Charlotte Street Foundation identifies the needs and fuels the evolution of an ever-changing multidisciplinary arts ecosystem, acting as its primary provocateur. We cultivate the contemporary, the exceptional, and the unexpected in the practice of artists working in and engaging with the Kansas City Art Community

Utopia Now!

Hi guys,

What’s new? Not much. I wrote this review of Marlen Haushofer’s The Wall earlier this year. I stand by it, not because I am such a brilliant writer, but because she is, and I can’t figure out why this prescient, beautiful sci-fi novel isn’t better recognized. Probably because it was written by a woman! Ha-ha.


The annual Nudie Ladies calendar for 2017 is available at Oddities Prints, It’s a Beautiful Day, Holy Cow Market, Quimby’s in Chicago, and Printed Matter in New York. Or, if you ask nicely, I will just give you one. 🙂

This year’s theme is ghosts. I’m obsessed with this interview with Jacques Derrida from Ghost Dance, about technology and the way it multiplies ghosts. For all the spooky errata of analog- a photocopy of a photocopy, a tape that’s been taped over- nothing compares to spam from a dead friend: “Hi flannerycashill, I have been trying to reach you.”

That said, these ghosts are all very traditional: shapeshifters, yokai, shit-eating demons, etc. 🙂


Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about hippies. My favorites are hippie but not granola, avant-garde collectives like Ant Farm, Archigram, and Drop City. Ant Farm described their projects (including instructions for inflatable cities and a reenactment of John F. Kennedy’s assassination) as an “ideas that have no commercial potential, but … are important vehicles of cultural introspection.”  This is how I think about the attempted levitation of the Pentagon in 1967, for instance: as a literal psych-out of the opposition, not without humor or self-awareness. (Have you ever seen a cooler design than this?) 

I think any artist with a conscience is right to interrogate their art for its utility, urgency, and efficiency, but I’m averse to sloganeering. Bad art is boring. Art should still be funny where it can, and it can be funny without being cynical, or at least, cynical without being nihilistic.


The risk you run as a nihilist and the disaster of this year’s election are the same: a failure of imagination, an inability to imagine being poor, being gay, being a person of color, a woman, an immigrant. When it affects family, it’s possible that a politician like Dick Cheney could be persuaded to change his opinion on same-sex marriage, or that Nancy Reagan could emerge as a champion of stem-cell research. When it doesn’t, good luck.

The reason, I think, that the best artists, writers and comedians lean left is not because they’re illuminati/lizard people, but because they have strong, sympathetic imaginations that can engage with all kinds of hypotheticals: differences of personality and opinion, worst and best case scenarios. They accept that their experiments will fail, and fail often. They are idealistic, if only kinda.


And what’s the alternative? I don’t know. Dennis Miller. Kelsey Grammar. To take an extreme counter-example, your imagination is so defective you’re Alex Jones, you’re a Sandy Hook truther, you build a castle in the sky and call it Pizzagate. Try harder. Vibrate higher. “The power of positive thinking” is cheeseball but true.

I’ll end it with a still of a new claymation project I’m working on with friend/collaborator Rachel Mesplay Helm. I guess it’s about the Manson girls. Free Leslie Van Houten! Peace, love & truth to the righteous.


Lots of love,


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This entry was posted on December 10, 2016 by in Uncategorized.

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