A Fresh Start 📬
On turning forty and launching a new website
Today is my fortieth birthday. The gift I have given myself is a new personal website, designed and built by my talented friend Ross Zurowski, and this newsletter, which I will send occasionally. It will feature writing, links, and updates about my work. There are 559 words below.
Those of you who have known me longest might recognize elements of the website Project Projects made for me in 2004. Like that one, the new site is text-heavy; its visual grid supports an index of projects; and it uses color to distinguish among the kinds of work I do.
I believe in the open web and software made by independent developers. I met Ross through the community that has cohered around the visual-organization tool Are.na. The site we made together is built with Kirby. It uses no databases, analytics tools, or trackers. It is made of text files and images and is, I hope, a comfortable reading environment. It’s a garden I can tend for years, no matter the broader developments in web technologies and social media.
In this newsletter, I plan to write not only about art and photography, but also about other subjects to which I’m devoted: music, literature, design, the histories embedded in every landscape, soccer, basketball, baking. Back in 2012 I tried to start a literary-minded and historically informed travel journal that I planned to call Carry On. I am repurposing the name for these missives because of the phrase’s threefold connotations: to carry on is to have a conversation; a carry-on is something you take with you; and we all carry on in the face of unexpected changes.
When I turned thirty, I thought that my twenties had been a decade of dramatic developments: graduating college, moving to New York, shaping a career, getting married. But then, my thirties: I nudged my career onto a parallel track; moved to Cincinnati, then Toronto; wrote my first book; began working independently; became a parent, then became a parent again. That these changes seem more vivid could be a form of recency bias. Or maybe I’m learning something about how life progresses—it begins with some small explosion and events and experiences radiate outward from there. Now that I have my own, freely accessible website and a way to reach you, I’ll keep you posted.
- Lately I’ve been thinking about Vija Celmins. I saw a traveling retrospective of her work this summer at the Art Gallery of Ontario, which brought to mind again seeing a 2002 retrospective of her prints at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I also read a lovely profile of her in the New Yorker; a thoughtful appreciation of her work in Artforum; and a long, searching 2010 interview with her in the Brooklyn Rail. If you’re in New York, and many of you are, the retrospective opens today at the Met. It’s on view through January 12. Do yourself the favor of going.
- Three of the most resonant podcast episodes I’ve encountered this year are a conversation between Thelma Golden and Hilton Als about James Baldwin; this funny Reply All episode, which takes a painfully human turn near its end; and Wesley Morris’s stunning audio collage on “The Birth of American Music.”
- I can’t stop thinking about Charlotte Shane’s consideration of Jonathan Safran Foer’s new book, in the current Bookforum. As Mara Smith, who likely had a hand in editing the piece, summarizes it, the essay is about “individual action, habits of mutual aid, and the suicidal feedback loops we cling to as a culture.”