RC Baker “…and Nixon’s coming” | the draft

Artist’s Talk and Reading, Saturday 1pm, April 18, 2009

Accompanying the exhibition “…and Nixon’s coming” | the draft, ZONE: CONTEMPORARY ARTS presented Artist’s Talk and Reading. Mr. Baker read from “…and the Nixon’s coming” | the draft and discussed the works in the exhibition as well as relationship between criticism and fiction.

 

“ . . . and Nixon’s coming” combines art, fiction, and design to create a multifaceted narrative that arcs from the Moscow show trials of 1937 to President Nixon’s resignation, in 1974. Divided into four sections, the work views the turbulent artistic and social ferment of the mid-20th century through the experiences of the story’s main character, Kirby Holland, and through his artwork, including academic drawings, comic-book illustrations, and amalgams of Abstract Expressionism, Pop, and graphics.  Whether figurative or abstract, none of the art functions as illustration; rather, the images create a parallel track to the text. Holland progresses from earnest art student to member of an army unit charged with repatriating Nazi loot to comic-book illustrator caught up in McCarthy-era witch hunts to determined and eclectic painter at a time—the 1970s—when painting was viewed by many as irrelevant, if not dead.

Related:
RC Baker: Noise for Signal

R.C. BAKER: Noise For Signal

May 24 - June 30, 2018
Artist Talk with RC Baker

Artist Talk with RC Baker

Baker's talk ranging from Old masters to comic books, political echo chambers and the joys of dissolving 60s protest posters into psychedelic abstractions
June 16, 2018
RC Baker, "...and Nixon's coming | the Draft

RC Baker “…and Nixon’s coming” | the draft

Artist Talk and Reading
April 18, 2009

Categories: projects

Tags:

R.C. BAKER

R.C. Baker is an artist and writer who lives and works in New York City. He is a New York Foundation for the Arts Painting Fellow whose work has been exhibited at Baahng Gallery, ZONE: Contemporary Art, the Drawing Center, White Columns, the Center for Book Arts, and other venues in New York City, as well as internationally. Baker is a senior editor at the Village Voice and a visiting artist at NYU Steinhardt School of Painting. In 2016 he was awarded a Creative Capital | Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant for Short-Form Writing.

2018   “Noise For Signal”, Baahng Gallery, NYC

2009   “ . . . and Nixon’s coming”  | the draft
            ZONE: CONTEMPORARY ART, NYC

2002   “The Terminal Century”
            The Center for Book Arts, NYC

            1996   “Recrudescence”
            The Agouti, NYC

2017   “True Grit”, Baahng Gallery, NYC

 

2012    One of various writers collaborating on Christian Jankowski’s installation “Review”
Friedrich Petzel Gallery, NYC

2012    “Lovely Days / Video Days,” video projection of work-in-progress “President: ‘Why?’ “
23rd Summer Festival,     Bol, Croatia

2010   “Disciplined Spontaneity”
            ZONE: CONTEMPORARY ART, NYC

            

2004   “The Art Connection: Art for Public Spaces”
            Meyerhoff Gallery, The Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD

            

2003   “ExSpace Book Project”
            The Knitting Factory, NYC

2000   “Perimeters: Painting”
            LICK Gallery, Long Island City, NY

            

1999   “Outer Boroughs”
            White Columns, NYC

            

1999   “Paper View”
            Lincoln Center Gallery, Fordham University, NYC

            

1999   “5th Annual Juried Exhibition”
            St. John’s University, NYC

            

1996   “Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture”
            The Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield, Massachusetts

            

1996   “Digital Elements”
            St. John’s University, NYC

            

1995   “Printwork 95”
            

1993   “New Directions 93”
            

1991   “New Directions 91”
            Barrett House Gallery, Poughkeepsie, NY

            

1989   “Selections 47”
            The Drawing Center, NYC

 

2016    Arts Writers Grant

Creative Capital | Andy Warhol Foundation

1990    Painting Fellowship

New York Foundation for the Arts

2011–present: Visiting artist, NYU Steinhardt School of Painting

 

1994 – present:  Author of articles on art, politics, and popular culture for The New York Times, The Village Voice, The Voice Literary Supplement, Performing Arts Journal,
and other publications

2014     Delivered talk, “Cold War Gray,” at Bulgaria’s National Gallery of Art, in Sofia. Using historical context provided by such imagery as classic Surrealist paintings, Soviet propaganda photographs, and 1970s album covers, I explored the complex themes and aesthetic concepts surrounding American artist Brian Dailey’s photo collages.

2012 “Moving Words”
Lecture on convergence of themes in 1960s film, including avant-garde shorts, the Zapruder home movie, the Batman TV series, and Godard’s Sympathy for the Devil 23rd Summer Festival, Bol, Croatia

2010   “Illuminating the Text” with video projection
            Lecture on various artists who use text within artwork plus a video projection
            of the work in progress, “President: Why?”
            Molly Barnes Brown Bag Lecture Series, The Roger Smith Hotel, NYC

2010   “Illuminating the Text”
Gallery talk on works combining art and text, including “The Terminal Century,”
in conjunction with the exhibit “Disciplined Spontaneity”
ZONE: CONTEMPORARY ART, NYC

2008   Commentator for the Ovation Channel documentary
            “Jeff Koons: Made in Heaven”

            2008   Panelist on the National Academy of Art’s review of the Whitney Biennial
            National Academy Museum, NYC

            2008   Juror on panel selecting group shows proposed by emerging curators
            NURTUREart, Brooklyn, New York

            

2006   Panelist, “Manhattan Transfer,” exhibition discussion of artists’ working conditions and inspirations in New York City and surrounding areas
            ZONE: Chelsea Center for the Art, NYC

2005        Village Voice article previewing “Come to Crumbland / R. Crumb & Robert Hughes: A Conversation” read by library President Paul LeClerc to introduce the underground cartoonist and the art critic at “Live from the NYPL” event
New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, NYC

            

2004   Moderator for panel “The Future of the Graphic Novel”
            New York Is Book Country, New York University, NYC

1996   Panelist, Contemporary Artists Talk on Art
            The Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield, Massachusetts

1994   Commissioned by Local 2110 to create installation commemorating 10 years of union organizing by the United Auto Worker’s Technical, Office, and Professional branch
Amalgamated Lithographer’s Building, NYC

1993        Commissioned to create paintings and drawings for Ang Lee’s
“The Wedding Banquet,” 1994 Oscar Nominee for Best Foreign Language Film

In the Air. “See the List of Critics Who Contributed to Christian Jankowski’s Latest Show” [noteworthy image] BLOUIN ArtInfo Blogs, July 5, 2012

Robert Shuster. “Best in Show—Disciplined Spontaneity”
            The Village Voice, January 6, 2010, p. 32

Emily Warner. “R.C. Baker:  ‘ . . . and Nixon’s coming’ / the draft”
            The Brooklyn Rail, June 2009, p. 38

          

Robert Shuster. “Best in Show—R.C. Baker”
          The Village Voice, April 22, 2009, p. 31

          

Angela Ashman. “Double Life: Who Is the Real R.C. Baker?”
          The Village Voice, April 15, 2009, p. 25

Related
RC Baker: Noise for Signal

R.C. BAKER: Noise For Signal

May 24 - June 30, 2018
Artist Talk with RC Baker

Artist Talk with RC Baker

Baker's talk ranging from Old masters to comic books, political echo chambers and the joys of dissolving 60s protest posters into psychedelic abstractions
June 16, 2018
RC Baker, "...and Nixon's coming | the Draft

RC Baker “…and Nixon’s coming” | the draft

Artist Talk and Reading
April 18, 2009

Categories: projects

Tags:

The Brooklyn Rail reviews RC Baker’s solo exhibition, “…and Nixon’s coming” the draft

Brooklyn Rail June 2009 cover

by Emily Warner

Zone: Contemporary Art, April 2-May 30, 2009

 

Kirby Holland, the fictional protagonist of R. C. Baker’s ongoing novel-cum-exhibition, explains his art-making process this way: “I put…these collages…together as grounds, the surface you paint on,” before laying the abstract designs on top: “I need some grit, something to hang my compositions on.” That description is a fitting one for Baker’s project as a whole, a collage-like, multimedia narrative that uses the structures of history as the grit for its fictional tale. The edges of the story emerge like pieces in a puzzle: chapter headings line the gallery walls (“Part i: The Fractured Century”), and scribbled notes and studies sketch out forms fully realized in paintings across the room. As a writer, artist, graphic designer, and art critic, R. C. Baker is a polymath, and his current project is a testament to the richness of overlapping artistic modes.

 

In its present installation, “…and Nixon’s coming” lives in two places, Baker’s in-progress novel draft (available for perusal and purchase at the gallery) and the exhibition. Neither is definitive. In fact, what makes the project so compelling is the detective work the viewer must do to fill in the story’s gaps, linking motifs from work to work, and from text to image. At the center of the narrative is Kirby Holland, to whom all the work in the show (made by Baker over the last few decades) is attributed. Written in the novel in a jaunty third-person, Holland seems more stock figure than fleshed-out character. It’s in his putative drawings, studies, and paintings—intimations of an inner personality and a set of working artistic concerns—that we really catch a believable glimpse of him.

 

That glimpse plunges us into a cultural and art historical tangle: in Holland’s oeuvre are references to Eakins, Hopper, comic books, Abstract Expressionism, war, and nuclear disaster. These references are constantly edited into new combinations and overlaps. Nothing is ever final in Baker’s project, and a sense of textural, pulpy accumulation—the accretion of drafts, collage layers, galley pages, reworked storyboards—runs throughout. A few pieces are executed directly on printing-press waste; in another series, flung drips of paint are outlined with careful, colored contours, lending high painterly abstraction the printed oomph of a comic book splat. It’s the visual slag of American history, and the manipulations and rewrites to which we subject it, that forms the real subject of the exhibition.

 

This reworking is not just an aesthetic project; the pithy (if dizzyingly self-referential) “After Krivov, Rockefellers, and Warhol” takes us into more pointedly political terrain. Caked gouache, splotched onto a woolly black xerox of Andy Warhol’s infamous “13 Most Wanted Men,” blots out the face of each mug shot. The work alludes to the whitewashing of the original 1964 Warhol mural by Nelson Rockefeller, and also to the actions of N. A. Krivov , a fictional Soviet filmmaker we meet in the novel as he peruses Stalin-doctored photographs with their unwanted members airbrushed out of the scene. Reproduction and erasure, Baker suggests, are dangerous if creative prospects, and we find them in the paranoid machinations of Soviet Russia as often as in the bourgeois mores of capitalist America.

 

Of course, the question remains: how effective is Baker’s occasionally bizarre project? For it to work, you need to be curious enough to follow up on its disparate threads. Many viewers may stop here, uninterested in penetrating its rather insular depths. Other authors have used a non-fiction model as the structure for their fictive worlds and characters (John Dos Passos’ USA trilogy and William Boyd’s Nat Tateboth come to mind), and yet Baker’s project stands somehow outside of this vein. His characters lack the practiced interior nuance of properly literary personages and the writing, while always vivid, can be heavy-handed. Indeed, thinking of “…and Nixon’s coming” as a literary project may be the wrong way to go. It’s more a purely visual narrative: the paintings, the sketches, the space of the show act as vignettes, imagistic moments taken from a shifting storyline.

 

The rewriting we see in the visual works is directed in toward the author, too: Baker has sampled from pieces completed long ago in other contexts, assigning them new authorship and meanings. Krivov, lying in the snow at the feet of Soviet interrogators, performs his own kind of interior rewrite, a cinematic fade-out of the scene around him: “Ah, look how the sun turns that scrub tree into black tendrils…You could fade into a witch’s claw or the Devil’s hand from that,” he thinks. “But that’s stupid and obvious.” There are moments in Baker’s project that feel obvious, too. But it’s nevertheless a vivid evocation of postwar America, and a compelling meditation on the politics of reproduction and appropriation. Eminently fluid and rewritable, Baker’s draft implies that making art is always a form of manipulation, and at times a dangerous one. His project speaks eloquently to the attempt to forge something real—to pick out a storyline—from the mess that is lived experience.

 

Source: https://brooklynrail.org/2009/06/artseen/rc-baker-and-nixons-coming-8260-the-draft

 

Related:
RC Baker: Noise for Signal

R.C. BAKER: Noise For Signal

May 24 - June 30, 2018
Artist Talk with RC Baker

Artist Talk with RC Baker

Baker's talk ranging from Old masters to comic books, political echo chambers and the joys of dissolving 60s protest posters into psychedelic abstractions
June 16, 2018
RC Baker, "...and Nixon's coming | the Draft

RC Baker “…and Nixon’s coming” | the draft

Artist Talk and Reading
April 18, 2009

Categories: projects

Tags:

R.C. BAKER: “…and Nixon’s coming” | the draft

ZONE: CONTEMPORARY ART is pleased to present “ . . . and Nixon’s coming” | the draft, R.C. Baker’s first solo exhibition with the gallery.

 

“. . . and Nixon’s coming” combines art, fiction, and design to create a multifaceted narrative that arcs from the Moscow show trials of 1937 to President Nixon’s resignation, in 1974. Divided into four sections, the work views the turbulent artistic and social ferment of the mid-20th century through the experiences of the story’s main character, Kirby Holland, and through his artwork, including academic drawings and studies after the old masters, comic-book illustrations, and amalgams of Abstract Expressionism, Pop, and graphics. Whether figurative or abstract, none of the art functions as illustration; rather, the images create a parallel track to the text. Kirby progresses from earnest art student to member of an army unit charged with repatriating Nazi loot to comic-book illustrator caught up in McCarthy-era witch hunts to determined and eclectic painter at a time—the 1970s—when painting was viewed by many as irrelevant, if not completely dead.

 

The book “ . . . and Nixon’s coming” is a work in progress, created with varying fonts, layouts, and graphics—a literary/historical/graphic-novel/art-catalogue hybrid. The images for Part i, “The Fractured Century,” set in the years 1937–47, include still lifes, figure drawings, and early abstractions. Part ii (“Smashin’ Pumpkins,” 1952–55) features black-and-white action paintings, comic-book pages, and large-scale collisions of the two. Layered abstractions and reconceptualized Pop portraits appear in Part iii, “Incoming” (1964–68); dense collages and painterly graphics characterize Part iv, “What? My Lai?” (1972–74). All of the paintings, drawings, and prints were actually created between 1979 and 2009, with additional work planned as the book progresses. 



 

On Saturday, April 18, at 1 pm, Mr. Baker will read from “ … and Nixon’s coming” and discuss the work in the exhibition as well as the relationship between criticism and fiction.

 

R.C. Baker’s articles and essays have appeared in TheVillage Voice, Performing Arts Journal,The New York Times,and other publications, and his paintings, drawings, and artist’s books have been exhibited at numerous venues in New York City, including the Drawing Center, White Columns, and the Center for Book Arts. Mr. Baker is the recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Painting Fellowship and has taken part in numerous panels discussing subjects ranging from “The Future of the Graphic Novel” to last year’s Whitney Biennial. He most recently appeared as a talking head for the Ovation channel’s documentary Jeff Koons: Beyond Heaven. 



A solo exhibition by R.C. Baker

April 2  – May 30, 2009

 

 

Opening reception

6-8PM, Thursday, April 2, 2009

 

 

Artist’s Talk

1PM, Saturday April 18, 2009

Related:
RC Baker: Noise for Signal

R.C. BAKER: Noise For Signal

May 24 - June 30, 2018
Artist Talk with RC Baker

Artist Talk with RC Baker

Baker's talk ranging from Old masters to comic books, political echo chambers and the joys of dissolving 60s protest posters into psychedelic abstractions
June 16, 2018
RC Baker, "...and Nixon's coming | the Draft

RC Baker “…and Nixon’s coming” | the draft

Artist Talk and Reading
April 18, 2009

Categories: projects

Tags:

Artist Talk with RC Baker

 

In conjunction with the exhibition Noise For Signal, R.C. Baker presented a talk ranging from Old Master paintings to comic books, political echo chambers, and the joys of dissolving 60s protest posters into psychedelic abstractions.

 

Saturday June 16th, 2018

 

Youtube video of the talk
Related:
RC Baker: Noise for Signal

R.C. BAKER: Noise For Signal

May 24 - June 30, 2018
Artist Talk with RC Baker

Artist Talk with RC Baker

Baker's talk ranging from Old masters to comic books, political echo chambers and the joys of dissolving 60s protest posters into psychedelic abstractions
June 16, 2018
RC Baker, "...and Nixon's coming | the Draft

RC Baker “…and Nixon’s coming” | the draft

Artist Talk and Reading
April 18, 2009

Categories: projects

Tags:

R.C. BAKER: Noise For Signal

Progressives everywhere were shattered: How was it possible that a demagogic, thin-skinned, petty — and c’mon, the man is a congenital liar! — how was it possible that this charlatan had been elected president of the United States of America?

 

Welcome to 1968. Richard M. Nixon won the White House by less than 1 percent of the popular vote. During a 1971 discussion with National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, Nixon griped that the members of his cabinet, including a young Donald Rumsfeld, “don’t know what the hell they’re talking about!” This observation, along with other salty insights from Oval Office recordings of our most Shakespearean president, provides the dialogue for R.C. Baker’s 9-and-half minute animation, “President: ‘Why?’ ” 

 

The animation was created from approximately 3,600 “degeneration prints,” a selection of which will be on view in a mural-scale installation, along with posters and assemblages. The source materials for the degeneration prints are thumbnail reproductions of head-shop posters advertised in early-1970s comic books, distorted by cheap printing techniques. Baker’s process, which he terms “painting by other means,” pushes these flaws over the border between recognizable imagery and abstraction, revealing the towering ideals of the ’60s as battered and degraded, yet still beautiful.

 

R.C. Baker is an artist and writer who lives and works in New York City. He is a New York Foundation for the Arts Painting Fellow whose work has been exhibited at Baahng Gallery, Zone: Contemporary Art, the Drawing Center, White Columns, the Center for Book Arts, and other venues in New York City, as well as internationally. Baker is a senior editor at the Village Voice and a visiting artist at NYU Steinhardt School of Painting. In 2016 he was awarded a Creative Capital | Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant for Short-Form Writing.

A solo exhibition by R.C. Baker

May 24 – June 30, 2018

 

 

Opening reception

6-8PM, Thursday, May 24, 2018

 

 

Artist’s Talk

6PM, June 16, 2018

Related:
RC Baker: Noise for Signal

R.C. BAKER: Noise For Signal

May 24 - June 30, 2018
Artist Talk with RC Baker

Artist Talk with RC Baker

Baker's talk ranging from Old masters to comic books, political echo chambers and the joys of dissolving 60s protest posters into psychedelic abstractions
June 16, 2018
RC Baker, "...and Nixon's coming | the Draft

RC Baker “…and Nixon’s coming” | the draft

Artist Talk and Reading
April 18, 2009

Categories: projects

Tags: