Satire and Digital Painting (abstract automatism) by Ron Maubidea
  » Aug 02, 2021  



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Yesterday Today and Tomorrow

It was purely by accident I ran into Ron on one of the Social Networks and it was from there, we began to correspond daily. We both grew up in a quiet Brooklyn neighborhood, went the same Public Schools and shared many close friends.

First let me say that I am not an expert on art nor am I qualified to distinguish one period from another. It is with that point of view, that my questions may differ from someone who is . . .

There are two distinct approaches to Abstract Automatism as I see it. In his earliest work, the style was more frantic and less refined. That is because (dare I say it) there were no touchups, and most of the pieces are “of the moment” as he calls it.

In that same body of work… you can find individual pieces that look flawless in detail and smooth as glass.

Due to time and distance, the article will be published in three installments. Yesterday Today and Tomorrow will highlight curious moments from the artist’s past, his thoughts on current projects and future directions

Special acknowledgment to B Ingrid and Karen Young

Interview and Content © Suzanne Horowitz 2011
All Rights Reserved

Yesterday: Part 1

*I was going to ask you a few questions about Abstract Automatism and Automatist Digital Sculpture but as a business person, I’m more curious about the performance space you were going to open with one of the owners of a large NY bookstore.

Sure… why not, it was just after I decided to stop broadcasting on cable. The business plan was structured in such a way that if we didn’t sell one ticket to the public per week, we would still be able to meet the bills and generate a profit by leasing weekend space to venders within the theater complex.

*Who would you be leasing weekend space to and for what purpose?

Flea Market venders of all sorts- the area was known for having some of the best in the city. The more successful venders, had booths in all of the popular markets. One of the biggest downtown markets was by Tower Records on Broadway and drew huge weekend crowds but was situated on the street.

I wanted to establish an indoor Flea Market that would not be susceptible to weather conditions… that would offer healthy foods and live entertainment as part of the shopping experience.

*Weekend travelers and city tourists would love that idea, especially in the cold weather. How did you plan to stage the entertainment?

The food and the entertainment would have been located in the basement theater so not to interfere with customer traffic...

People could buy a snack or just sit down and take a break. The entertainment would be on the front stage and limited to acoustic music and street performers…

*Where was all this supposed to happen?

The building was located just below 14th Street (on 2nd Avenue) and at one time had been a church...

There was a sloping theater in the basement with collapsible seats and the main room (on street level) had a concrete platform where the pulpit would have been. The cathedral ceilings were more than 20’ high and what was the chapel, could be used during the week for shooting commercials and professional photography.

There was also a second floor with two loft areas, a separate office space and municipal style bathrooms. Part of the plan was to move all of my audio and video equipment to one of the lofts and offer those services to the public as well.

When production companies rent a space, they incur an hourly rate for the use of electricity. Providing that type of service would partly cover my power costs for the entire operation.

So in essence, the concept was to manage a 9 to 5 production space, an indoor weekend Flea Market and promote WKTV music events during the evenings. The entire package was very compartmentalized and only required a minimum staff to run.

*If all these things actually fell together, what would you say was the end-goal for the project?

That is a good question? Our goal was to have a great performance space with studio quality sound and lighting. In order to pay for the program without relying on ticket sales, other considerations had to be part of the general business plan that were outside of the arts as a means of security.

*What inspired you to go in that direction, weren’t you still working in television at the time?

Yes… the show (WKTV) was still in its Saturday midnight and 1:AM Friday slots. But because I never drew a salary for doing the work that we did or charge an artist for production time, the notion of starting an arts-related business was very appealing.

I guess you can say that the overall goal was to create an attractive environment where clients could produce a quality piece of work at a reasonable cost. The best example of that was based on the merits of the show’s audio and overall production value.

*How was WKTV’s audio different from say... shows like MTV or the Network Broadcasters?

The reproduction of broadcast audio is a fairly fixed process. Once the sound levels have been set, the mix is then sent through a series of processors that are calibrated to an industry standard.

The main difference between a network mix and that of WKTV...
You could crank your TV’s audio to maximum and the speakers would not distort, and it sounded even better when played back through an actual music system. I'm referring to mid 1990's technology.

*How is it possible that Network Broadcast Studios could not produce the same effect you were?

I was not implying they couldn’t...
Networks had little or no interest in the science of sound properties as it relates to harmonic overtones for EFX. If they wanted a show in “Surround Sound”, the engineers would record it as such using gear designed for that purpose.

We were on the lower-end of all that tech... and had no budget for specialized equipment. It was purely by accident that I came across the process. Once I fully understood how it worked, we were able to reproduce the effect whenever certain aspects in the sound were present.

When applying the effect, it gave listeners the illusion sound was coming from more than two directions like in the movies. Generally speaking, network broadcasters did not experiment in Real Time and the listener had to have "Home Theater" equipment to appreciate it.

*Was WKTV still taping on location at CBGB during the time you were planning the theater complex?

I really don’t think so; we were mostly doing reruns and editing previously aired shows. The music in Downtown clubs had bottomed-out artistically speaking and most of the bands were now headed for the mainstream...

The term “bottomed out” is not meant to be an insult… rather more of a deliberate move toward the acceptable MTV brand of marketable music. It also translated into having more music sounding the same.

WKTV Productions was part of a non-profit organization, dedicated to alternative forms of music and performance art… so for me, it simply wasn’t happening...

*What made you finally decide to bail out of the project- from what you’ve described; the concept had a lot of potential?

There was an enormous potential in the project… and not just from the commercial aspect. It was the sort of place that would attract anyone wanting to be part of an arts driven, Downtown performance space.

*You mean a Downtown performance scene, don’t you?

I have issues with the word “scene” and it’s almost like a dirty word… overused, tired and journalistically nondescript. Everything from Dance to Live Music and anything in between. Coming-out Parties to Fashion shows but the best part of it (for me), was to exercise the concept of selling a hamburger twice!

*Can you be more specific?

Sure… after recording a live show (the metaphorical hamburger), I would then have the event on tape. It was always my goal to start a label that centered on an eclectic catalogue of alternative art forms. These performances could feature a specific artist or be part of a compilation. With every tape sold and in addition to artist’s copyrights, the performers would receive a portion of the sales.

*Were the performers getting paid for the shows?

Of course they were… but local artists were generally unsigned and managing their own careers. The idea of profit sharing was a sound and fair incentive; it also gave greater significance to WKTV’s artist assistance program.

I decided to pull the plug after we received a copy of the proposed lease from the landlord. The prior tenant, The Theater for the New City was also a non-profit group and they had been out for several years. Our rent bid was based on what they had been paying, so I tripled that number and passed it along as a starting point for negations. The rent they were now asking was five times what we proposed and seemed pretty firm.

*From everything you’ve said, I’m sure the space would have eventually been very successful, don’t you?

Yes I do… and most ventures like this are a gamble to some degree. The financial abstract was sound and my partner’s accountants loved it, but there was one small problem… I don’t gamble with other people’s money.

In fact… I don’t gamble at all or at least not blindly.

The odds (in theory) should not be held by the House exclusively, especially when it concerns the arts and those on the lower end of an economic curve. The program had to run smoothly from the jump during the start-up months, and anything that would hinder the process… was unacceptable.

*What is the most interesting aspect of your current work project?

Inventing new words and cool titles .. ..

End of Part 1 (c) Suzanne Horowitz 2011

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