Here are a few items from 2010 that made it worth staying alive. Lists are extremely limited to what I had the time and means to experience in person.
Best art show in a museum:
1. The Drawings of Bronzino, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
-so sexy! so wonderfully cosmopolitan, exquisitely virtuosic, especially by today's body-beauty starved standard. What treasures!
2. Virtuoso Illusion: Cross Dressing in Contemporary Art, The MIT List Visual Art Center, Cambridge.
-watching the angel Michael Clark star in Charles Atlas's "Hail the New Puritan" whilst overhearing John Kelly sing Joni Mitchell and Kalup Linzy bitch about a bad romance was delicious and revelatory but everybody I talked to hated the installation design for exactly this reason. Those buttheads were absolutely wrong! Loosen up, its a party.
3. Heat Waves in a Swamp: Charles Burchfield, The Whitney Museum, New York.
-the wallpaper! Curator/artist Robert Gober drops the hint that regionalism isn't a dirty word and never really was. Figurative modernism is hot hot hot right now.
Bonus: Terence Koh was in the museum when I visited, and he had quite a moment staring at a snowy landscape.
4. Werewolf Karaoke: Justin Lowe/Matrix 159, The Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford CT.
-remember Dash Snow? Neither do I.
Best art show in a gallery:
1. Ultra Sensitive: Sam McKinniss, Proof Gallery, Boston.
1. I Am Love, directed by Luca Guadagnino, starring Tilda Swinton and a bunch of Italians.
-I was gasping for breath for the entire two hours. When I left the theater, my mouth was stuck in the "OMG" formation. Big-theme, big-impact narrative film in an expert's hands is still worth our every attention, and who knew a food movie could sway me so hard. Costumer Raf Simons at Jil Sander deserves an Oscar.
2. Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, directed by Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg, starring Joan Rivers.
-the gays have always been right about Joan Rivers.
1. Work of Art: The Next Great Artist, on Bravo.
-this show sucked but it gave me something to hate so efficiently, it deserves some thanks. Bravo also gains kudos for introducing the world to Judith Braun and Miles Mendenhall does have a cute butt. Watching the show required emerging and underemerging artists (such as yours truly) to ask themselves why the fuck do I bother with assholes like China Chow, Jerry Saltz and Bill Powers? Big ups to Paddy Johnson at Art Fag City for leading necessary pre- and post-show discussions.
2. "Public Speaking" dir. by Martin Scorsese, starring Fran Lebowitz on HBO.
-this bitch! For most of the world, this documentary shed light on the question: why is Fran Lebowitz famous? Prior to viewing this I honestly had no idea what made her a celebrity other than the way she wears suits.
-this man is one of my top 10 living artists. The chapter interviewing Little Richard is a scream, the chapter with Johnny Mathis is heartwarming for people who don't like having their hearts warmed for just anybody. Waters's writing on gay pornographers is touching, just a tad too human-interest, but touching all the same. In this slim memoir, John Waters argues his polemics for living rudely with grace, wit, and the dispatch to connect with likeminded individuals who also possess no innate desire to behave.
Bonus: I saw John Waters interview his friend Roni Horn at the ICA in Boston on the occasion of her solo exhibition (one of the worst shows of 2010), and I couldn't help but believe that a John Waters museum retrospective would have been much less depressing.
2. Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen.
-shut up everybody, just shut up. Jonathan Franzen is really good at what he does, and critics cannot for some reason just enjoy this without caveat. I did not want this book to end, so I did a victory lap after I finished and reread all of his earlier work. The most repeated criticism of this book is that he is a straight white male Author with a large audience, as if "The Death of the Author" still signifies and as if straight white males ought to know better than to write fiction as such. Adding insult to injury, Franzen refuses to represent the American midwest as entirely tragic, he instead attempts to redeem the full experience of a few of its conflicted residents. This idea does not calculate for people with an understandable grudge against the middle of this country. I admit I might sympathize with this sentiment if his writing wasn't so compelling, but it is.
Bonus: I had him sign my book at a reading, and he frowned at me! Snob appeal.
3. "Humorists" by Paul Johnson.
-is there anything Paul Johnson doesn't know like the back of his hand?
4. "Just Kids" by Patti Smith.
-Patti Smith is not so hard-edged as I thought.
Best pop album:
1. "The Suburbs" by Arcade Fire.
-I am the same as everybody else. I like this album a lot, so what. It sounds best when lying on a wood floor doing drugs or drinking wine.
2. "The Archandroid (suites I & II)" by Janelle Monae.
-I like this one too, plus she's cute.
Best pop song:
1. "Teenage Dream" by Katy Perry.
-this idiot managed to sing my favorite pop song of the year. Ugh it's so good. I'll admit I lost some faith in pop music in 2010. I am chalking this up to the fact that pop music is made for teens, which I am regrettably no longer. This song charts that penumbrous constellation of teenage cliches with candied perfection. I have not lost any faith in teens doing whatever they want.
Bonus: She got another idiot, Will Cotton, to illustrate her album cover. Will Cotton now has mainstream crossover appeal. Whatever.
1. James Franco is so confusing and its making him even more attractive. The big surprise of 2011 is whether he publicly declares his love for a.) Klaus Biesenbach or b.) Kalup Linzy.
2. This current Somerville apartment is way grander than my 2009 apartment in hell.
3. Nu Life at ZuZu in Cambridge is still the only party in Boston I care to go to and usually the only night of the week I go to the bar, rendering weekend party updates entirely predictable.
4. DIS Magazine is a true revelation. Its become so challenging to locate the tongue in cheek and avoid sloppiness. They're proving its very sexy to look funny.
6. Are you there Lil B the Based God? Its me, Sam.
7. I am slowly but surely selling paintings again, a major improvement from 2009 and the dismal first half of 2010.
8. Seeing "Looking for Langston" by Isaac Julien at the Rose Museum of Art.
9. This picture of Kobe Bryant
12. Halloween: epic
13. Peaks Island, Maine
14. The HPSU Bushnell Park party, stay wavy or whatever.
15. Clarity, friendship, creativity, etc.