So I checked this book out of the library called Postmodern Theory. No dog-eared pages or coffee stains on this bad boy. Though the book must have been in there for years the pages were still freshly stuck together from when they were cut down in the print shop. I’m not recommending this dry, pretentious example of contemporary philosophy, I just want to point out that on the back cover (as opposed to the front cover) postmodern is spelled post-modern.

By the time you read this, the first major American retrospective of Gerhard Richter will be coming down at the MOMA in New York soon to travel to Chicago, San Francisco and Washington. Richter is an amazingly skillful artist who has been displaying actual paintings in modern galleries since the 60’s. His shtick, and he had to have a shtick, has been to blur the paintings out of focus with a fan brush. This makes them look even more photographic. These powerful paintings are usually based on banal pre-existing images. Richter’s work is intelligent, noble and was once part of a two-man school humorously called Capitalist Realism. He and Sigmar Polke derived the name as a satire of Socialist Realism. Also in New York this season is America’s premier art exhibit the Whitney Biennial. (If you can’t make the actual show go to to get an idea of the action.)

The Internet proves to be a great example of how some art is only relevant because of its association with institutions like the Whitney Biennial. Some of the art in the show is made exclusively for the net. And guess what, it sucks compared to so much on the net that has no pretensions to high-art. This is a repeat of the art films and video of the past where untalented fine artists had to compete with true professionals. One of the strangest inclusions in the Biennial is Chris Ware. Ware is comic book artist. He draws comic books and sells them in comic shops. The New York art scene has come a long way baby. Also of note is Roxy Paine’s 50-foot stainless steel tree in Central Park. If your taste is for the exotic you might be interested in the work of Zhang Huan. Zhang’s a Chinese artist and it happens to be particularly hip to be Chinese right now. (Next year it’s going to be cool to be African.) Here’s a quote from the Whitney’s website: "Although his performances vary considerably in their final form, they almost always require Zhang to submit his naked body to extreme duress. In 12 Square Meters, naked and covered with fish oil and honey he sat for an hour in the squalor of a fly-infested public toilet." Try that in Birmingham and you’ll find yourself in the county jail. Actually Alabama does have some representation in the Biennial. The Rural Studio featuring Samuel Mockbee and the Auburn School of Architecture is one of the more sophisticated features of the show.

Back in Alabama we just had our recurring art spectacular, the Magic City Art Connection. Unlike New York, there were no naked bodies in fly-infested toilets, at least none that called themselves works of art. But we did have some groovy New Yorky art by MCAC’s 2002 distinguished artist Jon Coffelt. Jon is best known locally for his Agnes gallery and as being featured as a prestigious Absolute Vodka artist. In addition to his photography, Jon’s paintings fit well into what has been dubbed the Neo-Geo movement. The Magic City Art Connection 2002 featured lots of crafts, photography, one puppet maker and a bit of cartoon imagery. I like it that artwork that recently would have been dismissed as low-art cartoons is now universally accepted as high-art, just as lofty as any found object. Fortunately there was little abstract painting and primitive art. An interesting new aesthetic developing in this area is what I like to call the "Misty Landscape Style." There were at least six artists at MCAC using this style…bravo. Personally I liked the genre paintings of Jon Smith depicting patrons in museums looking at artwork.

Be sure to check out Nall’s work at Monty Stabler galleries. Fred Nall Hollis is an internationally recognized artist and native of Alabama. Nall has done us all a great service by championing the cause of Alabama art like no one before him. I could talk about how the guy studied under Salvador Dali, how he founded the Nall Art Association (nature, art and life league) in France or that he’s fabulously wealthy owning nine houses and pals around with celebrities the likes of Ringo Starr. Nall’s an amazing artist but there’s more to him that that. The man has a lot of cats. I mean a lot of cats. Nall has over 350 cats. So if owning cats could be considered a form of conceptual art Nall should be in the next Whitney Biennial. Though my experience tells me these things are pretty much arbitrary.