Last week I met a guy at a party, who, by the usual look of things, seemed to be some sort of a creative. We introduced ourselves, and I asked him what he did for a living. He looked at me and said, "Whatever I can get away with." Wow.
Which brings me to this massive public art scribble by Los Angeles artist Karl Haendel. Karl's had solo and group exhibitions at MOCA, Los Angeles, and the Guggenheim, New York; and collections with holdings of Haendel's work include the Whitney Museum, New York, and the MoMA, New York. Doreen Remen and Yvonne Force Villareal, founders of the nonprofit Art Production Fund, which presents art around New York, hired him to do this project for a fee of $20,000.
I discovered it about a year ago—just days before I moved to San Francisco—while lollygagging midday around SoHo with a friend. Suddenly, I looked up at the corner at Broadway and Howard and saw a gigantic scribble. Maybe it was the hot July sun, maybe it was the two bottles of red wine we had, or perhaps it was the contemplative feeling I had for leaving that glorious city—but dammit, I fell in love.
That scribble was a gesture of life's collective confusion; abstraction packaged as some sort of commercial entity. It represented a condensed city, the confusion and beauty of life, the process of living the question. I had so many questions! (And it wasn't just the wine speaking!)
You mean to tell me that someone was paid for that? OK, wait, an establishment would approve a massive scribble on a side of an NYC building?? Someone can actually get away with something so goofy, so bold and simple, so abstract in such a public domain?
How did you get away with something like this, Karl Haendel?! That's my definition of envy.