Monday, September 6, 2010

Oxford American tells the future: Optimism interrupted, and Max's Kansas City celebrates the past

Optimism, interrupted

The scrappy Oxford American magazine looks ahead with The Future Issue -- short stories, artwork, and columns devoted to life imagined in the year 2050. What's in the OA crystal ball? Connie May Fowler imagines a last-wish drive to an unpolluted seashore beyond even the reach of electronic memory-manipulation; Andrew Furman provides a rumination on the survival of the live oak; and the ever-curmudgeonly Jack Pendarvis reminds us, in the prospect of increasing lifespan, Larry King will be a spry 117 years young.

Yes, the future looks bleak -- a future of diminishing returns and short supplies, without the flying jet-cars we were all promised in the endlessly rolling-sheet metal future forge of the 1950s. Even worse, writes Michael Parker, the southern twang is about to disappear forever into the growing "I" of the gadget storm: "wither art thou in the age of the wide-webbed world, the iPhone and the iPad and for all I know the iIron, the satellite dishes toward the signal in backwaters where once only flower sought the heavens above? I miss you, you slurry-tongued tarpit; I miss your elongated vowels and garbled consonants."

Amid the gloom of the soothsayers and prognostics, the light at the end of the tunnel is provided by Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion car -- still looking cool after all these years, even if its three-wheeled profile doomed it to extinction.

Read more here about the financial ups and downs of the Oxford American.

Max's Kansas City looks toward the past, fondly

Max's Kansas City
, Mickey Ruskin's original hangout of New York's famous, infamous and not-so famous from 1965-1974, is about to receive a gallery reincarnation. For art and music fans of a certain age and inclination, Max's was a destination and a goal, sometimes both at once: a young Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe eventually sat in the back room with Andy Warhol. “Robert was at ease,” Ms. Smith wrote, “because, at last, he was where he wanted to be. I can’t say I felt comfortable at all. The girls were pretty but brutal,” the New York Times Artsbeat blog printed on Sunday.

The installation at Loretta Howard Gallery is called "Artists at Max's Kansas City: Hetero-holics and some women too," and for good reason. As the New York Arts Beat site has it:

Hard drinking “heavy hitters”, in contrast to the clientele in the back room, gave off an aura of testosterone in the front room. The virtual hegemony of men there prompted the appellation “hetero-holics”. Women artists nevertheless were seen at Max’s, including Dorothea Rockburne, Lynda Benglis, and Alice Aycock. In this exhibition we attempt to recreate with curatorial accuracy the art that hung in Max’s and that artists traded with Mickey for bar tabs. Increasingly this art is seen to rank with the most extraordinary periods of history in centuries.

The Max's website also carries information on the new book of Max's photos and remembrances to be published September 15: Art, Glamour, Rock and Roll (Abrams Image), in case your coffee-table is in need of some of that '70s downtown "exuberance and decadence."

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