fine Art Pearl and Fine Art Baryta, which I use for 40×40 inch printouts.

Q: Do you also enjoy shooting fashion? portraits? musicians? products?

A: I virtually don’t do any other photos than the ones connected with my projects. Even my wife can’t persuade me to take photos during vacation or family parties. Nowadays it’s very easy to take photos of everything – you can just pull out your mobile phone and snap a photo. But in many ways it deprives the moment of its peculiar magic. When I’m working on my photos, I feel like I’m being transferred to another world. When I finally find the right frame, I feel a huge adrenaline rush and I become focused just on that – it’s a wonderful moment for me.

Q: What photographers do you admire, and whom would you most like to work with?

A: There are a few photographers from the 19th and 20th century, whose work I admire and who make me want to go back in time to the places, where the photos were taken. Thanks to websites like, that popularize photos in high definition, you can get absorbed in every detail and literally almost feel what was life like a hundred years ago.

Q: What’s the most remarkable aspect for you in being a photographer?

A: My three biggest passions are photography, travels and skyscrapers and so it happens, that I managed to combine all three. I’m currently observing the development of over a hundred different buildings in countries like China, Korea, Emirates or Malaysia. Some of them I have already taken photos of, others are still waiting for their turn. So I keep on travelling around the world, taking photos of skyscrapers and I’m damn happy :).

Q: What has been your favorite shooting location? What made it so?

A: Hong Kong and Shanghai are my favorite places. They are like a photographical Mecca: tradition intertwines with modernity; street craftsmen working in the shadow of 300-metre buildings is an everyday view. For an outsider almost every street, signboard or a man passing by on a bike is fascinating. The specific smell of incense, dry fish and adjacent bars contributes to the atmosphere. I plan on going back to China in year 2012. This time I want to visit Chongqing, a metropolis with almost 30 million citizens, that lies in an amazing confluence of the rivers Jangcy and Jialing Jiang.

Q: Do you have any anxiety/caution about setting up to shoot in some of the exotic locations you’ve been to?

A: A large part of my portfolio consists of night photography. While taking photos like that, there is always a certain risk of encountering people who don’t mean well. However, luckily, I’ve never had any trouble with that. Actually it’s the opposite: when people see a set up tripod, they mostly react in a positive way. Of course, you always have to be careful, but most of the time the locals have a friendly attitude.


This interview with Martin Stavars was conducted via e-mail in late 2011. Since then, Stavars was awarded 1st place in the category Cityscapes-nonpro at International Photography Awards, for his 2011 series: “Megalopolis: Tokyo”.

For more information or to contact the photographer:




February 27, 2012   Comments Off on Martin Stavars/Photography

Avett Brothers/Music

A Short Thought on Pre-reviewing

By Jeff Katz
Music Editor

My kids have been surrounded by music their whole lives and, as they grew into their teens, I couldn’t have been more pleased to expose them to my record and CD collections. Of course, they would get schooled in The Beatles, Dylan, Springsteen, and, thankfully, they fell instantly in love. They also learned about Biggie, The Hives and Arctic Monkeys from a father probably a little too old for that sort of stuff.

These days, it’s a two-way street and Joey, the youngest at 16, is both a fine musician and a musical connoisseur with exquisite taste. He was the one who dragged me to see The Avett Brothers in September. It was an outdoor show at Cooperstown’s Brewery Ommegang, a few weeks after I had major back surgery, but he wanted to see the show and I wasn’t going to tell him no. Did I mention it was pouring? I mean buckets.

I was skeptical. I’d heard good things about the band, but I have an intrinsic aversion to bands with “brothers’ in their name. It goes back to the Allmans, I guess. The Avetts, The Felices, they all seem the same to me. Except The Everlys. I love The Everly Brothers.

The Avetts were truly spectacular. Their quirks and tics and verbal outbursts exuded a slight mentally challenged vibe. All their mannerisms were put to good effect. Cellist Joe Kwon looked like an evil Mongol extra from a bad Genghis Khan movie. I was happy to have seen the show. Afterwards, the parking lot was a muddy morass and, to add squelching insult to the soggy injury of the evening, we got stuck. We weren’t alone. Happily, college kids are young, strong and willing to do goofy things for fun; packs of them were gleefully pushing cars out. We took full advantage of their services. The road never felt so good, but it was worth it.

Since that night I’ve been hooked on Scott and Seth. They have a delicately sweet sensitivity that teeters on the edge of cloying but doesn’t quite cross the line. They have a new album in the offing, scheduled for a spring release, and I can hardly wait. The Avetts have exploded in popularity, with their last, I and Love and You, breaking into the Top 20, and that’s good. It was a long slog for this band to get anywhere. Someone closely connected to their career told me this summer that it used to be impossible for them to get heard, that they were too raw and unappealing. Not anymore.

It’s odd to write in advance of an album. Usually I’d wait until it was time for a review, but I got to thinking about anticipation and how that relates to reality. I don’t get too excited these days about upcoming releases. When I was younger I marked my calendar by what was coming out. I wanted certain records on Day One and can very much remember buying McCartney’s Back to the Egg, George Harrison’s eponymous 1979 release and Dylan’s Shot of Love immediately upon release. How much my appraisal of those records was distorted by my enthusiasm is obvious to me now. I still love them all, but with a more honest ear.

So, let’s see how this one plays out. I believe The Avett Brothers did “The Once and Future Carpenter” live. That song is slated for the new album. Will it sound as good as I remember it? You’ll have to check in later for the answer.





February 27, 2012   Comments Off on Avett Brothers/Music

Adeel Halim / Street Photographer

©2011 Adeel Halim

A dhobhi bathes inside a wash pen filled with soap water.

©2011 Adeel Halim

Shadow of a dhobhi falls on a clothing as he washes clothes along with other dhobhis. Around 200 dhobi families work together here.

©2011 Adeel Halim

A man washes clothes.


Dhobhi Ghat

Life at the World’s Largest Laundromat

A unique feature of Mumbai, the dhobhi is a traditional laundryman, the “laundries” are called “ghats”. The word Dhobhi Ghat is used all over India to refer to any place where many washers are present. The most famous of these Dhobhi Ghats is at Saat Rasta (seven roads) near Mahalaxmi Station in Mumbai, which is also termed as the world largest outdoor laundry.

If you send your clothes for a wash in Mumbai, India, chances are good that they’ll end up here at the Dhobhi Ghat. But you won’t find any machines here. Close to two hundred dhobhis and their families wash clothes by hand in row upon row of concrete wash pens, each fitted with its own flogging stone. The clothes are soaked in sudsy water, thrashed on the flogging stones, then tossed into huge vats of boiling starch and hung out to dry. Next they are ironed and piled into neat bundles.

Dhobhi Ghat is a popular tourist destination amongst foreign and Indian tourists visiting Mumbai.


Adeel Halim / Street Photographer


Photographing at the laundries

I had been to the Dhobhi Ghat several times and always wanted to do a photo story, but I kept postponing or did not feel it was important to photograph. This time, I felt I must do it before the place is renovated or broken down.

I always liked photographing people at work, and any kind of activity that involves many people doing the same things attracts my attention. There are hundreds of dhobis [laundrymen] washing clothes all day long. I realized that there was nowhere else in the world where people would be washing clothes the way they wash at Dhobhi Ghat and as a photographer and a resident of Mumbai, I felt I must document it.

It is very vibrant and active place with different jobs being done at different times of the day. Laundry men begin work at about 4 a.m. and finish late at night. There are also a lot of interesting things around the Dhobhi Ghat: One can easily notice the contrast of slums and high-rise apartments, there are small restaurants, a fish market and in the evenings the street gets very crowded and noisy with local shoppers and traffic.

I went there four or five times at different times of the day to get the different moods of the place. I think the best time to visit is early morning, when the laundry men are beating clothes against concrete washing pens.

People were more than happy to be photographed and I don’t remember anybody showing any reluctance. I move around with my camera that is visible, and in India people notice cameras very easily. Also, in India people are fine to be photographed as long as they think you are not cheating them or demeaning them.

-Adeel Hailm


Adeel Halim

Before Adeel Halim started to take photography seriously, he got a law degree from the Government Law College in Mumbai, India. He didn’t follow up on becoming a lawyer, though. Instead, Halim started working as a photojournalist for Reuters. But after a few years, Halim got itchy feet. He left the news wire to pursue street photography — the art of candid photos of everyday people. Although Halim travels extensively and works for Bloomberg News and The New York Times, his home base is still in India, where he finds no end of exciting subjects for his work. Halim’s latest project, documenting Mumbai’s Dhobhi Ghat, or open laundry, combines his love of street photography with his background in photojournalism to illustrate a cultural custom that may well be threatened by advancing technology.

For more on Adeel Halim’s work, visit


Want to visit Mumbai? Information here:

Wkimedia Commons



February 27, 2012   Comments Off on Adeel Halim / Street Photographer

Art: From Down Under


Injalak exhibit, Melbourne

Images from Injalak

Since 2005 indigenous artists from Injalak Arts and Crafts Association have focused strongly on the ancient rock art site of Injalak Hill, in a series of printmaking projects in collaboration with Melbourne based artist and printmaker Andrew Sinclair. This exhibition brings together three print projects that have taken place since 2008. Located to the east of Gunbalanya(Oenpelli) in Arnhem Land, Injalak Hill contains rock art estimated to be over 40,000 years old, and its imagery is of immense cultural and spiritual significance to the Aboriginal people of the area. It is also a protected site and today the majority of artists choose to transfer their djang (dreaming stories) to surfaces other than rock – such as bark, or in the case of this series of images – steel etching plates. Many of these images have been created in situ within the spectacular rock art galleries of Injalak Hill, artists working with sugarlift etching materials directly onto the steel plates. The rusting and corrosion of plates adds textural richness and depth when printed, mimicking the variegated surface of the rock walls and evoking the natural ochres and pigments used. The resulting works resonate with the power and dynamism of these timeless images – re-interpreted through contemporary eyes.

-Marguerite Brown
Exhibition Curator

Showing at the James Makin Gallery

March 1 – 24th, 2012


James Makin Gallery


The exhibition features etchings by Kalarriya ‘Jimmy’ Namarnyilk the result of a specific project with the Artist and Printmaker Andrew Sinclair. Belonw, Andrew Sinclair goes into detail about
the story behind these powerful works.

Kgernalk (Black Ibis)

Three Etchings made by Kalarriya ‘Jimmy’ Namarnyilk

The etching plates where made in July 2011, at Kalarriya’s house in Oenpelli, West Arnhemland in the Northern Territory.

He was overlooking Arrkuluk, A sacred Hill next to the Community of Oenpelli that is a ceremony site for initiation of young men. As Jimmy painted he spoke of this ceremony and his importance of being a leading and senior figure in his community.

Jimmy painted three etching plates. He started with white paint directly onto the steel surface with a brush. Gavin Namarnyilk (family Member) explained that the steel was like rock (kunwardde). The steel rusts and weathers just like the local sand stone rock that the ancestor’s (nayuhyungkih) of Jimmy and Gavin’s have painted on for thousands of years.

The white paint on the steel captures the first brush marks that form a stencil, a white area that he then paints the important Rarrk. Rarrk is the line work that is typical of the western stone country rock art. It is the red parallel lines that hold spiritual connection for the Kunwinjku people.

For the etching Jimmy paints the red lines over the top of the white stencil. For the printmaking process this is done on another piece of steel, the same size so when printed over the top mimics the process of the rock art painting, white paint then red paint.

The red plate is then etched with acid. Only where Jimmy has painted is where the acid eats away at the surface as the other area of the steel is protected. The image is etched millimeters into the steel surface. The etched surface is similar to the red paint on the rock, as the traditional red paint is a hematite, a red iron rich rock. It is soaked into the sand stone staining the image into the surface of the rock shelters.

Kalarriya has a very distinct style and used black in areas of his image. He used a finger and brush to make the dotted marks. The 3rd steel plate holding these black marks is printed last over the image.

The process of printing is done by hand, the etched plates are inked up by scraping ink along the surface. It is then cleaned off with Tarlatan and paper so the top surface is cleaned and holds no ink. The etched lines that are indented from the surface hold the ink.

The inked up piece of steel is then put through a press, which is two rollers that squeeze the paper into the indented lines that hold the ink. Transferring the ink from the steel to the paper, this is done for each color.


Mimi, etching, edition: 20, 55 x 33 cm

According to the Kunwinjku people of western Arnhem Land, mimi spirits were the original spirit beings, who taught Aboriginal people many of the skills they needed to survive in the

bush. They also taught aspects of ceremony. Mimi spirits are believed to inhabit the rocky escarpments around Gunbalanya but because they are extremely timid, they are rarely seen by humans. They are frequently depicted in the rock art of Arnhem Land as small, dynamic figures, often shown with a range of hunting tools such as spears, spear throwers, dilly bag and fire stick.

The mimi painted by Kalarriya is painted with Rawk, red parallel lines. This is unique to the Kunwinjku people. It defines cultural importance and definition of family groups. It indicates the spiritual connection to land titles and the natural and supernatural connection to the environment.

The term x-ray art was originally coined because many of the Oenpelli paintings of figures, animals, birds and fish, reveal the internal organs heart, lungs, intestinal canal and spinal column were often clearly shown.

Incredible ancient examples exist in the unique escarpment country of Oenpelli. The paintings are an informing guide to the people of today in art and cultural practices. The x-ray style shows great observational drawing and anatomical understanding. The magpie goose has Rarrk through out its body an indicator of its flesh and connection to country.

Nygalod (rainbow serpent), etching, edition: 20, 55 x 33 cm

 The serpent is a fundamental Djang (dreaming) to the Kunwinjku people. Ngalyod has both powers of creation and destruction and is most strongly associated with the monsoon season, bodies of water and waterfalls, and rainbows. Kalarriya normally paints Ngalyod with a trapped female figure, as it inhabits deep permanent sacred water holes awaking to swallow bininj (aborigines) to punish them for wrong doing.

It gets its name of rainbow serpent from the shimmering water that refracts the suns rays producing a rainbow effect.

In this print Ngalyod has been depicted very traditionally a style that is reminiscent of early bark paintings.

 -Andrew Sinclair

February 27, 2012   Comments Off on Art: From Down Under

Carol Dine/Poetry

Father, Flying

In the front hall
two men,
colored bars on their chests;
one fidgets with his cap
at his side
as if he’s about
to offer flowers.

Facing them,
the father feels himself disappear
into fog.

* * *

He dreams he’s flying
low across the desert;
he passes over
his son’s crib in the sand,
ladder to his tree house.
“Hey,” he calls out,

In the Charcoal Drawing

after William Flynn

a Victorian chair
has its right arm in a sling;
the left arm, an exposed humerus.

Instead of a leg,
a swollen stump, a peg
that seems to be inching
across the floor.

The sides of the hollow
back, strung together
like a cat’s cradle;
hundreds of  tiny circles
mired in black smoke.

The chair is also seatless;
no place for a body
to rest.


About the poet:

Carol Dine received a grant from the Barbara Deming/Money for Women Fund.  Her book Van Gogh in Poems was published in 2009 by the Bitter Oleander Press. Her memoir, Places in the Bone (Rutgers University Press, 2005) deals with the redemptive power of art. Recent poems appear in Aesthetica Creative Arts Annual (UK), Boulevard, Salamander, and the anthology Bending Toward Justice: Poems Against War. She teaches writing at the Massachusetts College of Art & Design, Boston.

February 27, 2012   Comments Off on Carol Dine/Poetry

Stephen Poleskie/Fiction


By Stephen Poleskie

Chapter One

(Excerpted from the novel)

The boy’s hands held a death grip on the hot, rusty iron ladder. The world below him seemed to be rolling off its normal course, spinning, things were beginning to blur. Frozen with fear, he found himself unable to go on. The blood pounding in his head had turned the green pine-covered hills around him to pink, and yellow, and red. Seen through the afternoon haze they should appear blue or gray. Aerial Perspective was what Leonardo da Vinci called this visual phenomenon in his notebooks. The boy had once thought that he wanted to be an artist, a painter; but there was no art in his town, so he had painfully worked his way through Leonardo’s text, hoping to teach himself all that he needed to know. It was in these notebooks that he had found his design for a flying machine.
A cold blast of wind rattled the water tower. Sweat coated the boy’s palms. On the ground it was a fine summer day, with only the occasional strong breeze. A sudden gust tore at the knapsack he had strapped to his back containing the fabric for the flying device, threatening to lift it free. The pack’s straps dug into the boy’s shoulders, the bundle of thin bamboo poles tied onto the bottom swaying to and fro. He hesitated. If he would be an aviator he must learn not to fear the wind.

Others have done it long before I was even born; so why not me?

Time seemed excessive, still, raw and sterile, of no use. Risking a furtive glance, the boy saw that he was higher than the hill where he lived, and where he had first tested his device from the roof of his father’s garage. Grinning into the cool sky, he began breathing normally again. He had six rungs remaining before he reached the top. There was another puff, but not as strong as before; could the wind be dying down? Glancing up he wondered what came after the ladder reached the rim. Were there handholds continuing onto the roof of the tank? He had never been up here before. Fighting his fear, the boy forced himself to climb another rung. His movement, or was it the gusting wind, caused this ancient iron structure to vibrate, its motion giving off a hum, demoniac yet singsong.

Over I’ll go and see what happens.

What curiosity had drawn the boy to the water tower? What kind of degenerate, unstable elevator had whisked him to the top floor of the building, opening opposite the dim stairway to the roof, leaving him receptive to this abnormal temptation, the highest point on the highest structure for miles around? You could never get lost in this small mill town; wherever you were, just look up and there was the water tower.

The colorless, and mildewed, door to the roof had opened on a beautiful and fantastic vista, unvisited for many months, perhaps even years. This neglected roof exposed a seam in the boy’s ambition, the sense of space, of being above it all, in touch with his hero, Leonard, in his tower, writing in reverse in his notebooks, penning ink drawings for parachutes and flying machines. The rough, mottled doorway to the stairwell was gone, melded into the wall; there could be nowhere to go except up.

Over I’ll go and see what happens.

Looking around the boy’s breathing slowed; the nearby hills had gone back to being medium blue, the ones farther beyond to a paler gray, just as Leonardo wrote they would. With apostolic zeal the boy’s purpose returned, if not his courage. Slowly, he climbed another rung, and another, and then, making a rapid spurt, the final three. Pulling himself up against the weight of his burden, the boy gazed at the pitched top of the water tower, uninhabited except for six startled gray pigeons that took flight at his emergence. With jealousy he watched them leave; what a glorious gift they enjoyed, he told himself.

If only flying were so simple for me.

Bathed in luminous midday sunlight, the slanted landscape below beckoned, but the boy still clung fast, immobile. He was unwilling to trade his grip on the last rung of the ladder to reach for the first of the handholds. Traffic went on in the streets below, a few people passing by. The small town looked unchanged, much like the old engravings that he remembered seeing in a yellowed book in the library. Were these pictures early aerial views? Perhaps the artist had gone up in a balloon, or had he climbed this very water tower?

The sky around the boy had become crowded with various species of birds, circling on an endless track, sounding his intrusion into their private space. Down below him people were walking around, grounded in their own realities. Few had an immediate need to contemplate death. If they chanced to look up their assumption would be that the figure on the tower belonged there; he was working, it was the time of the day for work; they were working, or on their way to work, or going to look for work. People did not necessarily think much about death until confronted with it, ignoring the irrational need to turn it into something of value. The boy knew that he was born to die, but first he wished to fly, and if this choice might hasten his death, then so it would be.

Over I’ll go and see what happens.

His flying machine was a simply made affair of nylon fabric and bamboo sticks, lashed together with cord. The boy had assembled his device many times, but the pitch of the roof, and the wind, were making it difficult today. An audience had gathered in the streets, and a few people were waiting at the base of the water tower, with lifted heads and clucking among themselves. No one was brave enough, or foolish enough to climb the rusting ladder to try to get him down, but someone had called the police and the fire department. The boy could hear the wailing of the sirens as these public servants raced each other through the labyrinth below.

His fragile glider assembled, the boy slowly drew himself upright. Holding his wings open wide, he imagined himself a living crucifix taking possession of the sky. People in the crowd were shouting now; he could hear their voices wafted up from below. A fireman was speaking something through a bullhorn, perhaps addressing him. All the sounds were unclear, only background to the many thoughts that were beating in his head, and the wind rushing in his ears.

A sudden, strong gust knocked the boy down; for an instant the would-be aviator disappeared from the view of the crowd below. No one could see him grasping fearfully at the handholds. And then, in a flash, he popped up again, his courage returned. Had he lost all reason? Walking mincingly along the very edge of the water tower, he waved to his watchers, but that was not enough.

If only flying were so simple for me.

The boy could hear them clearly now; even if his audience did not dare express its pleasure it would never forgive him for stopping here. Their shouts compelled him, demanding everything. He gave it to them.

Over I’ll go and see what happens.

Stepping from the edge of the tower, the boy felt the cold rush of wind on his face and the downward pull of gravity; a gentle jolt lifted his body as the homemade wings caught the air.

I am free; I am flying.

But below him all the sadness of the world still waited.


About the author:


Stephen (Steve) Poleskie is an artist, writer, and photographer. His artwork is in the collections of numerous museums including the Metropolitan Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York; the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Tate Gallery in London. His writing, fiction and art criticism, has appeared in many journals both here and abroad, including American Writing, Essays & Fictions, Leonardo, Lightworks, Many Mountains Moving, Pangolin Papers, Satire, SN Review, and Sulphur River Literary Review in the USA; D’Ars, and Spazio Umano, in Italy, Himmelschrieber in Germany, and Imago in Australia. He has published five novels, The Balloonist, The Third Candidate, Grater Life, Vigilia’s Tempest and Acorn’s Card.  Poleskie has taught, or been a visiting professor at twenty-seven colleges and art schools throughout the world, including: MIT, Rhode Island School of Design, the School of Visual Art in New York and the University of California, Berkeley. He is currently a professor emeritus at Cornell University. He lives inIthaca, N.Y., with his wife, the novelist, Jeanne Mackin.

You can find more information at his web site:

February 27, 2012   Comments Off on Stephen Poleskie/Fiction

Primary Primer/Politics

Primer to the Primaries —

and beyond … 

By Jim Palombo
Politics Editor 

It’s not a secret that the Republicans are struggling, and it appears Mitt Romney will not be able to bring home the bacon for the GOP. Said another way, and given the variables on the table, it seems a safe bet that Obama will continue to lead the country for another four years. But no matter the outcome, “toward what end?” and “in what context?” are obvious questions in regards to our country’s future. With that in mind, this article is meant to take a look at some political-economic-social elements (ideological principles if you will) that are pertinent to answering these questions – elements that are no doubt important, yet ones that seem clouded in the public eye. In short, and encouraged by people who have requested that I do so, what follows is a ‘primer’ as to what should be taken into consideration as the primaries heat-up, and what should also be left for thought once the dust has settled.

To obtain the best grasp of the following concerns, it is suggested that you imagine their presence amid the highly charged struggles of the civil rights movement. This was a time when the country was coming to grips with the freedom and prosperity vibrating in post-world war America and the call for equality in light of those same variables. Among other things, the movement pitted the natures of Conservative and Liberal agendas, and also opened the door for considerations that lay outside both those frames. So put the picture of those struggles in your mind as you continue to read. And in doing so, you might also notice that some of the sensations you feel are similar to what you might be feeling as you look out at the problems facing our American experiment today. With Liberals, Conservatives and their mixes all promising answers, and Occupy and Tea Party efforts in full force, the complexities of competing economic and political strategies are, as they were fifty years ago, clearly at our doorstep.

 * * *

How the Conservative and Liberal views unfold (Ideological considerations):

Democracy – A government by the people, via free elections and formal rights and privileges, with the supreme power vested in the citizens.

Capitalism – An economic system in which the means of production and distribution are privately or corporately owned and developed proportionate to supply and demand and the accumulation and re-distribution of profits in a free market.

Conservatives/Republicans and Liberals/Democrats both subscribe to these definitions in the context of Consensus theory – a theory that generally implies that people have common goals, interests and beliefs and have come together accordingly. This is how, at least in theory, we, the public, generally perceive things working. However, the two parties split over their interpretation of how the political and economic frames play themselves out in society, particularly in terms of concerns related to social issues.

For Conservatives the logic goes like this. Consistent with the definitions provided above, we live in a democracy and the economic system is based on free market principles. This means that in terms of the political, democratic process, our leaders are elected by an open vote format, and they are to represent the interests of the people. Issues like equality, justice, fairness, etc. should be managed accordingly, as well as the concerns related to administering matters of state – matters concerning the military, taxes, infrastructure, etc. In terms of the economic, traditional capitalist process, this should be left to its own devices, with limited interference from government involvement, taxes and regulation. In this way, the market can be free to create more jobs, more opportunities and more prosperity for the general public. In this sense, any competition that flows from the system is healthy, enabling the society to prosper, while giving individuals the opportunity to succeed accordingly. For Conservatives, this translates into more incentives for business/job development, again with limitations on business taxation and development. And as there is little problem with the match of democracy (what a great system) and the free-market (another great system), both can be seen as complimenting each other in terms of government-economy interaction. In this sense of a “great match” social problems, which Conservatives agree do occur, are primarily due to individuals who cannot assimilate to the way things work. In other words, some individuals are simply skewed in terms of their reasoning abilities, especially in understanding that hard work in terms of employment, education, and family function are all at the heart of prosperity.

As I happen to be a criminologist, I tend to think that criminality provides a great example in reflecting on the nature of political/economic views and social concerns. For Conservatives then, criminals represent individuals who make poor choices, who do not or cannot internalize the merits of living in a free and opportunity-available society. This is due to poor judgment skills (why wouldn’t they choose to go to work for example), and/or to the need for some moral/spiritual/religious awakening (perhaps their faith needs to be strengthened), and/or to some psychological and/or biological malfunction (maybe they are just wired poorly.) In the case of the first, the behavior should be altered by requisite forms of ‘swift, certain and severe’ risk-reward punishment,  in terms of the second case, more faith-moral related counseling may be necessary, and for the third, some form of psycho-bio drug or medical procedures that may reduce anti-social behavior could be the remedy. These, with some forms of mix or match modifications, are generally the approaches to address criminality. And it should also be noted that this is also the same logic applied to those who are poor or without work or without education – they choose to put themselves in these conditions via poor judgment, etc. Therefore, overall public policy formulas in terms of addressing social concerns are generally pointed at providing self-help initiatives to motivate people toward working themselves out of their circumstance. (In the case of criminals, keep in mind that the most adequate response to criminality lies in styles of punishment that will be harsh enough to deter future criminality and encourage going to work in the alternative. This “being tough” has resulted in a strict criminal justice system, with more prisons and more prisoners being held for longer periods of time. An important aside to this point, is that as more criminals are deemed to have individual problems, more emphasis – and funding – will be placed on psychological and biological influences, versus sociological/environmental ones. This of course will have an impact on the education and research efforts of those who participate/work in the criminal justice arena – which has a corresponding relationship to what happens with the focus of various disciplines at the post-secondary level of study. And remember that these academic ‘connections’ hold consistent with other social concerns tied to unemployment, under-education, etc.)

Liberals on the other hand, while working under the same umbrella of consensus theory as well as the essences of democracy and capitalist/free enterprise frames, present a different logic.  For them, the economic system and the nature of competition can create some disparities, especially as access to opportunities in the system can sometimes be unequal. In short, the match of democracy and the economic system is not as perfect as Conservatives might suggest. Therefore, social problems like poverty, unemployment, under-education and crime should be viewed to a large extent as systematic rather than simply a manifestation of individual irresponsibility. Social problems therefore become a societal concern, which in turn means that the government, particularly one operating under democratic principles, should help in reconciling these type ‘systematic’ problems – creating programs/projects to help those left in less fortunate social circumstances. In essence, this would provide disadvantaged individuals with better opportunities in terms of housing, education, employment, etc. so they can better compete. This approach, again deemed appropriate in a fortunate and democratic society like the U.S., generally translates into more government sponsored programs, bigger government and the higher taxes that support both. (And as the liberal logic does not speak to committing totally to market answers in terms of work and opportunity – some regulation and even taxes may be in order – this too may reflect on the size/responsibility of the government.)

Here again, criminality provides a great example. Liberals were the proponents of rehabilitation, with the idea that those who commit crimes do so more out of their disadvantaged social situation than any individual shortcoming. This led to a totally different approach in terms of the philosophy of the criminal justice system and the players involved; essentially trying to ‘help’ criminals with more use of community corrections (versus prison), probation, vocational programs, counseling, etc. As with Conservative logic, this approach also had a corresponding effect on the education and research efforts – think again of what this means in terms of the academic, discipline focus within the post-secondary arena, especially as juxtaposed to the Conservative agenda. In short form, consider the differences between sociological/environmental/urban references and biological, bio-psychological considerations in terms of motivations for criminal behavior.)

So, with these differences in mind, and trying to set aside the personal racist sentiments that were occurring, lets again imagine these views unfolding within the context of the Civil Rights Movement. Conservatives would be seeing those in the minority and poor class as a group of people who simply could not assimilate to the essence of the free-market, democratic system. Providing them with rights and opportunities beyond those of the rest of society, especially via taxes and/or government involvement was simply off the mark of getting the people to understand the discipline, morality and hard work connected to being a responsible citizen. There was no need to move beyond what existed, this would create a system of dependency and in doing so speak to a society that was addressing equality in the wrong fashion. The fact was that people in the U.S. had the freedom to be equal – they just had to work for it.

Liberals, in support of the arguments inherent in the Civil Rights Movement that discrimination on both institutional and individual levels could no longer be tolerated, saw the provision of rights and opportunities as necessary in addressing the social concerns at hand. In addition to this, liberals argued that the free-market, as it had proven, could not on its own address the growing inequality in terms of employment/work/jobs. This meant that legislative strategies like affirmative action and quota systems had to be put into place to ensure legitimate responses to the unequal conditions, that program policies like the War on Poverty had to be implemented to lift people out of the poor social conditions that existed, and that legal considerations, particularly those at the Supreme Court level, would have to reflect the overall intent of civil rights accordingly. (Don’t forget about the significance of Supreme Court rulings and the endorsement of political views. There is no more clear an example than what happened in the context of the Civil Rights Movement and what might be considered the ‘liberal interpretation’ of Constitutional mandates related to “search and seizure” concerns as well the rights extended to those who were incarcerated. )

So the battle between these opposing parties was joined. Keep in mind that the battle also encompassed the sentiments of racism that had grown in the country, sentiments that, perhaps unfairly, connected mostly to the Conservative view. This extended from the fact that their logic implied/supported not only individual shortcomings in terms of success/achievement, but also the notion that keeping things as they were rather than altering the nature of opportunity was the way to continue. This was as compared to the Liberal view whose logic implied/supported the integration of opportunity in terms of the movement that would affect both the circumstance and station of minorities. (Coincidentally, the Liberal view also drew in those Conservatives who felt a connection to the collective crisis of the depression – and the resulting New Deal, as well as a connection to the collective ‘patriotism’ fueled by the WWII effort – a “we are all in this together” type sentiment.)

As noted at the outset, as the Conservative “right” and Liberal “left” battle ensued, there was another view/paradigm on the table amid the Civil Rights struggle – one that suggested that both Conservative and Liberals were not getting to the root of the problems facing the country. This was known as the ‘radical approach’ which involved elements that were, despite having legitimate reference in terms of past political, economic and social concerns (think of the union movement amid early 20th century industrialization), rather foreign to American ideological understanding. Primarily developed by Karl Marx as the Industrial Revolution unfolded and adopted in countries across the world the analysis still appeared shrouded in an enemy’s cloak.  So let’s turn to that approach, keeping in mind its analytic import in both Civil Right and contemporary movement times.


How the “alternative view” unfolds:

A critical analysis of capitalism – As alluded to this approach finds its significance primarily from what is seen as a major flaw in both Conservative and Liberal analyses –  not referencing the difficulties/problems inherent in the nature of capitalism. In other words, it is proposed that neither Conservative nor Liberals adequately address social problems because they don’t/won’t address the true nature of capitalism – which can only happen by applying this critique. This “oversight” becomes more significant as the problems, on both national and international levels, are more intricately tied to our capitalist identity than to democracy.  With this in mind, the critical analysis develops along these general lines.

Contrary to Consensus Theory generally supported by Conservatives and Liberals (society sharing mutual beliefs and interests), there is Conflict Theory. This basically states that society is an arena in which struggles over scarce commodities take place. These commodities include natural resources as well as material and human goods, and power and influence will dictate control over those resources. In this light, every society is made up of different classes and interest groups and the most powerful, the “haves” will be represented in government and positions of authority. These powerful people will act in their own self interest, trying at all times to improve or at least preserve their positions.

The ‘have-nots’, those primarily without power, will end up trying to defend themselves against this power. This is in face of the fact that the economics and wealth of the system are controlled by the “haves” while the political arena/government promotes and protects the interests of the “haves.” Given these unbalanced circumstances, social problems will always exist, and the “haves” will only deal with them out of necessity – to placate or keep docile the “have-nots” who may be essential in maintaining the order within the existing system.

The Radical View: Growing out of this logic, radicals state that the U.S. represents a conflict-oriented capitalist system, not a democracy. It is an economic system that survives off the proliferation of profit, and profit development is primary to all else, including human development. In short, it is a system that will eventually consume the sum of its parts. Those with the most profit/capital (the ‘haves”) control and influence the government and use it to protect and increase their interests. Social problems are inherent in a capitalist system and won’t/can’t be resolved, simply by the nature of this profit motive, as well as the system’s competitive essence.  In other words, avenues to success will be limited and/or restricted, leaving significant numbers of the population out of the ‘means to success’ equation. Moreover, as success goals themselves are highly extolled, there will result a certain stress put on different members of society, a stress which in itself can be socially problematic and result in, as an example, a high incidence of deviant behavior. Radicals also argue that capitalists can come to actually capitalize on social problems – for example using people in socially problematic areas as surplus labor, a marginal work force that can be used to keep other workers in place and profits up. This may even translate into exporting jobs to foreign markets, especially if this “move” reflects on profit margin. In terms of the U.S., radicals argue that all this takes place while using the guise of democracy to misdirect public concern and/or to keep the general population in order. Among other things, this results in confusion, contradiction and a state of ‘normlessness’ as people try to explain and work at social problems referencing democratic ideals, when in reality capitalism is the practice that helps fuel many of the problems in the first place.

There are a variety of other considerations that radical raise within this critique of capitalism. There are concerns that reference the development of a dual labor force, one for the more advantaged, another for the less advantaged. Following this logic, radicals also point to the dual educational tracks, the private and more sophisticated public post-secondary universities to service the “mores”, the lesser public ones and community colleges to service the others. Additionally, they posit that there are dual forms of justice, one for the rich (which often eliminates involvement in the criminal justice system and also creates advantages in civil proceedings) and the other for the not-so-rich. It is also argued that the existence of this ‘justice duality’ helps fuel a criminal justice system that does not have justice at its core (some argue it is more aptly named the criminal “response” system) but more the management of a poor, marginally employed/educated class. Moreover, this happens while creating a criminal justice industrial complex that promotes jobs and profit in light (or shadow) of crime related problems. (Although Marx himself spent little time talking about crime, criminality, especially in the context of limited avenues of success and the illegitimate opportunity structures that develop accordingly, has become a significant part of this analysis.)

For Radicals then, in order to deal with the concerns of any society that has capitalism at its core the conflict producing system of capitalism has to be addressed. In the traditional Marxist view this means that the destruction of capitalism via revolution must happen. For others, change can occur via the evolution/education that flows from alterations within the mix of new, social-oriented socio-political-economic frames. What should then replace the capitalist system will be systems that promote human development/welfare as the primary focus of society over any profit motive – a change that would evidence a corresponding effect on the cultural instincts and motivations of both institutions and individuals in the society. The basic ideological frames proposed as alternatives to capitalism are:

Socialism – an ideological reference to the political, economic and social organization that advocates the vesting of ownership and control of the means of production and distribution of resources/wealth/profit by and for the public. In this sense, the government acts with these interests in mind.

Communism – this should follow socialism, and generally means the development of a classless, stateless system with common ownership and administration of the means of production for the benefit of the entire community/population.

It is not hard to see that within these frames, social variables, like education, health, work, housing, etc. would become a focus in order to make sure that the welfare of the people and the notion of equality are at the center of any economic engine. (For a rather paradoxical parallel, think of our military and the social fabric evident on any military base that speaks to “collective welfare.”) This of course means that the re-distribution of wealth, based on the strength of the economy, would be of primary concern. In this way, social problems would be minimized and the energy for collective approaches to the problems would be the rule. (In terms of criminality, it would be expected that in this type society one would see lower rates of crime, particularly with general property offenses, and a corresponding lower level of incarceration. On that note, the overall criminal justice measures would be directed at education and health, with more diversion and/or community oriented programs in place to lessen the use of imprisonment.)

 * * *

Like with the Conservative and Liberal logics, more can be said about the ‘radical’ approach. In general contrast, Conservatives seem at times to be implying that the nature of capitalism fuels the “survival of the fittest.” Yet they continually relate to the essence of democracy which tends to refute/deflect this nature. (Radicals could argue, “Just tell the people clearly how things are!”) Liberals at times are pointing to the inequalities apparent in the system, but don’t seem to want to clearly express those inequalities in terms of the nature of capitalism. (Again, radicals could argue “Just let people know how things work!”)

As noted, these “radical points”, particularly when tucked into the overall analysis, seem to have relativity to what transpires in the U.S., especially as one considers the issues tied to the Civil Rights Movement as well as those connected to our current state of affairs. However, in this context, there are also pertinent concerns regarding the possible shortcomings of the approach. These include it appearing at times overly utopian, the potential for lack of creativity within a system that seems more pointed at conformity than individuality, the stagnating and bureaucratic and even dictatorial results that can flow from the radical approach and the apparent failure, particularly in Russia, of the ideology. These concerns, like the other aspects, certainly demand attention. And the power that now extends especially from China, as well as the other “Americas” and yes, even Europe, suggests that the attention on all fronts is most assuredly warranted. (In this light, it is fair to inquire which parts of which views might provide the best national and international approach to the issues and concerns facing the U.S. and the world today.)

In any case, it is hard to imagine that, as with the Conservative and Liberal logics, we would not be willing to pull in for closer examination what has been offered in the Radical context, especially if we are interested in giving ourselves the best chances of becoming a better and more understanding society. In this sense, it should become clear to us what all views represent, how they differ from one another and what each brings (or doesn’t bring) to analyses that can help us consider what has and will happen with our country.

And there is one last point that appears important to note. All of what is said about ideologies, and political and economic frames should be considered in light of what human beings bring to the table. In other words, it would seem necessary in any discussion of this type to consider what human nature (including its spiritual aspect – perhaps a topic for another piece) can/will contribute to any society’s balance of the interests and struggles that exist between ‘economic and social man.’ In short, human nature, particularly as we look throughout history, may only be capable of so much. Therefore to expect perfection in any system may simply be moving beyond the bounds of human capacity.

In closing, let’s re-consider the point that in order to best think about, understand, and talk about all the issues facing the U.S. , as well as the entire globe (remember, it is “globalization” time), one cannot escape the fact that we must be willing to entertain all the variables that are  available to us.  And this “primer” was presented as a step in that direction. Said another way,  it was presented to help in navigating the often unclear and choppy waters of the political exchanges of the day, hopefully providing some logic/insight to better measure what is and is not being said.  As always, your comments, thoughts and suggestions will be welcomed on any one of the considerations raised, and please don’t hesitate to ask your leaders, and those who aspire to be, questions accordingly. Certainly nothing bad can come from open and honest dialogue – particularly at this point in time, we owe ourselves at least that.

 * * *

Editor’s note:

The article above was shared at a discussion held February 16, at the Biblioteca’s Sala Quetzal in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. The discussion,  “Considerations for better understanding our American Experiment”, was presented in relationship to the Occupy movement. For more on this material visit the Campaign for an Informed Citizenry website, and also my previous Ragazine articles.

— Jim Palombo






February 27, 2012   Comments Off on Primary Primer/Politics

Meditation/Tenzin Gyatso, John E. Smelcer



February 27, 2012   Comments Off on Meditation/Tenzin Gyatso, John E. Smelcer

Songs for the J-A Jet Set/Music

Doing the Borscht Belt Twist

By Jeff Katz
Music Editor

I have a friend named Mary. She’s very smart, mischievously funny and fiercely independent. Perhaps everyone in the Cornell Class of ‘45 was like that. At a Rotary meeting a few months ago, Mary came up to me, looked me right in the eye and said “Nick Lowe.” Mary knows I write about music and co-chair the non-profit Cooperstown Concert Series. Turns out she listens to NPR’s “Fresh Air” with great devotion and she’d been picking up on their musical guests. I love Lowe and was stunned and thrilled to talk with Mary about him. She liked what Nick said, but not his music. Still, when I got my copy of his latest, The Old Magic, I made her a copy. From that day forward, Mary fills me in on what she’s heard and it is due to her that I was turned on to Songs for the Jewish-American Jet Set: The Tikva Records Story 1950-1973.

I was bar-mitzvahed in ‘75, but my knowledge of Jewish culture doesn’t spread that much beyond The Marx Brothers, Woody Allen and other Hebraic idols. I’d never heard of Tikva Records. As Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation co-founder Courtney Holt said, “This isn’t just lost Jewish history, this is lost American pop history as well.” (It is through the Society that Songs for the Jewish-American Jet Set comes your way). The tracks cut a broad swath, from the crooning humor of Bernie Knee’s “Orthodox, Conservative or Reformed” to the garage rock sounds of The Sabras, whose “Ho Yaldonet” would easily fit in ‘60’s retro-compilations like Back From the Grave. Tikva’s offerings were as diverse and schizophrenic as the post-war Jewish population that the label was created to serve.

The music is uniformly excellent and fun, from cornball to klezmer, it’s all an enjoyable hoot. Knowing Yiddish would help. A quick word on the packaging. The CD comes in a pale blue billfold, with photos on the cover of such artists as “The Jewish Cowboy” (Leo Fuchs), “The Yiddish Fred Astaire” (Leo Fuld) and “The Voice of Many Tongues” (Martha Schlamme). If that doesn’t hook you (and it was enough for me), then the neat booklet should seal the deal. In addition to a well written history of Tikva, the individual tracks are explored, often tongue firmly in cheek. Even better, scores of album covers adorn the text.

The Sabras are as shocking a vision as Moses’ burning bush, gold lame blouses side by side with electric guitars. Jo Amar, “The Moroccan Prince,” has a beautiful tenor, but when you see he looks like a member of The Mossad, it’s hard not to be a little scared. He’s probably carrying a pen gun. The star of this show is Fuchs. I keep coming back to him. The cover for “Shalom Pardner” is a Borscht Belt riot, a black and white photo of Fuchs’ kop (Head. I do know some Yiddish), topped by a giant cowboy hat accessorized with a Star of David, faces backwards as his cartoon body strides his cartoon horse. Best booklet fact: Fuchs played Hop Along Knish in the musical, A Cowboy in Israel. The prairie cum shtetl shtick continues with Knee’s “Passover Time On the Range” and Jack Brass’ “Sherele.” In a jarringly odd story, Brass’ plane to Tel Aviv was shot down over Bulgaria. Cowpoke Fuchs (him again!) does a wild turn on “Yiddish Twist.” Avram Grobard’s “Orcha Bamidbar” has the sound of a late ‘60’s Top 40 instrumental hit. It’s far out! So is the entire 20-track set. So thanks, Mary. Keep those recommendations coming.

February 27, 2012   Comments Off on Songs for the J-A Jet Set/Music

Jose Rodeiro/Art-Culture



José Rodeiro, Hips Don't Lie ...


What, me an alien?

By Tara Dervla

José Rodeiro’s HIPS DON’T LIE (“Sonoran Dawn”) is a duende-filled image inspired by Goya’s Black Paintings and Goitia’s provocative mystic-images; wherein a unique iconology prevails that is simultaneously dramatic, tragic, hilarious, cynical and ironic, i.e., using “aliens” as symbols for Hispanic-alienation.

Against a blazing Sonoran dawn beaming rays of sunlight over a blue mountain range (somewhat reminiscent of Arizona’s state-flag); two extraterrestrials stand vexed (preparing for combat) sizing-up an approaching throng of Latinos led by Shakira.  Additionally, the image depicts four flying saucers darting about the sky with searchlights probing for armadillos, ancient Amerindian petroglyphs, or terra firma (a sensible spot to land and colonize).  In the sky, the Hopi’s Hotomqam constellation (aka “Orion”) reaffirms the underlying outerspace theme, which is also echoed by the ancient Hopi ancestral petrogylphs of hybrid ant-men, or the divine Masau’u (the ancient caretaker of the earth and the Hopi’s god of death).

As in past centuries; since the 9/11 attacks, thousands of US-Latinos bravely defend the USA in perilous theatres-of-war.   Rodeiro’s HIPS DON’T LIE (“Sonoran Dawn”) considers the infinite (“Maya 2012 related”) possibilities that, e.g., haunt Jonathan Liebesman’s 2011 thought-provoking film BATTLE: LA.   Would we have sufficient numbers of US-Latinos available to fight, when “predictably” a full-scale invasion of powerful and technologically-advanced extraterrestrials invade our beloved nation?   Would we (as Americans) be able to quickly, patriotically, fully and properly defend the USA, with “100%” honor and effort; after the shameful treachery that was recently leveled against America’s deepest values by Governor Jan Brewer on April 28, 2011, when she imprudently signed another [(in a string of anti-American/anti-Latino laws generated by Arizona’s perfidious legislature)] vile law SB 1406, authorizing the building of a “bigger” inhospitable and ignominious fence along Arizona’s border with Mexico, doing inestimable harm to both nature, the US-economy, all life and humanity.  In his painting, Rodeiro depicts a dead armadillo, symbolizing the threat to nature posed by an enormous fence along the US-border with Mexico.

Sadly, in the Southwest already a thousand miles of fencing exists, separating the USA from Mexico and indirectly from all of Latin America.  However, Rodeiro’s HIPS DON’T LIE (“Sonoran Dawn”) asks, “What if (during Southwestern “waking-hours”), the “real” aliens are already there on the “border” cavorting, scouting logistics for their interplanetary invasion?” For example, in 1947, an alien spacecraft allegedly crashed nearby at Roswell, New Mexico.  Ultimately, the question is: “Will we be able (as a nation) to quickly arm enough loyal and battle-hardened Latinos [(who, since 1776, have valiantly fought for America)] to save the USA, when so many awkward, ugly, and ill-conceived obstacles (“fences”) stand in their way?   Or, (in truth) stand in the way of FREEDOM!”

Exactly a year earlier in April 29, 2010, the Colombian pop-star Shakira and the Hon. Phil Gordon (the mayor of Phoenix) sparked enormous Pro-Latino protests against an earlier ethno-racist Arizona law: SB 1070 Law.  During that protests 200,000 Latinos listened to Shakira advocate for human rights, civil rights, and freedom.  Referencing Eugène Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People (1830), Rodeiro places Shakira and Phil Gordon at the forefront of the Latino struggle, which is symbolized by yearning Hispanic masses, (which follow Shakira’s “Star Spangled Banner” (“Old Glory”), derived from David Alfaro Siqueiros’s murals in the Castillo de Chapultepec (Mexico City) entitled From Porfirio’s Diaz’s Dictatorship to the Revolution (1958).   Interestingly, a United States map (with subtle, shifting, and dynamic chiaroscuro borders) emerges from the shadow of this multitude, e.g., the Florida peninsula’s shadow is caste by a tall nude man (in the center of the composition).


For more about Rodeiro visit: .



February 27, 2012   Comments Off on Jose Rodeiro/Art-Culture

Jeff Katz/Favorite First Tracks

An Interesting Question

By Jeff Katz

Like Rob of High Fidelity (movie or book), I do like my lists. While watching the Giants demolish the Packers, my mind wandered. Which artist had the best side one, track one on their debut album? It’s an interesting question, I commended myself, since many legends didn’t come out of the box with great first albums. Dylan didn’t, neither did The Stones or Simon & Garfunkel. That limits the pool a bit.

I came up with a handful and then turned to my Facebook pals for assistance. They are a smart and diverse bunch. I’ll focus on my favorite five, but there were scads of good ones to choose from. The Honorable Mention list:

  • I Will Follow – US, Boy
  • Welcome to the Working Week – Elvis Costello, My Aim is True
  • Blister in the Sun – Violent Femmes, Violent Femmes
  • 1969 – The Stooges, The Stooges
  • Mirror in the Bathroom – The English Beat, I Just Can’t Stop It
  • Suite: Judy Blues Eyes – Crosby, Stills, & Nash, Crosby, Stills, & Nash
  • Purple Haze – Jimi Hendrix, Are You Experienced?
  • The Witch – The Sonics, Here Are The Sonics
  • Personality Crisis – The New York Dolls, The New York Dolls
  • Jumping Someone Else’s Train – The Cure, Boys Don’t Cry
  • Smooth Operator – Sade, Diamond Life
  • Do It Again – Steely Dan, Can’t Buy a Thrill
  • Just Like Honey – The Jesus and Mary Chain, Psychocandy
  • Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison, Blowin’ Your Mind!
  • Ol’ 55 – Tom Waits, Closing Time

I do want to comment on one that leaves me unsure. King Crimson’s  “21st Century Schizoid Man” is a killer track, but I hate, hate, hate the rest of the album.  I can’t quite figure if that makes it fit above, or below. I do know I prefer Kanye’s use of it in “Power.”  I may give Crimson’s In The Court of The Crimson King another spin, in case I got it wrong, but when I hear “I Talk to the Wind” in my head it makes me want to hurl. Now on to the Top 5.

5 – Blitzkrieg Bop – The Ramones, The Ramones

            Hi, and welcome to our perverted little world! Johnny Ramone’s thrashing and Joey’s “Hey Ho” guide you through filthy ‘70’s New York, a place where talking to the wind accompanied by a flute is going to leave you mugged and bleeding out of an orifice or two. Bombs away.

4 – Janie Jones – The Clash, The Clash (UK)

            Oh those drums! That was enough for me the first time I heard it. Lovin’ rock and roll, gettin’ stoned, hatin’ your job – what’s more punk than that? Joe Strummer’s voice is a challenge, a dare. Don’t like it? He’ll tell you exactly how he feels. And when Mick Jones comes in all high at the end, it’s perfect.


3 – Break On Through – The Doors, The Doors

            There are plenty of great songs, and then there are great songs with a sense of purpose. “Break  On Through” is a manifesto.  Oh, you poor middle class white kids with your chained arms and lying eyes, there’s a whole different way of perceiving things and we’ll show you the way.  John Densmore’s bossa intro, Ray Manzarek’s trance inducing organ, Robby Krieger’s thundering guitar and, then, who’s this freak?, Jim Morrison destroying your night and dividing your day. Well, gang, things are gonna be very different from here on out. Very different.


2 – I Saw Her Standing There – The Beatles, Please Please Me

            No NASA countdown ever led to a bigger explosion. Paul McCartney seems innocent enough until he leers “you know what I mean,” lyrics courtesy of partner John Lennon. Ringo pounds away with glee as George Harrison’s twangy solo merges into the quintessential early Beatles song. There’s an unbridled force at work, still palpable five decades later. After years of Fabian and Frankie Avalon, the kids were most certainly not alright and the moment they heard that Liverpool boy shout “One!” they were on their feet. They wouldn’t sit for the rest of the sixties.

1 – Blue Suede Shoes – Elvis Presley, Elvis Presley

            Another numbered intro, and it only took Elvis until the count of three to be off and running. Clearly he had less time than The Beatles, who made it to four (or “Faaaaa!”). Elvis grabbed Carl Perkins’ song and sneeringly took charge. Scotty Moore’s solo created an army of guitar heroes. The rock and roll revolution began with the ultimate side one, track one on Elvis’ debut album and, in doing so, provided endless fodder for inane list makers.

February 27, 2012   Comments Off on Jeff Katz/Favorite First Tracks

Murray Gaylard/Artist Interview

Space Creator

Gaylard, in his studio working on Space Creator project


Letting Out the Inner Dialogue

By Miklós Horváth

In February 2012; I had the good fortune to conduct an interview with Murray Gaylard, a contemporary artist and a performer. Gaylard has received his education from the University of Cape Town, in South Africa where he studied social sciences, and from the Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main where he studied art. His studies gave him a precocious genius towards political and social matters. Last year, he was engaged in exhibitions, both in the Netherlands and in Germany. Gaylard’s artworks introduce questions of societal development, social changes, and the roles human beings play in them. The discussion between Gaylard and I will address some of these issues, such as the purpose of artworks, the influences that they can have on communities and Gaylard’s personal contributions to the understanding of human emotions and desires within his performances.

* * *

M: Thank you so much for accepting my invitation to this interview. First of all, I would like to ask you about your recent exhibition at Witte de With in Rotterdam where you have implemented an audio-visual installation. This installation consists of a street lamp and a loud-speaker. In the evening, pedestrians passing by this installation can experience a-one-minute-of-fame. When they approach the street lamp, very bright LED lights begin to flicker and shine down on them, and they can hear your voice providing an ironic message: “Even in this most unflattering light, you are beautiful”. In which sense do you think that this installation can provoke the passer-by and is there a need to provoke the public at all?   

Gaylard: I don’t feel that the work provokes the public at all. For me, the word “provoke” implies something negative or shocking. Of course “provoke” could also be understood as engaging the public in a dialogue.  I mean it definitely confronts and even initiates a response in the observer, albeit very subtle, and this is something that I think is very important, particularly with regards to art in public space.

M: I see. But what did you want to create then? What do you think that the public can experience by visiting your artwork?

Gaylard: What I wanted to create, was an experience that would interject into the every-day lives of the people passing by and that would stimulate the public into a space of self-reflection – a quality that underlies most of my work, especially my work in public space. I specifically chose a location along the river that was away from the hustle and bustle of the pedestrian traffic, as it was important for me that the person experienced the installation in a somewhat cocooned and intimate way. I had these wonderful visions of people going home from work in a bad mood and being spoken to by my street lamp, or of someone who was going through a difficult time, or feeling somehow unworthy, specifically choosing to visit the piece because it would make them smile.

M: So, you would like to ease people of their burdens by making them smile…

Gaylard: I don’t know about easing people of their burdens, but I just think there’s so much about the human condition to celebrate and often art ignores that.  Art in public space should never take life too seriously. Public space is our playground and it should be enjoyed. I mean the street lamp piece is a total feel-good piece, and this was my intention right from the start – to make a piece that would gently reach out to someone passing by and make them smile. I know how naïve this must sound, and initially I struggled with the fact that everything I make, although often very socially-critical and tragic, is somehow always coupled with a hint of humor. But I mean really, the power to make someone feel better – what greater goal could an art piece have than that?

M: When I think of the most overwhelming performances of the 20th century, I often recall the works of artists like Tibor Hajas or Marina Ambrović, who tried to explore their own mental and physical limits by making life-threatening actions. In the ’70s, Ambrović, for example, took some pills which were undoubtedly destructive to her nervous system. Do you think that the most powerful performances require personal physical risks from or to the artist? Can these performances be more effective?

Gaylard: Effective in what way? I mean I think it depends on the point the artist is trying to make.  Obviously if you are interested in the performing body, then it would seem appropriate to use your own body as a kind of test instrument in your work. I suppose it’s the same in all fields of life. The public will view those performances that they cannot imagine doing themselves as “more effective”, or may I rather say more impressive. I did a performance where I hitchhiked in a home-made Mickey Mouse costume from Frankfurt am Main to Disneyland Paris in an attempt to go home, and so many people remember this piece. I didn’t have to inflict any kind of physical pain. I just had to do something that the general audience probably wouldn’t.




M: By effective, I meant that where the health of an artist’s body is threatened or of concern during his or her performances, this can truly incite the discovery and reflection of the audience’s own boundaries. Regarding boundaries, I would be happy if you could offer your thoughts of where a person’s private sphere starts and ends. In your artworks, for example: Space creator (2006, 2010) and Being alone has its advantages (2011), you give your own definition of private and public.

Gaylard: The drawing you speak of, “Being alone has its advantages,” is more about loneliness and having a social network or not. Most of my drawings deal with social behaviour to a certain extent, but I generally prefer to not speak about them.  They embody something very different to the rest of my work and I don’t think that they like to be laden with theory and explanation. That would just make them heavy.  The whole point of working on paper is that there is a lightness and freshness to the end product.  It’s just so liberating to work on paper because it’s so cheap. This allows you to approach the paper far more playfully than any other material because you aren’t so scared of fucking it up.


Above photos from series,
“There’s no place like home,” 2009


M: Finally, I would like to ask you to give me your take on the future of art in Western Europe, and the impact of artworks and performances on our society.

Gaylard: The future of art in Western Europe? All I can say is that I hope it’s a future with less of that have-to-read-an-instruction-manual-before-you-can-understand-it art than we were forced to live with in recent years. You know what I mean? I mean the misled belief that concept art means making something and then layering it with so much philosophical material that only someone with a master’s degree can understand it. There was so much of that. 

I don’t want to mock it, though. There is truly a place for all forms of artistic expression, and just because I don’t get it, doesn’t mean it’s trash.  I do, however, think that art will become more “human”, and more accessible to the general public and will probably be more prepared to meet the public in the public, whether real or virtual. Our relationship to public space is changing dramatically. I think that we have moved into a “post fear of terror” era where those war against terror images that kept us indoors for so long are slowly starting to fade from our memories, or maybe we are just tired of living in a state of waiting for something bad to happen. Whatever the reason, the public is far more empowered and fearless now than before. The relationship we have to our streets has changed drastically, but you shouldn’t get me started.  I could really go on about that for hours. 

M: How do you think artworks could be more accessible to the public?

Gaylard: I guess a lot more will be taking place outside. Outside is where we want to be because it is the arena of surprise and assists in the unfolding of identities. Just look at the occupancy movement. I hope that art will stop taking itself so seriously in the future and that it will speak a more understandable language, and that it will be found increasingly more in “untypical” spaces. I mean the timing is perfect for it. We have YouTube, facebook, and an array of social media to help in the circulation of it. Maybe the future of art is an iPhone application that you can buy over iTunes.


For more information about Murray Gaylard, his work and performance art, please visit

About the interviewer:

Miklós Horváth is a contributing editor to Ragazine. You can read more about him in “About Us“.

February 27, 2012   Comments Off on Murray Gaylard/Artist Interview

John J. Kelly/Book Review

Bringing Art to Life

By John J. Kelly  

When I was a youngster growing up in Boston, I was always very intimidated by Art with a capital A. I never believed that I could actually understand concepts like what motivated and influenced certain artists or why a specific artist was important or relevant.  I longed for the days when I could spend more time learning about the development and history of various styles of painting or sculpture. But I never seemed to be able to find the time or motivation.

But, as they say, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. And for me that teacher has appeared with the publication of a truly unique, virtual art experience recently published by Phaidon, titled simply, “The Art Museum.”  The tome is a massive, ground-breaking new volume that successfully creates for the reader the virtual sensations and emotional catharsis of being guided on a personal tour of the world’s largest, most comprehensive art museum. Ten years in the making, it is an oversized collection of more than 2,500 of what the book’s editors call “the world’s most important and influential works of art.”  “The Art Museum” comes in the form of a good old-fashioned art history book; your own personal Art Museum that’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The book is one’s personal ticket on a trip through three millennia of art and artifacts, that can be returned to any time one wishes – where the owner can linger as long as his or her heart desires. In addition to being a tsunami of visual wonders, it offers a comprehensive art history education beginning with the first pages, or “room,” which features art from the Stone Age, to the final chapters, a collection of contemporary treasures.  It is, in a word, phenomenal.

Actually, the word “breathtaking” seems a more apt description, as the book’s size (16 ½ inches tall and nearly 13 inches wide), and weight (17.5 pounds), are rather overwhelming. It is far and away the heftiest book I’ve come across, and it will make all the other books in your library look tiny.  Each image is accompanied by a brief description, not just a title,   but a short paragraph of background information provided by one of 65 leading museum curators, art scholars and archaeologists, who helped turn “The Art Museum” into a lifetime of art education.

The creators of this masterful volume have done everything possible to simulate a real visit to what they describe as “the finest collection (of art) ever assembled between two covers.”  Even the book’s cover is an optical illusion, depicting an infinite hallway through which a reader can read (or stroll).  This “imaginary museum” as it is called in the introduction, is divided into an incredible 450 sections (rooms) or 25 chapters (galleries) with names like “Ancient Egypt,” or “Byzantine Art”; “Medieval Europe” or “Italian Renaissance”; “Baroque and Rococo” or “Art of the Nineteenth Century,” and many, many more.  The so-called “Wall Texts” or written descriptions, at first seem a bit small – especially next to the very large images. The imbalance soon passed, and I welcomed the clear explanations of artistic movements, periods, styles and themes.

A visit to the Louvre, or perhaps any great art museum, may be too crowded to enjoy. Not here. The reader can move slowly or quickly, while observing unfamiliar pieces or the iconic paintings that comprise the high points of human creativity.  In fact, some of the vividly reproduced images created by artists like da Vinci, Monet, Rembrandt and Michelangelo, are so stunning I was put into an almost hypnotic state of wonder and amazement.

The book includes work from “650 museums, galleries and private collections in 60 countries to tell the history of world art.” “’The Art Museum'” is the most ambitious project that Phaidon has undertaken. With its inventive format, scholarship and vast scope,” writes publisher Richard Shlagman. “It is unlike any other book on art ever published, and will provide great knowledge and pleasure for years to come.”

And he’s right. “The Art Museum” is a treasure for anyone serious about the world of art, or who is curious about the greatness the human mind and spirit can accomplish.  It is the kind of book you can put on display in your home, look to for personal inspiration when your spirit sinks, and revel in for a lifetime.

Among the most memorable works: the exhilarating double-page depiction of the “Hall of the Bulls,” from Lascaux Cave in France, where some 2,000 works from as early as 18,000 B.C. depict a lost world of kindred spirits with interests far beyond survival; the bright reds, golds and greens of Roman paintings, the exquisite detail of military garb worn by Augustus of Prima Parta, and the Profectio Scene, a spiral frieze on a Trojan Column depicting a military campaign in 155 scenes; the Renaissance painting by Flemish Rogier van der Weyden of the Crucifixion (1445) – a bleeding Christ, a weeping mother at his feet and St. John The Baptist in supplication and reverence.

The galleries in “The Art Museum” I found myself returning to the most begin with the “Age of Realism and Reform in Painting,” including Caravaggio, as he attempts to recreate his own natural world, and Peter Paul Ruebens’  “Massacre of the Innocents”, which, as one of the curators points out, “is both gruesome and shockingly beautiful.” Alternatively, I find warmth, peace and comfort in the Impressionists, such as Monet, Degas and Van Gogh, and the post-Impressionist Paul Cezanne.  Cezanne’s “Still Life with Apples and Oranges” is so full of life I almost feel I can reach into it, pluck the fruit and take a bite.

I’m not ashamed to admit my heart skipped a beat when I experienced the double-page spread of the ceiling of The Sistine Chapel, spied the Mona Lisa, or beheld the Grand Gallerie Des Glaces, at Versailles. One of my great regrets is that I haven’t traveled enough, haven’t had the opportunity to visit the great museums in Europe and Asia. But after experiencing the magnificence within “The Art Museum,” I now feel like I’ve accomplished the next best thing, and am more inspired than ever to make sure I see these wondrous works before my time on earth is up.

I can still remember being young and somewhat overwhelmed by the beauty of Art. Many times I simply avoided discussions pertaining to the subject.  In effect, I became a stranger to the many pleasures great art engenders. With the publication of “The Art Museum,” I can start the process of learning to appreciate all the world of art has to offer:  page by page, gallery by gallery, room by room, day by day.  I can begin to learn about that wonderful part of world culture that eluded me for so many years. I feel I now have a personal collection in which to begin to fully appreciate with all senses the grandeur and transcendence so many great artists have dedicated entire lives to creating.

And that, for me, has changed everything.


Hardback | English
from Phaidon
ISBN: 9780714856520



February 27, 2012   Comments Off on John J. Kelly/Book Review

Evan Hansen/Poetry

The Lunar Enthusiast

You went to Texas by magic accident.
You woke up, it was mysteriously balmy.
I was alone in November, watching
new day carve crows from darkness.
Maybe this is what love is — waiting
alone in the ill-limned dining area,
filing intent down to zero.  Probably
not.  My sweater dries on the door.
It’s wool so it holds everything longer

than it should.  The navy thing looks
like I vacuumed a human out of it—
looks almost wearable again.  Later,
maybe our faces will talk at each other
from glowing screens.  There’s something
in illumination when what you love
becomes TV — changing colors of fruit
jarred for winter.  Later, you’ll see
a face purse its lips in the flattened

zone of here, sneaking a look at breasts
in the reading lamp of there.  I’ll mention
the hummingbirds I’ve noticed recently
at work — how each hovers a moment
by the oleander in its commute wherever.
I’ll be trying to describe how I think
of Futurity.  Lines will run through
branches of lanky trees, visible against
a sheet of stars—reach indeterminate.

Excuse Me, Miss Universe

Tending anything is a chore.
Moving one’s hair when bored
is like drapery for selfhood.
Succulents wag in the drab

yard where we hide garbage.
I have no clue where this wind’s
conceived — Pacific or sage desert,
maybe.  Months of you as ash

and the world is jumbled imagery.
None of your adroit grace, despite
life spare of erudition, the trees
shifting and shitting openly wherever.

I belabor my letters with ghosts’
grammar, the way bubbles find
mother air and join her silent medium.
I think of a body in the vacuum.

Unanswerable Quietude, you are
suppler than I remembered.  When
I lie down in your vast machine,
it so readily accepts my form.

About the poet:

Evan Hansen lives in San Francisco, California.  He works for a living.  He has poems in the current Cimarron Review and the forthcoming Burnside Review, among other publications.  He is in the process of assembling a first collection of poems.


February 27, 2012   Comments Off on Evan Hansen/Poetry

Photo Editor’s Choice / March-April 2012



Chancy Grain

©2012 Chancy Grain

Lisbon Window

Here we have my friend and muse, professional ballet dancer, Adam Reist, entangled in the thin transparent curtains of a quaint hotel room window situated in the grand city of Lisbon, Portugal.

We had arrived that very day on the train from Cascais which was a mind blowing, story book-like village that has us shooting at every turn along her decoratively tiled streets and sandy coastal areas. Portugal has charm and magic on so many levels. Lisbon itself was a bit intimidating for a dancer running about the very busy streets in tights, and so we found our zone right there within the frame of that large, wonderful window.

One of numerous photographs taken in what has evolved into a most dynamic and ambitious collaboration between a ballet dancer and photographer, myself.  This creative venture began over three years ago and has since found its way to the east and west of Canada as well as Hamburg, Germany, and then over to the northern and southern coastlines of Portugal. Most recently here in Montreal where I am presently living.

This is a photo odyssey in celebration of dance and environment expressed through a classically trained dancer who moves in partnership with a diverse variety of natural, as well as atmospheric, indoor settings.

This is my creative study of the human form and spirit exploring and then responding to countless inspiring surroundings. Creating and merging the shapes of dance with shapes, natural and or man made. This is the theatre of the body staged beautifully and dramatically, and at times with a sense of humor tossed into the equation.  Adam’s powerful ability to take on and fill space in a very intuitive manner has resulted in an extensive body of work I also aspire to see published in fine art book format, as well presented in Gallery exhibits.

This is about two artists of different mediums working toward the one, a series of photographs inspired by the rather fantastical visual negotiations between dancer and environment.


Seth Dunne

©2012 Seth Dunne


This image is part of a series that my wife and I created in 2011. We both love creating an image that tells a story or leaves the viewer wondering what the story could be. I like my conceptual images to make the viewer feel something, whether it be sadness, happiness, wonder, or a sense of powerful beauty .

The set up and processing for this image was difficult and took a combination of shots to end up with the final image. I originally took a shot of the backround forest without my wife in the picture. Then, we shot remotely. I was crouching down behind her, allowing her to lean backwards in a way she would not have been able to acheive on her own. Later, I simply erased myself and revealed the background trees. I later added clouds and other small details to give this image an unnatural feel, like something out of a fairy tale.

We have many new ideas for images like this and plan on building my ‘conceptual’ portfolio.

Art photography is my passion and I am also working towards becoming a full time professional photographer. We currently enjoy living in the Green Mountains of Vermont and using it as our backdrop for our images.

Digital photography has allowed me to tap into a creative side that I didn’t know I had until a few years ago. I love the power and beauty that can be conveyed with the camera.


Ruud van Ruitenbeek

©2012 Ruud van Ruitenbeek

Look Up! 

This image, titled Look Up!, is part of a folio of ten tree images that I produced in 2011. I gave it this title, because I think we are often too focused on the future, on what we want to achieve, on our need for change. Sometimes we need to step back, be still and look in the less obvious places. Beautiful surprises can be our reward when we take the time, and that is exactly what happened when I created this image.

For me, trees have a special quality, I don’t know exactly what it is. I cannot describe it in words, but I can certainly see it. I sense it and feel it. Trees are one of the first things we learn to draw as children. They are simple and yet at the same time hugely complex entities. They are often graceful, full of symbolism and we attribute meaning to them. Sometimes we share the these meanings with many other people and they have become archetypes that we have used for centuries to interpret our world and give meaning to it. The Bodhi Tree, under the branches of which the Buddha found the path to Enlightenment is one example. The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil from the Christian bible is another powerful symbol, and there are many more. These attributions of meaning can also be very personal. Some trees, with hearts and initials carved in their trunks, are linked to joyful moments. Sometimes they connect us with tragedy.

The best way for me to describe the meaning of trees is through photography. Their graceful beauty is an enduring source of inspiration. Exploring my relationships with trees and their meaning has brought me much pleasure and I hope some of that comes across. I have photographed solitary trees in remote places and clumps of trees in a municipal park. Going out and finding these trees, wherever they are, connects me with nature and with some fundamental concepts like rebirth, symbiosis, rootedness, and endurance. Images from this project, titled The Meaning Of Trees, and other work can be seen at


Eleanor Leonne Bennett

©2012 Eleanor Leonne Bennett

The Demon

The Demon was a photo taken in 2010. A photo that I myself almost dismissed and have only recently published in my portfolio.

It was taken on the same day as my photo Get Back Better On which won the British Isles first prize for the National Geographic Kids photography competition. I take many portraiture images that I sometimes dismiss and need to re-edit. I enjoy greatly to experiment with makeup and fashion for the practice and inspiration.


For  submissions, query first to: or

February 27, 2012   Comments Off on Photo Editor’s Choice / March-April 2012