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Art Here Lately #5

Stories + Photographs by J R Compton
The Art Here Lately Index and The Latest Art Here Lately page

Below: Norman Kary — The Iffy Progress of Altering Style, Copying Art & Archival Quality

Haley Henman, Guilty Pleasures at the Art Hotel, The Traveling Man keeps trucking on Good-Latimer, Haley Henman's window and Starting Murals where they buried The Art Tunnel

Haley Henman

Haley-Henmans-side-doooor - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Side Door at Haley-Henman

Too hot to think about art much, but we looked at some this evening and enjoyed the trip, although we probably should have (for our own good) listened to the music, too, but that would have been much later.

First stop was Haley-Henman, with whose side door I am enchanted. The way light glows off the corrugated metal building next door, beaming into the gallery making of itself a very short spectrumed, glowing aperture into the real world is what every gallery needs, sometimes desperately. So far, none of my photographs of it have captured that elusive (illusive?) quality, but I shoot it every time I'm in there and keep hoping.

Elisabeth Schalij - Meltdown

Elisabeth Schalij   Meltdown   2009
Watercolor   28 x 24 inches
Anna Palmer photograph

My best Haley-Henman moments were when I was inside and needed all the light falling on Laura Abrams' solo sculpture show I was photographing the same quality and color, which wasn't happening with daylight beaming in. When I explained my predicament, they closed the shutters on all the windows and doors, and I was alone in there with those amazing big bumps of metal and pure tungsten light.

Pictures were great, some of my best, probably because of the work. Hers, not so much mine, though I pushed myself to catch up. Right then I thought HH was on its way to showing distinctive visions. But this show and several since seem more like they're adrift, not hewing to a strong aesthetic, too willing to water down the view.

Un Sculpture Down the Street - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Interesting Shapes Down the Street

Not, maybe, a great time to set anybody's bold vision, what with far fewer folk buying art or anything else. But at the same time the greatest time of all, because of that, because of unemployment and because it's summer and just too damned hot, and sometimes somebody's got to flip out and do amazing work despite everything else that should keep them from it. Then show it someplace amazing.

Googolplex/Symbiopsychotaxiplasm at SouthSide

Hal Samples Show at South Side - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Video Delay Boxes above and Real People in Boxes below

Next stop was South Side on Lamar, where I've rarely got what I wanted out of art, usually way more promise than delivery, but I keep trying, though less often. Tonight I got my Diabetic sox dethreaded, shredded and blown away. Best use I've seen for that little long space along the main — though tonight stinking of something foul — concourse above where the trains used to chug through that big old Sears store.

Sloth - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.


The people-occupied boxes had small labels (top right above) naming each after one of the Seven Deadly Sins, and we were invited to spend some time in there, too, watching out as people watched back in and at. Probably an interesting experience. I could easily have approximated summer Sloth, though a true sloth (human, not that other leaf-eating mammal) wouldn't sit up straight, probably should have slumped down in.

Lady from Another Painting - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Lady from A Painting We Saw in Fort Worth

We wandered, drawn to the back of the space, where we encountered this, much taller than us, on the wall. I hadn't really picked up on the visual theme of the painting-like graphics till we stood looking up at it, and slowly it dawned that we'd seen this woman and others of the people and hats and umbrellas in other painted-over and otherwise obscured graphics here, in a museum in Fort Worth not that long ago. A very large painting of a street scene in Paris 132 years ago.

Googling the show title — The Googolplex/Symbiopsychotaxiplasm, tells me these are works by Ricardo Paniagua "utilizing reclaimed billboard advertising from The Impressionists exhibit at the Kimball." Not thrilled by the splattering or backwards scribbling. But obscuring the billboard art is fascinating. I liked making the connection, despite the intervening paint. Or because of it. Wonder if Paniagua has other billboard treasures to nearly obliterate in the name of art. Seems like a good idea.

The work obscured here is Paris, a Rainy Day (The Kimbell's online illustration is blurred, probably on purpose.) by Gustave Caliebrotte in 1877, which itself was a very large painting, 83.5 x 108.7 inches, oil on canvas, now in the Art Institute of Chicago, with copies and pieces of it here and there.

Shown on the upper right of a major new wall at the Kimbell, we were blown away by it. No petite illustration in a book or website can prepare the viewer for this onslaught of size and sense of history concurrent with its creation. It takes us back to the beginnings of Impressionism. Impressionism without the dots.

Samples' work — in this show, the boxes of people and live-action, though time lapsed, video are the boxes that purport to "engage the spectators at the opening reception by including them in video footage that will be played in real time then looped for the remainder of the exhibit" — is an obscuration and similarly staged reiteration of William Greaves' original Symbiopsychotaxiplasm, Take One, and 35 years later, Take 2 1/2.

Take One, apparently a film classic included in The Criterion Collection, films, and films the filming of a staged lovers' argument in Central Park in 1967 — and the film crew, too, although apparently they only discover it as it happens. Spectators wander into and out of the pseudo-documentary, creating a film within a film and an early blurring of reality and fiction.

So we have iteration and reiteration in two forms — mediums if you must — both involving reality and documentation and obscuring. Visually, a treat. Contextually a pleasant rehashing in other mediums of prior classics. A conundrum amplified into the fourth (time) and fifth (the retelling of telling) dimensions. A show that keeps on giving.

Standing in front of painted over greatness - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Standing in Front of (obscuring) Greatness Painted Over

Having absorbed one guiding principle of this presentation, we wandered around to stumble our understandings into more. Saw additional portions of the photo graphics of Caliebrotte's photographic street scene in other painted-over, splattered and streaked copies.

Possibly, put all together, these comprise that entire, giant painting, but there's dupes of some of the more obvious forms. I still want, if all the pieces were put together, to see the whole of the original painting.

Hal Sample was wandering around setting things up, wearing a top hat and bright white shoes never in the that famous street scene, but reminiscent of it, an echo of an former elegance. We both photographed blurs of him. He never held still.

We spent much of our time there trying to remember, to guess, the name of the artist. But we never did. Nor are we likely to remember Gustave Caillebotte's name next time, either. Though his painting has twice burned into our minds and minds' eyes.

Sorry We Missed the Music - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.  

We caught up a few days later with the music by Cameleon Chamber Group upstairs at Hal Samples.
My photo shoot of that photo shoot is on the Art Here Lately ad hoc page.

Sorry We Missed the Music — turned out it was Paul Slavens' group, and we both wish we hadn't found that out too late, (Though we caught up later. See link immediately above.) but we were heat-exhausted and tired already. The fiddle was intriguing enough, but we'd also photographed a Bassoon-like Horn and intriguing other instruments.

Offerred the opportunity, we readily signed up for a copy of the night's performance, which we will happily link here — it it is a link. There's already some video on YouTube.

Thanks to my negative art crits of previous shows at SSoL, we don't get publicity from them to know these things ahead of time. That's when it would have been valuable to know, and if they're showing shows this good, this intelligent, this engaging, I'd like to know about those, also.


DARTS Rail Train - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Stop for a DARTS Rail Train and wind around the now, finally after all these dirty decades, clean and polished Cedars.

The Art Hotel

Larry Kitchen   Hand of Art

Next stop, past downtown for our first visit to the Art Hotel and its encaustic show appropriately called Meltdown, where was a mix of pretty and not quite wonderful and pretty good work and very interesting and pretty ugly pieces. I'm not sure where in all that spectrum this hand fits, but I feel need to apologize for putting it here on this visit's story, but there's something about it that gets to me, that I get. Does something for me.

It's clunky. Its colors are goofily intense, that patch on the back of his hand and the pink and blue hand itself and the various other colors that don't seem comfortable in each other's company, all seem individually wrong, ms-matching all the way, but all together ....

I still haven't convinced myself that I should like this odd thing. But I do. Maybe I liked it more on the wall there than here on this page, but the more I look at it, the more I appreciate it, and even I find that a little offensive.

I like that it's putting the artist into the artist's art. First-person singular, put 'er there. Hand down. The left hand of Larry right there in front of his and our faces.

If it wasn't for that pus-green puddle with the melted marble jigsaw patch on the back of this cartoon pink hand, and the reverse-on-green logo mix in the bottom corner and that hand outlined in red and the drawing with the circle and arrow pointing to a red glop off to the left and the over-simple signature, and mis-matched colors and splatty textures, oh, I probably wouldn't like it nearly as much.

Unlike too much of what we saw at the Art Hotel this show, it's not a pretty picture. I love the blotchy, multicolor background that, despite the variously successful outlines, goes right ahead and continues onto the surface of the forearm, wrist and hand. Its shapes and weight and colors are balanced. I believe the background, almost as much as I am incredulous of the patch on its puddle of infection.

If it were mine, I'd be sorely tempted to peel off that sickly green puddle, but what would I replace it with? A slovenly used Band-Aid smeared with blood and goo? A press of grease? Those textures would be at home here. I like it so much, bad-mouthing it only makes it more desirable.

Jackie MacLelland - Zen

Jackie MacLelland   Zen

I also almost liked Jackie MacLelland's Zen for its mish-mosh of melty textures and short, gray, black and red palette. It's a little too disorganized even for me. But I did take its picture, because I wanted to look at it, and I keep going back. Wondering. Somewhere between an antique Japanese print and a total melted mess. Now I'm wondering what it cost.

The patched-in black & white stripes at the top right and the deep red and black marks into the left edge make this piece. I'm just not sure what they make it, but I'm going to leave it at that for awhile, because I have one last guilty pleasure to deal with.

Karen Chaussabel - Sea Splash

Karen Chaussabel   Sea Splash

I wish the Art Hotel cited sizes for these. None are big. This may be the biggest, then the hand. The gray chunk is smallest in 2Ds, though it sticks out more.

Here we have a close approximation of an actual scape. Land or sea or simultaneously both. I see distant mountains and a flush of tides and all the little stuff that's carried in and out by that indomitable force. A texture of blue sand or grit in water or aqua plants in the desert before the mountains. Dunes, maybe, in the shadows of a blue sky?

It hardly matters. It calms.

After awhile its simplicity frees my mind of the need to define. It is what it is, and its again short spectrum does its dada duty. Beige mat, the work literally floating in the white sand frame, no ugly glaring glass, all just there resting my mind, making me happy, pleased, calm. Thinking of distant oceans and deserts, analog waveform shapes and color.

I love the white frame, even on a colored wall.


Stairs and Fences - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Akard Street Neighborhood Stairs & Fences

After snapping the neighborhood, we eventually exit The Cedars and wind us back down into Deepest Elm to check on the Traveling Man and the barest beginnings of murals going up, starting late in the shade of a hot summer's evening and some of them working on through the night till morning's light, neatly missing the light everybody else will see their work by thrashing down Good Lattimer.


The Travleing Man

Traveling Man - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Brad Oldham & Brandon Oldenburg   The Traveling Man

We're showing a slow time-lapse documentation of The Traveling Man on top of the DallasArtsRevue calendar. This is it as of July 11, 2009. Despite its current benign white color, it keeps reminding me of Reddy Killowatt with that thick-line body staccato of rivets and near simplicity.

Looking a Lot Like Reddy Killowat - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Looking a Lot Like Reddy Killowatt

And once on site we found more to see. The murals have finally begun, delayed by the arrival of materials and the usual bureaucratic molasses.

DARTS Station Sans Murals - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

DARTS Station Sans Murals Placard in the Dirt

This scathed and shredding placard was stowed on the landscaping in process for the new DARTS Station all this art revolves around, although neither The Traveling Man nor any murals are depicted, although the walls they'll occupy are.

Artist, Ladder, Shark - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Artist, Ladder, Pipes, Shark

We caught Plano artist Brian Crawford at the essential beginnings of his mural, penciling its form and ...

Fish Plans - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Fish Plans Redux

... depicting its near future. He planned to work all night. Considering the 105-degree afternoon heat here, that made sense. He pointed to a nearby street light, whose degrees Kelvin may vary substantially from the daylight colors passersby will experience the mural under.

Careful scrutiny of Brian's website will show that he's explored this double-fish design before.


Pipes - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Pipes and Paint

Today's experience with these two mural artists felt like the first time I photographed the first murals going up on the now buried Art Tunnel, one of the earliest stories in then nascent DallasArtsRevue, back when tiny pictures were required by low and no-speed modems near the end of the last century. It's another beginning. Maybe even a chance to raise the quality of paint on exterior walls.

The King & Queen - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Aztec King and Queen

Issac Davies already had some tonal depth painted into his main characters when we arrived in the open shade of evening. I asked for their names, expecting a tongue-twist of Mexican consonants, but he just told us they were the Aztec King and Queen. Him carrying her body.

Extensive Googling reveals, however, that it's "the humble peasant Popoca" holding the suicided — because she thought he had been killed in the battle for her hand in marriage — "beautiful princess Mixtli," and they are the namesakes of major volcanos in the Valley of Anahuac near Tlamacas, the second and third highest mountains in Mexico.

The pair is often depicted in colorful heroic paintings I remember vividly from walls and calendars. The mythology of the two volcanos, Ixtaccihuatl and Popocatepetl is told in the Mexico - Volcan Popacatepetl website:

"According to the legend of the volcanoes, Popocatépetl is the present-day form of a warrior, Popoca, who hoped to marry the beautiful princess Mixtli. When a tragic mistake led Mixtli to kill herself, thinking that Popoca had been killed in battle, Popoca carried her body into the mountains, hoping the cold snow would wake her, and they would be reunited alive. Mixtli's body was transformed into the nearby volcano Ixtaccihuatl, whose shape resembles that of a sleeping woman. Ever since, Popoca, as Popocatépetl, has watched over his beloved."

I don't think I've encountered that panther.end of story

Keys & Holes - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Keys and Holes in the Mural Wall



Archival Quality & The Real Thing

Rachel Mostert Davis - After Church

Rachel Mostert Davis   After Church   oil on canvas
"inspired by Jonathan Green's Easter   1989"

We visited galleries Saturday, some closed, some open, including Oldfield Davis, where we saw work by featured artists, and while Anna talked with one, I wandered back through the space, upstairs, down and back into the storeroom to find this on the far wall, just this side of the garage.

It was one of only two things there I cared about. The other is a wall of paintings up front that we'll see in a minute or two (depending how long I write and how fast you read).

I was drawn by the vivid colors in Rachel Mostern Davis' After Church, especially that yellow. Only later did I explore the other colors and tonalities. I tried to bring up the brush strokes when I produced the yellow for this page, but there aren't many. Its shapes are important here, not the texture, and the colors — black, yellow and blue.

If you see the original, which Davis credits as inspiring this piece, you might notice the people in the copy are almost exactly those of Jonathan Green's work, except they are so dark here they're nearly invisible.

Davis even copies the blunt, naive outline of the woman's hands. My first discerned difference was the copy's colors. Green's originals are muted browns, black and nearly the same indigo behind the couch. His was subtle, nuanced and human.

Rachel Davis has rendered the Black woman's yellow dress and the man's yellow tie almost identically to the original, though in a different medium, and she gives the lower portion of the woman's dress slightly more space. Except for the humans who inhabit it, everything else directly compares, except she has more colors and they are more intense.

The important, though perhaps subtle difference is that Green's people are barely in Davis' appropriation. Present only for their distinctive clothing's color and shapes. The humans are all but eliminated. Their blackness blotted into darkness. The original's yellow and neutral tones and that shadowy indigo, here are broadly painterly and rendered in broad wet strokes, the technique more important than the subject.

I liked the copy until I saw the original.

Links: Rachel Mostern Davis and her site

See also Katja Zimmerman's Bill Traylor — Beyond Plagiarizing.

Archival Light - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Paintings by Linda Lindholm  —  Archival Light?

We've enjoyed Linda Lindholm's paintings before at Kettle Art. Here they were the first we encountered coming in the front door, and I came back to their simple personalities repeatedly during our long visit. I'd been thinking about going blind lately, and seeing her painting called Going Blind impressed me for its synchronicity. It's the one with the biggest slant of light running through it above.

They are oils, though most people will see them more or less evenly lighted at the opening later that same night, and probably not in the blazing sunlight they will endure every afternoon till the sun glints out over a nearby high-rise. I worried about her oils. Sunlight damages paintings. When I see my art at home has attracted that much sun, I move it.

I remember when The Contemporary Director Joan Davidow covered all the windows there, so they could borrow work from the Dallas Museum of Art. She talked at that opening about the archival quality of their new, much darker space. There's less attention to archival at Oldfield Davis.end of story

Changing Art Direction: The Iffy Progress of Altering Style

Norman Kary - Sands of Time

Norman Kary   When We Found Out the Sands of Time   2009
collage   22 x 14 inches   $1,000

Eventually, every serious artist arrives at a point in their career when they need to change their art. We almost all always change some whether we plan it or not, by learning what we're doing. Improvements in our technique accrue to aesthetics. We get better at it and so does our art.

Those changes are difficult to see piece by piece, especially for the first-person-singular artist, although a more objective observer might see them easily. We who are busy making it, often miss those subtleties while concentrating on others. We get more efficient, learn to render better, adopt new techniques, discover new materials or better employ old ones, and are inspired to attempt challenge.

It is possible, of course, to get worse or grow to not care. Unless we're phasing through fads, lock-stepping a teacher or rigid in refusal to let the work lead its own way, it changes as we make more. Probably no matter what we do or plan.

But significant, planned leaps forward can be frightening.

Norman Kary -

Norman Kary   Ascending   collage 8 x 12 inches   $500   (detail)

Those can be accidental, natural if we've learned to let our work flow. Great authors listen to their characters, saying the stories write themselves. Great artists have their craft down and let inspiration drive the bus, though they are not just along for the ride.

Sometimes we get so intent making that when we stop and see what we've done, it's changed. Then, if we recognize the progress, we might continue it. Planned or unplanned, progress is always iffy.

Norman Kary has found — or placed — himself in the big middle of a major change. In his recent two-person show with Nancy Ferro, From Here to There, at the Bath House Cultural Center, he deliberately showed Old Work, saving his New Work for this commercial solo at Craighead Green (through July 18 2009).

I've been watching his art many years, so I hardly qualify as objective viewer. I knew he was attempting a course alteration, because he spoke his fears, and I am fascinated by what he chose to show as well as how he's done it. There's some of the old same in the two dozen pieces in that open-ended room just inside the gallery, but a lot that's different. Some surprisingly.

Searching for Water and Other Works - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Norman Kary   Searching for Water    Taking in the Air    Walking Death Valley
collages with objects   all 6 x 10 inches   $600 each

The new work is more intricate, precise, and in many ways, more detailed. Those who have not got up close and personal with it may mutter "Photoshop" under their breath. But there is no no evidence of software's intrusion into his Cornellian craft. Instead, there are smaller, sharper cuts as the artist spends more time and energy into his creations, and it shows.

Norman's careful selection of images, cutting into and intra, manifest denser and more contrasty colors and shapes that show greater ostensible depth. Finally we believe when he shows us outer and inner spaces.

Many of his long-honed techniques continue — the pegboard lineup of holes, space, spacemen and star maps, hints of Houdini suspended, three-dimensional objects hung from poles off the tops or fronts of both flat and 3-D boxes and other contrasts of 2- and 3-D spaces. But they serve greater apparent dimension while comprising fewer physical projections, making the pieces less fragile.

Norman Kary - Directions to  a New World - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Norman Kary   Directions for a New World   mixed media collage   28 x 12 x 4 inches (detail)

I had to inspect one piece carefully, looking at it sideways across the flat of it to be certain what I perceived as depth was impression, not reality, although my eyes still felt cheated by it, and I looked again.

Only one piece still clung desperately to the artist's old ways, and that anachronism stands out at the bottom left of his wall of assemblage, like a left-most link with the past, reading into the future. I didn't like it almost immediately, but with the distance of time and space, and my photo notes of it, I am appreciating the two-tone, bi-sectional horizontal landscape with boy and white casts of nuts, left over from his older work.

I told him in the excitement of the opening, that compared to all those others, it was awful, like he just couldn't let go of the past, but it has its own visual subtleties, albeit replete with notions from his recent history.

Norman Kary - Self Portrait - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Norman Kary   Self Portrait   2009
assemblage   32 x 7 x 17 inches

Within those walls with his name on it, one larger piece balances the bunch from the adjacent wall, separated by space and shadow, not looking all that different from past pieces, yet sharply, definitively, simpler, bolder.

I did not on my first dozen viewings but do now, staring at this image on my monitor, see the artist in that cracked and wrinkled face. I had assumed its portrait aspects were abstract and about the techniques and presentation of a portrait, but now I recognize the face behind the glass, a life mask, molded from Norman. He's put himself into it, as he's put himself more into all his new work.

Standing before it, I stared uncomprehending, carefully composing this photograph, even opened the drawer containing a windmill stamp mirroring the browned, ornate crisscrossed emblems on an old compass, a single die showing snake eye, a dented bearing and a wad of white cotton, the pull box lined with browned and faded typewritten text I did not read. I photographed into it, then closed it again.

Norman Kary with Dada Object - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Norman Kary demonstrating Dada Object

Self Portrait has size and mass in its dark angular box with clear glass emphasis, and it stands center stage at the end of the salon, but it's a smaller piece, occupying the grounded optical center of its audience that keystones Norman Kary's solo show. Named Dada Object and called assemblage, it's an old ice cream scoop, firmly bolted through a painted and scraped wood block into a riser.

I photographed it singly and importantly during our afternoon visit to avoid the opening crowd but hadn't thought to press its lever. Norm demonstrated it at the opening, and when it's squeezed, a black & white eye curves out of its upper darkness to stare back at us.

So is the show the great leap forward Norm hoped? It seems so now, but it depends on what he does next and after that, etc. We might not know till looking back in a year or so. Backsliding to the comfortably usual is easy, but Norm's been running change gamuts all this last year, scaring his usual collectors along the way, and these are his most elegant and attractive alterations yet.end of story


Other Norman Kary links: His Member Page; his reviews here; a studio visit;
an interview; and there's another new piece on the Calendar page.

See the continuing
ThEdblog for oddly illustrated notes on my progress through this website.


Art Here Lately is continued on Art Here Lately #6

All Contents of this site are Copyright 2009 or before by publisher J R Compton.
All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in any medium without specific written permission.


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