Category Archives: Robert Rauschenberg

More Rauschenberg Ice: Los Angeles, 1981

Los Angeles--1981

After dinner, we saw the sun set on the gulf and then went up to Rauschenberg’s beach house for drinks and a chat with confab members on Rising Seas.  Thumbing through the books on the coffee table I found this second work on ice. This one in Los Angeles in 1981.

I am looking at flooding his studio here in Captiva with melting ice, including some from the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet.  A pre-eventuality, if you will.

Glacial Decoy in my bedroom

Xavier Cortada at the Rauschenberg Rising Waters Confab, 2015.

Xavier Cortada at the Rauschenberg Rising Waters Confab, 2015.

Water from the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet (collected during my NSF Antarctic Artists and Writers Residency in 2006-2007) sits on shelf in my bedroom at the Rauschenberg  Residency Print House.  Behind it is an open page in Mary Lynn Kotz’s Rauschenberg book depicting his 1979 work: Glacial Decoy (Etching III).

The advance guard arrives

Advance guard, crop
The three curator/organizers of the Rising Waters Confab – (from left to right) Buster Simpson, Laura Sindell, and Anne Focke – arrived and, in preparation for greeting other participants, took positions next to Bob Rauschenberg’s poster for the first Earth Day.

And a little later, Buster caught Laura and Anne showing their silly sides.

Laughing with Laura & Bob, cropped

Green Cuttings

Curator/organizer perspective #3

in bottles crop

“The good appears not by proclamation but by conversation.” This, from Lewis Hyde’s Common as Air: Revolution, Art, and Ownership, captures something of my hope for the Rising Waters Confab. His book tells the story of the commons with a focus on the cultural commons. What I’m learning about the commons, both from him and others, gives me a framework that both guides how I imagine a healthy environmental future and provides a missing piece of the puzzle for how we’ll get there.

With the future in mind, the commons is both an ancient and contemporary way of managing shared resources, such as water and air, creative and intellectual ideas, and scientific discoveries. I suspect that we won’t get far toward creating a more sustainable future unless we develop a stronger commitment to the commons and find ways to operate beyond just market and government spheres.

In reaching for that future, the commons “cannot be achieved by individual decision-making alone; rather, they are created and sustained by common action,” says Bruce Sievers, another commons thinker I admire. Our Rising Waters Confab – and the meals, offsite adventures, play, and work we do together – may be a way to create our own commons and find “the good.” In addition to whatever else we do collectively, the conversation can itself be a valuable kind of common action.


tent white on dark crop

Naomi Klein spoke at Town Hall Seattle last fall about her latest book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. During her talk she said: “We’re allowing sea levels to rise in the name of protecting an economic system that is failing the vast majority…(click to read more)

Agitprop in a Bottle, Buster Simpson

Floating a Message from Captiva Island
Curator/organizer perspective #1

Agit Prop in a bottle

Of the many possible actions awaiting us at the Rising Waters think tank confabulation, I am considering an optional opportunity for us to recommit the Robert Rauschenberg silkscreen studio in the spirit of his ROCI (Overseas Cultural Interchange 1984-1991) and address global climate change through a call to public action!

Since 1965, much of Bob’s silkscreen paintings were linked to social or communal causes, the environment, opposition to the war in Vietnam, artists’ rights, and international understanding. The counter culture of the 1960s addressed these concerns by deploying an array of media in the medium of the time, including wearable statements, story telling through song, web press publications and broadsides. Today the medium is also instant, social, and global.

The silkscreen process employed by Rauschenberg and now in our tool bag is intended to be a means to an end, a way to enlarge an image, make a prop, or multiply a word. This is one way to create an agitprop. The distillation of our individual and/or collective thinking could result in an electronic broadside dispersed into the public domain with the intent of encouraging other self-perpetuating public social actions. What then might make an “e-Broadside” memorable, prompting a viral dissemination?

Technical assistance in image and word transfer to silkscreen is available at this exceptional, well equipped studio. Silkscreen printing is unique, in that it can be applied to a variety of surfaces. The results could be digitally recorded and uploaded to the Internet to share, provoke and inspire to action. Expressing values is not new to us but our context of being together will be. I am interested in our collective happenstance on Captiva Island.

Your level of engagement is a personal decision. It could take a couple of hours or a week, could start now, or never end.