Sunday, November 30, 2014

POTHOLES OF CASH


In a spittle of sacrilegious rage  my mercurial American friend David Schoffman destroyed his beautifully appointed southern California studio.
Its rich northern light and 14 ft. ceilings provided the perfect theater for David's diabolical imagination. 

It was there, just a spliff's toss from the madcap carny riot of Venice Beach where Schoffman produced some of his most seminal works. Many of his notorious short films were made there. Three of his five weddings took place in his large printmaking space where on each occasion his four dazzling skylights glazed the ill-fated couple with cruel radiant and prescient indifference.

The place was a shrine to folly, a tabernacle of foolishness and a toxic repository of stoic miscalculation. The grandeur of the place mocked David's futile diurnal dalliances with greatness.

He's now reduced to a vanquished carapace of his former self. He's taken to sleeping all day and driving his 1969 Chevrolet Impala all night long down the gaudy, desolate boulevards of Los Angeles. To David these not-so-mean streets are a perfect metaphor echoing a once formidable ego now vacated and lampooned. 

He drives well below the speed limit listening to spy novel audiobooks on his tinny cassette player and whenever an interesting image cuts across his windshield he snaps a quick picture on his cell-phone. 



These morose confections are now the subject of an unlikely exhibition at Gallerie Nuitcroisière on rue Piat in Bellville. To us Parisians these scenes of wide dim streets wedged between cordons of filifera palms are as foreign as space travel. There is nothing even remotely like it in all of Europe and the fact that the show is taking place on the eve of what is shaping up to be one of our severest winters adds an extra element of aloof exoticism to the work.

Schoffman's studio has since been reduced to rubble.

The rumor is that this former shrine to Bohemia is slated to become a medical marijuana emporium complete with a hemp spa and a cannabis bakery.


David lives in a cozy one-bedroom apartment in Encino and has no plans to resume his painting any time soon.



He just put a new engine in the Impala and bought a brand new Canon D810 SLR and a DJI Phantom 2 Vision drone with a custom tripod for his camera.


Why not? His new works are insanely popular with collectors and he needs to crank out inventory.

He calls it "monetizing his melancholy."



Monday, November 24, 2014

ENCORE DU OPIUM


Cults of personality can be wonderful things when the object of adulation is oneself. The perversions that accrue are minor taxes considering the unexpected benefits. Upgrades on airlines, choice tables at fancy bistros, access to powerful politicians and of course the unaccountable magnetism one suddenly acquires with the fairer sex and the inevitable dancers around the lodestone.

I witnessed this ugly phenomenon first hand when I ill-advisedly accompanied my good friend David Schoffman on a recent trip to Macau.



Everywhere we went we were trailed by infatuated fans, starstruck by this middle aged bald guy with a bad teeth.

video



We were constantly surrounded by exhilarated schoolgirls, thick-necked paparazzi, badgering journalists, lickspittling critics, tedious curators and of course, bootlicking collectors cozying way too close up the hairy anus of the revered and exalted "master."

Schoffman, of course, lapped it up like it was bread pudding.

He was there for an exhibition of his new, extremely large sinocentric paintings that were specifically designed for the recently inaugurated Macau Center for Contemporary Art (known simply as Mecca to the locals).


David's dumbed-down imagery, with its crude cartoon-like drawing of truncated torsos and wacky wicker furniture was a huge hit with the locals. To them it all seems so thoroughly American. It's almost as if a collective amnesia has deprived the Chinese of their glorious Tang past.


I guess in the end we all get what we deserve.

Macau gets some cool, contemporary caché, David gets a big fat paycheck and a bunch of free foot massages and I get to bone up on my Portuguese while doing a little bit of gambling on somebody else's dime.

But still ... what a ham!


Thursday, November 20, 2014

THE BLACKLIST


The first time my good friend David Schoffman encountered a real live elf he was three sheets to the wind, was bloated like a bullfrog and had enough methaqualone coursing through his bloodstream to tame a raging, randy mastodon.


Now he sees elves practically everywhere.


Which would be bad enough but he insists on talking about it.

And not only that.

He actively goes around looking for elves. But the thing is, what he considers an elf is anything but. To David, anything svelte and in a costume constitutes an elf when it could very well be something entirely different.

It could be a ballerina, a transvestite, an art student, a carnival performer, a panhandler, a cheerleader, a busker or a Christian missionary with a dash of panache.

video

He spends so much time looking for these putative elves that the Regent of the University of California officially declared David "unfit" to teach within the entire UC system.

This decree seems to include the California State college system as well as all the smaller community colleges that dot the coastal landscape like scurvy.

Not only can't he get a job as dog catcher, they won't even hire him as an adjunct!

I suppose the only thing left for him to do is to get back into his elfin studio and start painting again.


I wonder if he mistakes the cockroaches for elves as well?


Sunday, November 16, 2014

I SING THE BODY ECCENTRIC


video
Venice Beach, California 2014

When he's not painting, reading, writing, lecturing or lying on his back ruminating on the blessedness of his genius, my dear, solipsistic friend David Schoffman is working out at the gym.

Living as he does in Los Angeles where mailmen are typically buffer than Mark Wahlberg and primary school teachers miss on average 18 days of classroom work per year due to their intermittent commercial auditions, the pressure to be fit weighs heavily on every unfortunate fatso.

Exercise as theology, though not quite Jesuitical, comes with its own set of doctrinal moral codes. To be rotund in Redondo Beach, a coastal community south of LAX known for its derrières durs and its ubiquitous volleyball nets is about as dangerous as being a Jew in Jeddah or an anarchist in Alabama.

In places like Malibu and the Pacific Palisades, body fat index is a more vital statistic than one's credit rating. I've heard of people being denied apartments by landlords afraid of the stress excess girth might impose upon their buildings.

Even boutique épiceries like Wholesome Grits and Martin's have imposed spending limits on customers deemed too flabby to fit comfortably into their corporate brand. 



My dear friend David has adapted to this stringent cult of corpuscular curation by maintaining a strict regimen of callous calisthenics more punishing than the hazing rituals of Israeli marines and more spartan than the unspeakable pains imposed upon the Carthusian monks of Chartreuse.

The result is a body so toned and tanned yet so wrinkled with age that when shirtless David resembles something more like an old leather purse than an actual living person.

video


When questioned about his questionable parsing of time - how he devotes so many hours to his fetish of body-sculpting and self-preservation - David shrugs off any suggestion that this all comes at the expense of an active life of the mind. "I live in L.A." he says as if that's explanation enough, "where do you think those wordless Ikea instructional booklets come from?"

 

Monday, November 03, 2014

JUST AND EYE BUT WHAT A (LOUSY) EYE


In addition to being a moderately gifted draftsman, a passable polemicist and a reluctantly trenchant teacher my good friend David Schoffman is a great champion of contemporary art.

Something of a collector of eccentric and inexpensive work, David combs the far flung art fairs in search for the next big thing.

Most of the time he's dead wrong like when he "discovered" the public sculpture of the Korean provocateur Shai Kwok.


After seeking out the reclusive artist and persuading him to sell, sight unseen, the two-dimensional contents of his three oversized flat files, Kwok admitted publicly that his artistic persona had been an elaborate hoax. As a foreign student at UCLA in the early 90's Kwok bet his frat brothers that he could successfully fake an artistic career. If not for the unforeseen advocacy of my credulous friend David he would have lost his wager in a heartbeat.

Far from being disabused Schoffman continued his quixotic hunt for the hot, the hip and the decidedly cheap.

He showed a little more discretion when he came upon the paintings of Sorina Vanderbilt. Based in Chicago Vanderbilt's work has both craft and concept.

Special Pleading, oil on canvas, Sorina Vanderbilt, 2013
Vaguely reminiscent of the work of Italian neo-expressionist Arturo Shmueli, Vanderbilt offers a decorative critique of what she calls the "sexual/pharmaceutical conflation of interests." I think David was attracted to the pretty colors. After a favorable notice in The Huntington Post it looked like Vanderbilt was well positioned for success.

Unfortunately the gifted young painter decided to go to medical school and gave up making art for the foreseeable future.

David is still on the prowl for the next great wave and is now desperately trying to figure out who is the hand (or hands) behind this popular and iconic picture: