June 23, 2016

Enjoy the Ride

When my sons were small they frequently expressed the desire to be grown-up. I would gently encourage them to enjoy the freedom of their youth.

Of course, they didn't comprehend what carefree was--it was all they knew, and one cannot know what they do not know.

Early in their manhood they began to know and would sometimes lament not completely appreciating, thereby not fully living out, their youthful unencumbrance.

I have since overheard them counseling their nephews not to rush to the finish line of youth.

I suggest the same for Generation Xers and Millennials in a hurry to "dethrone" (by various means) their adjacent previous generation, and their elders who have paid dues and have the scars, pains, and tribulation in witness thereof.

When you arrive here, when it's your turn, you will be unable to return to now. Enjoy the ride.



And now, the poem that inspired these thoughts.

Two Little Boys

Two little boys sit on the porch
Swinging their legs in tune with the wind
Happily chatting away and laughing
I can not hear what amuses them
But I am most certain it is not tomorrow.

There was a time when I too laughed thus:
It was either the kite in the sky,
A plane flying past,
A flower dancing with the wind,
Or the moon surrounded by it luminous children,
All evicted a smile from me.

Little boys, do not grow up please
Hardship and trouble await you
Life would never return that which it takes from you
It will sap your youth and still come for your breath.

Look upon nature little boys and smile
The unexplored world is a terrible one
Be content with innocence.
Childhood only comes once in a lifetime
Let not tomorrow bother you young ones
Be content with today and look upon it with a smile.

(C) Ubaji Isiaka Abubakar Eazy 2016


Image: Vivian Maier, New York, Two Boys With Hand On Shoulder, 1955.

Z.: Little boys, what are your names? How old are you? What's your favorite color?

For a long time, I have been troubled by the pace at which the system prods our children to grow up faster than the bodies, and emotional and intellectual development can support. Why, even the hormones in modern food causes girls to develop breasts much sooner than they used to decades ago.

None of us are going to get out of here alive. Why are we rushing to the grave?!

May 28, 2016

Artiquette: 7 Things Not To Do on a Studio Visit

Wangechi Mutu in her studio. Courtesy of YouTube.
Artiquette is an ArtNet series that explores etiquette in the art world.

Whatever your position is in the art world, you'll probably agree that visiting an artist in their studio is a time-honored tradition. Artist studio's [and open studios] offer an intimate look into the artist's work and art practice. You will be able to understand the artist's process better, and get to see art in it its natural habitat, the studio. But there's also plenty that can go wrong. In an effort to help you avoid these pitfalls, ArtNet News spoke to a couple of New York-based artists to share some of their advice on how to do it right.

1. Don't challenge the artist or ask overly personal questions
An artist we interviewed said she was once told to "freeze her eggs." Don't be that guy. We suggest that on your studio visit, you avoid making such personal comments. A studio is a creative and personal space. But it's also a professional one, so professional and social etiquette rules apply. Remember the reasons why you decided to visit in the first place and try to stick to questions and comments about the work. While the egg-freezing comment was probably intended as some kind of compliment of the desirability of the artist's genetic make-up, it's way too weird and personal.

2. Don't show up empty-minded
Don't show up to a studio knowing nothing about the work of the artist. If you're taking time to visit the artist you should spend some time getting to know the artist and their art practice. Walking in with some background information will help the studio visit flow naturally and successfully rather than the artist having to completely introduce themselves and their art. A part of a successful studio visit is discovery, however it is difficult for the artist to make sure that you're up to speed about their work and resume while trying to explain their current work. 


3. Don't ask about the work facing the wall
If you're a studio visit beginner, the artist will have a lot more experience than you on how to make the most of the visit. More importantly, the artist will have something planned to talk about. Let them take the lead and allow them to set the tone of the visit. One artist we spoke to said that people on studio visits are immediately drawn to work that is stacked and facing the wall. You should know that these are kind of off limits. If the artist wants to show them to you, she will.

4. If you don't know, then ask.
Even after researching the artist, there will still be background knowledge you may not have. It may be terms the artist uses, influences in the art work, or historical context. If you don't know simply ask the artist to explain. It will help your understanding, and help both you and the artist get the most out of your visit.

5. Be honest, but try not to be un-constructive
If something isn't working in your opinion you can offer constructive criticism. However, be tactful about it. Artists appreciate opinions that may help advance their practice as long as it's constructive.

6. Don't rush 
Usually, a successful studio visit lasts over an hour. Giving the artist time to show you around their studio, asking any questions you have and getting to know their  art practice better it will take some time. If you're pressed for time the visit will feel rushed and may not progress as naturally as it should. Keep in mind there will always be something more to discuss or another question to ask. 


7. Don't post to social media without asking
Posting to social media accounts is almost second nature, however it is always important to ask the artist if you can take pictures and post to your social media pages. If the artist allows for pictures to be taken and posted make sure to give credit where credit is due.

Reposted from ArtNet News


May 6, 2016

Straight Up & Down Series

Straight Up #1
Straight Up #2
Straight Up #3
Straight Up #4
Straight Up #5
Straight Up #6
Straight Up #7
Brick Road #1
Brick Road #2
'Straight Up & Down' is from my photography collection that is a close-up on perspectives immediately above and below at any one geographic location; sometimes involving brief passages of time.

April 25, 2016

Prince: Art Activist

Preeminent multi-instrumentalist, other-worldly lyricist, consummate composer, master recording artist, incredible vocalist, maestro on the stage, and astute businessman.

I have come to terms with the fact that nothing, no news or theory purporting to explain his death is going to satisfy me. I am okay with this.


2005 Vanguard Award Video  Photo: NAACP Image Awards
What I am certain of, tho, is this: If Prince had lived, let's say, another 5-10 years he would have moved beyond changing the direction of music, he would have changed the business of music.

His successful stance against predatory music streaming practices supports this.

Prince was not the first black artist to own all of his masters, Ray Charles did too. Perhaps there were/are others. But this kind of power in the hands of a revolutionary and activist committed to securing not only his creative liberation but guiding others toward theirs is extremely dangerous from an industry perspective.

Setting precedent that other artists would have tried to follow could have brought the record  industry, as we know it, to its knees.

So there's that.



April 21, 2016

Harriet Tubman: Icon of Resistance

I got joy; I got reluctance; I got questions.

Having been denied full rights to too much for much too long there is the tendency to celebrate any and every recognition whether it genuinely validates my beloved people or not. Resisting requires my deliberate energy.

Photo: Getty Images

I will agree representation matters sometimes. I agree entirely that accurate representation matters every time.

Would abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who "would have saved even more" from slavery's auction block, want her image on an instrument used for said purpose? Would she consider being in slave-owning Andrew Jackson's stead a dethrowning, a victory? Is this decision a response to national push-back against anti-blackness? Is it pandering to our unrest? Giving that blacks have little economic power in America, could the move be read as an insult? Won't Jackson's image, to be move to the back of the $20 dollar bill, suggest  an equivalency, a shared worldview between the two for those unfamiliar with Tubman's uncompromising activism? In effect, does the system's positioning our beloved heroine in this way reflect meaningful change?

I got joy; I got reluctance; I got questions.

Such is the nature of the pathology of white supremacy and anti-blackness.

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