With the release of his latest collection of essays titled Pirates and Farmers, art and culture critic Dave Hickey will give at a talk at a MOCA-sponsored event at the Grand Central Market Wednesday night. A book signing will follow Hickey’s talk, which is free to the public with an RSVP
For several decades Hickey has established a proven track record of being one of America’s most astute and wittiest art critics. His collected criticism and essays have appeared in several volumes such as Air Guitar: Essays on Art and Democracy (1997) and The Invisible Dragon: Four Essays on Beauty (1993).
Unlike the often esoteric and insular art criticism out there — which can be said of most any specialized industry publication — Pirates and Farmers (Ridinghouse, 2013) is accessible, insightful, refreshing and instantly compelling. Hickey’s prose is down-to-earth but precise and personable.
In the introduction “On Taste,” Hickey writes: “So this book is not about art that is on sale or on display. It is about art we choose, and having chosen, choose to keep: good art, bad art, fine art, folk art, ad art and fashion art, whichever presents itself. Art that exists in the world, in the possession of civilians, is the accumulated hard copy of cosmopolitanism and civilization.”
It’s the inclusion of the wide range of art and culture that makes Hickey’s criticism so appealing.
Interested in Ghanaian movie-poster paintings from the 1980s and 90s? Read “In the Sunshine of Absolute Neglect”. Planning to re-read Hunter S. Thompson or Kerouac’s “On the Road”? Check out “Fear and Loathing Goes to Hell” and “On the Road Forever” and then decide.
Also, if you’re somebody who considers Las Vegas as a cultural wasteland or, when visiting Vegas, has the audacity not to gamble? Hickey’s “Las Vegas is for Sissies” will set you straight. Until his move to Sante Fe to become a Distinguished Professor of Criticism for the MFA Program in the Department of Art & Art History at the University of New Mexico, Hickey and his wife, art historian Libby Lumpkin, lived in Las Vegas for nearly 20 years. Hickey was a professor of English Literature at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.
And what about the title, Pirates and Farmers? Hickey explains in the book’s title essay, “All human creatures are divided into two groups. There are pirates, and there are farmers. Farmers build fences and control territory. Pirates tear down fences and cross borders. There are good pirates and bad pirates, good farmers and bad farmers, but there are only pirates and farmers.”
One doesn’t have to go to art school (Yikes, for squares!) or for that matter, business school (Yikes, for freaks!) to appreciate Hickey’s lucidity on 20th Century art and culture. Hickey is just at home discussing West Coast Minimalism, Caravaggio, the Situationists, witnessing break dancing in the Boogie-Down Bronx in the 70s (Word up) or regaling stories about Waylon and covering Greg Allman’s drug trial for The Village Voice. In fact, any writer who can tie in country musician Billy Joe Shaver and a concept by Foucault within the same sentence is, well, just all right with me.
What are you waiting for?
Go see Dave Hickey speak this Wednesday night.
Both pirates and farmers are welcomed to attend!
Who: Dave Hickey talk and book signing
Where: Grand Central Market, 317 South Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013
When: Wednesday, January 29, 2014. 7 PM
FREE with RSVP.
Special thanks: Dave Hickey, Lyn Winter and Nancy Lee (MOCA), Maura Lucking (RAM Publications + Distribution)