Recently, a loyal reader assured me she’d keep my secret.

“Which one?” I asked, mostly joking.

“That you’re also Andrea Janes, of course!” was his reply.

This was, in part, his evidence:

Andrea Janes is a native of Canada now living in New York City, where she spends most of her time writing ghost stories and dark fairy tales. She is obsessed with dreams, monkeys, rare diseases, and slapstick. Her writing can be found at and on her blog at

I checked out Andrea Janes and was quite taken with her work, but alas, I am not she. Nor, for that matter, is she I.

Sorry, been reading a lot of Lovecraft of late and it’s seriously screwing with my linguistic faculties.

Speaking of Lovecraft, did you read the profile of Guillermo del Toro in last week’s New Yorker? It covers, amongst other things, his quest to bring Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness to the screen. Good article.

Where was I? Right, so I’m not Andrea Janes. Clues include that I’m not living in New York City. Nor am I Canadian. Although I am from Florida, which was annexed by Canada some years back a winter breeding ground for free range Canadian retirees, so that may count for something.

At any rate, learning about Andrea Janes led me to this delightful review she wrote for the Rumpus, Corine May Botz’s Haunted Houses.

Technically, I started this little adventure with the Rumpus piece, since that’s where that bio blurb is posted. Whatever.

The review about Botz’s work reminded me of something I need to speak to Doctor Birdcage about.

That may be the worst conclusion to a post, ever, but I’m sick and this is all I’ve got today. Sorry, kids.


One evening a few months ago I was talking to a fairly young artist with a degenerative disease that is increasingly forcing her to rely on assistance with the tasks of daily living. As if this weren’t indignity enough, she’s also made the decision to change her focus from painting and drawing (media she’s been working in for over a decade) to photography, as she finds it increasingly difficult to control a pencil or brush. The photographs she showed me were gorgeous. I wish she’d shown work at Artomatic. I don’t like to reveal personal details without permission, so we’ll call her The Photographer for the sake of this little story.

Another artist, a vague acquaintance both of us, ambled up and joined our conversation. We’ll call him The Asshole.

This guy is one of those folks who don’t show work at Artomatic because he considers himself above it. Knowing full well his fellow painter was now engaged in a lot of photography, he still proceeded to hold forth about how photography wasn’t art, photographers weren’t artists, and how anyone who collected photography lacked taste. The typical bluster and art school pretension I’m sure we’ve all heard more times than we can count. I was itching to make the equally banal pronouncement, “Painting is dead” because that’s another one I’m tired of hearing, but I really didn’t want to stoop to his level. Maybe I should have introduced him to this guy.

If he’d picked a fair fight with, say, Dr. Birdcage, I probably wouldn’t even be recalling it (unless she’d wrestled him to the ground and forced him to eat tarantulas). But it struck me as the height of cruelty to knowingly belittle someone else’s work, after they’d worked so very hard to carve out a new path for themselves.

I know I’ll get at least a dozen emails asking this guy’s name. I really don’t know it. He paints somewhere in Maryland. He’s a jackass. That’s really all that matters. I think you have to have a rather insecure view of your own work to be so mercilessly judgmental, particularly about things you don’t even understand. Made me glad not to own any of this guy’s work, can you imagine the bad energy that stuff must give off? Ick.

Nothing has exploded and no one is wounded in Phil Nesmith’s photographs of Iraq. And that might be the most extraordinary thing about his show, opening Saturday at Irvine Contemporary.

“My Baghdad” chronicles Nesmith’s two trips to the war zone in ambrotypes– hazy, antique-looking images created on glass plates.

The surprisingly placid images were shot in 2003-04 and during a brief stint in 2006, and they include barren Iraqi landscapes, birds on a wire and sunsets marred only by a passing helicopter. They have the patina of old Civil War photographs, but were shot digitally — because things move too quickly in Iraq to pull out a large camera and wait for a long exposure. “It’s too dangerous for that,” Nesmith says.

[read the whole article]

Phil’s blog is here and this is his [tag]Ferrotype[/tag] site.

The opening reception for Phil Nesmith: My Baghdad is at Irvine Contemporary from 6-8 on Saturday. You should check out his work. And encourage him to sell me the picture I want to buy that isn’t for sale, if you just happen to have him cornered.