By on June 28th, 2020


Artwork copyright Sloan Nota. Copyright-free photos from Unsplash. left, Njenga Jed; right, Noah Buscher.

Ahem. Thoughts About Women in Art


I read an extensive interview with Anselm Kiefer that called him the best living artist. He’s among my favorites, but Frank Stella? William Kentridge?



I pause here and have a Guerrilla Girl moment. How likely there are no women working at this level? How many billions are we humans now? How likely no women pull in the money to support giant studios with lots of specialists at their command?






What art could you make with prime assistants, each with a different brain filled with another trove of know-how?



I think of Rosie Lee Tompkins whose quilts were so royally reviewed by the New York Times’ art critic Roberta Smith. More documentation than I can remember in an art review. I think of a William Kentridge documentary in which he selects a soprano from another part of South Africa with a certain odd type of voice who comes to his appropriately-equipped studio and takes instruction into just how to make her voice even stranger for one of his videos.



I think of Mrinalini Mukherjee of India who can spend a year knotting one sculpture out of rope. Times’ art critic Holland Cotter on first seeing her work: “How on earth did someone even think to do this, never mind do it?” [see Mukherjee link]



I think of Anselm Kiefer bicycling around his enormous studio (and longing for a bigger one) deciding to apply molten lead to a painting. He has a special crew for molten lead. He himself rises up in a cherry-picker to direct them from above.



I think. I duckduckgo. I go to WikiArt. In all of mega-cross-referenced WikiArt there is no search available for living female or living women. Living woman returns two works, one of which is Woman in Living Room. Female artist, female artists? Four paintings, two of which feature a nude female and a self-portrait of the male artist.






And I think of Frank Stella who loved blowing smoke rings with expensive cigars. His assistant Earl Childress told him how amazing smoke ring physics are, and then he and Stella’s assistant Andrew Dunn went on to research the topic, and they went further on to educate Stella, and Stella then incorporated smoke ring dynamics into his paintings.



Childress and Dunn constructed a device for freezing the flow dynamics of smoke in mappable [digital] form: an 8-foot-square enclosed box, lined with black cloth and lit by four bulbs, with stop-action cameras on every side focused into the center. Drilled into two of the vertical edges were holes through which Stella could exhale Cuban chaos into the space [his smoke rings].  Wired




I keep on thinking.






Roberta Smith, 2002 Rosie Lee Tompkins

Roberta Smith, 2020 3 Art Gallery Shows to Explore From Home [An extra timely taste of Roberta Smith]

Anselm Kiefer in The Guardian, ‘Art is difficult, it’s not entertainment’

Stella’s Ring Cycle, New Yorker, May 8, 1995

Vortex Ring Physics



By on April 19th, 2018


I am again profoundly admiring, jealous, changed by the incisive writing of Rebecca Solnit. From the one essay (above) I quote only a few of her everting-of-the-mind observations.

  • …white Protestant men, some of whom are apparently dismayed to find out that there is going to be, as your mom might have put it, sharing.
  • _____
  • In New York City, the immigrant population alone exceeds the total population of Kansas (or Nebraska or Idaho or West Virginia, where all those coal miners are).
  • _____
  • The Onion nailed it years ago: “College Basketball Star Heroically Overcomes Tragic Rape He Committed.”
  • _____
  • And then when the bomber who had been terrorizing Austin, TX, last month was finally caught, journalists at the newspaper interviewed his family and friends and let their positive descriptions stand as though they were more valid than the fact he was an extremist and a terrorist who set out to kill and terrorize black people in a particularly vicious and cowardly way.
  • _____
  • We are as a culture moving on to a future with more people and more voices and more possibilities. Some people are being left behind, not because the future is intolerant of them but because they are intolerant of this future.
  • _____
  • …the follow-up story to the #MeToo upheaval has too often been: how do the consequences of men hideously mistreating women affect men’s comfort?

Rebecca Solnit is a hawk-eyed master living in our time.

By on December 28th, 2017
Grizzled Old Man, free from

I propose that in the 21st century patriarchy has run out of effectiveness. Half of humanity is capable of pretty much what the other half is, but law and custom do not iallow it. Think of the progress we could be making. Physics, medicine, soap-box derbies.

Yet instead of making the rational choice to get more out of human potential, we’re making the ego choice to keep half of humanity at half potential. Of course WE means the patriarchs. Who would be better served to plunge ahead with full and fulsome total participation.

What holds them back? Hardly a male on this planet lacks a cellphone to interact with but they’re still irrational luddites. They’re undereducated, they’re afraid of new things. Might bite.

Whereas women are bubbling and buoyed by what we felt at the Women’s March. All those people and they were all us. We didn’t need men. We made ourselves a force. Bonding, serious, giddy. Pussy hats, not tiki torches. Bonding. Not needing man sweat, the scent of men, the deep voice of men.

We made ourselves a force. We found we were a force.

Without them.

By on December 14th, 2017


I say women, I mean women as traditionally socialized. I say wimmin, I mean valkyries who’ve had it with patriarchy and its affectations. Wimmin are hungry for power, women say “Oh gosh, not me.’ And I don’t need all women to be wimmin. Lord what a mess! I just need wimmin to win elections and elbow the dickheads out of the way.

Violent? Not as violent as they’ve been to us.

Resentful? Like we never noticed your stolid dependence on inequality. Us notice?

Wimmin have storm in their chests. Women storm elsewhere. Maybe in pie crusts or crocheted coverlets, not in your face. Wimmin will get in your face.

Now our challenge is to find an ‘off’ button for The Smile. Ladies, just turn it off! Maybe the hardest thing you ever try to do. Can you decondition yourself from The Smile? The model’s smile, the johnny-on-the-spot smile, the grit your teeth but disarm him smile? The wife smile, the podium smile, the everything’s-just-rosy smile. The secretary smile, the tiara winner’s smile, the store clerk’s smile. “May I help you?”

We hide such chaotic fantasies behind those smiles. That smile placates when we’re damned if we’ll placate. That smile quickly slides into second place, it won’t compete. They beguile when we’re goddam done beguiling. Our pushbutton smiles are wired into our systems like the twitch in a cat’s tail is wired into the cat.

Wired in like braces on teeth.


The Smile is a girl’s useful tool with many gadgets to deploy. The Smile is also useful to men, to keep us smiling into their eyes. Proof that we don’t trust ourselves yet.

When will wimmin decide to trust ourselves?




By on December 14th, 2017

or The Dandification of (Male) Assaulters

Used to be that those, like me, tracking portraits of evil people (their faces) collected almost always men. Pasty-faced, often with failed beards like sparse armpit hair, defiant eyes (never shame) and other traits of the change-your-seat-on-the-subway class.

Murderers, mass murderers, ISIS luminaries.

But suddenly we’re seeing sexual assaulters and they’re in lecture halls. Bastions of intellect. Barbered, cashmere-coated, respectable men. A professor Emeritus, a distinguished scholar, noted researcher. OK, entertainment, politics, sleaze we expect. But not the men we look up to, role models, pride of their communities caught with a handful of breast or bottom. Not our brilliant scientists with a hand up someone else’s skirt. It’s not seemly. Or a woman-shaming doctoral mentor blocking the employment path for one who minds the professor asking other students to imagine her naked. That’s why we all wear clothes. Is that too complicated for you, professor?

These guys we’ve counted on as our protectors all our lives, and perverts are strewn invisibly among them. How do we know who? How can we know when? What the fuck is this, polite society?

Right now with all sorts of imaginative perversions popping into view (receiving staff naked?) it feels like it’s raining pervs. Umbrellas not enough — so many, such a wide field. And these are the men showing lesser men how it’s done.

Wimmin, what are we to think? Is any man safe or do they all feel sure of public absolution? Roy Moore? You kidding me? The pipsqueak who didn’t know how to stop squeaking. Thought his senate race was designed by God so Roy could ride in and save religion’s maiden honor.

But I digress.

We’ve heard about widespread white-collar crime but it never occurred to me to imagine my fellow citizens as probable crooks. However men, the other half of humanity, seem to feel sexually entitled. Maybe not rape — think of the penalties! the shame! — but left-handed loosey-gooseyness.  Have a little male tension? Work it off on a woman.

Hey that’s always behind the arras, give us a break!

No, no more breaks. Either you’re an evolved ape or you’re not. Humans are the ones who ‘transcended’ apes. Choose your identity, and choose it carefully because us wimmin have had enough. No more coverups. No more not-seeing what you see.

Dandified and respectable or in a torn T-shirt — you’re old-fashioned predators.

You’re scaly dinosaurs.

By on December 12th, 2017



“A congressman grinding against a staff member on the House floor, while sticking his tongue in her ear.” This description is from an OpEd in the New York Times, not from a steamy novel. This is from reality. And the staffer felt, a) wildly aroused, or b) licked and ground against and YUCK. Have you taken a look at the Congressional line-up recently? The paunches, the postures, the absent once-were-buttocks? Really Congressman? What horny fantasy were you working off of? This, sir, is real life.

You think a Harry-and-David-in-the-Sky sends every man a low-hanging-fruit basket in the form of women? His for the plucking until it’s freshly and piquantly replenished next month with seasonal fruits? Each breast and bottom, paper-wrapped for you to fondle. The thrill of playing “How far can I go?” without some eagle-eye attached to a mouth squawking “I see you!” Because you have them trained not to look. Nor see. What goes on in plain view. What they do see.

Who do they think we are?  Theirs.

A bonus pack just for them.


Men see the obvious superiority that the Bible guarantees them. Depending on which part they choose to read. Depending on their familiarity, or lack of familiarity, with biology and ethics. And Christian charity.

The question for us is how to break men of this illusion. Women don’t flock to fill your fruit baskets. That’s a compete thing. A “I can pee farther” thing. We pee down, utilizing gravity, and don’t need to waste brain power on aim or force. We just do it and we’re done. No need to fondle the urethra, no feelings wasted on where it ranks. Imagine we start comparing urethras!

The Congressional staff member above felt helpless. Used. One-upped. The recipient of some gender joke. Har-har-har. Tell it in the cafeteria to other Congressmen, use her name and main descriptors. Dark, blond, redhead, short, long, and exaggerated breast size. The men laugh their asses off.

Men. They believe they’re superior.


So what will we have to do till that low-hanging-fruit basket illusion finally blows away —  with its smell of burning flesh?


By on November 26th, 2017

Patriarchy will never be stamped out — the male instinct is to dig in his heels and fight for turf. Try to battle the manly Mitch McConnell? No. Be a vine. Be ivy that climbs up walls. And over walls. It bursts through cracks where sun shines, cracks that were not made for them.

Do not look over your shoulder for approval. They can’t grant your mission. Young dogs look back for approval. But not us. Not women.

Patriarchy has ruled for thousands of years. And we’ve padded along beside them. But not now. Now we must grow our own instincts. A red STOP sign should flash in our heads whenever we notice ourselves mistaking patriarchy for truth. Stop. We have another vision for the world. Be like the wisteria vine. Wisteria can find an unattended barn with mighty oaken beams — and can pull it to the ground.

There are meditation practices where one is instructed that, when the mind wanders, to gently bring a mantra back into focus. Don’t yank your mantra back. Don’t fill yourself with negativity, rage. When you notice you’re falling for patriarchal reasoning gently bring your mind back.  This isn’t truth, this is a devised reality that you don’t have to believe. You don’t need a prince’s kiss to enter here, you must only recognize you’re a woman.  And that women have a power all their own.

I can’t say what this power is, but that it lived in the Women’s March. That we can bond easily with each other. We don’t need football games to roar. We can just roar.

So roar.

And bring your mind back gently to women’s truth. Which is your truth. Don’t fight their way. Join hands and be a vine.

By on November 22nd, 2017


Laughing face.

Laughing woman, Pexels. To the model, if my usage offends you I’ll swap for another — but it sure says the right thing.


Chicken Little was right. Chunks of solid blue have begun pelting down like enlarged raindrops. Some are big as Volkswagens. The world as we knew it has changed.

Remember the Blue Meanies?

No one ever told us they sauntered around in nice company with no clothes on.

Which would be fine in a like-minded group. They could rub elbows all they wanted on a nude beach or at a champagne mixer. Adults. But we’re talking about men who spring it on unsuspecting women. To see how they deal with it.

Not with equanimity, especially a newly bonding female group, no one’s got anyone’s back yet. Come to a meeting, chairman of the horse’s ass department decides to display his. Nice girls haven’t been taught to deal with such a dogleg in etiquette. How I wish at least one was a comedienne who could have broken into belly laughs. That would shrivel his ambitions for a good long while.

That would steal the narrative from his assault of privates to the joke of his privates. Imagine it ladies, a whole group of us laughing our demeanors off.  High-pitched and unladylike ho-ho-hos. Because girls, this cock-of-the-walk is hilarious. Trying to dominate us with a naked penis! Try with a rattlesnake if you dare to fondle it.

We’re dressed, dude. What’s the matter with you?

This is the only answer, women. Laugh your asses off. We’ve been taught to not-see, not look. What if we just look? At a male undressing himself to get our attention.


It’s liberating!


He’s ridiculous!

Laugh, laugh, laugh.

By on November 19th, 2017, fear_domination_bully_victim_0

It was not long ago that a woman like me felt she was swimming along like a dolphin in waters making instinctive sense to her every swimming muscle. Then there was a sound like when God announced “Let there be light.” Suddenly there are women’s voices coming from every corner calling abuse, abuse, abuse!

What surprises me is that men never knew this. We all did — why didn’t we tell them? Our husbands, our brothers? We were so schooled in being nice? Frail answer to a troubling question. Do we have an answer yet?

My dolphin self feels stuck on a sandbar I’d never have missed before. I flail my tail but can’t break free of sucking sand. Mother! Why didn’t you prepare me for this?

But our mothers are silent. Lucky us, we’re the first generation to open our eyes.

Exceptional women stirred us. De Beauvoir, Friedan. But now we find ourselves on the open plains of war. What am I doing here? I am a Valkyrie in spirit but no one said anything about picking up a broadsword, lopping off heads.

At no time in history have so many been outed by the female voice. This is what we were raised to not see.

The Mage Who Makes the Rules has cursed womanhood, said if we actually looked at misogyny then we’d be damned. Guess what? We already were. And now we’re in the historically rich act of unmasking our eyes. And mankind’s too.

Look at what misogyny has done to humans’ ability to advance. It’s had the bright boys joining up with the bleepin’ mouth-breathing boys, against the other half of humanity’s eyes and ears and beneficial hormones. Imagine how much science would advance with the full participation of all of us. Cinema. Technology. I invite you to invoke a single endeavor that would not advance with the abolition of the myth of male supremacy.

Sure the groping goosing bad apples would get outed. Smart women coming right along to take their places.

Misogyny is an insult. So is racism. Get it? White supremacists. Male supremacists.

Some good ol’ boy with years less education laughing at me because I’m a woman. And other men laughing right along, cause men gotta bond, don’t they?

Laughing at me because I’m a woman.

‘Scuse me, good ol’ boy? May I call you Dumbo?

May I call your peers of all educations Dumbo, too? Because you all are. Every male of you.

When invoking womanhood invokes laughter, that’s misogyny.

It’ll be our job to open Sleeping Boychild’s eyes, which seem mainly sealed shut with super Tapioca. The power of hearsay! Sure, men are better than women. Sure you are, boys.

By on November 16th, 2017

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, Wikipedias public domain

Samantha Bee is the only one of he Jon Stewart fraternity — but Samantha Bee was in there — the Jon Stewart sorority? — well but Jon, Steven, Larry, John — so what’s Samantha Bee doing in there? Contrast! Of course. Women can count…. to one.  Couldn’t have women outnumber the guys. The show would start giving off bad smells.

As I was saying, Samantha Bee is the only one of the Jon Stewart lineup who got a solo show — wait! they all got solo shows! ah, but wait! — peppered with commercial breaks that impinge on the comedy. And you have to click again to continue.

This says to me that she’s ended up with the short end of the stick. Short and unfortunately smirched. Grab on girl, because it’s the only stick we’re offering you.

  • And why is that?
  • I ask you Why?